By Rebecca Rego Barry
Apropos to our summer issue’s feature on Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary, Sotheby’s London is offering a bible that the author gifted to her best friend Ellen Nussey in 1837. The diminutive (duodecimo) bible was printed in 1821 and bound in red morocco with gilt edging. The sparse inscription in Brontë’s hand reads “E Nussey | from | C Bronte | 1837.”
At the time, Brontë, 21, and Nussey, 20, had already been friends and correspondents for several years. But why did Brontë bestow a bible? According to Sotheby’s, she was “experiencing some religious confusion. This, coupled to an emotional separation from Nussey, may have prompted the gift.”
A later inscription reveals that Nussey bequeathed it to a relative, Mary Carr, before her death in 1897. Some penciled verse and marginalia of unknown origin appears in the book as well.
The sale is scheduled for July 12, and the estimate is £15,000-20,000 ($19,000-25,000).
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