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Record 19129

Reading Experience:

'The difference between Miss Bronte and me is that she puts all her naughtiness into her books, and I put all my goodness. I am sure that she works off a great deal that is morbid [italics] into [end italics] her writing, and [italics] out [end italics] of her life; and my books are so far better than I am that I often feel ashamed of having written them and as if I were a hypocrite. However I was not going to write of myself but of Villette. I don't agree with you that {it is} one cannot forget that it is a 'written book'. My interpretation of it is this. I believe it to be a very correct account of one part of her life; which is very vivid & distinct in her remembrance, with all the feelings that were called out at that period, forcibly present in her mind whenever she recurs to the recollection of it. I imagine she [italics] could [end italics] not describe it {with} in the manner in which she would pass through it [italics] now [end italics], as her present self; but in looking back upon it all the passions & suffering, & deep despondency of that old time come back upon her. Some of this notion of mine is founded entirely on imagination; but some of it rests on the fact that many times over I recognized incidents of which she had told me as connected with that visit to Brussels. Whatever truth there may be in this conjecture of mine there can be no doubt that the book is wonderfully clever; that it reveals depths in her mind, aye and in her [italics] heart [end italics] too which I doubt if ever any one has fathomed.'
Century: 1850-1899
Date: Until: 7 Apr 1853
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: Manchester
specific address: 84 Plymouth Grove
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Female
Date of Birth 29 Sep 1810
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: writer and clergyman's wife
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Charlotte Bronte
Title: Villette
Genre: Fiction
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 19129  
Source - Print  
  Author: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  Editor: J.A.V. Chapple
  Title: Letters of Mrs Gaskell, The
  Place of Publication: Manchester
  Date of Publication: 1997
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 228-9
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, J.A.V. Chapple (ed.), Letters of Mrs Gaskell, The (Manchester, 1997), p. 228-9,, accessed: 01 February 2023

Additional comments:

Additional editor Arthur Pollard. Letter from Elizabeth Gaskell to Lady Kay-Shuttleworth.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)