On this day in history : 24th August 1847 – Charlotte Brontë sends her manuscript for ‘Jane Eyre’ to London publishers Smith, Elder and Company – under the pseudonym Currer Bell….
It was not unusual for female authors at this time to write under a male name…. Women authors were not taken as seriously as their male counterparts – it was assumed women’s heads were full of fluff and frivolity; they were deemed as having no perception of the real world – their place was in the home…. The Brontë sisters collectively felt that their work would not be regarded as being feminine and would be looked upon with prejudice if their real gender was revealed….
Charlotte, who was the eldest of the three sisters, had been unable to find a publisher for her first manuscript, ‘The Professor’ – however, Smith, Elder & Co of Cornhill expressed an interest to any longer works Currer Bell may wish to send…. So towards the end of August 1847 ‘Jane Eyre’ was submitted and published six weeks later….and was an instant success, gaining good reviews…. Because little was known about the author suspicions began to form that Currer Bell may be a woman – strengthening when ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë) was published – and then ‘Agnes Grey’ by Acton Bell (Anne Brontë)…. In 1848 the sisters admitted to their assumed names….and became celebrated in literacy circles – and their novels became classics of English literature….