In a post earlier today, I mentioned that I dabble in book collecting, and linked to a rare Brontë first edition that I would love to have. That reminded me of a promise I made to a fellow writer and Brontë fan: that I would post pictures of several Brontë books that I have.
Here is a picture of my Brontë collection. The set of four red books and the set of twelve green books are the sets I'm posting about. Between them is an olive green book of Charlotte Brontë's poetry, which is not part of either set (but still quite pretty — too bad I forgot to take pictures of it, too!). The fat green book on the far left is a Victorian book of women's biographies called Daughters of Genius, which contains a chapter on one or more of the Brontë sisters. The skinny white book next to it I will explain below. (The red book on the far right is not a Brontë book, but a first edition copy of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.)
The red books are a set of Charlotte Brontë's four books: The Professor (which was her first book but remained unpublished until after she died), Jane Eyre (her first published book and her most popular), Shirley, and Villette. Although the set is not dated, I think it is probably from the 1880s or 1890s.
This set actually took me a little while to complete. I originally found only three of them — it took me about a year to track down a copy of Jane Eyre for this set.
This picture shows the covers and the beautiful deep green endpapers, which are very smooth and slightly shiny. The paper is very thick, which makes the books quite thick as well — particularly Shirley!
The other set, the little green books, are a complete set of the Brontë sisters' works. All of their books and a bunch of their poems are included, with Agnes Grey in the second volume of Wuthering Heights (much as they were published originally). They are very small books, quite literally "pocket-sized."
The set was a birthday present from Michael — albeit one I found and asked him to get me! We got it extremely cheap — around $100 — I think because everyone thought Agnes Grey was missing. (I did too — imagine my delight when I realized the set was complete after all!) I have seen books from the set listed singly for around $15 each — and that's in rather poor condition — so I know these are a rare treasure.
Each book has an elaborate letter B embossed on the cover.
Each book also has a lovely frontispiece with a tissue paper guard.
The date on the set is 1901 (MDCCCCI). They are in good shape for being 106 years old!
Each book also has a pretty (but rather fragile) red ribbon marker.
This book is a story that Charlotte wrote when she was 13. It was published in the 1960s. Although it wouldn't be collectible to anyone but a Brontë fanatic, I think it's pretty cool.
There you have it — my antiquarian Brontë collection!