There is something quintessentially English about the Brontes and their work; for many this is what makes their novels still so appealing today, with numerous film and small screen adaptations being seen in recent years. Even now after 150 years their home in Yorkshire remains a very popular tourist destination.
Charlotte was the first of the Bronte siblings to publish her work and that novel, Jane Eyre, remains her most famous and ,for many, best work. Indeed, it regularly features in “Best Novels of All Time” lists. However she had just three of her novels published during her lifetime - Jane Eyre (1847), Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). With such a limited but famous catalogue of works she has understandably become an extremely collectable author.
For the serious collector, first edition Charlotte Bronte books can be found if they are willing to pay. An original 1847 Smith, Elder and Co. copy of Jane Eyre (published under the pseudonym Currer Bell)is likely to set a buyer back anything between $50,000 and $130,000. Second editions from the following year can be picked up for nearer $10,000.
Because Jane Eyre has remained popular for such an extended period of time there has been a huge number of reprints meaning that twentieth century copies are widely available. A collector might pay significantly less than $1000 dollars for a very early twentieth century edition.
Due to their relative anonymity in comparison, Villette and Shirley are much more affordable. A first edition of Shirley from 1849 for example might be available for $4,000 to $4,500. There are also a huge array of good quality Bronte collections available which may tempt buyers into investing.
Aside from her novels, last year an unpublished short story and letter from Charlotte were discovered and sold behind closed doors for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. With this in mind it is clear that Charlotte Bronte remains an extremely popular cultural figure and as such one who may be considered a good investment.
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Smith, Elder, , London (1847). 3 Volumes; 500 copies;
Bronte, Charlotte. Shirley, A Tale. Harper, New York (1850). 1st US edition
Bronte, Charlotte. Villette. Harper, New York (1853). First American edition; Harper's issued this book in cloth at $1.00, and in wrappers at 50 cents
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Smith Elder, London (1857). Preface by Currer Bell
Bronte, Charlotte. Professor A Tale.. Smith, Elder , London (1857). 2 volumes; First state, with publisher's catalog
Bronte, Charlotte. The Professor. A Tale. Harper, New York (1857). First American Edition;
Bronte, Charlotte. Life and Works of the Bronte Sisters. Smith, Elder , London (1887). Wood-engraved frontispieces and title pages, as well as in-text engravings by E. M. Wimperis; 5 illustrations in each volume (and an additional 3 in vol. 7).
Bronte, Charlotte. The Works of Charlotte Emily and Anne Bronte. J.M. Dent , London (1893). 12 volumes; 250 copies printed; 150 for england and 100 for america.
Bronte, Charlotte. The Novels of the Sisters Bronte. Downey , London (1898). Includes: Janey Eyre; The Professor; Villette; Shirly; Wuthering Heights; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Agnes Grey and Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte; 12 volumes;
Bronte, Charlotte. The Life and Works of Charlotte Bronte and her Sisters. Smith, Elder, , London (1899). Complete in 7 volumes; With numerous portraits and illustrations, engraved and photogravures.
Bronte, Charlotte. Novels of the Sisters Bronte. John Grant, Edinburgh (1905). 12 volumes; set comprised of: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Professor, Shirley, Villette, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey; Includes the biography of Charlotte by Elizabeth Gaskell
Bronte, Charlotte. Novels of the Sisters Bronte. John Grant, Edinburgh (1907). Complete in 12 volumes; Illustrated with half tone photo reproductions
Bronte, Charlotte. Novels of the Sisters Bronte. Dent, London (1922). Edmund Dulac (illustrator)
Bronte, Charlotte. Novels of the Sister Bronte. John Grant, Edinburgh (1924). 12 volumes;Edited by Temple Scott; 12 frontispieces and 55 plates; The Thornton Edition comprising: Anne Bronte; The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey. Charlotte Bronte; Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, The Professor. Emily Bronte; Wuthering Heights and Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte
Bronte, Charlotte. The Shakespeare Head Bronte. Shakespeare Head Press, Oxford (1931). 33 illustrations and facsimiles by Jack Hewer; 11 volumes; 1000 copies
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. The World Publishing, New York (1946). colour frontispiece; introduction by May Lamberton Becker