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Brontë's ass almost got sued

The L.A. Times featured a Reuters story yesterday that revealed that Charlotte Brontë might have come thiiiis close to buckling under calls of libel, with recently unearthed letters implying that “somewhere, tucked away in a dusty attic or a pile of musty papers, could lie an amended manuscript of the 19th century classic, toned down by the British novelist to avoid a libel lawsuit.”

The headmaster of the school on which Jane Eyre‘s Lowood School was based recognized himself and the school in the descriptions of “cruel Mr. Brocklehurst [and Lowood, which] was a harsh place where pupils were half-starved”, according to the 1912 letters by the headmaster’s grandson.

The headmaster wrote to her with threats of legal action, causing Brontë to whip up a 1,400-word sketch of a revised version of the offending chapters, which the grandson claimed to have in his possession, although its current whereabouts are unknown. If found, the bowdlerized chunks could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, says documents expert Richard Westwood-Brookes.

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Head to the L.A. Times to read the story