March 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Lost Charlotte Bronte Story Published in the London Review of Books


The London Review of Books published a lost Charlotte Bronte story last week entitled, "L'Ingratitude."  The seven paragraph story was written in French as a homework assignment for Charlotte's French tutor while she was living in Brussels in 1842.

The writer Brian Bracken found the story in the Musée royal de Mariemont of Brussels, where he was researching Charlotte's tutor Constantin Heger.  The last time the story surfaced was in 1913 when Heger's son, Paul, gave the letter to a wealthy Belgian collector.  That was the same year Heger donated love letters from Charlotte to Constantin to the British Museum, making Charlotte's infatuation with her tutor public for the first time.  The revelation caused a minor public uproar.

Charlotte moved to Brussels at the age of 25 in 1842, accompanied by her sister Emily, to study on the Continent in the hopes of acquiring the skills and accomplishments necessary to open her own school.  While there, she quickly fell in love with the married Heger, who did not return the sentiment.  The experience affected her deeply and served as the inspiration for both "Vilette" and "The Professor."

Charlotte's lost story, "L'Ingratitude," is about a rat who regrettably leaves behind the protection of his family to seek adventure in countryside.  The London Review of Books printed the full text of "L'Ingratitude" in the original French and the translated English.  They have also included an embedded link of an audio file of Gillian Anderson reading the story.