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Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights, one of the most iconic pieces of Gothic Fiction ever, but with her death a year later the question has since been raised about a Second Novel that's existence might be questionable as the evidence is sketchy to be sure.

What do we know?

Historical Fact

In 1848 Emily Bronte died (following her brother Branwell's death) and after the death of their sister Anne, Charlotte (the oldest sister) was in charge of their works which included Emily's masterpiece Wuthering Heights, both of Anne's novels Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and both sister's vast collections of Poetry. Charlotte then re-published Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey editing them to fix errors made by the publisher with a Biographic Notice which she tried to fan the controversial reception of Wuthering Heights by presenting her younger sisters as naive. There was no evidence in Charlotte's Notice nor any other biographies of the 19th Century that Emily tried writing another novel. 

The Proof

Long after Charlotte's death in 1854 and the opening of their home, the Parsonage as a Museum in 1928, many of their own belongings came back home one of which was Emily's Writing Desk, inside of which was two items that raised the questions of Emily's solo novel status. The first is an Envelope addressed to Ellis Bell (Emily's writing name) it was opened and there was the second clue a letter addressed to 'Mr. Bell' it was written by Thomas Cutlery Newsy (Emily's publisher) saying he was willing to wait for the 'second' novel. However this is the only proof of a possible second novel to be given.

Theories 

It was Destroyed by the writer/sister

Since nothing else exists that proves Emily was writing another novel, it is believed that either Charlotte or Emily destroyed the manuscript. The greater belief that Charlotte as she was clearing out anything that could harm her sisters posthumously, found the unfinished work and burnt it. Charlotte was in grief when she edited both Emily's and Anne's work to protect them so it's unsurprising that she would erase such a document from history. Also it might have been Emily might have done it herself, while ill of Tuberculosis she refused to seek medical attention trying to carry on but maybe when she realized that she was going to die she destroyed the work.

Emily's Bluff 

This theory breaks off into several pieces:

  • Emily upset from the negative reception of Wuthering Heights (several reviews were also in the desk), wrote to Thomas Newsy asking if he would be interested in another novel that she was currently writing, he agreed and Emily if she did intend to write one or was unable to do so, asked for more time which he agreed to in the letter.
  • Newsy had been pressuring Emily to write a second novel, so in anger, the private Emily Bronte sent him a lost letter claiming she was writing another novel to get him off her back deciding not to write one at all or agreeing to write one after an earlier request letter but requesting time.
  • Also noticed in this Website the Envelope looked alot like Emily's handwriting, comparing it to this signature of "Ellis Bell" it suggests that the Envelope might have been a blank one that Emily used for some unknown reason leaving the world to wonder if she was writing another novel.

It's Not Emily's Letter

While the Envelope exists written to Ellis Bell, could the Letter be one given to Acton Bell who is Anne Bronte? The reason is that the letter dates from February 1848 and in June 1848 Anne's second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published. Since the only belief that it was for Emily was because it was found inside her desk, but at the same time Anne's Desk was empty. Also, the letter's writer Newsy might have been talking to Emily hoping she claimed to be writing forgetting that Anne is the one sending him news about T.T.O.W.H. After the novel's success, he claimed to the US Publisher that all works by the Bells were written by the same person Ellis, which also included Charlotte's Novel Jane Eyre, which resulted in Charlotte and Anne going to London to Charlotte's publisher proving that there was 3 different writers.

Legacy

While it's clear that if the manuscript existed, it is now probably gone forever, the theories that explain the truth will keep going and especially the content of such a Novel, has many claiming that a Sequel for Wuthering Heights was the plan, however, Emily's imagination was one of mystery and originality that it might of been something very different. 

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