Edinburgh: John Grant, 1924. Thornton Edition. Twelve octavo volumes (8 1/8 x 5 1/2 inches; 205 x 140 mm.). Handsomely bound ca. 1960 by [Rivière] for Henry Sotheran in three-quarter red calf over red cloth boards ruled in blind. Spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments, two blue and green morocco lettering labels, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. Frontispieces and plates. Half-titles and title-pages printed in red and black. Seven of the green spine labels are faded, otherwise near fine.
The Thornton Edition was first published in 1905, named for the village on the outskirts of Bradford, West Yorkshire best known as being the birthplace of the Brontës. The moorlands of that area "had a profound influence on the writing of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte...at their home the children created a rich imaginary world. Any books that came their way were eagerly devoured, and they produced their own books as well" (Bronte Society). As the sisters rose to adulthood, their novels began to focus on the complex emotional lives of women from all walks of life -- from orphans to governesses to heiresses -- but with the greatest emphasis on those whose educations and livelihoods most reflected their own. With clear-sightedness, they used their knowledge of gendered, economic, and social constraints to develop their best material. Again, the moorlands of their upbringing affected their writing. Anne's work was like a still day before a storm. And "if Charlotte's novels keep up a stiff wind, Emily's one novel is a thunderstorm. Their characters...have such a gust of life that they transcend reality" (Dean). Publishing under gender neutral pseudonyms of Currer Bell, Ellis Bell, and Acton Bell, the three talented authors were able to release their works to the public without the kind of criticism that fell on women of the time. It was with the publication of Anne's second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, that the women were forced to reveal their true identities when an unscrupulous publisher attempted to use Currer Bell's name to sell another, less successful author's works. The literary fame that came with the Brontes' revelation led only to a shortlived happiness, as all three died at early ages" (Bronte Society). (Item #3576)