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Charlotte Bronte's lost short story for married tutor to be published

London, Wed, 29 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 29 (ANI): English novelist Charlotte Bronte's short story, which she had written for a married teacher with whom she fell in love, is set to be published for the first time after it was found in a museum.


The work entitled 'L'Ingratitude' is penned in grammatically incorrect French and is the first known piece of homework set by her Belgian tutor Constantin Heger.


Bronte, who studied under Heger in Brussels alongside her sister Emily, became infatuated with the tutor, writing several love letters to him after returning to England.


The manuscript was discovered by Brian Bracken, a Brussels-based archivist and Bronte expert, in Belgium's Musee Royal de Mariemont, the Telegraph reported.


According to Bracken, the story was last heard of in 1913, when it was given to a wealthy Belgian collector by Heger's son, Paul.


"By all accounts a gifted and dedicated teacher, [Heger] gave Emily and Charlotte homework ... based on texts by authors they had studied in class," Bracken was quoted as saying in the London Review of Books, which will publish the story this week.


"They were to compose essays in French that echoed these models, and could choose their own subject matter.


"It [L'Ingratitude] was finished a month after Charlotte arrived in Brussels and is the first known 'devoir' of 30 the sisters would write for Heger.


"It contains a number of mistakes, mainly misspellings and incorrect tenses ... he [Heger] often returned their essays drastically revised - sadly, there are no comments on this copy of L'Ingratitude," the archivist added.


The story, dated March 16, 1842, is about a thoughtless young rat who comes a cropper after escaping his father's protective care and heading off into the countryside in search of adventure.


The fable compares and contrasts the father's devotion with the recklessness of his ungrateful offspring.


Bracken suggests that it may have been inspired by the works of the celebrated French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine. (ANI)


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