As I've stated, I want to quote some of a book in one that I am writing, from the 1800's.

The publisher is defunct now.

So do I still need permission or can I just add it?

Don't want to get in trouble for using it but I can't find a way to get permission?

I want to add from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Mr. Rochester had given me but one weeks leave of absence: yet a month elapsed before I quitted Gateshead. I wished to leave immediately after the funeral; but Georgiana entreated me to stay till she could get off to London: wither she was now at last invited now by her uncle, Mr. Gibson; who had come down to direct his sister’s interment, and settle the family affairs. Georgiana said she dreaded being left alone with Eliza; from her she got neither sympathy in her dejection, support in her fears, nor aid in her preparations; so I bore with her feeble-minded quailings, and selfish lamentations, as well as I could, and did my best in sewing for her and packing her dresses.

The publisher was Smith, Elder & Co.

  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Nov 13, 2021 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


A book (or any other creative work) published in the 1800s is now in the public domain everywhere in the world (excepting odd cases like Peter Pan where a special rule applies in some jurisdictions.) Anyone may legally quote from such a work at any length with no legal requirement for permission. In fact there is no legal requirement to attribute the quote to the author (although there is an ethical requirement).

In fact one may publish a new edition of such a work, unchanged or modified in any way one chooses, with no legal need to obtain permission from anyone or to pay any royalties or fees.

If the work were recent enough to still be protected by copyright, a limited quote could be used under fair use, fair dealing or another exception to copyright under the laws of most countries. The exact rules vary by country, and are often highly fact-dependent, so the exact details will matter.

If one wanted to quote enough from a recent work that permission is required, the copyright holder, who is often not the publisher, would need to grant permission. That is often the author or the author's heir, but it can be a person or firm to which the author transferred the rights. Sometimes the rights-holder can be hard to identify.

Update: it would be possible for a work published in, say, 1890 by an author then young who lived to a fairly old age, dying in, say 1960, to still be protected in some countries, although not in the US. (Anything published before 1925 is now PD in the US.) But Charlotte Bronte died in 1855, and all of her work has long been in the public domain

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