Saturday, May 28, 2011

Favorite Author: Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte
(April 21, 1816 - March 31, 1855)

I must have been around 17 or 18 when I first read my all-time favorite classic, Jane EyreI was immediately struck by the novel's masterful prose, its lyrical beauty, its enthralling passion. So, of course, I fell head over heels for Edward Rochester, in spite of his boorish, brooding personality.  Or perhaps because of it. 

I was much like Jane then -- rather shy, with my own private little world, into which I would escape when I felt threatened by the outside world.  Like her, I had a capacity for fierce passion, and not just the romantic kind.  However, I did not display it openly.  Again like Jane, I was a very private person.  Needless to say, I was not in any of the popular school cliques.

Bronte's lushly passionate novel consumed me for a very long time, and, indeed, has had a permanent influence on my life.  I wanted to be Jane Eyre.  Indeed, I felt that I really was.  I hated living in Miami, back then.  I wanted to fly away to the tempestuous English moors, to a mysterious mansion whose brooding owner would mesmerize me with his piercing eyes....

I read this book.  I lived this book. It became the food of my soul.  Some of my readers might think I'm overdoing my praise for this novel, but any who are unabashed romantics, like me, will smile as they read this, and understand.  Bronte has truly captured the essence of a woman's mind and heart. 

Born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, she was the third of six children, whose father, Patrick Bronte, was an Irish Anglican clergyman.  In 1820, the family moved to the nearby town of Haworth, where Charlotte's mother, Maria Bronte (nee Branwell), died, in 1821. 

Two of Bronte's sisters died while attending the Clergy Daughters' School in Lancashire.  The infamous "Lowood" mentioned in Jane Eyre was patterned after this real school, which had deplorable living conditions for the students.

The remaining Bronte children -- Branwell, Emily, Anne, and Charlotte -- filled their time with writings related to their imaginary kingdoms, Angria and Gondal.  Later on, Emily and Anne would become authors in their own right. 

This is one of my several copies of the novel.
It was published by HarperTeen
on Feb. 1, 2011, 
and has the so-called "Twilight-inspired" cover.
Whatever or whoever was the inspiration for this cover, 
I think it's absolutely beautiful.
Click HERE for more information about this edition.

Bronte wrote several novels, but Jane Eyre is her undisputed masterpiece.  Published in 1847 under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, the novel was initially a bestseller.  Speculation arose as to whether the author was a man or a woman.  When it became known that Bronte was a female, the reviews then took a negative turn.  The novel was in some quarters criticized for its 'coarseness'.  A contemporary critic, Eliza Rigby, writing in Quarterly Review, penned the following ridiculous assertion: "Jane Eyre is throughout the personification of the unregenerate and undisciplined spirit..."

Time has vindicated Charlotte Bronte, for this novel is now a standard in any English Literature course.  Although her sister Emily's novel, Wuthering Heights, is considered superior by many critics, I totally disagree.  I much prefer Charlotte's novel, which to me is a courageous exposition of a woman's spiritual resilience.

Charlotte Bronte's other works include Shirley: A Tale (1849), Villete (1853), and The Professor: A Tale (1857).  A novella, The Green Dwarf: A Tale of the Perfect Tense, was published in 1833.  She also published poetry together with her sisters Emily and Anne in Poems by Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell (1846). 

For a bibliography of Charlotte Bronte's works, as well as a list of sites, click HERE.

Here are some additional Bronte websites:

The Victorian Web: Charlotte Bronte

The Bronte Parsonage Museum and Bronte Society

The Bronte Family

The Brussels Bronte Group


  1. Hi, Maria! I put Jane Eyre on my "Fill in the Gaps" project challenge. I have never read it! I'm glad to hear that it is your favourite classic, and I am looking forward to reading it!

    I love the Breaking Dawn Countdown widget! I can't wait for that movie either. I'm a Twilight fan, much like yourself!


  2. Hey, Darlene! Yes, "Jane Eyre" is a terrific book!! And the romantic hero's name is Edward!!! I wonder if that's the reason Stephenie Meyer named her own hero Edward. Interesting thought...

    Yes, the Breaking Dawn widget is wonderful!! You can get these at The Twilight Guide, a great Twilight fan site!

    Thanks for the visit and the comment! : )


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