8 Things You Didn't Know About Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), the gifted writer of timeless classics including Jane Eyre and The Professor, was a shy but strong individual who had to endure tragedies and tribulations from an early age. Find out more about Charlotte Bronte below.

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1. Her mother died when she was just five years old, as did her two older sisters by the time she was eight.

These early tragedies meant Charlotte became the eldest of four surviving children, but her strong personality helped her cope with this position of responsibility.

2. She grew to be less than 5 feet tall.

Nonetheless, she was strong-willed, clever and ambitious, and always prepared to argue for her beliefs.

3. She and her surviving siblings - Branwell, Emily and Anne - created their own imaginary worlds and began to chronicle the lives of their worlds' inhabitants.

She and Branwell wrote stories and poems set in the fictional world of Angria, and Charlotte would later claim to have written more before the age of 13 than after it.

4. In 1842, Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enrol at a boarding school - but their stay did not last long.

In return for tuition and board, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. However, the death of their aunt in 1842 abruptly ended their trip. Charlotte returned to Brussels the next year and fell hopelessly in love with her employer, Constantin Heger.

5. In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily and Anne self-financed the publication of a book of poems under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

They wanted to keep their gender a secret whilst retaining their initials. Charlotte would later explain that, as female writers, they would have faced immediate prejudice had they revealed their gender in their publication. The poetry book was nonetheless a commercial flop, but the sisters were undeterred, and began work on their first novels.

6. Jane Eyre, which was partly based on Charlotte's personal experiences, was an instant commercial success.

The novel describes events reminiscent of Charlotte's own experience of falling in love with her employer, Constantin Heger, whilst in Brussels. It brilliantly blends Gothic melodrama with romance and naturalism, making for an immersive, gripping and riveting read.

7. Charlotte received a proposal of marriage from her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, in 1852 - but her father objected to it and Charlotte declined.

Charlotte's father objected partly because he feared that his frail daughter wouldn't be able to survive a pregnancy. However, Mr. Nicholls persisted, and the couple were finally married on 29th June, 1854. It was a happy marriage, but short.

8. Charlotte died in the early stages of pregnancy on 31st March, 1855.

Her novel, The Professor, which had been turned down by publishers at the start of her career, was published posthumously.

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    'Such a strange book! Imagine a novel with a little swarthy governess for heroine, and a middle-aged ruffian for hero.' Sharpe's London Magazine (June 1855) Jane Eyre is an orphan grown up under the harsh regime first of her aunt and then as a pupil at Lowood Institution. She leaves to become a governess to the daughter of the mysterious Mr Rochester; gradually their relationship deepens, but Jane's passionate nature has yet to endure its deepest blows. In this new edition Sally Shuttleworth explores the power of a narrative that questions the rights of women, the nature of servitude and madness, martyrdom and rebellion in a story whose emotional charge is a strong today as it was more than 150 years ago.
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    'You expected bread, and you have got a stone; break your teeth on it, and don't shriek...you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob.' Shirley is Charlotte Bronte's only historical novel and her most topical one. Written at a time of social unrest, it is set during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, when economic hardship led to riots in the woollen district of Yorkshire. A mill-owner, Robert Moore, is determined to introduce new machinery despite fierce opposition from his workers; he ignores their suffering, and puts his own life at risk. Robert sees marriage to the wealthy Shirley Keeldar as the solution to his difficulties, but he loves his cousin Caroline. She suffers misery and frustration, and Shirley has her own ideas about the man she will choose to marry. The friendship between the two women, and the contrast between their situations, is at the heart of this compelling novel, which is suffused with Bronte's deep yearning for an earlier time. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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    'It is in every way worthy of what one great woman should have written of another.' Patrick Bronte Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857) is a pioneering biography of one great Victorian woman novelist by another. Gaskell was a friend of Charlotte Bronte, and, having been invited to write the offical life, determined both to tell the truth and to honour her friend. She contacted those who had known Charlotte and travelled extensively in England and Belgium to gather material. She wrote from a vivid accumulation of letters, interviews, and observation, establishing the details of Charlotte's life and recreating her background. Through an often difficult and demanding process, Gaskell created a vital sense of a life hidden from the world. This edition is based on the Third Edition of 1857, revised by Gaskell. It has been collated with the manuscript, and the previous two editions, as well as with Charlotte Bront"'e's letters, and thus offers fuller information about the process of composition than any previous edition. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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    The Professor (1845-6), written before Jane Eyre, challenged contemporary expectations of the novel by its brevity, realism, and insistence on a working career both before and after marriage for its hero and heroine. Strikingly up to date for its period, the action begins against a background of the fight for better factory conditions in the 1830s, and finishes in the early 1840s with the spread of liberal ideas which led to the continental revolutions of 1848. This edition is based directly on the author's fair copy manuscript, and also includes 'Emma', Charlotte Bronte's last, unfinished attempt to write a novel after Villette. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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    Raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors, watching five beloved siblings sicken and die, haunted by unrequited love: Charlotte Bronte's life has all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. Charlotte was a literary visionary, a feminist trailblazer and the driving force behind the whole Bronte family. She pushed Emily to publish Wuthering Heights and took charge of their precarious finances when her feckless brother turned to opium. In Jane Eyre she introduced the world to a brand new kind of heroine, modelled on herself: quiet but fiercely intelligent, burning with passion and potential. This is a truly gripping and illuminating account of one of our best-loved novelists.
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    Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette. There, she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, the hostility of headmistress Madame Beck, and her own complex feelings - first for the school's English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emanuel. Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a governess in Brussels, Charlotte Bronte's autobiographical novel, the last published during her lifetime, is a powerfully moving study of loneliness and isolation, and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances. Helen M. Cooper's new introduction places the novel in the context of Bronte's life and career and argues for the importance of the novel as an exploration of imperialism. "I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette' George Eliot 'Her finest novel." (Virginia Woolf).
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    In 1834, Charlotte Bronte and her brother Branwell created the imaginary kingdom of Angria in a series of tiny handmade books. Continuing their saga some years later, the five 'novelettes' in this volume were written by Charlotte when she was in her early twenties, and depict an aristocratic beau monde in witty, racy and ironic language. She creates an exotic, scandalous atmosphere of intrigue and destructive passions, with a cast ranging from the ageing rake Northangerland and his Byronic son-in-law Zamorna, King of Angria, to Mary Percy, Zamorna's lovesick wife, and Charles Townshend, the cynical, gossipy narrator. Together the tales provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind and creative processes of the young writer who was to become one of the world's great novelists.