Charlotte Brontë is best known for her novel Jane Eyre.

Charlotte sent Robert Southey some poetry to see if he deemed it publishable. He wrote back to say the verses were pretty good, but that literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be ...the more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it. Brontë published anyway, first the poems, a volume of which she sent to Tennyson, DeQuincey, and John Lockhart, Sir Walter Scott's son-in-law and biographer--it is said only two copies were sold--before turning to novel writing under the alias Currer Bell.

Brontë's first biography was written by the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, herself a writer of gothic ghost stories, principally to clear up a misunderstanding circulating that Brontë was the mistress of Thackeray, to whom she had dedicated the second edition of her most popular book with lavish praise.

I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his contemporaries have yet recognized; because I regard him as the first social regenerator of his day—as the very master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude the warped system of things; because I think no commentator on his writings has yet found the comparison that suits him, the terms which rightly characterize his talent. They say he is like Fielding ... He resembles Fielding as an eagle does a vulture: Fielding could stoop on carrion, but Thackeray never does. His wit is bright, his humour attractive, but both bear the same relation to his serious genius, that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the edge of the summer-cloud, does to the electric death-spark hid in its womb.

People suspected that Brontë was the original both of Jane Eyre (originally published as an autobiography) and Becky Sharp, of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. To compound the confusion, Thackeray did, indeed, have a mad wife.

Brontë's first novel The Professor draws upon her experiences in Brussels and her unfortunate infatuation with the married headmaster of the school.

Charlotte is sister to Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë. The girls lost their mother quite young and their two older sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school. The school in Jane Eyre is a recreation of the unsanitary and cruel one the girls actually attended. Emily and Anne appear as the sisters of St. John Rivers in the same novel, even to the mourning attire in which Charlotte remembers them dressed for their father, Patrick Brontë, when she returned from abroad.

Charlotte lost both sisters and her only brother all within a twelvemonth; she herself died in childbirth, after being for only a short time the Bell of her alias, having married a Mr. Bell, her father's curate.


Gothic Labyrinth
Gothic Labyrinth