The Life of Charlotte Bronte

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Penguin Books Limited, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 494 pages
17 Reviews
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 official 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, based on the revised Third Edition of 1857, collated with the manuscript and the First Edition, and taking account of the Second Edition, offers fuller information about the process of writing and fuller elucidation of the text than any previous edition. For the first time, all the French passages are translated, and detailed annotation covers biographical and historical material, references, and allusions.

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Review: The Life of Charlotte Brontė

User Review  - Devon Flaherty - Goodreads

The Life of Charlotte Bronte, by Elizabeth Gaskell. First published in 1857 in two volumes. The version I read, bought gently used, is the 2005 Barnes & Noble Classics edition. I read this book for ... Read full review

Review: The Life of Charlotte Brontė

User Review  - JA Ironside - Goodreads

I like Elizabeth Gaskell's work. She tells engaging stories and that is exactly what she has done here. Originally requested by Charlotte's father to write a biography of Charlotte's life. Patrick ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London in 1810, but she spent her formative years in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and the north of England. In 1832 she married the Reverend William Gaskell, who became well known as the minister of the Unitarian Chapel in Manchester's Cross Street. As well as leading a busy domestic life as minister's wife and mother of four daughters, she worked among the poor, traveled frequently and wrote. Mary Barton (1848) was her first success.

Two years later she began writing for Dickens's magazine, Household Words, to which she contributed fiction for the next thirteen years, notably a further industrial novel, North and South (1855). In 1850 she met and secured the friendship of Charlotte Brontė. After Charlotte's death in March 1855, Patrick Brontė chose his daughter's friend and fellow-novelist to write The Life of Charlotte Brontė (1857), a probing and sympathetic account, that has attained classic stature. Elizabeth Gaskell's position as a clergyman's wife and as a successful writer introduced her to a wide circle of friends, both from the professional world of Manchester and from the larger literary world. Her output was substantial and completely professional. Dickens discovered her resilient strength of character when trying to impose his views on her as editor of Household Words. She proved that she was not to be bullied, even by such a strong-willed man.

Her later works, Sylvia's Lovers (1863), Cousin Phillis (1864) and Wives and Daughters (1866) reveal that she was continuing to develop her writing in new literary directions. Elizabeth Gaskell died suddenly in November 1865.

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