Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte : A Life

4.25 (1,135 ratings by Goodreads)
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On the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth, Penguin is publishing the definitive biography of this extraordinary novelist, by acclaimed literary biographer Claire Harman

Charlotte Bronte's life contained all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. She was raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors and sent away to brutally strict boarding school at a young age. She watched helpless growing up as, one by one, her five beloved siblings sickened and died; by the end of her short life, she was the only child of the Bronte clan remaining. And most fascinating and tragic of all, throughout her adult life she was haunted by a great and unrequited love - a love that tortured Charlotte but also inspired some of the most moving, intense and revolutionary novels ever written in the English language.

Charlotte was a literary visionary, a feminist trailblazer and the driving force behind the whole Bronte family. She encouraged her sister Emily to publish Wuthering Heights when no-one else believed in her talent. She took charge of the family's precarious finances when her brilliant but feckless brother Branwell succumbed to opium addiction. She travelled from Yorkshire to Europe to the bright lights of London, met some of the most brilliant literary minds of her generation (Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray), and became a bestselling female author in a world still dominated by men. And in each of her books, from Villette and Shirley to her most famous, Jane Eyre, Charlotte created brand new kinds of heroines, inspired by herself and her life, fiercely intelligent women burning with hidden passions.

This beautifully-produced, landmark biography is essential reading for every fan of the Bronte family's writing, from Jane Eyre to Wuthering Heights. It is a uniquely intimate and complex insight into one of Britain's best loved writers. This is the literary biography of the year; if you loved Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens, this event is not to be missed.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 166 x 243 x 45mm | 783g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • ed
  • 0670922269
  • 9780670922260
  • 172,339

Review quote

This is a comprehensive biography to enjoy and admire. Harman writes well and she is a fine and sensitive critic * The Times * Finely judged and authoritative * Sunday Times Book of the Week * Elegantly written, consistently perceptive...[Harman] succeeds in bringing Charlotte back to life in all her spiky vulnerability * Daily Mail Book of the Week * Superb retelling of Charlotte's story (...) admirably concise * The Spectator * Harman... portrays Bronte's complexity and dark genius in elegant prose with deep human sympathy * The Lady * Harman tells [Charlotte's] story with quick wit, a sharp sympathy, and a fire and fury of her own * Evening Standard * Harman's sane, unshowy re-telling is exactly right for the bicentenary next April. It gathers up the best of what has been written before and deals tactfully and decisively with the sillier aspects of the Bronte mythology. The result is a retooled classic biographical narrative, shipshape and serviceable for the next 200 years * The Guardian * Full of pleasing and piquant detail, scraps of passing recollection assembled from the various lives and letters in which the Brontes featured and from which we might reconstruct their world * Financial Times * Elegant, sensitive, beautifully paced and moving. [Claire Harman] has... produced a work that is affirmative, edifying, inspiring and humane * Sunday Express * Revelatory (...) adds freshness and texture to her account with original speculations. As someone who once wrote a book about the Brontes' afterlives, few people can have read as many biographies of them as I have. I thought I was Bronte-ed out, but reading this book-which will be equally accessible to someone coming to Charlotte for the first time-has drawn me back in * Lucasta Miller, The Independent * Three rounds of applause...for Claire Harman's superb retelling of Charlotte's story -- Mark Bostridge, The Spectator [An] excellent new bicentennial biography....Ms. Harman writes with warmth and a fine understanding of Ms. Bronte's literary significance. Above all, she is a storyteller, with a sense of pace and timing, relish for a good scene and a wry sense of humour * Economist * A vigorous new biography (...) Harman does a splendid job * Mail on Sunday * An immensely readable biography * Woman and Home * A substantial biography (...) that lets the disparate pieces speak for themselves * Daily Telegraph * Harman renders her daring novels fresh, interweaving what shocked critics then with what surprises us still * Sunday Telegraph * Prepare to suffer similar time-loss at the hands of Harman, Bronte's most recent biographer and a master storyteller in her own right. Level-headed, highly readable and always intelligent, Harman's account of Bronte's life and work is a delight from start to finish * Sunday Times * A subtle, measured biography, full of insight into Bronte's fiery intellect as well as the tragic intensity of her experience -- Helen Dunmore, Observer Harman brings a fresh eye to many of the same papers studied by Gaskell to compile her Charlotte Bronte: A Life. The Gothic atmosphere and heart-breaking details remain, but Harman achieves a great feat by making the story seem new again -- Marcus Field, Independent
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About Claire Harman

Claire Harman is the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1989), Fanny Burney (2000) and Robert Louis Stevenson (2005) and the author of the best-selling Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (2009). She writes regularly for the literary press on both sides of the Atlantic and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.
Her most recent work is Charlotte Bronte: A Life.
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Rating details

1,135 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 44% (496)
4 40% (458)
3 14% (155)
2 2% (21)
1 0% (5)
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