2016 CHARLOTTE BRONTE BICENTENARY
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MAGGIE O'FARRELL
As an orphan, Jane's childhood is full of trouble, but her stubborn independence and sense of self help her to steer through the miseries inflicted by cruel relatives and a brutal school. A position as governess at the Thornfield Hall promises a kind of freedom. But Thornfield is a house full of secrets, its master a passionate, tormented man, and before long Jane faces her greatest struggle in a choice between love and self-respect.
Charlotte Bronte was born on 21 April 1816. Her father was curate of Haworth, Yorkshire and her mother died when she was five years old, leaving five daughters and one son. In 1824 Charlotte, Maria, Elizabeth, and Emily were sent to Cowan Bridge, a school for clergymen's daughters, where Maria and Elizabeth both caught tuberculosis and died. The children were taught at home from this point on and together they created vivid fantasy worlds which they explored in their writing. Charlotte worked as a teacher from 1835 to 1838 and then as a governess. In 1846, along with Emily and Anne, Charlotte published Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. After this Emily wrote Wuthering Heights, Anne wrote Agnes Grey and Charlotte wrote The Professor. Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were both published but Charlotte's novel was initially rejected. In 1847 Jane Eyre became her first published novel and met with immediate success. Between 1848 and 1849 Charlotte lost her remaining siblings: Emily, Branwell and Anne. She published Shirley in 1849, Villette in 1853 and in 1854 she married the Revd. Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died the next year, on 31 March 1855.