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Crimes of Charlotte Bronte: The Secret History of the Mysterious Events at Haworth [Paperback]

James Tully
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1999
Noted criminologist James Tully became fascinated by inconsistencies he found in the accounts of the lives and deaths of the Brontes. So dark and unexpected were the results of his searches, he decided to tell the story in the form of a novel. He has created a controversial and compelling account of this most famous Victorian family.

Product details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Constable & Robinson; New Ed edition (1 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841191310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841191317
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Announcing itself as the "secret history of the mysterious events at Haworth", James Tully's The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte returns to a fascinating episodes in English literary history: the lives, and deaths, of the Bronte family. Falling (sometimes uneasily) between fiction and history, the book uncovers a murder mystery at the heart of Haworth. The discovery of a confidential journal belonging to Martha Brown, a servant in the Bronte household, is the device which gets the story going: blackmail, poisoning, pregnancy and murder--all the stuff of gothic mystery and of this ingenious, if often infuriating, tale. Infuriating because this book hates Charlotte Bronte; it behaves as if the myth of the "almost saint-like sisters" were still in place(it isn't, and hasn't been for years) and so skews its fictional interpretation through the image of a Victorian virago. "It was not Charlotte's fault that she was short, thin and plain," Tully reassures his readers; "all I am trying to do is peel away some of the layers of myth which have built up around her". The flat prose of Brown's journal is the means to demystify, to create another fictional Charlotte by returning to the "shadowy figure" (as Juliet Barker describes him) of Arthur Nicholls, Charlotte Bronte's husband. The historical questions which surround him, and Brown, are genuinely compelling: there is a story to be told there, but not this one. --Vicky Lebeau --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"A fascinating, potentially true mystery." -- Ann Molyneaux, Peterborough Evening Telegraph; 24 July, 1999

"It has the hallmarks of the classic crime novel ... jealousy, served up with sexual passion blackmail, poison and multiple murder. -- Simon Edge, Arts Correspondent for The Express; 8 June, 1999

"James Tully has created a controversial, yet utterly compelling account of this most famous Victorian family - here is real passion and intrigue to hold readers spellbound; -- Evening Leader, 22 July, 1999

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I enjoyed this novel, although I groaned at the suggestion that the curate and Branwell between them were responsible for 'Wuthering Heights'. This old chestnut has popped up many times over the years and the people who would love it to be true (we won't go into their motives here) never seem to ask themselves the basic question, i.e. how could dear old badly done to Branwell, out of his head on gin and tincture of opium 24-7, find the self-discipline and motivation to sit down and pen a bestseller? He obviously TALKED about it a lot, to his equally confused mates and the bemused locals in the Black Bull. But that's where it ended, in this humble reader's opinion.
I can well believe that Charlotte was domineering towards her sisters, and rather patronising. I remember reading her introduction to 'Wuthering Heights' and thinking, yeah, right! when I got to the bit about how she 'accidentally happened' upon Emily's poetry. But rooting through your sister's stuff is one thing, dosing her with poison is another. The Brontes suffered from ill health all their lives and I believe their deaths are consistent with years of hardship and lack of nourishment (Charlotte at one point had trouble with heart palpitations, which could have been due to iron-deficiency anaemia). And wouldn't spending your formative years looking out on a graveyard day in day out be something of a psychological challenge?
There are constant references to Emily's extreme reserve and Charlotte's alleged ugliness. This doesn't seem to have stopped them attracting men for jolly sexual romps. Maybe the guys weren't much to write home about either.
Most of the story is narrated by the Brontes servant girl, Martha Brown, who appears to have been something of a saucy minx in her own right. I think the main message of this book is: Don't let your staff live in!!!!!!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A work of fiction. 19 Aug 2008
Let us not lose sight of the fact that this is a work of FICTION.
The narrators are Martha Brown, through her deposition. (Look at the bibliography if you didn't read the Introduction properly. It isn't listed there because it is an invention!)
The second narrator is Charles Coutts not James Tully. Mr Coutts is also an invention.
The admittedly wild plot is a work of fiction. A not terribly convincing,
plodding cumbersome plot invented by James Tully.
I bought this book in the hope of some entertainment. I have found it hard going and would have enjoyed a more subtle working of the concept given that it is based on widely known historical figures. But I did not buy it in the expectation of reading about 'true crime'.
I also disliked the two narrators, but then I have never admired Emily's layering of narrators in 'Wuthering Heights' (I think at one point the reader hears of events fifth-hand. You may be able to correct me on that.)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Darker Side Of Haworth 11 May 2000
What if? The classic idea of speculating about unknown histories has been in vogue now for many years with evryone from Laurel and Hardy to Elizabeth I getting the factionalization treatment. James Tully's book lifts the genre above the usual, badly researched level and offers us an interesting and, yes, eclectic solution to the four, apparently premature deaths of Branwell, Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte. The evidence is rich and cleverly connected, is bound to upset many Bronte scholars and will infuriate the more romantically inclined. Butit also offers much to tip the balance in favour of the conspiracy theorists. Envy of fame, jealousy of passion and good old fashioned greed combine to set sister against sister, brother in law against sister in law and husband against wife. Unlike 'Wuthering Heights', 'Jane Eyre' or 'Agnes Grey' there are no heroes or heroines here - all the literary Brontes, and Charlotte's huband, are guilty of some crime or other. For some it is the lesser crime of innocence but with others, according to Mr Tully, the crimes were far more serious. I approached this book expecting it to be a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek view of the Brontes but as I progressed the evidence unearthed by Mr Tully became more and more reasonable and I concluded by agreeing that murder on such a scale would have been possible 150 years ago. We seem to think that we have the monopoly on serial murders in the late twentieth century with the likes of Sutcliff, West and Shipman and yet there is strong evidence in many records to contradict this belief. James Tully's theories and speculations may seem far-fetched to some but in context they become more real the further you explore them and, more importantly, the less you rely on the safe and sanctified version of life at The Parsonage. There is meat on the bones presented in this book!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Tabloid Writing At Its Worst 9 Feb 2009
Ridiculous jumping to "conclusions" here folks. Worth a star for the information, if accurate, about the Bronte death certificates. Perhaps Mr Tully should have considered the fact that the plumbing used for water supply in Haworth in the Brontes days left a lot to be desired and contained dangerous metals and contaminates that could easily weakened and "poisoned" the residents of the parsonage over a period of time. Why did Mr Bronte escape? Perhaps because he took his daily fluid intake in another form not allowed for his victorian era daughters. As for the suggestion that Branwell wrote Wuthering Heights, if this was so why is there no hint of the literary ability exhibited in that book to be found in his pretensious morbid poetry?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable myhtical romp.
Good fun, with a couple of plot errors, but, nonetheless an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Recommended for Bronte fans, just for the 'what if...' factor.
Published 16 months ago by Paul
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing work
I've just finished reading this novel. I found it badly written and implausible. Mr Tully presents his evidence for the prosecution very selectively. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Crimes of charlote Bronte
This was a very well written book and kept me interested all through. The story certainly opens your eyes to the true characters of the Brontes. I loved it..
Published on 16 May 2009 by I. Atkinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Can it be disproved?
I read this book many years ago without realising that it was a novel - I believed everything in it. Read more
Published on 4 Nov 2004 by S. Hartley
3.0 out of 5 stars FICTION
It is a good read. But if you have read anything about the Brontes and actually are interested in a true representation of their life and times, don't trust this guy. Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars A really good read, but take with a huge pinch of salt
I have been reading the Brontes since I was about 10, and have loved some of the books and been indifferent to others. Read more
Published on 29 May 2000 by
3.0 out of 5 stars Explosive theories about Britain bestloved literary family
I admit I knew nothing about the Bronte's so everything that was talked about in this book came as a major shock to me. Read more
Published on 20 April 2000 by Ms. Lesa Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but basically a slur to the Bronte name.
James Tully has commited the crime of offending true lovers of the Bronte sisters all over the world, With his sensationalist crime story, alledging that the Sisters were caught up... Read more
Published on 24 Nov 1999
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