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The Letters of Charlotte Brontė: Volume III: 1852 - 1855: With a Selection of Letters by Family and Friends: 1852-1855 Vol 3 [Hardcover]

Margaret Smith
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Book Description

22 Jan 2004 Letters of Charlotte Brontė
This final volume of Charlotte Bronte's letters covers the period from 1852, when she eventually completed Villette, to March 1855, when she died at the early age of 38. Published in January 1853, Villette reflects experiences and moods conveyed with sharp immediacy in the correspondence of the preceding years. In December 1852 one of her most dramatic letters described the crucial event in her private life: Arthur Nicholls's proposal of marriage, when, 'shaking from head to foot' he made her feel 'what it costs a man to declare affection where he doubts response.' Mr Bronte's furious opposition to the match was not overcome until 1854, the year of Charlotte's marriage on 29 June. In the all too few months before her death, she came to love and trust Nicholls, her 'dear boy' and her 'tenderest nurse' during her final illness. The letters in this volume include on the one hand Charlotte's brief curt note to George Smith on his engagement to Elizabeth Blakeway, and on the other a newly discovered letter describing with cheerful briskness Charlotte's purchase of her own wedding trousseau. Complete texts of letters previously published inaccurately or in part provide valuable insight into her other friendships. Those to Elizabeth Gaskell in particular have an important bearing on our interpretation and assessment of her Life of Charlotte, published early in 1857; and the inclusion of Harriet Martineau's angry comments on the Life ('Hallucination!' [Friendship] was never attained.') enhances our understanding of Charlotte's break with Martineau after her review of Villette. The redating of a letter has shown that the long estrangement between Charlotte and her oldest friend, Ellen Nussey, caused by Ellen's hostility to the idea of Charlotte's marriage with Nicholls, lasted without a break from July 1853 until late February 1854. The volume includes some of the touching notes from Charlotte's bereaved husband and father, written in response to condolences on her death. Mrs Gaskell's graphic account of her visit to Haworth in 1853 forms one of the appendices; others provide the texts of fragmentary letters, identify known forgeries, and list addenda and corrigenda for volumes 1 and 2.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press (22 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198185995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198185994
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 15.9 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,801,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Charlotte Brontë was born at Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, the third child of Patrick and Maria Brontë. Her father was perpetual curate of Haworth, Yorkshire from 1820 until his death in 1861. Her mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son. Charlotte was employed as a teacher from 1835 to 1838, was subsequently a governess, and in 1842 went with her sister Emily to study languages in Brussels, where during 1843 she again worked as a teacher. Charlotte's first novel, The Professor, was rejected by several publishers and was not published until 1857. Jane Eyre was published in 1847 and achieved immediate success. In 1848 Branwell Brontë died, as did Emily before the end of the same year, and Anne in the following summer, so that Charlotte alone survived of the six children. Charlotte married in 1854 the Revd A. B Nicholls, her father's curate, but died in March 1855.

Product Description


Margaret Smith's edition, now complete, is a triumph of scholarship: copiously and usefully annotated, and meticulously cross-referenced. It will be an indispensable resource for generations of Bronte scholars to come. But it will also be read by many, and not merely as a scholarly resource. Heather Glen, Times Literary Supplement The appearance of this third and final volume ... marks the culmination of a monumental publishing achievement ... [Margaret Smith] deserves the highest praise for the sheer doggedness with which she has pursued bits and pieces of letters through salesrooms and private collections ... She is also a model editor. The standard of her annotations is superb, and no worthwhile cross-reference to the Brontes' lives or works is allowed to slip through her net ... this wonderful collection does allow us clearly to hear the impassioned voice of one of the greatest letter-writers in the language. Three cheers for Margaret Smith and the Clarendon Press for an immaculate edition. Mark Bostridge, The Independent on Sunday Of the hundreds of books I have reviewed in the last half century only two could be classified as definitive. Margaret Smith's three volumes of Charlotte Bronte's correspondence are a model of conventional scholarship, unassailably definitive. They will survive as long as the serious study of English literature survives the efforts of postmodernist critics to reduce it to a jargon-ridden wasteland. Raymond Carr, The Spectator

About the Author

Margaret Smith is Honorary Fellow for the Institute of Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT 8 May 2005
To conclude the set of 3 volumes of Charlotte Brontes letters, it finishes on a high, excellent research and information and every letter included.
Many thanks Ms Smith for making them available to us all...
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