- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
The Brontes Paperback – 4 Nov 2010
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
* Abacus reissue of Juliet Barker's unrivalled biography of the Bronte sisters, revised for this edition
About the Author
Juliet Barker is a distinguished biographer and a medievalist and scholar. She is both a bestselling historian and a critically acclaimed expert on the Brontes.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Without any doubt, the single greatest achievement of the book is that it puts straight the inaccuracies - verging at times on libel - perpetrated by Mrs Gaskell in her life of Charlotte Bronte published soon after her death . Mrs Gaskell, an almost equally famous novelist ("North and South") was a friend of Charlotte's but had only visited Haworth once while Charlotte was still alive. Unfortunately for posterity this was the only time in many years that charlotte and her father were at loggerheads, over the recently received marriage proposal from her fathers curate. Ironically it was her fathers disapproval and the curates distressed reaction that awoke Charlottes sympathy and eventual love for Arthur Bell Nicholls. Relying heavily on Charlottes's friend Ellen Nussey, no friend of Nicholls, who had her own agenda, Mrs Gaskell performed a number of disservices. She caricatured especially Patrick Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls, who married Charlotte only to see her die tragically 9 months later. Based on painstaking research Barker shows that Patrick was far from a despotic father uninterested in his talented children's literary genius but was intensely proud and supportive of them. Nor was he in any way a misanthropic reactionary let alone a father who half fed his children. He was in fact beloved by not only his children but also his parishioners and very active in numerous good works and caring for the sick and dying. Motivated by deep but compassionate evangelical faith in many ways he emerges as the tragic hero, outliving his wife and all six of his children, cared for after Charlottes death only by his curate by then son in law Arthur Bell Nicholls, who was equally traduced by Mrs Gaskell. Bell in turn then suffered the humiliation of having Charlottes doubts about whether she should marry him written in a private letter y Charlotte to Ellen Nussey splashed after her death all over the nation and even reprinted in detail by the local Haworth newspaper. Their dignified and Christian reaction to being most unfairly slandered just a few years after Charlottes death, argues the book, speaks volumes for their character.
All these wrongs and errors and many more are put straight by Juliet Barker. What emerges is a much more rounded and human portrait of Charlotte. She was portrayed by Mrs Gaskell as a saint but in fact (like all of us) she had her faults, she could be manipulative and bossy, engaged in frequent sibling rivalry and perfectly willing to get embroiled in bitter quarrels, notably with her one time friend Harriet Martineau. She also had serious infatuations with her married tutor in Brussels and her single ( but eventually married to Charlottes great displeasure) publisher, George Smith. But the Charlotte Bronte that emerges, perhaps for the first time in 150 years a fully rounded real human being.
The other three Bronte siblings remain and always will I assume remain somewhat enigmatic simply because they died so young. This is especially true of the youngest sister, Anne, who was dismissed to some extent even by her eldest sister Charlotte. Emily the author of in my view the greatest novel from the parsonage at Haworth emerges a little more clearly as a fiercely independent thinker but even here there is frustratingly little to go on. Juliet Barker repeatedly makes the point that the sisters, like all great writers, drew heavily on their own experiences but that emphatically doesn't mean the novels are directly autobiographical. She argues that it was the family dynamic, the four siblings thrown together which made them so unique " they had needed no other companions and in the sometimes heated often intense but always affectionate rivalry between them they each had a place and a voice...without this intense family relationship some of the greatest novels in the English language would never have been written". Ultimately this is why the book works so well, in that it is a wonderfully written and superbly researched account of a family whose works stand as testimony to their closeness - not excluding the deep love of their unfairly treated up to now father and husband/future brother in law.
Only suggestion is to add a list of key people and movements as a bit difficult to key clear as so much information is offered.
Time now to reread or read the work of the Brontes.
Thank you Ms JB
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews