on 20 March 2001
The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë provides an amazing chance to read the early writings of these two great authors. Austen's juvenilia shows a progress from the fantastical, bizarre narratives like 'Henry and Eliza', where characters go on wild adventures, closest relations go unrecognised, and romance and violence go hand-in-hand, through the mock-serious 'Letters', to the more mature 'Catherine, or the Bower'. Signs of engagement with themes which later appear in her full-length novels can be seen even in the earliest writings - human nature, social conventions surrounding marriage, attitudes to reading. Her writing is funny, witty and highly amusing to read. Charlotte Brontë's juvenilia is based on her fantasy land of 'Angria', which seems as real to her as her own home. She creates an intricate kingdom, peopled with characters who change and develop over time. This is especially true of the hero of the piece - the Duke of Zamorna. We follow him though his eventful life as his character alters, and as Brontë's attitude to him changes. One is left with a sense of wonder at the imagination of young Charlotte Brontë, which sustained such an intricate and complex 'play' over a ten year period, and the dedication which lead her to record her mental creations.