Brontë biographies

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Brontë biographies

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1ellik
Abr 19, 2009, 9:16am

Hi, and thanks again for the invite.

I like finding out about the people behind the books I love, and so I enjoy reading biographies. I'm currently on the look-out for Brontë biographies and was wondering if any of you have come across any good ones?

2Tid
Abr 19, 2009, 9:26am

The place to start is probably the earliest : Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte, written shortly after the subject's death.

3ElizabethPotter
Editado: Abr 19, 2009, 7:12pm

Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life by Lyndall Gordon.

I love it. It discusses Charlotte as a writer which a lot of the biographies don't do.

It won't let me pick the right touchstone, but if you follow the author link it will take you eventually to the Brontë biography.

4Catgwinn
Abr 19, 2009, 6:28pm

I can recommend the 1988 "The Brontes: Charlotte Bronte and Her Family" by Rebecca Fraser, which includes a very interesting 'Introduction' as well as a vintage photograph of Charlotte along with portraits of her and other family members.

5ellik
Abr 21, 2009, 3:45am

Thanks a lot for your great sugggestions! I think I'll go to Gaskell first and then follow with the rest.

Cheers :)

6ElizabethPotter
Jun 23, 2009, 7:19pm

So I have a question about the nature of biography. If anyone can come up with a counter example to my sweeping statement that might be interesting to discuss as well.

The Brontës are the most fictionalized literary figures I have known. This group has already touched on at least three or four novels that feature the sisters as fictional characters. Why do you think that is?

I realize there is something alluring about three sisters writing romantic stories in secret and then all dying within a few years of the publications of the said stories, but really, in a book about the Brontës one author contends that Charlotte and Emily have become as well known as the characters they created and almost rival them in the public eye. Do you think that is true?

Any thoughts?

7ellik
Jul 12, 2009, 7:52am

Well, for me the allure and interest of the Brontë sisters is in the mystery of that calibre of talent existing in a relatively secluded environment. It is so easy to be drawn in to romanticize them, it is as if all the main ingredients are readily present: the moors, the complicated relationships with the males in the family, isolation and enormous power of imagination - and yes, the early deaths, as if they had only arrived on this planet to write these texts and then felt free to disappear again...

I don't know if the authors themselves rival the characters they've created, but of course, the average modern reader might find it somehow easier to relate to the fictionalized Brontës than Heathcliff and the rest - talented women are always interesting:) Yet, I think the real lives of the Brontës are probably not that well known to the public.

8FlossieT
Ene 3, 2010, 5:10am

Sorry to pick up on a relatively old discussion, but I only found this group today (why it never occurred to me to look for it before, I'm not sure...).

I think that ellik hits on one of the key reasons in the last sentence of >7 ellik:: the real lives of the Brontës are probably not that well known. There is so little real hard biographical information on Emily and Anne, though Charlotte is quite well known, and yet their story is so compelling. In the absence of hard data, imagination wants to take over.

9naimahaviland
Ago 28, 2013, 7:08pm

I'm listening to a free Librivox download of Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte and enjoying it. Mrs. Gaskell drew parellels between Charlotte's experiences and the plots of her novels. She brought the environment of the Brontes' home village vividly to life. I'm about halfway through and am curious to see how she'll cover Charlotte's love life (or at least secret crushes), which also found itself immortalized in her novels.

I was reading Daphne Du Mourier's The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte. I put it down but do intend finishing sometime this year. It is not called a biography in the author's preface or in the book's back and inner jacket blurbs. But it isn't called a novel either. In the content Du Mourier speculated about relationships and events with words like "must have often felt" and "possibly". She wrote internal dialogue for people as if they were characters in a novel. The book has a bibliography of references several pages long at the end, so I guess the closest thing you could call it is a biographical novel.

10anthonywillard
Sep 7, 2013, 9:14am

I think Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte is read more today than Gaskell's novels are. It is a classic in its own right.

11CurrerBell
Editado: Sep 14, 2013, 4:55am

The best Bronte biography available is definitely Juliet Barker's. Here's my 5***** review. Barker also gives greater consideration to Branwell's very serious efforts as a poet than is found in most Bronte biographies. Note that Barker has just been re-released in a second edition in the past couple of years and that it's now available in a beautifully formatted Kindle edition that's physically easier to read than the quite heavy hardcover.

Barker is also the author/editor of The Brontes: A Life in Letters. My copy is Folio Society, but I think it's available in trade paperback.

Gaskell's a classic but highly romanticized, and it's quite unfair to Patrick Bronte and to a lesser degree to Arthur Bell Nichols.

Rebecca Fraser's is a wonderful biography but it's been outdated ever since Barker's first edition. (ETA: Here's my 4**** review of Fraser. My one quarrel with Fraser is that she occasionally engages in innuendo not clearly supported by fact.)