Tag Archives: Charlotte Bronte

#BookReview ‘Charlotte Brontë A Life’ by Claire Harman #books #writerslife

How did Charlotte Brontë create the character of Jane Eyre? Was Villette really based on a doomed love affair in Brussels? How much of the real author is in these novels? If you have read Charlotte Brontë’s books, you will have asked yourself these questions. The biography Charlotte Brontë: A Life by Claire Harman provides some fascinating answers. Claire Harman

This is the first biography of Brontë I have read and I wish I had read it sooner. Harman tells the enthralling story of the family whose losses, grief, hardship, isolation and disappointments populate the novels of the three sisters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne. It is impossible to write about Charlotte without writing about the family, and particularly about Emily, Anne and brother Branwell. Everyone knows the headline facts about the Brontës – Haworth parsonage, mother and siblings dying, Branwell’s addiction, and the imaginary kingdoms of Angria and Dondal in which the children lose themselves. But Harman makes the history accessible, telling the life of Charlotte in chronological order starting briefly with her father Patrick.

There are clear references to real life appearing in the novels and Harman casts light on the writing process of Charlotte and her sisters. For a novelist, this is required reading. Some of Charlotte’s experiences written about in letters appear directly in her novels, along with paragraphs lifted from journals and lines and passages lifted from works earlier abandoned. Harman extensively quotes Elizabeth Gaskell – who wrote the first biography of Charlotte Brontë published in 1857, based largely on Charlotte’ letters sent to her friend Ellen Nussey – and Charlotte’s correspondence with friends and her London publisher.

It is a tragic story but Harman is never over-sentimental. She is excellent at pairing characters, incidents and emotions in the novels with Charlotte’s real life.

A must read for any novelist who is a fan of the Brontë novels.

If you like this, try:-
Searching for the Secret River’ by Kate Grenville
Giving up the Ghost’ by Hilary Mantel
On Writers and Writing’ by Margaret Atwood 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
CHARLOTTE BRONTË: A LIFE by Claire Harman #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Xi via @SandraDanby

First Edition: Jane Eyre

Is there a more iconic novel than Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte? Beloved by generations of teenage girls who identify with the eponymous Jane, her suffering, her fortitude and generosity, Jane Eyre also plays a key role in the acceptance of female authors. Bronte famously submitted the novel to her publisher under the pseudonym Currer Bell.

First editions of Jane Eyre by Currer Bell are available rarely for sale. See [above] the title page of the first issue which did not include a preface by the author, something remedied in the second edition; you can read the preface here, the book is held by the British Library. The most recent sale of a first edition [above] was at Bonhams, London in 2013 for £39,650. Jane Eyre

A three-volume edition published by London, Smith Elder & Co [above], available at Peter Harrington, is for sale [at time of going to press] for £4,500. This is a third edition; given the popularity of the novel when it was first published, around October 19, 1847, it was quickly followed by second and third editions on January 22, 1848 and April 15, 1848 respectively. This particular edition attracts a high price as there are a number of typographical errors that make it unique.

Another example of how a printer’s error can boost the price of a book is the 2012 Penguin Classics edition [below] which is wrongly credited on the spine as being written by Emily Bronte. At the time of going to press, this hardcover edition was for sale at Amazon for £199.99.

The story
When the novel starts, Jane is 10 and living with her maternal uncle’s family. Her uncle has since died. Mistreated by her relatives, Jane’s only comfort is a doll and some books. She is sent to Lowood Institution, a charity school for girls. The life at Lowood is harsh but Jane makes a friend, Helen Burns. During an outbreak of tuberculosis, Helen dies and the director’s maltreatment of the girls is discovered; conditions subsequently improve. On leaving Lowood, Jane secures a position as governess at Thornfield Hall to the ward of the mysterious Mr Rochester.

The film
Many film and television versions of Jane Eyre have been made, starting in 1910 with a silent movie [below] produced by the Thanhouser Company and starring Marie Eline as Jane and Frank H Crane as Mr Rochester. Unfortunately the reel of this is presumed lost. Jane Eyre
The most recent adaptation in 2011 starred Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. Watch the trailer hereJane Eyre

Other editions

Jane Eyre
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte [UK: Penguin Classics]

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton
‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkein
‘An Ice Cream War’ by William Boyd

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First Edition: JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte #oldbooks https://wp.me/p5gEM4-37V via @SandraDanby

My Porridge & Cream read: Julie Stock

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance author Julie Stock. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

“My ‘Porridge and Cream’ book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The first time I read it was at secondary school, when I was about 14 years old, in the late 1970s. I went to a girls’ school and romantic love seemed very elusive and also illusory. What captivated me about the story was that it seemed so real. My school was nothing like Jane’s experience, thank goodness, although I might have felt like it was at the time but I appreciated the truth of the story, like the author was treating the reader with respect by drawing characters to whom life had not been kind, who were quite ordinary in their way, but had the potential to be extraordinary by their actions.

Julie Stock

Julie’s copy of ‘Jane Eyre’

It was many years before I picked the book up again but I find myself moved to reread it regularly these days, especially when the real world becomes a bit too superficial and I need an escape to a world where people rose above their suffering and survived despite it because of the power of love. I love Jane most of all. I feel sorry for her, but I also admire her for surviving all the awful things life throws at her. And even at the last, when anyone else would be weeping with despair, she is happy to find Mr. Rochester again. What a woman!

The plot: Jane Eyre – an average woman of low means, destined to live her life alone but with a determination to make something of her situation.

Edward Rochester – a bitter man, whose wealth has brought him no advantages. Can he be saved by the love of a good woman?

This is an epic love story that will show you how love can overcome all obstacles, and save even the most desperate souls.”

Julie Stock’s Bio
Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories.Julie StockShe indie published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville [above], in February 2015 and published her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. A follow-up novella to From Here to Nashville is also in progress, as well as the next novel. Julie is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Society of Authors and The Alliance of Independent Authors.

Julie Stock’s links

Julie Stock’s latest book
Julie Stock The Vineyard in Alsace is a contemporary romance, telling the story of Fran and Didier who have a second chance at love when she goes for a job on his vineyard. When fate throws them together again, will they be able to put the past behind them and forgive each other enough to build a new life together?
‘The Vineyard in Alsace’ by Julie Stock [UK: Clued Up Publishing]

Julie Stock

What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects ‘Love in A Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again? If so, please send me a message here.

Julie Stock


‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte [UK: Penguin Classics]

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
Tracey Sinclair
Laura Wilkinson
Rachel Dove

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Why does #romance author @wood_beez48 re-read JANE EYRE? https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3d2 via @SandraDanby #books