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The Study Of Literature
English Literature Of The 19th Century:
 Other Irish Story Writers

 Minor Writers

 Charles Kingsley

 Thomas Adolphus Trollope

 Charles Reade

 Charlotte Bronte

 George Eliot

 Poetry Of The Early Victorian Period

 Alfred Tennyson

 Robert Browning

 Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century

Charlotte Bronte

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Women have held a conspicuous place among the writers of Victoria's reign. Prominent among the novelists was Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), the eldest of three sisters, daughters of an eccentric Irishman, who had become parson of a moorland parish in Yorkshire. Brought up amid poverty in this dreary wilderness, they had intense longings for advantages beyond their reach. They were intended to be governesses, and for this purpose Charlotte and Emily spent a year at Brussels. After their return the three sisters published a volume of poems, under the assumed names, Currer, Ellis, and Ac-ton Bell, each retaining her own initials. The literary instinct was strong, and they resolved to write each a story. Charlotte's attempt, "The Professor," could not secure a publisher. Then she set to work on "Jane Eyre," which, after being refused by several publishers, was at last accepted and issued in 1847. It is the story of a plain orphan girl, educated by charity, who enters the household of Edward Rochester, an ugly, domineering master, whose insane wife is kept in concealment. This man, who had been sated with the excitements of the world, finds himself, to his own surprise, becoming interested in the little, plain, but intelligent woman, who evidently tries to avoid his attentions. The book revealed with circumstantial detail much of the author's experience, and also the deepest feelings of her heart. Its truthfulness captured the reading world, and Charlotte was summoned to London to meet the literary magnates, but the shy little woman soon returned to her moorland home. Her second book, "Shirley" (1848), was more labored than the first, and shocked some readers by making her heroine seek too eagerly for the man of her choice. In "Villette" (1852) she made use of her experiences in Brussels, and won a new success in the love of the vivacious French professor, Paul Emmanuel, for the modest little English girl, Lucy Snowe. In 1854 Charlotte was married to her father's curate, Mr. Nicholls, but she died within a year. Her sister, Emily (1818-1848), had written a fiercely tragic novel, "Wuthering Heights," and some short poems of strong feeling.

The strange biography of the Brontė family was written by Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), herself a novelist of merit. Her first story, "Mary Barton" (1848), was a pathetic delineation of some scenes of Manchester life. "Ruth" (1850) was a story of the redemption of a too trusting girl who had been seduced by a villain. But the most noted of Mrs. Gaskell's works is "Cranford," a pleasing chronicle of the simple events of a quiet little village.

One of the most highly esteemed women-novelists was Dinah Maria Muloch, afterwards Mrs. Craik (1826-1887). Her most noted work is "John Halifax, Gentleman" (1857), a quiet story of a pure love. She had written some novels before this, and many more after it, but none quite equal to this delicate master-piece.

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