The Brontës' Web of Childhood

The Brontës' Web of Childhood

The Brontës' Web of Childhood

The Brontës' Web of Childhood

Excerpt

No family in English literature has provoked so many books and monographs as have the four Brontës, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne; and no individuals, except Shakespeare and Byron, have received so much attention as the two older girls. Mrs. Gaskell Life of Charlotte Brontë, published within two years of Charlotte's death, holds its place after eighty-three years as one of the most popular biographies in the language. Later research has added little of essential value or interest to its story of the outward lives of the remarkable family of Haworth Parsonage. Yet the thoroughness of Mrs. Gaskell's work, rather than deterring others, has tempted innumerable enthusiasts into the Brontë field.

When the simple facts of Charlotte's thirty-nine years lost their novelty through much repetition, writers took to inventing mysteries and indulging in fantastic speculations leading to endless controversy. "Lives" gave place to "Secrets," "Keys," "Defenses," and "Vindications" in long procession. Interest, spreading first to her nearest of kin, came eventually to include all who touched her life, even to her remote ancestors and slight acquaintances, producing a long list of such titles as Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle, The Brontës in Ireland, and The Maternal Relatives of the Brontës. Nor has interest stopped with persons; it has concerned itself voluminously with the region in which the Brontës lived, until the personalities of the three sisters are inseparably identified with the Yorkshire moors; and books about the Brontë country are as numerous as books about the family that made that country famous. A complete bibliography of Brontëana would fill a sizable volume.

It would seem, then, that the subject has been exhausted in all its . . .

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