CHARLOTTE BRONTE was born in 1816 and died in 1855. Her father was curate of Thornton, and later of Haworth, in Yorkshire, and in the latter place most of her life was spent. The bleak moorland scenery of this Yorkshire home forms the material of many of her most graphic descriptions, while Yorkshire character is her favorite subject of study. In 1854 she married her father's curate, Mr. Nicholls. Her life, as a whole, was unhappy -- on account mainly of domestic troubles -- and this aspect of it is abundantly reflected in her works; in fact, few novels are so autobiographical as hers.
Among writers of English fiction in the middle of the nineteenth century she holds a place similar to that occupied by Jane Austen in its earliest years. Each was the first in time of a series of great novelists who are distinctly separated, as a group, from those of the preceding period. With Miss Austen are thus chronologically associated Scott, Bulwer, Dickens, Thackeray, and Disraeli; with Miss Brontö, George Eliot, Kingsley, Trollope, and Reade. Neither of them founded a school, and yet each exerted a most powerful influence upon the development of their art, and their masterpieces, "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre," will always be reckoned among the most conspicuous monuments of English fiction. As to which of the two is the greater writer critics will long dispute, but it is certain that only one other female novelist of the century -- namely, George Eliot -- is worthy to be compared with either of them.
"Jane Eyre" appeared in 1847 under the pseudonym of "Currer Bell," and at once won success. It is quite as readable and is almost as much read now as when it was published. This popularity is largely due to its power as a love story and its aggressive and unconventional treatment of certain social themes. It is equally notable, however, as a study of English provincial life. For this reason it is included in this series.