Charlotte Bronte: A Life

Author(s): Claire Harman

Biography & Memoir

Raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors, watching five beloved siblings sicken and die, haunted by unrequited love: Charlotte Bronte's life has all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. Charlotte was a literary visionary, a feminist trailblazer and the driving force behind the whole Bronte family. She pushed Emily to publish Wuthering Heights and took charge of their precarious finances when her feckless brother turned to opium. In Jane Eyre she introduced the world to a brand new kind of heroine, modelled on herself: quiet but fiercely intelligent, burning with passion and potential. This is a truly gripping and illuminating account of one of our best-loved novelists.


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Harman's sane, unshowy re-telling is exactly right for the bicentenary next April. The result is a retooled classic biographical narrative, shipshape and serviceable for the next 200 years The Guardian Finely judged and authoritative Sunday Times Book of the Week Elegantly written, consistently perceptive...[Harman] succeeds in bringing Charlotte back to life in all her spiky vulnerability Daily Mail Book of the Week This is a comprehensive biography to enjoy and admire. Harman writes well and she is a fine and sensitive critic The Times Harman... portrays Bronte's complexity and dark genius in elegant prose with deep human sympathy The Lady Superb retelling of Charlotte's story (...) admirably concise The Spectator Harman tells [Charlotte's] story with quick wit, a sharp sympathy, and a fire and fury of her own Evening Standard Full of pleasing and piquant detail, scraps of passing recollection assembled from the various lives and letters in which the Brontes featured and from which we might reconstruct their world Financial Times Elegant, sensitive, beautifully paced and moving. [Claire Harman] has... produced a work that is affirmative, edifying, inspiring and humane Sunday Express Revelatory (...) adds freshness and texture to her account with original speculations. As someone who once wrote a book about the Brontes' afterlives, few people can have read as many biographies of them as I have. I thought I was Bronte-ed out, but reading this book-which will be equally accessible to someone coming to Charlotte for the first time-has drawn me back in Lucasta Miller, The Independent Three rounds of applause...for Claire Harman's superb retelling of Charlotte's story -- Mark Bostridge, The Spectator [An] excellent new bicentennial biography...Ms. Harman writes with warmth and a fine understanding of Ms. Bronte's literary significance. Above all, she is a storyteller, with a sense of pace and timing, relish for a good scene and a wry sense of humour Economist A vigorous new biography (...) Harman does a splendid job Mail on Sunday An immensely readable biography Woman and Home A substantial biography (...) that lets the disparate pieces speak for themselves Daily Telegraph Harman renders her daring novels fresh, interweaving what shocked critics then with what surprises us still Sunday Telegraph Prepare to suffer similar time-loss at the hands of Harman, Bronte's most recent biographer and a master storyteller in her own right. Level-headed, highly readable and always intelligent, Harman's account of Bronte's life and work is a delight from start to finish Sunday Times A subtle, measured biography, full of insight into Bronte's fiery intellect as well as the tragic intensity of her experience -- Helen Dunmore, Observer Harman brings a fresh eye to many of the same papers studied by Gaskell to compile her Charlotte Bronte: A Life. The Gothic atmosphere and heart-breaking details remain, but Harman achieves a great feat by making the story seem new again -- Marcus Field, Independent

Claire Harman is the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1989), Fanny Burney (2000) and Robert Louis Stevenson (2005) and the author of the best-selling Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (2009). She writes regularly for the literary press on both sides of the Atlantic and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006. Her most recent work is Charlotte Bronte: A Life.

General Fields

  • : 9780241963661
  • : Penguin Books Ltd
  • : Penguin Books Ltd
  • : April 2016
  • : United Kingdom
  • : June 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Claire Harman
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 823.8
  • : 464