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Charlotte Brontë

Tony Rossiter explains how she created an unconventional heroine with a feminist perspective

The techniques and tricks of …

Published in 1847, Jane Eyre was a literary sensation. Despite its orthodox romantic structure (attraction, impediment, final marital resolution), it was a revolutionary novel. Coming up to the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth (21 April 1816), it’s worth considering how this quiet parson’s daughter, whose social circle centred almost exclusively on her father’s profession, came to produce what is generally regarded as one of England’s greatest works of fiction. She completed four novels (The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette), but I’ll concentrate on Jane Eyre.

Beginnings

In 1820, at the age of four, Charlotte, the third of six children, moved with her parents and siblings from Thornton, near Bradford, to Haworth, where her father had been appointed perpetual curate. Four years later she was sent, with her sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Emily, to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire. After less than a year there both Maria and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis, and Patrick Brontë removed Charlotte and Emily from the school.

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About Writing Magazine

FREE 2016 Competition supplement: Win £400,388 in over 250 writing competitions • The bigger prize: Why comps are good for you , win or lose • Beat the Brontës: Explore Charlotte's style and try your hand in our special competition • How to: Craft credible historical fiction Use humour in your writing Learn from the short story masters • Star interview with TV scriptwriter Sally Wainwright, Bafta-winning author of Happy Valley

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