Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Charlotte Brontë, 200 Years Young: "Reader, I married him."

Happy Birthday to Charlotte Brontë, the author of one of my all time favorite novels, Jane Eyre. In my sophomore year of high school, it lit a spark of love for classic literature.  Back in 1979, I literally could not put down this timeless novel, first published in 1847!

Maybe it was the way little introverted Jane Eyre bravely faced hardships and sorrows and stood against cruelty, something I hoped I could do in my own (happy) life. Or maybe it was because Jane, as a plain and poor young woman, had the gumption to stand up and demand respect from Mr. Rochester - a man who had everything - for the validity of her soul and heartfelt feelings.  And then walk away from him...

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!

In the end though, I think the reason I fell in love with this book was Jane's (actually Charlotte's) address to me, the "Reader", throughout the pages.  Disclosing her soul, speaking quietly and fervently to mine...

Two hundred years have passed since the birth of Charlotte Brontë (April 21, 1816 - March 31, 1855), and her timeless Jane Eyre remains a favorite to this day.

Charlotte had much experience with suffering. Maybe because of the hardships she faced in her own life (beginning in 1820, when her mother died from blood poisoning following the delivery of her younger sister Anne), she was able to pour them into her novel.

In August 1824 eight year old Charlotte went with her two elder sisters to a new school for daughters of clergymen, in Cowan Bridge, in what is now Cumbria. What happened there would torment Charlotte for the rest of her life. The school regime was dreadfully harsh, and her bright but unworldly sister Maria was singled out for punishment of both the physical and mental kind. Food was scarce and under-nourishing, and disease ravaged the school’s inmates. By June 1825, both Maria and Elizabeth had died of tuberculosis contracted at the school. The horrors she saw there would be later reproduced under the guise of Lowood School in Jane Eyre, and Charlotte would forever be indignant if anyone suggested she had exaggerated these scenes.
Charlotte became an overnight success after Jane Eyre, but shortly after its publication her world was thrown into turmoil again by the death of her brother Branwell and then Emily and Anne in quick succession.

Despite suffering increasingly frequent bouts of depression, she began to visit London and mix in literary society, at least reaping the rewards that her talents deserved. She wrote two more novels ‘Shirley’ and ‘Villette’, each a masterpiece in its own right and was in the early stages of her next novel ‘Emma’ when tragedy struck again.

She had been married for nine months to Arthur Bell Nicholls, but she died from excessive morning sickness aged 38. A sad end to a brilliant life, and yet at least she had found genuine joy and happiness in her final few months. [source]


  1. This is one of my all time favorites and now my teenage daughter has discovered it. I love the artwork of the edition you feature in your post.

  2. I don't think I knew Charlotte's story...wow! I also love the way she addresses the "Reader," and especially in the conclusion!!