Monday, April 29, 2013

The Brontës: Charlotte Brontë and Her Family

1988, 1990 Fawcett Columbine (Ballantine) edition
Rebecca Fraser
The Brontës: Charlotte Brontë and Her Family
Bought newish for $12.95
Worn paperback

As the title suggests, the focus here is mostly on Charlotte, but Fraser does a good job of showing us father Patrick, brother Branwell, and sisters Emily and Anne, as well as Charlotte's various friends and acquaintances.  (I thought sweet Ellen and feisty Mary were great.)  As I noted previously, Fraser quotes Elisabeth Barrett Browning about as much as Forster does, and she quotes heavily from the writing siblings she profiles, including their letters.  She points out the contradictions between the quiet lives and the wild fiction, and the reactions of their contemporaries to both aspects.  Fraser comes by her biographical skills partly through heredity.  She's the granddaughter of Lady Longford, who wrote the 1965 biography of Queen Victoria, and the daughter of Antonia Fraser, who wrote the 1969 Mary Queen of Scots bio and The Wives of Henry VIII, coming up in 1992.

As I read this book, I couldn't help thinking of what James Tully would do with the same material, especially Arthur Bell Nicholls's prickly personality, in The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë, which I'll discuss under 1999.

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