Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Margaret Smith's Selected Letters of Charlotte Brontë

Oxford University Press publishes this week Selected Letters of Charlotte Brontë by Margaret Smith (editor of one of the milestones of Brontë bibliography: the three volumes of The Letters of Charlotte Brontë):

Selected Letters of Charlotte Brontë
Edited by Margaret Smith
Price: £19.99 (hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-920587-5
Publication date: 13 September 2007
350 pages, 15 b/w photos, 234x156 mm

Description
* A valuable selection of letters written by Charlotte Brontë from her schooldays to her death in 1855 - chosen by the editor of the complete correspondence
* An excellent introduction sets the letters in the context of Charlotte Brontë's life
* Biographical notes introduce Charlotte's family, friends, and correspondents
* Illustrated with fifteen black-and-white plates

These letters give an insight into the life of a writer whose novels continue to be bestsellers. They reveal much about Charlotte Brontë's personal life, her family relationships, and the society in which she lived. Many of her early letters are written with vigour, vivacity, and an engaging aptitude for self-mockery. In contrast, her letters to her 'master', the Belgian schoolteacher Constantin Heger, reveal her intense, obsessive longing for some response from him. Other letters are deeply moving, when Charlotte endures the agony of her brother's and sisters' untimely deaths. We learn also of the progress of her writing, including the astonishing success of Jane Eyre, and of her contacts with her publishers, including the young George Smith; and we recognize in her letters the life-experiences which are transmuted into the art of her novels. Contemporary society is brilliantly described in her letters from London, when she writes of her encounters with famous writers and with critics of her novels. We hear too of her visits to art galleries, operas, and the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace. Dramatic letters written in December 1852 convey the 'turbulence of feeling' in the Haworth curate Arthur Nicholls's proposal of marriage to her and in Mr Brontë's violent reaction to it; and we subsequently hear of her secret correspondence with her suitor, her father's eventual consent, and her tragically brief happy marriage, cut short by her death in March 1855.
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