Flowers for Anne's birthday. - The Brontë Society Flowers for Anne's birthday Thank you very much to the person who sends them every year - they are much loved
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BBC Radio 3
The Essay: I Am, Yours Sincerely, C Brontë
Charlotte Brontë's true identity revealed through her powerful and poignant letters.
Producer: Beaty Rubens
Monday, February 22, 22:45
Claire Harman on Charlotte Brontë, Governess
1.Brontë's new biographer, Claire Harman, on her experience as a governess.
Among the 900 surviving letters of Charlotte Brontë, the ones written while she was a governess most vivdly reveal her characteristic blend, as a young woman, of unhappiness and frustration mingled with hope and ambition.
Claire Harman sets out the drab, demeaning details of Brontë's life as a governess and her passionate longing for a more fulfilling life. In her letter to her old school-friend, Ellen Nussey, Brontë writes enviously of another friend who has been travelling in Belgium: "I hardly know what swelled to my throat as I read her letter - such a vehement impatience of restraint and steady work - such a strong wish for wings - wings such as wealth can furnish - such an urgent thirst to see - to know - to learn - something internal seemed to expand boldly for a minute - I was tantalised with the consciousness of faculties unexercised.....".
Tuesday, February 23, 22:45
Claire Harman on Charlotte Brontë in Belgium
2. Biographer Claire Harman on the two years Charlotte Brontë spent as a mature student in Belgium, at a school run by Zoe and Constantin Heger, and its turbulent epistolary aftermath.
When Charlotte Brontë's passionate letters to Constantin Heger were published in 1913, they caused a sensation. Today, they are more likely to provoke a sympathetic response.
On the 200th anniversary of her birth, Claire Harman unfolds the story of Brontë's time in Brussels. She explores the letters she wrote to Heger after her return to Haworth and his stoney refusal to correspond with her, in spite of her pleas and her wish to write a book and dedicate it to him: "I would write a book and I would dedicate it to my literature master - to the only master I have ever had - to you Monsieur".
It's amongst the most painful incidents in Brontë's life-story, but Claire Harman goes on to discuss how Brontë eventually used the experience in The Professor, Villette, and, of course, in her masterpiece, Jane Eyre.
Wednesday, February 24, 22:45
Lyndall Gordon on Charlotte Brontë and Robert Southey
The poet laureate Robert Southey's letter to Charlotte Brontë is now infamous: "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation."
The scholar and Brontë biographer Lyndall Gordon, explores Brontë's response to this letter, in all its ambiguity: "In the evenings, I confess, I do think, but never trouble anyone else with my thoughts."
Thursday, February 25, 22:45
Jane Shilling on 'I Shall Soon Be Thirty'
The journalist Jane Shilling has reflected on women, ageing and creativity in her book, The Woman in the Mirror. Two hundred years after Charlotte Brontë's birth, Jane Shilling wonders about her feelings as she wrote to her dear friend, Ellen Nussey, "I shall soon be 30 and have done nothing yet", shortly before embarking on her greatest work, Jane Eyre.
Friday, February 26, 22:45
Rachel Joyce on Brontë as a Literary Star
In the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's birth, Rachel Joyce - a best-selling author herself - reflects on how, on the publication of Jane Eyre, Brontë reacted to becoming a literary sensation.
When Jane Eyre was published in 1847, it was a literary sensation. Rachel Joyce reflects both on Brontë's modest excitement that her book was being read by "such men as Mr Thackeray", and her absolute confidence in her own writing and literary judgement.
Rachel Joyce is the best-selling author of The Lonely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and has recently written a new adaptation of Jane Eyre for BBC Radio 4.