Charlotte Brontë

Claire Harman

Charlotte Brontë
Famed for her beloved novels, Charlotte Brontë has been known as well for her insular, tragic family life. This biography delves behind this image to reveal a life in which loss and heartache existed alongside rebellion and fierce ambition. Harman seizes on a crucial moment in the 1840s when Charlotte worked at a girls' school in Brussels and fell hopelessly in love with the husband of the school's headmistress. Her torment spawned her first attempts at writing for publication, and he haunts the pages of every one of her novels - he is Rochester in Jane Eyre, Paul Emanuel in Villette. Another unrequited love - for her publisher - paved the way for Charlotte to enter a marriage that ultimately made her happier than she ever imagined. Drawing on correspondence unavailable to previous biographers, Claire Harman establishes Brontë as the heroine of her own story, one as dramatic and triumphant as one of her own novels. (From Knopf Canada) nov-newreleases.jpg


Her return to Brussels for a second year at the Pensionnat Héger Charlotte sees with hindsight to have been a terrible mistake, for she has fallen in love with someone who, it is painfully clear, will never see her in a romantic light. It is the headmistress's husband, Monsieur Constantin Héger, a man of impressive intellect and spirit, the first person outside her immediate family to take her seriously, the first man to treat her as a potential equal. But the thrill of having his attention in her first year, as a pupil, has been followed by misery in the second, as his junior colleague. The Hégers have become wary of Charlotte's ardour and eccentricities, and much more formal in their dealings with her. And the man she considered her soul-mate is pretending that she is nothing special to him at all.

From Charlotte Brontë by Claire Harman ©2016. Published by Knopf Canada.