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Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  277 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In this groundbreaking and unconventional biography, Lyndall Gordon dismantles the insistent image of Charlotte Bronte as a modest Victorian lady, the slave to duty in the shadow of tombstones, revealing instead a strong and fiery woman who shaped her own life and transformed it into art.

"Sensitive, open-minded, vivid, full of psychological insight, [Gordon's] book is a b
Paperback, 467 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Not Avail (first published 1994)
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Jan 12, 2011 Salma rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chandra, Abigail, Ann, Katherine
So, my Bronte obsession continues- when I saw this book half-price in Houston, I had to snatch it up. I think this bio may have been one of the answers to the Elizabeth Gaskell bio, where Charlotte was portrayed as an oh-so-Victorian suffering lily. In this one, as you've guessed from the title, Gordon focuses on Charlotte's passion, her drive, and her determination to express her truth.

There are some very interesting photographs in here (I didn't think Charlotte was as 'plain' as everyone seem
Anastasia Hobbet
Lyndall Gordon has written a number of my favorite literary biographies, including her peerless book on Mary Wollstonecraft, mother to Mary Shelley and--far more important--the author of 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' written in 1792, which was the first major milestone of Feminism. Oh, what a life she led. This older work by Gordon, on the life of Charlotte Bronte, author of 'Jane Eyre' which I hadn't read previously, put the same piercing but benevolent analysis to work on the subject- ...more
Andrea Hickman Walker
For the first time in my life I have a desire to read the Bronte novels. I've read Jane Eyre, and it was okay. I started Wuthering Heights and got no further than the first chapter. I've been intending to read them because my grandmother gave me the extremely precious leatherbound set that belonged to her father (which includes Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte). It has always been more of a duty, something that I must do as someone who enjoys reading and classics, rather than somethi ...more
If you're looking for a really detailed biography of Charlotte Brontë, this may not be exactly what you want, but if you're already familiar with her life and want a lively revisionist interpretation of Brontë's life and writings, then look no further.

Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë, written immediately after Brontë's death, makes her into a tragic figure, mourning for her dead sisters and brothers and trapped in a life of duty to her stern father: "a figure of pathos in the shadow
This was an excellent biography. It was readable and engaging, contributing not only the facts of Bronte's life, but an interpretation of those details as they applied to Bronte's writing. I loved reading the literary analysis of each novel as told through the lens of Bronte's life experience, and then the flip of understanding her life and perspective through understanding her work. The biography gave both breadth and depth to the literary criticism and analysis of her work. I enjoyed reading t ...more
Saisudha Acharya
While I think Charlotte Bronte and her interesting family makes for a good material, this book could have been shorter. The author really wants to make a point of how Charlotte Bronte has been misunderstood over the last century and a quarter/half, pointing out that she was not just the proper Victorian lady she projected to society, but a passionate, creative, unique and strong woman in private who converted the tragedies in her life into food for creativity. In this regard, Gordon made a stron ...more
I thought Lyndall Gordon did a good job in setting out the kind of behavioural straitjackets that stifled confined Victorian women.

Her quotations from Charlotte's letters and journals leave us in no doubt that, even as a young woman, Charlotte was a determined, ambitious writer.

I liked the way this biography condisers how Charlotte - like other female writers of her era - made use of a masculine-sounding alter ego, to create expressive freedom. At the same time on her outings to London society,
During my early teens I went through a Bronte obsession, I devoured as many biographies as I could. This one is one of my favourites. I was asked at the time why I read so many biographies of the same people as surely they all must be the same thing regurgitated over and over again - this is the one that laughs in the face of that theory and enabled me to justify reading different biographies on the same person- as otherwise I would never have come across this wonderful work.

Any Bronte fan who
I read Charlotte Bronte: A Passionate Life by Lyndall Gordon a few years after I had read the Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell. This one was the best by far. Even though Mrs Gaskell had met Charlotte, Lyndall Gordon pulls all of the available information together and comes up with a facinating portrait. There is so little known about Charlotte's husband Arthur but this book leaves no doubt that he loved her and was as passionate about her as Rochester was about Jane. As much as I lo ...more
Charlotte Bronte is definitely a very fascinating person, but I found that the book focuses too much on her writings and not her life. The author inserts Charlotte's writings too frequently. The book doesn't flow, it is too choppy and hard to understand because one minute you're reading about Charlotte and then the next minute you are reading something that she wrote and there isn't a smooth transition there. The author interprets all of Charlotte's writings as though everything Charlotte wrote ...more
I absolutely loved this book. More of an exploration of Charlotte's work and how her life influenced her writing than a chronological biography, this book delved into Charlotte's passions, perspective of the world and of others, and how she used her writing to explore her views and position in life. I learned so much about her as a writer, and gained an immense amount of respect for her. Now I can't wait to read more of her works!
Lyndall Gordon has written a biography of Charlotte Bronte that includes penetrating and enlightening interpretations of her writings, including both juvenilia and mature works. Gordon shows that Bronte did indeed live a "passionate life," although she seldom expressed it outside of her writings. Having recently read Villette, I especially appreciated Gordon's insights into that fascinating novel.
I've been a Bronte fan for ages, and this was a wonderful insight into Charlotte's life and way of thinking that I hadn't found before. I got back into the Bronte world, which I'd put aside for a while. It's great to hear of the fire Charlotte had and I entirely sympathise with her wait for letters from unrequited loves.
I parts of this for a research project on Bronte I did in high school. I think I was a sophomore, but I wouldn't have read Jane Eyre yet, so I don't know why I would have picked Bronte. Anyway, I'm not sure how much of the text I actually read or how I determined which parts to read for the report.
I loved Lyndall Gordon's biography of Mary Wollestonecraft, and I loved this one about Charlotte Brontë. So human, so passionate. We get a glimpse of not so much the writer, as the woman through Gordon's interpretation.

Also see
Amy Wolf
Another excellent bio of Charlotte. The author has definitely done her homework, and includes (I believe for the first time) what is thought to be an actual photograph of Charlotte taken on her honeymoon. A marvelously instructive work.
This is the best biography I have read of Charlotte Bronte's life. It is well written and I regretted that I finished reading it so quickly. I highly recommend it to Bronte fans
Nov 25, 2011 Melanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melanie by: Eloise
Shelves: biography
Gordon's prose can be lugubrious (and she should be arrested for comma abuse), but her contemporary perspective on Charlotte Bronte is fascinating.

By the author of Lives Like Loaded Guns
Sunday .. 1st of April .. 2001 .. Milano ..
Jennifer Kay
This book should be required reading.
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