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The Life of Charlotte Brontë

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  4,956 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
Dopo la morte di Charlotte Brontë, nel 1855, suo padre esorta Elizabeth Gaskell, già acclamata autrice, a scrivere la biografia della figlia. Elizabeth, che era stata una cara amica di Charlotte, parte così sulle tracce di quanti l'avevano conosciuta, viaggiando a lungo in Inghilterra e in Belgio per raccogliere informazioni e materiale, e traendo dalle sue ricerche un cos ...more
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Published (first published 1857)
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A biography of Charlotte Bronte written by one of her contemporaries and as biographies go it's very good. If you are interested in or are a student of Charlotte Bronte this is a must read. It's probably more subjective than one would like a biography to be, but it's obvious Gaskell liked Charlotte and wanted to show her in the best possiible light. But this is a very detailed work, full of interesting information about Charlotte and the entire Bronte family. And the fact that Gaskell is a very ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-lit, classics
After I read that wretched book by Gelsely Kirkland, I was refreshed and encouraged to read a biography of Charlotte Bronte. I recently read "Cranford", and Elizabeth Gaskell became of interest to me. In searching other books that she had written, I found that she had known and been a friend of Charlotte Bronte's, and was asked by Charlotte's father to write a biography of her after her death. Hence the beginning of reading "The Life of Charlotte Bronte".

It is a very worthwhile book, based large
J.A. Ironside
I like Elizabeth Gaskell's work. She tells engaging stories and that is exactly what she has done here. Originally requested by Charlotte's father to write a biography of Charlotte's life. Patrick Bronte together with Charlotte's widowed husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, wisely realised that if they did not select someone to write about Charlotte's life, then someone who was not their choice would certainly do so. Unfortunately, while Gaskell seemed the most suitable choice for a fair, unbiased acc ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Dorothea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the one book to read about the Brontës, but certainly not to be skipped if one is reading several.

It was completed and published only two years after Charlotte's death, by a personal friend of Charlotte's who was also a friend of her father's and who gained access to many of Charlotte's letters and who traveled to all the places that were important to Charlotte and interviewed people there who knew her.

So, despite the omissions, the softenings, the biases that Mrs. Gaskell wrote alon
Jan 16, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, classics
I read this as a stand-in Gaskell while I was waiting for more of her fiction to arrive at the library. I can see why this biography is still considered one of Gaskell's important works.

First of all, Gaskell makes heavy use of letters to and from Bronte to illustrate Bronte's life and character. This is good biography practice, of course, but it also lets you see just how much more intellectual Bronte had become by the end of her life. Her letters become much more interested in ideas, and much m
 Carol ♛ Type, Oh Queen! ♛

I should never think about reviews! Once I decide I have Something To Say, it just drags on & on!

I now have recent reads that prove that writing a biography or memoir when the subject or close friends & family are still living is no easy task. Memories differ, things happen that some want to forget. Take The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven by David Niven where he allegedly borrowed other peoples' memories, amalgamated some of his own & for obvious reasons didn't want to admit that his second marriage was deeply u
May 31, 2011 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of us now know how wrong Gaskell got some things. That being said, if she had not recorded the life of "her dear friend", the Brontës as we know them would not have been propelled to the mythical heights which have fueled their popularity. Gaskell does a good job of weaving Charlotte's life into a fantastical story, but left out major elements -- things that would have been improper or embarrassing to publish, and totally skewed and falsified other things to add to the romance and intrigue ...more
Elizabeth Gaskell published this biography only three years after Charlotte Brontë’s death. It’s interesting to read about Charlotte’s life, from childhood and the different stages of her life until death, through the eyes of one of her contemporaries and friends.

The biography is very different from modern biographies. Gaskell includes a huge amount of letters to and from Charlotte, by which she gives her a voice and which feels rather genuine. At the same time, it’s somewhat strenuous to skim t
I've heard this biography disparaged by others who love Charlotte Brontë, and so I fully intend to read other biographies for the sake of comparison. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account of Ms. Brontë by one of her contemporaries.

ETA a few quotes (from Charlotte's letters) that really resonated with me:

"I have some qualities that make me very miserable, some feelings that you can have no participation in—that few, very few, people in the world can at all understand. I don't pride m
Galena Sanz
Apr 15, 2015 Galena Sanz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro me ha gustado muchísimo más de lo que esperaba, después de leer otras biografías más actuales de Charlotte Brontë donde siempre se calificaba esta primera biografía de condescendiente y en ocasiones no del todo sincera (debido a su época y a las personas a las que se alude) creo que a pesar de todo es un buen reflejo de la personalidad de Charlotte y que a través de sus cartas podemos llegar a conocerla mejor. De todas las biografías que he leído siempre las he notado ascéticas, mient ...more
Sara Steger
May 11, 2015 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
What a remarkable discourse this is on the life of Charlotte Bronte, as assembled by her friend, Elizabeth Gaskell. Having been written so soon after her death, this biograph might perhaps lack in the objectivity which a later biography could present, but whatever might be lacking in that quarter is well made up for in spirit and understanding.

Much of Gaskell's approach is to quote from the considerable correspondence of Charlotte herself, which gives this a pointedly personal flavor. We are see
Apr 13, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Che vita grama, che grama vita.
lauren kellie
"Now there is something touching in the sight of that little creature entombed in such a place, and moving about herself like a spirit, especially when you think that the slight, still frame encloses a force of strong, fiery life, which nothing has been able to freeze or extinguish."

Upon the death of her dear friend, Elizabeth Gaskell was asked to write a biography on fellow novelist Charlotte Brontë, the woman whose books had so widespread an impression on the public, that half the country of
Ali Nazifpour
Nov 09, 2013 Ali Nazifpour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of the best books I have read, and definitely the best autobiography. It has all the merits of a great novel, but it is real.

It can be read for many reasons. It can be read by those interested in literature as an account of three great novelists, as the book completely captures its three characters, and it enriches our understanding of the novelists and their novels. It can be read by the historian because it also captures the spirit of its time and its place. It can be read by the s
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
CNF @ 26% May 8, 2015 Women's Lit group BOTM

What would be interesting about the life of a poor clergyman' daughter from the Victorian era?

1) Her experiences and people at The Clergy Daughters' School inspired aspects of Jane Eyre's (the character) experiences at the fictional charity school Lowood.

2) She fell in love with a married man (Constantine Heger) who may have inspired the character M Paul Emmanuel from her novel "Villette"

3) She had a romance with her publisher George Smith

Gaskell tone
Catherine Siemann
Feb 14, 2014 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorians
On the one hand, this biography was a huge contributor to the Bronte myth, and suffers typical Victorian reticence to the point that it obfuscates as often as it illuminates. If you want to read a biography of Bronte, Juliet Barker or Lyndall Gordon provide more information. On the other, Gaskell was friends with Bronte, towards the end of her life, and writes with real affection, and there's something irresistible about reading one important Victorian novelist's biography of another.
Maybe I would have liked this more if I didn't know that Elizabeth Gaskell was a big fat phony who didn't even really care for Charlotte Bronte or her writing. "My dear friend Charlotte"? Really? She knew her for a couple years before she died, they were never "good friends" and Gaskell wrote letter upon letter spreading gossip about her and her family. Not to mention how often Gaskell brings herself into the narrative. Ugh.
Alas I have abandoned the book, having lost enough interest to finish, and continually putting others ahead. I knew going in that Mrs. Gaskell did not write a "complete" biography for several reasons. Charlotte's father had asked her to do it since she was a writer, albeit fiction, and one of Charlotte's few friends. Therefore familiarity may have restrained full disclosure of her intimate knowledge. Another hindrance was the custom of the time of NOT revealing things which may have been conside ...more
Dara Salley
Sep 15, 2015 Dara Salley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a difficult time getting into this book. There is a large amount of information about 19th century rural life in Yorkshire. It was hard to keep my attention from flagging in the beginning. However, I was rewarded for my effort when the book kicked into gear around the time when Charlotte Bronte published “Jane Eyre”. By that time I was fully invested in her life, enjoyed reading her polite, witty correspondence with her friends and I was primed to feel the full effect of the tragic events ...more
Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell first met in August 1850, after Gaskell had already been intrigued by Jane Eyre and its mysterious author for some time. Gaskell writes: “She and I quarrelled & differed about almost everything , – she calls me a democrat, & can not bear Tennyson – but… I hope we shall ripen into friends.” And that they did: despite their frequent disagreements, they would exchange letters and ideas and pay each other visits until Brontë passed away in 1855, Gaskell ...more
Sawsan Amien
Feb 21, 2014 Sawsan Amien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Charlotte Bronte, she's one of my favorite authors of classics, i think she's a fascinating person,her writing were emotional and honest reflecting life and people at that time focusing on moral values and responsibility.
i read about her life before but i enjoyed reading this book too
this book is written by her friend Elizabeth Gaskell who used charlotte's letters to her friends to write this biography,the letters showed some aspects of Charlotte's feelings and personality
Charlotte Bront
Feb 13, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
Elizabeth Gaskell (author of North and South and friend of Ms. Bronte), was asked by Charlotte's father to write this biography. It's evident that she takes great care not to pain or offend those still living, just as she wants to do justice to a woman who was esteemed as an author and beloved as a daughter, sister, friend, and (briefly) wife.

Charlotte Bronte's life was full of physical and emotional suffering. She was by no means perfect, but I come away from this book with an even greater admi
Nov 04, 2011 Sorcha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
First published not long after Bronte's death - Gaskill was a contemporary and a friend - the first edition suffered controversy, as many of the people referenced were still alive, and some objected to their inclusion. This edition is the 1st edition, with plenty of detail in the appendix to detail the differences with the changed 3rd edition.[return][return]Volume 1 details Bronte's younger years; with much contextual narrative as to both the Yorkshire people's personality type and that of the ...more
Tiffany Anderson
The fact that this book was written by a friend of Charlotte Bronte and contemporary female author, by an individual who could request letters Bronte had written to her still-living friends and other authors, and who could personally give her own impressions of Charlotte makes for an incredibly unique biography. Gaskell only knew Bronte in the last five years of her (Bronte's) life, but she managed to give a well-rounded impression of what that life entailed.

Due to the period, there are some se
Mar 10, 2012 Furqan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the myth of Brontes
The history of Bronte family is marred with the record of diseases, alcoholism, unrequited love, loneliness and their untimely deaths. Their lives are as much as fascinating as the literary Classics they later came to write.

The life of Charlotte Bronte was published by Elizabeth Gaskell two years after the death of her friend (albeit not a close one) Charlotte Bronte. While this book is a classic in its own right, for being the first of its kind and introducing the name of Bronte to the wider V
Peter Ellwood
One senses that Charlotte Bronte would have been appalled by this account. Partly because she would have shrunk instinctively from any kind of disclosure about her life; but more especially because it is palpably dishonest, a hagiography of St Charlotte. She was not that kind of woman.

It is a curious feeling to read about the childhood and development of the three Bronte sisters, complete with their needlework each evening, and candles out at nine: and to realise with a jolt that it is not inten
Mar 24, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's amazing to be able to read a biography of Charlotte Bronte written by someone who knew her. Ms Gaskell used her skill developed as a novelist in presenting events, and in some places she was so strongly indignant on the Brontes' behalf--the Lowood school, Branwell's relationship with his employer's wife--that she had to make modifications in the third edition. (This version has all the third edition changes highlighted in the notes so the reader can compare for themselves) She made extensiv ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Noells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was such a privilege to read this book and get to know so much about the Brontë family told by a personal friend. The enthusiasm I feel towards the sisters, specifically Charlotte, has grown in strength because of this biography. It was a honor to read Charlotte's letters and get to experience what she experienced so closely. Charlotte has become, indeed, one of my most inspiring muses, as a writer and as a woman. Not only she wrote Jane Eyre, but she was also an excellent human being. I trul ...more
Rachella Sinclair
A good but very sad read. The most striking thing, though is that it highlights how modern Elizabeth Gaskell's voice was compared to her contemporaries. Even so, the end fell apart a bit, reflecting Gaskell's fear of offending the delicacies of those still alive. I know the history, including the fact that Charlotte Bronte was pregnant when she died. Searching for mention of her pregnancy and its possible role in the cause of her death, I had to comb through the last chapter three times.
Dec 21, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this biography by Gaskell. The way she unfolded the life of her friend was truly lovely. It took me months to finish this read even though I loved it. I feel like finishing it is monumental for me. It was very hard to read after Anne and Emily died it shows how Charlotte was forever changed. I could relate to the closeness she had to her siblings. I couldn't imagine losing mine. I am looking forward to reading Mary Barton for our January group read.
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Victorians!: Life of C Brontë - Section 3 2 11 Apr 03, 2016 11:56PM  
Victorians!: Life of C Brontë - Section 2 3 15 Mar 31, 2016 06:51AM  
Victorians!: Life of C Brontë - Section 1 5 27 Mar 27, 2016 01:31AM  
Victorians!: Life of C Brontë - Section 4 1 9 Mar 22, 2016 05:33AM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 5 - Overall Impressions 21 22 Nov 29, 2015 12:06PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 4 - Chapters 22-28 4 6 Jun 01, 2015 09:21PM  
Women's Classic L...: Week 2 - Chapters 8-14 11 10 May 30, 2015 07:48PM  
  • Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life
  • The Brontë Myth
  • Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories
  • The Brontës
  • The Brontës:  Charlotte Brontë and Her Family
  • Thomas Hardy
  • The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë
  • Mary Shelley
  • A Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections
  • Jane Austen: A Life
  • Tales of Angria
  • Dickens
  • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York
  • Jane Austen's World: The Life and Times of England's Most Popular Author
  • Eminent Victorians
  • Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart
  • Virginia Woolf
  • The Enchanted Castle and Five Children and It
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to socia ...more
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...

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“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own.” 143 likes
“And besides, in the matter of friendship, I have observed that the disappointment here arises chiefly, not from liking our friends too well, or thinking of them too highly, but rather from an over-estimate of their liking for and opinion of us; and that if we guard ourselves with sufficient scrupulousness of care from error in this direction, and can be content, and even happy to give more affection than we receive -- can make just comparison of circumstances, and be severely accurate in drawing inferences thence, and never let self-love blind our eyes -- I think we may manage to get through life with consistency and constancy, unembittered by that misanthropy which springs from revulsions of feeling. All this sounds a little metaphysical, but it is good sense of if you consider it. The moral of it is, that if we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own; we must look at their truth to themselves, full as much as their truth to us. In the latter case, every wound to self-love would be a cause of coldness; in the former, only some painful change in the friend's character and disposition -- some fearful breach in his allegiance to his better self -- could alienate the heart.” 8 likes
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