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The Life of Charlotte Brontë

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,899 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857) is a pioneering biography of one great Victorian woman novelist by another. Gaskell was a friend of Bronte's and, having been invited to write the official life, determined to both tell the truth and honor her friend. This edition collates all three previous editions, as well as the manuscript, offering fuller informa ...more
Paperback, Third Edition of 1857, Oxford World's Classics, 587 pages
Published June 20th 2002 by Oxford University Press (first published 1857)
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Magrat Ajostiernos

Este libro me ha impresionado mucho más de lo que parecía posible
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charlotte Bronte 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 Bronte lived a ha
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Lumsden
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly brilliant, moving and engaging read - more letters and commentary than a biography at times, but well worth a read.
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
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because Truman Capote recommended it in one of his letters, and so far he's batting 100. It explains so much about this very serious, judgmental, somewhat dour woman and the darkness in her work. My God, she lived across the lane from an overpacked cemetery whose rotting bodies leaked into the town water supply and caused much sickness and death, including many members of her family. I was fascinated to read that she admired the French writer George Sand, who was her temperament ...more
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, history
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
Oct 23, 2012 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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
DNF at 33%. I had the wrong expectations for this work. This is a collection of letter fragments written by Charlotte Bronte, which Gaskell has curated and contextualized. I was expecting a Gaskell novel about Charlotte Bronte. Gaskell's writing does not shine or entertain in this volume like it does in most of her other works (at least, for me). I may attempt to finish this in the future, now knowing what to expect. I recommend you pick this up if you want to learn about Charlotte Bronte, not i ...more
Christmas Carol  ꧁꧂

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 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
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2011 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
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.
I own a greeting card that depicts three happy, smiling young ladies who appear to be thinking slyly, all with brown eyes and middle-parted hair. The words "Bronte Sisters" are lettered into the pastel rose background of the card, and I have mounted it on the wall above this very computer where I pen--er, type--these lines to you. They smile down, but never make eye contact.

Yet I must report that, according to this biography of Charlotte by Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, my card and its merriness? Lie
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
It's a fascinating book, especially if one wants to have a view of the Brontes as seen by their contemporaries. Gaskell did a lot of research on her subject, and many later biographers made use of her findings. However, she also omitted some key information about Charlotte Bronte's love life (her love for her married teacher, M. Constantine Heger), as it would not have gone down well with the public. It's a very interesting document of Victorian sensibilities.
Irene Lazlo
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reseña completa en el blog: https://loslibrosdeldesvan.blogspot.c...
He visto que muchas personas le dan una puntuación baja a esta biografía porque Elisabeth Gaskell no es 100% fiel a la verdad en algunos asuntos, sobre todo los que pueden afectar a la moral pública. Pero yo creo que es una biografía increíblemente moderna y bien documentada para su época a pesar de eso y hay que tener en cuenta que muchas de las personas que aparecen en ella seguían vivas en el momento de escribir la Vida.
4.5 *

Inghilterra, 1820. Un ecclesiastico irlandese, con la sua numerosa famiglia, giunge a Haworth, sperduto paesino nel Nord dello Yorkshire, per assumere l'incarico di vicario. La moglie, donna fragile e provata dalle continue gravidanze, morirà, a causa di un tumore, poco tempo dopo, lasciando il marito con sei orfanelli, un maschietto e cinque bimbe, di cui, la più piccola, non ha ancora due anni.
Haworth è un villaggio appartato, popolato da gente ostinata e diffidente, una realtà di campagn
Ali Nazifpour
Oct 31, 2013 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
Lauren Kammerdiener
"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
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
Galena Sanz
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Catherine Siemann
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
See my response on my book blog:

2.2.13. I am changing my rating. After doing more research on Charlotte, the Gaskell book in my option, still has some merits. But, in this biography she started mythperceptions that have been picked up and used by others writers writing biographies of the Brontes.
Kathleen Flynn
According to Goodreads I started this in December 2017. It's certainly possible. Initially found it vastly tedious and despaired of ever finishing such a mammoth tome. I would pick it up between other books and quickly put it down. Returning to it again recently -- and finding it far easier going -- seems a measure of my progress in knowing stuff about the Brontes. I was no longer reading Gaskell for facts (she's not a great one for facts) but for where she diverges from what's known about Charl ...more
This biography has been written by a friend of Charlotte Bronte, another female author who knew Charlotte personally and wrote with care not to expose other friends to unwelcome public scrutiny. It draws heavily, quoting verbatim, on many letters written by and to Charlotte, so the reader enters into a very intimate relationship with the reclusive protagonist. Her deep love for her family and her Yorkshire home pervade the text. Entering into the details of her domestic life, one gets to underst ...more
Ciara Byrne
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
Reading this biography was an emotional journey! As someone who has visited Haworth many times and even Elizabeth Gaskell’s own house, it is absolutely fascinating to read Charlotte Brontë’s collection of letters from all stages of her life, along with Gaskell’s own commentary. Perhaps because I live in the North and rather close to Brontë country, this book has left even more of a fierce imprint on me! Of course, this book is to be read with its flaws and bias in mind. However, it is 100% worth ...more
Good read. I think it came to greater life having read Jenny Uglow's biography of Gaskell first.
I will also add that i found it refreshing to not read an author who insists that the most intimate aspects of another's life were somehow theirs for the conjecture or microscopic analysis. I prefer a bio with a clear and unapologetic "bias" to one that has adopted the latest definition of "objectivity". These are the private lives of real people, not the mating habits of wildlife in a selfserving nat
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  • 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
“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own.” 154 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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