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Charlotte Bronte :: Author of Jane Eyre

Updated on October 4, 2013

Charlotte Bronte, Author of Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villete and The Professor

Charlotte Bronte, British novelist and author of Jane Eyre, one of the most popular English novels of all time. The eldest of the three famous Bronte sisters, and one brother, all writers. Charlotte used the pen name Currer Bell and also wrote Shirley, Villette, The Professor, and Emma, which was never finished.

When I read Jane Eyre in high school it became my favorite book of all the books I had read to that point in my young life. Now, many many years later, and after hundreds if not thousands more books read, it still holds that place in my heart.

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte: A Biography

AKA - Currer Bell

Charlotte Bronte, AKA "Currer Bell," a popular English novelist, born at Thornton, Yorkshire, April 21, 1816, was a daughter of Patrick Bronte, who became curate of Haworth in 1820. She lost her mother when she was a child. While at a boarding school her health was injured by impure air and food of bad quality. Her friend, Mrs. Gaskell, says (about 1833 or 1834) she was a "little, set, antiquated girl, very quiet in manners and very quaint in dress."

In 1835 she became a teacher of the school at Roe Head, and in 1841 a governess in a private family. Charlotte and her sister Emily went to Brussels in 1842 to learn French, etc. The former was afterwards employed there as a teacher of English, at a salary of sixteen pounds a year; but she returned to Haworth about the end of 1843.

In 1846 the Misses Bronte published a volume entitled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, Currer Bell being the assumed name of Charlotte. About two years later, under the pressure of painful domestic trials, she produced Jane Eyre, an Autobiography, edited by Currer Bell, (3 volumes, 1848) which obtained great popularity and was translated into many languages. "Almost all that we require in a novelist," says Fraser's Magazine, "the writer has -- perception of character and knowledge of delineating it, picturesqueness, passion, and knowledge of life."

Of Jane Eyre the Edinburgh Review for January, 1850, says, "It is certain that for many years there had been no work of such power, piquancy, and originality. Its very faults were faults on the side of vigour, and its beauties were all original. The grand secret of its success, however -- as of all genuine and lasting success -- was its reality." This work was, however, severely criticised by the Quarterly Review for December, 1848.

"Anyone who has studied her writings," says Mrs. Gaskell, "must have noticed her singular felicity in the choice of words."

In 1849 she published Shirley, a Tale. Before this time the death of her sisters had filled her home with desolation. About the end of 1849 she visited London, and became acquainted with Thackeray and Harriet Martineau. Extreme, intense solitude had rendered her shy and somewhat taciturn in the presence of strangers. "Indigestion, nausea, headache, sleeplessness," says Mrs. Gaskell, "all combined to produce miserable depression of spirits."

About the end of 1852 she finished Villette, another novel which "was received with one burst of acclamation."

In December, 1852 a proposal of marriage was made to her by Arthur B. Nicholls, who had been curate of Haworth for many years, and had seen her almost daily during that period. She at first declined the offer because her father sternly disapproved the match; but he finally consented and they were married in June 1854. After a brief taste of domestic happiness, she died at Haworth in March, 1855.

"No one in her time," says Blackwood for May, 1855, "has grasped with such extraordinary force the scenes and circumstances through which her story moved, or thrown so strong an individual life into place and locality. Her passionate and fearless nature, her wild, warm heart, are transfused into the magic world she has created -- a world which no one can enter without yielding to the irrestible fascination of her personal influence."

~ Dictionary of Biography and Mythology 1870

Charlotte Bronte in Actual Historical Genealogy Records

Listed as Governess, Daughter, Wife

To see the actual 1841 Census with Charlotte Bronte listed as a governess of a family click here: Charlotte Bronte in 1841 England Census.

To see the 1851 England Census with Charlotte Bronte age 34 listed with her father, Patrick, click here: Charlotte Bronte in 1851 England Census.

To see Charlotte Bronte in the 1854 England Marriage Index, click here: Charlotte Bronte in 1854 England Marriage Index.

Historical records are courtesy of Ancestry.com. To view your own family history, or to look up other famous people, click the banner below.

Charlotte's Marriage Certificate

Charlotte's Marriage Certificate
Charlotte's Marriage Certificate

Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)

Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)
Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)

novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman’s quest for freedom. This updated edition features a new introduction discussing the novel’s political and magical dimensions.

Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor—qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?

 

Other Versions of Jane Eyre (book)

Jane Eyre Early Version

Jane Eyre (1944)

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

A Love Story Every Woman Would Die a Thousand Deaths to Live! Small plain and poor Jane Eyre comes to Thornfield Hall as governess to the young ward of Edward Rochester. Denied love all her life Jane can't help but be attracted to the intelligent vibrant energetic Mr. Rochester a man twice her age. But just when Mr. Rochester seems to be returning the attention he invites the beautiful and wealthy Blanche Ingram and her party to stay at his estate. Meanwhile the secret of Thornfield Hall could ruin all their chances for happiness.

Amazon.com

Made two years after Citizen Kane, this 1943 version of Charlotte Bront's Jane Eyre sure looks like star Orson Welles muscled his way behind the camera much of the time. (In fact, costar Joan Fontaine--who plays the title character--has maintained that Welles methodically did just that every day on the set.) Not that the film's official director was a hack: Robert Stevenson, who later had a busy career at Disney making numerous live-action hits for the studio, such as Mary Poppins, gets the credit. But there's no mistaking Welles's masterful hand in the film's bold and creative look, and there's no getting away from his enigmatic charisma as Rochester, the widower who takes in Jane as a governess to his daughter. An engrossing, gorgeous film, there's even a small role for Elizabeth Taylor at the beginning as Jane's unlucky, doomed friend at a cruel boarding school. --Tom Keogh

 

Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre, 2006)

Masterpiece Theatre: Jane Eyre
Masterpiece Theatre: Jane Eyre

After a wretched childhood orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house - the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness. When Jane saves Rochester from an eerie fire she begins to suspect that there are many mysteries behind the walls of Thornfield Hall. Her fears are confirmed when Rochester's secret past is revealed destroying her chance for happiness and forcing Jane to flee Thornfield. Penniless and hungry she finds shelter and friendship in the shape of a kind clergyman and his family. But she is soon shocked to uncover the deeply hidden truth of her own past. This lavish and sensual new version of Charlotte Bronte s classic novel is modern and moody timeless and romantic. Starring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester Ruth Wilson as Jane and Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram.

You may think the world doesn't need another adaptation of Jane Eyre--but you're wrong. This new and wonderfully lush Masterpiece Theatre version, directed by Susanna White (who directed the equally sumptuous miniseries of Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson), contrasts Jane Eyre's vivid inner life with the harshness of her outer life; both Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) as the young Jane and newcomer Ruth Wilson express the inner vitality of the outcast orphan girl whose spirit captures the heart of the rough, charismatic landowner Mr. Rochester (Toby Stephens, Die Another Day). Stephens, it must be said, is far too conventionally handsome for the part, but he makes up for it by capturing Rochester's abrasive and mercurial temperament. (Wilson's looks are perfect; at one moment she seems awkward and homely, at another utterly luminous.) Jane Eyre is so often remade because the story is so potent; this production brings all of the novel's juice and passion to the fore, emphasizing the characters' sensual experience while staying true to the restrictions and mores of the period. All in all, exceptional. --Bret Fetzer

 

Jane Eyre (BBC, 1983)

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre--the mother of all gothic romances--gets abundant passion in this 11-episode BBC miniseries. Young Sian Pattenden is wonderfully willful and impetuous; viewers will immediately identify with the child Jane as she fights against ill-treatment at the home of her aunt and at boarding school. It's a shame to see her grow up into Zelah Clarke--until Clarke asserts her own quiet yet fierce spirit. The plot really starts rolling when Jane takes a position as governess at Thornfield, a handsome estate owned by the imperious and tortured Mr. Rochester (Timothy Dalton, a few years before he became James Bond). From there, this 1983 adaptation rips through the perilous highs and devastating lows of Charlotte Bronte's powerful novel, in which the courtship of these two prickly personalities gets twists and turns galore. Though the visual style is a bit pedestrian, the well-crafted script and skillful performances grow more gripping with every episode. The necessary feverishness springs from simple yet effective means, like macabre laughter floating down the halls of Thornfield. The scenes between Clarke and Dalton crackle with chemistry; Bronte fans will not be disappointed. --Bret Fetzer

 

Jane Eyre (A&E, 1997)

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

The fascinating British actress Samantha Morton stars as the titular heroine in this provocative version of Jane Eyre, based on Charlotte Bronte's oft-filmed, 1847 novel. The familiar contours of Bronte's story are all here: Jane, the unhappy orphan, grows up to become governess at Thornfield, a gloomy estate owned by the imperious and worldly, but curiously desperate, Mr. Rochester (Ciarn Hinds). While the latter's grasping attentions stir the inexperienced young woman, the gothic goings-on at Thornfield suggest layers of unwholesome secrecy in Rochester's life. Most productions of Jane Eyre carefully reflect Bronte's absorbing balance between romance, horror, and Jane's psychological passage to adulthood. But this 1997 television movie is interesting for its near-reckless emphasis on Jane and Rochester's mutual obsession and galloping jealousies. The dramatic strategy throws off the story's overall tone, but such problems are worth it to see Morton and Hinds explore Jane Eyre's darkest possibilities. --Tom Keogh

 

Jane Eyre (1996)

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo and Juliet) and screenwriter Hugh Whitemore strip away a bit of the familiar romanticism of Charlotte Bront's novel and come up with a more plain but somehow quite interesting film adaptation. Charlotte Gainsbourg (The Cement Garden) makes for an oddly appealing but deliberately unlovely version of Jane (previous actresses have included Susannah York and Joan Fontaine), and William Hurt is excellent as an equally revised Rochester, brusque and self-involved but not the totem of torment and charisma we've seen before. The story clings to the usual chapters in the book, but with Zeffirelli shaping the principal characters to reflect their cautious perceptions of one another--rather than to a Hollywood notion of grand passion--the film has a wonderful accessibility. Great support from Joan Plowright, Billie Whitelaw, Anna Paquin, and the rest of the cast. --Tom Keogh

 

Jane Eyre (BBC, 1973)

Jane Eyre (BBC)
Jane Eyre (BBC)

After a childhood that would have broken weaker girls, Jane Eyre finds a respectable position as governess to the ward of the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. Twenty years her senior, brusque, and hardened by loss, Mr. Rochester finds his spirited new employee strangely bewitching. Despite the social chasm that divides them, they are drawn to each other as equals and contemplate true happiness at last. But there is an impediment to their love that tests Jane’s integrity and strength almost beyond endurance.

Considered by many to be the best adaptation of Charlotte Bront’s romantic classic, this BBC miniseries is true to the original story, with dialogue taken directly from the novel. Best of all is the perfect casting and chemistry of the unlikely lovers, with Sorcha Cusack (Casualty) as Jane and Michael Jayston (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) as Mr. Rochester.

 

Jane Eyre (1971)

Jane Eyre (1934)

Shirley (Penguin Classics)

Shirley (Penguin Classics)
Shirley (Penguin Classics)

Set during the Napoleonic wars at a time of national economic struggles, Shirley is an unsentimental yet passionate depiction of conflict among classes, sexes, and generations. Struggling manufacturer Robert Moore considers marriage to the wealthy and independent Shirley Keeldar, yet his heart lies with his cousin Caroline. Shirley, meanwhile, is in love with Robert’s brother, an impoverished tutor. As industrial unrest builds to a potentially fatal pitch, can the four be reconciled?

 

Villette (Penguin Classics)

Villette (Penguin Classics)
Villette (Penguin Classics)

When I was a girl I went to Bretton about twice a year, and well I liked the visit. The house and its inmates specially suited me. The large peaceful rooms, the well-arranged furniture, the clear wide windows, the balcony outside, looking down on a fine antique street, where Sundays and holidays seemed always to abide -- so quiet was its atmosphere, so clean its pavement -- these things pleased me well. One child in a household of grown people is usually made very much of, and in a quiet way I was a good deal taken notice of by Mrs. Bretton, who had been left a widow, with one son, before I knew her; her husband, a physician, having died while she was yet a young and handsome woman. . . .

 

The Professor (Oxford World's Classics)

The Professor (Oxford World's Classics)
The Professor (Oxford World's Classics)

The hero of Charlotte Bronte's first novel escapes a dreary clerkship in industrial Yorkshire by taking a job as a teacher in Belgium. There, however, his entanglement with the sensuous but manipulative Zoraide Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school. Also included in this edition is Emma, Charlotte Bronte's last, unfinished novel. Both works are drawn from the original Clarendon texts.

 

Jane Eyre is my favorite novel of all time. I don't know how many copies I have. I've worn through a few paperbacks, I have a leather bound version, "complete works of Charlotte Bronte" version, and a couple hardbound sets given to me as gifts. I also have every version of the movie. I can't get enough!

Are you a Jane Eyre or Charlotte Bronte fan? - I have every book and movie.

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    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I feel as though I know Charlotte, she played a big role in my teenage years. I would love this lens to join the Bookworms Group (groups/bookworms) it's just the type of high quality the group needs

    • profile image

      WriterBuzz 6 years ago

      If you like coffee, check out my lens on Who Invented Coffee. I found your lens by accident, and it's really nice. I gave you a thumbs up. Look forward to more lenses from you. I also did one on Migraine Headaches that might interest you. If you surf on by, leave me a comment .

    • honeymishi07 profile image

      honeymishi07 6 years ago

      The Jane Eyre 2006 DVD is my favorite adaptation. Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens was spectacular in that version. It would be hard topping that but I'm looking forward to the 2011 film nonetheless. :)

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 5 years ago

      I just watched Jane Eyre recently and am not sure which version I saw. The ones listed here don't look familiar. But it was fantastic, nonetheless. You have done a great job of presenting Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

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      Storytutor 5 years ago

      It was great to read that the novel still holds a special place in your life!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wonderful, well-written, and interesting details in your lens (I liked the ancestry part!). Best wishes to you!

    • EsotericAllusion profile image

      EsotericAllusion 5 years ago

      I enjoyed the ancestry records as well. 'Jane Eyre' is also one of my favourite books, which I have read countless times. Good job!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love Jane Eyre and was surprised that for my AP students, though we also read modern fiction, Jane was their favorite too!

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      Ibidii 3 years ago

      Charlotte Bronte is my favorite author and my favorite book is Jane Eyre. How awesome to see her in the census and her marriage certificate page! Awesome lens! I will link your lens to my lens :D

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      sybil watson 3 years ago

      I fell in love with the story when I first read it too, and it's still one of my favorites. I always felt sorry for poor little Adele, who had no other children to play with until she went away to school. I love how you included Charlotte Bronte's Ancestry.com information - this lens is a fabulous tribute to her.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 3 years ago

      Such an excellent resource. Must have taken you a long time to research. Thanks for a great lens!

    • evawrites1 profile image

      evawrites1 3 years ago

      Jane Eyre is one of my favourite novels but I had no idea about Bronte's life. Thanks for this interesting lens.

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      MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago

      I love Charlotte Bronte and especially her character Jane Eyre. But my heart belongs to Thomas Hardy and the books he has written.

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Jane Eyre is the book that I remember the most almost word for word.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      My all time favorite book.! Awesome lens!

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