For many writers and book lovers, Charlotte Bronte is an icon and a giant. Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette and The Professor have been read, re-read, discussed, argued about and made into film, television and stage productions.
Claire Harman’s new biography, Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, takes the reader into the heart, the mind and the psyche of her subject. Charlotte Bronte, like her most famous heroine, Jane Eyre had neither wealth, conventional beauty or status. The daughter of a parson who might have been called eccentric in his own time, Charlotte Bronte lived most of her life in isolated, obscure, Haworth, a small town in Yorkshire. Outside of her family and close friends, few would have guessed that underneath the mask of propriety lurked a woman who felt deeply, loved deeply and held beliefs that contradicted what many Victorians believed to be right and true.
This is not the first biography of Charlotte Bronte that I own. While the facts remain the same, what made this book different is that the world is seen through Charlotte’s eyes. A vibrant, intelligent and thoroughly capable woman stuck in an era when women were supposed to be meek, compliant and hide any sense of intelligence, this book is a reminder of now just how smart and capable Charlotte Bronte truly was.
I absolutely recommend it.