English novelist and member of the Brontë family. Her most famous novels are Jane Eyre (1847) and Villette (1853).
After the early death of her mother, Charlotte attended a school for clergymen's daughters at Cowan Bridge with her older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, and Emily Brontë. She suffered intensely, watching the health of her older sisters rapidly deteriorate; after their deaths from consumption Emily and Charlotte were brought home. In 1831 Charlotte went to another school, at Roe Head House. This was a happy period during which she made lifelong friends and correspondents. However, she returned to Haworth in 1832, owing to ill health. Charlotte married her father's curate, A B Nicholls, in 1854, and died during pregnancy.
Throughout her early years, Charlotte was writing and, with her brother, Branwell, she created an elaborate imaginary world, described and illustrated in many volumes of verse and prose. These works illustrate the native fertility of mind which later, disciplined by contact with the outside world, produced Charlotte's great novels. From 1835 to 1838 she worked as a teacher for her former headmistress, but this ended in a quarrel and estrangement. Various posts as governess in private families proved equally unhappy for Charlotte. She was, however, ambitious for herself and her sisters, and her aunt agreed to support them in the venture of a small private school. To improve her French for this purpose, Charlotte moved to Brussels in 1842. After her return in 1844, Charlotte's letters to her teacher, M Héger, show that she was deeply and unhappily in love with him.
After the publication of Jane Eyre in 1847 Charlotte found herself a celebrity whose acquaintance and friendship was sought by literary society. Her last novel, Villette, embodies her experiences in Brussels. In it her delightful humour is more evident than in Jane Eyre, and the influence of her early fantasy world is less evident.
Brontë, Charlotte Jane Eyre
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