May 22, 2016

Sunday Salon: Books Celebrating the Bicentennial of Charlotte Bronte's Birth

A relative is taking a trip to Yorkshire, England where a friend's choir will perform this summer. When he mentioned that there might not be much to see and do, I reminded him that Charlotte Bronte and her sister Emily Bronte lived in a Yorkshire village at the edge of the moors. I imagine the moors to be still an atmospheric place, one that gave rise to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. In any case, I would love this kind of trip, especially in the bicentenary of Charlotte's birth.

Once I had started reading the short stories inspired by Jane Eyre, Reader, I Married Him written by contemporary women authors, I seemed to find articles and books about Charlotte Bronte everywhere.  There is a reason for this.
"This year the Brontë literary-industrial complex celebrates the bicentennial of Charlotte’s birth, and British and American publishers have been especially busy." (from "The Bronte's Secret" in The Atlantic Monthly)
The most recent Atlantic Monthly article by Judith Schulevitz:
The Atlantic Monthly 

The Brontës’ Secret

The sisters turned domestic constraints into grist for brilliant books. (The Atlantic Monthly)
The article lists some of the biographies and other books that have been published recently about or inspired by the Brontes:
 In the U.S., there is a new Charlotte Brontë biography by Claire Harman (A Fiery Heart); a Brontë-themed literary detective novel; a novelistic riff on Jane Eyre whose heroine is a serial killer; a collection of short stories inspired by that novel’s famous last line, “Reader, I married him”; and a fan-fiction-style “autobiography” of Nelly Dean, the servant-narrator of Wuthering Heights. Last year’s highlights included a young-adult novelization of Emily’s adolescence and a book of insightful essays called The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects, which uses items belonging to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne as wormholes to the 19th century and the lost texture of their existence. (Schulevitz, The Atlantic Monthly)
The article also references Lucasta Miller in The Brontë Myth, her 2001 history of Brontëmania. 

The article also discusses the Bronte sisters as writers. They were "quiet subversives" pointing out injustices in the treatment of teachers and governesses, jobs that they themselves held for a time, and making use of their narrow lives at home to write.

After re-reading Jane Eyre, I am getting a better sense of how the short stories in Reader, I Married Him relate to the novel. 
Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre, edited by Tracy Chevalier, published March 22, 2016 

The next Bronte book I plan to tackle is a novel, pure fiction, but another inspired by the Brontes:
The Mad Woman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell, published March 1, 2016. "...the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family's long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind." (publisher)
Visit the Sunday Salon, where bloggers share their reading each week, and The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.


  1. Great celebrations ahead! Thanks for the reminder, and for sharing your books.

    Memorable authors from years ago have been on my mind lately, so I watched again my movie of The Jane Austen Book Club.

    Enjoy your week...and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

  2. Great Post! Thanks for sharing the link to the Atlantic Monthly article too! I had heard about Reader, I Married Him, but did not realize that it was a short story collection. Your post also reminded me that it was about time to reread Jane Eyre myself. I always reread Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, but never have reread Jane Eyre.

    Have a great week!
    My Sunday Salon

  3. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could plan all our vacations around author celebrations?!

  4. I had read the article on the Brontes. I really liked it for the reasons that you reference. Those biographies look really good.

    I also picture the moors to be wonderfully atmospheric and natural places. I would also love to visit them.

  5. I think Yorkshire would be a neat place to visit. And yes the moors.. it would be something to go there and imagine all the stories that reference them. :)

  6. Happy Sunday, Harvee! I enjoyed your post, which is a wonderful way to celebrate the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë's birth!

  7. I read Reader, I Married Him, which led me to reread Jane Eyre. Love this book more than ever. You should also check out The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys--it tells Bertha's story.

  8. I do remember reading Jane Eyre but am not a big Bronte fan. Here's my week. Happy reading!

  9. Ooh The Mad Woman Upstairs sounds great! My son read Jane Eyre for school recently and we enjoyed watching the movie together afterwards. Fun post!

  10. How exciting. Both books are added to my TBR list. Excellent post this week. Happy Reading!


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