The Oxford Companion to the Brontės

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Oxford University Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 586 pages
The Oxford Reader's Companion to the Brontes aims to provide both comprehensive and detailed information about the lives, works, and reputations of the Brontes - the three sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, together with their father and their brother Branwell - all of whom were publishedwriters. It is the first time so much information relating to the family has been gathered together in a reference book such as this. Over the years the story of the Brontes has become the material of myth: three women living on the wild Yorkshire moors, writing works of weird and wonderful genius. Charlotte Bronte claimed that her sister Emily's novel Wuthering Heights was 'hewn in a wild workshop'. Inspired by a deep love ofnature and an intensely private imaginative world it certainly was, but Emily's novel, like those of her sisters, is engaged with 19th-century issues and debates. The Brontes lived in a thriving woollen-mill town and participated in local activities - the church, education, concerts, elections, exhibitions. They devoured the latest newspapers and journals, and kept abreast of politics. Their reading was wide and eclectic. A central purpose of the Companion isto evoke the milieu in which they lived and worked, revealing the complex interrelation between their lives, writings, and times. Long entries surveying the Brontes lives and works are supplemented by entries on friends and acquaintances, pets, literary and political heroes; on the places they knew and the places they imagined; on their letters, drawings and paintings; on historical events such as Chartism, the PeterlooMassacre and the Ashantee Wars; on exploration, slavery, and religion. Selected entries on the characters and places in the Bronte juvenilia provide a glimpse into their early imaginative worlds, and entries on film, ballet, and musicals indicate the extent to which their works have inspired others.This is a unique and authoritative reference book for the research student and the general reader. The A-Z format, extensive cross-referencing, chronologies, illustrations, and maps, both facilitate quick reference and encourage further exploration. Entries are also designed to explore scholarlytrends and to reflect contemporary directions in literary study. They offer insight into publishing history, biographical studies, collectors and museums, book illustration, and theoretical and critical approaches to the Brontes' writings. This Companion is not only invaluable for quick searches,but a delight to browse, and an inspiration to further reading.

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About the author (2003)


Christine Alexander is Professor of English at the University of New South Wales. Her books include the multi-volume Edition of the Early Writings of Charlotte Brontė (1987-91), The Art of the Brontės (1995), and the British-academy prize-winning book The Early Writings of Charlotte Brontė (1982). She has also published widely on gothic literature, Jane Austen, critical editing, literary juvenilia, and landscape gardening. Margaret Smith is Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham. She has edited many of the Brontės' works, including The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and the Brontė letters.

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