The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Bronte Wrote Her Masterpiece

The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Bronte Wrote Her Masterpiece

by John Pfordresher


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The surprising hidden history behind Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Why did Charlotte Brontë go to such great lengths on the publication of her acclaimed, best-selling novel, Jane Eyre, to conceal its authorship from her family, close friends, and the press? In The Secret History of Jane Eyre, John Pfordresher tells the enthralling story of Brontë’s compulsion to write her masterpiece and why she then turned around and vehemently disavowed it.

Few people know how quickly Brontë composed Jane Eyre. Nor do many know that she wrote it during a devastating and anxious period in her life. Thwarted in her passionate, secret, and forbidden love for a married man, she found herself living in a home suddenly imperiled by the fact that her father, a minister, the sole support of the family, was on the brink of blindness. After his hasty operation, as she nursed him in an isolated apartment kept dark to help him heal his eyes, Brontë began writing Jane Eyre, an invigorating romance that, despite her own fears and sorrows, gives voice to a powerfully rebellious and ultimately optimistic woman’s spirit.

The Secret History of Jane Eyre expands our understanding of both Jane Eyre and the inner life of its notoriously private author. Pfordresher connects the people Brontë knew and the events she lived to the characters and story in the novel, and he explores how her fecund imagination used her inner life to shape one of the world’s most popular novels.

By aligning his insights into Brontë’s life with the timeless characters, harrowing plot, and forbidden romance of Jane Eyre, Pfordresher reveals the remarkable parallels between one of literature’s most beloved heroines and her passionate creator, and arrives at a new understanding of Brontë’s brilliant, immersive genius.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393248876
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/27/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,199,054
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

John Pfordresher is a professor of English at Georgetown University. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

1 Secret History 19

2 The Red-Room 33

3 Injustice 52

4 The First Girl 73

5 A Situation 87

6 The Master 103

7 Cord of Communion 130

8 The Fury 155

9 Desolation 172

10 Perfect Congeniality 184

11 An Independent Woman 204

Epilogue 215

Acknowledgments 225

Notes 227

Index 243

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