Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of her close friend Charlotte Brontë was published in 1857 to immediate popular acclaim, and remains the most significant study of the enigmatic author who gave Jane Eyre the subtitle An Autobiography. It recounts Charlotte Brontë’s life from her isolated childhood, through her years as a writer who had ‘foreseen the single life’ for herself, to her marriage at thirty-eight and death less than a year later. The resulting work – the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist – explored the nature of Charlotte’s genius and almost single-handedly created the Brontë myth.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London in 1810, but she spent her formative years in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and the north of England. In 1832 she married the Reverend William Gaskell, who became well known as the minister of the… More about Elizabeth Gaskell