What is Charlotte Bronte famous for?
Exhibition about Charlotte BrontëThe writer behind the myth
"Jane! Jaaaane! ..."
There are over three dozen film and television adaptations of Charlotte Brontë's most famous novel, but only one manuscript was written by the author. This original is now under glass in the Morgan Library exhibition in New York. It is opened at the point in Chapter 23 where Jane Eyre, for reasons of self-determination, rejects her beloved Mr. Rochester with the words:
"I am a free human being with an independent will, and now I am asserting the same by leaving you."
"Your imagination was literally blazing"
When "Jane Eyre" was released in England in 1847, Charlotte Brontë was 31 years old. The novel was her first publication by a publisher, but it was by no means her first literary work. As a teenager, she saw herself as an artist, says curator Christine Nelson. Like her younger sisters, Emily and Anne, who later also achieved fame as authors, Charlotte devoted herself to drawing, reading and writing from an early age:
"She created these tiny books about an invented world full of characters, each with their own stories. She wrote poetry, plays, prose. Her imagination was literally blazing."
The exhibition traces Charlotte Brontë's development as a writer with letters, notes and testimonials from contemporaries. It leads from the ambitious girl to the frustrated teacher and governess to the independent writer, from the illustrated miniature epics to the published work.
Androgynous pen name Currer Bell
Charlotte Brontë wrote "Jane Eyre" under the androgynous pen name Currer Bell. The book became an instant bestseller. The reviewers were full of praise, albeit with the reservation that the author had foreseen. Christine Nelson:
"Some critics made it very clear that if this is a man's book, then it is a masterpiece. But if a woman wrote it, then it must be genderless. No decent lady would be so open about the emotional and sexual needs of women write."
Charlotte Brontë's identity was soon revealed. And the shock of society about it quickly turned into a full-blown personality cult. Madame Brontë seems to have been a very unglamorous figure. This is indicated by the modest blue floral dress in the New York exhibition. Even more, however, this suggests reports that she created a cemetery atmosphere at parties given in her honor, even among such jovial hosts as her colleague William Thackeray, who sincerely admired her. The enthusiastic readership couldn't get enough of her.
Death at the age of 38
She died in 1855 at the age of 38. After her death, her father was stormed by supplicants who asked for a piece from her. So Patrick Brontë began to cut up letters from his daughter and to send snippets with her writing like relics all over the world. Examples of these conclude this extensive exhibition.
Many have an idea of the romantic Jane Eyre and the romanticized Charlotte Brontë. The Morgan Library now offers the opportunity to discover the heroine behind the fictional heroine and the writer behind the myth.
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