Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
(Collins Classics)

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Synopsis

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‘Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within as on the state of things without and around us.’

Considered one of her less well-known novels, Shirley is Charlotte Brontë’s only historical work, set during the Napoleonic Wars. Wealthy and independent, Shirley is very different from her friend Caroline who has few prospects and is dependent on her uncle. Struggling Mill owner Robert Moore considers marriage to the monied Shirley in order to secure his financial future, however it is Caroline who he loves while Shirley has fallen for Robert’s brother, an impoverished tutor who is deemed an unsuitable match for her. Unsentimental, yet unflinching in its honest portrayal of love, class conflict and identity, Brontë uses the backdrop of her beloved Yorkshire to play out the tensions and dramas of a society facing social and industrial upheaval.

 

About Charlotte Brontë

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Charlotte Bronte, the third of six children, was born April 21, 1816, to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell Bronte in Yorkshire, England. Along with her sisters, Emily and Anne, she produced some of the most impressive writings of the 19th century. The Brontes lived in a time when women used pseudonyms to conceal their female identity, hence Bronte's pseudonym, Currer Bell. Charlotte Bronte was only five when her mother died of cancer. In 1824, she and three of her sisters attended the Clergy Daughter's School in Cowan Bridge. The inspiration for the Lowood School in the classic Jane Eyre was formed by Bronte's experiences at the Clergy Daughter's School. Her two older sisters died of consumption because of the malnutrition and harsh treatment they suffered at the school. Charlotte and Emily Bronte returned home after the tragedy. The Bronte sisters fueled each other's creativity throughout their lives. As young children, they wrote long stories together about a complex imaginary kingdom they created from a set of wooden soldiers. In 1846, Charlotte Bronte, with her sisters Emily and Anne published a thin volume titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. In the same year, Charlotte Bronte attempted to publish her novel, The Professor, but was rejected. One year later, she published Jane Eyre, which was instantly well received. Charlotte Bronte's life was touched by tragedy many times. Despite several proposals of marriage, she did not accept an offer until 1854 when she married the Reverend A. B. Nicholls. One year later, at the age of 39, she died of pneumonia while she was pregnant. Her previously rejected novel, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857.
 
Published May 31, 2012 by William Collins. 723 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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