The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Published two years after the novelist's death, this two-volume work is the first and the best-known of the many biographies of the Bronte family. Written by the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) the book was instrumental in the creation of the Brontes' public image as a family set apart by literary genius and personal tragedy. Gaskell's chief source for the biography was some 350 letters between Charlotte and her friend Ellen Nussey, letters which Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, had asked Nussey to destroy after his wife's death, fearing they would damage her reputation. Volume 2 covers Charlotte's writing of The Professor, the publication of Jane Eyre, the deaths of Branwell, Emily and Anne, the publication of Shirley and Villette, her correspondence with Thackeray, Gaskell and Martineau, and her eventual marriage in 1854 to Nicholls, her father's curate. It concludes with a description of Charlotte's funeral.