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By Tom Winnifrith (auth.)

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Additional info for A New Life of Charlotte Brontë

Sample text

Mr Bronte's enthusiasm for education has already been commented upon. The year at Cowan Bridge, in spite of its charitable status had, unless he received some help, cost him almost half his income as well as the lives of two of his daughters, but is unlikely to have dimmed that enthusiasm. There were of course some handicaps to learning. In spite of his tragic losses Mr Bronte's family was still a large one which had to be fitted into a relatively small house. Shared bedrooms meant a lack of privacy.

Occasional obscure literary jokes may be directed by one author against another. In an early story Branwell introduces his three sisters without any disguise into his narrative, and speaks of them with a good deal of contempt. In My Angria and the Angriuns (October 1834) Charlotte caricatures Branwell in Patrick Benjamin Wiggins as 'a low slightly built man, a bush of canary yellow hair and a pair of spectacles placed across a prominent Roman nose'. These comic jibes are perfectly compatible with a happy affection between brother and sister, marred perhaps by occasional rivalries with Charlotte the eldest child and Branwell the only boy.

This role now had to be taken by Charlotte, always in future, protective, perhaps over-protective of Emily and Anne. With Branwell, not very much younger than her and with special privileges as the only boy of the family, the relationship was rather different. 9 Charlotte must have at first sight seemed a poor substitute, and there must have been a certain rivalry and resentment between the two siblings, although this rivalry produced fruitful literary results. After leaving Cowan Bridge Charlotte remained at home for five and a half years.

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