The most cherished novels from England's talented sisters, all in one gorgeously packaged volume
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Charlotte Bronte lived from 1816 to 1855. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Vilette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Bronte married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died during her pregnancy on March 31, 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Professor was posthumously published in 1857.Emily Bronte lived from 1818 to 1848. She wrote one strikingly innovative novel, Wuthering Heights, and was also a gifted and intense poet. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 30.
PENGUIN CLASSICS DELUXE EDITION
THE BRONTË SISTERS
Three Novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey
CHARLOTTE BRONTË was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, in 1816, the third of six children of Patrick and Maria Brontë. In 1820 her father was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth, a small town in the rapidly industrializing Pennines, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. Mrs. Brontë died in 1821, and her sister, Elizabeth Branwell, came to take care of the children—Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne. In 1824 the four oldest girls were sent to a boarding school for daughters of the clergy (later to be fictionalized “Lowood” in Jane Eyre). Maria and Elizabeth were taken ill at the school and returned home in the summer of that year. For the next six years, the young Brontës were educated at home. They developed a rich fantasy life among themselves, constructing together the imaginary world of Glass Town and writing in dozens of microscopically printed “books.” Charlotte and her brother Branwell invented their shared kingdom of Angria in 1834. From 1831 to 1832 Charlotte went as a pupil to Miss Wooler’s boarding school for young ladies at Roe Head; she returned there as a teacher from 1835–38. After working for a period as a private governess, in 1842 she went with her sister Emily to study languages at the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels, returning there as a teacher in 1843. She returned to Haworth in 1844. In 1846, at Charlotte’s instigation, the Brontë sisters published Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte’s first novel, The Professor, was rejected by several publishers, and not published until 1857. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was an instant success. Branwell Brontë died in September 1848, Emily in December of the same year, and Anne in May 1849. Charlotte, the only survivor, continued to live at Haworth Parsonage with her father. Shirley was published in 1849 and Villete in 1853, both pseudonymously. In 1854, Charlotte married her father’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls; she died on March 31, 1855.
EMILY JANE BRONTË (1818–48) was born at Thornton in Yorkshire. Two years later her father, Patrick Brontë, was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth, near Bradford. After the death of their mother in 1821 and of two elder sisters in 1825 the surviving Brontë children—Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell—were brought up in this somewhat bleak parsonage by their aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. They formed their own closely integrated society and in the Biographical Notice to Wuthering Heights, Charlotte explains the inducement to write: “We were wholly dependent on ourselves and each other, on books and study, for the enjoyments and occupations of life. The highest stimulus, as well as the liveliest pleasure we had known from childhood upwards, lay in attempts at literary composition.” They wrote tales, fantasies, poems, journals, and serial stories and brought out a monthly magazine. Emily collaborated with Anne to write the Gondal cycle, which inspired some of her most passionate poems. After Charlotte’s discovery of her poetry notebooks, Emily reluctantly agreed to a joint publication with her sisters of Poems (attributed to Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, 1846). She is best remembered, however, for her only novel, Wuthering Heights (1847; written under the pseudonym Ellis Bell). Published a year before her death from tuberculosis, it is perhaps the most passionately original novel in the English language.
ANNE BRONTË was born in 1820, the youngest of the Brontë family. She was educated mainly at home and, as a child, was especially close to Emily. Together they invented the imaginary world of Gondal, the setting for many of their dramatic poems. Like her sisters Emily and Charlotte, she tried to make a living as a governess and held two posts, the first with the Inghams at Blake Hall and later with the Robinsons at Thorp Green Hall, near York. Her experiences with the overindulged young children and the worldly older children of these two households are vividly portrayed in Agnes Grey, which was first published in 1847. Her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, appeared in 1848. She died in Scarborough in 1849.
THE BRONTË SISTERS
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
A NOTE ON THE TEXTS
The texts of these novels have been reset from the individual volumes published in Penguin Classics, which are edited from the first editions.
A preface to the first edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ being unnecessary, I gave none: this second edition demands a few words both of acknowledgment and miscellaneous remark.
My thanks are due in three quarters.
To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few pretensions.
To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure aspirant.
To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, their practical sense, and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and unrecommended Author.
The Press and the Public are but vague personifications for me, and I must thank them in vague terms; but my Publishers are definite: so are certain generous critics who have encouraged me as only large-hearted and high-minded men know how to encourage a struggling stranger; to them, that is, to my Publishers and the select Reviewers, I say cordially, Gentlemen, I thank you from my heart.
Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and approved me, I turn to another class; a small one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to be overlooked. I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency of such books as ‘Jane Eyre’: in whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each protest against bigotry – that parent of crime – an insult to piety, that regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple truths.
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.
The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth – to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise and expose, to rase the gilding and show base metal under it, to penetrate the sepulchre and reveal charnel relics; but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.
Ahab did not like Micaiah, because he never prophesied good concerning him, but evil; probably he liked the sycophant son of Chenaannah better; yet might Ahab have escaped a bloody death, had he but stopped his ears to flattery, and opened them to faithful counsel.
There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to tickle delicate ears; who, to my thinking, comes before the great ones of society much as the son of Imlah came before the throned kings of Judah and Israel, and who speaks truth as deep, with a power as prophet-like and as vital, a mien as dauntless and as daring. Is the satirist of ‘Vanity Fair’ admired in high places? I cannot tell; but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the Greek fire of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the levin-brand of his denunciation, were to take his warnings in time, they or their seed might yet escape a fatal Ramoth-Gilead.
Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to him, Reader, because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his contemporaries have yet recognised; because I regard him as the first social regenerator of the day, as the very master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude the warped system of things; because I think no commentator on his writings has yet found the comparison that suits him, the terms which rightly characterise his talent. They say he is like Fielding: they talk of his wit, humour, comic powers. He resembles Fielding as an eagle does a vulture: Fielding could stoop on carrion, but Thackeray never does. His wit is bright, his humour attractive, but both bear the same relation to his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the edge of the summer-cloud does to the electric death-spark hid in its womb. Finally, I have alluded to Mr Thackeray, because to him – if he will accept the tribute of a total stranger – I have dedicated this second edition of ‘Jane Eyre.’
December 21st, 1847
NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION
I avail myself of the opportunity which a third edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ affords me, of again addressing a word to the Public, to explain that my claim to the title of novelist rests on this one work alone. If, therefore, the authorship of other works of fiction has been attributed to me, an honour is awarded where it is not merited; and consequently, denied where it is justly due.
This explanation will serve to rectify mistakes which may already have been made, and to prevent future errors.
April 13th, 1848
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.
I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group: saying, ‘She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and child-like disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner – something lighter, franker, more natural as it were – she really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children.’
‘What does Bessie say I have done?’ I asked.
‘Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.’
A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase; I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.
Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.
I returned to my book – Bewick’s ‘History of British Birds:’ the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of ‘the solitary rocks and promontories’ by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape –
‘Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,
Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.’
Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with ‘the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space – that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold.’ Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children’s brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.
I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.
The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.
The fiend pinning down the thief’s pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.
So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.
Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs Reed’s lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of ‘Pamela,’ and ‘Henry, Earl of Moreland.’
With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door opened.
‘Boh! Madam Mope!’ cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.
‘Where the dickens is she?’ he continued. ‘Lizzy? Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mamma she is run out into the rain – bad animal!’
‘It is well I drew the curtain,’ thought I, and I wished fervently he might not discover ...
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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Penguin Classic.. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Bronte family was a literary phenomenon unequalled before or since. Both Charlotte s Jane Eyre and Emily s Wuthering Heights have won lofty places in the pantheon and stirred the romantic sensibilities of generations of readers. For the first time ever, Penguin Classics unites these two enduring favorites with the lesser known but no less powerful work by their youngest sister, Anne. Drawn from Anne s own experiences as a governess, Agnes Grey offers a compelling view of Victorian chauvinism and materialism. Its inclusion makes The Bronte Sisters a must-have volume for anyone fascinated by this singularly talented family. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780143105831