The Oxford Companion to the Brontës aims to provide both comprehensive and detailed information about the lives, works, and reputations of the Brontës--the three sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, together with their father and their brother Branwell--all of whom were published writers. This is a unique and authoritative reference book for the research student and the general reader. The A-Z format, extensive cross-referencing, chronologies, illustrations, and maps, both facilitate quick reference and encourage further exploration. Entries are also designed to explore scholarly trends and to reflect contemporary directions in literary study. They offer insight into publishing history, biographical studies, collectors and museums, book illustration, and theoretical and critical approaches to the Brontës' writings. This Companion is not only invaluable for quick searches, but a delight to browse, and an inspiration to further reading.
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Christine Alexander is Professor of English at the University of New South Wales. Her books include the multi-volume Edition of the Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë (1987-91), The Art of the Brontës (1995), and the British-academy prize-winning book The Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë (1982). She has also published widely on gothic literature, Jane Austen, critical editing, literary juvenilia, and landscape gardening. Margaret Smith is Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham. She has edited many of the Brontës' works, including The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and the Brontë letters.
For almost two centuries both general readers and scholars have been intrigued by the writings that sprang from the fertile imaginations of a curate's children raised on the moors of Yorkshire. Covering not only the three Bronte sisters who have attracted the most attention (Anne, Charlotte, and Emily) but also their brother, Branwell, and their father, Patrick, this guide provides a wealth of information about their lives and works and the society in which they lived, as well as historical and critical perspectives on their writings. The more than 1,000 alphabetically arranged entries include lengthy articles on each Bronte and his or her individual works and shorter entries on characters and places in the writings and real people, places, and other entities associated with them. In addition, numerous substantive thematic and topical entries (for example, Art of the Brontes, Health and medicine, Psychoanalytic approaches) help to elucidate the Brontes' world and their creative output. Bibliographical references generally accompany longer entries, and a selective bibliography appears at the end of the volume. The latter provides no references to relevant Internet sites, an unfortunate omission, since useful tools for studying the Brontes are available on the Web. Additional features include a generous network of cross-references, a number of black-and-white illustrations, a chronology, and a section that identifies dialect and obsolete words in the Brontes' writings. Providing an overview of the entire work is a classified index that arranges entries into topical categories, enabling users to find, for example, all entries relating to adaptations of the Brontes' works or to places where they traveled.
As Bronte scholars, Alexander and Smith are highly qualified to have undertaken this project, and they and the seven other contributors have created a valuable compendium of impeccable scholarship. Containing more than twice as many entries as The Brontes: A to Z (Facts On File, 2003), this excellent guide is the most comprehensive and scholarly reference companion to the Brontes now available. It is highly recommended for all academic libraries and larger public libraries. Marie Ellis
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