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Elizabeth Gaskell's Life appeared in 1857 to immediate popular acclaim among Victorian readers curious to discover more about the writer who had given Jane Eyre the subtitle, An Autobiography. In writing about Charlotte Bronte, whom she greatly admired, but whose novels she did not entirely like, Elizabeth Gaskell portrays the struggle of a woman artist for whom she had, until her late marrige, "foreseen the single life". The resulting work - the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist - almost single-handedly created the Bronte myth. As Elisabeth Jay discusses in her introduction to this new edition, Gaskell weaves facts, dates, characters and anecdotes with considerable art; her Charlotte Bronte was "an imaginative creation and, as such, took on a life of its own". The present text follows the controversial first edition throughout, while all the variations which appeared in the third edition have been recorded in an appendix.
Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of her close friend Charlotte Brontë was published in 1857 to immediate popular acclaim, and remains the most significant study of the enigmatic author who gave Jane Eyre the subtitle An Autobiography. It recounts Charlotte Brontë's life from her isolated childhood, through her years as a writer who had 'foreseen the single life' for herself, to her marriage at thirty-eight and death less than a year later. The resulting work - the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist - explored the nature of Charlotte's genius and almost single-handedly created the Brontë myth.
ELIZABETH GASKELL was born in London in 1810. She married a minister, and her literary output was substantial and completely professional. Many of her works are available in Penguin Classics, including NORTH AND SOUTH, SYLVIA'S LOVERS, and WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. She died suddenly in 1865. ELISABETH JAY has taught and lectured at various universities in Great Britain and the USA, and is currently Head of Westminster College, Oxford. Her books include FAITH AND DOUBT IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN.