An intimate portrait of the lives and writings of the Brontë sisters,
drawn from the objects they possessed.
In this unique and lovingly detailed biography of a literary family that has enthralled readers for nearly two centuries, Victorian literature scholar Deborah Lutz illuminates the complex and fascinating lives of the Brontës through the things they wore, stitched, wrote on, and inscribed. By unfolding the histories of the meaningful objects in their family home in Haworth, Lutz immerses readers in a nuanced re-creation of the sisters' daily lives while moving us chronologically forward through the major biographical events: the death of their mother and two sisters, the imaginary kingdoms of their childhood writing, their time as governesses, and their determined efforts to make a mark on the literary world.
From the miniature books they made as children to the blackthorn walking sticks they carried on solitary hikes on the moors, each personal possession opens a window onto the sisters' world, their beloved fiction, and the Victorian era. A description of the brass collar worn by Emily’s bull mastiff, Keeper, leads to a series of entertaining anecdotes about the influence of the family’s dogs on their writing and about the relationship of Victorians to their pets in general. The sisters' portable writing desks prove to have played a crucial role in their writing lives: it was Charlotte's snooping in Emily’s desk that led to the sisters' first publication in print, followed later by the publication of Jane Eyre andWuthering Heights.
Charlotte's letters provide insight into her relationships, both innocent and illicit, including her relationship with the older professor to whom she wrote passionately. And the bracelet Charlotte had made of Anne and Emily's intertwined hair bears witness to her profound grief after their deaths.
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About the Author
Deborah Lutz lives in Brooklyn. She is an Associate Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture in the Department of English at Long Island University, C.W. Post. Her scholarship focuses on material culture; the history of attitudes toward death and mourning; the history of sexuality, pornography and erotica; and gender and gay studies. Her writing has also appeared in numerous journals and collections, including Novel: A Forum on Fiction; Victorian Literature and Culture; The Oxford History of the Novel in English, and Cabinet. She has been interviewed by the New York Times, Salon, New York Post, Dublin's News Talk Radio, The John Batchelor Radio Show, and The History Channel. Find out more at http://deborahlutz.com/.