Happy Birthday, Charlotte Brontë! (with Quiz)
April holds a month of celebrated birthdays. My daughter, mother, and father were born in April. 😀 So were artists and inventors like Joan Miró and Leonardo da Vinci; world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and Ulysses S. Grant; actors Charlie Chaplin and Alec Baldwin; and authors Hans Christian Anderson, Washington Irving, William Shakespeare, Tom Clancy, Maya Angelou, and Harper Lee, to name a few. Another famous author born in this month was Charlotte Brontë.
Charlotte Brontë, one of the three renowned and talented writing sisters, was born April 21, 1816. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey respectively, each using a male pen name and published their novels in the same year. Jane Eyre was an instant success. In her journal, Queen Victoria noted that she was reading Jane Eyre to her dear Albert. She had high praise for the book remarking that it "proved so interesting that we went on till quite late." In fact, she reread it years later and commented that it was "a wonderful book, very peculiar in parts, but so powerfully and admirably written..." Such praise may have been a highlight in Charlotte's otherwise tragic life.
Here’s a look at that fabulously famous novel from my 2013 review:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is my favorite of the Brontë sisters' books. This novel is the account of an orphan girl who grows up in harsh circumstances to become a governess and eventually finds love. Throughout her challenging life, Jane overcomes as many obstacles as Wonder Woman deflects bullets. First she is abused by the aunt who takes her in after her parents die. Then she’s shoved off to Lowood, a school that puts boot camps to shame. Heat, proper meals, and decent clothing are luxury items. So is dignity. Jane is singled out and humiliated in conditions that, in this day and age, would garner lawsuits or at the very least a book deal. She deserves a T-shirt that says “I Survived Lowood.” After eight arduous years as a student and later a teacher, Jane finally sets out on her own as governess to Adèle Varens, ward of the formidable Mr. Edward Rochester. She falls in love with Mr. R., which is of course, totally inappropriate given her place in the household as well as the fact that she’s kind of homely compared to his upscale friends. Will they or won’t they get together—that’s the question. And I’m not giving the answer. I can say, however, that you may find a surprise or two along the way. This was definitely a memorable book which I continue to hold close to my heart many years after having read it. Go, Jane!
How much do you know about Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre?
1. What was the pen name Charlotte used?
a. Currer Bell
b. Charlie Bean
c. Chuck Brawntee
2. Charlotte Brontë died:
a. While pregnant with her first child
b. From a stroke
c. When she fell off a horse
3. How old was Charlotte when she died?
4. Which one of these books did Charlotte NOT write?
c. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
5. In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, what is the name of the man who runs the Lowood boarding school?
a. Mr. Brocklehurst
b. Mr. Stinkleheimer
c. Father Smith
6. In Jane Eyre, what happens to Jane’s best friend, Helen Burns, at Lowood?
a. She is sent to the chokey for punishment
b. She runs away and elopes
c. She dies of consumption in Jane’s arms
7. In Jane Eyre, what was the profession of Adèle Varen’s mother?
a. She was a dancer
b. She was a washer woman
c. She was a midwife
8. What is the name of Edward Rochester’s estate in Jane Eyre?
b. Thornfield Hall
9. When was Jane Eyre published?