Monday, 28 March 2011

Passionate Geniuses

I spent most of Saturday reading Karen Smith Kenyon's book The Bronte Family: passionate literary geniuses.  While it is written as a young adult biography, I found it equally excellent as an adult reader.  It is filled with fantastic pictures of artifacts and photographs of places the Brontes frequented.  I was struck by how lonely their lives were, set apart as they were in the parsonage in a small town.  Only Branwell seemed to get out visiting much, and then mostly at the local pub. 

The lives of the Brontes were not previously well known to me.  I have read Agnes Grey, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and this book made note of several ties between the real lives of Charlotte, Anne and Emily to these books.  Whenever I read fiction, I wonder where the life of the author intersects his or her creation.  My own fiction often reflects my experiences, but at the same time, nothing is exactly true.

After finishing the book, I felt deeply saddened by the shortness of the lives of the Brontes and especially for Charlotte, so recently married.  Kenyon surmises that she died due to excessive vomitting due to pregnancy.  As someone who struggled with morning sickness, I often wondered what became of women with extreme morning sickness before the advent of our modern day medications. 

I am rereading Wuthering Heights and am fascinated with Emily's creation.  Kenyon made no mention of any romances in Emily's life.  How did she come up with Heathcliff and Catherine?  I've decided I need to read more biographies of writers.  So inspiring!

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