View Full Version : Life Lessons From the Bronte Sisters, lessons on writing, and a novel

03-21-2016, 08:07 PM
Life Lessons From the Bronte Sisters

(http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/19/life-lessons-from-the-bronte-sisters.html)"The million-dollar question is why the Brontės and their novels are still so popular, while so many of their contemporaries have fizzled and died in our collective memories. Public interest often begins with the Brontės themselves—three impossibly tiny sisters secluded on the Moors, pretending to be men, writing epic fiction that defied the parameter of their own experiences. Yet much of our collective obsession has to do with what we don’t know. Despite exhaustive research over the last one hundred and fifty years, there are still enough holes in our knowledge to breed myths and fantasy. The picturesque romance of the Brontės depends on the incomplete picture we have; as in real life, romance and mystery go hand in hand.

My own obsession with the Brontė legacy was unhealthy enough to inspire me to write a novel on the subject. "

(http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/19/life-lessons-from-the-bronte-sisters.html) The "three lessons" in this article by Catherine Lowell could be seen also as lessons for writers, about writing. Not in any technical detailed sense, but addressing those areas of self-regard which often rise up to bedevil creative workers and their process.

I was interested in this also because it happens that I am reading Lowell's novel, The Madwoman Upstairs, right now, in an uncorrected proof I was given access to. I have to say that so far it is thoroughly delightful and entertaining even if you know nothing of the Brontes and could care less. It was released sometime this month.

03-22-2016, 05:46 AM
Another of the life lessons of the Bronte sisters is that you should strive to live longer than any of the three of them did.


03-22-2016, 05:56 AM
I didn't know striving worked for that! Huh!


Old Hack
03-22-2016, 06:50 PM
That's a lovely article, Kyla. Thank you for sharing it.

03-22-2016, 06:58 PM
Thanks, OH. And, blac? I know you know a lot about the Bronte sisters' works. Why do YOU think they have remained in current readership whereas their contemporaries have fallen by the wayside?

Old Hack
03-22-2016, 10:11 PM
I am not an expert on the Brontes at all, and I hope Blac will answer your question in a more informed way than I can: but my opinion on that matter is that they were good story-tellers, while the few contemporaries of theirs who I have read seemed more interested in lecturing the reader, and in making a few moral points.

03-22-2016, 10:53 PM
Well, that'll do it right there. Though Catherine Lowell seemed to think there was not that much difference, if I read her correctly.

Katharine Tree
03-22-2016, 11:08 PM
IMO the Brontes moralize plenty--mostly Charlotte, who was the most prolific--but they gain enduring appeal because they were women writing for a female audience, and not the female audience who was reading the books their fathers/husbands/brothers approved of, but women reading things that truly appealed to them. The common thread through all seven Bronte novels is that the female protagonists won't compromise their independent pursuit of happiness and self-respect in order to fit into the greater social mold--even if it means never marrying and ending their lives in poverty.

It was all right for a man to be quirky in 19th-century England. It was all right for female characters to be quirky, too, as long as they were comic side-characters only. There are precious few 19th-century English novels that (1) feature strong female protagonists who exercise agency in the public sphere and (2) were written well enough to endure.

In the long term, this formula gave each sister an original voice that rings true to the human experience, which turned out to appeal to both genders. And that's lovely.