Saturday 21 October 2017

Now, let us also recall that the 200th birthday of the woman who wrote 'Jane Eyre' is coming up

Big screen: Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in the 2001 adaptation of Jane Eyre.
Big screen: Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in the 2001 adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Gerard O'Regan

Charlotte Bronte's life - perhaps more than that of any other English author - has been well chronicled over the years. A tragedy strewn saga, encompassing isolation, loneliness and rejection, played out against the stark beauty of the Yorkshire moors, is for countless book lovers an enduring fascination.

Her emotional fixation with an unavailable married man who did not reciprocate her passions, left her particularly bereft and forlorn, at a pivotal point in her development. When she subsequently resorted to taking Arthur Bell Nicholls as her husband, her reservations and worries about an uncertain future ran deep. Not only was she marrying somebody she did not love - but of almost equal concern was the fact he was from Ireland.

Charlotte was of course half-Irish herself. Her father Patrick was a native of Co Down, and most famously an indulgent parent, when it came to encouraging the literary output of his children. But he was also a complex man of the cloth, and as a Church of England minister, he seemed ever anxious to distance himself from his poverty stricken childhood. He even changed the family name of Prunty - which can be traced back to the Irish clan O'Pronntaigh - to the more exotic sounding Bronte hoping it would smooth his pathway through English life.

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