After I read that wretched book by Gelsely Kirkland, I was refreshed and encouraged to read a biography of Charlotte Bronte. I recently read "Cranford", and Elizabeth Gaskell became of interest to me. In searching other books that she had written, I found that she had known and been a friend of Charlotte Bronte's, and was asked by Charlotte's father to write a biography of her after her death. Hence the beginning of reading "The Life of Charlotte Bronte".It is a very worthwhile book, based largely on the lovely letters written by Charlotte herself over the course of her lifetime to friends, publishers, and acquaintances. Oh what enjoyment to read letters that expressed such real and genuine depth of understanding about literature, art, character, and the place of Christians in a fallen world! (I am thinking here of the comparison of Charlotte's letters to so many blogs that are tepid, shallow, and so flabby in their language and intellectual structure! Whipped out in a "fast food" world of seconds and minutes contrasted with a "slow food" world where her letters took hours or days to write and evidenced long and deep thoughts, carefully considered and mulled over before being put on paper.)I had always heard of the grim existence and life of the Bronte sisters. Mrs. Gaskell puts real faces to each of the Bronte children, and shows how the difficulties in their lives actually was used probably to mold them into the creative people they became. Six children were born into the home of Patrick Bronte, an Anglican priest and Maria, his wife. Tragically, the father outlived his wife and all six children. The first two daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, died within a month of each other when they were 12 and 11 years old respectively. They had contracted TB at the girls school they had attended for clergymen's daughters. Charlotte became the older sister caring for her younger sisters, her aging father and for her chronically ill brother. Branwell, the only son, died when he was 30, a broken and tragic young man. Seduced by the older wife of his employer, he suffered the loss of his job because of her, then was rejected by her and became an alcoholic and opium addict. Less then 3 months after Branwell died, younger sister Emily died from TB and grief at the age of 29. Less than a year later, youngest sister Anne also died, probably of TB, at the age of 27. Charlotte was left alone to take care of her aging father in his parish in Yorkshire. While the environs in Haworth, Yorkshire were indeed severe and difficult, and the family situation filled with great trial and sorrow... I would not describe any of the Bronte's as grim. Charlotte was a deeply devoted Christian, who understood that much of our lot in life on earth involves suffering. Her father being an Anglican priest, she knew from her teaching in the church and from the Bible the truth of the fallen world we live in, and that truth enabled her to live with courage in very difficult circumstances. While she struggled with discouragement, poor health, and grief for long periods of time, she never despaired or projected any sentiment that would have reflected poorly on Christ who is her Lord. She loved her family, loved her father, and with her sisters banded together to write poetry and books suitable for publications. The perseverance of the three daughters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, to get their work published shows amazing tenacity and grit. After reading "Jane Eyre", Charlotte's most famous book, I was struck by the vast education Charlotte had from the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, from the book of nature, and from books she read to educate herself. An interesting article to read alongside "Jane Eyre" is at http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/cbronte/bolt3.html . The article is "Specific dates: the link between Jane Eyre, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Bible" and provides a fascinating link between the Bible Charlotte was so familiar with... the Book of Common Prayer used daily in their readings and prayers, and dates in the book of Jane Eyre. Fascinating reading! She married when she was 39, and died a mere 9 months after her marriage, most likely of severe dehydration from terrible nausea and weakness from her pregnancy. She and the baby died and are buried in Haworth.