Format Hardcover
Publication Date 08/01/12
ISBN 9781605983653
Trim Size / Pages 9.6 x 6.4 in / 1184

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The Brontes

Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family

Juliet Barker

In a revised and updated edition, the real story of the Brontë sisters, by distinguished scholar and historian Juliet Barker.

The story of the tragic Brontë family is familiar to everyone: we all know about the half-mad, repressive father, the drunken, drug-addicted wastrel of a brother, wildly romantic Emily, unrequited Anne, and “poor Charlotte.” Or do we? These stereotypes of the popular imagination are precisely that—imaginary—created by amateur biographers from Mrs. Gaskell who were primarily novelists and were attracted by the tale of an apparently doomed family of genius. Juliet Barker’s landmark book is the first definitive history of the Brontës. It demolishes the myths, yet provides startling new information that is just as compelling—but true. Based on first hand research among all the Brontë manuscripts and among contemporary historical documents never before used by Brontë biographers, this book is both scholarly and compulsively readable. The Brontës is a revolutionary picture of the world’s favorite literary family.

Juliet Barker, author of Agincourt and other critically acclaimed works of history and biography, has a PhD in history from Oxford University and was for six years curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth. She has been involved with all recent research into the Brontës and has made many major new finds that are revealed for the first time in this book.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Barker’s updated and enthralling biography of the Brontës carries us deeper into the everyday realities of their strange world. The stuff of lurid legend.” Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air"
“As a work of scholarship it is brilliant. For those with a passion for the Brontës, or for Victoriana, it is a stupendous read.” Independent on Sunday
“Definitive. Barker’s greatest service is to rescue the family of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne from myth, who were provided particularly hideous stereotypes by Charlotte’s first biographer, Elizabeth Gaskell. The doom and tragedy are there.” The Daily Beast
“Each section offers further insight into this family's struggles, illnesses and losses and, above all, their closeness and affection.It is this unique intimacy, Barker argues, that yielded their extraordinary creative endeavors — despite difficulties, rivalries and temperamental differences, each family member ultimately sustained the other. After more than 150 years, the Brontës remain as fascinating (and inspiring) as ever. They have lost none of their allure. If any writer has earned the final word about their lives, it's Barker, with her triumphant and eloquent book.” The Los Angeles Times