UK: Little, Brown, 21st April 2016: ISBN: 978-14087-0831-6
Also available as an e-book and on Kindle
Juliet says: ""What better way to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth than to publish a new edition of ‘The Brontës: A Life in Letters’? Published not just in the year but on the very date that Charlotte was born in 1816, this has long been one of my favourite books. Charlotte, for me, has always been perhaps the greatest letter-writer of all time. There’s an extraordinary intimacy in her style, a Yorkshire forthrightness in her expression of her opinions and an eye for the telling detail or description that makes her letters come alive in a way that few others have ever achieved. There’s none of the pomposity, arrogance or dreadful verbiage which mars so much of the correspondence of our literary greats who were writing with one eye to publication. Just as in her novels, Charlotte speaks directly and from the heart – no matter whether she is writing to an old school-friend or to a contemporary celebrity. Although the collection includes letters and autobiographical fragments from other members of the family, this is principally an edition of Charlotte’s letters, if only because so many of hers have been preserved. And, of course, having out-lived all but her father, the onus of telling the Brontës’ own story in their own words falls largely on her. With a new biographical preface to set the letters in context and the addition of an index which makes the book more easily navigated, this is the perfect companion to my recently revised edition of my biography ‘The Brontës’”.
What the cover says: The Brontë story has been written many times but rarely as compellingly as by the Brontës themselves. In this selection of letters and autobiographical fragments we hear the authentic voices of the three novelist sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, their brother, Branwell, and their father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë.
Juliet Barker, author of the magisterial biography The Brontës, uses her unrivalled knowledge of the Brontë family to create an absorbing and entertaining book that gives us a unique and intimate insight into the lives of one of the most important and best-loved families of English literature.
Reviews of: The Brontës: A Life in Letters:
Five Star Review: ‘This remarkable work of scholarship is both heart-rending and exhilarating. Heart-rending because of the losses the family suffered … but exhilarating because it is a portrait of six extraordinary people in their own words’
Vanessa Berridge, Sunday Express Magazine, 24th April 2016
‘Barker’s declared aim is to sweep away the cloud of myth, legend and – why mince words? – codswallop … There is a bucket of cold water on every one of Barker’s pages. Let’s admire the writing, but discipline ourselves to be less excited by the writers, argues Barker. She’s right.’
John Sutherland, The Times, 16th April 2016
‘Juliet Barker’s knowledge of the family is unrivalled and she has already written a magnificent composite biography … Here, with an equal degree of sensitivity and with the addition of a wealth of previously unpublished material, she sets the family before us in their own words’
Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times
‘Thrilling and engrossing … This book is alive with voices, affectionate, witty, sorrowful, fantastical, spiritual, mischievous and full of grief’
Jane Dunn, The Observer
‘By her careful excerpting and excellent narrative insertions, Juliet Barker reprises the extraordinary success of her The Brontës … It is not easy to hold all the voices together … but Barker combines them magnificently, getting closer than anyone to the sound of everyday life at Haworth’
Kathryn Hughes, The Daily Telegraph
‘Letters like these allow the reader a fleeting intimacy with another’s life … Juliet Barker has laid her brilliant selection before the reader in chronological order, explaining any significant gaps in the story and introducing new friends and acquaintances … a deft and revealing book’
‘A gripping documentary chronicle of this extraordinary, brilliant and insular family’
The New York Times Book Review
‘No biography can match the immediacy of the Brontës’ letters and papers which record childhood in a Victorian parsonage and the maturing of their well-guarded and fiercely experienced inner lives … This selection of material is skilful, informative and balanced’
Elizabeth Buchan, The Mail on Sunday