This book features an introduction by Peter Merchant, Department of English and Language Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University. In devoting two years of her own life to "The Life of Charlotte Bronte", Elizabeth Gaskell wrote what with good reason has been held up as 'the first successful biography of a woman by a woman'. Charlotte Bronte (1816-55) was her 'dear friend', and a writer by whom she felt anticipated, echoed, complemented, and inspired."The Life of Charlotte Bronte" begins as an act of friendship but becomes a great work of literature in its own right. According to G. H. Lewes, 'fiction has nothing more wild, touching, and heart-strengthening to place above it'. As Lewes saw, the tale that Gaskell tells is full of dramatic contrasts: Bronte's life of claustrophobic confinement in a Yorkshire parsonage belied by the heights of imagination to which she was able to soar in her writing; the 'extraordinary genius' that seemed to have touched her whole family set against the intense suffering that was also visited upon them. In the same year, 1857, Gaskell produced two different versions of the "Life".
This edition reprints the earlier, and more hard-hitting, of the two.