Elizabeth Gaskell's Life appeared in 1857 to immediate popular acclaim among Victorian readers curious to discover more about the writer who had given Jane Eyre the subtitle, An Autobiography. In writing about Charlotte Bronte, whom she greatly admired, but whose novels she did not entirely like, Elizabeth Gaskell portrays the struggle of a woman artist for whom she had, until her late marrige, "foreseen the single life". The resulting work - the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist - almost single-handedly created the Bronte myth. As Elisabeth Jay discusses in her introduction to this new edition, Gaskell weaves facts, dates, characters and anecdotes with considerable art; her Charlotte Bronte was "an imaginative creation and, as such, took on a life of its own". The present text follows the controversial first edition throughout, while all the variations which appeared in the third edition have been recorded in an appendix.
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