The Brontës
Juliet Barker

The Brontës

Juliet Barker’s definitive history of the Brontë family demolishes many myths, including those created by Charlotte Brontë’s first biographer, Mrs Gaskell. Based on eleven years of research among newly discovered letters by every member of the family and by their circle, original manuscripts, historical documents and national and local newspapers published over fifty years, it gives a radically new picture of the Brontës’ lives from beginning to end. The Brontës is a spectacular achievement: a vivid picture of nineteenth century Yorkshire; a treasure trove of new information, including poems, letters and childhood writings published for the first time in this book; and, most of all, an engrossing and intimate chronicle of an astonishingly creative family.

Book Details:

  • Author: Juliet Barker
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Little Brown
    • US: Pegasus

Juliet Barker

Juliet Barker was educated at Bradford Girls' Grammar School and St Anne's College, Oxford, where she obtained a doctorate in medieval history. From 1983 to 1989 she was the curator and librarian of the Bronte Parsonage Museum. Her books include The Brontes, which won the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award and was short-listed for both the AT&T Non-Fiction Prize and the Marsh Biography Award, The Brontes: A Life in Letters, Wordsworth: A Life, Wordsworth: A Life in Letters.She is a frequent contributor to newspapers and appears regularly on radio and television. In 1999 she was one o...
More about Juliet Barker

Book Reviews

  • "It reads so entertainingly that sometimes I felt that the author’s long communion with Charlotte had let her absorb exactly the same spirit. It is full of life and sparks’"
    Jane Gardam, The Spectator
  • "A joy to read . . . The Brontës is a magnificent achievement: the finest biography I have read for years"
    The Literary Review
  • "As a work of scholarship it is brilliant . . . for those with a passion for the Brontës, or for Victoriana, or for sheer wealth of historical minutiae, it is a stupendous read"
    Independent on Sunday
  • "a monumental book: patient, thoughtful, sustained and bound to become indispensable"
    Andrew Motion, The Times Literary Supplement
  • "The Brontës is an outstanding achievement, a magnificent portrait which not only contains a wealth of important new material, but is also a delight to read . . . Barker has established what must now be the definitive Brontë chronology so convincingly that it is hard to imagine it ever being surpassed’"
    Rebecca Fraser, The Times
  • "the most comprehensive study yet written . . . [which] provides a huge amount of new material. It is very long and very thorough, a brilliant book which shows great understanding of the sisters"
    Denis Healey, Pick of the Year 1995, The Sunday Times
  • "This landmark study of the Brontës not only breaks new ground in its depiction of the life and times of the legendary family, but reads with all the pulse and throb of a novel . . . Anyone fascinated by the Brontës cannot fail to read this book. It is indispensable to understanding them, their world, their uniqueness . . . Barker has made a massive contribution to Brontë scholarship"
    The Los Angeles The Los Angeles 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 achievement of her The Brontes . . . 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 her story and introducing new friends and acquaintances . . . a deft and revealing book’"
    The Guardian
  • "A gripping documentary chronicle of this extraordinary brilliant and insular family"
    The New York Times Book Review
  • "Quashing the myths that surround the Brontes ehile revealing dramatic, fascinating new information about them is a first-class biography. Including newly discovered poems and letters by Patrick, Emily and Anne it is an extensively researched and authoritative book that will compell you to view the Brontes differently. Updated since the original in 1994."
    Daily Express
  • "This classic tore down the myths around the Brontes when it was published in 1994. This edition is updated with new material. "
    Daily Telegraph
  • "An award-winning biography dispelling the myths and misconceptions around England's foremost literary family."
    The Times
  • "This book is a truly outstanding achievement, a reinvigorated, honest and instructive account of the Brontes, not the mythical, shadowy, doomed genuiuses of so many biographies, but real, talented people with flaws and frailties."
    Lancashire Evening Post.
  • "  Barker restores a rich context to the writers and their works by recounting their education, creative collaborations, and frustrated love lives. Most fascinating is Barker’s attention to the pseudonymous publication and reception of the Brontës’ first poems and novels. Despite the implicit argument that to understand one Brontë requires understanding the others, Emily and Anne remain ciphers. But with extensive quotations from journals, manuscripts, letters, and other primary sources, Barker has performed a heroic feat of archival research, effectively exploding the mythology that inevitably grew to surround these brief, incandescent lives. While its level of detail and extensive footnotes will most appeal to scholars, Barker’s sensitive and elegant writing stimulates genuine pathos for the doomed family. The volume is sure to remain the most readable scholarly standard for years to come."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "In this updated edition of her landmark 1994 biography, Barker (former curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth) expansively narrates the story of a family that left an indelible mark on literary history... Barker restores a rich context to the writers and their works by recounting their education, creative collaborations, and frustrated love lives. Most fascinating is Barker’s attention to the pseudonymous publication and reception of the Brontës’ first poems and novels. The sensitive and elegant writing stimulates genuine pathos for the doomed family, and this volume is sure to remain the most readable scholarly standard for years to come. "
    Publishers Weekly
  • "   When Barker's monumental family biography of the Brontes was published in 1994, it was as though a skilled restorer had come along to work on the group portrait, gently rubbing off the lurid colors of myth and gossip, and revealing the bones of truth underneath. Now, Barker has updated the biography — which has become the standard Bronte biography — with new material. The footnotes alone, in this new edition of The Brontes, run to 136 pages. It's rare that I have occasion to say this, but, taken collectively, those footnotes are thrilling.  "
    NPR Books
  • "  Barker is an impressive, exhaustive researcher, but she's also a great detective and a lively storyteller. Each section offers further insight into this family's struggles, illnesses and losses and, above all, their closeness and affection.... 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. "
    LA Times