All the seven Bronte novels are concerned with education in both senses, that of upbringing as well as that of learning. The Bronte sisters all worked as teachers before they became published novelists. In spite of the prevalence of education in the sisters' lives and fiction, however, this is the first full-length book on the subject. Marianne Thormahlen explores how their representations of fictional teachers and schools engage with the intense debates on education in the nineteenth century, drawing on a wealth of documentary evidence about educational theory and practice in the lifetime of the Brontes. This study offers much new information both about the Brontes and their books and about the most urgent issue in early nineteenth-century British social politics: the education of the people, of all classes and both sexes.
Review of the hardback: '... a valuable ... addition to our understanding of the Bronte family's life and works ... The strength of Thormahlen's approach is her assured assembling of developments and theories that were the educational landscape against and in which the members of the family lived their lives and wove their fictional spells ... Her strengths lie in the crisp, objective and lively review she undertakes in her studies, backed up by telling and generous notes that seduce one into further research ... Thormahlen triumphs in the light she shines on the educational world in which the family lived ... This book is an exciting helpmate in the struggle to secure a firm understanding of factors that fed the Bronte sisters' imaginative development ...' Bronte Studies
Review of the hardback: '... compelling and unique book ... This thoroughly researched volume looks at ... contemporaneous education controversies. Summing up: highly recommended.' Choice
Review of the hardback: '... writes with considerable panache and vigor. In this reviewer's experience the book makes a very enjoyable read not only for a scholar public but for a general audience as well.' www.bronteblog.blogspot.com
"[A] compelling and unique book...Highly recommended."
-S.A. Parker, Choice
"Thormahlen's prose is lucid yet sophisticated, each paragraph redolent with pithy thoughts and new twists on familiar truths [...] There is much to admire in this enjoyable book...a deeply satisfying work that enriches our appreciation of the Brontes and their world."
-Bob Duckett, Modern Philology