15 NOVEMBER 1935, Page 32


CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S NOVELS By Herbert E. Wroot Charlotte Bronte's plots- are often thin and laboured, yet her novels have one sure foundation. Her characters are to a large extent portraits of acquaintances and her landscapes are sensitive paintings of places which she knew. To know the originals on which Charlotte Bronto built her romances is to be very near an explanatkin of her method and talent. Mr. Wroot, by his assiduous and scholarly research, has done great service to Bronto literature ; and, incidentally, has written an entertaining book (Brontë Society : Haworth Parsonage, 5s.). Charlotte Brontii's circle of friends and acquaintances is widened for us. The three curates of Shirley become flesh and blood. St. John Eyre Rivers is met again as the Rev. Henry Nussey, who once proposed to Charlotte Brontë, and, being repulsed and tarrying only to write in hiS diary " The Lord's will be done," promptly pro- posed to another lady of the district. Dr. John Bretton becomes more understandable as Mr. Smith, the publisher ; Helen Burns certainly more credible . and moving as Maria Bronto, who died after the privations at Cowan Bridge School ; and Lucy Snowe, Jane Eyre, Shirley, William Crimsworth- how much are they just Charlotte Brontë ? This is a question which Mr. Wroot.-answers conscientiously and satisfactorily, giving many incidents in Charlotte BrontO's life which she re- told in her . books. In discussing the topography of the novels he is equally illuminating, especially as he has lived for many years around Haworth and was fortunate also to roam around Brussels in the days before it was modernised, The Bront8 Society are to be congratulated on publishing now in book form a work which, when first published in abridged and serial form twenty • years ago, attracted much attention.