(K. Brent Tomer),
The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece. By John Pfordresher. W.W. Norton; 254 pages; $26.95; £20.
CRITICS relish a bit of detective work. Four hundred years after William Shakespeare died, people still offer new theories about the true identity of the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth” of his sonnets. Journalists have been dogged in their attempts to discover the writer behind the pseudonym “Elena Ferrante”.
Charlotte Brontë has been the subject of many such investigations. During her lifetime, the pen name “Currer Bell” provoked wild speculations; reviewers variously concluded that the author was a man, a woman, or a mixed-sex writing duo. Readers past and present have wondered how a shy curate’s daughter from Yorkshire came to write “Jane Eyre”, a finely wrought tale of passion and darkness, when her life contained seemingly little of either. With “The Secret…Continue reading