Charlotte Brontë: Shirley

(1810 words)
  • Judy Giles (University College of Ripon and York St John)

Shirley, Charlotte Brontë's second novel, published in 1849 two years after JaneEyre, is set in the early years of the nineteenth century at the time of the Napoleonic Wars and the Luddite riots. The first edition, as was standard at the time, was published in three volumes. At the start of the novel Charlotte Brontë, stung by some critics' condemnation of the passion and emotion in Jane Eyre, insists that this new novel will be unlike what has gone before. Addressing her readers she asks: “Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry, and reverie? Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama? Calm your expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real, cool and solid lies before you; something …

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Giles, Judy. "Shirley". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 November 2001
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]