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Charlotte BrontëLegacies and Afterlives$
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Amber K. Regis and Deborah Wynne

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784992460

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784992460.001.0001

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Reading the revenant in Charlotte Brontë’s literary afterlives: charting the path from the ‘silent country’ to the seance

Reading the revenant in Charlotte Brontë’s literary afterlives: charting the path from the ‘silent country’ to the seance

Chapter:
(p.96) 4 Reading the revenant in Charlotte Brontë’s literary afterlives: charting the path from the ‘silent country’ to the seance
Source:
Charlotte Brontë
Author(s):

Amber Pouliot

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784992460.003.0005

This chapter explores the reasons for the Brontës’ longstanding connection with haunting and the supernatural, and how this has been intertwined with processes of fictionalisation. Focusing on Charlotte Brontë in particular, it traces her connection with the supernatural back to Elizabeth Gaskell’s seminal biography, The Life of Charlotte Brontë. Within Gaskell’s biography are embedded a series of macabre ghost stories that have the effect of supernaturalising and semi-fictionalising the life of its subject. This chapter demonstrates that Gaskell’s influence can be seen both in the commemorative ghost poetry of the nineteenth century, which we might think of as proto-fictional biography, and in the works of fictional biography that featured the Brontës as ghosts throughout the inter-war period. It follows the trajectory of Brontë’s fictionalisation by charting nineteenth-century commemorative poetry’s gradual approach to fictional biography in terms of its ghosts’ increasing communicativeness and vocalisation.

Keywords:   Afterlife, Biofiction, Biography, Commemoration, Ghost, Haunting, Haworth, Poetry, Fictional biography

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