Monday 4 May 2015

Brontë weekend talks on 25 April with Claire Harman and Bonnie Greer

Claire Harman

Claire Harman, whose biography of Charlotte Brontë is due to be published in October, was our first
speaker at our Brontë weekend this year. Her talk on Saturday, April 25, was very special for the Brussels Brontë Group because Claire focused on the wrenching letters that Charlotte sent to her teacher, M. Heger, after she left Brussels and the importance of her Belgian experience in her life and art.

The feelings of unrequited affection and desperate anguish that Charlotte shows in these letters coloured all of her subsequent writing after she went back to Haworth at the start of 1844, Claire said. The four letters are now at the British Library in London, where they have been since being donated by the Heger family in 1913.

Claire, the author of several biographies including one of Robert Louis Stevenson, also provided interesting insights into the biographer's craft. She has also written Jane's Fame on the legacy of Jane Austen, in the vein of Lucasta Miller's The Brontë Myth. In writing her forthcoming book on Charlotte Brontë, Claire said she refrained from reading other biographies of the writer, though she heavily consulted Juliet Barker's The Brontës as a reference, saying she wanted her biography to contain her ``own very personal take'' on the letters and other material, such as the devoirs written in Brussels.