Name this book: the story of a plain governess who falls in love with a rich, stern master who had a dark secret in his attic.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can spot the author in one of the clues.
English novelist Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was an instant hit, the moment it was published in 1847, albeit under the pseudonym Currer Bell. Since then, nearly 200 years later, it continues to be a popular classic, having gained acclaim all around the world.
But there’s a lot more to Brontë than her bestselling novel. Here are some facts to know about the trailblazing author:
1. She began writing as a child
Brontë was a voracious reader, and in her childhood and teen years, she wrote stories and staged plays at home, with her siblings. Although one of her boarding school report cards described her as "altogether clever for her age, but knows nothing systematically", Brontë was not discouraged. Along with her brother Branwell, she wrote manuscripts, plays, stories, and even created magazines that had everything a real magazine would have – from letters and essays to poems, ads and notes from the editor.
2. She dealt with a lot of literary rejection
When she was 20 years old, Brontë sent English poet laureate Robert Southey some of her best poetry. He wrote to her in response, in 1837, stating that she had “the faculty of verse”, but then offered some dubious words of advice: “Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it, even as an accomplishment and a recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are you will be less eager for celebrity. You will not seek in imagination for excitement.” Even Brontë’s first novel, The Professor, was rejected nine times before it was finally published posthumously.
3. She popularised the name ‘Shirley’ for girls
In 1849, Brontë’s second novel, Shirley, was published. It was a story about an independent heiress named Shirley Keeldar. Before her book, the name was commonly used for boys (even in her novel, the name was selected by the parents of the title character, because they had wanted a boy). After the book came out, the name began being associated with girls, and decades later, in the 1930s, child actress Shirley Temple’s fame catapulted it into even more popular use.
4. She was lucky to avoid tuberculosis
Tuberculosis was responsible for the premature death of at least four of Brontë’s five siblings. In 1848, her only brother, Branwell, died of chronic bronchitis, although tuberculosis is rumoured to have been the underlying cause. Brontë herself tragically died when she was just 38 years old, in June 1854, while pregnant. Although no one knows for certain what killed her, she was reported to have a difficult pregnancy, with hyperemesis gravidarum – acute bouts of nausea and vomiting that led her to become severely dehydrated and malnourished.
5. You can visit her house
Brontë’s sisters Emily and Anne were famous writers too, and the Brontë sisters’ writing has inspired loyal fans from around the globe to visit their home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, England. The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth has a collection of early manuscripts and letters from the authors, and has guided tours, allowing people to experience the Yorkshire moors, which inspired many of the scenes in each of the sisters’ novels.