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Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life (Hardback)

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Synopsis

'I was wowed and moved' Tracy Chevalier



Anne Bronte is the forgotten Bronte sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Bronte, the other Bronte.



Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.



Take Courage is Samantha's personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time -- and her more celebrated siblings -- and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.



Praise for How To Be A Heroine



'Any woman with a remotely bookish childhood will find great pleasure in How to be a Heroine' Sunday Times



'Genius.... A fantastically inspirational memoir that makes you want to reread far too many books' Observer



'Not so much self-help as shelf-help... A truly brilliant read' Marie Claire



'Delightfully honest and warmly funny' Daily Mail



'The best kind of book: one that I gobbled up, wanting to go slow to savour it but unable to stop reading until it was all gone' Observer

BiographyBiography: generalBiography: literaryEssays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writersEssays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: generalLiterary studies: c 1800 to c 1900 Publisher: Vintage Publishing Publication Date: 03/01/2017 ISBN-13: 9781784740214  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Samantha Ellis is a playwright and journalist. Her first book How to be a Heroine was published in 2014. Her plays include Cling to me Like Ivy, Operation Magic Carpet and How to Date a Feminist. She has written for the Guardian, Observer, TLS, Spectator, Literary Review, The Pool, Exeunt and more. She lives in London.

More books by Samantha Ellis

Customer Reviews

This is a remarkable book, which anyone who is interested in the Bronte family, especially Anne, would do well to read. Not a biography, not a set of notes on her two novels or poetry, but in the style of Ellis’ other book “How to be a Heroine”, a personal reaction to Anne’s work and life. This is a book of how a lot of Bronte fans and those who only have a knowledge of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have ignored Anne and her writing; Ellis successfully argues that ‘the other Bronte’ is more than worthy of attention, and indeed may have been the most radical of the sisters. In some respects the theme of this book is regret. Regret that Anne was not more regarded during her lifetime, regret that her attempts to write in support of governess and women generally did not meet with more understanding, and the most obvious regret that this immensely talented writer died so young. Ten chapters that are engagingly written about eight people that Anne was close to, one about her first creation and the final, tenth chapter, movingly entitled “Anne, or how to take courage”. This book does not work its way through Anne’s life chronologically but looks at her influences and two great novels, “Agnes Grey” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”. Each member of her family provides the basis of a reflection on Anne, even the opening chapter, Maria, the mother that she never really knew. Here is the difficult Emily, whose single novel overturned so many preconceptions about women writers and Branwell, the ambitious but ultimately self - destroying brother. The always tricky relationship with Charlotte is examined, as she seeks to gain publication of their novels. The many biographies of the Bronte sisters tend to downplay Anne’s writing compared with the other two women, and Ellis does her best, by examining every scrap of writing and surviving article of Anne’s, to argue that she was just as able a writer, and of great significance in literary terms. Ellis points out that as “Agnes Grey” was actually published slightly after “Jane Eyre”, critics thought that Anne’s novel was a pale copy of Charlotte’s, when it was in fact written before. Furthermore, it was Anne who had worked for years as a governess and had the experience to write a book detailing the life of a governess who finds love after many trials. This book succeeds because Ellis spares no effort to show how radical Anne’s writing was in a time when women in marriage were open to abuse of every kind. Their money was legally taken from them, they had no legal rights to leave their husband or care for their own children. Helen Huntingdon is a stunning creation whose drunken, abusive and unfaithful husband drives her away so that she must become a stranger to all and hide herself and her son in Wildfell Hall. She is in fear of her husband who pursues her, but places her trust in another, Gilbert. This book is a vivid protest against the lot of women and the redemption of the individual. It is so ahead of its time that there are elements which still shock today, as Ellis recounts the BBC’s version and its impact. If you are fascinated by the Brontes this is a superb read, as so much is challenged and set in context. It is deeply personal, as Ellis recounts her reaction to every scrap of information she uncovers, and every place that she can discover that was important to Anne. This is not a fan piece, and fervent admirers of Charlotte may be exasperated by some of Ellis’ assertions. It is a fascinating book, and it is recommended as immensely readable.

- 31/12/2017
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