Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
'One of the most shamefully under-read great British authors of the past 100 years' Sarah Waters
The poet Sylvia Townsend Warner rose to sudden fame with the publication of her classic feminist novel Lolly Willowes in 1926, but never became a conventional member of London literary life, pursuing instead a long writing career in her own individualistic manner. Cheerfully defying social norms of the day, Warner lived in an openly homosexual relationship with the poet Valentine Ackland for almost forty years. Together, they were committed members of the Communist party and travelled twice to Spain during the Civil War, but Warner paid for her outspokenness with years of neglect, and channelled much of her emotional and intellectual energy into letters, poems and heart-breaking diaries that remained unpublished during her lifetime. In this enthralling and enlightening biography, Claire Harman tells the story of Warner's remarkable life and restores her to her rightful place as one of Britain's most unique and brilliant writers.
"As passionate and truthful, elegant and enchanting as its subject." George D Painter
"Harman skilfully weaves Sylvia's stories and letters into the biography, and the brilliance of the samples on display constantly takes you aback... Outstanding" Sunday Times
On the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's birth, Penguin is publishing the definitive biography of this extraordinary novelist, by acclaimed literary biographer Claire Harman
Charlotte Brontë's life contained all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. She was raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors and sent away to brutally strict boarding school at a young age. She watched helpless growing up as, one by one, her five beloved siblings sickened and died; by the end of her short life, she was the only child of the Brontë clan remaining. And most fascinating and tragic of all, throughout her adult life she was haunted by a great and unrequited love - a love that tortured Charlotte but also inspired some of the most moving, intense and revolutionary novels ever written in the English language.
Charlotte was a literary visionary, a feminist trailblazer and the driving force behind the whole Brontë family. She encouraged her sister Emily to publish Wuthering Heights when no-one else believed in her talent. She took charge of the family's precarious finances when her brilliant but feckless brother Branwell succumbed to opium addiction. She travelled from Yorkshire to Europe to the bright lights of London, met some of the most brilliant literary minds of her generation (Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray), and became a bestselling female author in a world still dominated by men. And in each of her books, from Villette and Shirley to her most famous, Jane Eyre, Charlotte created brand new kinds of heroines, inspired by herself and her life, fiercely intelligent women burning with hidden passions.
This beautifully-produced, landmark biography is essential reading for every fan of the Brontë family's writing, from Jane Eyre to Wuthering Heights. It is a uniquely intimate and complex insight into one of Britain's best loved writers. This is the literary biography of the year; if you loved Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens, this event is not to be missed.
Claire Harman is the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1989), Fanny Burney (2000) and Robert Louis Stevenson (2005) and the author of the best-selling Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (2009). She writes regularly for the literary press on both sides of the Atlantic and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.
Her most recent work is Charlotte Bronte: A Life.