All the seven Brontë novels are concerned with education in both senses, that of upbringing as well as that of learning. The Brontë sisters all worked as teachers before they became published novelists. In spite of the prevalence of education in the sisters' lives and fiction, however, this was the first full-length book on the subject when it was published in 2007. Marianne Thormählen explores how their representations of fictional teachers and schools engage with the intense debates on education in the nineteenth century, drawing on a wealth of documentary evidence about educational theory and practice in the lifetime of the Brontës. This study offers much information both about the Brontës and their books and about the most urgent issue in early nineteenth-century British social politics: the education of the people, of all classes and both sexes.
• An important contextual reading of the famous Brontë novels • Thoroughly researched and documented, providing invaluable data about Victorian education • A lively and accessible work of criticism
Introduction; Part I. Education and Society: 1. The education of the people; 2. The improvement of the mind; Part II. Home and School: 3. Household education versus school training; 4. Parents and children; 5. Professional educators in the home; 6. Schools and schooling; Part III. Subjects and Skills: 7. A sound English education; 8. Religion and education; 9. The accomplishments; 10. Male and female education; 11. Beyond the schoolroom: reading and the Brontës; Part IV. Strategies and Methods: 12. Pedagogical purposes and principles; 13. Schoolroom practices; Part V. Originality and Freedom: 14. Docility and originality; 15. Liberty and responsibility; Select bibliography; Index.
Review of the hardback: '… a valuable … addition to our understanding of the Brontë family's life and works … The strength of Thormählen's approach is her assured assembling of developments and theories that were the educational landscape against and in which the members of the family lived their lives and wove their fictional spells … Her strengths lie in the crisp, objective and lively review she undertakes in her studies, backed up by telling and generous notes that seduce one into further research … Thormählen triumphs in the light she shines on the educational world in which the family lived … This book is an exciting helpmate in the struggle to secure a firm understanding of factors that fed the Brontë sisters' imaginative development …' Brontë Studies
Review of the hardback: '… compelling and unique book … This thoroughly researched volume looks at … contemporaneous education controversies. Summing up: highly recommended.' Choice
Review of the hardback: '… writes with considerable panache and vigor. In this reviewer's experience the book makes a very enjoyable read not only for a scholar public but for a general audience as well.' www.bronteblog.blogspot.com