Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Brontë’s and Their World, Phyllis Bentley fully explores the lives of the Brontë sisters in their familial and social context. The book is not divided into chapters, but marginal headings separate the text into different subjects. There are illustrative photographs and drawings on virtually every page of the book, a technique that serves to enhance Bentley’s analysis of the family. For example, a reproduction of one of Charlotte’s tales, written when she was nine years old, reveals the tiny size—about one and one-half inches by two inches—of much of the siblings’ juvenile productions and emphasizes the private and secretive nature of the development of their talent as writers. The book begins before the Brontë children are born (with the birth of their father) and ends after their deaths, the death of their father, and the eventual establishment of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in 1923. Bentley provides a chronology and notes on the photographs at the end of the book.

The Brontë’s and Their World is a narrative account of the family’s history, focusing upon the lives of Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell. Bentley reveals in acute detail the importance of the children’s juvenile literary productions, especially the creation of the imaginary worlds of Verdopolis and Gondal, to their development as writers. The different personalities of the siblings are discussed, as well as the personal and health problems...

(The entire section is 422 words.)