The full title of Charlotte Brontë’s novel is Jane Eyre, An Autobiography. When it was first published, it was edited by Currer Bell, which as we know now was one of Charlotte Brontë’s pen names. This title made it seem as though the book was written by someone named Jane Eyre about her own life, and yet it isn’t—not really, anyway. Although there are many autobiographical details of Charlotte Brontë’s life woven into Jane Eyre, ultimately it is a work of fiction. At the time, it was practically unheard of for a woman to write a book, so the fact that it appeared to be a true story as told to a man would have made it more acceptable. Jane Eyre is thought to be one of the first, if not the first, books which looks at the mind of a woman, and in it she examines the way women are viewed. For example, she says:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.
This kind of idea would have never been considered—or even read—if this book had been known to be a work of fiction by a woman.