(1816-1855) English writer, author of Jane Eyre (1847) and others, and elder sister to Branwell (1817-1848), Emily (1818-1848) and Anne Brontë (1820-1849). CB's earliest writings, most unpublished until after her death, centred on the creation of Imaginary Lands. In 1826, after the death of two elder sisters, CB and her surviving sisters and brother sought escape from their unhappy childhood in the detailed creation of an imaginary country called the Glass Town Confederacy, set in West Africa, and built around the characters of Branwell's toy soldiers. As they grew older, this closed universe became more sophisticated. Emily and Anne founded the neighbouring kingdom of Gondal, while Charlotte and Branwell developed the breakaway lands of Angria, Zamorna and Northangerland. Angria, a Fantasyland of wish-fulfilment, was sustained in CB's booklets, written in microscopic handwriting, until 1839, with Emily and Anne continuing the story of Gondal in similar fashion until 1845. The tales of Gondal and Angria may owe inspiration to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), but the lands became considerably more developed, resulting in a proto-form of Dynastic Fantasy. One of the most robust stories is The Spell (written 1834; 1931 chap), set in Zamorna, which utilizes the Doppelgänger theme in portraying ensorcelled Twins who will die if seen together.
The stories were collected initially as The Twelve Adventurers and Other Stories (coll 1925) ed Clement Shorter, and then more comprehensively as Legends of Angria (coll 1933 US) ed Fannie Ratchford and W C de Vane. A selection was issued as Tales from Angria (coll 1954) ed Phyllis Bentley. The most complete compilation has been the 3-volume Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë, 1826-1832 (coll 1987), 1883-1834 (coll 1991) and 1834-1835 (coll 1991), all ed Christine Alexander. [MA]
further reading: The Brontës' Web of Childhood (1941 US) by Fannie Ratchford; The Bewitched Parsonage (1950) by William S Braithwaite; Weaver of Dreams: Charlotte Brontë (1966) by Elfrida Vipont (1902-1992); The Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë (1983) by Christine Alexander. Also of interest is Gondal's Queen by Emily Brontë (1955 US) ed Ratchford.