This special edition of The Oxford Companion to the Brontës commemorates the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights. It "aims to evoke the milieu in which the Brontës lived and wrote, to disseminate new reliable research, and to provide detailed information about their lives, works, and reputation." Authors and editors Christine Alexander (Love and Friendship: And Other Youthful Writings) and Margaret Smith (Selected Letters of Charlotte Brontë) and seven additional contributors have created an authoritative and enjoyable reference work.
This well-structured book offers a web of connected concepts, events and people that allows readers to begin anywhere, whatever their initial interests. The bulk of it is in the form of an encyclopedia, with alphabetized entries, illustrations and several long features on topics such as individual family members, their childhood fiction, letters, mature work and biographies written about them. Other sections include a bibliography, a glossary of dialect and obsolete words, and a chronology that begins and ends with Patrick Brontë, since he outlived all his children. There are three timelines, side by side, of biographical, literary and artistic, and historical events. In the year 1842, the reader can see at a glance, among other things, that Charlotte and Emily moved to Brussels and the French novelist George Sand published her novel Consuelo. Flip to the entry on George Sand, and there is a comment on what Charlotte thought of that novel. This is an indispensable reference for anyone with a deep interest in this brilliant literary family, their times and their work. --Sara Catterall