By Tom Winnifrith (auth.)
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Extra info for A New Life of Charlotte Brontë
We must remember, however, that Queen Victoria had not come to the throne, and that inveterate adulterers like Lord Melbourne and the Duke of Wellington still held the public stage. On issues of sexual morality public taste changed almost as much between 1833 and 1847, when Jane Eyre created such a shock, as it has in the reverse direction between 1953 and 1967. Charlotte and Branwell, of course, derived their information about both adultery and the aristocracy from books and not from real life.
These comic jibes are perfectly compatible with a happy affection between brother and sister, marred perhaps by occasional rivalries with Charlotte the eldest child and Branwell the only boy. Branwell had a superior education and considerable talent, as his poetry Writer 37 shows; he was also, it seems, a little better than his sisters at mixing with people in Haworth, even though this may have involved dubious company in such haunts as The Black Bull public house. But it is a mistake to exaggerate Charlotte's admiration for and devotion to her brother; there is a considerable gap between Branwell's appearance, both insignificant and eccentric, and 'the towering overbearingly lofty' figure of Zamoma.
On the publication of Mrs Gaskell's life, friends and 22 A New Life of Charlotte Bronte relatives of Carus Wilson rushed to his defence, and Mrs Gaskell was forced to modify her account. A dispute continued in the columns of the Yorkshire papers between Mr Nicholls and Mr Carus Wilson's son, engendering more heat than light. In 1857 Carus Wilson's son-in-law, the Reverend W. Shepheard, published a vindication of the Clergy Daughter's School. In this century further confusion has been caused by the discovery of a prospectus for Cowan Bridge, with most of the positions in the school held by members of the Carus Wilson family and including a scourgemistress to keep discipline.