A major critical biography of the author of Jane Eyre, a novel that scandalized its Victorian audience. Raised on the wild moors of Haworth, England, Charlotte Bronte and her siblings--Emily, Anne, and Branwell--compensated for the bleakness of their surroundings by writing about imaginary kingdoms. Eventually, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne turned to writing novels, which they published with varying degrees of critical success. Anne's novels were virtually ignored, while Emily's Wuthering Heights was universally panned for its ""contemptible"" characters and lack of art. Charlotte's Jane Eyre created a sensation, however. Victorians were both intrigued and appalled by its heroine's independence, her seeming rejection of religous values, and her right to feel as passionately about life as a man. Almost overnight, Charlotte became famous, but tragedy soon followed. Within months, her tormented brother Branwell, Emily, and then Anne died of tuberculosis. Only Charlotte survived--a tiny, plain, almost toothless woman who despaired about her looks and longed for the romantic love she wrote about in her novels. Happily, she was finally able to marry in midde age her father's curate, a prosaic man who nevertheless was kind to her. But happiness was short-lived; nine months after their marriage, she became pregnant and died, at age 39, of the disease that had killed her sisters and brother. With scholarship and sympathy, Fraser, daughter of biographer/mystery writer Antonia Fraser, presents a fresh and modern view of Charlotte Bronte--as a woman searching for love and as a writer who helped change society's perceptions about her sex. Her moving, eloquent portrait will interest not only Bronte devotees, but all contemporary women straggling with loneliness and romantic yearnings.