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Title: The cultural significance of the Brontës, c. 1910-1940
Author: Pouliot, Amber Theresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 4702
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores the fictionalization of the Brontës by focusing on their cultural significance during the interwar period, when members of the family were first appropriated as characters in works of drama, poetry, and prose fiction. This interwar fictionalization occurred in England and the United States, where the family was widely discussed in journalism, fiction, and literary criticism. Yet, the process of their fictionalization began in the mid-nineteenth century, almost simultaneously with the sisters’ second foray into print with the publications of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Thus, this thesis has a dual focus. It analyzes Brontë fictional biography as an interwar phenomenon, exploring its engagement with salient interwar discourses. However, it also traces some of the key preoccupations of Brontë fictional biography to the semi-fictional construction of the family in the nineteenth century. It explores the reasons for the emergence and sustained popularity of Brontë fictional biography during the interwar period, tracing the development of this subgenre of neo-Victorian fiction from the 1847 publication of Jane Eyre to 1939. Chapter One provides an overview of Brontë fictional biography’s intersection with interwar discourses surrounding gender relations and women’s employment, family structures, national identity in the wake of the First World War, economic crises, interest in psychology, psychoanalysis, and heredity. Chapter Two discusses the significance of the ghost motif to fictionalizations of the Brontë family, focusing on fictional biography’s antecedents in the nineteenth century. Chapter Three discusses the use of psychology and, especially, psychoanalysis in interwar attempts to understand the Brontës’ identities. Chapter Four focuses on the motif of the Brontë group portrait in interwar fictional biography, and its use as a lens to explore the psychology of the family. The thesis concludes with a consideration of the ethics of this biographical appropriation.
Supervisor: O'Gorman, Francis ; Reid, Julia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available