Almost at the End…Connecting to Authors’ Lives

Hello, again! I thought July went by fast, but August (the Sunday of the year) has been flying by. Here’s what I’ve been up to since the start of the month.

Now that I’ve worked my way through my secondary reading and have mapped out my notes on my core texts, I’ve been turning my eye to focus on my authors’ lives. I visited all three of my main author’s homes back in June and now I’ve been looking at secondary sources about their lives.

All three of my authors had interesting lives that reflect the changes and different aspects of the Victorian age. Before starting my research, I didn’t realize how personally involved Elizabeth Gaskell was with women’s reform in the age, or how many proposals Charlotte Bronte herself turned down, or how Thomas Hardy’s second wife had actually lived with him and his first wife as her companion. The great thing about these three authors is that I can kind of see how they reflect different parts of the Victorian Era.

Trying to connect an author’s personal life to their novels can be tricky though, especially if they were serious revisers like Thomas Hardy. Thomas Hardy wrote Far from the Madding Crowd the year he got married before his marriage fell apart so in some ways the work is more reflective of his idealistic days of love. But he also edited the novel two times, the latter time right during when his wife moved into their attic and the two began living platonically. So even though most of the changes he made are subtle in the final edition, I still have to keep that kind of personal timeline in mind when I look at the changes he made.

It also has been a little too easy to get distracted I’ll admit. I’ll read pages about what kind of pets all the Brontes had before realizing okay, maybe this isn’t so pertinent to my main goal of learning more about Charlotte’s personal ideas of love and marriage.

Only a few more days before I post my summary of my findings overall. Hopefully, I’ve updated you guys well enough that you’ll already be familiar with some of the ideas I bring up. I’ll try my best to be clear though. After all, it’s good practice for writing that thesis.


  1. Samantha Mehring says:

    This is so interesting! I find it especially interesting that you were able to visit the authors’ homes. I bet that will add so much to your honors thesis. I wonder how you can include the characteristics of each of the houses into your characterization of each author. Photographs from the houses might make great backgrounds or accompanying pictures for any slideshows or posters you do for your honors thesis! Good luck!

  2. ejackson01 says:

    It’s so fun that you get to look into the personal lives of so many authors! Even things that aren’t necessarily pertinent to their literature can give insight into their daily thoughts and worries, which is clearly pertinent to what they’re writing about. Overall, I think you’re right that it’s better to focus your energies on themes like love, family and marriage that are common themes in their writing. I’d also recommend considering documents that describe household duties and/or “women’s work” to mine for thoughts on gender roles. Awesome research!!