Elizabeth Gaskell and the Coarse Authorship of Charlotte Brontë: religious perspectives on women’s writing
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This article explores how the work of the Brontës could be situated in a context of religious writing about coarse subject matter, especially missionary memoir. It argues that Ellen Nussey, a friend of the Brontës, played an influential role in the editing of Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte Brontë, and that Nussey and Gaskell presented the family in a way that encouraged readers to associate the work of the Brontës with religious and moral genres of literature. It also argues that when Gaskell was writing her biography, even religious writing about coarse subjects was becoming less acceptable, and that the respectable woman writer Gaskell portrayed was, therefore, limited to a role of moral martyr.