The writings of Charlotte Bronte - a member of one of the great literary families - have inspired, fascinated and moved readers ever since their first publication in the mid-nineteenth century. In this new study, Carl Plasa elaborates a series of textually focused, historically grounded and theoretically informed analyses of the full range of the author's texts. As well as providing original readings of Bronte's four best known novels - The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette - attention is given to less familiar and critically neglected areas of Bronte's work, such as the Ashanti narratives, the poetry and the Belgian essays of the early 1840s. Charlotte Bronte's work has undergone a significant reassessment from a postcolonial critical perspective in recent years. By examining Bronte's textual production from its exuberant and experimental beginnings to the formal complexity of Villette, her last completed novel, Plasa offers what is the most comprehensive exploration to date of the shifts in the writer's engagement with the question of colonialism.
In so doing, he brings to light the subtle relationships of continuity and transformation between the earlier and later stages of Bronte's literary career and demonstrates the extent to which that career was sparked and driven by her 'colonial imagination'.