Category Archives: Emily Bronte

Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).


26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?


Charlotte Bronte 4.21.13 ritaLOVEStoWRITE

Dear reader: Cut another piece of birthday cake for Charlotte Bronte. It seems I was a month early in celebrating (oops, sorry Char!) Today, April 21st is really her big day. Happy Birthday, girl! Cheers, Rita


“Better to be without logic than without feeling.” — Charlotte Bronte

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlotte Bronte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England in 1816. Today is the 197th anniversary of her birth. Charlotte Bronte was the third child born to Maria and Rev. Patrick Bronte. Brother Branwell joined his older sisters, Maria, Elizabeth and baby Charlotte in 1817. Emily came along the next year and Anne was born in 1820. The Brontes moved to Haworth parsonage in 1820.

The parsonage where they lived stood midway between natural beauty and human squalor. To the rear stretched clear, broad moorland. On the other side, the township sprawled up the hill like an ugly sore. Most families shared an outhouse with their neighbors, and the main street was awash with sewage. Disease lurked in every filthy corner. The average age of death was twenty-five. [Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, by Stewart Ross, Viking Press, 1997]

It wasn’t long after the family settled at Haworth that Mrs. Bronte was diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer. After her mother’s death in 1821 Charlotte, her brother and sisters were raised by their father and her Aunt Elizabeth Branwell.  The family was squarely middle class (although Rev. Bronte insisted on referring to himself as a gentleman), so they neither fit in with their working class neighbors in town, nor did they mix with the local gentry. The children grew up isolated from everyone but their immediate family.

They loved to explore the wilds of moors. They made up stories and games and performed plays they had penned themselves.

In 1824 Rev. Bronte felt the older children needed to be formally educated. He chose for the girls a school called “Cowan Bridge, a boarding school for the daughters of clergymen… it was cheap and respectable and promised a good education.” [Ibid]  The brochure skipped the part about the cruel teachers and the Tuberculosis and Typhus.

Charlotte found the school to be a prison.

She had to wear a “charity girl” uniform and was allowed to write home only once every three months. The cook ruined the food. The dormitory was cold, the rules strict, the education narrow. [Ibid]

Her older sisters took ill. First Maria came down with TB and had to go home (she died in May of 1825) Then the school was hit with a typhus epidemic. 10-year-old Elizabeth was returned home “to Haworth where, on June 15, she, too died of tuberculosis. ” [Ibid]

That was enough, Charlotte and Emily were called home in the summer of 1825. Rev. Bronte and Aunt Branwell once again took over the children’s education. “They read widely and freely,” had private music and art lessons and some Latin and Greek , but no science and limited math, history and geography.


Brontë (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was plenty of time to play and explore as well. When Rev. Bronte gave Branwell a set of toy soldiers as a gift the four remaining children created a whole fantasy world called“ Glasstown.” Charlotte and Branwell  created “Angria” for the 12 wooden soldiers. (Emily and Anne made up “Gondal.”)

Unmarried middle class women of limited income in Victorian England had two choices in employment. They could become a teacher or a governess. But either profession would require more formal training. Charlotte was sent to Roe Head school in 1831. It was a much nicer institution than the dreaded Cowan Bridge, and Charlotte enjoyed her year and a half there. She returned home to help teach her brother and sister.  She went back to the school a few years later as a teacher, this time with Emily in tow.  (Emily didn’t take to the school. Anne replaced her after a few months.) After that, “She made two attempts at being a governess, first with a local family, then with a merchant in Bradford. Neither was a success. She found the children hard to control and her work humiliating and boring.” [Ibid]

In 1841, backed by Aunt Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne decided to start their own school. But first the girls needed to be educated abroad. Charlotte went to Brussels to stay with her friend Mary Taylor.  Overseas travel changed her. The food, freedom and culture excited her. And in her teacher, Monsieur Heger, she had found her intellectual equal.  When their term ended Charlotte suggested she Emily stay on and pay their way by teaching. Slowly she fell in love with her  older, married teacher. But eventually she was forced to face reality and leave for home.

In 1845 Charlotte needed to regroup and focus on something positive.  She was  determined to get published. She convinced her sisters to publish some of their poems. They used the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (their initials) because they would be taken more seriously if readers thought they were men. Aylott and Jones published 62 of the sister’s poems in “Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.”  Although the collection received favorable reviews, it sold only 2 copies.

Their next literary projects, this time in prose, would fare much better. Emily penned Wuthering Heights, Anne, Agnes Gray and Charlotte wrote The Professor about her time with Monsieur Heger. Although the first two novels were published (after Emily and Anne put up 50 pounds to help with the printing costs) The Professor was not picked up.

Undaunted, Charlotte wrote her second novel, Jane Eyre while nursing her father after an operation to restore his eye sight. Smith, Elder & Co. published Jane Eyre for 100 pounds  in 1847. They optioned her next two novels for the same amount.  Charlotte began work on Shirley.

Emily and Anne were busy on new novels too. Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published, but Emily was ill, TB again, and, although she may have finished the novel it never saw publication. Branwell was sick too, both physically and mentally.  He died in September of 1848, Emily passed away in December of the same year.  By spring of the  1849 Anne was showing “the familiar symptoms of tuberculosis.”  She died on May 23.

Charlotte Brontë Photography from 1854, free l...

Charlotte Brontë Photography from 1854, free licence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlotte continued to write. The mysterious Currier Bell was by now revealed to be the shy, plain Charlotte Bronte to her publisher George Smith. Smith and his mother did what they could to bring her out into society. Charlotte met fellow writers Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell both of whom she remained friends with for the rest of her life.

She wrote her fourth novel Villette.

Rev. Bronte’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls fell in love with Charlotte and he proposed to her. At first Charlotte didn’t take to the idea. She found him both dull-looking and narrow-minded. Her father objected to the union as well. Nicholls was socially (and financial) inferior to the Brontes. She turned him down. But Gaskell encouraged her in the match, and as Charlotte watched the younger man’s devotion to her father she reconsidered. (Gaskell also used her influence to improve Nicholl’s financial standing.) Rev. Bronte continued to object, but he finally gave in, and the couple were married in June of that year of 1854.

Charlotte was soon with child, suffered from constant morning sickness.

The strain of pregnancy at the age of thrity-nine taxed her strength to its limits. By February she had grown alarmingly thin and was vomiting blood… The wasting sickness dragged painfully on until, by mid-March , all hope was gone. [Ibid]

Bronte died on March 31, 1855. Her novel, The Professor was published two years later, the same year as Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.


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