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Winifred Gerin: Biographer of the Brontes (Paperback)
  • Winifred Gerin: Biographer of the Brontes (Paperback)
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Winifred Gerin: Biographer of the Brontes (Paperback)

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£19.95
Paperback 256 Pages / Published: 22/10/2015
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The biographer Winifred Gerin (1901-81), who wrote the lives of all four Bronte siblings, stumbled on her literary vocation on a visit to Haworth, after a difficult decade following the death of her first husband. On the same visit she met her second husband, a Bronte enthusiast twenty years her junior. Together they turned their backs on London to live within sight of the Parsonage, Gerin believing that full understanding of the Brontes required total immersion in their environment. Gerin's childhood and youth, like the Brontes', was characterised by a cultured home and intense imaginative life shared with her sister and two brothers, and by family tragedies (the loss of two siblings in early life). Strong cultural influences formed the children's imagination: polyglot parents, French history, the Crystal Palace, Old Vic productions. Winifred's years at Newnham College, Cambridge were enlivened by eccentric characters such as the legendary lecturer Quiller-Couch (Q'), Lytton Strachey's sister Pernel and Bloomsbury's favourite philosopher, G.E. Moore. Her happy life in Paris with her Belgian cellist husband, Eugene Gerin, was brought to an abrupt end by the Second World War, in which the couple had many adventures: fleeing occupied Belgium, saving Jews in Nice in Vichy France, escaping through Spain and Portugal to England, where they did secret war work for Political Intelligence near Bletchley. After Eugene's death in 1945 Winifred coped with bereavement through poetry and playwriting until discovering her true literary metier on the trip to Haworth. She also wrote about Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and Fanny Burney. The book is based on her letters and on her unpublished memoir.

Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
ISBN: 9781845197438
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 424 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In an original and revealing biography ... Helen MacEwan presents not just a fascinating study of Gerins long and at times very personal preoccupation with the Brontes, but the story of a highly individual character ... Using much previously unknown and unpublished material, MacEwan has painstakingly put together a portrait of one woman and her times that adds significantly to Bronte studies and literary biography, while her deftly-told narrative brings Gerins private, feeling, thoughtful character to life with unerring sympathy." - Claire Harman, biographer and critic, author of the major new biography Charlotte Bronte: A Life and of Janes Fame.
"In this beautifully written and carefully researched biography of a biographer, Helen MacEwan shows us something of the European dimension of Gerins experience and understanding, as well as revealing the deeply emotional character of her subject, in her joys, passions and losses ... Helen MacEwan shines a fascinating light, not only on a remarkable woman of letters, but on a reader and writer of exceptional integrity." - Stevie Davies, critic and novelist, author of Emily Bronte: Heretic and Four Dreamers and Emily.
"For anyone, like me, who knows Winifred Gerin only as the biographer of the Brontes, this book will come as a revelation. Not only did Gerin have an astonishingly adventurous life, but Helen MacEwan has brought it before us in vivid and enthralling detail ... MacEwans book draws on extensive original research into unpublished papers and records, but she wears her erudition lightly and always gives a sense of the lived moment rather than the dry facts. She achieves, in fact, that balance between sense and sensibility which friends appreciated in Gerins own work. This is a thrilling book to read, a page-turner, offering through specific vignettes important glimpses into the social history of the twentieth century. It will appeal to an audience well beyond Bronte devotees."Patsy Stoneman is Emeritus Reader in English, University of Hull, and Acting President of the Bronte Society. She is the author of Charlotte Bronte in the Writers and their Work series, Northcote House Publishers.

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