The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Brontė, Charlotte, 1816-1855.
         Pseudonym: Currer Bell. English novelist and poet, born in Thornton, Yorkshire. Sister of Emily and Anne Brontė, also authors. Their first (joint) literary effort, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846) failed to find an audience, but all went on to write classic English novels. Their true identities were only revealed afterwards. All three suffered early deaths. Charlotte's life is the subject of Elizabeth Gaskell's classic biography The Life of Charlotte Brontė (1857).
  • <- Jane Eyre. 1847.
             A Bildungsroman of the education and life of the titular character, an unwanted relative of a wealthy family exiled to an ill-managed charity boarding school. Marturing to become a teacher herself, Jane seeks work as a governess. She is engaged to instruct the ward of the misanthropic Edward Rochester, a magnetic but bitter with a dark secret. They fall in love, but their wedding is disrupted by the revelation that Rochester is already married, to Bertha, a violent madwoman confined in his attic. Jane flees, eventually finding sanctuary with kinder relatives. Meanwhile Bertha kills herself burning down Rochester Hall, and Edward is blinded trying to save her. Jane, sensing his his need, returns to nurse him back to health, and the two wed after all. Adaptations to stage, film, stage, radio and television are too numerous to list; musicals, ballets and operas have also been based on the book. Its story has been reworked, retold and sequeled by numerous later authors, most notably by Jean Rhys, whose Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) reimagines the tragic life of the first Mrs. Rochester.

Posted Jun. 6, 2013, and last updated Jun. 6, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.