Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal: Selected Early Writings

Terry Eagleton writes:

As women writers, the sisters were internal exiles of a different kind, semi-outsiders in a male-dominated literary world. That women could write as they did struck some contemporary reviewers as outrageous, even obscene. They had dealings with literary London from a far-flung provincial outpost, proud of their cosmopolitan cultivation yet firmly rooted in their own region. As if all this were not ambiguous enough, they were also stranded like D.H. Lawrence between country and city, full of a Romantic yearning for the moors and likely to have witnessed a good deal of urban destitution. According to Christine Alexander, the erudite, meticulous editor of this volume, there were 18 small textile mills in Haworth alone. The children were bred in the womb of industrial modernity, among the smokestacks of early Victorian England, and the emotional pattern of their work obliquely reflects the passions and conflicts of that period. Their novels don’t portray bread riots or mass rallies but they belong unmistakably to the Hungry Forties.

(LRB 4 November 2010)