Broadcaster: ITV1
Year: 2015
Genre: Documentary

Review by Lisa Smalley

This documentary presented by Sheila Hancock provides some beautiful readings from some of the Brontë’s classic novels, in what is at times a very moving and intimate portrait of the sisters’ lives, successes and tragedies.

What is crucial is the exploration of how the three sisters (with reportedly no life experience), found inspiration for their dark and passionate portrayals of human emotion.

The viewer is treated to some early creativity from the Brontë siblings, and an insight into the kind of study they were allowed by their father.  Put into the context of the Victorian era, it becomes clear how the repression of these intelligent and educated women allowed their imaginations to thrive from a very early age.  Letters from Charlotte highlight her personal feelings on her situation as a teacher at Roe Head School, and there are definite connections between these and the seemingly feminist assertions of Jane Eyre.

Details and writing about ‘Angria’ and ‘Gondal’, the two countries invented by the siblings, and host to their many childhood stories are discussed, and a passage read from the work of a fourteen year old Charlotte, who already shows promise as a writer.  A visit to the location that inspired Wuthering Heights, and its connections to Emily’s stories of ‘Gondal’ are useful to understanding the difference between the siblings and from where their inspirations derive.  As Hancock follows the story of their lives, we discover why Anne wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and its connections to Branwell.

This documentary would be of interest to all Brontë fans, but also to students of EN1020 will find this useful.

Tags: English Literature, The Brontës, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Anne Brontë, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, EN1020, Angria, Gondal, The Brontë sisters.