|Author||Charlotte Brontë (Currer Bell)|
|Publisher||Smith, Elder & Co.|
|Media type||Print: hardback|
|LC Class||PR4167 .P7|
The Professor, A Tale. was the first novel by Charlotte Brontë. It was originally written before Jane Eyre and rejected by many publishing houses, but was eventually published posthumously in 1857 by approval of Arthur Bell Nicholls, who accepted the task of reviewing and editing of the novel.
The book is the story of a young man, William Crimsworth, and is a first-person narrative from his perspective. It describes his maturation, his career as a teacher in Brussels, and his personal relationships.
The story starts off with a letter William has sent to his friend Charles, detailing his refusal to his uncle’s proposals to become a clergyman, as well as his first meeting with his rich brother Edward. Seeking work as a tradesman, William is offered the position of a clerk by Edward. However, Edward is jealous of William’s education and intelligence and treats him terribly. By the actions of the sympathetic Mr. Hunsden, William is relieved of his position and gains a new job at an all-boys boarding school in Belgium.
The school is run by the friendly M. Pelet, who treats William kindly and politely. Soon, William’s merits as a professor reach the ears of the headmistress of the neighbouring girls school. Mlle. Reuter offers him a position at her school, which he accepts. Initially captivated by Mlle. Reuter, William begins to entertain ideas of falling in love with her, but then overhears her and M. Pelet talk about their upcoming marriage and their deceitful treatment of him.
He now treats Mlle. Reuter with a cold civility and begins to see the underlying nature of her character. Mlle. Reuter, however, continues to try to draw William back in, pretending to be benevolent and concerned. She asks to teach one of her young teachers, Frances, who hopes to improve her skill in languages. William sees in this pupil promising intelligence and slowly begins to fall in love with her.
Jealous of the attention Frances is receiving from William, Mlle. Reuter takes it upon herself to casually dismiss Frances from her school and hide her address from William. After a long search, he eventually re-encounters Frances in a graveyard and they renew their acquaintance.
It is revealed that as she was trying to make herself amiable in William’s eyes, Mlle. Reuter accidentally fell in love with him herself. Not wanting to cause a conflict with M. Pelet, William leaves his establishment.
William gets a new position as a professor at a college, allowing him and Frances to marry. The two eventually open a school together and have a child. After obtaining financial security, the family travels all around England and settle in the countryside next to Mr. Hunsden.
Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels have become classics of English literature.
She enlisted in school at Roe Head in January 1831, aged 14 years. She left the year after to teach her sisters, Emily and Anne, at home, returning in 1835 as a governess. In 1839 she undertook the role as governess for the Sidgwick family, but left after a few months to return to Haworth where the sisters opened a school, but failed to attract any students. Instead they turned to writing and they each first published in 1846 under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Her first novel The Professor was rejected by publishers, her second novel Jane Eyre was published in 1847, although it was not initially well received; one critic described it as a “pre-eminently an anti-Christian composition”. The sisters admitted to their Bell pseudonyms in 1848, and by the following year were celebrated in London literary circles.
Brontë experienced the early deaths of all her siblings. She became pregnant shortly after her marriage in June 1854 but died on 31 March 1855 of tuberculosis or possibly typhus.