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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

And in this manner he died

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 22 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1205
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte Brontë, published in 1857, two years after its subject’s death, caused a controversy and produced the threat of several libel actions (there were changes to the second edition). One of the reasons for the controversy was Mrs Gaskell’s description of Miss Brontë’s death, which was thought at the time to be indecently graphic. Recently married, Charlotte Brontë was pregnant:

She was attacked by new sensations of perpetual nausea, and ever-recurring faintness . . . A wren would have starved on what she ate during those last six weeks . . . Martha [her maid] tenderly waited on her . . . and from time to time tried to cheer …

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