A Goddess with Clay Feet: Brontë and Thackeray


I find the meeting between Bronte and Thackeray rather symbolic to myself. Maybe it’s better to have no expectations when meeting one’s ‘heroes’?!

Kate Shrewsday

What happens when two Titans of literature meet?

Often such paragons seek each other out. Look at the Shelleys, and Byron, and their little clan.

But sometimes the very act of being extraordinary must be awfully burdensome. And perhaps it weighs heavy on a meeting, laced with so many expectations.

And what of the meeting between the august author of Vanity Fair, and the writer of Jane Eyre?

Charlotte Brontë was filled with expectations, on a return visit to London; for Thackeray was her hero. Her preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre speaks glowingly of his writing.

The story I have for you today is related, not by George Smith – though he has a walk-on part  – but by someone who was a little girl when Charlotte came to visit William Makepeace Thackeray.

Her name in later life was Anne, Lady Ritchie. But you might know her…

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