counter create hit Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life

Availability: Ready to download

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she starte Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead. Take Courage is Samantha's personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time -- and her more celebrated siblings -- and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.


Compare

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she starte Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead. Take Courage is Samantha's personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time -- and her more celebrated siblings -- and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

30 review for Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Why are women prohibited from being collectively brilliant? Why must they always be pitted against one another in unceasing competition? Unfortunately, Samantha Ellis perpetuate this mindset, claiming “the Brontës’ entire oeuvre wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for their sibling rivalry.” To build Anne up, Ellis must tear Charlotte and Emily down, a choice that’s unhealthy at the best of times and egregious at the worst, yet it proves exceedingly difficult to walk away from this book. Take Courage i Why are women prohibited from being collectively brilliant? Why must they always be pitted against one another in unceasing competition? Unfortunately, Samantha Ellis perpetuate this mindset, claiming “the Brontës’ entire oeuvre wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for their sibling rivalry.” To build Anne up, Ellis must tear Charlotte and Emily down, a choice that’s unhealthy at the best of times and egregious at the worst, yet it proves exceedingly difficult to walk away from this book. Take Courage is by no means an unbiased account of Anne Brontë’s life. It’s not long before one realizes Ellis is not writing a biography of Anne so much as she’s crafting an autobiography of her relationship with Anne. With so little concrete evidence about Anne from which to work, Ellis resorts to examining pivotal people in Anne’s life – her mom, sisters, aunt – and eventually digresses to characters from Anne’s books. Ellis works tirelessly to formulate a desired, pre-conceived image of Anne. With each passing chapter, she writes with increasing vulnerability, endearing herself to her audience before delivering readers to a tearful conclusion. While it’s possible to forgive Ellis’ desperate attempts to learn more about an exceptional author who's been overshadowed by her sisters for almost two centuries, one cannot forgive the offense of spoiling so many works of classic literature. Ellis does this as though it were an Olympic sport. In a book about Anne Brontë, one would expect the author to discuss (and possibly spoil) Anne’s books, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfel Hall, yet Ellis proceeds, without preamble, to also drop spoilers for the following books: - Little Women - Wuthering Heights - To the Lighthouse - Shirley - Jane Eyre - The Castle of Ontraro - The Mysteries of Udolfo - Lost and Saved - The Brontës Went to Woolworths - Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman - The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë - The Governess - Villette - Middlemarch - Jamaica Inn - The Professor - The Child of Time (graphic novel); and - Anne of the Island Take Courage offers an intriguing interpretation of Anne Brontë, but every revelation about her must be taken with a grain of salt, and readers are advised to proceed with caution as the book is a minefield of spoilers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Like many readers, my first introduction to the writing of the Bronte’s was “Jane Eyre,” followed by “Wuthering Heights.” Author Samantha Ellis, whose previous work, “How to be a Heroine,” is one book I fully intend to read, and soon, admits that she was much the same – more than slightly obsessed by Heathcliff and Cathy. Ellis has a chatty, personal style, which makes the subjects she is writing about seem incredibly familiar and understandable. She likens the Bronte sisters to the Beatles, for Like many readers, my first introduction to the writing of the Bronte’s was “Jane Eyre,” followed by “Wuthering Heights.” Author Samantha Ellis, whose previous work, “How to be a Heroine,” is one book I fully intend to read, and soon, admits that she was much the same – more than slightly obsessed by Heathcliff and Cathy. Ellis has a chatty, personal style, which makes the subjects she is writing about seem incredibly familiar and understandable. She likens the Bronte sisters to the Beatles, for example – casting Emily as Lennon, the mercurial genius, Charlotte as the ambitious, talented McCartney and Anne as Harrison, the Beatle whose talent was so often overlooked; both by the public and by his band mates. Like so many readers, I admit that I came to Anne’s novels after those of Charlotte and Emily’s and I loved them. Like Ellis, I felt outraged when, as she went about exploring the life of Anne, she found that many people did not know her work, or even who she was. She was cast as ‘the Other Sister.’ Less talented, less famous, younger, less important, and so I am delighted that this book puts her life firmly at the centre of her own, too short, story. In this book, Samantha Ellis gives each chapter a theme and then uses it to explore Anne’s life. So, a chapter may look at her relationship with Charlotte, or Emily, Branwell, her aunt Elizabeth, Tabby, who helped keep house, her father, Patrick, and, obviously, her novels, “Agnes Grey,” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” Of course, this is a biography and so the story of Anne is told; the early loss of her mother, the imaginative, make believe world of Gondal that she shared with Emily, her love of nature and her attempt to use her writing to make important points about the lives of women. In “Agnes Grey,” Anne used her powers of observation to portray the very real life that governesses faced, after being one herself. Overlooked and shy, she wrote (writing ‘crossways’ across the paper to save money) of being made to feel uncomfortable on walks, where she was talked ‘over’ or ignored. Where she was expected to be on call all the time and had no leisure of her own, while Branwell was allowed to lodge outside and had the ability to walk and write. Again and again, we see both Anne, and her sisters, finding their writing taking second place to their obligations – whether it is housework or earning a living, they had to try to find time for their own passions. Money was spent on Branwell’s attempts to make a career as an artist – his sisters published in secret and under pseudonyms. Sadly, Anne never lived to see how her work has survived. “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall,” is a wonderful read and also has an extremely important message. Ellis tells of how Anne heard her own father tell a visitor that, against all the expectations of the day, she should leave her husband and this spurred her on to write a novel where her heroine, Helen, becomes her own woman and finds the courage to leave her unhappy marriage. In this work, the author puts both Anne’s life, and her work, in context. This is a moving read – it left me feeling angry and yet uplifted. Angry that women are still suffering outrages (we live in an era with a new President who laughs off the careless slang of sexual assault as ‘locker room banter,’ where women are abused, vilified and insulted based on their looks, where babies are killed around the world because they are female) and yet uplifted, because Anne, and her sisters, fought against the odds to create marvellous works of literature. Their poverty, their lack of opportunity, their limited opportunities, did not stop their imagination from soaring and their work from surviving. If you love reading; if reading is important to you, then I urge you to read this book. It is one of the best biographies that I have read and I am sad I have finished it. I rarely feel such sorrow when I complete a book – but this will stay with me and I feel enriched by the experience of reading it. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)

    I might actually have to make a video about this one, because I'm very, very frustrated with the way we (readers/writers) discuss the Brontës, and this book was a stark reminder of that. Update: Here it is! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Xj1... I might actually have to make a video about this one, because I'm very, very frustrated with the way we (readers/writers) discuss the Brontës, and this book was a stark reminder of that. Update: Here it is! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Xj1...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emer (A Little Haze)

    I'm here trying to think what to write for this review. I am utterly floored. I closed the book with tears streaming down my face, with my heart aching and yet with a sense of calm and acceptance... Take Courage The other Brontë sister. I love reading the classics, be either those written for children or for adults. They have been my constant companions since I first started to read for myself. And yet, I have a peculiar relationship with the Brontë sisters. I have only ever read Charlotte and Em I'm here trying to think what to write for this review. I am utterly floored. I closed the book with tears streaming down my face, with my heart aching and yet with a sense of calm and acceptance... Take Courage The other Brontë sister. I love reading the classics, be either those written for children or for adults. They have been my constant companions since I first started to read for myself. And yet, I have a peculiar relationship with the Brontë sisters. I have only ever read Charlotte and Emily. As with history, I too have left Anne to the sidelines. I started to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall last year and somehow, sort of forgot I was reading it. And now I think I know why... But more on that a little later. Samantha Ellis in this journey into the life of the Brontë sisters has discovered Anne. In this book she chronicles a misunderstood existence and explores the themes of Anne's writings in her poetry and her novels and questions why she is not more celebrated? Why is she the forgotten sister? Why has she so often been miscast as the virtuous, quiet one who patiently waited for her early death as some sort of martyr instead of the vivacious and determined human being that she actually was? A woman ahead of her time who wrote bravely about feminist issues and gave her female characters stories that broke the mould of what was expected of women at the time of their writing. This book explores the relationships between Anne and each of her sisters. It is an absolutely fascinating insight into the world of these brilliant writers who above anything were sisters. They were so inextricably linked and influencing each other in both positive and negative ways. There was undying love but there was also jealousy. There was caring but also callousness. There were shared outside influences but different interpretations. I was fascinated by the comparisons and conclusions that Samantha Ellis drew when writing about these sisters. And what made this book eminently readable were the authors own personal feelings. How she drew from her own life and her own influences to create such an interesting take on Anne Brontë and her sisters. One of the greatest tips from this book that I will take is the recommendation to read the version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall that is edited by Stevie Davies. Unknown to many readers, myself included, is that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall has been grossly edited over the years. According to Ms Ellis, in 1854 Anne's novel was edited down by a publishing house called Thomas Hodgson in order that it would fit into a cheaper-to-publish, single volume. And in later years it is this hacked text that has frequently been used to re-print The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Differences between the original work and the greatly-edited version include the absence of the opening of Gilbert's letter at the start of the book which according to Ms Ellis sullies the theme and tone of the start of the book. There are also other important aspects edited out or watered down. But it is this missing opening letter that I think has had a huge impact on the reasons why I somehow forgot I was reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I found there was something missing in those opening pages that made me feel confused, I wasn't grabbed... So I am very much looking forward to sourcing a copy of the book in its differently edited format and starting afresh with my journey into the writings of Anne Brontë. Anne's life ended tragically at just the age of 29. Disease was ever prevalent and she succumbed to TB. Reading the end of this book when Samantha Ellis visited her grave was incredibly emotional. I was caught completely unawares by how much of an impact it would have on me. Even on her headstone her age is incorrect... It just seems to be yet another sad mark of how the world has gotten her so wrong over the years. She was hugely courageous with the themes of her writing and was not the quiet, unassuming wallflower that the world thinks. This book is incredibly well researched and although I am sure there is a little bias in some of the writing about the sisters (that's not a fault or flaw, purely makes the book more human and emotional) I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested to learn about their current favourite Brontë sister and to see why Anne has a right to stake her claim as to being the most forward thinking of the sisters. three and a half stars *A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Random House UK: Vintage Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Beware, this review contains swearing and flashing gifs. I have seen this biography accused of falling flat in an intellectual facet; that it doesn't paint a textured portrait of three very complicated women and their equally complicated relationship. For me, this is not what Ellis set out to achieve. Instead, this is a heartwarming and thoroughly informative account of a woman's personal interaction with Anne and the Brontë oeuvre. Ellis does not in any way treat the works of the Brontës as enti Beware, this review contains swearing and flashing gifs. I have seen this biography accused of falling flat in an intellectual facet; that it doesn't paint a textured portrait of three very complicated women and their equally complicated relationship. For me, this is not what Ellis set out to achieve. Instead, this is a heartwarming and thoroughly informative account of a woman's personal interaction with Anne and the Brontë oeuvre. Ellis does not in any way treat the works of the Brontës as entirely autobiographical. Her arguments are not specious or assertive - she uses plenty of modal auxiliaries to clarify this, especially her personal interpretations. Most importantly, she does not deny the authors their imagination. Instead, she challenges popular public opinion by illuminating the flaws that the Brontës deliberately and skillfully orchestrated within their characters, but that we as readers sometimes overlook, blinded by romanticisation. I found this a charming and passionate recognition of Anne that offers an informal yet well-informed perspective on the Brontë dynamic. My sense of fiery injustice over Anne Brontë's being sidelined by history all started back in January when I read Agnes Grey for the first time. My edition is the Penguin Classic with an introduction by Angeline Goreau. In this introduction, she bluntly states: 'Anne Brontë's early death ended her career...but if it had not, she might well have evolved into a writer as great as her sister Charlotte. Emily's mysterious genius, of course, was beyond duplication.' This made me so angry; can you think of anything more condescending? And the worst thing is (apart from that crucial conditional and sounding so self-assured, of course) she's not the only one who's said something to this effect. 'Anne was not strong enough, her gift was not vigorous enough, to enable her thus to transmute experience and grief....It is not as the writer of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but as the sister of Charlotte and Emily Brontë, that Anne Brontë escapes oblivion...the books and poems that she wrote serve only as matter of comparison by which to test the greatness of her two sisters. She is the measure of their genius—like them, yet not with them' (Mary A Ward) Honey? Back to Goreau, now. She goes on to justify her specious comment by arguing that Anne's campaigning novels effectively cannot even be associated with, or at least judged by the same means as, her sisters' works... because of her unique incentive: 'It is a mistake to judge Anne Brontë by the same standards that apply either to Emily's or Charlotte's work...[because her] purpose was reform.' Anne was the most revolutionary sister, bravely writing in deliberate protest against social conventions and controversies of her time: female autonomy, marital abuse, drug addiction, infant custody, the disparity of the education system and the general oppression of women. Of course, in 1847 her subject matter caused scandal and 160 odd years later, critics are still giving her grief, condemning her as the 'other Brontë', the 'least talented'. If it were possible, I was even more furious three months later when I received a beautiful clothbound (Penguin, again) edition of Charlotte Brontë's Villette. Here is what I found in the chronology: '1816- Charlotte born. 1817- Patrick Branwell born. 1818- Emily Jane born. 1821- Mrs Bronte dies.' No Anne. Despite what this chronology claims, she was in fact born in January 1820, but the author of this introduction has chosen instead to completely erase her. Now I was absolutely determined to restore Anne's legacy. Not even out of pity, but for the sake of justice: she was a brilliant, brilliant writer in her own right, considered as a separate unit. Imagine my delight when I found a book, Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life, entirely dedicated to sticking Anne centre stage. I was so excited to read this, and it did not in any way disappoint. Samantha Ellis has a lovely writing style; chatty, full of warm humour and even a satirical commentary. It's very well researched and gives a thoroughly rounded view of Anne's life and legacy in such a heartfelt way. She's pieced together the fragments of Anne's history from what we know for definite (which isn't a huge amount) and infused it with personal response and fun snippets of pop culture. Most crucially in my opinion, she doesn't speculate or press any declarative statements about what Anne felt personally - or to put it more finely, this doesn't read like a work of a fiction or a reimagining of Anne's life. I've read a few biographies like that. (*shivers*) Such a thought provoking, enlightening and compelling book. It completely changed my view of Charlotte Brontë which is saying something because transformative books are so few and far between. It also coaxed a few tears... and I am not a book crier. Elaine Showalter sums up my sentiment perfectly: "Anne was so far in advance of her time that she is only now getting her due." Right, now the times have finally caught up with Anne, it's high time more people recognise her. I expect to see you all at her bicentenary celebrations in 2020!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This book is titled as being about Anne Bronte but for anyone who's a fan of the Brontes know that this book is about all of them. That includes their father, aunt, housekeeper, friends and even their dogs. It's happy, sad, full of hope, full of despair and mostly gloom and drear. They'res was not a happy lot. I learned a lot more about them from this book even though I have read a biography before. It's clear the author loves her subject. The biography I read earlier was very hard going and some This book is titled as being about Anne Bronte but for anyone who's a fan of the Brontes know that this book is about all of them. That includes their father, aunt, housekeeper, friends and even their dogs. It's happy, sad, full of hope, full of despair and mostly gloom and drear. They'res was not a happy lot. I learned a lot more about them from this book even though I have read a biography before. It's clear the author loves her subject. The biography I read earlier was very hard going and sometimes I felt like I was swimming through porridge trying to finish it. This is delivered with a very light touch while still imparting all the information we expect from a tome of this type. I picked it up because I loved Agnes Grey from the first time I read it over thirty years ago and so Anne became my favorite and I wanted to know more about her. To be honest a lot of it is supposition and speculation because there isn't a lot of evidence of Anne's life. As it says here, only five of Anne's letters survive while over a hundred and fifty of Charlottes exist today. This is well worth a read for fans of any of the Brontes. Just recently I watched a dvd about the family called 'To Walk Invisible' and that plus the reading of this book has made me sure about one thing, I thoroughly dislike Charlotte. She came across as uptight, selfish and at times down right cruel. I don't think my feelings about her will ever change. All in all they were a very odd, dare I say it, weird family. I'd highly recommend this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Iris (teawithdarcy)

    I hope this will be the kick-off to many more tributes to Anne Brönte, because I feel she deserves so much more praise than she has been given. This book broke my heart but made me hopeful at the same time. Please, if you have the chance, read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karina

    Anne Brontë is usually considered 'the other sister' by Brontë lovers - Emily and Charlotte get all the attention. This is a shame though, as Anne possessed an acute eye for the hypocrisies and inequities of her time, especially on how society treated women. I came to this book primed to like it, as I thoroughly enjoyed the author's previous book, How to be a Heroine - witty, smart and entertaining, it explored how her love of fiction influenced her ideals, opinions and role models. The only probl Anne Brontë is usually considered 'the other sister' by Brontë lovers - Emily and Charlotte get all the attention. This is a shame though, as Anne possessed an acute eye for the hypocrisies and inequities of her time, especially on how society treated women. I came to this book primed to like it, as I thoroughly enjoyed the author's previous book, How to be a Heroine - witty, smart and entertaining, it explored how her love of fiction influenced her ideals, opinions and role models. The only problem with Anne is that so little is known of her, so a great deal of inferences have necessarily to be drawn; Anne was very contained and private, and also it is suspected that many of her letters and earlier stories may have been destroyed, either by herself when she knew she was dying or by Charlotte. Still, this is a vivid and engaging book on Anne and makes you feel like you know her a little better and want to read her work - I headed straight into reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, her masterpiece.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I am, and always have been, a huge fan of Anne Bronte, and when I first heard about Samantha Ellis' focused biography of her life, I was rather excited. I found Take Courage absorbing, and quite enjoyed the relatively casual writing style which the biography takes. Ellis' account is far-reaching, and includes a lot of interesting critique about her prose and poetry, as well as thorough studies of each of her siblings, and her parents. The way in which chapters follow different figures, from Bran I am, and always have been, a huge fan of Anne Bronte, and when I first heard about Samantha Ellis' focused biography of her life, I was rather excited. I found Take Courage absorbing, and quite enjoyed the relatively casual writing style which the biography takes. Ellis' account is far-reaching, and includes a lot of interesting critique about her prose and poetry, as well as thorough studies of each of her siblings, and her parents. The way in which chapters follow different figures, from Branwell and Emily, to the Brontes' housekeeper, Tabby, is effective. Take Courage is well written on the whole, although it did feel a little too colloquial at times. I did, however, like the way in which Ellis added her own personal story alongside Anne's, giving a more personal dimension to the whole. Take Courage is well thought out and enjoyable, and awfully touching, particularly toward the end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This was interesting to look over after reading Agnes Grey, plus The Tenant of Wildfell Hall the other year. I think I’m a little too familiar with the Brontës overall, so I didn’t have the patience for a whole book rehashing their history. (The couple of pages on biographer Winifred Gérin’s life story was almost my favorite bit.) But for those who are mostly unfamiliar with the family, this could be a great introduction. This was interesting to look over after reading Agnes Grey, plus The Tenant of Wildfell Hall the other year. I think I’m a little too familiar with the Brontës overall, so I didn’t have the patience for a whole book rehashing their history. (The couple of pages on biographer Winifred Gérin’s life story was almost my favorite bit.) But for those who are mostly unfamiliar with the family, this could be a great introduction.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Edwin John Moorhouse Marr

    Well, I shall start by saying the things I liked about this book. Anne Brontë is still, sadly, such an under-recognised and under-appreciated literary figure, that any attempt to increase her prominence is commendable. Anne was a true feminist pioneer, sassy, independent minded, strong willed, tenacious, intellectual, kind, forgiving, tolerant, patient and moral. She knew her own mind, and forgave others for their shortcomings. She recognised human weakness and frailty, and didn't shy away from Well, I shall start by saying the things I liked about this book. Anne Brontë is still, sadly, such an under-recognised and under-appreciated literary figure, that any attempt to increase her prominence is commendable. Anne was a true feminist pioneer, sassy, independent minded, strong willed, tenacious, intellectual, kind, forgiving, tolerant, patient and moral. She knew her own mind, and forgave others for their shortcomings. She recognised human weakness and frailty, and didn't shy away from representing it within her fiction. With the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I find myself agreeing with Charlotte Brontë's statement that it was a book 'entirely unsuited to the author's temperament' and yet Anne wrote it anyway, because 'truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it.' She felt it was her duty to represent truth, to warn others against the dangers of believing in their reformative powers over depraved individuals, and to highlight the perils of alcoholism and drug abusive, not because she wanted to, or enjoyed engaging with this side of society, but because she felt it was her duty. So I am always glad to see a writer recognise this in Anne, to identify just how revolutionary her writing was, and to critique the representations of 'dear, gentle Anne,' that have haunted the youngest member of the Brontë family since Gaskell's infamous biography of Charlotte. I found Ellis' close reading well developed and engaging, and enjoyed many of the comparisons she drew out of the novels and poems, and it reminded me of some of the passages I have forgotten in TOWFH and AG, and their significance. However, I don't know why Ellis didn't use page references, it would have been nice to quickly look up some of her quotes to see how they fitted in with the text and scene as a whole. And this is where I find my criticisms of this book really begin to take over, because for the first half, this is not a book about Anne Brontë, it is a book about Samantha Ellis. It is self-indulgent, 330 pages of why she likes Anne, interspersed with anecdotes from her own life. In an article or blog piece this is interesting and appropriate, in a 330 page book it is repetitive, digressive and tedious. I want to hear about Anne's life, not Ellis' impending nuptials. The first half of the book feels horribly disjointed, for instance the chapter on Elizabeth Branwell barely mentions the Brontës' aunt, with the exception of a paragraph at the beginning and end of the chapter. Indeed, the entire first half of the book barely felt to be about Anne at all, with a few clunky sentences along the lines of 'what would Anne do, I found myself wondering?' thrown clumsily into the mix to try and give a vague semblance that this is a book about AB. But I should be clear, this definitely improved towards the end of the text, with a much deeper and more focused emphasis on Anne. Indeed, the entire style of the book felt misjudged. Who is this aimed at? Ellis assumes a basic knowledge of the Brontës, so this is not a book aimed at someone who is coming to the Brontës fresh, but equally this book does not feel academic enough for someone who is looking for a deeper analysis of the Brontës' lives. In short, it offers nothing new to the already substantial canon of Brontë biography and criticism, the same old facts are being dusted out and presented with a slightly different coat of paint, once again. Marianne Thormälen in her excellent essay collection 'The Brontës in context,' celebrates the myth-busting that has taken place over the past decade or so, but warns that in the process of deconstructing existing myths, that the reader and academic doesn't build new myths to take their place. Unfortunately Ellis falls headlong into this trap. Brontë 'facts' such as Emily's brutal punishment of her dog, Keeper, are discarded and disbelieved, essentially because Ellis does not want to believe them, not because she offers any evidence to the contrary, whereas more questionable 'facts' such as Anne's purported infatuation with Weightman are not only accepted as cold hard truth, but Ellis adds another layer, that Charlotte also allegedly loved Weightman, because she doesn't seem contented with just one dodgy 'fact,' but wants to extend it further. Ellis has clearly done her research thoroughly, and yet I never felt convinced she truly allowed herself to let go of her 21st century goggles, and try and 'read' the 19th century as a Victorian would. For instance, she found herself irritated by the constant portrayal of sainted, angel children, suffering and dying young, and I agree, to a 21st century reader, this seems strange and jarring, but the Victorians celebrated suffering, seeing it as cleaning and spiritual, something that made you stronger, and I don't feel that Ellis attempts to engage or empathise with this at all. Finally, I just found myself confused by the structure of this book. Is it meant to be a self-help book? Is it biography? Self-ography? 'Why I like the Brontës in 330 pages?' 'What Anne Brontë did for me?' I don't understand where this book is being pitched, and what Ellis is wanting to achieve by writing it. I was looking forward to reading this book, and I of course celebrate any attempt to raise awareness of the youngest Brontë sibling, but I can't help but feel this does more harm than good, promoting more questionable facts than a certain US president, revelling in self-indulgence, anecdotal references, and authorial autobiography, and ultimately adding little to the world of the Brontës.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I bought this mainly as a companion piece to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because I'd never read any Anne Bronte and didn't know much about her. She's often labelled 'the forgotten Bronte sister' after all. However, what Ellis has produced is a comprehensive guide to the whole Bronte family by using a very clever structure - each chapter examines Anne's relationship to another member of the household (and occasionally, characters from her novels) and what she learnt from them. For example, the ch I bought this mainly as a companion piece to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because I'd never read any Anne Bronte and didn't know much about her. She's often labelled 'the forgotten Bronte sister' after all. However, what Ellis has produced is a comprehensive guide to the whole Bronte family by using a very clever structure - each chapter examines Anne's relationship to another member of the household (and occasionally, characters from her novels) and what she learnt from them. For example, the chapter examining her very fraught relationship with Charlotte is called 'Charlotte, or how (not) to be a sister`. I know some reviewers take issue with how Charlotte is portrayed here - as the angry, cruel, manipulative sister - but it rings true. What makes the Brontes so hard to understand is that so much of their correspondence has been lost and destroyed. It's impossible even know know the true colour of Anne's hair. It's impossible to know whether Emily was an animal lover or abuser - there are signs / evidence / hearsay of both. Where Ellis lacks fact she injects passion and while this may not then be a completely accurate biography (not that she ever claims it to be such), it's a love letter-memoir about overlooked women, ambition and courage.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Only mid-February and another 5 star book this year! It often intrigues me why a writer chooses a certain person for their biography. (A recent book on Byron surprised me when the author admitted that at times they actually loathed their subject). However, it is clear from the outset why Ellis chose Anne Brontë - sometimes I think Anne must have chosen Ellis! It goes far deeper than just bringing 'sweet, virtuous and dull' little Anne out of the shadows of Charlotte, Emily and Branwell. We soon le Only mid-February and another 5 star book this year! It often intrigues me why a writer chooses a certain person for their biography. (A recent book on Byron surprised me when the author admitted that at times they actually loathed their subject). However, it is clear from the outset why Ellis chose Anne Brontë - sometimes I think Anne must have chosen Ellis! It goes far deeper than just bringing 'sweet, virtuous and dull' little Anne out of the shadows of Charlotte, Emily and Branwell. We soon learn she is absolutely none of those things! I love the personal approach that Ellis brings to the book. I loved hearing about the biographical process - the cottage Ellis rented in Haworth to do her research, the porridge she ate each morning for breakfast because that is what Anne had too etc. And then of course her reluctance at travelling to Scarborough because that really is the end of Anne's story. I have visited Anne's grave many times, high on the cliff top overlooking the (usually grey) sea and whatever time of year I go I am rarely alone, plus there are often fresh flowers on the grave. She is remembered. Ellis is a wonderful writer. I loved her recent book How to be a Heroine, but this is even better. It sometimes made me laugh and it sometimes brought me close to tears. I loved reading about Ellis and her life as much as I loved learning something new about Anne.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wee Lassie

    Only three words needed to describe this book: you will weep.

  15. 4 out of 5

    lauren

    Anne is an enigma. Not a lot of her personal writing has survived, so it's hard for us to paint a true and accurate picture of her. I was hoping that Samantha Ellis' Take Courage could shed some light on Anne that I'm not personally aware of (although, I have read Barker's humongous biography, so I doubt she could tell me something I didn't already know). Unfortunately, I didn't like this that much. It was very much a hit or miss for me. Most of the time, I wasn't getting along with it - in part Anne is an enigma. Not a lot of her personal writing has survived, so it's hard for us to paint a true and accurate picture of her. I was hoping that Samantha Ellis' Take Courage could shed some light on Anne that I'm not personally aware of (although, I have read Barker's humongous biography, so I doubt she could tell me something I didn't already know). Unfortunately, I didn't like this that much. It was very much a hit or miss for me. Most of the time, I wasn't getting along with it - in particular the writing style and voice. However, there were some chapters, specifically the last one titled 'Anne, or how to take courage' that I loved. My main issue with this was the contradictory nature. Ellis wrote this to bring Anne out of the shadows of her sisters (it literally says this on the blurb), yet perpetuates it by writing about Anne in relation to her sisters. How does that make sense? Comparing Anne to her sisters only furthers the notion that Anne should be talked about in relation to Charlotte and Emily? There were many ways Ellis could have gone about writing this, and for that to have been her main way of talking about this, made this completely the wrong decision. Another issue was the writing style. I like my biographers, non-fiction writers, whatever, to be distant from what they are saying. I don't want them to insert their own lives, their own feelings and opinions, etc. into the writing that has nothing to do with them. I wanted Anne. Not Anne and Ellis. On occasion, I liked how appreciative Ellis sounded towards the family - she genuinely loves and admires them - and, as an avid fan myself, this was enjoyable to read. But I didn't want to know about Ellis' boyfriend (which she talked about far too much), etc. I just wanted Anne. For this, I felt like the aim of the biography failed. It felt like diary, not something that educates people on Anne. Overall, a disappointing read. It was lovely, and I'm glad I read it, but not something I'd recommend to people wanting to know more about Anne. I'll be writing a full review of this on my blog, so make sure to follow it for a lengthier discussion: www.bookishbyron.wordpress.com

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Flynn

    I enjoyed this book very much and read it fast. Early on I kept being reminded of "Girl Walks Into a Book" in the curious mixture of lit nerdiness and self-revelation, although I think this one is more scholarly (I emerged with many leads about new books to read, always a good thing) and less about the author herself than "Girl." I appreciate the efforts to rescue Anne, but was sorry it came at the expense of Charlotte and Emily. There does seem to be a certain amount of sibling rivalry in the w I enjoyed this book very much and read it fast. Early on I kept being reminded of "Girl Walks Into a Book" in the curious mixture of lit nerdiness and self-revelation, although I think this one is more scholarly (I emerged with many leads about new books to read, always a good thing) and less about the author herself than "Girl." I appreciate the efforts to rescue Anne, but was sorry it came at the expense of Charlotte and Emily. There does seem to be a certain amount of sibling rivalry in the world of Bronte biography, as if people often feel compelled to choose a side. I don't want to choose a side; they are all fascinating, difficult and distinct.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books

    ”Take courage.” The last words uttered by Anne Bronte before she died. These words, of course, were being offered to someone else. To Charlotte, one of her two much more famous sisters. But in her typical selfless style, Anne was building another up, while holding herself back from the foreground. This is a wonderful biography. Through ten chapters, each bearing the name of someone who was truly important to Anne - her mother, sisters, Aunt, brother etc., Samantha Ellis interweaves her own life w ”Take courage.” The last words uttered by Anne Bronte before she died. These words, of course, were being offered to someone else. To Charlotte, one of her two much more famous sisters. But in her typical selfless style, Anne was building another up, while holding herself back from the foreground. This is a wonderful biography. Through ten chapters, each bearing the name of someone who was truly important to Anne - her mother, sisters, Aunt, brother etc., Samantha Ellis interweaves her own life with Anne’s, telling us both of their stories. It is deeply personal and revealing, yet witty and very clever. For the first time, Anne’s true character comes into the spotlight, standing separate from her sisters rather than among them or, even, behind them. The insight Ellis gives us is extraordinary. She threads Anne’s path and takes us along with her on her journey. This is a truly emotional biography and I loved it. Ellis is a fantastic writer, a true advocate of the gentle voice and the quiet feminist. Anyone interested in the Brontes or in reading itself should read this book. Although I purchased a copy of this book for my own little library (I loved the cover and wanted it for keeps!), I did get an ARC from Netgalley and want to thank them and the publisher for sending it to me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Berry

    By the end of this book I had gotten rather annoyed with the author, Samantha Ellis. I found her rather oppionated and when she wasn't keen on someone then we sure knew about it. Ellen Nussey, Charlotte's close friend, was given short shrift. It was evident that Ellis did not rate her by the way she dismissed her and her letters. She also referred to her as Nussey all the way through instead of Ellen. Ellis is a big fan of Anne and we also got to know how Ellis had just met a bloke, then in the By the end of this book I had gotten rather annoyed with the author, Samantha Ellis. I found her rather oppionated and when she wasn't keen on someone then we sure knew about it. Ellen Nussey, Charlotte's close friend, was given short shrift. It was evident that Ellis did not rate her by the way she dismissed her and her letters. She also referred to her as Nussey all the way through instead of Ellen. Ellis is a big fan of Anne and we also got to know how Ellis had just met a bloke, then in the next chapter he was her boyfriend then he proposed, engaged and she ended by calling him her fiance all with a little wink at the reader. Her strong opinions are littered throughout the book and even Charlotte comes in for some stick. What really annoyed me was when Ellis wrote that at the end Anne hated deathbed scenes in a response to what Ellen Nussey wrote. Ellen was there and knew Anne, Ellis most certainly did not so how can she say for sure what Anne liked or disliked. The author's tone spoilt the book for me a little. I don't think I'd read another biography of hers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    All about Ellis As someone who has always regarded Anne Bronte's Wildfell Hall as one of the most anarchic of nineteenth-century novels, a kind of dark antidote to the sparkling romances of Austen et al., it's good to see Anne being brought out from the shadows of her sisters. This book, though, is more about Samantha Ellis than Anne herself. Part self-analysis, part rumination on her own life, part biased depiction of Anne based on some rather skewed readings (especially with regard to Charlotte All about Ellis As someone who has always regarded Anne Bronte's Wildfell Hall as one of the most anarchic of nineteenth-century novels, a kind of dark antidote to the sparkling romances of Austen et al., it's good to see Anne being brought out from the shadows of her sisters. This book, though, is more about Samantha Ellis than Anne herself. Part self-analysis, part rumination on her own life, part biased depiction of Anne based on some rather skewed readings (especially with regard to Charlotte Bronte), this is a very subjective and rather quirky view of the often-overlooked Bronte. Self-obsessed, solipsistic, read this for the way in which Anne Bronte is appropriated as a way for Ellis to confront her own life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    Now I want to know everything about Anne Bronte and read everything she's ever done. How inspiring! Now I want to know everything about Anne Bronte and read everything she's ever done. How inspiring!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Find all my book reviews, plus author interviews, guest posts and book extracts, on my blog: https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/ Anne’s last letter is the impetus for Samantha Ellis’s exploration of the life of Anne Brontë because it suggests a woman very different in character from the established portrayal. As her research progresses, Anne’s life and undervalued status seems to have a very personal resonance for the author. She sets out to prove Anne should not have been overlooked as a wr Find all my book reviews, plus author interviews, guest posts and book extracts, on my blog: https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/ Anne’s last letter is the impetus for Samantha Ellis’s exploration of the life of Anne Brontë because it suggests a woman very different in character from the established portrayal. As her research progresses, Anne’s life and undervalued status seems to have a very personal resonance for the author. She sets out to prove Anne should not have been overlooked as a writer or in favour of her more famous siblings and that she has been mischaracterised. Samantha Ellis becomes Anne’s champion, determined to bring her out of the shadows and her position as the literary equivalent of ‘the third Beatle’. The author examines Anne’s life through the prism of the people – principally the women – around her, and the heroines of her books, Agnes Gray and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In some cases, this involves a fair amount of speculation. For instance, Anne never knew Maria, her mother, because she died when Anne was only twenty months old. However, the author sees similarities in their appearance, piety and argues that Maria’s fledgling literary ambitions may have influenced her daughter. Similarly, there is very little known about Tabby, the Brontë’s cook and housekeeper, but the author surmises that it was Tabby who introduced Anne to the moors and inspired her love of nature. There is more material to work with when it comes to Anne’s relationship with her sisters, Emily and Charlotte. Emily and Anne’s relationship was based on their shared literary endeavours, working together on creating the imaginary world of Gondal. Anne’s relationship with Charlotte comes across as altogether more complex and in fact Charlotte’s behaviour to her sister does not come out particularly well when placed under the spotlight. Anne’s public legacy was largely shaped by Charlotte who had control of Anne’s unpublished poems and published work. The author sees Charlotte as ‘more than anyone, responsible for Anne being seen as ‘the other Brontë’. Sections of the book I particularly enjoyed were the author’s close readings of Anne’s two novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Although it’s not always reliable to read the author through the character, the author makes some persuasive arguments. She also argues that Anne’s novels ‘fiercely’ rewrite Charlotte’s in terms of the realism of her heroines. The author contends that Agnes Grey is a much more accurate portrait of life as a governess than Jane Eyre, and that Anne’s flawed heroes are more true to life than the Byronic figures – think Rochester and Heathcliff – imagined by her sisters. The other standout section of the book is its closing chapter in which the author recounts very movingly the circumstances of Anne’s final days and death. What a potential literary powerhouse the world was robbed of by Anne’s early death. It’s interesting to ponder whether, had she lived longer, she might have been the Brontë sister everyone remembers and not her older sisters. Samantha Ellis admits the documentary evidence that remains about Anne’s life is slight and although the arguments she advances are reasonable it’s fair to say they are based on a lot of supposition. The book is littered with ‘might’, ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’. I’m in no position to judge the scholarly worth of this book (nor do I want to) but I found it utterly absorbing and it has made me determined to reread Anne’s novels (in editions that are not ‘hatchet jobs’).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Girl with her Head in a Book

    For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... Interview with the author available here: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... Samantha Ellis' How To Be A Heroine was my favourite read of 2014.  It still sits on my Favourite Books Shelf.  I was however surprised to discover several years later that she was writing a book on Anne Brontë as the opening pages of Heroine see Ellis confess to being a lifelong Emily and Heathcliff fan.  The book then sees her decide that Charlotte Bront For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... Interview with the author available here: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... Samantha Ellis' How To Be A Heroine was my favourite read of 2014.  It still sits on my Favourite Books Shelf.  I was however surprised to discover several years later that she was writing a book on Anne Brontë as the opening pages of Heroine see Ellis confess to being a lifelong Emily and Heathcliff fan.  The book then sees her decide that Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre offers a better role model for life.  Anne did not get much of a look in.  Clearly some kind of conversion experience had occurred in the intervening period.  It is but seldom that a favourite author takes on one's favourite Brontë so I knew immediately that Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life was going to be a hit.  Not only that though, it was one of my favourite reads of Brooding about the Brontës.   Ellis confesses to having long believed in the popular view of Anne as a 'virginal Victorian spinster, sweet and stoic, selfless and sexless, achieving very little before wasting away at twenty-nine'.  Famed for a death scene akin to that of Dickens' Little Nell, Anne was described by her sister Charlotte to have been preparing for an early death since childhood.  For Ellis, Anne Brontë had as much gusto as Beth March from Little Women.  Basically, she was boring.  But then a chance encounter with the Brontë archive and the opportunity to read the last letter that Anne wrote before her death prompted Ellis to see the woman in a different light. Having read Anne's last letter myself, it is a very poignant piece.  The idea of holding it in one's hand must have added a particular power.  Anne wrote the letter five weeks before her death, desperately ill with the tuberculosis that would claim her life.  Ellis describes how her writing was 'achingly neat', particularly important given that she was cross-writing.  But more than that, Anne's letter was an act of defiance.  Her sister Charlotte had already been in touch with Ellen Nussey before to instruct her to refuse Anne's request to accompany her to Scarborough and now Anne was writing to convince Ellen to do otherwise.  However much Charlotte might tell the world that Anne had been keen to leave it, the letter indicates otherwise.  Anne describes how she has 'many schemes in my head for future practise - humble and limited indeed - but still I should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose.'  Anne was twenty-nine, full of plans and wanted to live.  Caught by the emotion behind the letter, Ellis determined to find out more about the most neglected of the Brontës. Ellis' book is not a typical biography.  Like How to be a Heroine, it is more of a bibliomemoir, with Ellis' own life and personal musings intertwining with her analysis of Anne Brontë.  Over the course of the year, she meets a man, ponders whether he is going to be her boyfriend and by the end of the book, he is about to become her husband instead.  She ponders the tragedy that she has already lived eleven more years than Anne got and that Anne died with so much potential unrealised but where other biographers sigh and pontificate, Ellis is refreshingly angry about the waste of talent.  Yet although this is a meditation on Anne as much as it is a memoir, Ellis has nonetheless done her research in detail and considers her sources with care.  She considers what Anne herself would want to be remembered for and the legacy she would have wished to leave behind her. Each chapter of Take Courage focuses on Anne's relationship with a different figure within the family and what they meant to her, from the mother Maria who Anne never remembered right down to Tabby the housekeeper.  Each are felt to represent a different facet to Anne's character, with Emily being her partner in creativity, Tabby having given Anne an understanding of the working classes and then via Branwell, Anne learnt the peril of bad relationships.  Ellis entitles Aunt Branwell's chapter as 'Elizabeth' because she points out that 'history has not been kind to spinsters' and as a long-term single woman herself, Ellis refuses to pigeonhole another woman in that role.  I respect the theory but it feels weird to call Aunt Branwell anything else.  Elizabeth.  Elizabeth.  Hmm. The family member who earns the most opprobrium is - unsurprisingly - Charlotte.  Her chapter in Take Courage is subtitled 'How (not) to be a sister'.  In the story of Anne Brontë, Charlotte's conduct has carved herself the villain role.  Anne's novel Agnes Grey depicts a sister relationship where the elder babies the younger and many scholars believe this to have mirrored Anne's own relationship with Charlotte.  Letters between Charlotte and her loyal friend/sycophant Ellen Nussey always tend to take a patronising tone whenever the subject of Anne came up.  As Ellis notes, Charlotte 'tried to protect Anne but she never really trusted her'.  Charlotte was distressed when going through Anne's papers after her death to discover how little she knew her sister.  Yet, this did not stop Charlotte from deciding that she knew best and that Tenant of Wildfell Hall was 'hardly worth preserving'. It is a strange thing to see the sibling rivalries from nearly two centuries played out in the fields of biography - everyone seems to feel the need to pick a sister and very few Brontë biographers manage to keep themselves free of partisan feeling.  Claire Harman, author of Charlotte Brontë: A Life, wrote a review of Take Courage that clearly felt the sting of Ellis' criticism of Charlotte.  Oddly, one of Harman's critiques was that Ellis did not acknowledge enough of Anne's difficulties, specifically her speech impediment.  Juliet Barker pointed out in The Brontës that the only person who ever stated Anne to have had a speech impediment was Charlotte and indeed the tone of the letter where she does so seems more like a dig at her sister rather than a statement of a disability.  It is difficult bordering on impossible to defend Charlotte for the damage she inflicted on Anne's posthumous reputation. Indeed, one of the biggest revelations for me in Take Courage was how badly butchered Anne's second novel was after its author's death.  With Charlotte refusing to allow a third edition, Tenant ended up pirated by an unscrupulous publisher who cut it down to one-volume form and also kept in the typos which Anne Brontë had corrected.  Going through the biggest areas of difference, Ellis' anger was palpable and roused my own.  I had had no idea before reading this that Tenant is still routinely published in this mutilated form even now.  I even realised when I looked at my own copy that it too was affected.  Detailed research (and an online order of a copy that claimed to be 'complete and unabridged' but also proved to be a mutilated edition) and I landed on the Oxford University Press edition as the best way to go.  I re-read the whole book in the appropriate format - somehow, it just felt better. Ellis clearly identifies more strongly with Tenant than Agnes Grey.  Many find Agnes to be lacking in fire but I think that Ellis also struggles to engage with the religious side of Anne Brontë.  Both Agnes and Tenant are peppered with specific scriptural references and while Charlotte's novels do deal with matters of faith and conscience, they do not grapple in the same way that Anne's do.  Anne's piety makes her less fashionable in the modern era but it has always been one of the aspects which impressed me about her.  Anne is not an easy Christian picking and choosing what pleases her, she sets up her characters to struggle and fight and make difficult choices and still ultimately choose the Narrow Way.  Anne was the Brontë of Steel and her faith was a huge part of that.  It is easy to prefer the fire and brimstone of Tenant over Agnes Grey but recollect that Agnes is a woman who battered some birds to death because she knew it was the right thing to do.  Agnes too has a battle cry. As Ellis considers why Anne has been so long neglected, she ponders whether it is perhaps because she was too radical.  Helen Huntingdon started out as a young woman charmed by a 'sexy, dangerous man' - so far, so Brontë.  However where Jane Eyre keeps running back and Cathy and Heathcliff destroy each other, Helen instead 'sees the light and leaves him.'  Previous to this, Helen actually shut her door against her husband.  She had the temerity to put the needs of their infant son before his.  Heroines in Charlotte's novels always seem to abase themselves before the objects of their affections, even the otherwise glorious Shirley Keeldar will only take a husband if he can 'master her'.  Emily's depiction of love is best categorised as 'other'.  Anne dared to suggest that just maybe, you should pick a partner in life who is actually worthy of your respect.  Revolutionary though it was, 'it wasn't what anyone wanted to hear in 1848'.  Even now though, women watch costume dramas to see the woman in the big dress swept off her feet by the grouchy rich man who suddenly becomes quite nice really.  They are not necessarily looking for a lesson in avoiding waste-of-space scoundrels. The preface that Anne wrote to the second edition of Tenant though shows that no matter what Charlotte thought, she meant every word she had written and she was keen to get her message out as far as she could.  At heart, Anne was a teacher.  She left the classroom, but not the act of teaching itself.  She had felt sorrow for her pupils, the Robinson girls, as she witnessed their mother's ruthlessness in getting them husbands regardless of the qualities of the men involved.  Both Anne's novels express disapproval of the marriage market.  She clearly believed that upper class girls got a raw deal.  Anne never liked to see those with power abusing those who were vulnerable, whether it be birds in a nest being tortured by a vicious little boy or young girls being sacrificed like lambs to be wives.  Her last letter illustrates that she had much more to say, many more plans to try to make the world a fairer place.  Anne Brontë wrote with purpose and passion, just not the type of passion that we are used to. Any biography of Anne Brontë will necessarily have to resort to some speculation.  There simply is not enough evidence available to do anything else.  Yet despite Ellis' chatty style, she does engage with her sources critically, querying even some of the more famous verdicts on Anne's writing.  When Ellis does follow her own theories, she is open enough with the reader to acknowledge it, meaning that I had more faith in her as a biographer than in my other recent Anne read, In Search of Anne Brontë.  There's no way of knowing for sure, but Ellis' suggestion that Anne was the one who destroyed the Gondal stories seemed as reasonable as any other explanation I have read.  Take Courage may offer up a fair amount of about Samantha Ellis herself, but it remains a well-written and highly compelling biography which got me thinking about Anne Brontë in a completely different way. It is easy to know all the bare facts right down to what she called her one of the toy soldiers or about that time she sassed her aunt who had asked her where her feet were (Anne's answer 'On the floor, Aunt') but repetition of these only reduces Anne still further into the cardboard figure she has become within the mythology.  I share Ellis' indignation at the snide critics who label her the least essential Brontë, famous for her sisters rather than for her own work, a 'watercolourist' in literature, the 'least industrious Brontë' - two novels by the age of twenty-nine and a stack of poetry!  Much of this while holding down a very stressful full-time job!  Emily only ever wrote one book!  For its passionate defence of Anne's posthumous reputation alone, Take Courage is well worth reading, but more than that, when it comes to Anne's writing, Ellis has the passion of the newly converted and that is wonderful to read.  Anne's novels are about life, not the fantasies written by her sisters, she wrote about taking the life you have and making it into the best possible one it could be.  Her own span on this earth may have been short, far too short, but her message was clear and deserves to be heard.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucie

    3.5 stars Anne is my favourite Brontë. Like many readers, I only discovered her after her sisters ; I remember reading Wuthering Heights, then Jane Eyre back to back, a summer seven or eight years ago. It might have been because there wasn't a lot of French translations of Anne's works, or because I hadn't heard much about her works, but I didn't read her right away, until least year. When I picked up The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I didn't know what to expect, yet, I completely fell in love with it 3.5 stars Anne is my favourite Brontë. Like many readers, I only discovered her after her sisters ; I remember reading Wuthering Heights, then Jane Eyre back to back, a summer seven or eight years ago. It might have been because there wasn't a lot of French translations of Anne's works, or because I hadn't heard much about her works, but I didn't read her right away, until least year. When I picked up The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I didn't know what to expect, yet, I completely fell in love with it. I couldn't stop reading, I couldn't get enough of Anne's words, I adored the story. After that, I had to read Agnes Grey and it happened again. I didn't have the preface in my edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but I read extracts in the introduction of Agnes Grey, and I just knew that was it : Anne was my favourite Brontë. Since then, I've needed to read more about her life, because thinking she has been the "forgotten" one breaks my heart. That's how I stumbled upon Samantha Ellis' tribute to her. In many ways, I adored reading it, because I feel like I got the sense of Anne and it confirmed what I knew to be truth: we are so much alike, she and I, and she gives me courage. In Anne, I found the quiet one in her family, who was also loyal and would always try to do her best for her siblings, I found someone who had to keep her feelings inside, because she could be brushed away, I found someone who loved the sea, I found a woman ahead of her time, I found someone of quiet strength. I love Anne Brontë, it's as simple as that. This book is quite easy to read for a biography, because Samantha Ellis shares a lot of her feelings and you can tell that she adores the Brontës. She also talks a lot about the family overall, which also makes this book a nice introduction to them. However, it was sometimes a bit frustrating, because reading a tribute to Anne, all the while writing about her almost in comparison to her sisters, made me sad, because it wasn't the point. Do I really want to read about Charlotte and have insights about her novels? Not when I'm reading about Anne, and even more so in regards to her feelings about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I feel like Ellis wanted to show her readers how much she knew about the Brontës or about classics writers in general, as she mentioned so many of them, and some weren't even living in the same century as Anne's. Sure, it felt nice to read about writers I know and love, but this wasn't why I had picked up this book: it was for Anne, and Anne only. More than that, it's true that I enjoyed feeling how much Ellis loved Anne and the Brontës, but I didn't care about her own life and certainly not her boyfriend, why did it even have to be in the book? Because of all of this, this book didn't feel entirely Anne's sometimes ; I get that we might not know as much about her, but it was frustrating to read all these digressions, it could almost undermine her importance sometimes. Yet, I still really enjoyed this book and I liked the idea of giving tribute to Anne, because she more than deserves it. I've been really struggling with which rating to give it, as there aren't many books about Anne and I really need more of them, but Ellis sometimes made it too personal and it was so frustrating. I'll pick up Juliet Barker's enormous biography about the Brontës at some point (hopefully sooner than later!) to have a more distanced view of their lives and I'm so excited about it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    It's not a conventional bio, but more of a cultural context piece. As such, I loved it. It's not a conventional bio, but more of a cultural context piece. As such, I loved it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joellen

    There is not much for any biographer to go off of when it comes to gathering information about Anne Bronte's life. Being that she was the lesser known sister, most of her letters burnt, and just a quiet/private person it would be hard to put together an in depth biography on Anne. The biographer instead took the approach of forming each individual chapter around a key person in Anne's life and then tried putting what small number of puzzle pieces she had together. I would have loved a more in de There is not much for any biographer to go off of when it comes to gathering information about Anne Bronte's life. Being that she was the lesser known sister, most of her letters burnt, and just a quiet/private person it would be hard to put together an in depth biography on Anne. The biographer instead took the approach of forming each individual chapter around a key person in Anne's life and then tried putting what small number of puzzle pieces she had together. I would have loved a more in depth biography, but that probably wouldn't be possible coming from anyone outside of Anne's closest confidants. Knowing what I do know about Anne, that's probably the way she would have wanted it. With that being said, the author did a good job of working with what she had and taking me back to Anne's time and surrounding and I treasured the few glimpses I had into her life. Although the book wasn't as deep as I was expecting, it still confirmed my love for Anne and that time period even more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Flora

    I really do wish I had enjoyed this more. Ellis's enthusiasm and brio are commendable. She is a fierce and passionate champion of her subject. She empathises. She gets stuck in. The problem is that she gets TOO involved - she is partisan, she takes sides, most noticeably against Charlotte. Charlotte was difficult but surely not as spiteful and jealous as Ellis paints her. At one point she says that something Charlotte does she finds "hard to forgive". The book is also full of guess work. The text I really do wish I had enjoyed this more. Ellis's enthusiasm and brio are commendable. She is a fierce and passionate champion of her subject. She empathises. She gets stuck in. The problem is that she gets TOO involved - she is partisan, she takes sides, most noticeably against Charlotte. Charlotte was difficult but surely not as spiteful and jealous as Ellis paints her. At one point she says that something Charlotte does she finds "hard to forgive". The book is also full of guess work. The text is littered with "she may have", "maybe she" "if she did this, then..". Whole anecdotes are spun from supposition. She chooses to believe or not believe depending on her feeling about the sister she is writing about - while at the same time criticising Gaskell for playing fast and loose with the facts. It is deeply irritating. I liked How to Be A Heroine a lot - it is passionate and opinionated but it worked because she was writing about the books that inspire passionate and opinionated engagement with them. The approach when dealing with a real person's life is wrongheaded and at times inappropriately intimate. I'm sure Anne Bronte wouldn't care two figs whether Samantha Ellis saw Kate Bush live or not. Or whether she spent her time in Haworth eating porridge because "that's what Anne did". Or that she wished Anne and Dorothy Wordsworth had met (why?) The lit-memoir has the potential to inspire enthusiasm for books and reading, to shed light on how rewarding deep engagement with a text can be. The Road to Middlemarch did this very well. Take Courage, unfortunately, did not.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Pilcher

    I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book via Netgalley and I was so pleased because I love the Bronte sisters! Particularly Anne, as a person, woman, and feminist. Shamefully, I’ve only read Jane Eyre and only attempted Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. But after reading this book I really want to read the Tenant of Wildfell Hall this year. This is a very friendly, chatty book and is more about Samantha Ellis and her personal journey to discovering who Anne was, rather than a factual non-fi I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book via Netgalley and I was so pleased because I love the Bronte sisters! Particularly Anne, as a person, woman, and feminist. Shamefully, I’ve only read Jane Eyre and only attempted Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. But after reading this book I really want to read the Tenant of Wildfell Hall this year. This is a very friendly, chatty book and is more about Samantha Ellis and her personal journey to discovering who Anne was, rather than a factual non-fiction book on what Anne was like. This is due to the lack of surviving material about Anne that remains. Regardless, it was a really insightful and an easy read. One that all book readers will enjoy, not just non-fiction, historical readers! Review: http://ellesbellesnotebook.co.uk/marc...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Rideout

    This is a highly personal and moving account of the life of Anne Brontë and her relationships with her siblings. Whilst Samantha Ellis predicates many of her conclusions on speculation, it is speculation informed by a thorough understanding of the facts of Anne's life and an acute empathy with the subject. My only quibble is that Ellis's championing of the unjustifiably neglected Anne is often done at the expense of Charlotte Brontë. For me, Ellis judges Charlotte too harshly. Notwithstanding the This is a highly personal and moving account of the life of Anne Brontë and her relationships with her siblings. Whilst Samantha Ellis predicates many of her conclusions on speculation, it is speculation informed by a thorough understanding of the facts of Anne's life and an acute empathy with the subject. My only quibble is that Ellis's championing of the unjustifiably neglected Anne is often done at the expense of Charlotte Brontë. For me, Ellis judges Charlotte too harshly. Notwithstanding the treatment of Charlotte, this is a biography I would recommend to anyone interested in the most remarkable family in nineteenth-century literature.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Stevenson

    I've recently been working with another writer on her biography and the words 'walk in their shoes' came to mind. I've been tracing the steps of the past. This is also what Samantha Ellis does in her book Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the art of life. She shows us Anne's life through her eyes, and also tells us a bit about her own journey. It's a fascinating read and refreshingly grounded in modern life, some of her comments made me laugh. Her pride in Anne and the way she shows Anne was more th I've recently been working with another writer on her biography and the words 'walk in their shoes' came to mind. I've been tracing the steps of the past. This is also what Samantha Ellis does in her book Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the art of life. She shows us Anne's life through her eyes, and also tells us a bit about her own journey. It's a fascinating read and refreshingly grounded in modern life, some of her comments made me laugh. Her pride in Anne and the way she shows Anne was more than just 'the third sister' will stay with me. My only regret (and hers too) is that Anne didn't live long enough and write enough to make this work a lot longer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Avril

    A wonderful book. I've always liked Anne's writings, but her life seemed much less interesting than the lives of Charlotte and Emily. Ellis writes her as a brave, intelligent, deeply thoughtful and religious woman, who I would have enjoyed meeting. The only problem is that Ellis references so many other books by and about Anne that I now want to read and reread that she's added another eight to my already-enormous 'to be read' pile. A wonderful book. I've always liked Anne's writings, but her life seemed much less interesting than the lives of Charlotte and Emily. Ellis writes her as a brave, intelligent, deeply thoughtful and religious woman, who I would have enjoyed meeting. The only problem is that Ellis references so many other books by and about Anne that I now want to read and reread that she's added another eight to my already-enormous 'to be read' pile.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.