"Villette, Villette. Have you read it?" exclaimed George Eliot when Charlotte Brontë's final novel appeared in 1853. "I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre. There is something almost preternatural in its power." Virginia Woolf judged Villette to be Brontë's finest novel.
Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was born in the old parsonage at Thornton, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. She was the daughter of a clergyman, who, in 1820, moved with his family to Haworth. In 1845 literary life in Haworth commenced in earnest. Jane Eyre was published in October 1847, followed by Shirley in 1849 and Villette in 1853. The Professor, written before Jane Eyre, was rejected by many publishing houses, and published posthumously in 1857.
A work of astonishing power and passion. In it we read the actual thoughts and feelings of a strong, struggling soul.— Westminster Review.
Villette is entitled to take every high place in the literature of fiction. The reader will find character nicely conceived and powerfully depicted; he will discover much quiet humour, a lively wit, brilliant dialogue, vivid descriptions, reflections both new and true, sentiment free from cant and conventionality, and bursts of eloquence and poetry flashing here and there.—Critic.
Villette may claim the unhesitating commendations of readers and critics. The autobiography of the heroine is at once natural, interesting, cheerful, piquant, and thoughtful.—Britannia.