No. 4: Charlotte Brontë (not) at 40

Charlotte Bronte

The Brontë siblings were arguably some of the most influential writers of the Victorian era, but any discussion of the Brontës at 40 is somewhat hindered by the fact that not one of the Brontë children survived to the age of 40. But a writer’s legacy does not end with their life, and in Charlotte’s case, the 40th year after her birth heralded a dramatic boost to her reputation. Continue reading “No. 4: Charlotte Brontë (not) at 40”


No. 3: William Shakespeare at 40



Chandos Shakespeare

In 1604, at the age of forty, William Shakespeare was a well-known and wealthy man, owning property in Stratford and London, and performing before the Royal Court. By this age he had already written some of his most famous works including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice. This rise to success had irked others along the way, including the playwright Robert Greene, who had named him an ‘upstart crow’. Greene appears bitter when he stated that: Continue reading “No. 3: William Shakespeare at 40”

No. 2: Aphra Behn at 40

Aphra Behn

A discussion of Aphra Behn at 40 immediately hits into trouble given that we have yet to agree exactly when she was born. Aphra Behn, born Johnson (we think), may have been the daughter of a Leuitenant General, or instead the daughter of a barber in Kent. While the debate continues to rage over that, we think – think – that whoever her father was, she was born around 1640. This would put her 40th birthday in 1680, and a good year for her at that. Continue reading “No. 2: Aphra Behn at 40”

No. 1: Charles Dickens at 40

Dickens 1852 cleanshavenIt was in February 1852 that Charles Dickens turned 40; this would be the year he would commence writing what many consider to be his most accomplished novel (and the only one to mention dinosaurs), Bleak House. Continue reading “No. 1: Charles Dickens at 40”