Charlotte Bronte, the third of six children, was born April 21, 1816, to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell Bronte in Yorkshire, England. Along with her sisters, Emily and Anne, she produced some of the most impressive writings of the 19th century. The Brontes lived in a time when women used pseudonyms to conceal their female identity, hence Bronte's pseudonym, Currer Bell. Charlotte Bronte was only five when her mother died of cancer. In 1824, she and three of her sisters attended the Clergy Daughter's School in Cowan Bridge. The inspiration for the Lowood School in the classic Jane Eyre was formed by Bronte's experiences at the Clergy Daughter's School. Her two older sisters died of consumption because of the malnutrition and harsh treatment they suffered at the school. Charlotte and Emily Bronte returned home after the tragedy. The Bronte sisters fueled each other's creativity throughout their lives. As young children, they wrote long stories together about a complex imaginary kingdom they created from a set of wooden soldiers. In 1846, Charlotte Bronte, with her sisters Emily and Anne published a thin volume titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. In the same year, Charlotte Bronte attempted to publish her novel, The Professor, but was rejected. One year later, she published Jane Eyre, which was instantly well received. Charlotte Bronte's life was touched by tragedy many times. Despite several proposals of marriage, she did not accept an offer until 1854 when she married the Reverend A. B. Nicholls. One year later, at the age of 39, she died of pneumonia while she was pregnant. Her previously rejected novel, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857.
Helen Benedict teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her profiles of authors and celebrities have appeared in magazines throughout the country, including The New York Times Book Reviewand Esquire.
Sara Gruen was born in Canada. She became a US citizen and was working as a technical writer here in 1999. Two years later she was laid off and decided to become a full-time writer of fiction. She is married and lives in North Carolina with her husband, three children, dogs, cats, horses and a goat. She is one of a very few number of people who has actually visited the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. There she was researching the bonobos monkeys and began writing her novel, Ape House. Her earlier bestselling novel, Water For Elephants, will soon be made into a movie.
Adriana Trigiani grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. She graduated from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. She was a writer for The Cosby Show and A Different World. Her debut novel, Big Stone Gap, was published in 2001. Her other works include Big Cherry Holler; Milk Glass Moon; Home to Big Stone Gap; Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; Rococo; Very Valentine; Viola in Reel Life; and The Shoemaker's Wife. She also wrote a cookbook entitled Cooking with My Sisters and a non-fiction book entitled Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers. Her title Shoemaker's Wife made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.