The supreme gift of the authoress of Villette and Jane Eyrey as a painter of emotions, an interpreter of intimate moods, a witness in the cause of ideal sentiments, an incessant rebel against vulgarity and common worldliness, and the stupid tyranny of custom, an upholder of the sovereignty of romance, cannot be weighed against, nor judged by, the same standards as the accomplished literary gift of such finished artists as the authors of Pride and Prejudice and Cranford, such subtle students of character as the authors of Middlemarch and Robert Elsmere, such vigorous fighters for intellectual and moral ends as are represented by the author of the Illustrations upon Political Economy, and the Atkinson Letters. And it is because, as a result of judging her genius and her personality from the standpoint of false impressions, Charlotte Bronte has not been recognised in England as a painter of personal emotions, a Romantic in short, but has been judged as the advocate of a general doctrine (one very agreeable to the convictions of the average man, but especially exasperating to the aspirations and principles of the superior woman) I mean, the doctrine that to obtain the love of a man whom she feels to be and rejoices to recognise as her 'Master' - is the supreme desire and dream of every truly feminine heart it is because, I say, of this mistake, that Charlotte has become the idol of a class of critics least qualified perhaps to appreciate the merits of a romantic rebel against conventional domesticity ; whilst amongst more naturally sympathetic judges, the peculiar perfume and power of these novels, steeped in and saturated with the passionate essence of a personal romance, has not been recognised either for what it really is, the magic of Charlotte Bronte ; the special quality in her work that gives it originality and distinction ; but this very quality the personal note ' that makes her our only English Romantic Novelist, has been signalised by many sincere admirers of her books as a defect !

Frederika MacDonald, The Secret of Charlotte Bronte