About the Book
The first book ever to emerge from Charlotte Brontë’s pen, The Professor is an autobiographically inspired romantic love story set in Brussels. Thinly veiling her personal experiences, Brontë unusually uses a male narrator, making this a fascinating and unique read. With the action played out in dark boarding-school classrooms and windy streets, Brontë weaves a tale of much emotion – one that foresees the longer, better-known saga Villette that was to follow many years later.
Fresh out of Eton, orphaned William Crimsworth finds himself in an unenviable situation – a clerk to his little-educated, caddish mill-owner brother – until opportunity presents itself for a complete change of fortune. Crimsworth is offered a job in Brussels as a teacher in an all-girls boarding school, run by a M Pelet. Later headhunted to a better position by the beguiling Zoraide Reuter, Crimsworth believes himself slightly enamoured with his new employer – only to discover her secretly and perfidiously engaged to M Pelet.
His new position almost intolerable, Crimsworth finds solace in teaching Frances Henri, a young Swiss-English seamstress teacher with promising intelligence and ear for language. Mlle Reuter though, jealous of the young professor’s obvious partiality, dismisses Frances from her position. Crimsworth, in despair, is forced to resign from the school and takes up a ghostly existence in Brussels, roaming the streets in the hopes of finding his Frances.
An often neglected classic, The Professor is not only a compellingly written novel but fascinating in its concern with gender issues, religion and social class, making it a book still studied today.