I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.’
The quote featured on this tea towel comes from the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. At 16, Brontë was told to give up her dreams of being a writer because ‘literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life: and it ought not to be.’ She replied, ‘I trust I shall never more feel ambitious to see my name in print.’
And she didn’t falter. Despite having her first novel rejected by every publisher in England, Brontë finally published Jane Eyre in 1847 under the pen name, Currer Bell. Although Jane Eyre is not a feminist novel as we would understand it, the central character has many feminist traits. She has the courage to defy the rules of the patriarchal society she inhabits. Her major aim in life is not to get married, but to preserve her identity and her freedom. Jane shared this aim with her creator too – Brontë herself had formed a pact with her friends when she was young never to never get married, and resisted all proposals until aged 38.
We hope this empowering literary gift serves as a reminder to not write women off…