This edition contains the original and unabridged text of Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
Shirley is an 1849 social novel by the English novelist Charlotte Brontë. It was Brontës second published novel after Jane Eyre (originally published under Brontës pseudonym Currer Bell). The novel is set in Yorkshire in the period 1811-12, during the industrial depression resulting from the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. The novel is set against a backdrop of the Luddite uprisings in the Yorkshire textile industry.
The novels popularity led to Shirleys becoming a womans name. The title character was given the name that her father had intended to give a son. Before the publication of the novel, Shirley was an uncommon - but distinctly male - name and would have been an unusual name for a woman. Today it is regarded as a distinctly female name and an uncommon male name.
While Brontë was writing Shirley, three of her siblings died. Her brother Branwell died in September 1848, and her sister Emily fell ill and died in December. Brontë resumed writing, but then her only remaining sibling, her sister Anne, became ill and died in May 1849.
It is believed that the character of Caroline Helstone was loosely based on Anne and it has been speculated that Brontë originally planned to kill off Caroline but changed her mind because of her family tragedies. Shirley is what Brontë believed her sister, Emily Brontë, would have been if she had been born into a wealthy family. The maiden name of Mrs. Pryor is Agnes Grey, the name of the main character in Annes first novel. She was based on Margaret Wooler, the principal of Roe Head School, which Brontë attended as both student and teacher.