On the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth
by Jeanette Winterson
Saturday 16 April 2016 08.00 BST
We didn’t have books at home except for the Bible and books about the Bible. But Mrs Winterson, my mother, must have been well read at one time because she decided to read Jane Eyre to me when I was seven. Jane Eyre was deemed suitable because it has a minister in it, St John Rivers, who is keen on missionary work. There is the terrible fire at Thornfield Hall and poor Mr Rochester goes blind, but Jane doesn’t bother about her now sightless paramour; she marries St John Rivers and they go off together to the mission field. My mother read out loud, turning the pages and inventing the text extempore in the style of Brontë. Only years later, reading it for myself, did I discover what she had done. It was an invaluable lesson for a writer; no story is the final one.