I read my first Victorian novel at the tender age of 14. It was Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and I was an immediate fan. I admired the titular character's independent cast of mind, even as she grew up under the thumb of cruel guardians, teachers, and punishing circumstances. The author's biography was another reason to love her. As an adolescent in the hinterlands myself, with mainly books and my imagination (and, ok, TV) to amuse me, I felt a kinship with Charlotte and her siblings. Tampa may not have been Haworth Parsonage exactly, but my 14 year old self wanted to believe we were kindred spirits. Back then, books had such a hold on my imagination, they were more real than my waking life; their characters and their creators walked the school halls with me, whispering commentary in my ear as I made my way to class or tried to concentrate on a lecture. I'm happy to say that even now, Jane Eyre still satisfies. I read it every couple of years, and I'm always impressed with Jane's insistence that she live her life according to her own ideas, and no one else's. So here's a portrait of one of my favorite writers, with the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire moors of her home. Couldn't you just see her sitting at the back of the classroom, whispering ironies in my ear?