Join our panel of Brontë enthusiasts as they discuss Charlotte Brontë’s visionary feminist statement, Jane Eyre. What makes the novel and its titular heroine such potent feminist forces? What are the different feminist readings of the novel and what were Charlotte’s intentions as she created a novel so at odds with the attitudes of its time?

Rebecca Fraser is author of ‘The Brontës: Charlotte Brontë and her Family’ and brings a wealth of experience to the topic. She is joined by academic, broadcaster and specialist in Victorian literature Dinah Birch and Donna Lee, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at the University of Bradford. Together they’ll discuss the feminist legacy of one of our greatest female protagonists. Jodie Matthews chairs.


Dinah Birch

Dinah Birch is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool. She has published widely on Victorian literature, especially on Ruskin, the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, and Trollope. She broadcasts regularly and writes for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.

Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser’s first book was an important feminist biography of Charlotte Brontë. From 2001-2008 she was President of the Brontë Society. She wrote the introduction to the Everyman Edition of ‘Shirley and The Professor’; her new book on the Mayflower and early colonial England comes out this autumn from Chatto and Windus.

Donna Lee

Professor Donna Lee is Director of the Future Economies Research Centre, where she leads a large team developing research to inform and shape economic policy, working with business and policy makers in cities, regions and Whitehall. Donna has also worked with the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, Oxfam and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Jodie Matthews

Jodie is an academic and critic specialising in 19th-century literature and culture and the ways in which we interpret texts from that period. She is a proud feminist and left-winger, and firmly believes in research and writing that is politically aware and engaged.