The story of the tragic Bronte family is familiar to everyone: we all know about the half-mad, repressive father, the drunken, drug-addicted wastrel of a brother, wild romantic Emily, unrequited Anne and "poor Charlotte". Or do we? These stereotypes of the popular imagination are precisely that - imaginary - created by amateur biographers from Mrs Gaskell onwards who were primarily novelists, and were attracted by the tale of an apparently doomed family of genius. Later biographers still repeat her mistakes, and have, without exception, relied on the bowdlerised texts published by T.J. Wise, a forger. Juliet Barker's landmark book is the first definitive history of the Brontes. It demolishes the myths, yet provides startling new information that is just as compelling - but true. Based on firsthand research among all the Bronte manuscripts, many so tiny they can only be read by magnifying glass, and among contemporary historical documents never before used by Bronte biographers, this book is both scholarly and compulsively readable.