This book sets out to interpret the fiction of the Brontë sisters in light of a Marxist analysis of the historical conditions in which it was produced. Its aim is not merely to relate literary facts, but by a close critical examination of the novels, to find in them a significant structure of ideas and values which related to the Brontës' ambiguous situation within the class system of their society. Its intention is to forge close relations between the novels, nineteenth-century ideology, and historical forces, in order to illuminate the novels themselves in a radically new perspective. When originally published in 1975 (second edition in 1988), it was the first full-length Marxist study of the Brontës and is now reissued to celebrate 30 years since its first publication. It includes a new Introduction by Terry Eagleton that reflects on the changes that have happened in Marxist literary criticism since 1988, and situates this reissue in current debates.