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Lucy Snowe, in flight from an unhappy past, leaves England and finds work as a teacher in Madame Beck's school in Villette. Strongly drawn to the fiery autocratic schoolmaster Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Lucy is compelled by Madame Beck's jealous interference to assert her right to love and to be loved. Based in part on Charlotte Bronte's experience in Brussels ten years earlier, Villette is coloured by her sadness and isolation after the deaths of her brother and sisters in 1848 and 1849, and by the traumatic circumstances of her subsequent emergence, alone, into public literary life. From these events Bronte fashions an autobiographical novel that is also a powerful examination of literary celebrity and female authorship in mid-Victorian Britain.