Charlotte Bronte was thirty-six when she wrote Villette, and the peaks of her life's experience were already passed. The profound impressions of her childhood, the day-dream world in which for so many years she had taken a feverish and creative pleasure, the dazzling success of Jane Eyre the all but unendurable grief of the loss of her two sisters - all these were now in the past. She was an established and successful author, and she was alone. Her earlier novels, The Professor, rejected by many publishers and now laid aside, Jane Eyre, and the greater part of Shirley, had all been written in an atmosphere of intimate sympathy, the three sisters working together on their different tales, three heads bent attentively over the same table. Now Charlotte was alone, lost youth, with the whole experience of her lost youth, with the world of her imagination still splendidly vital, but with a heart sobered by what it had learned of life. Another writer might have turned to some untried field for a next novel, but Charlotte Bronte's mind still carried a theme of which she had tried to rid herself in The Professor, but with such a sober hand and under such disguises that the heart of the matter had never been wholly expressed. It was six years, now, since she had come back from Brussels four years, perhaps, since she could count herself cured of the misery she had brought with her. The last thing was in perspective now, at last it could be dealt with. The Professor had been laid like a salve on a fresh wound, but now the scar would bear the artist's scrutiny she was ready for Villette.