Thornycroft Hall (1864) by Emma Jane Worboise
Thanks to reader, Shoshana, I stumbled upon this rewrite of Jane Eyre. A very… interesting one.
Published in 1864, Thornycroft Hall has more than a few echoes of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which appeared some eighteen years earlier. It seems that the evangelical Emma Jane Worboise felt the need to provide a more "Christian" version of the earlier novel, including not only a spirited defence of Rev. William Carus Wilson and "Lowood School", but also repeatedly urging the necessity for immediate acceptance of Christ.
I have not had the time to read much of it, but here are a few more excerpts from literaryheritage.org.uk:
The similarities between the opening chapters of this book and Jane Eyre are striking. An orphaned girl is brought up by uncongenial relations, and a furious (though justified) temper tantrum leads to her being sent away to school. But here the novels diverge: Ellen is very happy at the Clergy Daughters' School, and defends both it and Rev. William Carus Wilson vigorously from Charlotte Bronte's strictures.
And it was no "Do-the-girls Hall," as some people have asserted: I here
solemnly declare that during the whole of my residence–nearly five years–I never saw the table otherwise than plentifully and wholesomely supplied…I confess that sometimes, at the breakfast hour, our olfactory nerves were saluted with a perceptible odour of burnt porridge; but I have known the milk to be burnt now and then at Thornycroft Hall; and certainly our bread and butter was cut in "planks," not slices, and the butter was, perhaps, a little hard to find…but if you had seen the large dishes-full replenished again and again till every girl was satisfied; if you had seen them passing down the long narrow tables in the lofty eating-room, disappearing with astonishing rapidity; if you had counted the number of "planks" each young lady consumed, you would not have imagined any pupil to be badly served.
The pious and slightly priggish Marshall Cleaton is certainly no Mr. Rochester, but he and his mother are surprisingly appealing characters, despite the rather heavy-handed evangelistic fervour they both display.
…Pious and priggish? The full e-text is now listed in the sidebar.