By MICHAEL CAINES
Some writers float in and out and then back into fashion (no more about John Williams's Stoner for now, please); some sink like the obviously solid objects they are; others seem to become lily pads fit for the critical frogs to bask on, thinking their fine, fly-focused thoughts. (There must be more types, but mercifully I'm out of rubbish metaphors.) Charlotte Brontë, in case you were in any doubt, seems never to have been in any danger of losing buoyancy – she was born 200 years ago today, and has been assured of some kind of attention since 1847 at least, when the publication of Jane Eyre by "Currer Bell" triggered such excitement and curiosity about the pseudonymous author. The novel's immediate reception is well known: Elizabeth Rigby's damning of its "gross inconsistencies and improbabilities", as well as Jane's "unregenerate and undisciplined spirit"; G. H. Lewes's enthusiasm for this "utterance from the depths of a struggling, suffering, much-enduring spirit". What happened after that?