Orphaned in his boyhood, William Crimsworth was sent to Eton by aristocratic relatives who withdrew their support when he declined to become a clergyman. After a disastrous attempt to join his estranged brother's business, William trades his Yorkshire clerkship for a teaching position at a Belgian boarding school. His loneliness is brightened by a beguiling headmistress, but her sensuous appeal complicates his attraction to a penniless girl who is both a student and teacher. Although published posthumously, The Professor was written before Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë's other novels. Readers may recognize the book's autobiographical elements, which — like Villette — center on a love-starved English teacher at a Brussels school. In this case, however, the protagonist is a man, many of whose problems — workplace drudgery, social and romantic isolation — are similar to those of middle-class Victorian women. Brontë's moving portrayal of a social outsider's perspective adds interest to this showcase of her developing style and talent.