The Professor is Charlotte Brontë's last published novel (1857), however it was her first attempt at a publishable novel: it was written before Jane Eyre but refused by Smith, Elder & Co, who said they would be interested in something longer. And so The Professor was never published in Brontë's lifetime, something I dare say wouldn't have concerned her and she referred to her feelings for the novel as being "paralleled by those of a doting parent to an idiot child"!
Like Villette, The Professor was inspired by her time in Brussels in the early part of the 1840s, but unlike her other novels The Professor's protagonist is a man: William Crimsworth. Refusing to become a clergyman, he goes to work as a tradesman with his brother Edward. However, unable to stand Edward's jealous nastiness, he accepts an offer to work in Brussels in an all-boys boarding school. Such is his success he goes on to accept an offer from the headmistress (Mlle. Reuter) of an all-girls school. He initially falls for Mlle. Reuter, only to discover she is to marry M. Pelet. Nevertheless, when she introduces him to Frances and he begins to feel affection for her, Mlle. Reuter is jealous and sends Frances away. William leaves the school and tries to find Frances.
I take no pleasure in saying I found this a very tedious novel, though it is Brontë's shortest novel so it wasn't too much of a trial! It was frustrating too be cause I loved it at first, but I seem to have lost my way somewhere after page 50. The basic premise for it - a young man growing up and making his life alone in Brussels - was interesting: I do like these 'coming of age' as it were novels. But I couldn't find anything in William that I especially liked, and I didn't think his character was terribly well portrayed, so I couldn't feel anything at all when I read it, and my concentration lapsed more than once. But I am a huge admirer of Jane Eyre and Shirley, and having read Villette too it seemed a shame not to re-visit The Professor. At the very least I would say it makes for an interesting comparison with Brontë's other novels.
On the plus side, though - I did find five of the six illustrations of the novel by Edmund Dulac! If or when I find the missing sixth I shall add it, but for now, here are the five: