Study Guide

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Preface

By Avi


An Important Warning

  • The preface to the novel, entitled "An Important Warning," is an introduction to the novel written by an adult version of Charlotte Doyle.
  • Charlotte warns the reader that her tale is not a conventional one. Among other things, she's "accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty" (preface.1).
  • Looking back on her life, the adult Charlotte sets the scene for the tale that will follow.
  • The Following Are Things Adult Charlotte Wants You to Know:
  • The year of young Charlotte's voyage was 1832, and she was a happy girl who wanted nothing more than to be a lady.
  • Though she's American by birth, Charlotte grew up in England from the ages of six to thirteen.
  • Charlotte's father was a cotton manufacturer working in England for an American company.
  • Charlotte's father had been summoned to America and returned to the family's home in Providence, Rhode Island, along with his wife and Charlotte's younger brother and sister.
  • Charlotte stayed behind in England to finish her school term at Barrington School for Better Girls, run by Miss Weed.
  • Charlotte's parents made arrangements for her to return to America on a separate ship. All of this was done with the utmost judgment and planning.
  • The voyage of one or two months was to occur during the summer months so that Charlotte wouldn't miss school.
  • The ship's captain was reputable and known for his quick passages across the ocean.
  • The ship also happened to be owned by Charlotte's father's firm, and she was to travel with two families who were to act as her guardians during the voyage.
  • Given the precautions taken by her parents, Charlotte looked forward to the trip as an exciting vacation.
  • Charlotte's father gave her a blank journal in which to record her journey. Her father thought this exercise would be educational. He promised to read and comment on the journal at the end her trip.