Bronte Sisters : Frequently Asked Questions

Bronte sisters

Bronte Sisters

Answers to common questions found on Google.

Charlotte, Emily and Anne were three remarkable women who are famous for their novels and have been hailed as some of the greatest authors in British history. Their works continue to be appreciated and read today, but they also had a fascinating life that makes them worth remembering beyond the successes of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

The most famous work is arguably “Jane Eyre,” which was written by Charlotte and published in 1847. The novel tells the story of a governess named Jane who falls in love with her employer Mr Rochester. It is one of the earliest examples of feminism in literature as Jane fights for equality at home and at work against sexist societal norms.

The novel Wuthering Heights, written by Emily, also became a major success and is a deeply complex and passionate story. The narrative revolves around the lives of two main characters: Catherine and Heathcliff. To fully understand this tale one has to delve into the depths of these two very flawed people’s minds; their motivations for revenge, love, hate, and sorrow are all intertwined in the pages that make up this classic work of literature.

Anne wrote her debut novel in 1847, at the age of 26. “Agnes Grey” tells the story of a poor governess who leaves her abusive employer after just six months and becomes a school teacher in another family. The book is a critique of the social inequality that existed in England during this time period.

In the 19th century, England was a time of great change and uncertainty. The Industrial Revolution was changing society forever, and questioning the status-quo was becoming more and more common.

They were pioneers of women’s literature when it wasn’t very common for women to write at all. Their work focused on female characters which was also revolutionary.

[published dates in brackets]

They contributed poems to a collection of poetry, entitled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell which was published in 1846.

  • Charlotte wrote the novel Jane Eyre (1846), Shirley (1849), Villette (1853) and The Professor (1857 after her death).
  • Emily wrote Wuthering Heights (1847).
  • Anne wrote Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall(1848).

At the time, it was not common for women to write novels, so they used non-gender pseudonyms with the same initials to be taken seriously and get their work published.

Charlotte used Currer Bell, Emily used Ellis Bell and Anne used Acton Bell.

There were five: Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

They were born in Thornton near Bradford then moved to the parsonage in the village of Haworth, West Yorkshire.

There are no known photographs of them but a photo with “The Bronte Sisters” written on the reverse was found in France.

No. Their father, Patrick, was from Northern Ireland but they were born and lived in England.

Patrick Brontë was curate at Haworth Church, was an energetic campaigner on a wide range of religious, social and political issues, and a tolerant, attentive father to the famous children.

It is believed that Charlotte was approx. 4 feet 10 inches, Emily was 5 feet 6 inches and it is not known how tall Anne was, though she too was thought to have been small in stature.

There’s no collective figure for the income they received, but Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre, was an instant success, catapulting her into literary fame.

She also made £500 at the time, which is twenty-five times the salary of a governess. This is equivalent to approx £50,000 today, taken from an online converter from 1848 to 2021, but may not be accurate.

It is also not known about re-publishing fees she may have received.

The Bronte Parsonage Museum is by the graveyard of St Michael and All Angels Church at the top of the village of Haworth, Yorkshire, England.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (1818–1906) who became curate of Haworth.

Their mother, Maria died of cancer some twenty months after giving birth to their youngest child, Anne.

Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily spent time at Cowan Bridge, a school for less prosperous clergy, for a short time.

Maria and Elizabeth became gravely ill from tuberculosis in the aftermath of a typhoid outbreak at the school. They were brought home and eventually died.

Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne were schooled by the aunt Elizabeth Branwell.

  • Maria: Born in 1814 and died in Haworth at the age of 11, on 6 May 1825.
  • Elizabeth: Born in 1815 and died at the age of 10, on 15 June 1825.
  • Emily: Born in 1818 and died at the age of 30, on 19 December 1848.
  • Anne: Born in 1820 and died at the age of 29, died on 28 May 1849.
  • Charlotte: Born in 1816 and died at the age of 38, on 31 March 1855.

When the sisters were alive, they all used pseudonyms to help get their books published and it was not known that there was any relation between them.

However, a year after the deaths of Anne and Emily, Charlotte revealed their true identities for public record so as to immortalise their work with these novelists.

Emily and Anne died from various forms of tuberculosis. Charlotte became pregnant and likely died from hyperemesis gravidarum, a complication which causes excessive nausea and vomiting.

Most of the family including the father Patrick, mother Maria and five of their children: Elizabeth, Maria, Branwell, Emily and Charlotte are interred in the family vault beneath the floor at the east end of Haworth Parish Church.

Anne is buried at St Mary’s Church in the seaside town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Emily Brontë Poems

A Little While

A little while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.

Where wilt thou go, my harassed heart–
What thought, what scene invites thee now
What spot, or near or far apart,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?

There is a spot, ‘mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But, if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.

The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight’s dome;
But what on earth is half so dear–
So longed for–as the hearth of home?

The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o’ergrown,
I love them–how I love them all!

Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away;
And from the midst of cheerless gloom,
I passed to bright, unclouded day.

A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side.

A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.

That was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway’s sweep,
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.

Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy’s power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.

Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.

No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear
0 God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

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