Happy Birthday Charlotte Bronte


97h/17/vict/0382/58Writer Charlotte Brontë was born on this day, April 21, 1816, in Thornton, Yorkshire, England.  She was supposedly the most outspoken and ambitious of the Brontës, which was unusual for a woman of her time and background. In fact Charlotte was raised in a strict Anglican home by her clergyman father and a religious aunt after her mother and two eldest siblings died.

She and her sister Emily attended the Clergy Daughter’s School at Cowan Bridge, but were largely educated at home. Though she tried to earn a living as both a governess and a teacher, Brontë missed her sisters and eventually returned home.  

jane eyre book coverA writer all her life, Brontë published her first novel, Jane Eyre, in 1847 under the manly pseudonym Currer Bell. Though controversial in its criticism of society’s treatment of impoverished women, the book was an immediate hit. She followed the success with Shirley in 1848 and Villette in 1853.

Strangely the passing of the Brontë siblings are almost as notable as their literary legacy. Her brother, Branwell, and Emily died in 1848 both of tuberculosis and other complications in the case of Branwell who had appeared to have become something of a trial to his family although dearly loved by his sisters, and Anne died the following year.

bronte familyThis painting of the three sisters originally included their brother Branwell but he was dissatisfied with it and painted himself out, it now hangs in the National gallery in the UK.

In 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, but died the following year during her pregnancy, on March 31, 1855, in Haworth, Yorkshire, England. The first novel she ever wrote, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857.

15 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Charlotte Bronte

  1. A very nice piece of a time when literature produced some of its best works. Charlotte Bronte’s, Jane Eyre, is certainly one of those works.

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    • You wonder if she would have continued to write if she had survived the birth – it was a different time them. If she did I wonder what gems we’ve missed.

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  2. It’s incredible to think of how truncated the lives of many of our classics writers were and what a wealth of works they might have written had they lived post antibiotics and vaccinations…

    This is a timely post for me as I’ve just finished teaching ‘Jane Eyre’ to Year 10, who (despite my insistence!) couldn’t quite appreciate the complex sentence structure and antiquated values of the nineteenth century.

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