Writer 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.
A 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.
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.