Brontë sisters

The Brontë sisters
   Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë and their brother Branwell lived with their father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë  in a parsonage high above the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, England. Their mother had died when Anne was a year old. There were no other children nearby for the Brontës  to play with. They walked on the moors, read books, and wrote stories about imaginary places called Angria, Condal, and Gaaldine. The stories were more real to them than their own lives.

   Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816. Like her younger sisters, she wrote poetry as well as stories. In 1846 the sisters joined together to publish Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. To hide their true identities, Charlotte called herself Currer, Emily was Ellis, and Anne was Acton.

   The sisters had also been working on nov­els. Anne's and Emily's were accepted for publication, but Charlotte's novel, The Professor, was rejected. Finally one publisher expressed an interest in her work, so she finished Jane Eyre, her second novel, and sent it off. She drew on her own life in this novel. Like her main character, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was once a governess in a large house. The school where Jane Eyre taught was modeled after one that the Brontë sisters attended. Jane Eyre, published in 1847, was an immediate success. Her third novel, Shirley, was published in 1849, and her last novel, Villette. in 1853. The Professor was finally published in 1857, after her death.

   Emily Brontë was born on July 30, 1818. She wrote only one novel, Wuthering Heights. which was published under her pen name. Ellis Bell, in 1847. It was not so popular at the time as Jane Eyre, but it is the most imaginative and poetic of all the Brontës novels. Set on the wild Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights tells the love story of Catherine Earnshaw and the gypsy Heathcliff.
   Anne Brontë was born on January 17, 1820. She worked for many years as a governess. and her first novel, Agnes Grey (1847), was about that experience. Her second novel was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848).

   Fame made huge difference in the lives of the sisters, since their identities were still unknown to the public. Their father did not know of their success until much later. Their brother Branwell never knew. A failure at painting and writing, he took to drink and opium and died on September 24, 1848, at the age of 31.

   Branwell's death was the first of a series of tragedies for the Brontës. Emily caught cold at her brother's funeral and became very ill. She refused all care and died less than three months later, on December 19, 1848. Her dog, Keeper, followed her coffin to the grave. On May 28, 1849, Anne also died of tubercu­losis.

   Charlotte lived for six more years, but life seemed empty to her without her sisters and brother. She let her real name be known after a rumor spread that Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell were all the same person, but she was too shy to enter into society. She did travel to London occasionally. There she met literary celebrities of the day, including the novelists Elizabeth Gaskell, who later wrote a biography of Charlotte, and William Makepeace Thackeray. Charlotte married her father's cur­ate, Arthur Nicholls, less than a year before her death on March 31, 1855.