Book Week: All About Charlotte Bronte
After reading a good book I often save the authors biography for last. To me, it's like whip cream on top of hot chocolate. Even the short bio written on a book jacket is a treat to me. So, of course, I had to research Charlotte Bronte. I'm ashamed to say I knew nothing about her. Now, after knowing the basics of her life, I more greatly appreciate Jane Eyre. It's important to me to try and imagine the mind that a story came from. I feel more connected with the main character and with the author after learning more about her. I almost feel like if we lived in the same time we would have been friends. Although, I should say, I would prefer her to live now than me to live then. Here's to Charlotte Bronte and a work of fiction that was able to reach me in a future probably unimaginable to her.
A Brief Biography
Charlotte Bronte was the third of six children. She was born on April 21, 1816 at Thornton, Bradford in Yorkshire. There are many myths about the quality of home life for the Bronte children, some of the stories include gunfire and the destruction of their dying mothers silk dress by their father. While these stories are regarded as false, the home life of the Bronte children was less than ideal. The childhoods of Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother Branwell was shrouded in death. First their mother died of cancer and then their older sisters Maria and Elizabeth died of consumption (tuberculosis). It didn't help that Branwell was a drug addict and an alcoholic. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne cared for their brother during his collapses, psychosis, and eventually his death.
Charlotte, Emily, and Anne found solace in each other and their imaginations. At night they would share poems and stories they had written. They were each educated and were enrolled in several schools. Charlotte did some work as a teacher and governess, but eventually quit. In 1846, the three sister published several poems. They each wrote under pseudonyms: Acton Bell (Anne Bronte), Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte), and Ellis Bell (Emily Bronte). Charlotte also completed The Professor, but it was not published. However, the following year, Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wurthering Heights,and Anne's Agnes Grey were all published, still under the Bell pseudonyms.
Emily died in 1848 and a year later Anne died. Charlotte was deeply affected by all the loss she had endured throughout her life, especially after the death of her sisters. In 1852 Rev. A. B. Nichols proposed to Charlotte. Charlotte's father objected the proposal and Charlotte did not love the Reverend, so she refused his proposal. However, in 1854, Rev. A. B. Nichols and Charlotte were engaged and married. Although Charlotte was said to admire her husband, she did not love him. That same year Charlotte became pregnant and sick with pneumonia. The illness could have been cured, but "she seems to have seized upon it (consciously or unconsciously) as an opportunity to end her life, and after a lengthy and painful illness, she died, probably of dehydration."
Resource One: An informative source that provides background information, contemporary reviews, and other Bronte related websites. The reviews are especially interesting because they are from the time Jane Eyre was published. Before people knew she was woman the book was wildly successful, afterwards it was treated with less enthusiasm.
Resource Two: This website provides a more detailed look into the life of the Bronte family.
Resource Three: A website from Haworth Village which provides information on each sister. There are also pictures of the Bronte house and other places of note. All of which has been preserved!