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Biography: Charlotte Brontë

(On being told that literature is not a woman's business) "I trust I shall never more feel ambitious to see my name in print; if the wish should rise, I'll look at Southey's letter, and suppress it."

Charlotte Brontë is remembered for her literary masterpieces and her short, tragic life. Her contribution to English literature has been highly praised, and is not likely to fade into obscurity any time soon.


Charlotte Brontë was born of the 21st of April, 1816, in Yorkshire, England. She was the middle sister out of five, and she had one brother. In 1820, the family moved to Hanworth, as Brontë's father had been appointed work there as a clergyman.

In 1821, Brontë's mother died, and they were left in the care of their maternal aunt. In 1824, the four eldest daughters were sent to the Clergy Daughter's School in Lancashire. The conditions were apparently very poor, and Brontë's two elder sisters died from tuberculosis shortly after leaving the school in 1825. The surviving four siblings stayed at home in the Hawthorn Parsonage and created intricate imaginary kingdoms and wrote prolifically about them.

Brontë continued her education from 1831 to 1832 at Roe Head School, and in 1833 wrote her first novel, which she published under a pseudonym. She returned to the school from 1835 to 1838 as a teacher. She then became a governess to various families in the Yorkshire area, a career she undertook until 1841. In 1842, Brontë and her sister Emily travelled to Brussells to study. During this time the maternal aunt of the girls who had looked after them when their mother died, died, and the girls returned home. Brontë went back to Brussells to teach in 1843, but became depressed and homesick and returned home in 1844.

The three sisters tried to open their own school, which was a failure. There were no applicants. After this attempt, they published, both together and separately, under their male pseudonyms. None of their works were overly successful during this time.

In 1848, Brontë's brother died of a combination of illnesses exacerbated by heavy drinking. Brontë's remaining siblings, Emily and Anne, both died shortly after (1848 and 1849 respectively).

Brontë's Jane Eyre, which had been published in 1847, had become enormously successful. She visited London often, and after her identity as the author had been revealed, began to move in literary circles. She was never away for long, however, having to care for her aging father.

Brontë was courted by Arthur Bell Nicholas against the wishes of her father. Although it is said that Brontë didn't love him, they married in 1854, and she fell pregnant shortly after. Her health declined rapidly, and she and her unborn child died on the 31st of March 1855.


Fiction - Novels

  • Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Shirley (1849)
  • Villette (1853)
  • The Professor (1857)


  • Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846)
  • Selected Poems of The Brontës (1997)


The works of Charlotte Brontë are fall very much within the Classic literature genre.