Charlotte Brontë

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Charlotte Brontë_table_infobox_0

Charlotte BrontëCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_0_0
BornCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_1_0 (1816-04-21)21 April 1816

Thornton, EnglandCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_1_1

DiedCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_2_0 31 March 1855(1855-03-31) (aged 38)

Haworth, EnglandCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_2_1

Resting placeCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_3_0 St Michael and All Angels' Church

Haworth, EnglandCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_3_1

Pen nameCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_4_0 Charlotte Brontë_cell_0_4_1
OccupationCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_5_0 Novelist, poet, governessCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_5_1
NationalityCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_6_0 BritishCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_6_1
GenreCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_7_0 Fiction, poetryCharlotte Brontë_cell_0_7_1
Notable worksCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_8_0 Charlotte Brontë_cell_0_8_1
SpouseCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_9_0 Arthur Bell Nicholls

​ ​(m. 1854)​Charlotte Brontë_cell_0_9_1

SignatureCharlotte Brontë_header_cell_0_10_0 Charlotte Brontë_cell_0_10_1

Charlotte Brontë (/ˈʃɑːrlət ˈbrɒnti/, commonly /-teɪ/; 21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels became classics of English literature. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_0

She enlisted in school at Roe Head in January 1831, aged 14 years. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_1

She left the year after to teach her sisters, Emily and Anne, at home, returning in 1835 as a governess. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_2

In 1839 she undertook the role as governess for the Sidgwick family but left after a few months to return to Haworth where the sisters opened a school, but failed to attract pupils. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_3

Instead, they turned to writing and they each first published in 1846 under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_4

Although her first novel, The Professor, was rejected by publishers, her second novel, Jane Eyre, was published in 1847. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_5

The sisters admitted to their Bell pseudonyms in 1848, and by the following year were celebrated in London literary circles. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_6

Brontë was the last to die of all her siblings. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_7

She became pregnant shortly after her marriage in June 1854 but died on 31 March 1855, almost certainly from hyperemesis gravidarum, a complication of pregnancy which causes excessive nausea and vomiting. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_8

Early years and education Charlotte Brontë_section_0

Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in Market Street Thornton, west of Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the third of the six children of Maria (née Branwell) and Patrick Brontë (formerly surnamed Brunty), an Irish Anglican clergyman. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_9

In 1820 her family moved a few miles to the village of Haworth, where her father had been appointed perpetual curate of St Michael and All Angels Church. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_10

Maria died of cancer on 15 September 1821, leaving five daughters, Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and a son, Branwell, to be taken care of by her sister, Elizabeth Branwell. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_11

In August 1824, Patrick sent Charlotte, Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_12

Charlotte maintained that the school's poor conditions permanently affected her health and physical development, and hastened the deaths of Maria (born 1814) and Elizabeth (born 1815), who both died of tuberculosis in June 1825. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_13

After the deaths of his older daughters, Patrick removed Charlotte and Emily from the school. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_14

Charlotte used the school as the basis for Lowood School in Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_15

At home in Haworth Parsonage, Brontë acted as "the motherly friend and guardian of her younger sisters". Charlotte Brontë_sentence_16

Brontë wrote her first known poem at the age of 13 in 1829, and was to go on to write more than 200 poems in the course of her life. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_17

Many of her poems were "published" in their homemade magazine Branwell's Blackwood's Magazine, and concerned the fictional Glass Town Confederacy. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_18

She and her surviving siblings – Branwell, Emily and Anne – created their own fictional worlds, and began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of their imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_19

Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their jointly imagined country, Angria, and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about Gondal. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_20

The sagas they created were episodic and elaborate, and they exist in incomplete manuscripts, some of which have been published as juvenilia. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_21

They provided them with an obsessive interest during childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for literary vocations in adulthood. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_22

Between 1831 and 1832, Brontë continued her education at Roe Head in Mirfield, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_23

In 1833 she wrote a novella, The Green Dwarf, using the name Wellesley. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_24

Around about 1833, her stories shifted from tales of the supernatural to more realistic stories. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_25

She returned to Roe Head as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_26

Unhappy and lonely as a teacher at Roe Head, Brontë took out her sorrows in poetry, writing a series of melancholic poems. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_27

In "We wove a Web in Childhood" written in December 1835, Brontë drew a sharp contrast between her miserable life as a teacher and the vivid imaginary worlds she and her siblings had created. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_28

In another poem "Morning was its freshness still" written at the same time, Brontë wrote "Tis bitter sometimes to recall/Illusions once deemed fair". Charlotte Brontë_sentence_29

Many of her poems concerned the imaginary world of Angria, often concerning Byronic heroes, and in December 1836 she wrote to the Poet Laureate Robert Southey asking him for encouragement of her career as a poet. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_30

Southey , famously, that "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_31

The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation." Charlotte Brontë_sentence_32

This advice she respected but did not heed. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_33

In 1839 she took up the first of many positions as governess to families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_34

In particular, from May to July 1839 she was employed by the Sidgwick family at their summer residence, Stone Gappe, in Lothersdale, where one of her charges was John Benson Sidgwick (1835–1927), an unruly child who on one occasion threw a Bible at Charlotte, an incident that may have been the inspiration for a part of the opening chapter of Jane Eyre in which John Reed throws a book at the young Jane. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_35

Brontë did not enjoy her work as a governess, noting her employers treated her almost as a slave, constantly humiliating her. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_36

Brontë was of slight build and was less than five feet tall. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_37

Brussels and Haworth Charlotte Brontë_section_1

In 1842 Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enrol at the boarding school run by Constantin Héger (1809–1896) and his wife Claire Zoé Parent Héger (1804–1887). Charlotte Brontë_sentence_38

During her time in Brussels, Brontë, who favoured the Protestant ideal of an individual in direct contact with God, objected to the stern Catholicism of Madame Héger, which she considered a tyrannical religion that enforced conformity and submission to the Pope. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_39

In return for board and tuition Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_40

Their time at the school was cut short when their aunt Elizabeth Branwell, who had joined the family in Haworth to look after the children after their mother's death, died of internal obstruction in October 1842. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_41

Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the school. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_42

Her second stay was not happy: she was homesick and deeply attached to Constantin Héger. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_43

She returned to Haworth in January 1844 and used the time spent in Brussels as the inspiration for some of the events in The Professor and Villette. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_44

After returning to Haworth, Charlotte and her sisters made headway with opening their own boarding school in the family home. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_45

It was advertised as "The Misses Brontë's Establishment for the Board and Education of a limited number of Young Ladies" and inquiries were made to prospective pupils and sources of funding. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_46

But none were attracted and in October 1844, the project was abandoned. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_47

First publication Charlotte Brontë_section_2

In May 1846 Charlotte, Emily, and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poems under their assumed names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_48

The pseudonyms veiled the sisters' sex while preserving their initials; thus Charlotte was Currer Bell. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_49

"Bell" was the middle name of Haworth's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls whom Charlotte later married, and "Currer" was the surname of Frances Mary Richardson Currer who had funded their school (and maybe their father). Charlotte Brontë_sentence_50

Of the decision to use noms de plume, Charlotte wrote: Charlotte Brontë_sentence_51

Although only two copies of the collection of poems were sold, the sisters continued writing for publication and began their first novels, continuing to use their noms de plume when sending manuscripts to potential publishers. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_52

The Professor and Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë_section_3

Main article: Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë_sentence_53

Brontë's first manuscript, 'The Professor', did not secure a publisher, although she was heartened by an encouraging response from Smith, Elder & Co. of Cornhill, who expressed an interest in any longer works Currer Bell might wish to send. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_54

Brontë responded by finishing and sending a second manuscript in August 1847. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_55

Six weeks later, Jane Eyre was published. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_56

It tells the story of a plain governess, Jane, who, after difficulties in her early life, falls in love with her employer, Mr Rochester. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_57

They marry, but only after Rochester's insane first wife, of whom Jane initially has no knowledge, dies in a dramatic house fire. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_58

The book's style was innovative, combining naturalism with gothic melodrama, and broke new ground in being written from an intensely evoked first-person female perspective. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_59

Brontë believed art was most convincing when based on personal experience; in Jane Eyre she transformed the experience into a novel with universal appeal. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_60

Jane Eyre had immediate commercial success and initially received favourable reviews. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_61

G. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_62 H. Lewes wrote that it was "an utterance from the depths of a struggling, suffering, much-enduring spirit", and declared that it consisted of "suspiria de profundis!" Charlotte Brontë_sentence_63

(sighs from the depths). Charlotte Brontë_sentence_64

Speculation about the identity and gender of the mysterious Currer Bell heightened with the publication of Wuthering Heights by Ellis Bell (Emily) and Agnes Grey by Acton Bell (Anne). Charlotte Brontë_sentence_65

Accompanying the speculation was a change in the critical reaction to Brontë's work, as accusations were made that the writing was "coarse", a judgement more readily made once it was suspected that Currer Bell was a woman. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_66

However, sales of Jane Eyre continued to be strong and may even have increased as a result of the novel developing a reputation as an "improper" book. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_67

A talented amateur artist, Brontë personally did the drawings for the second edition of Jane Eyre and in the summer of 1834 two of her paintings were shown at an exhibition by the Royal Northern Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Leeds. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_68

Shirley and bereavements Charlotte Brontë_section_4

In 1848 Brontë began work on the manuscript of her second novel, Shirley. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_69

It was only partially completed when the Brontë family suffered the deaths of three of its members within eight months. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_70

In September 1848 Branwell died of chronic bronchitis and marasmus, exacerbated by heavy drinking, although Brontë believed that his death was due to tuberculosis. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_71

Branwell may have had a laudanum addiction. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_72

Emily became seriously ill shortly after his funeral and died of pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1848. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_73

Anne died of the same disease in May 1849. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_74

Brontë was unable to write at this time. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_75

After Anne's death Brontë resumed writing as a way of dealing with her grief, and Shirley, which deals with themes of industrial unrest and the role of women in society, was published in October 1849. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_76

Unlike Jane Eyre, which is written in the first person, Shirley is written in the third person and lacks the emotional immediacy of her first novel, and reviewers found it less shocking. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_77

Brontë, as her late sister's heir, suppressed the republication of Anne's second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, an action which had a deleterious effect on Anne's popularity as a novelist and has remained controversial among the sisters' biographers ever since. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_78

In society Charlotte Brontë_section_5

In view of the success of her novels, particularly Jane Eyre, Brontë was persuaded by her publisher to make occasional visits to London, where she revealed her true identity and began to move in more exalted social circles, becoming friends with Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell, and acquainted with William Makepeace Thackeray and G.H. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_79

Lewes. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_80

She never left Haworth for more than a few weeks at a time, as she did not want to leave her ageing father. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_81

Thackeray's daughter, writer Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, recalled a visit to her father by Brontë: Charlotte Brontë_sentence_82

Brontë's friendship with Elizabeth Gaskell, while not particularly close, was significant in that Gaskell wrote the first biography of Brontë after her death in 1855. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_83

Villette Charlotte Brontë_section_6

Brontë's third novel, the last published in her lifetime, was Villette, which appeared in 1853. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_84

Its main themes include isolation, how such a condition can be borne, and the internal conflict brought about by social repression of individual desire. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_85

Its main character, Lucy Snowe, travels abroad to teach in a boarding school in the fictional town of Villette, where she encounters a culture and religion different from her own and falls in love with a man (Paul Emanuel) whom she cannot marry. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_86

Her experiences result in a breakdown but eventually, she achieves independence and fulfilment through running her own school. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_87

A substantial amount of the novel's dialogue is in the French language. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_88

Villette marked Brontë's return to writing from a first-person perspective (that of Lucy Snowe), the technique she had used in Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_89

Another similarity to Jane Eyre lies in the use of aspects of her own life as inspiration for fictional events, in particular her reworking of the time she spent at the pensionnat in Brussels. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_90

Villette was acknowledged by critics of the day as a potent and sophisticated piece of writing although it was criticised for "coarseness" and for not being suitably "feminine" in its portrayal of Lucy's desires. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_91

Marriage Charlotte Brontë_section_7

Before the publication of Villette, Brontë received an expected proposal of marriage from Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, who had long been in love with her. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_92

She initially turned down his proposal and her father objected to the union at least partly because of Nicholls's poor financial status. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_93

Elizabeth Gaskell, who believed that marriage provided "clear and defined duties" that were beneficial for a woman, encouraged Brontë to consider the positive aspects of such a union and tried to use her contacts to engineer an improvement in Nicholls's finances. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_94

Brontë meanwhile was increasingly attracted to Nicholls and by January 1854 she had accepted his proposal. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_95

They gained the approval of her father by April and married in June. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_96

Her father Patrick had intended to give Charlotte away, but at the last minute decided he could not, and Charlotte had to make her way to the church without him. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_97

The married couple took their honeymoon in Banagher, County Offaly, Ireland. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_98

By all accounts, her marriage was a success and Brontë found herself very happy in a way that was new to her. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_99

Death Charlotte Brontë_section_8

Brontë became pregnant soon after her wedding, but her health declined rapidly and, according to Gaskell, she was attacked by "sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness". Charlotte Brontë_sentence_100

She died, with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, three weeks before her 39th birthday. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_101

Her death certificate gives the cause of death as tuberculosis, but biographers including Claire Harman and others suggest that she died from dehydration and malnourishment due to vomiting caused by severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_102

Brontë was buried in the family vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels at Haworth. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_103

The Professor, the first novel Brontë had written, was published posthumously in 1857. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_104

The fragment of a new novel she had been writing in her last years has been twice completed by recent authors, the more famous version being Emma Brown: A Novel from the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Brontë by Clare Boylan in 2003. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_105

Most of her writings about the imaginary country Angria have also been published since her death. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_106

In 2018, The New York Times published a belated obituary for her. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_107

Religion Charlotte Brontë_section_9

The daughter of an Irish Anglican clergyman, Brontë was herself an Anglican. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_108

In a letter to her publisher, she claims to "love the Church of England. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_109

Her Ministers indeed, I do not regard as infallible personages, I have seen too much of them for that – but to the Establishment, with all her faults – the profane Athanasian Creed excluded – I am sincerely attached." Charlotte Brontë_sentence_110

In a letter to Ellen Nussey she wrote: Charlotte Brontë_sentence_111

The Life of Charlotte Brontë Charlotte Brontë_section_10

Elizabeth Gaskell's biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë was published in 1857. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_112

It was an important step for a leading female novelist to write a biography of another, and Gaskell's approach was unusual in that, rather than analysing her subject's achievements, she concentrated on private details of Brontë's life, emphasising those aspects that countered the accusations of "coarseness" that had been levelled at her writing. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_113

The biography is frank in places, but omits details of Brontë's love for Héger, a married man, as being too much of an affront to contemporary morals and a likely source of distress to Brontë's father, widower, and friends. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_114

Mrs Gaskell also provided doubtful and inaccurate information about Patrick Brontë, claiming that he did not allow his children to eat meat. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_115

This is refuted by one of Emily Brontë's diary papers, in which she describes preparing meat and potatoes for dinner at the parsonage. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_116

It has been argued that Gaskell's approach transferred the focus of attention away from the 'difficult' novels, not just Brontë's, but all the sisters', and began a process of sanctification of their private lives. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_117

Héger letters Charlotte Brontë_section_11

On 29 July 1913 The Times of London printed four letters Brontë had written to Constantin Héger after leaving Brussels in 1844. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_118

Written in French except for one postscript in English, the letters broke the prevailing image of Brontë as an angelic martyr to Christian and female duties that had been constructed by many biographers, beginning with Gaskell. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_119

The letters, which formed part of a larger and somewhat one-sided correspondence in which Héger frequently appears not to have replied, reveal that she had been in love with a married man, although they are complex and have been interpreted in numerous ways, including as an example of literary self-dramatisation and an expression of gratitude from a former pupil. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_120

In 1980 a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BOZAR), on the site of the Madam Heger's school, in honour of Charlotte and Emily. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_121

In May 2017 the plaque was cleaned. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_122

Publications Charlotte Brontë_section_12

Juvenilia Charlotte Brontë_section_13

Charlotte Brontë_unordered_list_0

  • The Young Men's Magazine, Number 1 – 3 (August 1830)Charlotte Brontë_item_0_0
  • The SpellCharlotte Brontë_item_0_1
  • The SecretCharlotte Brontë_item_0_2
  • Lily HartCharlotte Brontë_item_0_3
  • The FoundlingCharlotte Brontë_item_0_4
  • My Angria and the AngriansCharlotte Brontë_item_0_5
  • Albion and MarinaCharlotte Brontë_item_0_6
  • Tales of the IslandersCharlotte Brontë_item_0_7
  • Tales of Angria (written 1838–1839 – a collection of childhood and young adult writings including five short novels)Charlotte Brontë_item_0_8
    • Mina LauryCharlotte Brontë_item_0_9
    • Stancliffe's HotelCharlotte Brontë_item_0_10
    • The Duke of ZamornaCharlotte Brontë_item_0_11
    • Henry HastingsCharlotte Brontë_item_0_12
    • Caroline VernonCharlotte Brontë_item_0_13
    • The Roe Head Journal FragmentsCharlotte Brontë_item_0_14

The Green Dwarf, A Tale of the Perfect Tense was written in 1833 under the pseudonym Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley. Charlotte Brontë_sentence_123

It shows the influence of Walter Scott, and Brontë's modifications to her earlier gothic style have led Christine Alexander to comment that, in the work, "it is clear that Brontë was becoming tired of the gothic mode per se". Charlotte Brontë_sentence_124

Novels Charlotte Brontë_section_14

Charlotte Brontë_unordered_list_1

  • Jane Eyre, published in 1847Charlotte Brontë_item_1_15
  • Shirley, published in 1849Charlotte Brontë_item_1_16
  • Villette, published in 1853Charlotte Brontë_item_1_17
  • The Professor, written before Jane Eyre, was first submitted together with Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë. Subsequently, The Professor was resubmitted separately, and rejected by many publishing houses. It was published posthumously in 1857Charlotte Brontë_item_1_18
  • Emma, unfinished; Brontë wrote only 20 pages of the manuscript, published posthumously in 1860. In recent decades at least two continuations of this fragment have appeared:Charlotte Brontë_item_1_19

Poetry Charlotte Brontë_section_15

Charlotte Brontë_unordered_list_2


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte Brontë.