Remembering Charlotte Brontë

by George Richmond, chalk, 1850

Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet. She is the author of the reputed classic novel ‘Jane Eyre’.  Let us remember her on her birthday.

Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in Yorkshire as the third of the six children. Charlotte 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. Both her sisters who survived into adulthood, Emily and Anne Bronte are novelists.

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. The pseudonyms veiled the sisters’ sex while preserving their initials; thus, Charlotte was Currer Bell. Although only two copies of the collection of poems they published 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.

In August 1847, Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ was published. ‘Jane Eyre’ had immediate commercial success and initially received favorable reviews. 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).

In 1948 and 1949, Emily and Anne passed away due to tuberculosis. After Emily and Anne’s death, Charlotte resumed writing as a way of dealing with her grief. Charlotte’s second book ‘Shirley’ was released in October 1949. But the book was not as appreciated as ‘Jane Eyre’.

Because of the success of her novels, particularly ‘Jane Eyre’, Charlotte Brontë was persuaded by her publisher to make occasional visits to London. Eventually, she revealed her true identity and began to move into more exalted social circles. Charlotte’s third novel, the last published in her lifetime, was ‘Villette’, which appeared in 1853.

In June 1854 Charlotte got married to Arthur Bell Nicholls. Charlotte Brontë became pregnant soon after her wedding, but her health declined rapidly. She died, with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, three weeks before her 39th birthday. ‘The Professor’, the first novel Brontë had written, was published posthumously in 1857.

-Staff Reporter

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