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Born 21 April 1816 (1816-04-21)
Thornton, Yorkshire, England
Died 31 March 1855 (aged 38)
Haworth, Yorkshire, England
Pen name Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley
Occupationgoverness, novelist, poet
Notable work(s) Jane Eyre, Villette
The Bible, Shakespeare, John Bunyan, John Milton, Robert Burns, Robert Southey, Walter Scott
George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Jean Rhys, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Brontë, Emily Brontë
Charlotte Brontë (pronounced /ˈbrɒnti/ or /ˈbrɒnteɪ/)) (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was an English novelist, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters whose novels are English literature standards. Under the pen name Currer Bell, she wrote Jane Eyre.
7 Further reading
8 External links
Charlotte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, the third of six children, to Patrick Brontë (formerly "Patrick Brunty"), an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria née Branwell. In 1820, the family moved a few miles to Haworth, where Patrick had been appointed Perpetual Curate. Mrs Brontë died of cancer on 15 September 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to be taken care of by her sister Elizabeth Branwell. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters, Emily, Maria and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire (which she would describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre). Its poor conditions, Charlotte maintained, permanently affected her health and physical development and hastened the deaths of her two elder sisters, Maria (born 1814) and Elizabeth (born 1815), who died of tuberculosis in June 1825 soon after their father removed them from the school on 1 June.
At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily and Anne — began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of their imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their country — Angria — and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs — Gondal. The sagas were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in part manuscripts) and provided them with an obsessive interest in childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.
Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 1832, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period, she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf (1833) under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839, she took up the first of many positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841.
In 1842 she and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a boarding school run by Constantin Heger (1809 – 1896) and his wife Claire Zoé Parent Heger (1814 – 1891). In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the boarding school was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt who joined the family after the death of their mother to look after the children, died of internal obstruction in October 1842. Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the boarding school. Her second stay at the boarding school was not a happy one; she became lonely, homesick and deeply attached to Constantin Heger. She finally returned to Haworth in January 1844 and later used her time at the boarding school as the inspiration for some of The Professor and Villette.
In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily and Anne published a joint collection of poetry under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Although only two copies were sold, the sisters continued writing for publication and began their first novels. Charlotte used "Currer Bell" when she published her first two novels. Of this, Brontë later wrote:
Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because—without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine' -- we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we had noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.
Indeed, her novels were deemed coarse by the critics. There was speculation about the identity of Currer Bell, and whether Bell was a man or a woman.
Title page of the first edition of Jane Eyre
Charlotte's brother, Branwell, the only son of the family, died of chronic bronchitis and marasmus exacerbated by heavy drinking in September 1848, although Charlotte believed his death was due to tuberculosis. Branwell was also a suspected "opium eater", (i.e. a laudanum addict). Emily and Anne both died of pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1848 and May 1849, respectively.
Charlotte and her father were now left alone together. In view of the enormous success of Jane Eyre, she was persuaded by her publisher to visit London occasionally, where she revealed her true identity and began to move in a more exalted social circle, becoming friends with Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Makepeace Thackeray and G. H. Lewes. Her book had sparked a movement in regards to feminism in literature. The main character, Jane Eyre, in her novel Jane Eyre, was a parallel to herself, a woman who was strong. However, she never left Haworth for more than a few weeks at a time as she did not want to leave her aging father's side.
Thackeray’s daughter, the writer Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie recalled a visit to her father by Charlotte Brontë:
"... two gentlemen come in, leading a tiny, delicate, serious, little lady, with fair straight hair, and steady eyes. She may be a little over thirty; she is dressed in a little barège dress with a pattern of faint green moss. She enters in mittens, in silence, in seriousness; our hearts are beating with wild excitement. This then is the authoress, the unknown power whose books have set all London talking, reading, speculating; some people even say our father wrote the books - the wonderful books... The moment is so breathless that dinner comes as a relief to the solemnity of the occasion, and we all smile as my father stoops to offer his arm; for, genius though she may be, Miss Brontë can barely reach his elbow. My own personal impressions are that she is somewhat grave and stern, specially to forward little girls who wish to chatter... Every one waited for the brilliant conversation which never began at all. Miss Brontë retired to the sofa in the study, and murmured a low word now and then to our kind governess... the conversation grew dimmer and more dim, the ladies sat round still expectant, my father was too much perturbed by the gloom and the silence to be able to cope with it at all... after Miss Brontë had left, I was surprised to see my father opening the front door with his hat on. He put his fingers to his lips, walked out into the darkness, and shut the door quietly behind him... long afterwards... Mrs. Procter asked me if I knew what had happened... It was one of the dullest evenings [Mrs Procter] had ever spent in her life... the ladies who had all come expecting so much delightful conversation, and the gloom and the constraint, and how finally, overwhelmed by the situation, my father had quietly left the room, left the house, and gone off to his club.”
In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, and became pregnant soon thereafter. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by "sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness." Charlotte died, along with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. There is also evidence to suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Brontë household's oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.
The Life of Charlotte Brontë, the posthumous biography of Charlotte Brontë by Gaskell, was the first of many biographies about Charlotte to be published. Though frank in places, Gaskell suppressed details of Charlotte's love for Heger, a married man, as being too much of an affront to contemporary morals and as a possible source of distress to Charlotte's still-living friends, father and husband (Lane 1853 178–183). Gaskell also provided doubtful and inaccurate information about Patrick Brontë, claiming, for example, that he did not allow his children to eat meat. This is refuted by one of Emily Brontë's diary papers, in which she describes the preparation of meat and potatoes for dinner at the parsonage, as Juliet Barker points out in her recent biography, The Brontës. It was discovered that Charlotte wrote 20 manuscript pages of a book, but died before she could finish; Clare Boylan finished it in 2007 as Emma Brown: A Novel from the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Brontë.
Charlotte Brontë, photograph, 1854
A postum idealized portrait by Duyckinick, 1873, based on a drawing by George Richmond
Portrait by J. H. Thompson at the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
The Green Dwarf
The Green Dwarf, A Tale of the Perfect Tense was written in 1833 under the pseudonym Lord Charles Albert Florian Wellesley. 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".
Tales of Angria, written 1834
A collection of childhood and young adult writings including the short novels Zamorna's Exile Mina Laury Caroline Vernon
Jane Eyre, published 1847
Shirley, published 1849
Villette, published 1853
The Professor, written before Jane Eyre and rejected by many publishing houses, was published posthumously in 1857
Emma, unfinished; Charlotte Brontë wrote only 20 pages of the manuscript. The book was later finished by author Clare Boylan and released in 2003 under the title Emma Brown.
Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846)
Selected Poems of The Brontës, Everyman Poetry (1997)
^ forvo.com Charlotte Brontë ^ "Biographical Notice of Ellis And Acton Bell", from the preface to the 1910 edition of Wuthering Heights. ^ Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie. Chapters from Some Memoirs. cited in Sutherland, James (ed.) The Oxford Book of Literary Ancedotes. OUP, 1975. ISBN 0198121393. ^ www.cnn.com" Real life plot twists of famous authors" ^ Christine Alexander, "That Kingdom of Gloo": Charlotte Brontë, the Annuals and the Gothic, Nineteenth Century Literature, 47 (1993), pp. 430-432.
This article incorporates public domain text from : Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London, J. M. Dent & Sons; New York, E. P. Dutton. Margaret Lane (1953) The Brontë Story: a reconsideration of Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë.  Further reading
The Letters of Charlotte Brontë, 3 volumes edited by Margaret Smith The Life of Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell Charlotte Brontë, Winifred Gérin Charlotte Brontë: a passionate life, Lyndal Gordon The Literary Protégées of the Lake Poets, Dennis Low (Chapter 1 contains a revisionist contextualization of Robert Southey's infamous letter to Charlotte Brontë) Charlotte Brontë: Unquiet Soul, Margot Peters In the Footsteps of the Brontës, Ellis Chadwick Charlotte Brontë, Rebecca Fraser The Brontës, Juliet Barker Charlotte Brontë and her Dearest Nell, Barbara Whitehead The Brontë Myth, Lucasta Miller A Life in Letters, selected by Juliet Barker Charlotte Brontë and her Family, Rebecca Fraser The Oxford Reader's Companion to the Brontës, Christine Alexander & Margaret Smith A Brontë Family Chronology, Edward Chitham The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte, James Tilly, 1999 I Love Charlotte Bronte, Michelle Daly 2009
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Charlotte Brontë
Wikisource has original works written by or about: Charlotte Brontë
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Charlotte Brontë
Website of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire Online editions of Charlotte Brontë's works at eBooks@Adelaide Works by Charlotte Brontë at Project Gutenberg Charlotte Brontë — Drawing by George Richmond (National Portrait Gallery) Modern Day Images of Charlotte Bronte Residences Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle, by Clement K. Shorter, from Project Gutenberg Charlotte Brontë at the Internet Book List More Information about Charlotte Bronte Charlotte's Web: A Hypertext on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre Memorial Page for Charlotte Bronte on FindaGrave Various images depicting residences of Charlotte Bronte 'Napoleon and the Spectre', taken from the manuscript of the Green Dwarf
The Green Dwarf (1833) · Jane Eyre (1847) · Shirley (1849) · Villette (1853) · The Professor (1857)
Wuthering Heights (1847)
Agnes Grey (1847) · The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846)
Brontë Country · Patrick Brontë · Branwell Brontë · Ellen Nussey · Constantin Heger · Victorian literature
NAME Brontë, Charlotte
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Bell, Currer
SHORT DESCRIPTION English novelist, poet and governess
DATE OF BIRTH 21 April 1816(1816-04-21)
PLACE OF BIRTH Thornton, Yorkshire, England
DATE OF DEATH 31 March 1855
PLACE OF DEATH Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Bront%C3%AB
Categories: English novelists | English women writers | English poets | Women novelists | Governesses | People from Thornton and Allerton | Brontë family | English Anglicans | Women of the Victorian era | Female authors who wrote under male or gender-neutral pseudonyms | Christian writers | Deaths from typhus | 1816 births | 1855 deaths | Victorian novelists | Infectious disease deaths in England | English people of Irish descent
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