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Contributor to Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846).
Author of novels: Jane Eyre (1847), Shirley (1849), Villette (1853) and The Professor (1857).
Born Thornton, Yorkshire, 21st April 1816.
Died Haworth, Yorkshire, 31st March 1855.
Charlotte was the third of six children. When she was five years old, her mother died, and her mother's elder sister Elizabeth Branwell moved into the Parsonage to look after the children. When Charlotte was eight, her two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis. This left Charlotte suddenly the eldest of a family of four, a position of responsibility that sat comfortably with her strong personality.
Looks and Personality
Charlotte Brontë was less than five feet tall and slightly built. She wore spectacles to correct her myopia, and she thought herself plain. Politically a Tory, she was strong minded, clever and ambitious. She held high moral principles, and, despite her shyness in company, she was always prepared to argue her beliefs.
Charlotte spent eight months of 1824 at the Clergy Daughters' School, Cowan Bridge (the model for the Lowood Institution in Jane Eyre), two years (1831-32) as a pupil, and three (1835-38) as a teacher at Roe Head School, Dewsbury (where she made her lifelong friends Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor), and two years (1842-3) at the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels, (where she fell hopelessly in love with her teacher, Constantine Heger). Between 1824-31 she and her brother and sisters were educated at home by their father and Aunt Branwell. Charlotte was an accomplished artist and needle-worker as well as a writer.
Mr. Brontë had intended that his daughters become governesses, and Charlotte held two situations. The first, with the Sidgwick family of Stonegappe, Lothersdale, lasted three months of 1839, and the second, with the White family of Upperwood House, Rawdon lasted six months of 1841. Charlotte hated the work, and suggested to Emily and Anne that the three of them open their own school in Haworth. Aunt Branwell offered financial backing, but the scheme never materialised.
What Charlotte really wanted was to be a writer. From being very young, she and her brother Branwell had collaborated in writing poetry and stories set in their imaginary world of Angria, and they were prolific, Charlotte claiming later that she had written more before the age of thirteen than afterwards. In 1846 Charlotte persuaded her sisters to publish Poems by Currer Ellis and Acton Bell (the sisters' androgynous pseudonyms). This was a commercial disaster, but, by the end of 1847, the debut novels of all three sisters had been published, and Charlotte's Jane Eyre was an immediate success. Following the publication of Shirley in 1849, her anonymity began to dissolve. Charlotte became a celebrity in literary circles, and the publication of Villette (1853) enhanced her reputation.
Marriage and Death
In December 1852, Charlotte received a proposal of marriage from her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. Mr. Nicholls had been with Mr. Brontë for eight years and the proposal came as a surprise to Charlotte and her father. Partly because he thought his daughter too frail to survive a pregnancy, Mr. Brontë objected, and Charlotte declined. Mr. Nicholls however was not to be put off, and after assiduous courtship, the couple were married on the 29th June 1854. The marriage was happy but short. Charlotte Brontë died in the early stages of pregnancy on the 31st March 1855.
|© Митрофанова Екатерина Борисовна, 2009 ||