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Emily Jane Brontë
Contributor to Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846).
Author of the novel Wuthering Heights (1847).
Born Thornton, Yorkshire, 30th July 1818.
Died Haworth, Yorkshire, 19th December 1848.
Emily was the fifth of the six Brontë children. After the loss of her mother in 1821, and her two oldest sisters in 1825, she, Anne, Charlotte and Branwell, with only five years separating them, became a close and exclusive band. They neither went to school, nor made friends, in the village. Their playgrounds were the open moors at the back of the house, and their own imaginations.
Education and Work
Emily had less schooling than either of her sisters. She spent six months at the Clergy Daughters' School, Cowan Bridge, when she was six; three months at Roe Head School, Dewsbury, when she was seventeen, and nine months at the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels, when she was 24-25. The rest of her education she received at home from Aunt Branwell and from her sister Charlotte. Drawing and music masters visited the Parsonage (Emily was an accomplished pianist), and her broader education came from her father. He encouraged all his children to read widely, and Mr. Brontë talked to his children, as he would to adults, on matters as diverse as public policy and literary criticism.
Mr. Brontë had intended that his second daughter, Elizabeth, should be a housekeeper, and the other four, governesses. The only paid employment that Emily ever undertook was teaching at the Law Hill School near Halifax in 1838, and she lasted only six months. Emily Brontë was only ever happy at home; she enjoyed housekeeping, and she enjoyed the company of the family's elderly servant, Tabitha Aykroyd.
Like her sisters and her brother Branwell, Emily was a writer from the time she learned to read. She collaborated with Anne in writing poetry and stories for their imaginary world of Gondal. Only some poems from the Gondal sagas survive, but we know that the collaboration with Anne continued until the early 1840s, and it is possible that Emily never abandoned her imaginary world. Emily was the least willing to agree to Charlotte's publication of Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846), and even after the publication of Wuthering Heights (1847), she refused to accompany her sisters to London, and reveal the true identity behind her nom de plume, Ellis Bell.
Personality, Religion and Death
Alone among the Brontë children, Emily was tall and strong. She was an animated member of the family circle, but outside that, she had no friends. No correspondence with her survives, and the little information that we do have about Emily sometimes appears contradictory. We know that she liked 'military good order' in her life, and we also know that she blended reality and fantasy with equal weight. She adored the family pets, yet she had a violent temper, and disciplined them harshly. She avoided everyone outside the family, and yet the characterisations in her novel are acutely observed. Her poetry is profoundly religious, yet she turned her back on religious institutions. For Emily, religious fulfilment was to be found in the union of the individual spirit with the eternal spirits that she found in nature, and it was probably that conviction that informed her refusal of family help and medical assistance during her painful death from consumption.
|© Митрофанова Екатерина Борисовна, 2009 ||