Charlotte Brontë

About the Author

Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, in 1816. In 1820 her father was appointed curate at Haworth Parsonage where Charlotte was to spend most of her life. Following the death of her mother in 1821 and of her two eldest sisters in 1825, she and her two surviving sisters, Emily and Anne, and brother, Branwell, were brought up by their father and a devoutly religious aunt. Theirs was an unhappy childhood, in particular the period the sisters spent at a school for daughters of the clergy.

Charlotte abhorred the harsh regime, blaming it for the deaths of her two sisters, and she went on to fictionalise her experiences there in Jane Eyre (1847). Having been removed from the school, the three sisters, together with Branwell, found solace in storytelling. Inspired by a set of toy soldiers, they created the imaginary kingdoms of Angria and Gondal which form the settings for much of their juvenilia. From 1831 to 1832 Charlotte was educated at Roe Head school where she later returned as a teacher.  

In 1842 Charlotte travelled to Brussels with Emily. They returned home briefly following the death of their aunt, but, Charlotte was soon back in Brussels, this time as a teacher. At great expense the three sisters published a volume of poetry – Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846) – but this proved unsuccessful, selling only two copies. By the time of its publication, each of the sisters had completed a novel: Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey were both published in 1847, but Charlotte’s novel, The Professor, remained unpublished in her lifetime. Undeterred, Charlotte embarked on Jane Eyre, which was also published in 1847 and was hailed by Thackeray as ‘the masterwork of a great genius’. She followed this up with Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853), and continued to be published under the pseudonym Currer Bell although her identity was, by then, well known.

Branwell, in many ways the least successful of the four siblings, died in 1848. His death deeply distressed the sisters, and both Emily and Anne died within the following year. Charlotte married her father’s curate in 1854, but she died in the early stages of pregnancy in March 1855.

Books by the author