The Bronte Sisters


Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, famous for their novels, were three of six siblings.  Two other sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died in childhood and their brother, Branwell, at the age of 31.


Charlotte (1816 – 1855)

Charlotte began attending a school with three of her sisters in Lancashire in 1824, although after the deaths of Maria and Elizabeth in 1825, was removed by her father.  In 1831 she attended a school in West Yorkshire, where she later taught for three years.  From 1841 she spent two years working as a governess and then worked in a school in Brussels for a period.

Charlotte's novels:

  • Jane Eyre was published in 1847 under the name ‘Currer Bell’ and sold quickly.
  • Shirley was published 1849 and was less successful than her earlier novel.
  • Villette was published in 1853 and received a mixed response.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate, in 1854 and was soon pregnant.  However, she became ill and died before the baby was born, although there is debate about the cause of her death.  In 1857, The Professor, her first completed novel, was published posthumously.


Emily (1818 – 1848)

Emily attended school with her sisters in Lancashire, until they were removed in 1825.  She later attended the school where Charlotte was teaching, but returned home due to severe homesickness.  In 1838 she began teaching at a school in Halifax, although she remained there less than a year due to ill health.

Emily's novel, Wuthering Heights, was published in 1847, and received mixed reviews.

In September 1848 she became ill and died in December of tuberculosis, after refusing medical treatment.


Anne (1820 – 1849)

Anne joined her sisters at school in Lancashire and later West Yorkshire, returning home with them in 1825.  She subsequently spent two years as a pupil in the school Charlotte taught in, taking Emily’s place when she went back home.  In 1839 Anne began work as a governess, but stayed with the family for only a few months.  In 1840 she began working for another family near York, where she stayed for five years, later joined by her brother, who became a tutor to the son of the family.

Anne's novels:

  • Agnes Grey was published in 1847 at the same time as Anne’s Wuthering Heights, and despite it selling well, it did not do as well as her sister's novel.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published in 1848 and sold out within a few weeks.

Anne became ill after Emily’s death and despite following the advice of doctors she did not recover.  She spent time in Scarborough in the hopes of getting better, but died in May 1849, and was buried in Scarborough, rather than with the rest of her family.