Charlotte Brontë

British novelist and poet (1816-1855)

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was an English novelist and poet.

Charlotte Brontë
BornCharlotte Brontë
21 April 1816
Thornton, Yorkshire, England
Died31 March 1855(1855-03-31) (aged 38)
Haworth, Yorkshire, England
Pen nameCurrer Bell
OccupationGoverness, novelist, poet
Notable worksJane Eyre, Villette, Shirley (novel)
SpouseArthur Bell Nichols
RelativesEmily Brontë
Anne Brontë
Branwell Brontë

She first published her works, including Jane Eyre, under the pseudonym (false name) of Currer Bell. In 1846, Charlotte encouraged her sisters to print Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. They did not sell well. Her first novel, The Professor, was rejected by many publishers. It was not printed until 1857. She is famous for her novel Jane Eyre (1847), which was very popular when it was printed.

Jane Eyre was a strong story of a plain, brave, clever woman struggling with her passions, reasons, and social condition. She later wrote the books Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). She lived longer than her sisters, but she was only 38 when she died in pregnancy.

Charlotte Brontë was the third child of Patrick Brontë (formerly "Patrick Brunty"), an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria née Branwell. In April 1821, the family moved a few miles to Haworth. Patrick had been appointed Perpetual Curate there. Maria Branwell Brontë died of cancer on 15 September 1821. She left her five daughters and a son to be looked after by her sister Elizabeth Branwell.

In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire. She described it as Lowood School in her novel Jane Eyre. The sisters were Emily, Maria and Elizabeth. The poor conditions of the school permanently affected Charlotte's health according to her. She thought it led to the early deaths of her two elder sisters, Maria (born 1814) and Elizabeth (born 1815). They died of tuberculosis in June 1825 soon after their father took them from the school on 1 June.

At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other living children (Branwell, Emily and Anne) began writing about the lives and struggles of the dwellers of their imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their country — Angria — Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs Gondal.

Charlotte went to school at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 1832. There she met her lifelong friends, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. In 1833 she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839 she became a governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she had until 1841.

In 1842 she and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a pensionnat (boarding school) run by Constantin Heger (1809 – 1896) and his wife Claire Zoé Parent Heger (1814 – 1891). In return for this, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the pensionnat was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt, died in October 1842. Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to be a teacher at the pensionnat. This stay was not happy. 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 pensionnat as the inspiration for some of The Professor and Villette.

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