Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte, the daughter of Patrick Bronte and Mary Bronte, was born on 21st April 1816. When Charlotte was a small child, her father became curate in the village of Haworth. Charlotte's mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son, to be looked after by an aunt, Elizabeth Branwell.

In 1824 Charlotte, and three of her sisters, was sent to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge. Conditions at the school were appalling and after two of her sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of consumption, Charlotte and Emily were brought home. For the next six years, the four surviving children, were left to look after themselves. They spent the time at Haworth telling and writing stories about fantasy worlds they had created.

Patrick Bronte decided in 1831 that Charlotte should continue her education and was sent to a Miss Wooler, who ran a school at Roe Head. This time she was treated well and while at the school made two life-long friends, Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey.

When Charlotte was 19 she was offered a post as assistant teacher at Roe Head. After she returned home in 1839 she turned down a proposal of marriage from Ellen's brother, the Rev. Henry Nussey, and instead became a governess at Skipton. This was followed by posts as a governess to a family in Leeds and as a pupil-teacher in Brussels. While at the school Charlotte fell desperately in love with her teacher, Constantin Heger. He was married and showed no signs of returning her love.

Charlotte returned to England and began to write. She was unable to find a publisher for her first novel, The Professor, but she was more successful with Jane Eyre (1847), a novel based on her experiences at the Clergy Daughters' School. Published under the name, Currer Bell, the novel achieved immediate success.

Soon afterwards, her sisters also had novels published. Anne Bronte achieved success with Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) and Emily Bronte published Wuthering Heights just before her death from consumption in 1848. Over the next few months Charlotte's brother Branwell and sister, Anne, both died from this disease.

Charlotte continued to write and published Shirley in 1849. She also became friends with Elizabeth Gaskell, who was later to write her biography. Villette, a novel inspired by her unrequited love for Constantin Heger, was published in 1853.

Charlotte married her father's curate, Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls in 1854. Charlotte Bronte immediately became pregnant and this created medical problems and she died on 31st March, 1855.