Authors Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

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Born at Thornton, in Yorkshire, England, Charlotte had five siblings--two of whom died very young, two who were famous novelists like her, and a dissipated younger brother, Branwell. Life was very hard and disease was rampant. Living conditions were poor and food was unhealthy.

Her father was a minister and soon moved to a job as Perpetual Curate at Haworth, a small village in Yorkshire. Mrs. Bronte passed away from cancer. Charlotte and her two older sisters were sent away to Clergy Daughters' School in Lancaster where Maria and Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died. This school's poor conditions became the basis of her future classic book, Jane Eyre.

Charlotte's education continued at Roe Head School in Mirfield and she later returned there as a teacher. She also worked as a governess to several different families in Yorkshire. A younger sister, Emily traveled with her to Brussels to teach English and Music for room and board in a pensionatt. This journey was the inspiration for two other books, The Professor and an unfinished novel, Villette.

Returning home, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, published a joint collection of poetry using their pen names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell for the first time. Only two copies of this book were sold during their lifetime. Shortly after this, they began work on their prospective novels that provided them a place in posterity. Emily, especially, had great success with her only novel, Wuthering Heights.

When the rest of her siblings succmbed to tuberculosis, she remained alone with her father at Haworth. When Jane Eyre became successful, she made short trips to London and became friends with William Makepeace Thackeray and Elizabeth Gaskell, who later wrote an extensive biography of her life.

In 1854, she married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate. While pregnant with their first child, she also died of tuberculosis and this very literary family was brought to an end in a very short time. If they had lived longer, how many more great works of fiction would they have created? I am thankful that they were able to write what they did.

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