Emily Bronte was an English novelist and poet, best remembered for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She was the third eldest of the four surviving Bronte siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell.
Emily Bronte Early Life
Emily Jane Bronte was an English novelist and poet who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She published under the pen name Ellis Bell.
Emily Bronte was born on 30 July 1818 to Maria Branwell and an Irish father, Patrick Bronte.
She was the younger sister of Charlotte Bronte and the fifth of six children.
When Emily was only three, and all six children under the age of eight, she and her siblings lost their mother, Maria, to cancer on 15 September 1821.
In 1824, the family moved to Haworth, where Emily’s father was perpetual curate, and it was in these surroundings that their literary gifts flourished.
Emily’s three elder sisters, Maria, Elizabeth, and Charlotte, were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge.
At school, however, the children suffered abuse and privations, and when a typhoid epidemic swept the school, Maria and Elizabeth became ill.
Maria, who may actually have had tuberculosis, and school sent them home, where she died.
Elizabeth died soon after their returning home.
Emily Bronte Career
At home in Haworth, Bronte enjoyed her quiet life. She read extensively and began to make up stories with her siblings.
In 1835, the shy Emily tried leaving home for school. She went with Charlotte to Miss Wooler’s school in Roe Head where Charlotte worked as a teacher. But she stayed only a few months before heading back to Haworth.
She became a teacher at the Law Hill School in September 1837, but she left her position the following March.
Bronte and his sister Charlotte went to study in Brussels in 1842, but the death of their aunt Elizabeth forced them to return home.
In 1844, Emily began going through all the poems she had written, copying them neatly into two notebooks.
She wrote both prose and poems about this imaginary place and its inhabitants. Emily also wrote other poems as well.
Emily returned home and Anne took her place. At this time, the girls’ objective was to obtain sufficient education to open a small school of their own.
Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax beginning in September 1838, when she was twenty.
Her always fragile health soon broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839.
Emily Bronte Book
In 1842, Emily accompanied Charlotte to the Heger Pensionnat in Brussels, Belgium, in the hope of perfecting their French and German before opening their school.
Unlike Charlotte, Emily was uncomfortable in Brussels. She refused to adopt Belgian fashions, saying “I wish to be as God made me”. This rendered her something of an outcast.
The illness and death of their aunt drove them to return to their father and Haworth.
In 1844, the sisters attempted to open a school in their house, but their plans were stymied by an inability to attract students to the remote area.
Soon, her sister Charlotte discovered some of Emily’s poems. They sought to publish them along with their own work.
The three sisters used male pen names for their collection—Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Published in 1846, the book sold only a few copies and garnered little attention.
In 1847, Emily published her novel, Wuthering Heights, as two volumes of a three-volume set. Its innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics.
Although it received mixed reviews when it first came out, and was often condemned for its portrayal of amoral passion, the book subsequently became an English literary classic.
In 1850, Charlotte edited and published Wuthering Heights as a stand-alone novel and under Emily’s real name.
At first, reviewers did not know what to make of Wuthering Heights. It was only after Brontë’s death that the book developed its reputation as a literary masterwork.
Emily Bronte Death
Branwell died suddenly, on Sunday, September 24, 1848. At his funeral service, a week later, Emily caught a severe cold. Soon she developed into inflammation of the lungs and led to tuberculosis.
Emily’s health was probably weakened by the harsh local climate and unsanitary conditions at home.
The parsonage where Brontë spent much of her life is now a museum. The Brontë Society operates the museum and works to preserve and honour the work of the Brontë sisters.
Emily Brontë has often been characterised as a devout if somewhat unorthodox Christian, a heretic and a visionary “mystic of the moors”.