The Brontë family came from Ireland, Patrick, the writer’s father, studies at Cambridge and became an ordained minister. After serving as a curate in a few places, he was appointed at Haworth, in Yorkshire, and here he spent the rest of his life. Between 1813 and 1820 his wife bore him six children, four of whom – Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne – were to distinguish themselves in the field of literature.
When Mrs Brontë died, her sister remained in the family to look after children. She was a strict, austere woman, and could not create an atmosphere of affection, though she did her best to bring up the girls as good housewives. They were educated by their father and later were sent to a cheap boarding-school where discipline was so strict that they never forgot the sufering that had to stand.
When Charlotte and Emily came back home, a fairly happy period followed, during which they found escape from the squalid reality in a series of dreamworlds. They kept a record of their daydreams in numerous booklets, written in minute script, which recently have been considered by the critics with great interest.
In 1842 Emily and Charlotte went to Brussels to improve their French, and studied at the “Pensionnat” kept, by Monsieur Hèger; He was a cultured man, who son became aware of the possibilities of the two sisters, and gave them extra lessons. Unfortunately, after a few months they had to return home because of their aunt’s death, and Emily had no more opportunities to move from there.
When Charlotte accidentally discovered some poems written by Emily, she immediately perceived the literary qualities of her sister; Emily resented the discovery of her writings, which she considered an intrusion into her privacy, and it took her sister some time to win her consent to publication.
In 1846 a volume with poems by three sisters – Charlotte, Emily, Anne – was published under the title Poems by Currer, Ellisand Action Bell. The result was a failure as only two couplet were sold; however, the event marked the beginning of the literary career of the Bronte sisters.
The following year Emily published "Wuthering Heights", her only novel and her masterpiece, a highly imaginative and dramatic presentation of a tragic story of despised love and revenge, set in the gloomy moors of Yorkhire. The book was not appreciated by contemporary critics, who were shocked by what they considered wild, ferocious, brutal elements in the novel, and the proud, sensitive author must have deeply suffered for this. Times were not happy for the Brontë family: Branwell died in 1848, after ruining his health with drinking; Emily caught a cold during his funeral, and from the neglected cold, consumption ensued. She stubbornly refused to see a doctor it was too late, and she died within a few months, in the same year, at the age of thirty.
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