Bronte, name of three English novelists, also sisters, whose works, transcending Victorian conventions, have become beloved classics. The sisters Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), Emily (Jane) Bronte (1818-1848), and Anne Bronte (1820-1849), and their brother (Patrick) Branwell Bronte (1817-1848), were born in Thornton, Yorkshire. The Bronte children’s imaginations transmuted a set of wooden soldiers into characters in a series of stories they wrote about the imaginary kingdom of Angria-the property of Charlotte and Branwell-and the kingdom of Gondal-which belonged to Emily and Anne.
A hundred tiny handwritten volumes (started in 1829) of the chronicles of Angria survive, but nothing of the Gondal saga (started in 1834), except some of Emily’s poems. The relationship of these stories to the sisters’ later novels is a matter of much interest to scholars. In the 1840s Charlotte’s discovery of Emily’s poems led to the decision to have the sisters’ verses published. These appeared, at their own expense, as Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846), each sister using her own initials in these pseudonyms. Two copies were sold. Each sister then embarked on a novel.
Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was published first in 1847. Anne’s Agnes Grey and Emily’s Wuthering Heights appeared a little later that year. On their return from a publishing trip to London, they found Branwell near death. Emily caught cold at his funeral and died in 1848. A few months later, after the publication of her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne too died. Alone except for her father, Charlotte resumed work on the novel Shirley (1849), ultimately her least successful, and she later wrote Villette (1853) and The Professor (1857). She died of tuberculosis in 1855.