|Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë, by their brother Branwell. He painted himself among his sisters, but later removed the image so as not to clutter the picture.|
Their real lives in the moors of Yorkshire germinated the seeds for Jane Eyre, Cathy and Heathcliff, and what some consider the first feminist novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
The unusually bright girls were surrounded by nurturing, attentive adults. But life in the beginning of the 19th century was difficult. At a young age, the girls lost their mother and two older sisters, had a difficult experiences at boarding schools, and their beloved brother suffered from alcoholism. However, they had been permitted creative outlets, and despite the social expectations to become a governess, teacher or wife, the three Bronte sisters adopted nom-de-plumes and wrote extraordinary novels.
If you travel to England, you can visit the sister's home.
The Bronte Society and Bronte Parsonage Museum
Jane Eyre was published in 1847 by the eldest sister, Charlotte. It is the compelling life story of a girl orphaned and navigating through a treacherous series of difficult relatives, boarding school tragedies, a Byronic figure making for tense moments while governess, stressful marriage proposals, and a denouement of crashing finality. Jane proves an indomitable taking-charge-of-her-life female character. Charlotte Bronte initiated literary insights that influenced James Joyce's stream of consciousness almost a hundred years later.
Jane Eyre has been produced in film and miniseries. This is my favorite version:
Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries)
Encouraged by the success of Charlotte's novel, Emily published Wuthering Heights. This is another doozy of a book. The story takes place in an isolated location on the English moors. Intense emotions ferment between and within the two families in the story, one fairly normal (the Lintons) and one pretty much dysfunctional (Earnshaws). Of course romance is involved. Also, profound unforgiveness, jealously, rage and several more of the seven deadly sins that makes for an enjoyable and memorable gothic novel. Heathcliff and Cathy are unforgettable.
Sadly, Emily Bronte passed away shortly after the book was published. It is considered a classic of English literature.
|Heathcliff and Cathy. (1992 version with Ralph Fiennes)|