Born in 1816 in Thorton, Yorkshire, England, Charlotte Bronte was born the third out of six children and the oldest to last to maturity. Her family moved to Haworth, Yorkshire, England, in 1820, where, a year later, her mother died from cancer, leaving her and her five siblings to the care of her sister. Four years later, Charlotte and three of her sisters were sent to Clergy Daughter’s School, where two of them died from tuberculosis. This school was the basis for Lowood School in Jane Eyre.
She continued her education at Role Head in Mirfield in 1831; shortly afterwards she penned The Green Dwarf, a novella she wrote under the name Wellesley. Returning to Roe Head to teach, Charlotte stayed there until picking up a job as a governess, a series of events that greatly mirror the actions of Jane Eyre.
The publication of her first “book” did not occur until May of 1846 – it was a joint collection of poetry that Emily, Anne and Charlotte all participated in and self-financed among the three sisters. Each took a pen name: Emily was Ellis Bell, Anne became Acton Bell, and Charlotte took on Currer Bell to shroud the truth of their gender while still keeping their own initials, creating their own personal stamp. Charlotte’s first own publication was none other than Jane Eyre.
While working on her next manuscript, the Bronte family suffered from three deaths in eight months: her brother Branwell, sister Emily, and sister Anne. After the death of Anne Charlotte picked up writing again, using it to deal with the grief of losing her last siblings. Shirley resulted from this, which was published in October 1849.
Before her next novel, Villette, joined Jane Eyre and Shirley on shelves, a marriage proposal was made to Charlotte. She initially turned it down, but eventually married Arthur Bell Nicholls in January of 1854. The marriage, however, was not destined to last long; after getting pregnant, her health rapidly diminished until she died, unborn child still inside her, at the age of thirty-eight on March 31, 1855.
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