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Charlotte Bront? (1816-1855).—Novelist, daughter of the Rev. Patrick B., a clergyman of Irish descent and of eccentric habits who embittered the lives of his children by his peculiar theories of education. Brought up in a small parsonage close to the graveyard of a bleak, windswept village on the Yorkshire moors, and left motherless in early childhood, she was “the motherly friend and guardian of her younger sisters,” of whom two, Emily and Anne, shared, but in a less degree, her talents. After various efforts as schoolmistresses and governesses, the sisters took to literature and published a vol. of poems under the names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, which, however, fell flat. Charlotte then wrote her first novel, The Professor, which did not appear until after her death, and began Jane Eyre, which, appearing in 1847, took the public by storm. It was followed by Shirley in 1849, and Villette in 1852. In 1854 she was married to her father’s curate, the Rev. A. Nicholls, but after a short though happy married life she died in 1855. Anne B
. (1820-1849) was the authoress of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey (1848). She had not the intellectual force of her sisters. The novels of Charlotte especially created a strong impression from the first, and the published of Jane Eyre gave rise to much curiosity and speculation as to its authorship. Their strength and originality have retained for them a high place in English fiction which is likely to prove permanent. There is a biography of Charlotte by Mrs. Gaskell (q.v.).
Emily Bront? (1818-1848).—Novelist and poet. Sister to Charlotte
. Wrote a story of extraordinary reality and imagination in Wuthering Heights; in whose pages the Yorkshire moors are given a wild and tragic personal reality. The same emotional force marks the best of her poems, though written with an apparently heedless pen for her own relief.
A preface to the first edition of “Jane Eyre” being unnecessary, I gave none: this second edition demands a few words both of acknowledgment and miscellaneous remark.
My thanks are due in three quarters.
To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few pretensions.
To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure aspirant.
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