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Brontë, Charlotte

Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) was one of six children, (five daughters) of the reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife, Maria, who died when Charlotte was young. The Brontë’s were unconventional by Victorian standards. Patrick placed importance upon the education of his children, and Charlotte and her closest sisters, Emily and Anne, were as encouraged to read, write and learn different subjects as their brother, Branwell. Charlotte, Emily and Anne each became published and acclaimed authors, defying the expected roles of women and becoming famous and wealthy. Charlotte’s life, despite being successful in terms of her writing, was also struck by many tragedies. Her mother died when she was a child, and all of her siblings died young before Charlotte was 33. Critics have drawn many parallels between Brontë’s life and that of the hero of her first, and best-selling novel, Jane Eyre: she too lost her mother at a young age, and was brought up by an aunt; she worked as a governess for some years, and it is claimed that she fell in love with the older owner of the house at which she worked in Brussels, Belgium. Charlotte married late in life, in 1854 aged 38, a happy, yet sadly short-lived marriage due to her death in 1855. Like Jane, Charlotte didn’t place importance on finding a husband to depend upon, and instead established herself independently and successfully through careers in teaching and writing.
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Charlotte Brontë born

Charlotte Brontë was born on 21st April in Thornton, near Bradford, Yorkshire. Her parents were clergyman Patrick Brontë of County Down, Ireland, and Maria Branwell of Cornwall.

Patrick Branwell Brontë born

Charlotte already had two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth.

Emily Brontë born

Emily, like Charlotte, would go on to become a writer. Another sister, Anne, who also wrote, was born two years later.

Anne Brontë born

The family moved to Haworth parsonage, Yorkshire.

Mrs Brontë died

Charlotte’s mother died on 15th September at the age of 38. Her sister, Elizabeth, came to live at the parsonage until her death in 1842.

Brontë girls at school

They attended Cowan Bridge School.

Death of Maria and Elizabeth

The sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school.

Charlotte attended school at Roe Head, Mirfield

Her new school was 20 miles from Haworth. Emily came with her initially, but returned home some months later suffering from homesickness.

Charlotte returned to Roe Head School as a teacher

She experienced bouts of depression and ill health while teaching there, and eventually returned to Haworth in December 1938.
1839, 1841

Worked as a governess

Charlotte held two different posts as a governess.

Moved to Belgium

With Emily, Charlotte boarded as a pupil at Pensionnat Héger, Brussels.

Employed to teach at Pensionnat Héger

Charlotte experienced great homesickness, but was also distraught to leave her relationship with M Héger, which became an increasingly significant and deeply felt attachment for Charlotte.

Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls came to Haworth as the new curate

He would become Charlotte’s husband 10 years later.

Poems published

Charlotte, Emily and Anne used the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte also started to write Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre published

The novel was published by Smith, Elder & Co. under the pseudonym Currer Bell.

Watch the trailer to the 2011 film adaptation


Death of Branwell and Emily

Both died from tuberculosis, Branwell in September and Emily in December, followed by Anne in 1849.

Shirley published

Charlotte also visited London and the Lakes in 1849 and 1850, making literary friends.

Villette published

The novel was a reworking of Charlotte’s first novel, The Professor, which wasn’t itself published until after her death.


Charlotte married Rev. A B Nicholls.

Charlotte died aged 38

She experienced extreme hyperemis gravidarum (persistent vomiting in pregnancy).

The Professor published

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë was also published.

Death of Patrick Brontë

Patrick died, having outlived his wife and all six of his children.