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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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1816

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.
1817

Patrick Branwell Brontë born

Charlotte already had two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth.
1818

Emily Brontë born

Emily, like Charlotte, would go on to become a writer. Another sister, Anne, who also wrote, was born two years later.
1820

Anne Brontë born

The family moved to Haworth parsonage, Yorkshire.
1821

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.
1824

Brontë girls at school

They attended Cowan Bridge School.
1825

Death of Maria and Elizabeth

The sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school.
1831–1832

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.
1835

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.
1842

Moved to Belgium

With Emily, Charlotte boarded as a pupil at Pensionnat Héger, Brussels.
1843

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.
1844

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

He would become Charlotte’s husband 10 years later.
1846

Poems published

Charlotte, Emily and Anne used the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte also started to write Jane Eyre.
1847

Jane Eyre published

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

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1848

Death of Branwell and Emily

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

Shirley published

Charlotte also visited London and the Lakes in 1849 and 1850, making literary friends.
1853

Villette published

The novel was a reworking of Charlotte’s first novel, The Professor, which wasn’t itself published until after her death.
1854

Married

Charlotte married Rev. A B Nicholls.
1855

Charlotte died aged 38

She experienced extreme hyperemis gravidarum (persistent vomiting in pregnancy).
1857

The Professor published

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë was also published.
1861

Death of Patrick Brontë

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