“Love is like the wild rose-briar; Friendship like the holly-tree. The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms, But which will bloom most constantly?”
Emily Jane Bronte was born this day in Thornton, near Bradford, Yorkshire England in 1818. Today is the 194th anniversary of her birth.
Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte had six children; Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, Emily and Anne. The young family moved to Haworth Parsonage in 1824 where Patrick Bronte was curate. Emily was only three when her mother died, probably of stomach cancer, and she remembered little of the vivacious, lively woman who had brought so much joy to the house.
In 1824 the older girls were sent to Cowan Bridge School, a school for the daughters of middle class clergymen in Lancashire. The students endured harsh conditions, corporal punishment and fire and brimstone sermons along with long hours of study and prayer. The dormitories were unheated. In the morning the students shared a basin of water to wash. Often it was so cold that the water had frozen over. It’s not surprising that the students took ill. There was an outbreak typhus and tuberculosis. The girls were brought home, but both Maria and Elizabeth died with in weeks of each other. The family was devastated. Charlotte changed the name of the horrible school to Lowood and wrote about it in Jane Eyre,
Charlotte and Emily stayed at home and were educated by their Aunt Elizabeth Branwell along with their Brother and little sister Anne. The children had very vivid imaginations and created fantasy adventures. “Glasstown” featured Branwell’s 12 wooden soldiers. Charlotte and Branwell invented “Angria” and Emily and Anne created “Gondal.” Gondal was and island in the South Pacific and was ruled by a woman who “was in control of herself fan her life.” Both Charlotte and Emily return to themes from Angria and Gondal in their later novels.
After a brief stint as a teacher in Halifax Emily return to Haworth Parsonage and took over as housekeeper. In 1845 Charlotte discovered two notebooks of Emily’s poems and encouraged her to publish them. Emily felt betrayed and refused, but relented when she found out that Anne writing about Gondal too.
Aylott and Jones published 62 of the sister’s poems in “Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.” The initial run sold only 2 copies, but the sisters were undaunted. By 1847 they had each had a novel published (with in months of one another. Charlotte penned Jane Eyre (October). Emily and Anne had a three volume deal. Emily took two volumes for Wuthering Heights, and Anne had the the last volume for Agnes Grey. The set was published in December. Anne quickly followed up with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in June of 1848. Emily was working on a second novel at the time of her death, but it has been lost. (Some speculation has it that Charlotte destroyed the manuscript.)
Emily took ill after her brother Branwell’s funeral. She died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1948.
Wuthering Height is Emily Bronte’s literary legacy. CLICK HERE For a readers guide to the novel. You can pick up a FREE Kindle edition or read the book on line at Bibliomania. Prefer a hard copy? (and don’t we all?) Go to the library or click here.