“He’s more myself than I am.
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

 

Some of the most romantic, passionate fiction of the nineteenth century all came from one family. Three clergyman’s daughters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, between them produced classics like Jane Eyre (1847), Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (both 1848). They grew up in an isolated house in a village in Yorkshire where, together with their brother Branwell, they started inventing stories and writing books at a young age. Like many female novelists at the time they wrote under male pseudonyms, and published their first volume of poetry at their own expense in 1846.

While Charlotte’s experiences at school, as a governess and the love she had for her married employer obviously influenced the story of Jane Eyre, mystery surrounds the tempestuous story of passion and revenge written by the shy reclusive Emily. Where did she find inspiration for the dark, tragic love story that was Wuthering Heights? All three sisters wrote about love but Charlotte was the only one ever to marry.

Their lives were tragically short; Emily and Anne died within 6 months of each other aged 30 and 29 and Charlotte at 38, but in that time their contribution to English literature has never been equalled.

Illustration by Gianni De Conno, taken from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Reading and Training, Step 3 (B1.2)