Charlotte Brontë

(1816-1855), English novelist and poet

Charlotte Brontë was a renowned English writer and gender activist most famous for authoring ‘Jane Eyre,’ an English classic.

Born in Thornton, United Kingdom, Charlotte Brontë was one of the three talented Brontë sisters who sought to rewrite the narrative for women in a society washed with prejudices and stereotypes for women.

Life Facts

  • Charlotte Brontë was in Thornton, England, in April of 1816 to Patrick and Maria Barnwell Brontë.
  • She and her siblings were raised carefully in the Christian way, as her father, Patrick, was an Anglican pastor, and they lived in the mission’s church house.
  • She lost her mother, Maria Barnwell Brontë, and her sisters, Elizabeth and Maria Brontë at an early age.
  • She, with Emily, had a short stint schooling at Cowan Bridge at the early stages of their lives, but their parents later withdrew them to favor a home school.
  • She later discovered she was shortsighted and couldn’t read in bright light, a condition that she probably inherited from her father, who also had an eye issue.

Interesting Facts

  • Charlotte, with her sister Emily, traveled abroad to Brussels seeking more education and to learn foreign languages. They had the intention to return home and establish their school where they can teach others what they’d learned.
  • While in Brussels, however, Charlotte, unfortunately, fell in love with her tutor, a man called Héger, who was already married. This would later become a huge inspiration for creating two of her characters in ‘Jane Eyre’ – Mr. Rochester and his mad wife.
  • Even after returning home to England, Charlotte went on and wrote several affectionate letters to Héger but never got any in return.
  • Charlotte was the smallest of the Brontë children, standing at approximately four and a half feet. Emily was the tallest – staining on nearly one foot extra of Charlotte’s.
  • Charlotte loved beauty and good looks. Her friend and publisher George Smith once revealed the author would have gladly swapped her fame and talent for beauty and looks.

Famous Books by Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë wrote several important books before her eventual death in March 1855. Books such as ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Shirley’ are among the most famous to her name, while others such as ‘Villette’ and ‘The Professor’ also come up as outstanding and important to society and the literary community. Here’s a brief highlight of some of Charlotte Brontë’s famous books.

The Professor’ is the first novel Charlotte Brontë wrote. However, due to a series of rejections by publishers, the book saw a delayed publication and only got published two years after Charlotte had passed on. The book follows the first-person perspective of a young male protagonist, Charlotte, calls William Crimsworth, and his development and journey through life and tutoring career in Brussels. Charlotte Brontë’s time in Brussels may have inspired this book.

Jane Eyre’ is Charlotte Brontë’s most famous book, her second, and one that became a bestseller – thus ushering her into fame and stardom. The book was a smash hit from its release date and still is regarded very highly by today’s readers despite having been more than one hundred and fifty years of its publication. It narrates the story of a young and honest orphan girl by the name of Jane and how she battles trials from family, friends, and cruel employers before achieving her goals.

Shirley’ is another thrilling novel that came from the pen of Charlotte Brontë. The book – especially it’s latter part – is thought to have lacked the usual quality and emotional flair, which were considered characteristic of Charlotte Brontë’s works, and this is because the author was in deep mourning around the time she was writing the book. She had lost three family members in one calendar year – her mother, Maria, and sisters, Emily and Anne.

Although her writing of ‘Shirley’ started before these sad events, finishing the book was hard for Charlotte, as she was bereft of ideas to finish it. However, after her mourning and recovery, she found great inspiration to nail the final parts of the book. In ‘Shirley,’ Charlotte talks about two protagonist girlfriends Caroline and ‘Shirley’, including details about the intricacies of their families and friends, and the highs and lows of their romantic life.

Early Life and Education

Born in Thornton, England, in April of 1816, Charlotte Brontë became the third child of a total of six Brontë children, the others being Elizabeth and Maria – her seniors; Barnwell, Emily, and Anne – her younger siblings. Their parents, Patrick and Maria were not rich and so the family survived on humble means.

During her childhood, Charlotte attended a girls’ missionary school over at Cowan Bridge with her sisters, but a series of upheavals in their family – some of which included illness and loss of lives – made sure the girls were constantly withdrawn and removed from school and made to be homeschooled. Charlotte being the elder to Emily and Anne and more schooled, sometimes taught them at home.

After a few years of schooling, Charlotte applied and got a job as a teacher but soon found out it wasn’t her calling, as she hated every bit of it. She one time also traveled to Brussels with Emily, where she studied foreign languages to return home to open a school business.

Literary Career

Charlotte Brontë had always found love with creating and writing stuff, and this habit went as far back as when she and her sisters – Emily and Anne, and brother – Branwell, would spend time together playing and creating fictional characters and places, sometimes off of toys their father had given them.

Charlotte had garnered several literary pieces that by her young adulthood, she had quite a few of them. She published her first works, which were poems, together with those of Emily and Anne. It was in 1846 and Charlotte went by the pen name Currer Bell. Towards the end of the following year, Charlotte published her masterpiece ’Jane Eyre’ to a happy and receptive audience. From here, the book’s success paved the way for future Charlotte Brontë books, including those of her sisters, Emily and Anne.

Literature by Charlotte Brontë

Explore literature by Charlotte Brontë below, created by the team at Book Analysis.