For today’s readers, ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and perhaps a few of her popular poems, such as ‘Lines,’ is what they might know about her or relate with. However, there are several interesting facts about the talented Emily Brontë that many don’t know yet. This article will reveal ten personal facts about our author.
She was the fifth child of the Brontë Children
Emily Brontë was the fifth child of Patrick and Maria Branwell Brontë. Emily was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, along with her older siblings, who included Elizabeth, Maria, and Charlotte: her only brother, Branwell, and the last child of the house, Anne. During their childhood, the Brontë family stayed very close to each other, creating and building story characters and fictional worlds, using play toys and objects their father got them. Emily Brontë may not have come from a rich family, but her childhood was one filled with happy memories spent with her loved ones.
Her father was a published Anglican pastor
Emily’s father, Patrick, was an Irish native who lived most of his life in England, serving as a pastor of the Anglican Church. He was also an esteemed author of books, having published several books himself during his hay days. It’s likely the Brontë children – Emily, Charlotte, and Anne – all inherited their father’s creative writing and storytelling talents.
She lost her mother at two years old
After the birth of Anne, the sixth and last child, Maria fell sick and died barely a year after her delivery. Emily was only two years old at the time. Because the Brontë children were all young and their father, Patrick, couldn’t possibly take care of them by himself, Elizabeth, one of Emily’s aunts, moved in to take care of them – seeking to replace the vacuum left by Mrs. Brontë.
She didn’t have much education
Emily Brontë, as a child, was sharp, intelligent, and quick to learn, but in terms of the amount of education, she got, well, not so much. At six-year, she got enrolled in a girl’s missionary school along with her sisters but was later withdrawn after her two elder siblings, Elizabeth and Maria, fell ill and died from it. Emily had a few comebacks here and there, the most notable being her travel overseas to Brussels with Charlotte, where she studied and worked for a brief period before returning home.
She lived in Brussels for a short time
As a young adult, Emily sought a chance to better educate herself and, at the same time, work. Based on this, she and Charlotte took a trip to Brussels to further their education. During this time, Emily worked a short time doing menial lady jobs but also used the opportunity to study. However, their stay in Brussels was cut short when she and her sister heard words about the passing of their aunt, Elizabeth. Both would then come home to England, never to return to Brussels again.
Her pen name was Ellis Bell
When Emily started putting out her works, she did so under the false name ‘Ellis Bell.’ She went by this name on her maiden publication – which was a collection of poems co-authored by her sisters Charlotte and Anne, both of who also used pen names. This was the case with her only novel ‘Wuthering Heights,’ which also had the name ‘Ellis Bell’ as the book’s author. It was later, after she had passed away, that Charlotte revealed their real names. Their name change came to circumvent the no-good stereotype women of their era get for literary works.
She published and co-authored an anthology with two of her sisters
Emily was a very talented writer of poems who wrote a lot of them, and by the time she was in her twenties, she already had a large catalog of poems. However, she didn’t know she was that good, nor did she think her write-ups were print-worthy, so she kept them hidden and to herself. It was only after Charlotte discovered them and praised her for them that she started thinking that they might be good after all. Poems combined with those of Charlotte and Anne were published as a single collection.
She was a better poet than her sisters
As far as the Brontë sisters went, Emily was considered the one with superior ability to craft poetic prose, and consistently too. Charlotte was the one known to have been more blessed with a talent in novel writing. And how her book, ‘Jane Eyre,’ became an instant success after its publication was proof of that.
Wuthering Heights was her only novel
Emily Brontë lived until 30, and in this short time produced several poem collections and other literary pieces. For novels, ‘Wuthering Heights’ was the only one she could manage before her death, and although the book’s reception from the onset was not encouraging even for the author, there’s a good chance the world would have seen other great books yet from the pen of Emily Brontë had she lived for much longer.
She died a year after her book’s publication at the age of 30
After publishing her book, ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1847, she passed away from tuberculosis the following year, having not lived to witness the turnaround success of her book. It is suggested she got infected by the disease while tending to her sick brother, Branwell, who sadly later passed away before she did. Following her death, Charlotte revealed to the world that Ellis Bell was Emily Brontë, admitting she was a better writer than herself.
Why did Emily Brontë die so young?
Dying at only 30 years old, Emily Brontë no doubt lived a short life, no thanks to ill health. But, despite that, the author, through her writing, lives on, and even after a hundred years of her passing, her works are still read due to their timeless relevance.
How successful was ‘Wuthering Heights’ after it was released?
‘Wuthering Heights’ was a huge flop upon publication, as it only managed to sell around eight copies or less.
Why did Emily Brontë author her works under the pseudonym ‘Ellis Bell’?
The decision to have a pen name came following fears that the Brontë sisters’ works might not be taken seriously by society if it knew they were written by women, as there were existing toxic stereotypes against women at the time.