Emily Bronte Biography Essay Introduction

Emily Bronte (1818-1849), English author and one of the famed Bronte sisters wrote Wuthering Heights (1847);

Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe—I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!

First published under Emily’s pseudonym Ellis Bell, the combination of its structure and elements of passion, mystery and doomed love as well as social commentary have made Wuthering Heights an enduring masterpiece. Set in 18th Century England when social and economic values were changing and land ownership did not always the man make, it is a world of patriarchal values juxtaposed with the natural elements. Bronte explores themes of revenge, religion, class and prejudice while plumbing the depths of the metaphysical and human psyche. Bronte’s own home in the bleak Yorkshire moors provides the setting for the at-times other-worldly passions of the Byronic Heathcliff and Catherine. Also having written much poetry, Emily Bronte’s works did not receive wide acclaim until after her death at the age of thirty. Wuthering Heights is still in print today and has inspired numerous television and feature film adaptations. As with most of the Bronte sister’s popular novels, people have tried to find biographical parallels in them. Emily has been characterised to mythic proportions as deeply spiritual, free-spirited and reclusive as well as intensely creative and passionate, an icon to tortured genius.

Emily Bronte was born on 30 July 1818 at 74 Market Street in Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England. She was the fourth daughter of Maria Branwell (1783-1821), who died of cancer when Emily was just three years old, and Irish clergyman Patrick Bronte (1777-1861). After her youngest sister Anne (1820-1849) was born the Bronte’s moved to the village of Haworth where Patrick had been appointed rector. Emily had four older siblings; Maria (1814-1825), Elizabeth (1815-1825), Charlotte (1816-1855) and Patrick Branwell “Branwell” (1817-1848). Emily’s “Aunt [Elizabeth] Branwell” (1776-1842) had moved in to the Parsonage after her sister Maria’s death to help nursemaids Nancy and Sarah Gars raise the six young children.

In 1824, Emily, with her four sisters entered the Clergy Daughter’s School at Cowan Bridge, near Kirkby Lonsdale. When Maria and Elizabeth died there a year later of tuberculosis, she and Charlotte returned home to Haworth. Their father was a quiet man and often spent his spare time alone, so, the motherless children entertained themselves reading the works of William Shakespeare, Virgil, John Milton, and the Bible and played the piano, did needlepoint, and told each other stories. The four often ‘paired up’; Charlotte and Branwell started writing of their imaginary world ‘Angria’, Emily and Anne writing of its rival, ‘Gondal’. Penning their kingdoms’ histories and developing characters to populate them, the young Bronte girls found a creative outlet in writing stories and poetry. Emily was becoming an independent and opinionated young woman as her poem “The Old Stoic” reveals;

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, ‘Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!’

In 1835 Emily enrolled at Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head, Mirfield where Charlotte was teaching, but she soon returned home when she became profoundly homesick and ill. After a few years as governess at Law Hill Hall in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Emily and her sisters Charlotte and Anne travelled to Brussels, Belgium in 1842. There at the Pensionnat Heger under teacher Constantin Heger they immersed themselves in the study of French, German and literature with the aim of starting their own school someday. When their Aunt Branwell died Emily alone returned to Haworth for her funeral and stayed on there, just her and her father. She helped around the home and continued writing and editing her poems. By 1845 her sisters had given up their dream of starting their own school and the three were together at Haworth again. It was Charlotte’s idea to publish the poems of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell in 1846. The following year Wuthering Heights was published to mixed reviews, although it was soon lauded as an original and innovative tragic romance. Tragedy loomed large in Emily’s life as well: her brother Branwell had become an alcoholic and addicted to opium and the family were constantly dealing with his depressions and at times mad ravings. He died in 1848 and while at his funeral Emily caught a cold and died soon after, on 19 December 1848. She now rests with her mother and father and sisters Charlotte, Maria, and Elizabeth and brother Branwell in the family vault at the Church of Saint Michael and All Angels in Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.

Yet, still, in evening’s quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!—“To Imagination”

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Forum Discussions on Emily Bronte

Recent Forum Posts on Emily Bronte

A few notes on Wuthering Heights

I just finished rereading Wuthering Heights. I first read the book about forty years ago. In my opinion, Wuthering Heights is an unique novel. No other novel approaches it in character, plot and theme. It is a great novel, no doubt about it. Emily Bronte was ahead of her time. Considering that she wrote Wuthering Heights in the late 1840s, it's amazing what she does with character. All of the main characters are anti-social and far from being admirable. It is a pessimistic novel. It stands head and shoulders above all the other novels written during that time. Wuthering Heights must be considered one of the great novels of all time....

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the tune of WH

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I was thinking about this novel the other day, and thought that maybe the characters of Heathcliff and Cathy represent different sides of the economic spectrum. Heathcliff is a gypsy, at the very bottom of the social ladder, almost a pariah. He is an orphan/abandoned child, and gets a chance to raise his social status after being adopted by the Earnshaws. However, he becomes angry when the rich, represented by Cathy, remain just as aloof and indifferent to him after he becomes wealthy as before. Then, Cathy dies, thus symbolizing the destruction of the upper class, leaving Heathciff lost in grief. After Heathcliff's death the two are reconciled; implying that the only way the upper lower cl...

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Master pls come in plsss!!!

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Is Heathcliff tragic figure ?

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what did he mean? (heathcliff)

hey there, before heathcliff died he said he had to reach something (talked of struggling to reach a shore..metaphore thing) and that he was close to his aim... but what was this aim.. this chases me since I've finished the story. did he want to die to be united with cathy in death or did he want something else?? help me, take a look at the end of the story, remember the facts and tell me what you think .. thx:wave:...

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(hey girls)ain't heathcliff hot?

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ITV's Wuthering Heights

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Emily Brontë, in full Emily Jane Brontë, pseudonym Ellis Bell, (born July 30, 1818, Thornton, Yorkshire, England—died December 19, 1848, Haworth, Yorkshire), English novelist and poet who produced but one novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), a highly imaginative work of passion and hate set on the Yorkshire moors. Emily was perhaps the greatest of the three Brontë sisters, but the record of her life is extremely meagre, for she was silent and reserved and left no correspondence of interest, and her single novel darkens rather than solves the mystery of her spiritual existence.

Life

Her father, Patrick Brontë (1777–1861), an Irishman, held a number of curacies: Hartshead-cum-Clifton, Yorkshire, was the birthplace of his elder daughters, Maria and Elizabeth (who died young), and nearby Thornton that of Emily and her siblings Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, and Anne. In 1820 their father became rector of Haworth, remaining there for the rest of his life.

After the death of their mother in 1821, the children were left very much to themselves in the bleak moorland rectory. The children were educated, during their early life, at home, except for a single year that Charlotte and Emily spent at the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire. In 1835, when Charlotte secured a teaching position at Miss Wooler’s school at Roe Head, Emily accompanied her as a pupil but suffered from homesickness and remained only three months. In 1838 Emily spent six exhausting months as a teacher in Miss Patchett’s school at Law Hill, near Halifax, and then resigned.

To keep the family together at home, Charlotte planned to keep a school for girls at Haworth. In February 1842 she and Emily went to Brussels to learn foreign languages and school management at the Pension Héger. Although Emily pined for home and for the wild moorlands, it seems that in Brussels she was better appreciated than Charlotte. Her passionate nature was more easily understood than Charlotte’s decorous temperament. In October, however, when her aunt died, Emily returned permanently to Haworth.

In 1845 Charlotte came across some poems by Emily, and this led to the discovery that all three sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—had written verse. A year later they published jointly a volume of verse, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, the initials of these pseudonyms being those of the sisters; it contained 21 of Emily’s poems, and a consensus of later criticism has accepted the fact that Emily’s verse alone reveals true poetic genius. The venture cost the sisters about £50 in all, and only two copies were sold.

By midsummer of 1847 Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey had been accepted for joint publication by J. Cautley Newby of London, but publication of the three volumes was delayed until the appearance of their sister Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, which was immediately and hugely successful. Wuthering Heights, when published in December 1847, did not fare well; critics were hostile, calling it too savage, too animal-like, and clumsy in construction. Only later did it come to be considered one of the finest novels in the English language.

Soon after the publication of her novel, Emily’s health began to fail rapidly. She had been ill for some time, but now her breathing became difficult, and she suffered great pain. She died of tuberculosis in December 1848.

Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë’s work on Wuthering Heights cannot be dated, and she may well have spent a long time on this intense, solidly imagined novel. It is distinguished from other novels of the period by its dramatic and poetic presentation, its abstention from all comment by the author, and its unusual structure. It recounts in the retrospective narrative of an onlooker, which in turn includes shorter narratives, the impact of the waif Heathcliff on the two families of Earnshaw and Linton in a remote Yorkshire district at the end of the 18th century. Embittered by abuse and by the marriage of Cathy Earnshaw—who shares his stormy nature and whom he loves—to the gentle and prosperous Edgar Linton, Heathcliff plans a revenge on both families, extending into the second generation. Cathy’s death in childbirth fails to set him free from his love-hate relationship with her, and the obsessive haunting persists until his death; the marriage of the surviving heirs of Earnshaw and Linton restores peace.

Sharing her sisters’ dry humour and Charlotte’s violent imagination, Emily diverges from them in making no use of the events of her own life and showing no preoccupation with a spinster’s state or a governess’s position. Working, like them, within a confined scene and with a small group of characters, she constructs an action, based on profound and primitive energies of love and hate, which proceeds logically and economically, making no use of such coincidences as Charlotte relies on, requiring no rich romanticsimiles or rhetorical patterns, and confining the superb dialogue to what is immediately relevant to the subject. The sombre power of the book and the elements of brutality in the characters affronted some 19th-century opinion. Its supposed masculine quality was adduced to support the claim, based on the memories of her brother Branwell’s friends long after his death, that he was author or part author of it. While it is not possible to clear up all the minor puzzles, neither the external nor the internal evidence offered is substantial enough to weigh against Charlotte’s plain statement that Emily was the author.

Joyce M.S. TompkinsThe Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

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