About Anne Brontë
Brontë family (From Wikipedia)
The Brontës were a 19th century literary family associated with Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The sisters, Charlotte (born 21 April 1816), Emily (born 30 July 1818), and Anne (born 17 January 1820), are well known as a trio of sibling poets and novelists. They originally published their poems and novels under masculine pseudonyms, following the custom of the times practised by female writers. Their stories immediately attracted attention, although not always the best, for their passion and originality. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte, was the first to know success, while Agnes Grey, then The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne, and Wuthering Heights by Emily were later to be accepted as great works of literature.
The three sisters and their brother, Branwell, were very close and they developed their childhood imaginations through the collaborative writing of increasingly complex stories. The confrontation with the deaths, first of their mother, then of the two older sisters, marked them profoundly and influenced their writing.
Their fame was due much to their own tragic destinies as well as their precociousness. Since their early deaths, and then the death of their father in 1861, they were subject to a following that did not cease to grow. Their home, the parsonage at Haworth in Yorkshire, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum has become a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Patrick and Maria Brontë had six offspring:
Maria, the first of the Brontë children, was born in Clough House, High Town on 23 April 1814, died at the age of eleven in Haworth on 6 May 1825. She suffered hunger, cold, and privation at Cowan Bridge School, as well as the tyranny of the older pupils and the mantras of the teachers on being damned to eternity and the flames of Hell (fire and brimstone). She returned with an advanced case of tuberculosis. Charlotte, especially, describes her as very lively, very sensitive, and particularly advanced in her reading and in her leisure .
Elizabeth (1815–1825), the second child, joined her sister Maria at Cowan Bridge where she suffered the same fate. Elizabeth was less vivacious than her brother and her sisters, and apparently less advanced for her age. However, her premature death could not foretell what her future would have been, had she been able to cultivate the intellectual and studious passions of her family. She died on 15 June 1825 within two weeks of returning home to her father.
Charlotte, born in Thornton near Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire on 21 April 1816, was a poet and novelist and is the author of Jane Eyre, her most well known work, and three other novels. She died on 31 March 1855 just before reaching the age of 39.
Patrick Branwell was born in Thornton on 26 June 1817. Known as Branwell, he was a painter, writer and casual worker. He became addicted to alcohol and laudanum and died at Haworth on 24 September 1848 at the age of 31.
Emily Jane, born in Thornton, 30 July 1818, was a poet and novelist. She died in Haworth on 19 December 1848 at the age of 30. Wuthering Heights was her only novel.
Anne, born in Thornton on 17 January 1820, was a poet and novelist who died at the age of 29. She wrote a largely autobiographical novel entitled Agnes Grey. Her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) was far more ambitious. She died on 28 May 1849 in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire.
Cowan Bridge School
In 1824, the four girls entered Cowan Bridge School, which educated the children of less fortunate members of the clergy, and which had been recommended to Mr Brontë. The following year, Maria and Elizabeth fell gravely ill and were removed from the school, but died shortly afterwards within a few weeks of each other on 6 May and 15 June 1825. Charlotte and Emily were also withdrawn and returned to Haworth. The loss of their sisters was a trauma that showed in Charlotte's writing. In Jane Eyre, Cowan Bridge becomes Lowood, the pathetic figure of Maria is represented by the character of the young Helen Burns, the cruelty of the mistress Miss Andrews by that of Miss Scatcherd, and the tyranny of the headmaster, the Rev. Carus Wilson, by that of Mr Brocklehurst.
Tuberculosis, which afflicted Maria and Elizabeth in 1825, was the eventual cause of death of the surviving Brontës: Branwell in September 1848, Emily in December 1848, Anne eight months later in May 1849, and finally Charlotte in 1855.
1847, a bountiful year
Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights, and Anne's Agnes Grey, appeared in 1847 after many tribulations, again for reasons of finding a publisher. The packets containing the manuscripts often returned to the parsonage and Charlotte simply added a new address and did this at least a dozen times during the year. The first one was finally published by Smith, Elder & Co in London, of which the 23-year-old owner George Smith had been specialised until then in publishing scientific revues aided by his perspicatious reader, William Smith Williams and remained faithful to the family. Those of Emily and Anne were confided to Thomas Cautley Newby who intended to compile a three-decker, more economical for sale and for loan in the circulating libraries the two first volumes to include Wuthering Heights and the third one Agnes Grey. Both the novels attracted critical acclaim, occasionally harsh about Wuthering Heights, praised for the originality of the subject and its narrative style, but viewed with suspect because of its outrageous violence and immorality - surely, the critics wrote, a work of a man with a depraved mind - fairly neutral about Agnes Grey, more flattering in spite of certain commentators denouncing it as an affront to morals and good mores, for Jane Eyre which soon became what would be called today a bestseller.
Anne was considered to be the least talented of the sisters. Thus, The Short Oxford History of English Literature writes that her first novel was overshadowed by those of Charlotte and Emily and that the narrator endures humiliation, snobbism, and incivility from her employers with a firm resolution helped along by her sense of duty and high moral conscience. The chronicle, sprinkled with Anne's own experiences, is the basis of Agnes Grey which appears to be a semi-autobiographical novel.
The letter from Anne to Ellen Nussey, of 5 April 1849.
Anne's health began to decline rapidly, like that of her brother and sister some months earlier. On 5 April 1849, she wrote to Ellen Nussey asking her to accompany her to Scarborough on the east coast. Anne hoped that the sea air would improve her health, as recommended by the doctor, and Charlotte finally agreed to go.
On the Sunday morning she felt weaker and asked if she could be taken back to Haworth. The doctor confirmed that she was near to death and Anne thanked him for his candour. "Take courage, take courage" she murmured to Charlotte. She died at 2 pm on Monday 18 May. She is buried in the cemetery of St Mary's of Scarborough. Her gravestone carries an error in her age in the inscription because she died at the age of 29 and not at 28. It was noticed by Charlotte during her only visit, and she had the intention of asking the mason to correct it. Ill health did not leave him time to effect the repair and the tombstone has remained in the same state to this day.