Emily Bronte’s Life
A female English poet and novelist, Emily Bronte was born on July 30, 1818 in Thornton, Yorkshire in England. Her family moved eight miles away to Haworth in 1824, where her father, Patrick Bronte, worked as a perpetual curate. Her mother, Maria Bronte, died when Emily was just three.
Following the death of their mother, the responsibility of bringing up the six Bronte children fell upon their father, who sent Emily’s three elder sisters, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Maria, to Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge. The girls faced mistreatment in the school, which Charlotte described in her novel “Jane Eyre.” Emily also attended the same school for a short period of time, but Elizabeth and Maria soon caught typhus there. As Maria was already suffering from tuberculosis, she succumbed to typhus and consequently died. The remaining sisters left the school, but Elizabeth also died shortly after that.
The surviving three Bronte sisters and their brother Patrick Barnwell got mentoring at home from their aunt Elizabeth Barnwell and their father. Despite previous hard times at school, and the tragic deaths of her sisters and mother, this mentoring and tutoring boosted Emily’s literary talent. While they were not studying with their aunt or father, the children would create imaginary worlds, and write stories about their toy soldiers in these worlds.
When Emily turned 13, she and her younger sister Anne began writing poems about Gondal, an imaginary island in the North Pacific. Some of her Gondal poems written between 1841 and 1845 survived. Emily later joined the Law Hill School in Halifax as a junior teacher, where she was accustomed to working 17 hours a day. Her health thus deteriorated during this time, and she left the school in 1839. In 1842, Charlotte and Emily went to Brussels, and attended a girls’ academy to perfect their German and French. In 1845, Charlotte insisted that Emily publish the “Gondal Poems” that she’d saved in her notebooks. Emily refused at first but later agreed when Charlotte revealed that she, too, had written poems about Gondal. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published a joint volume of poetry in 1846 called “Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.”
Emily published her masterpiece “Wuthering Heights” in 1847. Sadly, she would never know the fame that her novel achieved. Emily’s health deteriorated further, which she attributed to unhygienic conditions and water contamination from the nearby graveyard of a church. She rejected any medical help, saying she would not allow a “poisoning doctor” near her. Eventually, Emily became seriously ill, and died on December 19, 1848.
Emily Bronte’s Works
Charlotte, Emily, and Anne jointly published their first collection of poems, which gained praise from critics, though only sold two copies at first. Each sister chose a pen name; Emily was Ellis Bell, Charlotte was Currer, and Anne was Acton. Emily and Anne contributed 21 poems to the volume, while Charlotte included 20 poems. A reviewer from The Athenaeum commended the work of Ellis Bell for its musical power, while another critic appreciated “the presence of more genius than it was supposed this utilitarian age had devoted to the loftier exercises of the intellect.”
Emily Bronte published her novel “Wuthering Heights” as two volumes in 1847. Initially it received mixed reviews from critics due to its innovative structure based on doomed love, social commentary and mystery. It was condemned for depiction of immoral passion, but later the novel became a classic.
Emily Bronte’s Style and Popular Poems
The writing style of Emily Bronte was figurative and self-effacing interspersed with poetic prose. Emily was famous for romantic poetic style because she explored the themes of nature, solitude, romanticism, religion, loss, death, revenge and class. Her popular poems include “Faith and Despondency,” “Anticipation,” “Fall, Leaves, Fall,” “A Little While, A Little While,” “Me Thinks this Heart,” “A Little Budding Rose,” “Remembrance,” “A Day Dream,” “A Death-Scene,” “Come, Walk with Me,” “Encouragement,” “At Castle Wood,” “The Philosopher,” “Stars,” “Plead for Me” and “Interrogation.”
More About Bronte
Emily had a religious upbringing, which her writing style reflects. Since her father was an evangelical minister, his teachings influenced her poetry, but her symbols also reflect the Victorian skepticism. The Bronte sisters were called “Romantic Rebels”, for they made use of an unusual romantic style in their writings.