Brontë family. In 1820, the Irish-born Patrick Brontë brought his Cornish wife and their six young children to Haworth parsonage on the bleak Yorkshire moors, near Bradford. After the deaths of Mrs Brontë and the two eldest girls (possibly hastened by time at a clergy daughters' school), the children were cared for by an aunt but thrown very much on their own resources, creating imaginary worlds and writing. After erratic schooling, then brief teaching or governess posts, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne returned to Haworth to care for their father; anxiety over their irresponsible debt-laden brother Branwell, for whom there had been great hopes, deepened as he became addicted to alcohol and opium, and all struggled against ill-health. Charlotte's discovery of some of Emily's poems led to publication of Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (pseudonyms corresponding to their initials), which, if selling poorly, nevertheless encouraged them towards novels. Charlotte (Jane Eyre, 1847; Shirley, 1849; Villette, 1853, based on her time in Brussels) became a literary celebrity, but Emily's Wuthering Heights (1848) was too innovative and passionate for many tastes; Anne (Agnes Grey, 1847; Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 1848) might have been overpowered by her more brilliant sisters, but continues to be quietly appreciated. Although Branwell's debts were discharged, he died in 1848, to be followed shortly by Emily, then Anne the following summer. Charlotte eventually married her father's curate (1854), but died soon after, similarly from tuberculosis.
A. S. Hargreaves
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