Tell Me More About… Emily Brontë

The second youngest of the Brontë children, Emily Jane Brontë was an English novelist and poet. Her only novel and best-known work, ‘Wuthering Heights’, would go on to become one of the most studied and revered books in English Literature.

Early Life

Born on 30th July 1818 in Thornton, Yorkshire, Emily was the third surviving Brontë child, in between her youngest sister Anne and her brother Patrick Branwell. Charlotte Brontë, who would later become the author of ‘Jane Eyre’, was the eldest sibling.

In 1820, Emily’s father, Patrick Brontë (1777 – 1861), became the rector of Haworth in Yorkshire and remained there for the rest of his life. Following the death of their mother in 1821, the Brontë children were mostly left to themselves in the moorland rectory.

In 1835, Charlotte Brontë secured a teaching position at a school in Roe Head and Emily accompanied her as a student. However, she suffered badly from homesickness and returned home only 3 months later.

When Charlotte announced that she planned to set up a school for girls near the family home in Haworth, Emily travelled with her to Brussels in 1842 to learn foreign languages and school management. Emily still missed the moorlands of her home, although she found that she was better appreciated in Brussels than Charlotte was due to her passionate nature. When their aunt died in October that year, Emily returned home permanently.

3 Literary Sisters

In 1845, Charlotte found some poems written by Emily, leading to the discovery that all 3 of the Brontë sisters had written verse. 1 year later, they jointly published a volume of their poetry under the pseudonyms ‘Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell’. Only 2 copies were sold.

By 1847, both Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’ were ready for publication but were put on hold until Charlotte’s ‘Jayne Eyre’ made an appearance. ‘Jane Eyre’ was immediately hugely successful, unlike Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. Slated by critics for being too savage and hostile, the book was not well received. It was only later that it came to be considered one of the finest novels in the English Language.

Soon after the publication of ‘Wuthering Heights’, Emily fell ill. She died of tuberculosis in December 1848.

Did you know?

Emily Brontë’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ was considered to contain inherently masculine qualities, such as the brutality of the characters. As a result, there were claims that her brother Branwell was author or part-author of the novel. However, Charlotte plainly declared that Emily was the author.

‘Wuthering Heights’ contains no reference or allusions to any events in Emily’s own life. Unlike Charlotte’s rich romantic similes and rhetorical style, Emily writes an action based on the primitive and passionate energies of love and hate.

Emily’s work on ‘Wuthering Heights’ cannot be dated as it is unknown how long she spent writing this imaginative and intense novel.

Here are some famous quotes from ‘Wuthering Heights’:

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn into a mighty stranger.”

“My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!”

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

Interested in delving into the lives and works of other classic authors? Discover more about George Orwell, the author of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
Comments are closed