Friday, February 11, 2011

Like They Used to...Anne Bronte

A drawing of Anne Bronte done by her sister Charlotte
 I can't imagine writing two classic literary novels before dying at the age of 29 and still being overshadowed by two elder sisters.  Such was the life of Anne Bronte, the youngest sister in a very talented family.

It was while working on a book of poems with her sisters that their pen names arose.  None of the sisters wanted to publish under their real names and so Anne become Acton, Charlotte became Currer and Emily became Ellis; all with the surname of Bell.  It was with these pen names that the girls first became published in various magazines.  After writing the book of poems together each progressed to writing their own novels.  The subject matter of their books, particularly Anne's, was somewhat scandalous for the Victorian era and the gender of the writers became a huge debate.  Many felt that women shouldn't be writing such shocking novels.

Shortly after receiving fame for her works, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Anne, her sister Emily, and their brother all died in less than a years time.  Anne never married or had children, although there is some belief that she once fell in love.

When Charlotte made the decision that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall should not be republished after her sister's death she ultimately lessened the effect that her sister's writing would have on future literature while her own books and Emily's continued to be published.

Oddly enough there were three other children born into the Bronte family.  Their brother was a painter and writer before he became an alcoholic who was addicted to laudanum and the two eldest daughters died before reaching adulthood.  What other classics might we have if Maria and Elizabeth had lived?

Next Week: The King of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Shahanshah of Persia, Lord of Asia and Pharaoh of Egypt.  Only one man could accomplish all of this in one lifetime.

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