|Emily Bronte was born at
Thornton in Yorkshire to Patrick Brontë and Maria Branwell. She was
the younger sister of Charlotte
Brontë and the fifth of six children. In 1820, the family
moved to Haworth, where Emily's father was perpetual curate, and it was
in these surroundings that their literary talent flourished. In childhood,
after the death of their mother, the three sisters and their brother Branwell
Brontë created imaginary lands (Angria, Gondal, Gaaldine), which featured
in stories they wrote. Little of Emily's work from this period survived,
except for poems spoken by characters (The Brontës' Web of Childhood,
Fannie Ratchford, 1941).
In 1838, Emily commenced
work as a governess at Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law Hill Hall,
near Halifax. Later, with her sister Charlotte, she attended a private
school in Brussels. Both of them later opened up a school at their home,
but had no pupils.
It was the discovery of Emily's
poetic talent by her family that led her and her sisters, Charlotte and
Anne, to publish a joint collection
of their poetry in 1846. To evade contemporary prejudice against
female writers, the Brontë sisters adopted androgynous first names.
All three retained the first letter of their first names: Charlotte became
Currer Bell, Anne became Acton Bell, and Emily became Ellis Bell.
In 1847, she published her
only novel, Wuthering
Heights, as two volumes of a three volume set (the last volume
being Agnes Grey by her sister Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat
puzzled critics. Although it received mixed reviews when it first came
out, the book subsequently became an English literary classic. In 1850,
Charlotte edited and published Wuthering
Heights as a stand-alone novel and under Emily's real name.
Like her sisters, Emily's
health had been weakened by their harsh life at home and at school. She
died on December 19, 1848 of tuberculosis, having caught a chill during
the funeral of her brother in September. She was interred in the Church
of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.
Her favorite stuffed toy, Dave the Monkey, was interred with her, but was
subsequently removed and placed in the Haworth Parsonage museum.