This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte, one of the famous literary trio of sisters who came to prominence in the 19th century.
Charlotte, along wither her sisters Emily and Anne created some of the world’s most revered literature, and whilst during their lifetime they were largely ignored – their work now lives on in the form of films, TV movies and countless reprints of their novels.
Here are 12 facts you might not have known about the sisters:
They did not originally write under their own names
Such were the times the sisters were living and working in, it was not considered seemly for women to work or to write. When they submitted their initial writings to publishers, they changed their names from Anne, Charlotte and Emily to Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell.
Emily preferred animals to humans
And rightly so! But when she was a teacher at Law Hill School, it is alleged she once told her pupils she preferred the school dog to any of them!
This is believed to be a portrait of the sisters
Although there is much debate about it’s authenticity, some people believe this may well be the only surviving image of the sisters. It’s never been confirmed, and some academics believed the family were not wealthy enough to be able to afford to have pictures taken at this time. It’s nice to think it could be them…
There is a rumour that Charlotte’s husband killed her and possibly her sisters!
Again this is supposition, but a rumour persists that Charlotte’s husband Arthur Bell Nicholls might possibly have poisoned both of Charlotte’s sisters and her. It is believed he may have wanted to get his hands on any money the family might have had – but the story has never been fully substantiated and is believed to be a myth.
But…it’s more likely Charlotte possibly died of morning sickness
Charlotte could well have died from morning sickness instead – as her death came less than a year after her marriage and it would have been a natural time to find herself pregnant. She was still very young, only 38 and a first pregnancy at that age could have been dangerous.
The sisters were born in Bradford and not Haworth!
The three sisters came from the West Riding of Yorkshire – Bradford to be exact and only came to Haworth when their father, Patrick was made curate of the local church there.
Their brother was an alcoholic
The sisters had a brother called Branwell, who was a terrible alcoholic and opium addict. He died at the age of 31, after a liaison with a married woman went wrong.
The sisters wrote more as children than as adults
It’s believed that the sisters actually wrote more words as children than they ever did as adults. They wrote poems, created imaginary worlds and drew together, in their sitting room at the parsonage in Haworth.
Charlotte didn’t want to be a novelist
She always wanted to be a painter like her brother, Branwell, Imagine if she’ never written Jane Eyre!
Anne might have had a speech impediment
Anne is believed to have once written to a friend of Charlotte’s that “You must know there is a lamentable deficiency in my organ of language which makes me almost as bad a hand at writing as talking unless I have something particular to say.” This leads many experts to believe although she was a superior writer, she may have had difficulty communicating.
Their father was from a family who were illiterate
Although he became a learned man in later years, Patrick, the girl’s father was from an illiterate family who came from County Down in Ireland. He was the only one who showed an aptitude for learning.
The family’s real name was Prunty
The family name was Prunty and not Bronte. Patrick changed it to hide his Irish origins and make them sound more learned and superior than they were.