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Anne Brontë (January 17, 1820 – May 28, 1849) was a British author born in Thornton, West Yorkshire, the daughter of Patrick Brontë, a clergyman, and Maria Branwell. She followed in her older sisters’ (Charlotte and Emily Brontë) paths by delving into the literary world as a novelist and poet.
Along with her sisters and brother Branwell, Anne grew up in Haworth, an isolated town on the moors of Yorkshire. The siblings received little formal education and grew up in imaginative play, constructing a make-believe world called Angria and Gondal, putting on plays, and creating journals and magazines.
Agnes Grey, Anne’s debut novel (1847) took inspiration from her time teaching at the Ingham family’s Blake Hall. She worked as a governess, caring for and teaching children who were badly-behaved. Unsatisfied with her performance, the Ingham family let Anne go after a year but the experience influenced her writings later on.
Unlike her sisters, Anne spent a good amount of time traveling, which allowed for her experiences with religion and society to come through in her writing. She had modern observations for her time, as well as feminist views.
Anne Brontë was one of six, raised by her father after the death of her mother one year after Anne was born. The children’s aunt Elizabeth Branwell acted as their mother and helped inspire Anne spiritually as their relationship was the closest of all.
You might also like: Quotes from Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was more popular than Agnes Grey. Both were written under the pen name of “Action Bell” so as to disguise her gender. Controversial in that they were “…unfit to be put into the hands of girls.” Both of Anne’s novels, as well as her poems, contain a lot of autobiographical elements that correspond with events and people prominent in her life.
In her sisters’ footsteps
Following in the footsteps of her sisters, she studied at Roehead School where she began to write poetry. Her work had themes of emotional attachment to her home which ultimately contributed to an illness that required her to leave. She was determined, however to support herself through her education.
It is suspected that Anne and William Weightman, a curate in Haworth where she grew up, fell in love. Poetry exchanged and character inspiration suggests that their relationship was built on mutual fondness. When William died, Anne’s poetry contained motifs of grief and and longing for connection.
With her two sisters, Anne wrote and published a book of poetry during the summer of 1845. They all changed their names to avoid judgement, yet keeping their initials in tact. This collection did not sell well but received positive reviews.
Anne Brontë page on Amazon
The world of Gondal
Anne’s fictional world Gondal became the setting for many of her literary pieces. She and her sister Emily created the kingdom that lies in the North pacific and draws from the theme of “speculative fiction.” Unfortunately, the literary career of this talented writer was cut short, as she hadn’t yet turned thirty when she died of consumption in 1849.
More about Anne Brontë on this site
- Quotes from Agnes Grey & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
- Without the Veil Between — Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
- The Brontë Sisters’ Path to Publication
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
- Agnes Grey
- The Complete Poems of Anne Brontë
- Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell
Biographies about Anne Brontë
- A Life of Anne Brontë by Edward Chitham
Read and listen online
Visit the Brontë’s Birthplace and Home
- Brontë Parsonage, Haworth, UK
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