Emily Brontë, born on July 30, 1818, and departing on December 19, 1848, stands as a prominent English novelist and poet celebrated for her singular masterpiece, Wuthering Heights—an enduring gem within the realm of English literature. Collaborating with her sisters Charlotte and Anne, she contributed to the anthology of poetry titled “Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell,” with Emily’s individual verses earning recognition as poetic brilliance. In the Brontë sibling lineup, Emily held the position of the second-youngest, nestled between her younger sister Anne and her brother Branwell. Notably, she chose the pseudonym Ellis Bell when venturing into the literary world.
Emily Bronte Early Life
Emily Brontë, born on July 30, 1818, into the family of Maria Branwell and Irish father Patrick Brontë, entered the world in the village of Thornton, residing on Market Street in a residence now known as the Brontë Birthplace. This charming family expanded to six siblings, with Emily claiming the position of the second-youngest among Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, and the youngest addition, Anne, born in 1820.
In 1820, the Brontës embarked on a move to Haworth, eight miles away from their initial dwelling, where Patrick took up the role of perpetual curate. Haworth became the backdrop for the blossoming of the Brontë children’s literary talents.
Tragedy struck early in Emily’s life as, at the tender age of three, she, along with her siblings, faced the untimely loss of their mother, Maria, to cancer on September 15, 1821. Following this devastating event, the younger children found solace and care in the form of Elizabeth Branwell, Maria’s sister.
The path to education for Emily and her sisters took a sorrowful turn when Maria, Elizabeth, and Charlotte attended the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge. This chapter in their lives proved to be marked by abuse and deprivation. A typhoid epidemic swept through the school, claiming the lives of Maria and Elizabeth, both succumbing to illness. The loss of these elder siblings profoundly impacted the four youngest Brontë children, all under the age of ten.
Charlotte, in later reflections, asserted that the harsh conditions at the school had enduring effects on her health and attributed the hastening of Maria and Elizabeth’s deaths to these circumstances. Consequently, Patrick removed Charlotte and Emily from the school, an experience later echoed in Charlotte’s depiction of Lowood School in Jane Eyre.
The remaining Brontë siblings—Emily, Charlotte, Anne, and Branwell—continued their education at home under the tutelage of their father and aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. Despite the absence of formal schooling, Emily, a reserved individual, developed a deep bond with her siblings. Notably, she earned a reputation as an ardent animal lover, especially for her penchant for befriending stray dogs encountered in the countryside.
Despite the unconventional educational setting, the Brontë siblings had access to a diverse range of published material, indulging in the works of Sir Walter Scott, Byron, Shelley, and Blackwood’s Magazine.
The creative spark ignited early in the Brontë household, fueled by a box of toy soldiers gifted to Branwell. The siblings crafted stories set in imaginative worlds, including one named Angria. At the age of 13, Emily and Anne shifted their focus to Gondal, a fictional island that became a lifelong passion. While much of their Gondal writings were not preserved, surviving pieces, including diary papers by Emily, offer glimpses into this captivating realm. Themes of romanticism and noble savagery, characteristic of the Brontë juvenilia, left an indelible mark on their later works, with Branwell’s “The Life of Alexander Percy” often cited as an inspiration for Emily’s Wuthering Heights.
At the age of seventeen, Emily briefly attended the Roe Head Girls’ School, where her sister Charlotte taught. However, plagued by homesickness, she returned home after only a few months, emphasizing her need for liberty. The Brontë sisters’ shared objective at this juncture was to acquire sufficient education to establish a small school of their own.
Emily Bronte Personality And Character
Emily Brontë’s enigmatic and reclusive disposition has cast a veil of mystery around her, challenging biographers in their attempts to understand and assess her life. With the exception of a few individuals such as Ellen Nussey and Louise de Bassompierre, Emily’s fellow student in Brussels, she appears to have formed no friendships beyond the confines of her family circle. Her closest companion was her sister Anne, with whom she shared a vivid fantasy world named Gondal. According to Ellen Nussey, their childhood bond was akin to that of twins—unbreakable, inseparable, and marked by uninterrupted closeness.
In 1845, Anne took Emily on a journey to places she had grown to cherish during her five-year stint as a governess. Despite a change in plans that redirected them to York instead of Scarborough, the sisters immersed themselves in the world of Gondal, acting out the roles of their imaginary characters during the trip.
Charlotte Brontë serves as the primary source of information about Emily, but being an elder sister and writing about her shortly after her death, some scholars question the neutrality of Charlotte’s perspective. Stevie Davies suggests the presence of a “Charlotte’s smoke-screen,” positing that Emily might have shocked her sister to the extent of causing doubts about her sanity. After Emily’s demise, Charlotte’s portrayal of her sister underwent revisions, aligning her character, history, and even poems with a more acceptable model for the bourgeois reading public.
Biographer Claire O’Callaghan notes a significant alteration in Brontë’s legacy due to Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte. Gaskell, who did not visit Haworth until after Emily’s death, expressed a dislike for what she knew of Emily in her biography of Charlotte. This reliance on Charlotte as the primary source may have led to potential exaggerations or fabrications regarding Emily’s frailty and shyness, possibly to cast Charlotte in the role of a maternal savior.
Charlotte depicted Emily as someone whose love for nature had been exaggerated due to her shy nature, portraying her as excessively fond of the Yorkshire moors and homesick when away. Lucasta Miller, analyzing Brontë biographies, notes that Charlotte assumed the role of Emily’s first mythographer. In the Preface to the Second Edition of Wuthering Heights, Charlotte emphasized Emily’s unsociable nature and her limited interaction with people, despite possessing detailed knowledge about them.
Emily’s solitude and extreme shyness have been reiterated by various accounts. According to Norma Crandall, her “warm, human aspect” was primarily revealed in her love for nature and animals. Over the years, anecdotes have celebrated Emily’s deep connection with nature, describing her walks where she often returned with fledglings or young rabbits, conversing with them as if they understood.
While Emily’s love for animals is evident, stories like the apocryphal account of her mistreating her pet dog Keeper contradict more accurate depictions of their relationship. Keeper, described as Emily’s faithful friend, seemed to understand her like a human being, even participating in playful exhibitions orchestrated by Emily herself. Keeper mourned solemnly at Emily’s funeral and never regained his cheerfulness. These accounts offer a multifaceted view of Emily Brontë, blending her reserved nature with a profound love for the natural world and its creatures.In “Queens of Literature of the Victorian Era” (1886), Eva Hope provides a succinct portrayal of Emily Brontë‘s character, describing her as a “peculiar mixture of timidity and Spartan-like courage.” Hope delves further, noting that Emily, while painfully shy, exhibited remarkable physical bravery. Emily’s affections were reserved for a select few, yet she bestowed upon them a passionate self-sacrificing tenderness and unwavering devotion. Despite her understanding and forgiving nature toward others’ shortcomings, Emily maintained a rigorous and austere watch over herself, steadfastly adhering to what she perceived as her duty.
Beyond her personal attributes, Emily Brontë has often been characterized as a devout, albeit somewhat unorthodox, Christian. Her spiritual identity is painted with shades of heresy and mysticism, earning her the epithet of a “mystic of the moors.” This depiction captures the ethereal and visionary aspects of Emily’s connection to the natural landscape she so ardently loved, intertwining her religious sensibilities with the haunting beauty of the Yorkshire moors that served as both inspiration and sanctuary.
Emily Bronte Death
Emily Brontë’s health appears to have suffered due to the challenging local climate and unsanitary conditions in her home. The water supply, contaminated by runoff from the church’s graveyard, likely contributed to her weakened constitution. The already somber atmosphere darkened further with the sudden death of her brother Branwell on September 24, 1848. Tragically, at Branwell’s funeral a week later, Emily caught a severe cold that swiftly developed into inflammation of the lungs, ultimately leading to tuberculosis.
Despite her declining health, Emily adamantly refused medical assistance and rejected all offered remedies, expressing a firm aversion to having a “poisoning doctor” near her. As her condition worsened, Charlotte, deeply concerned for her sister, lamented the uncertainty conveyed by the physician’s opinion and the futile attempt to administer medicine that Emily refused to take. In a moment of profound darkness, Charlotte prayed for divine support for their family.
By noon on December 19, 1848, Emily’s condition had deteriorated to the point where she could only whisper in gasps. In her final audible words to Charlotte, she expressed a willingness to see a doctor, but tragically, it was too late. Emily passed away around two in the afternoon on that same day. While an early biographer, Mary Robinson, suggested Emily’s death occurred while she was sitting on the sofa, Charlotte’s letter to William Smith Williams, referencing Emily’s dog Keeper lying at her dying-bed, casts doubt on this assertion.
The timing of Emily’s passing, less than three months after Branwell’s death, led the housemaid Martha Brown to proclaim Miss Emily passed away due to a heartbroken condition resulting from her love for her brother.Emily’s physical decline was evident, as her coffin measured a mere 16 inches (40 centimeters) in width, an unusually narrow size for an adult. Her remains found their final resting place in the family vault at St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Haworth. The profound and untimely loss marked the end of Emily Brontë’s earthly journey, leaving behind an enduring legacy in the world of literature.
Emily Bronte Net Worth And Income
It’s important to note that attributing a specific net worth to historical figures, especially those from the 19th century like Emily Brontë, can be challenging and speculative. During her lifetime, the concept of net worth as we understand it today wasn’t applicable. The estimation of Emily Brontë’s net worth at $5 million seems to be a modern approximation based on the enduring popularity of her novel “Wuthering Heights” and its continued success.
However, such estimates are often subjective and rely on various factors such as book sales, adaptations, and other related income streams. It’s crucial to approach these figures with caution, understanding that they are modern extrapolations rather than accurate representations of the wealth or financial status Emily Brontë held during her lifetime. Additionally, the nature of her reclusive life and her focus on artistic pursuits over financial gain makes it challenging to quantify her wealth in contemporary terms.
Emily Bronte Age
There seems to be a slight discrepancy in the provided information. The previous details mentioned that Emily Brontë passed away on December 19, 1848, not December 9. It’s important to note the correct date to maintain accuracy in historical accounts.
That being said, it’s accurate that Emily Brontë, at the young age of 30, succumbed to illness, specifically consumption (tuberculosis), in December 1848. Her refusal of medical attention during her illness is a poignant detail that aligns with her known aversion to doctors and remedies.
As for your statement about social class being a significant topic in “Wuthering Heights,” that is indeed true. Emily Brontë’s novel delves into the complexities of social class, portraying the stark differences and tensions between characters from different backgrounds. The Victorian Era was characterized by a rigid social structure, and “Wuthering Heights” reflects and critiques these societal norms, exploring themes of love, revenge, and social hierarchy.