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Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë Anne Brontë[1†]

Anne Brontë (17 January 1820 – 28 May 1849) was an English novelist and poet, and the youngest member of the Brontë literary family[1†][2†]. She was the daughter of Maria (née Branwell) and Patrick Brontë, a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England[1†]. Anne lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors[1†]. She attended a boarding school in Mirfield between 1836 and 1837, and between 1839 and 1845 lived elsewhere working as a governess[1†].

In 1846, she published a book of poems with her sisters and later two novels, initially under the pen name Acton Bell[1†]. Her first novel, Agnes Grey, was published in 1847 at the same time as Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily Brontë[1†]. Anne’s second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was published in 1848[1†]. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is often considered one of the first feminist novels[1†]. Anne died at 29, most likely of pulmonary tuberculosis[1†].

Early Years and Education

Anne Brontë was born on January 17, 1820, in Thornton, England, as the youngest of the six children of Patrick Brontë, a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, and his wife Maria Branwell, the daughter of a wealthy merchant[3†]. Her mother died when Anne was hardly a year old[3†]. After the death of their mother in 1821, their Aunt Elizabeth came to look after the family[3†][4†]. All three sisters attended different schools at various times as well as being taught at home[3†][4†].

The Brontë children were often left alone together in their isolated home and all began to write stories at an early age[3†][4†]. The family had a big library and the children read a wide variety of literature including the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, and Scott[3†].

Anne was taught in the family’s Haworth home and at Roe Head School[3†][2†]. With her sister Emily, she invented the imaginary kingdom of Gondal, about which they wrote verse and prose (the latter now lost) from the early 1830s until 1845[3†][2†]. She received her formal education between 1835 and 1837 at Miss Margaret Wooler’s boarding school[3†][5†]. During Anne’s attendance there, the school was relocated from Roe Head to Dewsbury Moor, near Leeds[5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Anne Brontë began her career as a governess in 1839, hoping to contribute to her family’s strained finances[6†]. She took a position with the Ingham family at Blake Hall, a stately mansion in West Yorkshire[6†]. She was put in charge of the Inghams’ two eldest children, 6-year-old Cunliffe and 5-year-old Mary[6†]. However, she found the experience challenging and left the position after a short period[6†].

In 1841, she took another position as a governess, this time with the Robinsons, the family of a clergyman, at Thorpe Green, near York[6†][2†]. Her brother, Branwell, joined her in 1843, intending to serve as a tutor[6†][2†]. However, he was dismissed in 1845, charged with making love to his employer’s wife[6†][2†]. Anne returned home shortly after her brother’s dismissal[6†][2†].

Anne’s literary career began in earnest when she and her sisters Charlotte and Emily published a joint collection of poems in 1846[6†][2†]. They used the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, respectively, to conceal their gender[6†][2†]. Anne contributed 21 poems to this collection[6†][2†].

Her first novel, Agnes Grey, was published in 1847[6†][1†][2†]. The novel, which is likely based on her experiences as a governess, records with limpidity and some humour the life of a governess[6†][2†]. It was published together with Emily’s Wuthering Heights[6†][1†][2†].

Anne’s second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was published in 1848[6†][1†][2†]. The novel presents an unsoftened picture of the debauchery and degradation of the heroine’s first husband and sets against it the Arminian belief, opposed to Calvinist predestination, that no soul shall be ultimately lost[6†][2†]. It is often considered one of the first feminist novels[6†][1†][2†].

Unfortunately, Anne fell ill with tuberculosis toward the end of 1848 and died the following May[6†][2†].

First Publication of Her Main Works

Anne Brontë, under the pen name Acton Bell, made significant contributions to English literature with her two novels[1†][2†][5†].

Her first novel, Agnes Grey, was published in December 1847[1†][2†][5†]. This novel was published together with Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily Brontë[1†][2†][5†]Agnes Grey is the third volume of the three-volume publication[1†][2†].

Anne’s second and last novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was published in June 1848[1†][5†]. This novel is often considered one of the first feminist novels[1†].

In addition to her novels, Anne also contributed 21 poems to Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, a joint work with her sisters Charlotte and Emily, published in 1846[1†][2†].

Here is a list of her main works with their first year of publication:

Analysis and Evaluation

Anne Brontë’s work, particularly her novels, have been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation[7†][8†][9†]. Her writing is noted for its insightful cultural reflections about her era[7†].

In her poetry, Anne Brontë’s development over a span of 11 years from 1838 to 1849 is evident[7†]. The selected six poems – The North Wind (1838), Bluebell (1840), To… (1842), Night (1845), The Narrow Way (1848), and Last Lines (1849) – highlight different stages of artistic development and personal reflection[7†]. These poems also illustrate the richness of her intellect, strong emotions, radicalism, and her final moments of fear, panic, and acknowledgement in the face of death[7†].

Her novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in 1848, is often considered one of the first feminist novels[7†][8†]. It lays out in remorseless, compelling detail the effects of a husband’s alcoholism on a woman, Helen Graham, and her son – and her fight to begin a new life away from his violence[7†][8†]. So perfectly did it capture the powerlessness and fear of the female experience that it is often suggested that to read it is to be armed forever against the traps into which the unwary Helen fell[7†][8†].

Anne Brontë’s works, though not as well-known as her sisters’, are considered to burn as brightly and as fiercely as those of her famous sisters[7†][8†]. Her talent and the impact of her works have led some to argue for her unacknowledged supremacy among the Brontë sisters[8†].

Personal Life

Anne Brontë was the youngest of the six Brontë children, and only 20 months old when her mother died in September 1821[10†]. Her mother’s elder sister Elizabeth Branwell took over management of the family, and the baby Anne was put to sleep in Aunt Branwell’s room, where she remained sleeping for much of her childhood[10†].

Anne was born on 17 January 1820 in Market Street, Thornton, west of Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire[10†][11†]. She was the last of the six children of Maria Branwell and Patrick Brontë, who was an Irish Anglican clergyman[10†][11†]. Patrick was appointed perpetual curate of St Michael and All Angels Church in the village of Haworth in 1820[10†][11†].

With her sister Emily, she invented the imaginary kingdom of Gondal, about which they wrote verse and prose (the latter now lost) from the early 1830s until 1845[10†][2†]. She took a position as governess briefly in 1839 and then again for four years, 1841–45, with the Robinsons, the family of a clergyman, at Thorpe Green, near York[10†][2†]. There her irresponsible brother, Branwell, joined her in 1843, intending to serve as a tutor[10†][2†]. Anne returned home in 1845 and was followed shortly by her brother, who had been dismissed, charged with making love to his employer’s wife[10†][2†].

Anne fell ill with tuberculosis toward the end of the year and died the following May[10†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Anne Brontë died on May 28th, 1849 in Scarborough, watched by her sister Charlotte and their friend Ellen Nussey[12†]. For Charlotte Brontë especially, it marked the end of a traumatic period that had seen Anne, Emily, and Branwell Brontë all die from tuberculosis within a nine-month period[12†].

Anne’s death left a significant impact on her family and those who knew her. Her father, Patrick, wrote a mournful letter back to Haworth Parsonage, stating that he had known when his youngest daughter Anne had left him on May 24th, that he would never see her alive again[12†].

Anne’s legacy, however, extends beyond her family. Her novels, “Agnes Grey” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, are considered classics of English literature[12†]. Despite being the least known of the Brontë sisters, Anne’s work has had a lasting impact. Her novel “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” is often considered one of the first feminist novels[12†].

A recent article argues that the legacy created around Anne Brontë distorts the author’s insightful cultural reflections about her era[12†][7†]. The article presents a close analysis of selected poems aimed at exploring the ways in which Anne’s legacy might have been shaped by cultural misconceptions[12†][7†].

Anne Brontë’s life and work continue to inspire and influence readers and writers around the world, affirming her place in the pantheon of great English literary figures[12†][7†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Anne Brontë [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Anne Brontë: British author [website] - link
  3. The Famous People - Anne Brontë Biography [website] - link
  4. BBC History - Historic Figures - The Brontë Sisters (1818-1855) [website] - link
  5. Poetry Foundation - Anne Brontë [website] - link
  6. Mental Floss - Anne Brontë Facts [website] - link
  7. De Gruyter - Cultural Reflections of Time and Space that Contradict a Legacy in Anne Brontë’s Poetry [website] - link
  8. The Guardian - The forgotten genius: why Anne wins the battle of the Brontës [website] - link
  9. Stanford University SearchWorks - New approaches to the literary art of Anne Brontë in SearchWorks catalog [website] - link
  10. Bronte Parsonage Museum - Anne Brontë [website] - link
  11. English History - Anne Brontë [website] - link
  12. The Anne Bronte Blog - After The Death Of Anne Brontë – The Legacy – Anne Brontë [website] - link
  13. ThoughtCo - Biography of Anne Brontë, English Novelist [website] - link
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