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    Anne Bronte

    English novelist and poet
    4 Favorites on Read Print


    Anne Bronte (January 17, 1820 – May 28, 1849) was a British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Bronte literary family. The daughter of a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Anne Bronte lived most of her life with her family at the remote village of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. For a couple of years she went to a boarding school. At the age of nineteen, she left Haworth working as a governess between 1839 and 1845. After leaving her teaching position, she fulfilled her literary ambitions. Anne's creative life was cut short with her death of pulmonary tuberculosis when she was only twenty-nine years old. More ...

    Books by Anne Bronte

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    Quotes by Anne Bronte

    • And then, the unspeakable purity and freshness of the air! There was just enough heat to enhance the value of the breeze, and just enough wind to keep the whole sea in motion, to make the waves come bounding to the shore, foaming and sparkling, as if wild with glee.
      Agnes Grey
    • It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.
      Agnes Grey
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    Biography of Anne Bronte

    Anne Bronte (1820-1849) was born in Thornton, Yorkshire. She was the youngest of six children of Patrick and Maria Bronte, and educated largely at home. After the death of her mother in 1821, and two other children, Maria (d. 1825) and Elizabeth (d. 1825), Anne was left with her sisters and brother to the care of their father. Other members of the family were Elizabeth Branwell, a Calvinist aunt, and the family servant, Tabitha Aycroyd, who knew many folk-tales. The girls most effective education was at the Haworth parsonage, in which Mr. Bronte settled the year before his wife's death. They read the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Scott, and many others, and examined articles from Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Fraser's Magazine, and The Edinburgh Review.

    In the upstairs of the parsonage, a small house, was two bedrooms and a third room, scarcely bigger than a closet, in which the sisters played their games. The front door opened almost directly on to the churcyard. Inspired by a box of 12 wooden soldiers, the children wove tales and legends associated with remote Africa. With these tales the children broke the monotonous daily routines, like they later poured their joys and disappointment in their novels. Emily and Anne created their own Gondal saga, and Charlotte and Branwell recorded their stories in minute notebooks.

    In 1839 Anne worked for a short period as a governess to the Inghams at Blake Hall and later in same position to the Robinsons at Thorpe Green Hall near York from 1840 to 1845. Her brother Branwell joined her there as a tutor to Edmund, the only boy in the family, in 1843. He fell unfortunately in love for Mrs Robinson - or some other reason annoyed their employers - and Anne had to leave the work. Thorpe Green appeared later as Horton Lodge in her novel Agnes Grey. This sacking was a heavy blow to Anne's ambitions. She had enjoyed her life outside Haworth and she had a good reason to feel disappointend and bitter. Branwell drank himself into physical decline and died suddenly in September 1848 - in the same year also appeared Anne's novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in which one of the central characters, Arthur Huntingdon, is an alcoholic.

    In 1846 Anne Bronte published with her sisters a collection of poems, POEMS BY CURRER, ELLIS AND ACTON BELL. In 'The Captive Dove', using the pseudonym 'Acton Bell', she expressing her longing for freedom: "Poor restless dove, I pity thee; / And when I hear thy plaintive moan, / I mourn for thy captivity, / And in thy woes forget mine own." Her first novel, Agnes Grey, a story about the life of a governess, appeared in 1847. It was based on Anne's recollections of her experience with the children of the Ingham family and the Robinson family. In the story Agnes Grey is employed by the Murray family. When Agnes hears from home that her father is dangerously ill, she asks permission to go on vacation from Mrs. Murray. One can her in words Anne's own bitterness: "Mrs Murray stared, and wondered at the unwonted energy and boldness with which I urged the request, and thought there was no occasion to hurry; but finally gave me leave: starting, however, that there was "no need to be in such agitation about the matter - it might prove a false alarm after all; and if not - why, it was only in the common course of nature: we must all die some time; and I was not to suppose myself the only afflicted person in the world..." At the end of her story, after series of humiliations, Agnes becomes the wife of Edward Weston, a curate, and states soberly and optimistically in her diary: "We have had trials, and we know that we must have them again; but we shall bear them well together..."

    The novel did not gain similar success as Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jane Eyre. Her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was published in 1848 in three volumes and sold well. One critic considered it "utterly unfit to be put into the hands of girls," which of course only arose more interest in the work. In the story the young and beautiful Helen Graham has taken a refuge at Wildfell Hall from her irresponsible, drinking husband Huntingdon. He believes that his brains are composed of more solid materials than is normal and thus they will "absorb a considerable quantity of this alcoholic vapour without the production of any sensible result". Wildfell Hall is the property of Helen's brother, a mansion of the Elizabethan era, built of dark grey stone, cold and gloomy. Gilbert Markham, a local farmer and the first narrator, falls in love with her. In her diary Helen offers another point of view in the story and reveals the disintegration of her marriage and adopted disguise as Mrs Graham. When Helen's husband dies, the way is clear for Gilbert to marry her.

    The frank depiction of Huntingdon's alcoholism and Helen's struggle to free herself was considered by some critics inappropriate subjects for a woman. Also Charlotte, in her 'Preface' to the 1850 edition of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, wrote of Anne's second novel: "The choice of subject was an entire mistake." Anne Bronte fell ill with tuberculosis after the appearance of the book. She died on the following May in 1849 at Scarborough, where she was buried. The other sisters were buried at Haworth. On the headstone of Anne's grave the age shown is incorrect - she wasn't 28 when she died but 29.
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