Emily Brontë: A One Hit Wonder

Some may consider Emily Brontë a one hit wonder in the literary world. Besides one book of poems she collaborated with Anne on, Emily is known for the only novel she has ever written, Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights is now considered one of the most influential novels in English literature. Unfortunately we don’t know much about Emily, but we do know some things.

Emily Brontë was born on July 30th, 1818 to parents Patrick and Maria Brontë. Unfortunately, bad luck followed the Brontë family, Emily’s mother Maria passed away when she was just three years old on September 15th, 1821. After her death, Emily’s older sisters Maria, Elizabeth, and Charlotte were sent away to school. The young girls attended the Clergy Daughters’ School, which is believed to be the school were the young girls encountered quite a bit of abuse. When Emily was old enough she eventually joined her sisters at school when she was six years old.

Bad luck continued to reign over the Brontë family when a typhoid epidemic plagued Clergy Daughters’. The oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, fell victim to this epidemic and Maria later passed away. After Maria’s death Emily was taken away from Clergy Daughters’ and returned home. Receiving their education from their father and aunt, the children began to have time to write fictional stories. The children supposedly wrote stores of toy soldiers, creating elaborate fantasy worlds which were then acted out.

At the age of twenty Emily Brontë began teaching at Law Hill School in Halifax in 1838. Unfortunately for Emily, she became very ill working long 17 hour days and eventually returned home. Upon her return she began to attend Héger Pensionnat in Belgium with her sister Charlotte. The two sisters had dreams of opening their own school, while attending Héger they set out to perfect their French and German to anticipate their goal.

Emily had been secretly writing poems the entire time she was at Héger until Charlotte discovered these poems. It was in 1845 that Charlotte had found Emily’s poems and she insisted that Emily publish her work. In 1846 Emily, Charlotte, and Anne published a book of poems titled Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The sisters of course were forced into adopting pseudonyms, but preserved their first initials.

A few years later Wuthering Heights was published in London in a three volume set, which also included Anne’s Agnes Grey. It wasn’t until 1850 that Emily Brontë’s name was finally published on her one and only novel. Wuthering Heights sparked a lot of interest and eventually became and English classic.

Experts believe that Emily had begun writing a second novel, but have never found a manuscript. Many believe that her family destroyed any writing that was left behind after her death, if it even existed. As bad luck does, it followed the Brontë family around. While attending the funeral of her brother Branwell, Emily caught a cold. The cold became very severe and she eventually began to show signs of tuberculosis. Emily rejected any medical assistance and didn’t send for a doctor until it was too late. On December 19th 1848, Emily Brontë passed away, only three months after Branwell and died.