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Brontë Inc: The Three Sisters Who Changed English Literature

Updated March 02, 2011

Charlotte Brontë, the author of Jane Eyre, was one of three sister writers who seemed to come out of nowhere. Meet the rest of the family.

The Power of the Brontës
The Beginning: Patrick Brontë & Maria Branwell
Early Years: A Painful Education
Early Years: At Home with their Imagination
Charlotte Brontë
Emily Brontë
Anne Brontë
Patrick Branwell Brontë
The Poems
The Novels
Tragedy and Marriage
The Power of the Brontës

The Power of the Brontës

In 1835, Patrick Branwell Brontë paints a portrait of his three sisters and himself. At the time, Charlotte is teaching, Emily returns to live at home, and Anne is enrolled in school. Only Branwell, who is about to embark on a painting career, holds any potential for fame. In the next ten years, everything will change. Branwell not only faded, but he, after a fight with father, paints himself out of the family portrait, leaving only a blurring pillar when he used to be. His three sisters will have risen to become major figures of English literature. What caused this otherwise undistinguished family to produce three sisters of such literary excellence? The question still rages on blogs and website, in academic journals and coffee houses. And the Brontës continue to command fascination, respect and love. Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre adds to our modern infatuation with Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. But the public’s obsession with the whole Brontë clan, even the black sheep Branwell, has never flagged.