Sunday, 1 May 2011

Emily Brontë

NAME Emily Brontë


BIRTH b 30 July 1818 at Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.

FAMILY BACKGROUND Emily was bought up by her father, Patrick, an eccentric Irish Clergyman, who was in the habit of carrying a loaded pistol in his pocket and an Aunt, who was her mother’s unmarried sister. Her Cornish mother, Maria died in 1821 at the age of 37 of cancer. The Aunt who came down to look after them was a Calvinist Methodist. Although they appreciated her efforts, she apparently did not become a second mother to them.
Emily had four sisters including Charlotte (1818-1848) who wrote Jane Eyre and Anne (1820-49) who wrote Agnes Grey . Her one brother Patrick (1817-1848) (always known simply as Branwell, so that's how I will refer to him), was addicted to opium and alcohol and often used to frequent the Nelson Inn at Luddenden Foot, West Yorks. He was the black sheep of the family. Her two other sisters Maria and Elizabeth also died of consumption, both in 1825. Her father outlived all his children.
CHILDHOOD In 1826 Mr Brontë bought home a box of wooden soldiers for Branwell to play with. Emily (left) and her sisters joined in and together they used the soldiers to create an imaginary kingdom called Angria. When Emily was 13, she and Anne withdrew from participation in the Angria story and began a new one about Gondal, a large island in the North Pacific. She filled thousands of pages of miniature books writing about her imaginary kingdom, continuing to do so until 1845.

EDUCATION In August 1824, Emily was sent with three of her sisters, Charlotte, Maria, and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire, (which Charlotte would describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre). As borders there cruelty, poor hygiene and starvation made life horrific and hastened the deaths of their older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth ho died of tuberculosis in June 1825. Soon afterwards Emily's father removed her and Charlotte from the school. Their father undertook to educate them himself, although this education seems to have been largely self-administered by Charlotte.
At the age of seventeen, Emily became a pupil at Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, where Charlotte was a teacher, but managed to stay only three months before being overcome by extreme homesickness. She returned home and Anne took her place. At this time, the girls' objective was to obtain sufficient education to open a small school of their own

CAREER RECORD Emily took up various positions as governesses and teachers to earn money to pay for an art education for her brother Branwell. her CV reads thus:
1838-9 Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax beginning in September 1838, when she was twenty. Her health broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839.
1839-42 A stay-at-home daughter, doing most of the cooking and cleaning and teaching Sunday school. She taught herself German out of books and practiced piano.
1842-43 Emily accompanied Charlotte to Brussels, Belgium, where they attended a girls' academy run by Constantin Heger. They planned to perfect their French and German in anticipation of f returning to Yorkshire to establish a school of their own.
1844 Using a small inheritance from her aunt Emily set up with Charlotte a school for girls in their home village of Haworth. Although they advertised they received no pupils, so the sisters turned to their poems and novels which they had been writing.
1846 It was the discovery of Emily's poetic talent by her family that led her and her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, to publish a joint collection of their poetry in 1846. The following year, Emily's only novel, Wuthering Heights was published.

CHARACTER Emily was a silent, reserved woman almost to the point of rudeness with strangers. In private she was somewhat wacky, preferring to live in her imaginary land of Gondal, and mystical to the extent that Charlotte had to tone down her image after she died. There's nowt as queer as folk.

RELATIONSHIPS The introverted Emily was a loner and never socialised well. She had few friends outside her family.

MONEY AND FAME Whilst Charlotte was widely acclaimed straight away for Jane Eyre, Emily's fame was wholly posthumous. Within a few years of her death, Brontë mania had started and people were flocking to Haworth.

FOOD AND DRINK Emily and her sisters were keen on berries. When not, er, berrying themselves in writing they ate blackberries, gooseberries, elderberries and other moorish berries.

LITERATURE After leaving school, Emily and her sisters read widely at home including Byron & Scott. They wrote magazines in imitation of Blackwoods Magazine. In 1844, Emily began going through all the poems she had written, recopying them neatly into notebooks. In the fall of 1845, Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted that the poems be published. Emily, furious at the invasion of her privacy, at first refused, but relented when Anne brought out her own manuscripts and revealed she had been writing poems in secret as well.
In 1846, the sisters' poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Only two copies were sold. The next year the three sisters each sent a novel to the publishers, and Emily's Wuthering Heights along with Anne's Agnes Grey, were both accepted.
The ideas for Wuthering Heights evolved from Gondal, her fantasy world set on a Pacific island. Her classic, poetic story was about Heathcliffe's doomed, obsessional love for Cathy located on the Yorkshire moors that Emily knew so well. The 'Wuthering Height’'s building itself is said to be modelled on a local farm house.
The critics were initially shocked by the novel's immoral passion, unusual construction and violent nature. One referred to it as "brutal, coarse & vulgar”. The book subsequently became an English literary classic.

PETS Emily had a a large mastiff dog called Keeper who was so beloved that she rose from her sickbed the evening before her death to feed him . When she died, Keeper followed her coffin and then according to Charlotte, came into the church with the family, “lying in the pew couched at [their] feet while the burial service was being read”
She also had a cat called Tiger who played at Emily’s feet while she wrote Wuthering Heights.

HOBBIES AND SPORTS Emily and her sisters kept fit by walking over those desolate moors.

PHILOSOPHY & THEOLOGY Emily was a silent, reserved, emotionally bound up woman. In private she preferred to live in her imagined land of Gondal rather than the real world. The mystical writer was obsessed by death and her classic, poetical story, Wuthering Heights, about Heathcliffe’s doomed, obsessional love for Cathy shocked many critics with its immoral passion, unusual construction and violent nature.

HEALTH AND PHYSICAL FITNESS Throughout her last consumptive illness, Emily refused all drugs and medical attention despite being in extreme pain during its later stages.

HOMES Until 1820 Emily lived at a bleak, Georgian Vicarage in Market Street, Thornton, West Yorks. She moved to Haworth Rectory, in Church Street, Haworth (see left) where Emily and her sisters were bought up in isolation on the Yorkshire moors. The rectory is now a museum. Today over 200,000 tourists visit Haworth a year. Charlotte's father gave the first tour in the 1850s

DEATH Emily's health, like her sisters', had been weakened by unsanitary conditions at home and at school. Having caught She caught a cold during the funeral of her brother in September 1848, she grew very thin and ill, but rejected medical help and refused all proffered remedies, saying that she would have "no poisoning doctor" near her. She died on 19 December 1848 at about two in the afternoon. Emily was interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire.

APPEARANCES IN MEDIA 1. Wuthering Heights The 1939 movie with with Larry Olivier as Heathcliffe and Merle Oberon as Cathy is by far the finest of several film versions of Emily's classic novel. "No matter what I ever do or say Heathcliffe, this is me-now-standing on this hill with you. This is me, forever," said Merle Oberon memorably. The second best version was probably the 1970 one with Timothy "007" Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall (what happened to her?) The 1992 version with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche with remarkably Sinead O'Connor as Emily was a Bernard Matthews. We mustn't forget Sir Cliff's 1995 musical version and the Monty Python semaphore version.
2. Kate Bush's 1978 UK #1 Wuthering Heights was the single that introduced her to the public. (Incidentally Kate Bush shares the same birthday as Emily).
3. Devotion, a 1946 film about the Brontës where Branwell has an American accent and the Rev Nicholls a German/Austrian one.

ACHIEVEMENTS 1. Wuthering Heights is the best selling Penguin Classic in the UK.
2. The success of the Brontës helped the equality for women cause. You could say Emily's tragic masterpiece was a great weep forward.

REFERENCES Wikipedia and my knowledge.

Wuthering Heights

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