Here are 10 facts to commemorate the 201st birthday of British novelist, Charlotte Brontë, most famously known for writing Jane Eyre.
1. Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816 in Thornton, England to an Anglican clergyman (Reverend Patrick Bronte) and Maria Branwell. She grew up in nearby Haworth, in a parsonage on the Yorkshire moors.
2. She suffered the loss of her mother at age 5 and wrote various poems and stories during early childhood. The third of six children, she was a prolific poet in her early teen years (13-15 years old), and showed great interest in literary history and writing.
3. The Brontë children created imaginary kingdoms called Angria and Gondal. Manuscripts of these places show elaborate detail and helped form the foundation for their future literary vocations.
4. She held positions as a governess (a woman employed to teach school aged children in a private home) and taught English for a brief time at the Pensionnat Heger boarding school in Brussels.
5. Charlotte published her work using the masculine Currer Bell pseudonym and was influenced by the Romantic poet, Lord George Gordon Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Alfred Tennyson.
6. Jane Eyre was published in 1847, a novel praised by Queen Victoria and William Makepeace Thackeray, and notable for its perspective on the feminine psyche, exploring issues of self-worth, identity, and economic independence.
7. In 1848, Charlotte revealed her true identity and became well known in literary circles, especially after the publication of Shirley in 1849 and Villette in 1853.
8. The Reverend Arthur Nicholls, curate of Haworth since 1845, proposed marriage to Charlotte in 1852. Her father objected and Charlotte declined his proposal. Reverend Nicholls left Haworth in the following year but by 1854, her father’s opposition to the proposed marriage had weakened, and Charlotte and Arthur became engaged. They were married on June 29, 1854.
9. Charlotte died while pregnant, from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness), on March 31, 1855.
10. The Professor was published posthumously in 1857, as well as Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë.