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The Brontë sisters - Creativity and WritingThe Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing


The Brontë sisters:


Charlotte (1816-55)

Emily ( 1818- 48) 

Anne (1820-49) 


English writers (pictured above in a 1834 painting by their brother, Branwell, who was in it but painted himself out -  from left to right: Anne, Emily and Charlotte) .

Lived in Haworth in the Yorkshire moors that inspired their books.


Their most famous books are...

Jane Eyre (by Charlotte),

Wuthering Heights (Emily)

Agnes Grey (Anne).


Why were they so creative?


1. Inspiration and imagination

They were inspired by:

  • the beautiful Yorkshire moors surrounding their home. The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing
  • the books they read (like Gulliver’s Travels and The Arabian Nights).
  • their vivid imagination - Charlotte and her brother, Branwell (pictured right in a 1840 self-portrait) , created the imaginary world of Angria, and Emily and Anne created Gondal.


2. Ambition and purpose

Despite the fact they all wrote anonymously with pseudonyms, they wanted their work to be appreciated.

This was much more important to them than money.

Charlotte:The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing

  • wanted “to be forever known”.
  • was the only sister to achieve fame and fortune from the huge popularity of Jane Eyre (1847).

But she never left Haworth, so that she could look after her ageing father (pictured right).


3. Passion and enthusiasm

They all loved writing and creating beautiful and emotive literature.

 The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing

4. Learning

They learned from

  • great writers (particularly Lord Byron, pictured right, and Walter Scott, pictured right below).
  • a teacher during their brief stay in Belgium in 1842

The teacher taught them the importance of

  • study (learning from reading).The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing
  • experience (see point 5).
  • writing for an audience (see point 6).


5. Experience

Their writing was based on


a) personal experience

The horrible school Charlotte was sent to in 1824 became Lowood School in Jane Eyre.

Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights may have been based on the sisters’ brother, Branwell.

Novelists should never allow themselves to weary of the study of real life”, Charlotte said.


b) social injustice

They responded to:

  • hypocrisy.
  • the unfairness of convention (particularly women’s inequality and social inferiority). The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing

“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion”, Charlotte (pictured right in 1850)  wrote in the preface to Jane Eyre.

Jane (like Charlotte) fights for her

  • equality with men.
  • self-respect and independence.


6. Revolutionaries

They produced challenging literature that educated people about:

  • life and love. The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing
  • social problems (like sex equality, alcoholism, cruelty and class divisions) - see point 5.

In Emily's (pictured right in her brother's portrait) Wuthering Heights, Catherine doesn’t marry her beloved Heathcliff, because he comes from a lower class.

Seeing the story through Jane Eyre’s eyes (using ‘I’ in the text) was revolutionary.


7. Determination and self-belief

They persevered with writing, despite bad reviews and poor sales. Only two copies of their book of poetry were sold!

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were criticized as coarse and immoral

Charlotte was told by the Poet Laureate early in her career that:

“literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life”.

Like her sisters, she was determined to prove him wrong.


8. Religion

Their father was a Church of England minister and so Christianity was very important to them (making criticisms of immorality particularly hurtful).

They believed their talent was a gift from God and so should be developed as much as possible.

Religion also gave them the principles and purpose to cope with life’s problems and seize its opportunities.

 The Brontë sisters - Creativity and Writing

9. Customer satisfaction

Charlotte's (pictured right in 1854) Jane Eyre was extremely popular because of the book’s passion and emotional honesty.

People identified with Jane, because they saw in her their own thoughts and feelings.


Key quotes on relationships

It is not violence that best overcomes hate (Charlotte, Jane Eyre).

Life appears to be too short in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs (Charlotte, Jane Eyre).


Key quote on religion 

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion (Charlotte in the preface to Jane Eyre).


Key quotes on happiness

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow (Charlotte, The Professor).

There is always a “but” in this imperfect world (Anne, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) .


Key quote on the past

All true histories contain instruction (Anne, Agnes Grey).

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