bronte-sisters

“When a man writes something, it’s what he’s written that’s judged. When a woman writes something, it’s her that’s judged." - Emily Brontë

Based largely on Charlotte’s letters, To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters follows the sisters’ rise from ordinary women to secret authors amid 19th century sexism. 

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I need someone to write a good, long post about how shitty it is to always compare Jane Austen to the Brontë sisters, for no other reason than that they’re women. No one ever asked me wether I was more of a Dostoyevsky or a Dickens girl, but the moment I utter either “Austen” or “Brontë” someone jumps out from somewhere to ask me wether I’m “an Austen or a Brontë girl”. Stop it. Just because they’re the only two female authors anyone ever thinks are worth noticing doesn’t mean I can’t like them both equally? They wrote very different books and there’s literally no reason to compare them. Just stop.

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Happy birthday to Charlotte Brontë! A member of the prolific Brontë family, Charlotte published many works during her short life, including Jane Eyre and Villette. She often published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in order to avoid contemporary stereotypes of female authors. Enjoy these wood engravings of Jane Eyre and her flawed hero Mr. Rochester. 

(images Brontë’s Jane Eyre (PR4167 .J3 1943))

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Some time ago, our brother Branwell became involved with a married woman. Somehow that two-bit hussy Jane Austen found out about it.

The seductive nature of a happy ending can’t be disputed, and the two older Brontës provide it in spades. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Cathy are never united, but their children fall in love: Heathcliff’s behaviour is almost justified, as it has brought Linton and Cathy mark II together. Likewise in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester falls in love with Plain Jane, attempts to commit bigamy, is thwarted, his wife luckily burns to death and they live happily ever after. Charlotte and Emily offered their fictional Branwells a form of redemption that in reality he failed to achieve.
Anne, the sister who spent the most time nursing Branwell, either refused or was unable to romanticise what happened to her brother. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall an abused wife, Helen Graham, runs away from her alcoholic husband, Arthur Huntingdon. She meets Gilbert Markham and falls in love with him but is unable to marry him. Anne’s depiction of Arthur Huntingdon’s decline drew heavily on Branwell’s death and still stands out today as an unflinching depiction of alcoholism.
By romanticising their alcoholic, violent brother, Charlotte and Emily Brontë were presenting an optimistic view of the byronic hero. Anne Brontë, however, refused to wear rose-tinted glasses. As a novelist she is more honest than Emily and more unflinching than Charlotte, but that doesn’t make for great romance or cosy TV adaptations. It’s easy to say that because Anne refused to give us a brooding hero, her books are less widely read. But I would suggest that she was in fact just too honest about the nature of violence and addiction.
—  Beulah Maud Devaney