Part of the appeal of the Brontë siblings is how vastly different their personalities were, though.

Hermit Emily: “I don’t want to deal with the outside world. I prefer living in my wild fantasies.”

Sensible Anne: “Maybe we should try living in the outside world? We could give it a go, I guess?”  

Ambitious Charlotte: “The outside world has to know about our books and our genius!”

Drunken Branwell: *gets drunk”
The Toast: How To Tell If You Are In A Bronte Novel


1. You have one dream, and it is very small, and everyone around you wants to crush it.

2. Your grandest ambition is to open a small school with four chairs and three well-behaved students, and to someday own a vase with a flower in it, and perhaps to have a second dress.

3. You take that part about the second dress back; you dare not fly so close to the sun, lest Icarus-like, your wings are singed.

4. You have just been walking in the rain, and everyone who raised you is dead, and you are glad.

5. A beautiful and shallow woman that you hate is your best friend for reasons you cannot explain. The more she demands your respect and esteem, the more cruelly you withhold it, which drives her wild. She mocks your station in public; you criticize her morals in private. You suspect her of being Catholic. One night you share a bed and have a fever dream together. She marries a terrible man and sends you fat letters stuffed with passion and longing.

6. Someone compares you to a sparrow. Someone compares your best friend to a scarlet-breasted robin. Someone compares the man you secretly love to a hawk or a crow.

7. None of your pupils are interested in Latin. Your pupils are scatterbrained monsters.

8. You have an enemy who claims to love you. You are competent at embroidering, but not accomplished.

9. You draw horrifying shipwrecks and lightning-ruined oak trees in your spare time. You have never danced, not even once, not even in your dreams.

10. You never tell anyone anything.

11. Someone you have never met has died and left you 20 pounds; you are the richest woman in the world and no man is your master now. You quit your soul-crushing job and move into a cottage. The cottage has whitewashed walls and a small chair for you to sit in; you have never dreamed of so much happiness.

12. You went to France once. You didn’t think much of it.

13. Something has been forbidden to you.

14. You know a man with easily excitable features and very dark whiskers. The two of you argue frequently over points of theology and may very well be in love. He handed you a flower once, and you have never forgotten it.

15. You have a terrible violence in your heart.

Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters hold our imagination because, ultimately, they all believed in women thinking for themselves and only marrying a man they truly loved.

Ahead of their time? 

Man, they were ahead of people in the world NOW.

Don’t forget that. Even 150 years ago, smart, sensible women knew what the deal with marriage was.