The Brontës: A Magical Children's Collective

Growing up motherless in an isolated Yorkshire parish, the Brontë children "” Anne, Emily, Charlotte, and Branwell "” developed a magical and doomed childhood collective, creating entire worlds from their reading and imaginations. (Two other sisters, Maria and Elisabeth, did not survive into adolescence.) Their father, Irish-born and hard-driven, was the Anglican incumbent of Haworth, an isolated village surrounded by the Yorkshire moors. The children were each other's constant companions; from an early age their "highest stimulus ... lay in attempts at literary composition." All of them wrote and drew, with Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) the most productive, putting their stories and poems into tiny illustrated books and manuscripts, such as Charlotte's "The Keep of the Bridge." These were apprentice labors, inspired by the annuals and magazines that the Brontë children all read avidly for their stories and news from the wider world.


Charlotte Brontë. "œThe Keep of the Bridge." Autograph manuscript and pencil drawing, signed, July 13, 1829.
The New York Public Library, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.


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