Three writers who influenced the direction of the English novel also happened to be sisters. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte were all born in Thornton, England in the early 1800s.Their father Patrick was born in Ireland, educated in England, and became an Anglican clergyman. He and his wife had six children. The two oldest daughters, Maria and Elizabeth died before reaching adulthood. Of the remaining children, Charlotte was the eldest, born April 21, 1816; followed by brother Patrick Branwell, born June 26, 1817; then Emily, born July 30, 1818; and Anne, born January 17, 1820.
Shortly after Anne's birth, their father accepted a position in Haworth, located within the Yorkshire moors. Mrs. Bronte died soon after reaching Haworth, and the children were cared for by an aunt named Elizabeth Branwell. In 1824, Charlotte and Emily were sent to Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire, but they returned within a year. The treatment at Cowan Bridge was considered harsh, and Charlotte later modeled Lowood School (Jane Eyre) after it.
For the next several years, the Bronte children were taught at home. They invented games and told imaginary stories to each other. Charlotte attended Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head for one year in 1831, then returned home and taught her sisters. Charlotte returned to Roe Head as a teacher in 1835, but after suffering from depression and ill health, she resigned from her position. It was at Roe Head that Charlotte met her lifelong friend Ellen Nussey. Her many letters to Nussey have served as the best documentation of her life.
The Bronte sisters worked in various schools during the next few years. Anne worked briefly as a governess in 1839 and from 1841-1845. Emily spent several months teaching at Miss Patchett's school at Law Hill. Charlotte and Emily had plans to open their own school at Haworth, and in 1842, they traveled to Brussels at their aunt's expense to learn German and improve their French....