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The Brontë Bunch

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Oil painting of the Brontë Sisters
Painting of the Brontë Sisters by Branwell Brontë

The Brontë sisters are some of the most famous siblings in literature. There were in fact 6 Brontë children: Maria and Elizabeth who died in childhood; Patrick “Branwell”, the lone brother who fancied himself a poet and a painter, but didn’t get up to much of either; and of course the famous sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, well known as poets and novelists, creating works of literature that have lasted literal centuries.

Charlotte (1816–1855), the eldest of the three, was best known for Jane Eyre. Emily (1818–1848), wrote Wuthering Heights, which was her only novel. Then there's youngest sister Anne (1820–1849), who had less notoriety (and success) than her older sisters, but did pen 2 novels nonetheless, Agnes Grey and TheTenant of Wildfell Hall.

Branwell, who had nothing of note published, did manage to paint one of the only known portraits of his sisters. He was originally in the painting as well, but painted himself out, and a pillar stood in his place leaving a shadow of his visage behind. Did the sisters make him do it? It remains a mystery to this day.

Were there collaborations between the sisters, or re-writes? There have been whole books dedicated to that theory as well as some who believe that Branwell had a hand, but like with most siblings, it's fact, mixed up with family hearsay and lore. I still swear my sister borrowed my copy of Wuthering Heights and never gave it back, and she swears I copied her Jane Eyre term paper. It remains a mystery to this day.

There have been many literary adaptations of the sisters’ books over the decades, as well as TV and film, with Jane Eyre getting new versions seemingly every year. 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë's birth, and we’re not surprised to see a few more Jane Eyre inspired titles added to an already long list.

Lindner, April.

Woodward, Kay.

Lowell, Catherine, 1989-

McKenna, Aline Brosh,

Reay, Katherine, 1970-

Connolly, Tina.

Stewart, Mary, 1916-2014.