The Brontës

Charlotte Brontë: 1816 – 1855)
(Emily Brontë: 1818 – 1848)
(Anne Brontë: 1820 – 1849)
(Branwell Brontë: 1817 – 1848)
(Patrick Brontë: 1777 – 1861)

The BrontesBiographical Sketch

The Brontës were a nineteenth-century literary family associated with the village of Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. The sisters, Charlotte (born April 21, 1816, in Thornton near Bradford), Emily (born July 30, 1818 in Thornton), and Anne (born January 17, 1820 in Thornton), are well known as poets and novelists. They originally published their poems and novels under masculine pseudonyms, following the custom of the times practised by female writers. Their stories immediately attracted attention, although not always the best, for their passion and originality. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre was the first to know success, while Emily’s Wuthering Heights, Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and other works were later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature.

The three sisters and their brother, Branwell, were very close and they developed their childhood imaginations through the collaborative writing of increasingly complex stories. The confrontation with the deaths first of their mother then of their two older sisters marked them profoundly and influenced their writing.

Their fame was due as much to their own tragic destinies as to their precociousness. Since their early deaths, and then the death of their father in 1861, they were subject to a following that did not cease to grow. Their home, the parsonage at Haworth in Yorkshire, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, has become a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Read more about The Brontës on Wikipedia.



Charlotte Brontë
  • Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Shirley (1849)
  • Villette (1853)
  • The Professor (1857)
Short Fiction, Juvenalia and Compilations
  • The History of the Year (1829)
  • Two Romantic Tales (1829)
    • The Twelve Adventurers
    • An Adventure in Ireland
  • Tales of the Islanders (1829)
  • Albion and Marina (1830)
  • The Secret (1832)
  • The Foundling (1833)
  • The Green Dwarf (1833)
  • Napoleon and the Spectre (1833)
  • The Spell (1834)
  • The Twelve Adventurers: And Other Stories (1925)
  • Early Writings, 1826 – 1832 (1987)
  • Early Writings, 1833 – 1834 (1991)
  • Early Writings, 1834 – 1835 (1991)
  • Juvenilia 1829 – 1835 (1997)
  • The Sayings of Charlotte Brontë (2002)
  • The Letters of Charlotte Brontë: 1848 – 1851; with a Selection of Letters by Family and Friends (1995-2000)
Online editions of Charlotte Brontë’s works:
Emily Brontë
  • Wuthering Heights (1847)
  • No Coward Soul Is Mine: Emily Brontë Poems (1993)
  • The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë (1995)
Online editions of Emily Brontë’s works:
Anne Brontë
  • Agnes Grey (1847)
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
  • The Poems of Anne Brontë (1979)
Online editions of Anne Brontë’s works:
Branwell Brontë
Short Fiction, Juvenalia and Poetry
  • Branwell’s Blackwood’s Magazine (1829-30)
  • The History of the Young Men (1831)
  • The Poems of Branwell Brontë (1983)
Online editions of Branwell Brontë’s works:
Patrick Brontë
  • Cottage Poems (1811)
Online editions of Patrick Brontë’s works:
Brontë Collections
  • Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846)
  • Brontë Poems (1915)
  • Selected Poems of The Brontës (1997)
  • The Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters (1997)
  • Poems by The Brontë Sisters (2002)
  • The Brontës: A Life in Letters (1998)
Joint Juvenalia
  • The Young Men’s Magazine, No. 1 – 3 (1830)
  • Tales of Angria (1834 – 1839)
    • Mina Laury
    • Stancliffe’s Hotel
    • The Duke of Zamorna
    • Henry Hastings
    • Caroline Vernon
    • The Roe Head Journal Fragments
  • Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal (2010)


A Selection of Quotes

Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre

“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

“What tale do you like best to hear?’ ‘Oh, I have not much choice! They generally run on the same theme – courtship; and promise to end in the same catastrophe – marriage.”

“I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

“I am not an angel,”” I asserted; “”and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.”

“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”

“I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitments, awaited those who had the courage to go forth into it’s expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst it’s perils.”

“It is always the way of events in this life, … no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting place, than a voice calls out to you to rise and move on, for the hour of repose is expired.”

“Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life.”

“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide.”

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

“Your will shall decide your destiny.”

“Reason sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision. Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the dictates of conscience.”

“It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate: and when our energies seem to demand a sustenance they cannot get – when our will strains after a path we may not follow – we need neither starve from inanition, not stand still in despair: we have but to seek another nourishment for the mind, as strong as the forbidden fruit it longed to taste – and perhaps purer; and to hew out for the adventurous foot a road as direct and broad as the one Fortune has blocked up against us, if rougher than it.”

“Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.”

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

,”It is not violence that best overcomes hate – nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”

“Poetry destroyed? Genius banished? No! Mediocrity, no: do not let envy prompt you to the thought. No; they not only live, but reign, and redeem: and without their divine influence spread everywhere, you would be in hell – the hell of your own meanness.”


“No: I shall not marry Samuel Fawthrop Wynne.”
“I ask why? I must have a reason. In all respects he is more than worthy of you.”
She stood on the hearth; she was pale as the white marble slab and cornice behind her; her eyes flashed large, dilated, unsmiling.
“And I ask in what sense that young man is worthy of me?”

“Your god, sir, is the World. In my eyes, you, too, if not an infidel, are an idolater. I conceive that you ignorantly worship: in all things you appear to me too superstitious. Sir, your god, your great Bel, your fish-tailed Dagon, rises before me as a demon. You, and such as you, have raised him to a throne, put on him a crown, given him a sceptre. Behold how hideously he governs! See him busied at the work he likes best – making marriages. He binds the young to the old, the strong to the imbecile. He stretches out the arm of Mezentius and fetters the dead to the living. In his realm there is hatred – secret hatred: there is disgust – unspoken disgust: there is treachery – family treachery: there is vice – deep, deadly, domestic vice. In his dominions, children grow unloving between parents who have never loved: infants are nursed on deception from their very birth: they are reared in an atmosphere corrupt with lies … All that surrounds him hastens to decay: all declines and degenerates under his sceptre. Your god is a masked Death.”

“I am anchored on a resolve you cannot shake. My heart, my conscience shall dispose of my hand – they only. Know this at last.”

“If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.”

“Milton’s Eve! Milton’s Eve! … Milton tried to see the first woman; but Cary, he saw her not … I would beg to remind him that the first men of the earth were Titans, and that Eve was their mother: from her sprang Saturn, Hyperion, Oceanus; she bore Prometheus” –
“Pagan that you are! what does that signify?”
“I say, there were giants on the earth in those days: giants that strove to scale heaven. The first woman’s breast that heaved with life on this world yielded the daring which could contend with Omnipotence: the stregth which could bear a thousand years of bondage, – the vitality which could feed that vulture death through uncounted ages, – the unexhausted life and uncorrupted excellence, sisters to immortality, which after millenniums of crimes, struggles, and woes, could conceive and bring forth a Messiah. The first woman was heaven-born: vast was the heart whence gushed the well-spring of the blood of nations; and grand the undegenerate head where rested the consort-crown of creation. … I saw – I now see – a woman-Titan: her robe of blue air spreads to the outskirts of the heath, where yonder flock is grazing; a veil white as an avalanche sweeps from hear head to her feet, and arabesques of lighting flame on its borders. Under her breast I see her zone, purple like that horizon: through its blush shines the star of evening. Her steady eyes I cannot picture; they are clear – they are deep as lakes – they are lifted and full of worship – they tremble with the softness of love and the lustre of prayer. Her forehead has the expanse of a cloud, and is paler than the early moon, risen long before dark gathers: she reclines her bosom on the ridge of Stilbro’ Moor; her mighty hands are joined beneath it. So kneeling, face to face she speaks with God. That Eve is Jehova’s daughter, as Adam was His son.”

“There are certain phrases potent to make my blood boil – improper influence! What old woman’s cackle is that?”
“Are you a young lady?”
“I am a thousand times better: I am an honest woman, and as such I will be treated.”

“She sang, as requested. There was much about love in the ballad: faithful love that refused to abandon its object; love that disaster could not shake; love that, in calamity, waxed fonder, in poverty clung closer. The words were set to a fine old air – in themselves they were simple and sweet: perhaps, when read, they wanted force; when well sung, they wanted nothing. Shirley sang them well: she breathed into the feeling, softness, she poured round the passion, force: her voice was fine that evening; its expression dramatic: she impressed all, and charmed one.
On leaving the instrument, she went to the fire, and sat down on a seat – semi-stool, semi-cushion: the ladies were round her – none of them spoke. The Misses Sympson and the Misses Nunnely looked upon her, as quiet poultry might look on an egret, an ibis, or any other strange fowl. What made her sing so? They never sang so. Was it proper to sing with such expression, with such originality – so unlike a school girl? Decidedly not: it was strange, it was unusual. What was strange must be wrong; what was unusual must be improper. Shirley was judged.”

“God surely did not create us, and cause us to live, with the sole end of wishing always to die. I believe, in my heart, we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it. Existence never was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow-trailing thing it often becomes to many, and is becoming to me, among the rest.”


“To see and know the worst is to take from Fear her main advantage.”

“I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets; and for ever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?”

The Letters of Charlotte Brontë

“Friendship however is a plant which cannot be forced – true friendship is no gourd spring up in a night and withering in a day.”

“But life is a battle: may we all be enabled to fight it well!”

As quoted in “The Life of Charlotte Brontë” (Elizabeth Gaskell)

“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own.”

Emily Brontë
The Complete Poems

“Love is like the wild rose-briar; Friendship like the holly-tree. The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms, but which will bloom most constantly?”

Wuthering Heights

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.”

“I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.”

Anne Brontë
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

“I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are or should be written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.”

“[B]eauty is that quality which, next to money, is generally the most attractive to the worst kinds of men; and, therefore, it is likely to entail a great deal of trouble on the possessor.”

The Complete Poems

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.”


Find more quotes by the Brontës on Wikiquote:

– and on Goodreads:



The Brontë Society and Parsonage Museum (Haworth, Yorkshire)