“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.” – Charlotte Brontë
“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.” – Emily Brontë
“But he that dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose.” – Anne Brontë
In Worlds of Ink and Shadow, the Brontë Siblings- Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne- escape from their constrained lives through their powerful imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic, melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering passion and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price?
Reading this book is a bit like being a part of the biggest literary sibling rivalry of the 19th century. Having read (and loved!) Jane Eyre, I wondered what it was like for Charlotte Brontë and her sisters. What was their writing process? Who supported and challenged them? What was it like for them growing up in their Haworth family home?
Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a worthy imagining of the genius Brontë sisters and the impactful literature they have left us.
Here are a few facts about these lovely, literary Brontë sisters:
- Like many contemporary nineteenth century female writers, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily published their poems and novels under male pseudonyms: Currer, Acton, and Ellis respectively.
- Cowan Bridge School, the inspiration for Lowood in Jane Eyre, was Charlotte and Emily’s school from 1824 – 1825. They were withdrawn due to their older sister’s terminal illness and their father’s fear that a similar fate would befall them.
- During the holidays, when her father suggested Charlotte would become more involved in parish affairs, she would instead write long narratives.
- Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester are considered Byronic heroes, characterized by their strong sexual magnetism, passionate spirit, demonstrative arrogance, and black heartedness. The Brontë sisters were first exposed to the poet in 1825, a year after Lord Byron’s death, in an article from Blackwood’s Magazine.
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall considered, in its day, “coarse” and “a mistake” by Charlotte Brontë herself, is now considered by critics as one of the first sustained feminist novels. A great read to accompany this year’s International Women’s Day.
- Emily Brontë has been called the “Sphynx of Literature,” writing without the slightest desire for fame and only for her own satisfaction.
- By her thirties, Charlotte was described as having “a toothless jaw.”
- Due to their forced and voluntary isolation, the Brontë sisters formed a separate literary group that has neither successors nor predecessors.
- Asteroid #39427, #39428, and #39429, discovered on 25th September 1973, are also known as Charlottebrontë, Emilybrontë, and Annebrontë respectively.
- Wuthering Heights is John Lennon’s favorite book.
- Teacher or governess? Scarce employment opportunities pushed the Brontë sisters to seek refuge in expression, and allowed them to convey the societal constraints of the 19th century in their beautiful novels and narratives.
Can’t get enough of the Brontës? Try Reader, I Married Him too — this collection of original stories by today’s finest women writers takes inspiration from the famous line in Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel, Jane Eyre.
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