Today is the birthday of Charlotte Bronte. She was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England in 1816. Her father was a minister and she was the third of six children. I am currently re-reading Jane Eyre (again), so this seems telling for me. Even though I know how the story is going to turn out, it's still so heart-breaking. I'm at the point where Jane Eyre is teaching at her little school in Morton. So. very. sad.
But when I think of Charlotte Bronte's life, it's also full of sadness. Her mother died of cancer when she was five years old and she and her two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth were sent to a horrible boarding school (Lowood, anyone?), both Maria and Elizabeth contracted TB and died in 1825. Charlotte worked as a governess for families in Yorkshire and lived on the moors.
Jane Eyre was published in 1847 and seems obviously to reflect on her time in boarding school and her time as a governess. It was published under the name of Currer Bell, a name used along with others, Ellis and Acton Bell, when she and her sisters published a book of poetry in 1846.
Unfortunately, shortly after Jane Eyre was published, her other siblings died. In 1854 she married her father's curate and became pregnant soon following, but died of complications to the pregnancy in 1855.
It seems like such a sad life to me. Horrible boarding school, tuberculosis, siblings dying, being a governess. How did she manage to write about such love and hope? How did she write about such fidelity to ones self? It makes Jane Eyre, the novel, seem so much more than I ever considered. Knowing the back story makes it all the more painful, but at the same time more wonderful.