Emily Brontë

E mily Brontë is best remembered for her masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. But, she was also a skilled poet. Along with her two sisters, Emily published Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell in 1864. Her contribution to the volume is often considered to be the most substantial.

Emily Brontë


Life Facts

  • Emily Brontë was born in the village of Thornton in Yorkshire, England on July 30th, 1818.
  • Her mother died when Emily was only three years old. 
  • Emily, Anne, and Charlotte published Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell in 1864. 
  • Her most commonly read work, Wuthering Heights, is now considered a classic. 
  • Emily Brontë died in 1848 of tuberculosis.

Interesting Facts

  • Emily and her sisters wrote stories from a young age. 
  • Her pen-name was Acton Bell. 
  • The two oldest Brontë sisters, Elizabeth and Maria, died in a typhoid epidemic. 
  • Emily’s poetry is usually regarded as more skilled than that of her two sisters. 
  • Emily Brontë was the first of the three literary Brontë sisters to pass away. 


Famous Poems by Emily Brontë

‘Remembrance’ depicts a speaker’s emotional state fifteen years after losing her lover. The tone is mournful and contemplative as she describes the guilt she feels because her love/memories are fading. She’s worried that she no longer feels as strongly as she used to. But, all the same, she knows that change is inevitable. Eventually, her soul will learn not to mourn so intensely for the person she lost. 

 

Shall earth no more inspire thee’ contains a speaker’s plea that a listener changes their ways and return their focus to nature. The speaker knows that the earth, “she,” is the only one who can bring the intended listener out of their “lonely” contemplation and back to how they used to be. Once they embrace this fact, they can come back and be part of the warmth of the earth once more. 

 

‘The Visionary’ was co-written by Emily and Charlotte Brontë. Emily wrote the bulk of the poem and Charlotte worked on the final two stanzas. The poem describes the arrival of a spirit-like presence in the middle of winter. The main speaker of the poem is awake in the middle of the night waiting for someone. Her lamp is guiding them in. The visitor is revealed to be a specter not quite human. He has a “strange power” and has commanded her allegiance. 

 

The Prisoner’ was published in 1846 in the collection Poems By Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. It is one of the best poems in the collection. The text describes an interaction between the speaker, a prison warden, and a captive. The latter is being held in a dungeon crypt. The poem speaks on broader themes of imprisonment, human, nature, and sorrow. 

 

‘Often rebuked, yet always back returning’ is focused on a speaker’s “purer self”. IT is that self which sometimes fades away but always comes back in the end. It is the self that was present when she was born. The speaker declares that it’s her intention to set aside the person the world made her and focus wholeheartedly on the purity of her spirit. 


Early Life

Emily Brontë was born in the village of Thornton in Yorkshire, England on July 30th, 1818.  Her parents, Maria Branwell and Patrick Brontë had six children, of which she was the fifth. Only two years after she was born, and in the same year that her younger sister Anne was born, the family moved to Haworth. Her father found employment as a perpetual curate in the United Church of England and Ireland. In 1821, her mother passed away from cancer when Emily was only three years old. 

 

The family was soon separated further when the three older sisters, Maria, Elizabeth, and Charlotte, (the eventual writer of Jane Eyre), were sent to the Clergy Daughter’s School. Charlotte cited this institution, and the abuse that she and her siblings were exposed to on its grounds, as the inspiration for her novel. In the later months of 1824, after Emily had joined her sisters at the school, an epidemic of typhoid swept through the students. Brontë’s two oldest sisters, Elizabeth and Maria died soon after. 

 

After her removal from the Clergy Daughter’s School, Emily and her remaining siblings spent most of their time at home at Haworth. Here she explored her passion for writing. She and her siblings were all quite literary and spent their free time creating stories based entirely in fiction. She was eventually sent to attend Roe Head Girl’s School, but her stay there was brief. Brontë longed to return home, and Anne took her place in the school. 


Literary Career

In 1846, the three sisters, Anne, Charlotte, and Emily published a book of poems titled, Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, written under their sibling pen names. Charlotte would go on to write Jane Eyre, and Anne, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Agnes Grey. 

 

The work for which Emily is best known is Wuthering Heights. While Wuthering Heights did not receive any kind of critical praise when it was published, it is now considered one of the greatest novels of all time. Additionally, Emily’s contributions to the volume, Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, is seen to be the most substantial. Her poetic works have garnered more praise than those of her sisters. 


Death

Emily died in 1848 of tuberculosis, soon after the publication of Wuthering Heights, and her sister, Anne, would pass away of the same disease only one year later. Last was Charlotte, who died six years later of pneumonia. 


Influence from other Poets

Emily Brontë was notably influenced by writers such as Lord Byron, Anne Radcliffe, and her sisters, Anne and Charlotte Brontë.


Poems by Emily Brontë

Explore poetry by Emily Brontë below, analyzed by the team at Poem Analysis.

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