Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontė - photograph (c.1854)Charlotte Brontë  (1816 - 1855)
c. 1854

There are no photographs of Anne or Emily known to exist. The same was believed of Charlotte until 1984 when this picture was discovered. It is suspected of being taken on her honeymoon in 1854 - the year before she died. Several other photographs, also believed to be of Charlotte, have recently come to light.

Charlotte was the oldest of the three sisters - being born on 21 April 1816. She is most famous for her novel Jane Eyre (1847), though she had three other novels published: Shirley (1849); Villette (1853), and The Professor (post-humously) in 1857. The only one of the three sisters to wed; she married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, in June 1854; and died in the early stages of pregnancy on 31 March 1855, aged 38. (The exact cause of her death has been a source of mystery for many years: on the death certificate, it is given as 'Phthisis', which is a rather vague term indicating a general wasting condition. Her death is now believed to have been caused by a condition known as 'Hyperemesis Gravidarun', which basically, is severe, persistent vomiting, typically occurring during pregnancy, and leading to dehydration and emaciation [hence, the original 'Phthisis' diagnosis] - easily treated today by attaching the patient to a drip.44n)  Shortly after Charlotte's death, her father, Patrick, asked Elizabeth Gaskell if she would write a biography of his eldest daughter. Mrs. Gaskell was a well-known author, and one of Charlotte's literary friends. In consequence, two years later, the first of many Brontë biographies was born - The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857).

 Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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