Friday, April 21, 2017

Born Today April 21: Charlotte Bronté


Famed English novelist Charlotte Bronté was born on this date in Thornton, England (Yorkshire).  Her father, who was Irish, was an Anglican clergyman.  She was the third of six children.  Of course, she had two other sisters who were also famously authors: Emily and Anne.  Charlotte is known for "being the one who wrote Jane Eyre."  The family lost there mother Maria to cancer at very young ages.  The siblings were then left to be mothered by their maternal aunt: Elizabeth Branwell.  In 1824, their sent Charlotte, Emily, Elizabeth and Maria to a Clergy Daughter's School in Lancashire.  But the conditions there were less than ideal and in 1825 two of the sisters, Elizabeth and Maria (who were older) died of tuberculosis that they likely contracted at the school.  After this, their father Patrick removed her and her sister Emily from the school.  With what was left of the family, and Charlotte now being the oldest, the siblings all rallied around each other.  They also created multiple fictional worlds and constructed stories around the various characters that they peopled them with.  This was the beginning of the writing careers for them.  Of what survives of these adolescent manuscripts, there are quite complex and well written.  In 1831 and 1832 she continued her education and in 1833 she penned a novella The Green Dwarf under the name of Wellesley.  By 1835 she was teaching at the school she finished her education at.  She graduated to her first position of governess in 1839.  This would be one of many that she would have throughout her short life.  In 1842, her and her sister Emily enrolled in the boarding school and Brussels.  It was a private school, so in return for boarding and tuition they took up teaching positions.  Charlotte taught English.  However this venture was cut short, when in 1842, their Aunt Elizabeth died suddenly.  Charlotte did return to Brussels, though, in 1844.  Her first public publication came with a book of poetry that was penned by her, Emily and Anne in 1846 and published under the names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.  Just as they had as children written together, these three sisters introduced their writing to the world in a collective.  The first manuscript that she penned and shopped on her own, The Professor did not find a publisher.  However, the famous sequel to that work Jane Eyre did.  It became an immediate success.  And it was that work that was first made into films in twice in the year 1910, the first of these was titled after the book, the second was The Mad Lady Of Chester.  In all, 11 films were made from her work in the silent era, almost all of them from Jane Eyre; though one Shirley (1922) was made from her novel of the same name.  The first sound film of Jane Eyre came in 1934.  Oddly enough the Val Lewton produced, Jacques Tourneur directed 1943 horror film I Walked With A Zombie was also based on Jane Eyre. The most recent major production of the work came in 2011 with Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.  The most recent film of the novel came in 2015 with National Theatre Live: Jane Eyre, which is a filmed live stage performance of the book.  By the time of a her death on the 31st of March 1855 at the age of 38, Charlotte was the only one of her siblings left alive.  There is confusion as to what actually caused her death, as she had recently married and quickly became pregnant and suffered from morning sickness, whatever the cause she was pregnant when she died.  She is interred in a family vault in the churchyard of St. Michael and All Angel's Church.

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