(1820 - 1849)
“I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it.”

Born 17th January 1820 in Thornton, West Yorkshire, Anne was the youngest of the six Bronte children. Like her older sisters she developed a love of writing from an early age, and along with Charlotte and Emily she spent many hours in the small parlour of the Haworth parsonage writing poems and stories for the amusement of the family.  Aged only 19, she entered one of the few professions open to women of her education and class, becoming a governess first to the Ingham then the Robinson families, where she learned how difficult life was for a governess when she was neither family nor servant, having to educate children but having no authority over them.  In 1845 Charlotte persuaded Emily and Anne to publish a collection of their poems, and as they had all agreed that they were more likely to succeed if they used male pseudonyms, Anne decided on Acton Bell, which she retained for all her future publications.  Poems, published in May 1846 entirely at their own expense, was a commercial disaster, only two copies being sold.  However Anne and her sisters had already completed their first novels and had sent the manuscripts to various publishers looking for acceptance.  Charlotte later wrote that “usually their fate was an ignominious and abrupt dismissal” but finally both Anne’s Agnes Grey and Emily’s Wuthering Heights were accepted by the London publisher Thomas Cautley Newby, and were published together in December 1847. The novel was based on Anne’s own experiences, and she accurately depicts the isolation of the governess in particular and the oppression of women in general.  It has since been described as “the most perfect prose narrative in English letters.' [George Moore]. The following year, in June 1848, Anne brought out The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a disturbing account of how a young woman faces up to a violent, oppressive and alcoholic husband.  The brutal realism of the novel was in direct contrast to the dramatic romanticism of her sisters’ work, but despite its shocking subject matter it was extremely successful, selling out in just six weeks.  Anne’s literary career was set to soar.  Within the year however she saw the deaths of her brother and her sister Emily, and she succumbed to consumption herself, dying in Scarborough in May 1949. After her death her sister Charlotte refused to allow The Tenant to be reissued, considering its subject matter to be inappropriate, and as a result Anne's works were overshadowed by those of her two sisters.  However her unflinching depiction of the effects of alcoholism and her early feminist insights into the oppression of women are as thought-provoking today as they were in the Victorian England she portrayed.

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