Her unsentimental novels tackled topics like emotional abuse and gaslighting centuries ahead of their time. As her bicentenary passes, it’s time to revaluate ‘the other Brontë sister’.
From Marmee or Offred, writers have been inspired to create some of our most cherished and memorable characters through the lens of motherhood. Here we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite mothers, and depictions of motherhood, in classic literature.
Anne Brontë was born at Thornton in Yorkshire on 17 January 1820, the youngest of six children. That April, the Brontës moved to Haworth, a village on the edge of the moors, where Anne’s father had become the curate. Anne’s mother died soon afterwards. She was four when her older sisters were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, where Maria and Elizabeth both caught tuberculosis and died. After that, Anne, Charlotte, Emily and Branwell were taught at home for a few years, and together, they created vivid fantasy worlds which they explored in their writing. Anne went to Roe Head School 1835–7. She worked as a governess with the Ingham family (1839–40) and with the Robinson family (1840–45). In 1846, along with Charlotte and Emily, she published Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. She published Agnes Grey in 1847 and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in 1848. That year, both Anne’s brother Branwell and her sister Emily died of tuberculosis. A fortnight later, Anne was diagnosed with the same disease. She died in Scarborough on 28 May 1849.