Friday, July 30, 2010

Notes For July 30th, 2010

This Day In Writing History

On July 30th, 1818, the legendary British poet and novelist Emily Brontë was born in West Yorkshire, England. Her sisters Charlotte (author of the classic novel Jane Eyre) and Anne were also poets and novelists, and her brother Patrick Branwell Brontë was a poet and painter. Their father was a poor Irish clergyman, but he did have an impressive collection of classic literature.

Emily and her siblings educated themselves by reading all their father's books. As children, they created imaginary worlds and filled notebooks with stories about them. Emily attended Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law Hill School near Halifax, then later, a private school in Brussels.

When Emily's sister Charlotte discovered her talent as a poet, they decided to collaborate on a book of poetry, along with sister Anne. Due to the prejudice against women writers in the Victorian era, the Brontë sisters published their poetry under pseudonyms. Emily became Ellis Bell, Charlotte became Currer Bell, and Anne was Acton Bell. Their first book, published in 1846, was titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

The following year, Emily Brontë published her famous novel, Wuthering Heights, as Ellis Bell. Originally published in two volumes, (Anne Brontë later wrote a third volume called Agnes Grey) Wuthering Heights told the story of the intensely passionate, yet ultimately doomed love affair between childhood sweethearts Heathcliff and Catherine, soul mates who are ultimately separated by cruelty and snobbery, their unresolved emotions threatening to destroy them.

When it was first published, Wuthering Heights received mixed reviews due to its stark and brutal depictions of mental and physical cruelty. It has since been recognized as one of the great classics of English literature, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, Emily Brontë would never write another novel. After her brother died of tuberculosis, Emily contracted the disease herself, the result of a cold she caught during his funeral. She died in December of 1848, at the age of thirty. Her sister Anne died of tuberculosis the following year.

After Emily Brontë's death, her sister Charlotte edited her two volumes of Wuthering Heights into a standalone novel, and republished it under Emily's real name. Five years later, Charlotte also died young of tuberculosis, or so her death certificate stated. Some biographers have claimed that she actually died of either typhus or dehydration and malnutrition from excessive vomiting brought on by severe morning sickness.

Although Emily Brontë's life was tragically cut short, her literary legacy lives on. Wuthering Heights continues to inspire readers to this day, and has been adapted numerous times for the stage, screen, radio, and television.

Quote Of The Day

"Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves." - Emily Brontë

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of Emily Brontë's classic poem, Remembrance - read by an animated photograph of Emily herself! Enjoy!

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