30th July 2018 marks the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë. A pretty big deal in the literary world and an occasion worth commemorating! As book lovers, we all have a basic knowledge of the lady behind Cathy and Heathcliff. But what about all of those facts that we didn't know? We've compiled a few of our favourites to offer a better insight into one of literature's greatest writers.
1. The Pseudonym
Emily wrote under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, ensuring she retained her initials. Her sisters also wrote under masculine pen names; Charlotte as Currer and Anne as Acton.
2. A Talented Pianist
As children, the girls' father bought his daughters a piano and paid for them to have lessons. Although each of the girls displayed some level of musical talent, it was Emily who excelled at the instruments. Her skills didn't go unnoticed. During her time at the Pensionnat Heger School in Brussels, she was given the post of the school's music teacher.
3. The First Book
It wasn't until Charlotte discovered Emily's personal collection of poetry that the sisters learnt about each others' true flair for writing. Together and under their corresponding pseudonyms, the three sisters published their first poetry book. Just two copies were sold.
4. Emily The Fearless
According to biographer Elizabeth Gaskell, Emily was once bitten by a rabid dog. In a bid to not worry her family, she cauterised the wound herself. She took a red hot poker from the fire and seared her own flesh to the bone.
5. A Failure?
Emily’s only novel and now timeless classic Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 and greeted with a generally negative reception. The Victorians regarded it as both highly immoral and uncivilised, with the story deeply opposing their traditional view of how literature should be. Sadly, Emily died in 1848 believing her novel was a failure.
6. Charlotte Brontë’s Dedication
Charlotte Brontë actually based her second published novel on her sister. According to biographer and friend Elizabeth Gaskell, Shirley was created to reflect what her sister would have been ‘had she been placed in health and prosperity’.
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