Happy Birthday, Emily Brontë!

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Portrait of Emily Jane Brontë (Source: LIFE Magazine)

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
-- Emily Brontë

The indomitable spirit that defined the Yorkshire poet and novelist Emily Brontë also formed the very essence of the classic Wuthering Heights -- her only novel.

In an age when contemporary English society refused to take women’s contributions to literature seriously, Emily and her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, adopted ambiguous pen names to have their works published and accepted. In 1846, the Brontë sisters collaboratively published Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

The Brontë sisters--Anne, Emily and Charlotte--painted by their brother Bramwell (Source: LIFE Magazine)

While Charlotte Brontë assumed the pseudonym Currer Bell and went on to write Jane Eyre, Anne Brontë settled for Acton Bell and produced Agnes Grey. Emily preferred to be called Ellis Bell in the first edition of Wuthering Heights, which was published in 1847.

And ever since, her creations of Heathcliff and Catherine have captivated audiences worldwide, making Emily Brontë not just a household name, but also a stalwart of romantic fiction. In combination, the courage and passion of her characters, the unusually innovative Gothic structure of her novel and the brilliance of her prose, enabled her to create one of the finest Romantic works.

Actors Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier during filming of Wuthering Heights in 1939 (Source: LIFE Magazine)

Although Emily unfortunately succumbed to tuberculosis at the young age of 30, her spirit continues to live on through her works -- a tribute to her genius.

Here’s remembering you, Emily Brontë! Happy Birthday!


No comments: