Celebrating Anne Brontë’s 200th Birthday at Pages Unbound

But he that dares not grasp the thorn/ Should never crave the rose.”

“The Narrow Way” by Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë was born on January 17, 1820, in Thornton in the United Kingdom. Although less celebrated than her sisters Charlotte and Emily, her reputation is today being reevaluated by scholars. Anne wrote a number of poems as well as two novels before her death at the age of 29–Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall–which draw upon her experiences as a governess and at watching her brother Branwell succumb to drink and addiction.

Anne is known for writing more realistic stories than her sisters and for her progressive views on women, which today are read as perhaps even more feminist than Charlotte and Emily’s. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, for example, Anne writes about the laws that allow men to abuse their wives, suggesting that marriage can become a form of imprisonment, and celebrates the strength of a woman who had to courage to leave her husband. Her story shocked Victorian society.

Anne’s passionate, somewhat unorthodox views, lead Charlotte to try to tame her sister’s memory after her death. She refused to republish The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because she claimed its scenes of debauchery did not reflect Anne’s true, gentle character. Some scholars believe it is in part Charlotte’s intervention that lead to Anne’s literary reputation falling. Charlotte may or may not also have destroyed Anne’s letters and juvenilia. The fact that Charlotte has left far more written material than either Emily or Anne has lead biographers many to focus on Charlotte, simply because there is more to focus on.

This January 17 marks the 200th anniversary of Anne Brontë’s birth. We will be celebrating at Pages Unbound with a number of reviews and posts focusing on Anne’s life and works. Join us and help us remember the most neglected Brontë sister!

12 thoughts on “Celebrating Anne Brontë’s 200th Birthday at Pages Unbound

  1. Istahil | A Daydream of Books says:

    Wow, I didn’t know any of this! I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall either until recently, but I’m inclined to give it a go now. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. claire @ clairefy says:

    I’m so glad that you spotlighted Anne! This post was actually a really interesting read. I’m not familiar with any of the Bronte works outside of Charlotte’s, and I would like to expand my horizons. Thanks for sharing :))

    claire @ clairefy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Oooh, how intriguing that Charlotte potentially sabotaged Anne with the excuse of preserving Anne and the family name. I am a bit embarrassed to say I’ve only read Wuthering Heights and I did not appreciate it in school. I’m looking forward to hearing what y’all have to share over the next few posts about Anne and her works.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I’m inclined to.think the sabotage was unintentional, but there definitely are lasting effects from Anne’s work not being in publication. People still do not really know who Anne is or what she wrote.

      I never managed to finish Wuthering Heights!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        Haha– the only reason I finished it was because it was school work. My teachers were VERY good at figuring out who had or hadn’t read the book. I’m certain we weren’t great at covering our tracks, but I always finished books because of my English teachers. It took me years to embrace the DNF after that!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sharonstephens26 says:

    Charlotte did the same thing with Emily too – trying to paint Emily Bronte as a conventional young woman . Emily was anything but that . . . I sometimes wonder if there was some ulterior motive for Charlotte to play the mythographer for both her sisters .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think Charlotte’s concern for her sisters’ reputation may have been genuine. Perhaps it worked for the time period, but no one today wants to read something by “poor, fragile, virtuous Anne.” That sounds too boring for us! And it totally misrepresents her work, which I think is more progressive than either of her sisters’.

      Liked by 1 person

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