Biography Anne Bronte

Anne Bronte

photo of Anne Bronte
  • Time Period1820 - 1849
  • PlaceThornton
  • CountryEngland

Poet Biography

Anne, the youngest member of the Brontë family, was born on 17 January 1820, at number 74 Market Street in the village of Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire County, England. When Anne was born, her father was the curate of Thornton and she was baptised there on 25 March 1820. Shortly after, Anne's father took a perpetual curacy, a secure but not enriching vocation, in Haworth, a remote small town some seven miles (11 km) away. In April 1820, The Brontë family moved into the Haworth Parsonage. This five-room building became the Brontë's family home for the rest of their lives.

Anne was barely a year old when her mother became ill of what is believed to have been uterine cancer. Maria Branwell died on 15 September 1821. In order to provide a mother for his children, Patrick tried to remarry, but he had no success. Maria's sister, Elizabeth Branwell (1776–1842), had moved into the parsonage, initially to nurse her dying sister, but she subsequently spent the rest of her life there raising the Brontë children. She did it from a sense of duty, but she was a stern woman who expected respect, rather than love. There was little affection between her and the eldest children, but to Anne, her favorite according to tradition, she did relate. Anne shared a room with her aunt, they were particularly close, and this may have strongly influenced Anne's personality and religious beliefs.

In Elizabeth Gaskell's biography, Anne's father remembered her as precocious, reporting that once, when she was four years old, in reply to his question about what a child most wanted, "she answered: age and experience".

In the summer of 1824, Patrick sent his eldest daughters Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily to Crofton Hall in Crofton, West Yorkshire, and later to the Clergy Daughter's School, Cowan Bridge, Lancashire. When the two eldest siblings died of consumption in 1825, Maria on 6 May and Elizabeth on 15 June, Charlotte and Emily were immediately brought home. The unexpected deaths of Anne's two eldest sisters distressed the bereaved family enough that Patrick could not face sending them away again. For the next five years, all the Brontë children were educated at home, largely by their father and aunt. The young Brontës made little attempt to mix with others outside the parsonage, but relied upon each other for friendship and companionship. The bleak moors surrounding Haworth became their playground.

In February 1849, Anne seemed somewhat better. By this time, she had decided to make a return visit to Scarborough in the hope that the change of location and fresh sea air might initiate a recovery, and give her a chance to live. On 24 May 1849, Anne said her good-byes to her father and the servants at Haworth, and set off for Scarborough with Charlotte and their friend Ellen Nussey. En route, the three spent a day and a night in York, where, escorting Anne around in a wheelchair, they did some shopping, and at Anne's request, visited the colossal York Minster. However, it was clear that Anne had little strength left.

On Sunday, 27 May, Anne asked Charlotte whether it would be easier for her if she return home to die instead of remaining at Scarborough. A doctor, consulted the next day, indicated that death was already close. Anne received the news quietly. She expressed her love and concern for Ellen and Charlotte, and seeing Charlotte's distress, whispered to her to "take courage". Conscious and calm, Anne died at about two o'clock in the afternoon, Monday, 28 May 1849.

Over the following few days, Charlotte made the decision to "lay the flower where it had fallen". Anne was buried not in Haworth with the rest of her family, but in Scarborough. The funeral was held on Wednesday, 30 May, which did not allow time for Patrick Brontë to make the 70-mile (110 km) trip to Scarborough, had he wished to do so. The former schoolmistress at Roe Head, Miss Wooler, was also in Scarborough at this time, and she was the only other mourner at Anne's funeral. She was buried in St. Mary's churchyard; beneath the castle walls, and overlooking the bay. Charlotte commissioned a stone to be placed over her grave, with the simple inscription "Here lie the remains of Anne Brontë, daughter of the Revd. P. Brontë, Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire. She died, Aged 28, May 28th, 1849". Anne was actually twenty-nine at her death.