THE BRONTES (1 OF 12)
Years ago, I read Jane Eyre (with dictionary close at hand) and enjoyed it quite a lot. I had heard of the author, Charlotte Bronte, and was dimly aware that she had sisters who were authors as well, but knew next to nothing about the family.
Then I stumbled upon this 2003 BBC-produced documentary of the Bronte family and was completely enthralled. The two-hour production is broken up into twelve ten-minute videos below. The acting, writing, filming and production values are superb, and the Bronte family is brought to life in a way that drew me into their story and had me rooting for them.
Watching these videos humbled and inspired me. I found myself imagining what it would be like to live in the 1840s and I kept coming back to the fact that disease and death seemed to be lurking around every corner. Get a cough and you’re as good as dead. All six of the Bronte children except for Charlotte died of consumption, the terminal stage of tuberculosis. A hundred years later, my own mother was sent to a preventorium at nine years old to prevent a spot on her lung from developing into tuberculosis. It wasn’t long after that that TB was virtually eradicated from the civilized world. The Bronte family’s struggle for survival puts our own challenges in perspective. Yes, our fears, hardships and griefs are every bit as real as theirs, but at least the vast majority of us don’t have to worry about dying by the age of thirty. Living longer allows us to learn more, grow more and become all that we are capable of being. And if we happen to write a novel in longhand that becomes a literary sensation, so much the better!
BONUS: Click here to see a hilarious ninety-second “commercial” for the Bronte Sisters action figures!
BIOS OF THE BRONTE FAMILY
Portrait of Patrick Bronte, circa 1860
Tragically, Patrick, the family’s patriarch, outlived his wife, who died of cancer, and all six of his children.
Patrick Brontë (17 March 1777 – 7 June 1861), the father, was born in County Down, in Ireland, of a very poor family of farm workers. He was the Anglican curate of the parish of Haworth, and during his time he had also been a poet, writer, and polemic.
His wife Maria Brontë, née Branwell, (15 April 1783 – 15 September 1821), originated from Penzance, Cornwall, and came from a comfortably well off middle class family. She died at the age of thirty-eight.
Elizabeth Branwell (2 December 1776 – 29 October 1842) arrived from Penzance in 1821, after the death of Maria, her younger sister, to help Patrick look after the children, and was known as ‘Aunt Branwell.’
Patrick and Maria Brontë had six offspring: the first child, Maria, was born (more…)