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Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth Gruner


The story of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë has almost reached the status of myth. The story of their tragic lives is devastating, especially considering that many of their works are today considered standards to literary scholars. In fact, their tragedy is perhaps part of why they are canonical. Born in the early 1800s, all died by or before their mid-thirties. The myth of the Brontës as wild and uneducated women, cut off from the outside world, begun by Charlotte Brontë herself and later continued by biographer and novelist Elizabeth Gaskell in The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), was originally invented to hide the coarse and sometimes inappropriate subjects written about by the Brontë women. However, Winifred Gérin, the author of Charlotte Brontë: The Evolution of Genius (published in 1967), emphasizes that although the Brontës did grow up in the visually gothic Haworth, they were neither uneducated nor sheltered from the greater world. On the contrary, Gérin notes, “the young Brontës received the culture of their post-Napoleonic world in astounding measure” (41). Thus, the contradictions surrounding the history of the Brontë women versus their myth have been a central focus with scholars since their works were first published.