On this day in 1820, Anne Bronte, the youngest of the six Bronte children, is born in Yorkshire, England. Their mother died when Anne was still an infant, and the children were left largely to their own devices in the bleak parsonage in Haworth, a remote village in Yorkshire, where their father was a clergyman. Anne’s four older sisters all went to boarding school, but the two eldest died, and Emily and Charlotte returned home. The girls, along with their brother Branwell, read voraciously and created their own elaborate stories about mythical lands.
Anne Bronte was educated at home and worked as a governess from 1841 to 1845, during which time Emily and Charlotte went to Brussels to study school administration with the hopes of opening a school in Haworth. The school idea failed, but another project took its place: poetry. In 1845, Charlotte came across some poems Emily had written, and the three sisters discovered they had all been secretly writing verse. They self-published Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell in 1846. Although the book sold only two copies, the sisters continued writing. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre appeared in 1847, an instant success. Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey were printed later that year. Anne’s next novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), explored the effects of a young man’s unchecked debauchery. Anne died of tuberculosis in 1849, at the age of 29.