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Today in Literary History

December 19th, 1848 marks the anniversary of the death of Emily Bronte, one of the famous literary Bronte sisters.

Even as famous became the series of deaths that would befall the household due to serious illnesses. Branwell Bronte, their brother, had suffered from tuberculosis and died at the age of thirty-one. While at her brother’s funeral Emily caught a cold that later turned into tuberculosis as well. Emily was one year behind, passing away at thirty and a couple of months later sister Anne Bronte’s death followed, also of tuberculosis. It was a gloomy and foreboding time that had set upon the house.

Emily herself was, as described by Charlotte Bronte, “powerful and peculiar” even during her illness and what she knew to be the last hours of her life. Emily had never spoken of her condition and kept up her regular routine, never leaving the house after Branswell had died nor allowing the disease to weaken her. She had never even allowed a doctor’s visit, until the day of her death around noon time she mentioned to Charlotte that if she was going to get a doctor she would see one. Two hours later Emily passed away.

Emily was known to be true until the last hour, and always withholding her cool nature. Emily wrote poetry along with her sisters until it was Charlotte’s idea to publish them together as the works of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell in 1848. A year later Wuthering Heights was published. Several months previously, the sisters were experiencing the ambush of fame that washed over them with their break into the literary world and the talk over Wuthering Heights. Emily was the only one who did not get carried into it, and Wuthering Heights was her novel. The other sisters were planning a trip to London to their publishers to reveal their true identities, as they famously wrote under their pen names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, and Emily did not wish to go with. Her true name soon got tied to her famous novel, one developing into an English romantic classic.

 

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