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8 Things You Didn't Know About Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), the gifted writer of timeless classics including Jane Eyre and The Professor, was a shy but strong individual who had to endure tragedies and tribulations from an early age. Find out more about Charlotte Bronte below.

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1. Her mother died when she was just five years old, as did her two older sisters by the time she was eight.

These early tragedies meant Charlotte became the eldest of four surviving children, but her strong personality helped her cope with this position of responsibility.

2. She grew to be less than 5 feet tall.

Nonetheless, she was strong-willed, clever and ambitious, and always prepared to argue for her beliefs.

3. She and her surviving siblings - Branwell, Emily and Anne - created their own imaginary worlds and began to chronicle the lives of their worlds' inhabitants.

She and Branwell wrote stories and poems set in the fictional world of Angria, and Charlotte would later claim to have written more before the age of 13 than after it.

4. In 1842, Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enrol at a boarding school - but their stay did not last long.

In return for tuition and board, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. However, the death of their aunt in 1842 abruptly ended their trip. Charlotte returned to Brussels the next year and fell hopelessly in love with her employer, Constantin Heger.

5. In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily and Anne self-financed the publication of a book of poems under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

They wanted to keep their gender a secret whilst retaining their initials. Charlotte would later explain that, as female writers, they would have faced immediate prejudice had they revealed their gender in their publication. The poetry book was nonetheless a commercial flop, but the sisters were undeterred, and began work on their first novels.

6. Jane Eyre, which was partly based on Charlotte's personal experiences, was an instant commercial success.

The novel describes events reminiscent of Charlotte's own experience of falling in love with her employer, Constantin Heger, whilst in Brussels. It brilliantly blends Gothic melodrama with romance and naturalism, making for an immersive, gripping and riveting read.

7. Charlotte received a proposal of marriage from her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, in 1852 - but her father objected to it and Charlotte declined.

Charlotte's father objected partly because he feared that his frail daughter wouldn't be able to survive a pregnancy. However, Mr. Nicholls persisted, and the couple were finally married on 29th June, 1854. It was a happy marriage, but short.

8. Charlotte died in the early stages of pregnancy on 31st March, 1855.

Her novel, The Professor, which had been turned down by publishers at the start of her career, was published posthumously.