Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children (from oldest to youngest): Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. Soon after Patrick had been appointed to a parish in Haworth, Yorkshire, his wife died, leaving the parson and the young children behind (the oldest, Maria, only seven years old). Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Emily began attending Cowan Bridge School three years after their mother's death. Tragically, Maria and Elizabeth both died of tuberculosis, which had infected the school. Patrick hastened to bring Charlotte and Emily home after learning of the deaths of his two older daughters.

Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (1846), Shirley (1849), and Villette (1853). It was not until after her death that The Professor was published in 1857. Charlotte had begun several novels, but she never finished them. Emily's novel Wuthering Heights was published in 1847. Anne's accomplishments included Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848).

All of the Bronte sisters had contributed poems to a collection of poetry, entitled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846). Currer, Ellis and Acton were the aliases assumed by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte. The sisters lived in such times that women were not always given a fair chance in the business world. Therefore, they assumed masculine names, so that their books would have a better chance of being published.

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