July 30, 1818: Emily Brontë is born.
Few details are known about the relatively short life of the middle Brontë sister, due in part to her reclusive and shy personality; according to most who knew her (and few outside her family knew her well), Emily was typically silent, a lover of nature, but unsociable. She was born in Yorkshire, England, two years after Charlotte Brontë and two years before Anne, and she, like both her sisters, wrote under a pen name - according to Charlotte, the sisters ”had a vague impression that authoresses [were] liable to be looked on with prejudice”.
Emily was Ellis Bell to Charlotte’s and Anne’s Currer and Acton Bell. Before she died at age 30 in 1848, she published several poems and a single novel - the classic Gothic novel Wuthering Heights, which initially received mixed reviews when it was first published at the beginning of the Victorian era. The novel was criticized for being too bleak, too gloomy and and wild and dark, and with one magazine writing:
How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery.
Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre was an immediate commercial (and to an extent critical) success, regarded until the end of the century as far superior to her sister’s work, but critical appreciation for Emily’s work grew throughout the 20th century.