CELEBRATING EMILY BRONTE’S 200TH BIRTHDAY

I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading:
It vexes me to choose another guide.

Today, literary lovers across the world are celebrating Emily Brontë’s 200th birthday. The enduringly popular author of Wuthering Heights, ‘High Waving Heather’ and ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ was born on the 30th July 1818 in Thornton and was the 5th of the 6 Brontë children.

Painted portriat of Emily Bronte

Portrait of Emily Brontë ⓒ The Brontë Society

Unsurprisingly, our Writing Studio are huge admirers of Emily’s incredible works. So, to commemorate her 200th birthday, we’ve written a poem inspired by her literature.

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Poem reads:

To Emily Brontë
on Your 200th Birthday

In libraries, schools
and Haworth’s cobbled streets,
readers gather to admire
Your incredible creative legacy
that continues to inspire…

Cathy, Heathcliff, ‘High Waving Heather’ –
all your vivid creations
Will alter the colours of the minds
of future generations…

And although you were
happiest writing
from your rosewood desk at home,
Thank you for inviting us
into your worlds
where we are free to roam.

While researching the poem, our Writing Studio visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth – once the home of the Brontë family.

Bronte museum in Haworth

The Brontë Parsonage Museum

St Michael and All Angels' Church, Haworth

St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth

Fortunately, the beautiful village is only a short journey from our head office (next time, we’re tempted to travel via steam train). If you’re ever in West Yorkshire, we’d definitely recommend visiting. We gained a wonderful insight into the Brontë family’s domestic sphere: the home where Emily created her classic – and only – novel.

The Bront'e dining room at their Haworth home

The family dining room

A tree and stony ridges at Parson's Field

Parson’s Field, next to the Brontë’s Haworth home

18 Interesting Insights into Emily Brontë’s Works

As you’d expect from such a revered writer, Emily led a fascinating life. Although we’d love to share 200 facts for her 200th birthday, we’ve managed to narrow it down to 18.

  1. The Brontë family lived in the parsonage in 1820, when Emily’s father, Patrick, was appointed Perpetual Curate of Haworth Church.
  2. After her Aunt Branwell’s death, Emily acted as housekeeper at the Parsonage. Domestic tasks such as baking bread and ironing gave Emily the mental freedom to focus on her writing, and she was always happiest at home.
  3. Emily had a merlin hawk named Nero, which she likely found in an abandoned nest on the moors.
  4. Most of the Brontë sisters’ literature was written in their dining room. At night, the sisters would walk around the table and discuss their works.
  5. Every evening at 9 o’clock, Patrick Brontë would call in at the dining room to warn his daughters not to stay up too late.
  6. As a child Emily had drawing lessons with a local painter, laboriously copying picturesque scenes. This early habit of ‘reading’ pictures honed her power of observation, which is reflected in her descriptive writing.
  7. Each of the Brontë sisters owned their own portable writing desk. Emily’s desk is made of rosewood and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and is showcased at the Museum.
  8. Wuthering Heights has been translated into at least 26 languages and adapted for 32 (and counting) film, TV and radio productions.
  9. Northern Ballet adapted Wuthering Heights in 2015 with an original score by Claude-Michel Schönberg.
  10. Emily kept 5 reviews of Wuthering Heights in her writing desk; only 1 was entirely positive. A particularly scathing reviewer complained about the novel’s ‘compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.’
  11. Throughout 2017, artist Clare Twomey invited visitors to the Brontë Parsonage to recreate the manuscript of Wuthering Heights. 10,000 people copied the text 1 line at a time.
  12. According to a 2015 BBC Culture poll, book critics voted Wuthering Heights the 7th best English novel of all time.
  13. After Stephanie Myers compared Bella and Edward’s romance to Cathy and Heathcliff’s in Twilight, sales of Emily’s novel quadrupled.
  14. Kate Bush released her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1978. It reached no.1 on the UK Singles Chart and remained there for 4 weeks.
  15. Charlotte described her sister’s poetry as having a ‘peculiar music – wild, melancholy and elevating.’
  16. Emily, Charlotte and Anne used male pseudonyms for their novels: Ellis, Currer and Acton Bell, respectively. When they published their joint poetry anthology, it was speculated that the 3 ‘Bell Brothers’ were the same author.
  17. C. W. Hatfield collected 200 of Emily’s poems in his noteworthy edition, The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë (1941).
  18. It is said that Emily Dickinson chose ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ to be read at her funeral.

Making Thunder Roar

To mark the bicentenary of Emily’s birthday, The Brontë Museum is hosting an exhibition entitled, ‘Making Thunder Roar.’ A range of Emily’s admirers – including Sally Wainwright, Lily Cole and Judi Dench – have shared their fascination with the enigmatic author, and each piece is inspired by an object from the museum collection. The exhibition is open until the 1st January 2019.

An extract of Emily's writing

An extract of Emily’s writing, on display at the Museum

From all of us at Hallmark Creative: Happy 200th Birthday, Emily Brontë.