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The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  478 ratings  ·  129 reviews
The Brontë sisters are among the most beloved writers of all time, best known for their classic nineteenth-century novels Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), and Agnes Grey (Anne). In this sometimes heartbreaking young adult biography, Catherine Reef explores the turbulent lives of these literary siblings and the oppressive times in which they lived. Brontë f ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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This is around the fifth biography I've checked out on a Bronte but only the first that I have finished. I have the massive tome by Juliet Barker but I was overwhelmed when I opened it. I've started and put down several more.

I felt I needed something light to introduce me fully to the sisters. Currently I've only read one book from Charlotte but it really made an impression on me. I've started both Shirley and Vilette but I haven't finished them yet. The same goes for Anne's Agnes Grey.

But rea
In reality, I would give this 3.5 stars, but alas, Goodreads is chintzy on the half-star thing. At any rate, this is an interesting look at the very short lives of the three Brontë sisters, all of whom were published authors in a time when women were not expected, or even really allowed, to be anything other than wives. Publishing originally under male pseudonyms, the sisters gained the recognition they would not have gotten had them published under their true names. It was only after the deaths ...more
4.5 stars.
What? The Bronte sisters got fired? They hated their jobs? They weren't exactly the ideal teachers? There are lots of juicy things to learn from reading this biography. It is excellent and well done. Great pictures and backgrounds. I couldn't put it down.

On page 32 Charlotte is in the classroom and she starts picturing an imaginative scene: "One particular day, she envisioned a Byronic hero named Zamorna dismounting his black horse. The schoolroom disappeared, and Charlotte stood bene
To say that I am a big Bronte fan, would be an understatement. I am the girl who BEGGED my husband to let me choose Bronte as a middle name. I also asked if we might PLEASE name our daughter Charlotte. Or our dog Heathcliff...please, Dear! Though all of those monikers fell by veto, my love for all things Bronte remains in tact. Though I have read most of the Bronte sisters' works, I learned a great deal about them in this family biography.

For example, I did not know that there were two more Bron
Grandpa Joe
This little book, which might be retitled "A Brief History of the Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne" is an interesting and informative look at their inside lives and provides some insight as to the inspirations for their novels.

This book is best not read until several of the Bronte classic novels themselves have been read to have an appreciation of their writing style and the characteristics of their novels. Indeed, I skipped over the brief reviews contained in this book of the Bronte wo
Jarm Del Boccio
Fascinating to see the parallels between the Brontë sisters cloistered lives and their now classic works. Although this is a YA book, I recommend it to all, especially writers, who love "behind the scene" peeks into author's lives. I re-watched "Jane Eyre" (the 2006 BBC Masterpiece Theatre version, of course!) as I read the book. . .
Ana Rînceanu
This was an informative read and I think anyone can read this and draw the parallels from the real lives of the Brontë sisters and their work.
A beautifully simple but alarmingly deep look at the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell and their life in the parsonage. Now, it details everything from their upbringing with a religious father (who ended up outliving his wife and all of his children), their care by their aunt for the majority of their lives, their imaginations and interactions with each other, and their subsequent rise in popularity, though for the most part, obscured by the fact that they were writing under male pseudon ...more
Steven Peterson
The title of the book refers to the three Bronte sisters--but it also touches upon the short tragic life of their talented brother--Branwell. I was not that familiar with the lives of the sisters--although I did know that their lives burned brightly as authors and ended far too early.

For me, this book fills in the blanks of their lives nicely. We see their lives traced from their birth to their (tragically early) deaths. Each of the three sisters wrote at least one impressive novel. They had beg
I originally got this book because, as I’ve mentioned on my blog, I’ve never cared overmuch for the Brontë’s novels, and I was hoping that by reading about their lives I would understand and like them better. As I must admit after reading this book that though I do understand them better, I wouldn’t say I liked them better. However, I did like this biography. It was on the shorter side, and included some nice pictures and even some photographs. For someone who knew very little other than a few b ...more
Although I usually love the books written by this author, I was disappointed by last year's Jane Austen: A Life Revealed because it provided little insight into that intriguing author. Since few letters exist, the author offered up lots of conjecture. That is not the case with this new biography that provides glimpses into the lives, times, and personalities of the Bronte family. Surprisingly, these three daughters of a minister who lived in Haworth in the north part of England all wrote and had ...more
This well-written biography will appeal to anyone (like myself) who is not interested in dry text-book style biography writing. I prefer my biographies to read like stories, and this one most certainly did. To be honest, I never knew too much about Anne Bronte so I was much more interested in learning about Charlotte and Emily. However, the information provided on this third Bronte sister was very insightful. Anne was just as important as her sisters.

The Bronte sisters really did suffer quite a
4.1 stars

This was a great biography of Charlotte, Anne, and Emily with plenty of biographical information about their brother, Branwell, and their father, Patrick.

It has a J designation at the library, but I think it’s more of a YA biography because of its length and subject matter. And I also doubt that middle readers will have read any of the novels by the Brontes.

Interesting quote from the book---“When the air was in an uproar and rainy squalls blew over the Yorkshire moor, the locals had a
This was the perfect book to accompany my 2015 reading of the works of the Brontë sisters. I believe this book was written with teens in mind. I enjoyed it, however; it told the story of the sisters' lives briefly and highlighted experiences in their lives that contributed to their writing. It gives summaries of the books the sisters wrote when they come up in the narrative, which I appreciated for the ones I haven't read yet. This is not a book to base a college paper on, but it is just right f ...more
Amy Hollis
I really enjoyed this simple biography of the Brontes. It may be enough to kickstart my thirst for reading!
Come on, Goodreads, give me a half star! Because honestly, I'd put this at 3.5 stars. I recently listened to a podcast by Stuff You Missed in History Class on the Bronte sisters and was looking for a book to supplement the podcast. Sometimes I think young adult non-fiction reads easier than the adult non-fiction, so I grabbed this book. It is good, there's a lot of information that may be previously unknown about the Bronte family--they were all not great teachers, their father adored their ne'e ...more
There were six Bronte children...five daughters and one son born to a Yorkshire minister and his wife. The mother died soon after the birth of her sixth child, Anne.....and the oldest two daughters followed her in death at ages ten and eleven from tuberculosis.

That left Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne who grew up running about on the “wuthering” moor. They were united in their passion to become writers and made up stories from a very young age. When older, the girls served various stints a
Cydney Smith
I really really love the work of the Brontë sisters. Jane Eyre was my first introduction, then Wuthering Heights, then Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I have Shirley, Villette, and Agnes Grey on my Kindle because I know that I will eventually read them. I'm a little obsessed, but anyone who has had a conversation with me about books will tell you that I have to bring up Jane Eyre. It's that book I always come back to when I say any other book is my favorite: "Oh, but I LOVE Jane Eyre..." "It's hard to ...more
Jacq Jardin
Charlotte Bronte wrote "Jane Eyre", Emily Bronte wrote "Wuthering Heights" and Anne Bronte wrote "Agnes Grey". So much talent in one household it's almost ridiculous!
However i'm still trying to wrap my head around the surprising little fact that Charlotte Bronte didn't like Jane Austen. Apparently, she thought Austen's works lack “what throbs fast, full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through” - the heart, and went as far as saying “...she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs
The gentle and warm rendering of The Bronte Sisters was so very well researched. Loved the in depth view the author gave of their lives and works including the poetry she chose to include from their pens. The list of references was pages and pages long. I need to read more by this sensitive and thorough author.

Enjoyed the independent nature of all three sisters but perhaps my favorite is Charlotte. Of course, we know most about her because of her literary success. She exhibited feisty responses
Annie Oosterwyk
Excellent introduction to a talented family of writers. I've been meaning to reread the classics for some time and will begin with Jane Eyre.
I also just ordered Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (being a huge fan of the movie North & South with Richard Armitage), and did not know that she had also written a biography of Charlotte Bronte. I guess that will go on the list as well.
The Bronte Sisters provides just enough information and detail to differentiate between the sisters and share how lif
Adult Reader Reaction: This was a fascinating, insightful read. As someone who loves the Brontes' work, it was fun to see the back story. That said, the story does get tedious at times talking about their jobs. I was also surprised by how much coverages is given to Bromwell, their brother, and yet he was not a title character.

Pros: The joys and challenges of being sisters shine through in this fascinating biography about Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte.

Cons: Some of the pictures are nice for i
Savannah Bryant
This nonfiction follows the lives of the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) as they grow from young children to women authors who would write some of the world's greatest classics (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Agnes Grey). Throughout the book, the reader is exposed to the world of Victorian Europe, and the sisters' many struggles to survive in man's society. Unlike most nonfictions, the author's unique writing style narrates the Bronte's lives like a novel more so than a biography. ...more
Appearances can be deceiving. On the outside the Brontë sisters were conventional 17th-century spinsters; “non-descript” would be a good word to describe them. Yet, beneath their bonnets were passionate and wild imaginations. Author Catherine Reef outlines the sisters’ lives in the parsonage on top of a hill in Haworth, a small town in the moors of Yorkshire. Although their lives were spare and simple to an extreme, the sisters wrote novels that shocked and thrilled readers in England and abroad ...more
Excellent, complete biography on the entire family, great photos and information I have never read before. I will purchase this book.
This mid-length biography of the Bronte sisters (240 pages, including notes and a bibliography) was written for middle schoolers, but it's actually a great read for anyone. It's the perfect antidote to a full-length academic style biography, which can be overwhelming if all you want is an overview of someone's life. Easy to read (except for the somewhat depressing subject matter, because these women didn't have easy lives), but covers all the pertinent facts and gives brief overviews of each of ...more
Erin Cataldi
I've read both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights but I had little to no idea about the authors. I knew there were two Bronte sisters, but I didn't know about the youngest, Anne. This middle grade biographical look at the Bronte sisters is a fascinating look into the Victorian era as well as their personal lives and what they drew inspiration from. It's full of pictures and illustrations that help tell their story. Sadly, all three died young (not to mention their other non-published siblings!) and ...more
I never could get into the Bronte sisters' actual works of fiction, but I had always heard that much of their fiction was based on their real life experiences, which is what led me to this book, which I really enjoyed for several reasons.

First, it is an extremely fast read. If you wanted to, you could pound this out in a day. If you buy the Kindle version, the footnotes begin around 70% of the way through the book, so the last 30% of the book is not actual text.

Second, it's an interesting look
Paige Davis
This is a biography following the lives of the Bronte sisters. They were three of the six Bronte children. Their mother died when they were young, and their Reverend father did not fully appreciate them even as company until they were much older. They each spend some significant time in different boarding schools, gaining the education that would allow them to provide for themselves in the case that they never got married (which was a high possibility because of how poor they were). They had old ...more
Six children -- five sisters and one brother. Not one of them lived to see 40. I knew the story, but still learned some tidbits. Loved the illustrations, but was sad they were all in black and white. My mom'favorite place in England was Haworth, and I have her photos in my memory still. She visited the church, the cemetery. She told me she'd seen a display of one of Charlotte's dresses and couldn't believe she was so tiny...this from a woman who just barely cleared five feet.

Poor motherless chil
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Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed JOHN STEINBECK and SIGMUND FREUD, which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.
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“So she asked herself two questions. First, 'Do I love him as much as a woman ought to love the man she married?' And second, 'Am I the person best qualified to make him happy?' The answer to both questions was no. She replied to Henry's letter, turning him down. 'You do not know me; I am not the serious, grave, cool-headed individual you suppose... I will never for the sake of attaining the distinction of matrimony and escaping the stigma of an old maid take a worthy man whom I am conscious I cannot render happy.” 0 likes
“The critic George Henry Lewes asked, 'Does it never strike these delightful creatures that their little fingers were meant to be kissed, not to be inked?” 0 likes
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