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

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  706 Ratings  ·  174 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 October 1st 2012)
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Apr 25, 2016 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars but I must round it up for appreciation. Started in the afternoon after a strenuous day of tree planting, and garden wall /soil renewal- I would never have thought I could stay up and finish this in one evening. It was GOOD!

The research and references are 40 pages plus at the end of the Kindle read. The written letters and association correspondence for a dozen others followed to an excellent degree. Even the period after the sisters had passed and their fame increasing- who helped wit
Apr 15, 2013 Kristen rated it liked it
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
Sep 24, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2013
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
Apr 30, 2014 Destiny rated it really liked it
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
Grandpa Joe
Apr 24, 2013 Grandpa Joe rated it liked it
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
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
Jarm Del Boccio
Aug 20, 2013 Jarm Del Boccio rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 06, 2017 Martyn rated it really liked it
I thought I knew a lot about the Brontës but I had never fully appreciated before how closely together Branwell, Emily and Anne died. I can't begin to imagine the desperate grief that must have caused, on top of the earlier deaths of Maria (mother and child) and Elizabeth. I also never realized that Patrick Brontë outlived his last child by six years.

This book is primarily aimed at the YA audience but, like the best books for that market, it isn't insubstantial in the slightest. It's a great st
Apr 13, 2017 Brooke rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this after watching To Walk Invisible on PBS. It gave me the extra info on the Brontes I wanted without dragging it out into literary criticism.
Gina Johnson
Apr 04, 2017 Gina Johnson rated it really liked it
April's book club read. This biography of the Bronte sisters was an enjoyable easy read. It was well written and very informative and it made me want to read Jane Eyre (and their other books) again.
Steven Peterson
Sep 16, 2012 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 04, 2017 Crizzle rated it it was amazing
I loved getting to learn about the brief lives of the Bronte sisters! I marked this as "to read" when it came out in 2012; I recently requested it on our South Dakota Overdrive library and they got it in for me! So much I didn't know: their mother died when Anne was a baby, they had two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who died while attending their cruel boarding school, and their brother Branwell lived a sad life as an addict, losing job after job while the girls quietly worked hard as unde ...more
Connie D
Apr 15, 2017 Connie D rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bronte, ya
I've read several biographies of the Brontes and several (but not all) of their books and this is a great retelling of their fascinating story for teens. The numerous illustrations, including pictures of people and places involved in their lives and their own writings and drawings, are a great addition that usually get omitted from adult biographies. The author, Catherine Reef, also does a great job of connecting what they wrote about to what they experienced in life, literary connections that y ...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
Mar 07, 2015 Auggie rated it really liked it
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
Feb 26, 2015 Kermit rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2015 Dianna rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2014 Amy Hollis rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this simple biography of the Brontes. It may be enough to kickstart my thirst for reading!
Rachel Beeler
Aug 14, 2015 Rachel Beeler rated it really liked it
I really liked the accessibility of this text; it's a young adult literary biography so it's not bogged down by scholarly writing.
Oct 05, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
Excellent, complete biography on the entire family, great photos and information I have never read before. I will purchase this book.
Rita Welty Bourke
May 18, 2017 Rita Welty Bourke rated it really liked it
Women in the Victorian age were given to understand that their place was in the home. When George Henry Lewis, English philosopher and critic during the Victorian age, learned that the author of Jane Eyre was a woman, he said: “The grand function of woman, it must always be recollected, is, and ever must be, maternity.” Robert Southey, Poet Laureate of England, wrote of Charlotte Brontë: “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.”
Charlotte Brontë and her siste
May 16, 2017 Mandy rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book immensely, and finished it in only two sittings. It was beautifully-written, contained amazing photos and actual copies of letters and other handwriting/notes, was fact-based and thoroughly-researched, and gave a fascinating look inside the Bronte sisters' lives, personalities, and talents. This was a great follow-up to the recent PBS docu-drama (which I also really loved), as life events that were eluded to on the show were thoroughly fleshed-out here. The author did a great ...more
Nov 07, 2016 Bethany rated it really liked it
Read for 5420 class

A quite detailed biography of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte from their move to Haworth as young children to their death and beyond to their legacy.

I much enjoyed The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne-- mostly because I love Charlotte's Jane Eyre. However, this text is written for 8th-10th grade students' level, but these students don't have a love for Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Agnes Grey like few English majors do. As such, I fear that i
Jan 26, 2017 Caitlin rated it really liked it
This book felt very gentle, as though the author truly knew Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the family and find my interest piqued to read more of the Brontë sisters' novels!
May 25, 2017 Amber rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Angela Coffaro
Jun 20, 2017 Angela Coffaro rated it it was amazing
I loved it! How sad that the Reverend Patrick Bronte outlived all his children. And how sad that generations that follow the Bronte women are denied what might have been their future contributions.
Dec 15, 2016 Phebe rated it liked it
good, straightforward biography...
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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.
More about Catherine Reef...

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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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