Elizabeth Brontë

Elizabeth Brontë (/ˈbrɒnti/, commonly /ˈbrɒnt/;[1] 1815[2] – 25 June 1825) was the second daughter and child of Reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife, Maria. She was born in Hartshead, Yorkshire.[3]

Early life[edit]

The second child and daughter of Reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife Maria Brontë (née Branwell) was born on 8 February 1815.[3] She was baptised on 26 August 1815 by J. Fennell, an officiating Minister[4] at the Parish of Thornton and Chapelry of Thornton, in York,[4] while Elizabeth Firth, an acquaintance of the family, stood as namesake and godmother.[3] When Elizabeth was just a few months old, the family moved from Hartshead to Thornton.[3] Elizabeth Gaskell wrote in her biography of Charlotte Brontë that a certain "Miss Temple" (probably the inspiration for the character in Jane Eyre) offered a glimpse of Elizabeth's behaviour in this letter:

Gaskell also wrote, adding that this had become quite of a habit:

In 1821, when Elizabeth was six years old, her mother, weakened by the birth of her sixth child, died of cancer. Maria, her older sister, became the "guardian" of the children, maturing at a very young age.

Patrick described his second daughter as a young girl with "sound common sense".[3]


On 1 July 1824, Maria, 11 and Elizabeth, nearly 9, joined the Cowan Bridge School with Charlotte and Emily following soon after in September.[7] The food provided by the school was generally poorly cooked and unhealthy, and the cook was reported to be "careless, dirty, and wasteful".[8] She was not academic, and while the school records show that Maria, Charlotte and Emily were to be trained to be governesses, Elizabeth's destiny was listed as 'housekeeper'.[3] Accordingly, Mr. Brontë did not pay the extra £3 a year for Elizabeth to learn French, music and drawing, that he did for his other three girls.[3] The school register read:


By the winter of 1824, Maria's health had been deteriorating quickly. She was withdrawn from school on 14 February[7] and died of tuberculosis on 16 May that year.[9] Over the following six months, one girl was to die at school and twenty more, one third of the roll, were withdrawn ill, and six of them died soon afterwards.[3] Fifteen days later, on 31 May, Elizabeth was withdrawn, too, the school record stating that she "left in ill-health".[9] She died the same year, six weeks after Maria.[9]

The school record says that she died of consumption (tuberculosis),[9] a disease which would kill most of her siblings. She was buried in the Brontë vault at Saint Michael and All Angels church.


  1. ^ As given by Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature (Merriam-Webster, incorporated, Publishers: Springfield, Massachusetts, 1995), p viii: "When our research shows that an author's pronunciation of his or her name differs from common usage, the author's pronunciation is listed first, and the descriptor commonly precedes the more familiar pronunciation." See also entries on Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, pp 175–176.
  2. ^ Patricia Ingham (2006): The Brontës (Oxford University Press), xii-xiii.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Brontë Parsonage Museum - Elizabeth Brontë". The Brontë Society. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b Gaskell 1900, p. 47.
  5. ^ Gaskell 2009, p. 35.
  6. ^ Gaskell 2009, p. 49.
  7. ^ a b Gaskell 1900, p. 64.
  8. ^ Gaskell 1900, p. 66.
  9. ^ a b c d e Gaskell 1900, p. 65.


External links[edit]