Brontë noted that, after discovering a manuscript written by Emily in 1845, her sister's poems were not “at all like the poetry women generally write” and carried “a peculiar music – wild, melancholy, and elevating.” Brontë, along with her sisters, began using pseudonyms in 1846 with the publication of Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. According to Charlotte, the wide audience believed that these three pseudonyms related to one person; she wrote Biographical Notes on the Pseudonymous Bells in response.
Charlotte Brontë's most famous work, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, was published in 1847 under the pen name Currer Bell. Charlotte met much more opposition while trying to get her first novel published than her sisters did, later recalling, “something like the chill of despair began to invade (my) heart.” Nonetheless, Jane Eyre was published, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Brontë continued to write, though her work was slowed by tragedy. The Brontë family was devastated by the deaths of three of the siblings within eight months, at the time that Brontë was penning Shirley: A Tale. Branwell died in September 1848 of tuberculosis aggravated by delirium tremens, a condition he developed due to heavy alcoholism. Shortly after Branwell's funeral, Emily caught tuberculosis and died the following December. In May 1849, Anne also died from tuberculosis, having fallen ill just before Emily's funeral. Brontë lay witness to the declines in both Emily's and Anne's conditions, stating later about Emily's failing health that “to stand by and witness this... was a pain no words can render.”
There is no doubt that these tragedies inspired certain elements of Shirley, which was published in 1849. Like Jane Eyre, Shirley drew on Brontë's own experiences. The titular character from Shirley has been observed as Brontë's portrayal of what her sister Emily would have been like had Emily been born into an upper class family; Caroline Helstone from the same novel was likewise based on Anne.
Brontë's third novel, Villette, was published in 1853. Though Villette was not as successful as Jane Eyre, it carried many of the same themes and style of Brontë's debut novel. Both novels were written in first-person; Shirley was written in third-person and, at least partially due to this deviation, was not as well received as Jane Eyre and Villette.
Brontë married Arthur Bell Nicholls in June 1854. She initially was reluctant to marry him, but after encouragement from contemporary author and friend Elizabeth Gaskell as well as the improvement of Nicholls's financial situation, Brontë accepted. Brontë became pregnant soon after the marriage.
However, Brontë's heath soon took a sharp turn for the worse. Brontë and her unborn child died on March 31, 1855, in Haworth. Bronte was 38 years old. The exact cause of her death is disputed. Her death certificate claims that she died of phthisis, but several historians agree that Brontë may have died from complications caused...