10 Interesting Facts to Celebrate Charlotte Brontë’s 200th Birthday

Jane Eyre is, hands down, my favorite of all the Brontë sisters’ works, and as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth on April 21, I thought I would share some interesting facts about Charlotte and her first book, Jane Eyre. I may mention her other works as well.

10 Interesting Facts about Charlotte Brontë

1. Charlotte and her sisters were enrolled in a strict boarding school called the Clergy Daughter’s School. During their time at the school, a outbreak killed several students. Though Charlotte and her sister were removed from the school, two of her sister, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis shortly afterwards. Charlotte blamed the school for their death, and her sister Maria is said to be the inspiration for Helen Burns, Jane’s friend who dies at school in Jane Eyre.

2. The mistreatment she and her sisters received at their own school was inspiration for much of Charlotte’s first novel. In fact, the character of the hypocritical director of Lowood was based on the director of her own school, Reverend W. Carus Wilson. She must have created a good likeness, as Wilson not only recognized himself in the character, but threatened to sue, forcing her to write an apology letter. Continue reading

Nine Notable Nom de Plumes

In honor of George Eliot’s (Mary Anne Evans) birthday today, let’s take a look at nine noteworthy literary pen names. Did you know these authors had “secret identities”?

           

Row 1: George Eliot – Best known for: Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871), Real name: Mary Anne Evans; Mark Twain – Best known for: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), Real name: Samuel Langhorne Clemens; Currer, Ellis & Acton Bell – Best known for (respectively): Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights & Agnes Grey (1847), Real names: Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte; George Orwell – Best known for: Animal Farm (1945), Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), Real name: Eric Arthur Blair.

Row 2: Dr. Seuss – Best known for: The Cat in the Hat (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Real name: Theodore Geisel; Voltaire – Best known for: “Plato’s Dream” (1756), Candide (1759), Real name: François-Marie Arouet; O. Henry – Best known for: “The Gift of the Magi” (1906), Real name: William Sydney Porter; Pablo Neruda* – Best known for: Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada (1924), Residencia en la tierra (1933), Real name: Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto *Legally adopted his pen name in 1946; Lewis Carroll – Best known for: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Through the Looking-Glass (1871), Real name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Most of the authors above chose to write under a pseudonym either because they wanted their work to be taken seriously (especially challenging for women before the 20th century), or because they were hiding from a possibly disapproving family member or society. Would you publish under a pen name (or do you already have one)? Let us know in the comments! – Kate

Kate is Promotions & Direct Mail Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.