The Brontë sisters Charlotte (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855), Emily (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) and Anne (17 January 1820 – 28 May 1849), were English writers of the 1840s and 1850s. Their novels caused a sensation when they were first published and were subsequently accepted into the canon of great English literature.
Ó Proinntigh was earlier anglicised as Prunty and sometimes Brunty. At some point, the father of the sisters, Patrick Brontë (born Brunty), conceived of the alternate spelling with the dieresis over the terminal "e" to indicate that the name is of two syllables. It is not known for certain what motivated him to do so, and multiple theories exist to account for the change. He may have wished to hide his humble origins. As a man of letters, he would have been familiar with classical Greek and chosen the name after the cyclop Brontes (literally 'thunder').
Unrelated Bronte families are found in Sicily. The name indicates their origin from the town of Bronte. In 1799 King Ferdinand of Naples bestowed the honour of Duke of Bronte to Lord Nelson for fighting off the French Navy. Patrick may have taken the name in honour of Lord Nelson
They had written compulsively from early childhood and were first published, at their own expense, in 1846 as poets under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The book attracted little attention, selling only two copies. The sisters returned to prose, producing a novel each in the following year. Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights and Anne's Agnes Grey were released in 1847 after their long search to secure publishers.
The novels attracted great critical attention and steadily became best-sellers, but the sisters' careers were shortened by ill-health. Emily died the following year before she could complete another novel, and Anne published her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in 1848, a year before her death. Upon publication Jane Eyre received the most critical and commercial success of all the Brontë works, continuing to this day. Charlotte's Shirley appeared in 1849 and was followed by Villette in 1853. Her first novel, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857; her uncompleted fragment, Emma, was published in 1860; and some of her juvenile writings remained unpublished until the late twentieth century. Charlotte died at the age of 38 in 1855 after a short illness, possibly related to her pregnancy. She had married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, less than a year earlier.
The first biography of Charlotte was written by her friend Elizabeth Gaskell and published in 1857. It helped create the myth of a doomed family living in romantic solitude.