Saturday, October 22, 2011

Patrick Brontë

Things I never knew about the father of the marvelous Brontë sisters.
In 1802, Patrick entered St John's College, Cambridge. This was no small achievement considering the modest financial means of his family. It was also during this time that he changed the spelling of his name from Brunty to Bronte. No one knows for certain why he did this. Maybe he wanted to hide his humble origins? But what does Bronte mean? It is the name of a Greek god and means thunder, but he could also have chosen the name in honour of Lord Nelson, on which was bestowed the honour of Duke of Bronte by King Ferdinand of Naples. Patrick graduated from college in 1806.

After his graduation he went to Ireland to see his family. That was the last time he ever set foot on Ireland. The following year he was ordained into the Church of England and then held several curacies. In 1812, Patrick met Maria Branwell. The couple married in December of that same year and had six children: Maria (1814), Elizabeth (1815), Charlotte (1816), Branwell (1817), Emily (1818) and Anne (1820). The year his younger daughter was born, he was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth. His wife Maria died here of cancer the following year.

Maria's sister Elizabeth moved in with the Brontes to assist her during her illness and decided to stay even after her death to help Patrick take care of his many children. Struggling to bring up his large family and failing to remarry to give a mother to his children, in 1823 he decided to send his four eldest daughters - Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily - to the Cowan Bridge school, a school for clergymen's daughters. During their second year there, Maria and Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died. Charlotte blamed the harsh regimen and the poor sanitary condition of the school for their death. After that, he personally took charge of his children's education. (Read entire post.)
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4 comments:

Heather said...

The Brontes have fascinated me ever since fifth grade when I read a brief biography of their childhood and creation of their fantasy world Angria. Thanks for sharing this post.

The North Coast said...

Thanks for sharing this post about the great Bronte family.

Patrick Bronte was a wonderful man and very doting father. It is recorded elsewhere that he did everything he could to encourage his daughters in their literary endeavors, and what he couldn't give them in the way of material ease and social advantages, he more than made up for in the love and attention he gave them. He's not the first loving parent in history who trusted a well-known institution with his children, to give them what he felt he couldn't, just to discover that the place was not the best place possible for his kids.

Julygirl said...

He is among many other fathers of that era who were ministers and saw to it that their daughters were educated.....Jane Austen and Hariette Beecher Stowe come to mind.

Gio said...

Thanks so much for sharing my post!