Charlotte Brontë - Literary fame

1849-54: the famous author

Charlotte meanwhile was becoming a famous author and her second novel, Shirley, was published in October 1849. She began correspondence with Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell, travelled frequently to London, where she met other writers, including Thackeray, and visited the Great Exhibition in 1851.

In 1850, she met and became close friends with Elizabeth Gaskell, who would eventually write her biography. She also stayed at various country houses in the north of England. She was now financially secure, having received £1500 for the rights to her first three novels. In 1852, she published Villette, which drew on her experience in Brussels.

1854-61: marriage, death and afterwards

Charlotte on honeymoonCharlotte had already rejected offers of marriage in Haworth and from James Taylor, who worked for her publishers in London. In 1854, when aged 38, she received an offer of marriage from her father’s curate, Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, which she was inclined to accept. However, her father did not like Nicholls and was angry with him for making the proposal, which Rev. Brontë regarded as inappropriate. Nicholls left the parish, but he and Charlotte kept in touch and eventually Rev. Brontë agreed to the marriage.

Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Nicholls were married in June 1854. They went on honeymoon to Ireland and were very happy. Charlotte was soon pregnant.

However, she caught a chill and her health quickly declined until she died in March 1855. She was in her thirty-ninth year. Her final novel (although the first written), The Professor, was published in 1857. Attended by the Rev. Nicholls, Patrick Brontë stayed on at Haworth Parsonage, having suffered the death of his wife and all six of his children. He died in 1861 at the age of 84.

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