I’m well aware I’m cheating here – three writers under the same post. I was just going to have Emily Bronte as one of my most inspirational writers but I felt bad leaving the other two out, like I was unfairly picking favourites. And the truth is they’ve all had an impact on me in terms of literature.
Anyone who knows me knows that Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite books. I received a copy of it as a prize at Primary school (I can’t remember what the prize was for, it was a very small school so they probably just wanted “everyone to be a winner” at something) and it completely bewildered me. It was the first grown up book I ever owned. I couldn’t read it. I kept getting as far as the third chapter and getting lost in the strange language and style of writing. So I put it aside for a couple of years and came back to it when I was a bit older, though not much wiser.
How glad I was that I did go back to it. I greedily read every word and immediately wanted more. The tone of the book and the characters completely captivated me and I fell in love with Emily’s gothic style. And there were other Bronte’s to explore!
Charlotte and Jane Eyre came next. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys before Jane Eyre so I knew the basic story but I wasn’t prepared for the way it hit me and dragged me in. I see Wide Sargasso Sea as being an accompaniment to Jane Eyre, something to expand the readers understanding of two of the characters.
So two of the Bronte sisters were excellent writers and I loved their stories. What of the third, Anne? A friend of mine gave me a copy of The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall. Anne had a very different approach to her sisters. While Emily created a dark world of gothic fairy tale-like stories and Charlotte gave us a despairing yet hopeful love story, Anne was far ahead of her time in her visions. She wrote about women supporting themselves and suffering at the hands of abusive drunken husbands, infidelity and other adult themes that were not always well accepted for the time.
The Bronte sisters published their works under male pseudonyms so that they would be taken seriously but even for male writers some of their subject matter was “frowned upon”.
It’s inspiring to see people breaking out of their box, no matter who they are or what time they are writing in. I will always hold the Bronte sisters up as shining examples of what can be accomplished.