Charlotte Bronte, the third of six children, was born April 21, 1816, to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell Bronte in Yorkshire, England. Along with her sisters, Emily and Anne, she produced some of the most impressive writings of the 19th century. The Brontes lived in a time when women used pseudonyms to conceal their female identity, hence Bronte's pseudonym, Currer Bell. Charlotte Bronte was only five when her mother died of cancer. In 1824, she and three of her sisters attended the Clergy Daughter's School in Cowan Bridge. The inspiration for the Lowood School in the classic Jane Eyre was formed by Bronte's experiences at the Clergy Daughter's School. Her two older sisters died of consumption because of the malnutrition and harsh treatment they suffered at the school. Charlotte and Emily Bronte returned home after the tragedy. The Bronte sisters fueled each other's creativity throughout their lives. As young children, they wrote long stories together about a complex imaginary kingdom they created from a set of wooden soldiers. In 1846, Charlotte Bronte, with her sisters Emily and Anne published a thin volume titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. In the same year, Charlotte Bronte attempted to publish her novel, The Professor, but was rejected. One year later, she published Jane Eyre, which was instantly well received. Charlotte Bronte's life was touched by tragedy many times. Despite several proposals of marriage, she did not accept an offer until 1854 when she married the Reverend A. B. Nicholls. One year later, at the age of 39, she died of pneumonia while she was pregnant. Her previously rejected novel, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857.
Elizabeth Barrett was born in Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England, in 1806. Most of her childhood was spent on her father's estate, reading the classics and writing poetry. An injury to her spine when she was fifteen, the shock of her brother's death by drowning in 1840 and an ogre-like father made her life dark. But she read and wrote, and no little volume of verse ever produced a richer return than her Poems of 1844. Robert Browning read the poems, liked them, and came to her rescue like Prince Charming in the fairy story. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning were married on September 12, 1846. Barrett Browning's enduring fame has rested on two works-Poems (1850), containing Sonnets from the Portuguese, and Aurora Leigh (1857). The former is a celebration of woman as man's other half and the latter is a celebration of woman's potential to stand on her own. During the Edwardian and later periods, it was Sonnets from the Portuguese that embodied Barrett Browning. Since the rise of feminism, it has been Aurora Leigh. More recently, a third side of Barrett Browning has been revealed: the incisive critical and political commentator, seen in her letters. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in Florence, Italy, in 1861.