Emily was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, the daughter of Patrick Brontė, a cultivated man
who, in 1820, assumed the vicarage at Haworth amongst the moors so significant to Emily's
later literature. Her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, were also to acquire literary fame but
her elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, both died in childhood from tuberculosis.
Their brother Branwell had literary, and some artistic, talent being mainly noted for
his portraits of his sisters; but he succumbed to alcoholism in 1848. All four
surviving children co-operated in developing their literary talents in childhood
In 1838, Emily became a governess for a brief period before she and Charlotte attended a
school in Brussels learning French and German; but their ambition to start a school
proved unrewarded. After their return to England, the sisters published a collection
of poems using masculine pseudonyms, "Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell", where
the Christian name initials reflected their true identities; but the book failed to
excite commercial interest.
Whilst retaining her pseudonym, Emily wrote Wuthering
Heights in 1847 which became a literary success after her death and was published
under her real name by Charlotte in 1850.
Emily succumbed to the unhealthy climate of Haworth, however, and died, aged only 30,
of tuberculosis shortly after the death of Branwell.