Happy birthday, Charlotte, what a long time ago since you were born – two hundred and one years to be precise! I know you are quite elderly, but you will be pleased to know you are very popular today, and not just because you are on some exam syllabus somewhere, but because people love and read and reread your books!
You were born in Thornton, in West Yorkshire, the third daughter of your father, Patrick and mother Maria. Your big and oldest sister, Maria must have thought you were an early second birthday present for her – she was born on St George’s Day, and also Shakespeare’s birthday, 23rd April. Your other sister was Elizabeth, born between you and Maria.
Your family moved to the vicarage in Haworth, and what a busy place it must have been, because a year after your arrival, your brother Branwell was born, then the next year Emily, and last of all, in 1820, baby Anne arrived. After all the happiness and excitement of the safe arrival of you six children, tragically, your mother died when you were only five years old.
Your life had many very sad, heart-breakingly sad times; you were bereaved by all your sisters and your brother, and you yourself died before your time when you were just thirty-eight, leaving your father to mourn his family.
However, on your birthday, let’s celebrate your life and be thankful for your wonderful legacy, your poems and of course your novels, Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette and The Professor.
Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall ?
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Enjoy them as they fly !
What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away ?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway ?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair !