Anne Bronte was youngest of the renowned Bronte writing dynasty of West Yorkshire. She was born in the village of Thornton, near Bradford, on the 17th January 1820, daughter of Patrick Bronte, a Church of England clergyman and Maria Branwell.
Whilst it is sometimes said that Anne’s sisters, Emily & Charlotte, achieved a much greater level of fame, she was an accomplished poet and novelist in her own right. Her two novels were titles; Agnes Grey & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The latter of the two was published in June 1848 was an overnight hit and the entire print run was sold within six weeks.
However, as the year progressed, the winter of 1848 turned out to be particularly ferocious. All members of the family had suffered various coughs and spluttering fits, but it was Anne’s older sister Emily who fell victim to the germs of the day. Despite the state of her health, Emily, ever the stubborn Yorkshire-woman, fiercely independent, refused medical attention on several occasions. This led to a rapid decline over a couple of months and Emily finally succumbed on 19 December.
Emily’s death left Anne grief-stricken, almost losing the will to live herself during the Christmas period. However, being both emotionally and physically fragile at this time, Anne contracted Flu, the dreaded influenza. A serious condition without the modern medicines of today.
In February 1849 however, Anne felt stronger and decided to go to Scarborough in North Yorkshire. Scarborough was the first seaside resort in the United Kingdom and people regularly visited for the fresh coastal air, though Anne, remaining frail, was now being pushed in a wheelchair by her sister Charlotte. However, recovery was elude Anne and she died in the coastal town, 70 miles from her home in Haworth.
Charlotte made the decision to bury Anne in Scarborough, in St Mary’s Churchyard. A difficult decision, since holding the funeral only three days after her death did not allow time for her heartbroken father to make the journey to be present to lay his youngest daughter to rest.
Following Anne’s death, publishers reprinted several editions of her work, however sister Charlotte blocked the re-publishing of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne had chosen this novel to present a more realistic depiction of life, drunkenness & debauchery, challenging many of the social norms of the day and producing a writing style in stark contrast to that of her more talked about sisters.
The grave today has suffered at the hands of the coastal weather, however it is still clear to see that Anne died on the 26th May 1849 and remains in the consecrated grounds of St Mary’s Church, within site of Scarborough Castle and overlooking south bay.