A British literary genius is marked in today’s Google Doodle with a celebration of what would be Charlotte Brontë’s 198th birthday

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 198th birthday of Charlotte Brontë with a scene from her best-known novel, Jane Eyre.

Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in Thornton, Yorkshire as the third of six children. Her siblings were Maria, Elizabeth, Emily, Anne and a son Branwell. Both Maria and Elizabeth died of tuberculosis in June 1825, following an outbreak at the school they all attended.

Brontë became a teacher at a boarding school in Brussels and this inspired her and her two sisters, Anne and Emily to pen a collection of poems under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

Charlotte later justified using the masculine names in order to disguise the threesome’s genders.

She wrote, “Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because — without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called ‘feminine’ – we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we had noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.”

Younger sister Emily, who was a music teacher at the same school as Charlotte, also became a writer, penning Wuthering Heights in 1847 under her pseudonym Ellis Bell. She died of pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1848, shortly after the book was published.

Charlotte Bronte

Today’s Jane Eyre doodle shows a scene from the 1847 masterpiece, showing the lead character leaving Thornfield Hall, where she takes up a position as governess and falls in love with her employer, Mr Rochester.

The story has a happy ending of sorts though, with Jane and Mr Rochester marrying after Mrs Rochester dies in a house fire.

In the following years, Charlotte published two further novels: Shirley and Villette.

She married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate in June 1854 and died on 31 March 1855 while pregnant. Although the formal cause of death was recorded as tuberculosis, it’s thought by modern historians she suffered from severe morning sickness and as a result, died of malnutrition and dehydration.

View our favorite Google Doodles of 2013.

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