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Charlotte Brontë and the power of sisterhood

Charlotte Brontë and the power of sisterhood

"I am no bird, and no net ensnares me." - Charlotte Brontë

Despite being the daughters of a vicar and growing up in a parsonage, Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë were a wild bunch. At an early age, they demonstrated their creativity by inventing a fantastical land called Gondal. Knowing their father would disapprove of the romantic stories they concocted, they transcribed them in handwriting so small, no adult could hope to read it. 

To capture this sense of sisterhood, we drew inspiration from the Three Graces (Charites) of Greek mythology. Portrayed many times by painters and sculptors alike, they have come to represent many things, ranging from the feminine (charm, beauty, creativity) to the moral (faith, hope, love) to the agonistic (Hera, Aphrodite and Athena), to the creative (experience, inspiration, craft) to the unbreakable bond of kinship (Foedus Inviolabile).

The desolate and beautiful landscape surrounding their Yorkshire town of Howarth served as the setting for their most famous stories, and was the inspiration for our illustration. Like their characters, the landscape was untamed and as romantic as it was unforgiving.

This drawing is from my illustrated book Women Writers: Collected Works & Poems.

About the Art

“The fierce independence expressed in the quote is paired with the solidarity of the three graces. Instead of birds in a tree, delicate and fearful, the sisters form the unshakeable base of the tree itself. The central figure's dress becomes the trunk, utilizing the same pattern as the branches. The side figures' floral dresses mirror the foliage in the tree.”

Art by Evan Robertson. All rights reserved.

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