Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. Three sisters, all born with a four-year period, all poets and novelists, all teachers and governesses, all unmarried for most of their lives (Charlotte married at 38), all childless, all quiet, plain, and shy, all elusive to biographers. It is no wonder we speak of them so often in a single breath, as if they were one entity, or that the publisher believed Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell to be a single author, publishing under multiple pseudonyms, until the sisters visited him in London in order to dispel that myth. They are, collectively, a single, incredible literary event. It is hard to separate them, but that is what we’ve attempted with this quiz, with the sparse knowledge available on each of them: Which Brontë sister are you? (Hint: there is no “talkative one.”)
1. How quiet are you?
2. Are you pale, sickly, and plagued with a bad cough?
A. Yes, but the doctor thought a trip to the seaside might help.
B. Yes, and I shall die of it before I let a doctor near me.
C. Oh, I suppose, but I’m getting on just fine anyway.
3. Your id would be best represented by:
A. a womanising, misogynistic drunk.
B. a wild, swarthy orphan.
C. a madwoman in the attic.
4. Which is closest to your ideal man?
A. young, earnest, jealous, moody.
B. tall, dark, handsome, violent.
C. tall, dark, older, rude.
5. It’s 4 P.M. on a Wednesday. You can be found:
B. pacing the moors in the rain.
C. writing! You still need to meet your quota of 2000/words a day.
6. One of your sisters dies suddenly, leaving a nearly-complete, but unpublished manuscript. What do you with it?
A. Send it off to your publisher.
B. Read it in a single sitting by the fire, then put it in her old room, which you plan on preserving as a kind of tribute to her.
C. Burn it… Not out of jealousy, but, you know, for her own good. Her imagination could be barbaric.
8. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?
B. King Lear (or any of the tragedies, really)
C. Taming of the Shrew
9. Which words would you be most likely to utter on your death bed?
A. “Take courage.”
B. “If you will send for a doctor, I will see him now.”
C. “Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us. We have been so happy.”
Mostly As: You’re Anne—often overlooked, because your novels are deemed too “moralistic,” you tend to be perceived as a goody-two-shoes. Why? Because you refuse to romanticize drunken, abusive men. You’re the most practical of the three sisters, and also the quietest.
Mostly Bs: You’re Emily, otherwise known as the Sphynx of Literature, second only to Emily Dickinson for the title of “most reclusive woman who wrote as if she had experienced the full range of intense and passionate emotion.” You were mysterious even to your sisters, often forsaking their company for that of your dog, who was your companion on long tramps around the moors.
Mostly Cs: You’re Charlotte, or the typical oldest sibling: high-achieving, most productive, most famous, lived longest, did the most, you know, all that classic Type A stuff. You’re deeply ambitious, and not averse to bringing your sisters down in order to raise yourself up (Some believe Charlotte burned Emily’s extant manuscript after her death, and we know that she discouraged publishers from making a second print of Anne’s popular novel TheTenant of Wildfell Hall).
Are you a total Charlotte, or more of a Samanth-err… Emily?