Here’s some hopeful news if you were ever told by your teachers that you’d never amount to anything: In grade school, Charlotte Brontë’s teachers at the Clergy Daughters School said she “[wrote] indifferently” and “[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments.” Slate dug up the reports, which were reprinted in the January 1900 issue of The Journal of Education: A Monthly Record and Review.
Patrick Brontë sent his four oldest daughters to the school after his wife died. Three of them—Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth—didn’t exactly get positive feedback there. Emily Brontë got the most praise (which is still faint): “Reads very prettily,” her report read. According to the report, Maria Brontë (who died of an illness shortly after leaving the school) “made some progress in reading French, but knows nothing of the language grammatically.” Elizabeth Brontë, who also died young of an illness, “Knows nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments.”
Of course, Charlotte and Emily Brontë became feminist icons and two of England’s most renowned novelists, and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights are in the canon of British literature. Poor Anne Brontë, whose work is often overlooked in favor of her sisters’, didn’t even go to the same school.