A SCHOOL PROGRESS REPORT FOR THE YOUNG BRONTE SISTERS. Here, from the Slate Vault, Rebecca Onion reproduces a progress report for the four oldest Bronte sisters from the register of the Clergy Daughters’ School. It is a heartbreaking document. Maria, then 10 and Elizabeth, then 9, died of tuberculosis, less than a year after they entered the school. Their three younger sisters who survived them were literary geniuses.
Of Charlotte, then age 8, the report states that she “Writes indifferently. Ciphers a little and works neatly. Knows nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments. Altogether clever of her age, but knows nothing systematically.”
Of Emily, then almost 6, the report says: “Reads very prettily and works a little.”
Rebecca Onion points out that “to work” meant “to do needlepoint”.