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The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

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There's more to the Brontë sisters than bonnets and looking out over the moors, so we thought it was high time to honour three of Stylist's literary heroines - Charlotte, Emily and Ann Brontë .

Daughters of a cleric, the sisters lived quiet and reclusive lives in Victorian England. Yet browse the collective works of the talented trio and you'll find pages peppered with forward-thinking statements about a woman's role in society and indispensable life advice about love, marriage and friendship. From Ms Eyres' classic lines to wise words from Anne's lesser known novels, we've picked out a selection of the most insightful quotes from the Brontë sisters.

Picture credit: Rex Features

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Keep a guard over your eyes and ears as the inlets of your heart, and over your lips as the outlet, lest they betray you in a moment of unwariness.”

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are employed; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wings, and Hope guides us by her star."

    Villette, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him; they crush those beneath them."

    Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are or should be written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "I see that a man cannot give himself up to drinking without being miserable one-half his days and mad the other."

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “Our wishes are like tinder: the flint and steel of circumstances are continually striking out sparks, which vanish immediately, unless they chance to fall upon the tinder of our wishes; then, they instantly ignite, and the flame of hope is kindled in a moment.”

    Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Do live more in earnest, more in themselves, and less in surface change, and frivolous external things."

    Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone."

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "There is no folly so besotted that the idiotic rivalries of society, the prurience, the rashness...the blindness of youth, will not hurry a man to its commission."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato."

    Villette, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Silence is of different kinds, and breathes different meanings."

    Villette, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "I wondered why so much beauty should be given to those who made so bad a use of it, and denied to some who would make it a benefit to both themselves and others."

    Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "The passions may rage furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Beauty is that quality which, next to money, is generally the most attractive to the worst kinds of men; and, therefore, it is likely to entail a great deal of trouble on the possessor."

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Let respect be the foundation, affection the first floor, love the superstructure."

    The Professor, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut."

    Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “It is thoughtless to condemn them (women), or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."

    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.”

    Shirley, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “They that have beauty, let them be thankful for it, and make a good use of it, like any other talent: they that have it not, let them console themselves, and do the best they can without it - certainly, though liable to be over-estimated, it is a gift of God, and not to be despised.”

    Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.”

    The Professor, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “Fortune is proverbially called changeful, yet her caprice often takes the form of repeating again and again a similar stroke of luck in the same quarter.”

    Shirley, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    “Better to be without logic than without feeling.”

    The Professor, Charlotte Brontë

  • The Brontë sisters' words of wisdom

    "There is, in lovers, a certain infatuation of egotism; they will have a witness of their happiness, cost that witness what it may."

    Villette, Charlotte Brontë

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