Rare Book & Manuscript Library Image Collections

Raymond Biswanger Slide Collection

The Brontës: 1893
Gomersal, West Yorkshire

Mary Taylor was a close friend of Charlotte Brontë's. A pretty, energetic, clever, hard-working, intolerant, and “quietly rebellious,” person with radical republican principles, she was the original for the “fine, generous” and intellectual Rose Yorke in Shirley. Mary and her sister Martha Taylor had met Charlotte in 1831 when they were fellow pupils at Roe Head School.

Branwell Brontë was attracted to Mary Taylor until “he began to suspect that she cared more for him and then instantly conceived a sort of contempt for her.” Because Mary bitterly regretted this too-frank revelation of her feelings and deeply resented the response to it, she became more defiantly insistent on the right of women to an independent and self-supporting life.

Mary attended school in Brussels after traveling through Europe in 1841, taught in Hagen, Germany, and later lived for a time in Wellington, New Zealand, where her younger brother had emigrated. She actively encouraged Charlotte to go abroad in search of education as well as the means of attaining an independent career. Throughout her travels, Mary Taylor kept in touch with Ellen Nussey and Charlotte Brontë.

Mary Taylor returned to Gomersal, Yorkshire in 1859, and thereafter wrote a novel, also publishing articles in feminist and travel magazines. She destroyed all but one of Charlotte's letters to her, an action she later regretted. Two of her long recollections of Charlotte after Charlotte Brontë's death were incorporated into Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Taylor family member grave, Saint Mary's Churchyard, Gomersal, West Yorkshire; Grave of Mary Taylor is unmarked [1 May 1985]

Saint Mary's Church and Churchyard, Gomersal; Mary Taylor buried here [1 May 1985]

Previous Page
Index to the Brontës