Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

Review: Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

As I’ve mentioned previously, before Anne, Emily was my favourite Brontë. Wuthering Heights over Jane Eyre, always. I didn’t even come to read Anne’s books until I decided I wanted to read all the Brontë novels.

How misinformed I was! Anne’s writing was beyond what I was expecting from the other “less talented” Brontë sister. Where Emily and Charlotte’s hard romance enforced my young, teenage-minded version of love, Anne gave me reality.

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis“Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë. Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.

Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.” GoodReads.

I’ve been waiting (patiently, I promise) for this book ever since Ellis mentioned it during the 2015 Spring Daunt Books Festival.

Meticulously researched (check out the further reading section!) and superbly written, this is a non-fiction with life.

Take Courage is a book on all Brontë’s, as you can’t tell Anne’s story without also talking about Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and the other people in Anne’s life. The four surviving Brontë siblings were so close that one existence can never really be told without referencing the other.

It was interesting to read about family politics, to picture Charlotte and Emily beyond their hegemonic narratives. Charlotte all bt buried Anne as a writer, perhaps out of jealousy or a desire to protect her reputation (considering how scandalous Tenant was at the time).

What I enjoy most about Ellis’ writing is that it’s a book that tells you about as much about her as it does Anne. Her feelings pour from the book, without influencing the facts. Yes, at times Ellis asks hopeful questions of the evidence but never presents assumptions as fact. You feel her passion for Anne, a strong need to defend her. It’s glorious.

This is the perfect book for a Brontë fan (psst, Steph, if you’ve not read it already).

What do you think of the battle of the Brontë’s?


I requested this book from Netgally in exchange for an honest review.


7 thoughts on “Review: Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

  1. I can’t fathom how anyone loves Wuthering Heights better than Jane Eyre, but the world is a rich tapestry! Anne is the one Bronte whose work I haven’t encountered yet — I keep meaning to read Tenant, which I hear great things about, and then finding other things to do with my reading time. One day soon!


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