Sophie Gilbert at The Atlantic writes, “When it comes to the Brontë sisters, questions—and mythology—abound. How did three such relatively sheltered women, the daughters of a priest living in rural Yorkshire, write some of the most passionate and proto-feminist novels of the 19th century?”
To Walk Invisible, a two-hour drama airing on PBS today, touches on the fascinating contradictions of the Brontës, focusing on the three-year period when the sisters determined to publish their writing as a means of self-preservation.
“Aware of how they would be judged as women entering a man’s realm, they elected to use gender-neutral pseudonyms, so they could, as Charlotte explained in a letter, ‘walk invisible,'” writes Gilbert.
The story takes place in the 19th century, as Branwell (played by Adam Nagaitis) has returned in disgrace from a teaching job after having an affair with his employer’s wife. The sisters must deal with his destructive behavior, and with the frailty of their father (played by Jonathan Pryce). Charlotte (played by Finn Atkins) discovers poems written by Emily (played by Chloe Pirrie), and decides publishing their work is the only way of securing the family’s future.