Emily Bronte was born in 1818, the daughter of Irishman Patrick Bronte, perpetual curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. Emily's mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of their aunt. Four of the daughters were sent to school at Cowan Bridge, where the eldest two were victims of a typhus epidemic and died soon after they were brought home. Emily and her elder sister, Charlotte, also returned home, where Emily stayed for most of the rest of her short life. She was especially close to her younger sister, Anne, with whom she created the imaginary world of Gondal, the setting of many of her finest poems, including 'The Prisoner'.
Thanks to Brontë, the name Shirley is now considered more of a girl's name than a boy's one. In 1849, Brontë’s second novel, Shirley , about an independent heiress named Shirley Keeldar, was released. Before then, the name Shirley was unusual, but was most commonly used for boys. (In the novel, the title character was named as such because her parents had wanted a boy.) But after 1849, the name Shirley reportedly started to become popular for women. Decades later in the 1930s, child star Shirley Temple’s fame catapulted the name into more popular use.