"he says she's been in a consumption these many months"

 

Pulmonary tuberculosis symptoms
Public DomainPulmonary tuberculosis symptoms - Credit: Mikael Haggstrom

Consumption was the name used at the time to describe pulmonary tuberculosis. The name derived from the impression that the disease was consuming the victim from the inside out.

Symptoms include a prolonged cough, weight loss and coughing blood. Without treatment, tuberculosis is fatal in up to 50% of cases.  The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine is now 80% effective in preventing infection.

Emily Brontё herself died of consumption at the age of 30.  Her sister Anne and brother Branwell also died of the disease.

Mimi's death from Consumption ends La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini