She told of fairies that danced by the bed-sides in the moonlight, and of those who had seen them. When the peat glowed red on the kitchen hearth and shadows stretched across the stone floor, Tabby made the warm air seem alive with creatures of the fern and heather. (Simpson, 27)
The imaginations of the Brontë children, fired by Tabby's fascinating folktales, encountered the door, in 1826, to further development when the Reverend Mr. Brontë presented twelve wooden soldiers to Branwell. The four siblings created characters and islands around these toys and developed an oral literature that would later be transformed into poetry, constituting the well-known "Gondal" saga that Emily and Anne continued long after Branwell and Charlotte lost interest. Of special note is Emily's choice of names for her special heroes: Sir Walter Scott and the Lockharts. The literary reference seems to indicate an acquaintance with literature, an idea reinforced by Charlotte's "History of the Year 1829":
We take two and see three newspapers a week. We take the Leeds Intelligencer, Tory, and the Leeds Mercury, Whig, edited by Mr. Baines, and his brother, son-in-law, and his two sons, Edward and Talbot. We see the John Bull; it is a high Tory, very violent. Mr. Driver lends us it, as likewise Blackwood's Magazine, the most able periodical there is. The editor is Mr. Christopher North, an old man seventy-four years of age; the 1st of April is his birth-day; his company are Timothy Tickler, Morgan O'Doherty, Macrabin Mordecai, Mullion, Warnell, and James Hogg, a man of most extraordinary genius, a Scottish shepherd. Our plays were established; Young Men, June 1826; Our Fellows, July, 1827; Islanders, December, 1827. These are our three great plays, that are not kept secret. Emily's and my best plays were established the 1st of December, 1827; the others March, 1828. Best plays mean secret plays; they are very nice ones. Their nature I need not write on paper, for I think I shall always remember them. The Young Men's play took its rise from some wooden soldiers Branwell had; Our Fellows from Aesop's Fables; and the Islanders from several events which happened. (Qtd. in Lane, 63)
Charlotte eventually became the dominant creative force behind the play, and she developed complex, interconnected plots that drew on the often-stormy relationships between several main characters. These plots were also strongly influenced by recent events in the political world, as well as by Charlotte’s current choice of reading material. Magical elements permeate the early stories, in which the four siblings feature as all-powerful Genii who control the colony. By the later stories, Charlotte was more interested in the political machinations and romantic entanglements that she wove into her complex plots, leaving the world of fairy tales behind. Her writing shows the influence of various histories and legends, stories like the Arabian Nights, and the literature of Byron, Scott, and contemporary writers.