I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

woensdag 7 oktober 2020

National Poetry Day And The Brontës. Nick Holland visited Haworth.

I love the blog from Nick Holland Anne Bronte 

He visited Haworth this week

And made beautiful photographs, more on his blog.

His text:

Today’s new Brontë blog post is light on my words but heavy on those all important Brontë words, apologies in advance, although that may well be a good thing! The reason for this somewhat truncated post is that I’m back in my beloved Haworth for the weekend, sans laptop, but the good news is that I’m finally about to visit the Anne Brontë 200 exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and I’ll bring you a full report on that next week.

Normal service will be resumed in next week’s blog, so until then stay healthy and happy and don’t forget to stock up on good books before the next lockdown arrives.

woensdag 9 september 2020

The Bronte Parsonage has received a £20,000 donation from the estate of TS Eliot.

The Bronte Parsonage has received a £20,000 donation from the estate of TS Eliot after the coronavirus pandemic put the museum's future at risk.
A trustee of the poet's estate said the donation had been made possible due to the success of the musical Cats.
The Bronte Society, which runs the museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, said it had a little known link to the poet.
This week, the museum announced a consultation on redundancies as Covid-19 has limited visitor numbers.
Rebecca Yorke, a spokesperson for the Bronte Society said: "The very generous donation from the TS Eliot estate was totally unexpected and has given our fundraising a huge boost, we are extremely grateful and touched by their support."
"It is thought that the 'Bradford millionaire' that Eliot refers to in The Waste Land may have been Sir James Roberts, who was a customer of the bank where Eliot worked.
"Sir James was a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist who bought Haworth Parsonage and gifted it to The Bronte Society in 1928.
"It's wonderful that there is still a connection between Eliot and the Brontes all these years later."
The parsonage, which was the family home of authors Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte, usually attracts more than 70,000 visitors per year.
However, it was forced to close during lockdown and only reopened to the public over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The parsonage is unable to welcome the usual number of visitors due to the "intimate nature of the house," Ms Yorke said.
The Bronte Society has now notified staff of its intention to enter a period of consultation with them, which may lead to redundancies.
An online festival, called #Bronte2020, took place on Friday, contributing more than £6,500 to the cause.

maandag 7 september 2020

A Trip to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Nicola, from Brontebabe Blog visited last week
 Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Plymouth Grove, Manchester
She is showing us around the house and did make beautiful photographes
See all on: 

Elizabeth Gaskell was an English novelist, short story writer, and biographer. Her most famous biography is probably The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), which was the first biography of Charlotte to be published. Elizabeth Gaskell, or Mrs. Gaskell, as she is often called, was a friend of Charlotte’s and was approached by her father, Patrick Brontë, after her death to write the biography. 

September in the writing of the Brontes.

Nick Holland is posting a beautiful blog about autumn and the Brontes:

He writes:

 Is it just me, or is this year, for all its strangeness and unpredictability, racing by with wicked speed? In the blink of an eye we are now in September, the start of meteorological autumn and a month when we see nature change around us. Leaves start to turn golden, then brown, and then fall; nights grow darker and longer, even sunny days, suddenly scared to walk alone as they had done throughout summer, are accompanied by a growing chill. It can also, however, be a month filled with beauty, so which aspects did the Brontës of Haworth feel most vividly? In today’s post we’re going to look at September in the writing of the Brontës. 

Read more on annebronte/september-in-the-writing-of-the-brontes

The Mad Woman of Norton Conyers.

J W Hartley sent me an email with this story: The Mad Woman of Norton Conyers.

Norton Conyers is a medieval manor house at Wath near Ripon in North Yorkshire. The building has had later additions and has recently been restored winning the Historic Houses Association & Sotheby’s Restoration Award in 2014. The house has belonged to the Graham family since 1624 who had strong connections to the royals. Sir Richard Graham fought for King Charles I at the Battle of Marston Moor where over four thousand Royalists were killed. Sir Richard who fought until the battle was over was badly wounded and chased on horseback by Oliver Cromwell and a troop of cavalry back to Norton Conyers. On arrival Sir Richard was carried to bed where he soon died after which Oliver Cromwell arrived to find the dead body of Sir Richard Graham and ordered his men to ransack the house. Charles I stayed at Norton Conyers in 1633 and James II stayed at the house in 1679. 

It is perhaps most famous for being an inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Charlotte Brontë’s celebrated novel Jane Eyre. The novelist is believed to have visited Norton Conyers in 1839 and the family legend of a “madwoman” secretly confined to an attic room might have given her the idea for the crazed Mrs Rochester.

Charlotte was very interested in the Graham family legend of a mad woman who was held in an attic room during the 1700s. the woman was said to be imprisoned in an upstairs attic room at Norton Conyers which was only accessible from a hidden door and staircase on the first floor. The discovery of a blocked staircase at Norton Conyers in 2004 from the first floor to the attic confirmed that the house was the inspiration for Jane Eyre. It is believed that the character Bertha Antoinetta Mason in the novel Jane Eyre is based on the mad woman of Norton Conyers. 

It is possible the insane woman held at Norton Conyers was one of the Graham family or maybe somebody they gave pity as insane asylums were basically prisons. People suffering from mental illness were often treated unfairly as it was not recognised as a condition however progress was being made as people now generally believed it was a medical matter and not a supernatural event as in previous years. Family members would confine mentally ill people to, prevent them from being humiliated in public by others, protect them from harm, protect others from harm and keep them out of the prison like insane asylums where they would be treated harshly. Under these circumstances we can sympathise with the Graham family and Mr Rochester as this may have been the most humane option available at the time. 

Norton Conyers is open to the public 28 days a year, other nearby places to visit on a day out around Ripon could include Ripon Cathedral, Marmion tower, the Victorian Workhouse Museum, the Prison And Police Museum, the Courthouse Museum, Thornborough Henge, and even Lightwater Valley Theme Park. 

Read more and see a lot of pictures on: nortonconyers-RESTORATION AWARD

vrijdag 21 augustus 2020


The Irish Legacy of the Brontë Family in Banagher
Maebh O'Regan
Banagher Crafting Group
Co. Offaly

This project looks at the Irish Legacy of the Brontë family as Charlotte Brontë married Banagher-man Arthur Bell Nicholls. In 1861 when Patrick Brontë died, Arthur Bell Nicholls returned to Banagher bringing with him manuscripts, paintings, his wife's wedding chest and all of Brontë memorabilia, including his father-in-law's dogs, Cato and Plato. He cherished these items and his new home became almost a museum to the Brontës. In this community project the Crafting Group in Banagher and the project's co-ordinator, Maebh O'Regan are going to make images of 15 of the key items of the Irish Brontë legacy in needlework. The plan is to use these objects as tools to raise awareness of the importance of the Brontë Legacy in Banagher.

Read all about this project: bronteblog/the-banagher-bronte-legacy-project

zondag 16 augustus 2020

Hathersage on the Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre trail.

Nick Holland: I'm in beautiful Hathersage on the Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre trail. Here's a short video:


The reason for Charlotte’s visit to Hathersage was that Ellen Nussey’s brother had been made vicar of the parish. Whilst Charlotte was there, Henry was on honeymoon with his new bride Emily Prescott (he had previously had a proposal rejected by Charlotte of course). Charlotte and Ellen were overseeing some renovations that Henry had ordered, and the beautiful parsonage building they stayed in was recreated as the home of the Rivers family in Morton:
‘I could not bear to return to the sordid village, where, besides, no prospect of aid was visible. I should have longed rather to deviate to a wood I saw not far off, which appeared in its thick shade to offer inviting shelter; but I was so sick, so weak, so gnawed with nature’s cravings, instinct kept me roaming round abodes where there was a chance of food. Solitude would be no solitude—rest no rest—while the vulture, hunger, thus sank beak and talons in my side.

zondag 2 augustus 2020

Cobblesstones of Haworth,

Haworth's Titanic Disaster.

SS London
                                                                      Foundered in the Bay of Biscay with about 230 souls, 11 January 1866.
                                                            Image from the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
This interesting story I received of J W Hartley who is living in Haworth

Next to the parsonage garden wall there is a tabletop gravestone that can only provide a memorial to one of the family members inscribed who remains missing but not forgotten. William Hartley was Haworth’s postmaster who sat on the committee of the Haworth Operative Conservative Society with Branwell Bronte and John Brown the church sexton. They were also friends and enjoyed a drink together, in fact William Hartley and his family are buried next to John Brown and his family. Reading the inscription on Willian Hartley’s gravestone gives an insight into a harrowing story of the time. 

His daughter Elizabeth Hartley worked as a maid for the Thomas family from Huddersfield. Her job as a maid offered up new and exciting opportunities as her employers the Thomas family were going to Australia and Elizabeth was invited to join them to continue her duties as maid or possibly for a holiday. She accepted the offer and on the 13th of December 1865 they boarded the Steam Ship London at the Gravesend Thames Estuary in Kent destined for Melbourne Australia and a new life. 
The Steam Ship London was a vessel of its time when technology moved in nautical engineering from wind power to engine power. This is evident in the ships design as it was a hybrid of both steam power and wind power combining three masts rigged with sails and a two hundred horsepower steam engine that alone could propel the ship at 9 knots. This made the ship fuel efficient as well as more reliable. The ship delayed by bad weather left England late on the 5th of January 1866 with 345 tons of iron for the railways, 263 passengers and crew onboard including six stowaways, with the experienced Australian navigator Captain Martin at the helm.
For the next two days the SS London encountered heavy seas and bad weather, so bad that on the 7th of January divine service was cancelled. For the next couple of days, the SS London ploughed into a gale under the power of steam at two knots in the Bay Of Biscay. On January the 9th the ship taking crashing seas over the bows and had a lifeboat washed away forcing the captain to turn around and return to England. 
Captain Martin was now unknowingly heading into the eye of a storm and on January the 10th still in the Bay of Biscay the sea carried away another lifeboat, the jib-boom, the fore topmast, all the rigs and gear leaving the SS London with steam power only. On January the 11th an immense wave crashed on deck leaving water pouring down the hatches and extinguishing the fires. The ship was now rolling badly and wallowing helplessly, and the captain made the decision to abandon ship. The remaining lifeboats launched were immediately swamped bar one saved for crew members. Their efforts to cover up the engine room hatches with anything they could and bail the water with pumps failed and as the water level in the engine compartment was still rising. Captain Martin told his men “boys, you may say your prayers”. Soon the SS London was sinking rapidly, and Captain Martin ordered Mr Greenhill the ships engineer and eighteen others into the last lifeboat telling him “your duty is done, mine is to remain here”. The captain was asked again to board the lifeboat, but he replied “NO! I will go down with the passengers, but I wish you God speed” he then threw a compass into the boat and shouted their course “North North East To Brest!”. 

The lifeboat drew away from the SS London as the passengers stood on deck singing the hymn Rock Of Ages and when the lifeboat got about 70 metres away the stern (back) of the SS London went under and the bows (front) rose high until the ships keel was visible throwing the passengers on deck into the water to be dragged down with the ship by the vortex. Greenhill and the eighteen others onboard the lifeboat were finally rescued by an Italian vessel, the Marianopole and taken to back to England.
There were just 19 survivors from the 263 passengers onboard with a death toll of 244 including Mr James Thomas, Mrs Sarah Anne Thomas, their two children Annie Mary Thomas and William Bradbury Thomas and their maid Elizabeth Hartley of Haworth. Other passengers onboard included Gustavus Vaughan Brooke a famous Irish Actor, John Debenham the son of the founder of Debenham department stores, the wife and three children of Henry Brewer Chapman an attorney general who introduced the secret ballot and John Woolley the first principal of the University of Sydney Australia. Frederick Chapman whose mother, brother and sisters were onboard the SS London when it sank to the depths in the Bay of Biscay wrote of his mother having just inherited “a mass of diamonds” from his Great Aunt Fanny that were with her on that fateful day.
An inquest found that the SS London was overloaded and with heavy cargo that blocked the scupper holes preventing drainage of seawater and made the ship too low in the water. The disaster received global publicity in its time with numerous accounts, survivor testaments, newspaper articles, a poem by William Mcgonagll and some artistic interpretations. The case drew the attention of Samuel Plimsoll who campaigned for compulsory standards in marine safety and in 1876 had the Plimsoll Line (a marking on the ships side specifying the maximum load) made compulsory for British ships. Samuel Plimsoll’s campaigning for the compulsory provision of lifeboats however was not introduced until the Titanic catastrophe of 1912 after Samuel Plimsoll’s death in 1898.
The newspaper Liverpool Mercury printed the following obituary on Tuesday the 25th of January 1866
THOMAS, HARTLEY, Jan 11th, lost at sea on board the steam ship London, James Thomas Esq, late of London, formally of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, together with Sarah Anne his wife and two children Annie Mary and William Bradbury, also Elizabeth Hartley, for many years a most faithful and devoted servant of the above.
Elizabeth Hartley’s memorial inscription on her family’s gravestone next to the Parsonage garden wall in St Michael And All Angels graveyard Haworth reads
Also the memory of Elizabeth their daughter who was lost in the Steamship London which was bound from London to Australia and foundered in the Bay of Biscay January 11th 1866 aged 37 years.

donderdag 2 juli 2020

Brussels square to be named after the Brontë sisters

Since 1979 Charlotte and Emily Brontë have had a plaque on Bozar, the central Brussels arts centre, commemorating their stay there in 1842-43. The building is on the site of the Pensionnat Heger where the sisters perfected their French. Since the creation of our Group in 2006 we have dreamed of a street, statue or museum in Brussels in honour of the Brontës; some of these schemes have even been discussed with the authorities, but until now none of them has materialised.

That is about to change. The municipal council of Koekelberg in the north-west of the city has decided to name a square after the Brontë sisters.

Why Koekelberg? This municipal district is known for its massive twentieth-century Basilica dominating the city’s skyline rather than for any Brontë associations.

However, Brontë fans will know that it was at a finishing school called Château de Koekelberg that Charlotte’s close Yorkshire friends Mary and Martha Taylor were studying during the Brontës’ time at the Pensionnat Heger. The school, more expensive than the Pensionnat Heger and beyond the means of the cash-strapped Brontës, was on a site near today’s Place Eugène Simonis/Eugène Simonisplein (both schools were demolished long ago.The Brontës made the two-and-a-half-mile walk to Koekelberg to visit their friends. Read more: Brusselsbronte 

The Parlour

The Parlour



Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte

Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.



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