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

maandag 2 september 2019

Iron miniature of the Duke, owned by Charlotte Bronte.

Iron miniature of the Duke, owned by Charlotte Bronte

Project Anne Brontë 200.

Project Anne Brontë 200 is an initiative run by a collective of musicians and poets, and headed by Pamela Nash*.  We are asking for your help to give the neglected Brontë sister centre stage and to further her legacy through the creation of new music for choirs as well as commemorative poetry in the run-up to 2020, the bicentenary of her birth.
"If Anne Brontë had lived ten years longer, she would have taken a place beside Jane Austen, perhaps even a higher place".... (novelist and poet George Moore, 1924).
 History has done a great disservice to Anne Brontë, and though she may now be stepping out from behind the veil, her contribution to literature still remains undervalued and unjustly overshadowed by her more celebrated siblings.  Until now, she has also been largely overlooked by composers, despite the striking musical affinities in her writing.   So we are appealing for you to join us in seizing the chance to address this under-representation of Anne and to shed new light on her through the powerful and magical medium of the choir, as we commission choral settings of her words - as well as specially-written poetry inspired by her.  crowdfunder/project-anne-bronte-200

zondag 25 augustus 2019

Revival For Charlotte Brontë’s Beloved Red House.

If you’ve followed the blog anne bronte from Nick Holland for a while you may remember a post from a few years ago that included a petition to stop Kirklees council closing the historic Red House in Gomersal, West Yorkshire.

Unfortunately, whilst there was huge public support for the Red House, the council decided to close it anyway, and it’s remained unused, but not unloved, ever since.
The good news is that an enthusiastic group of people are determined that the Red House should re-open. The aim is for the council to lease the building to this community group, after which it could become an important building for Brontë and history buffs and the wider community alike. Its potential really is huge, this historically important building could be a public museum again but it could also be an arts and retreat venue, a place for literary talks and festivals, a wedding venue, as well as a perfectly beautiful host for a wide variety of community groups and events.
Stage one is to convince Kirklees council to let this group address them and present their plans for a Red House revival. Once again, there’s a petition – this time set up by the brilliant Caz Goodwill, as good a friend and advocate as the Red House could hope for. Please take just a moment to click this link to the petition and sign it. It only takes a moment, but do remember to also click the email you’ll receive to confirm your signature.

Mary Taylor

There are many reasons that the Red House is important, many of which can be found in this excellent article by Dr. Stephen Caunce which featured recently in the Huddersfield Examiner. As you’d expect, in today’s blog I’m going to concentrate on just why it’s so important to Brontë lovers. The Red House in Gomersal was for many years the home of Mary Taylor, one of a great trio of friends alongside Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey. They met at Roe Head school at Mirfield, just four miles from Gomersal, the school where Anne Brontë later excelled as a pupil. Charlotte grew very close to Mary Taylor, and to her younger sister Martha, and as well as Mary’s visits to Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte visited them at the Red House. So important was the house to Charlotte that she gave it a central role in her second published novel ‘Shirley’, where it can clearly be identified as Briarmains. Here in the book is Charlotte’s moving introduction to Briarmains and the Yorke family, for which we can read the Red House and the Taylors.

“But if Briar Chapel seemed alive, so also did Briarmains, though certainly the mansion appeared to enjoy a quieter phase of existence than the temple. Some of its windows too were aglow; the lower casements opened upon the lawn; curtains concealed the interior, and partly obscured the ray of the candles which lit it, but they did not entirely muffle the sound of voice and laughter. We are privileged to enter that front door, and to penetrate to the domestic sanctum.
It is not the presence of company which makes Mr. Yorke’s habitation lively, for there is none within it save his own family, and they are assembled in that farthest room to the right, the back parlour.This is the usual sitting-room of an evening. Those windows would be seen by daylight to be of brilliantly-stained glass, purple and amber the predominant hues, glittering round a gravely-tinted medallion in the centre of each, representing the suave head of William Shakespeare, and the serene one of John Milton. Some Canadian views hung on the walls—green forest and blue water scenery—and in the midst of them blazes a night-eruption of Vesuvius; very ardently it glows, contrasted with the cool foam and azure of cataracts, and the dusky depths of woods.

The fire illuminating this room, reader, is such as, if you be a southern, you do not often see burning on the hearth of a private apartment. It is a clear, hot coal fire, heaped high in the ample chimney. Mr. Yorke will have such fires even in warm summer weather. He sits beside it with a book in his hand, a little round stand at his elbow supporting a candle; but he is not reading—he is watching his children. Opposite to him sits his lady—a personage whom I might describe minutely, but I feel no vocation to the task. I see her, though, very plainly before me—a large woman of the gravest aspect, care on her front and on her shoulders, but not overwhelming, inevitable care, rather the sort of voluntary, exemplary cloud and burden people ever carry who deem it their duty to be gloomy. Ah, well-a-day! Mrs. Yorke had that notion, and grave as Saturn she was, morning, noon, and, night; and hard things she thought if any unhappy wight—especially of the female sex—who dared in her presence to show the light of a gay heart on a sunny countenance. In her estimation, to be mirthful was to be profane, to be cheerful was to be frivolous. She drew no distinctions. Yet she was a very good wife, a very careful mother, looked after her children unceasingly, was sincerely attached to her husband; only the worst of it was, if she could have had her will, she would not have permitted him to have any friend in the world beside herself. All his relations were insupportable to her, and she kept them at arm’s length.
Read all: anne bronte
Please sign the petition.

zondag 21 juli 2019

Work Experience at the House of Elizabeth Gaskell.

House of Elizabeth Gaskells
Friend of Charlotte Bronte

From the blog: elizabethgaskellhouse/work-experience/

From the week beginning on 11/07/19 and ending on 17/07/19 I had done work experience at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. I had been doing multiple jobs to help out throughout the week; these included working in the tea room during the open days, helping out on the front desk and also helping out with setting up the new exhibitions. I especially enjoyed working in the tea rooms when a large tour came in and booked to have tea and cake. I was able to set up the tables and then later serve. I enjoy talking to people and hopefully making their day that little bit better, so working in the tea room was probably the best job I had done.

zondag 30 juni 2019

Elizabeth Gaskell’s lady’s maid – a dramatic imagining

Meta & Louy are working hard at the dining-room table, mending your pink gown; but I don’t know whether they can get it done to send off before Monday, as it is so much torn; & then Caroline, who is as busy as can be with other things today, will have to iron it. (….) Caroline has on an atrocious print today, great stripes of crimson, blue & brownelizabethgaskellhouse

Revealed: smuggling past of the Brontë sisters’ grandfather.

“No-one has ever connected the Brontës to Cornish smuggling before and this part of the family fortune is in startling contrast to the genteel life their mother and aunts lived amid Regency Penzance society.”
Ann Dinsdale, principal curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, described the evidence as “fascinating”, casting light on how Branwell’s legacy enabled his granddaughters to get published: “In effect, their books were vanity published,” she said. “They paid for the publication of their poems in 1846. Then Emily and Anne actually paid for their novels to be published. They couldn’t find a publisher who was willing to take on their publication. So they ended up financing it themselve.
She added: “Their mother’s sister, Elizabeth Branwell [who died in 1842], had a family annuity which she saved and left to her nieces, about £300 for each of them. That would have been quite a lot of money. As a governess, they might have earned £25 [a year] … It did enable them to pay for the publication of their works.”

dinsdag 11 juni 2019

Photo of Mercy Nussey, sister of Ellen and friend of Charlotte Bronte.

I love this photo of Mercy Nussey, sister of Ellen and friend of Charlotte Bronte. Originally called Mary, she was renamed Mercy during a short lived stint as a Moravian Sister.

donderdag 30 mei 2019

Undercliffe Cemetery adds Bronte nanny to list of Bradford Worthies

NANCY De Garrs was quite a ‘celebrity’ in Bradford Workhouse 

While other inmates sat on wooden benches, Nancy had her own armchair. There was much interest in the old lady who had been the Bronte family’s nanny, and she was visited by journalists keen to interview the last person to know the famous literary sisters.

Nancy loved to talk about her time with the Brontes. But with old age, and poverty, came a fear of ending up in a pauper's grave. When Nancy told the Pall Mall Gazette it was her last request to avoid such a fate, the London newspaper appealed for public donations so she could have a decent burial. It was taken up by other newspapers, including the New York Times. How much was raised isn’t clear. A 'typo' in a Manchester newspaper meant that some of the money was sent to Bedford workhouse, instead of Bradford...
And when Nancy died in 1886, aged 82, she was buried at Undercliffe Cemetery, in an unmarked grave costing just a guinea. For over 130 years she has laid in the weed-choked plot. Now she has been added to a list of ‘Bradford Worthies’ buried at the cemetery, and finally she is to have a headstone. “Nancy has been hidden all these years. We want to acknowledge her part in Bronte history,” says Allan Hillary, chairman of the Friends of Undercliffe Cemetery which is appealing for help to raise £3,000 for a headstone and to clear the area around the grave. Allan hopes it will become part of the Bronte Trail, attracting more visitors to the historic cemetery. 

maandag 15 april 2019

‘The Remains of Henry Kirke White’

In 1783, Maria Branwell was born. She would later marry Patrick Brontë and was the mother of the Brontë siblings.
Her copy of ‘The Remains of Henry Kirke White’ was salvaged from a ship that was wrecked whilst transporting her belongings to Yorkshire. After her death, the Brontës treasured this book, filling it with annotations such as Patrick’s inscription, ‘…saved from the waves…’

Other markings include a doodle, possibly by Branwell, marginal notes exploring White's poetry, potentially by Emily, and Patrick's on thoughts on the work.
When the book was acquired by the museum in 2 016 it also contained many manuscripts found between its pages which we explored in the publication, 'Charlotte Brontë: The Lost Manuscripts'. facebook/thebrontesociety

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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