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

zondag 13 september 2009

The once neglected creator of Cranford is to be commemorated in a window above Poets' Corner

Sunday, 13 September 2009
The works of Mrs Gaskell have achieved renewed popularity, thanks to the BBC adaptation of 'Cranford', starring Dame Judi Dench
The gossiping ladies of Cranford were embraced by the nation when they first graced our TV screens. Now the novelist who created Miss Matty and friends is to receive the ultimate recognition, 145 years after her death.
Elizabeth Gaskell is to be commemorated in Westminster Abbey next year after the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, agreed to add her name to a stained-glass window overlooking Poets' Corner.

Her details will appear in the window alongside memorials to such literary worthies as Christopher Marlowe, Oscar Wilde, Alexander Pope, Fanny Burney and A E Housman. A dedication will be held on 25 September next year, four days before the bicentenary of Gaskell's birth.

Sue Birtwistle, producer of the BBC's adaptations of Gaskell's Wives and Daughters and Cranford, said the author, who was buried in Knutsford, Cheshire, in 1865, is "still underrated" and her writing is still relevant.

She added: "It feels terribly modern... she's completely non-judgemental... a very attractive quality. There are very few people – I think Shakespeare does this – where you can actually laugh and cry at the same time. Her characters can make you do this... and I think that's a real skill."

Actress Deborah Findlay, who read Cranford as a child and reprises her role as Miss Tomkinson for a two-part special this Christmas, said: "Barbara Flynn and I were playing the Miss Brownings and I think everybody on the set took us to their hearts really... I was talking to Sue [Birtwistle] about that and I said, 'well there's a whole town of these women in Cranford'."

The Gaskell Society, which promotes her work, first approached the abbey about her inclusion in Poets' Corner and Joan Leach, its founding honorary secretary, said it was "quite an accolade" to get the go-ahead considering the pressure on space.

Cranford screenwriter Heidi Thomas said Mrs Gaskell would be "thrilled to find herself in such a jostling spot. She was as great a social historian as Charles Dickens and as emotionally bold as Charlotte Brontë... she knew and loved them both and it is absolutely fitting that she should take her place beside them."

Mrs Gaskell's books include the industrial novel Mary Barton and Ruth, a story about an unmarried mother deemed so controversial on publication in 1853 that the author banned it from her home and several contemporary readers reportedly burnt copies.

Alan Shelston, who edited Further Letters of Mrs Gaskell and a number of her novels, and is working on a biography of Gaskell, said: "She was always called Mrs Gaskell... an indication that she had a family life – four children and a husband – and, in some ways, that rather prejudiced against her reputation as a practising novelist." He said she had come into her own only in the past 50 years, after feminist interest in her grew. Then came those TV adaptations starring Dame Judi Dench as Cranford's Miss Matty, pictured far left.

Dame Judi is now patron of the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, which began work this month to restore the author's former home.

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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.



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