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 14 september 2009


Think Brontemania and you’re likely to think of a windswept parsonage standing against bleak moorland, overlooking the cobbled streets of Haworth. The Brontes’ former home has been a museum for more than 80 years, and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
Numbers have been boosted by the ITV adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights, shown last week. Costumes from the drama, including dresses worn by actress Charlotte Riley as Cathy and a long black coat worn by Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, are on display at the museum until the end of the year.
But the Bronte trail doesn’t just lead to Haworth. The literary family left a mark across the district, from Thornton, where the sisters’ birthplace stands in Market Street, to Apperley Bridge, where Charlotte taught, to the Spen Valley, which provided much of the inspiration for her novel, Shirley.
In the TV adaptation of Wuthering Heights, also starring Andrew Lincoln and Sarah Lancashire, both East Riddlesden Hall and Oakwell Hall had a starring role as the Earnshaw family’s moorland home.
Exterior shots of East Riddlesden’s imposing facade were featured, and filming at Oakwell Hall took place in the kitchen, with its huge stone fireplace, parlour, wood-panelled dining-room, used as Mr Earnshaw’s study, the painted chamber and a servant’s room upstairs. Artefacts from the TV drama currently on display at Oakwell Hall include a signed script, a portrait of Cathy, a headboard carved with the names Cathy and Heathcliff, and the deeds to Wuthering Heights which Heathcliff made a drunken Hindley sign.
There was already a Bronte connection to Oakwell Hall long before the Wuthering Heights film crew rolled up. Charlotte Bronte visited the house in the 19th century and it was the inspiration for Fieldhead in Shirley.
Built in 1583, the manor house is set out as it would have been in the 1690s, when it was home to the Batt family. A mix of original and reproduction furnishings provide an insight into late 17th century life. Outside, dotted around a pretty courtyard, is a visitor centre, shop, cafe and ‘Discover Oakwell’ gallery.
The house is set in 110 acres of country park, with delightful walks, nature trails, a period garden and a wildlife area.
Over at Gomersal, an 1830s former cloth merchant’s home, Red House, also has a Bronte link. The home of Charlotte’s friend Mary Taylor, it is featured as Briarmains in Shirley.
“There was no splendour, but taste was everywhere,” wrote Charlotte about the pretty red-brick house, which looks much as it did in her day. Each room brings you closer to the 1830s, from the elegant parlour to the stone-flagged kitchen with its old range and jelly moulds, to the stained glass windows, described in the novel. Charlotte’s Spen connections and friendship with Mary are explored in an exhibition in the barn.
Wandering around the Parsonage Museum, with the sound of crows outside, there’s a fascinating flavour of the Brontes’ domestic and creative lives.
Items on display include Charlotte’s writing materials and their father Patrick’s magnifying glass.
Pre-booked guided tours allow visitors to see treasures from the Bronte Society’s world-famous collections not always on display, including miniature books, made from sugar paper stitched together, which the siblings created as children.
Outdoor activities include guided walks around Haworth, starting in the Parsonage garden, which remains pretty much as it was during the Brontes’ time. A Cyprus Pine tree has grown from saplings planted by Charlotte acquired on honeymoon in Ireland.
Peter Bowker, screenwriter of ITV’s Wuthering Heights, will be at West Lane Baptist Church, Haworth, on September 24 to talk about the process of adapting a classic novel for television.
Next Saturday, novellist Barbara Taylor Bradford will be at Haworth’s Old Schoolroom talking about her love of the Brontes.
Factfile The Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth, is open from April to September, 10am-5.30pm and October to March, 11am-5pm. For more, ring (01535) 642323 or bronte.org Oakwell Hall, Nutter Lane, Birstall, is open weekdays, 11am-5pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, noon-5pm. Ring (01924) 326240 or visit kirklees.gov.uk East Riddlesden Hall, Bradford Road, Riddlesden, is open Saturday to Wednesday, 11am-5pm. Ring (01535) 607075 or visit eastriddlesdenhall.co.uk Red House Museum, Oxford Road, Gomersal, is open Monday to Friday, 11am-5pm and Saturdays and Sundays, noon-5pm. Ring (01274) 335100. (Emma Clayton)

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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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