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 21 februari 2011

Juliet Barker

It was here she settled down to research and write her best-known book – the definitive and wonderfully-readable biography The Brontës, which was highly acclaimed and won The Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award.
It is a myth-busting blockbuster and the first updated edition is just out, with new nuggets on the world’s most famous literary sisters, their brother, Branwell, and father Patrick. The book, first published in 1994, stems from her own childhood in Bradford, where her father was a wool merchant. She became obsessed with the Brontës and read Mrs Gaskell’s biography on Charlotte Brontë when she was 13.
When she landed a job as curator and director of the parsonage museum, in Haworth, it allowed her to delve deeper into the reality of a story that had been heavily romanticised and fictionalised by everyone from Charlotte’s friend, Mrs Gaskell, to film makers and fans.
“What surprised me most was that they didn’t live in some backward village cut off from society. I spent two years reading local newspapers of the time and they showed clearly that the place described by Mrs Gaskell was quite different to the real Haworth. It was a busy, industrial township with its own subscription library and lots going on,” says Juliet, who is most proud of rescuing Branwell’s reputation. [...]
“He was the leader, the innovator. Where he led, his sisters followed. What I also found was that what was supposed to be the most shameful event in his life never actually happened. He was supposed to have won a place at the Royal Academy, where he spent money on drink and drugs and was sent home to Haworth in disgrace. In fact, he never went there at all. Manuscripts show that his tutor felt he wasn’t quite ready for the academy.”
Her latest version of the book includes new material on Charlotte. “She really struggled to be a writer and an independent woman, but I upset people by taking away her pedestal. She is painted as someone who sacrificed everything to look after her sick father and that’s not strictly true. She was a dutiful daughter, but she was much more complex than that. She used him as a convenient excuse not to go to London or to avoid events she didn’t want to attend.”
“It will soon be just the two of us and this is a big house. It’s time to go and although I will miss it, I’m still going to have a moor to look at, which I’m pleased about. That’s very important to me.” (Sharon Dale)


2 opmerkingen:

  1. I've not read Juliet's biography yet, only elizabeth Gaskell's and Rebecca Fraser's, which I enjoyed very much and have actually read several times. I will get this one ASAP!
    xo J~

  2. Ms.Barker may have rescued Branwell's reputation for this one event , but rescuing Branwell's reputation over all is not possible.

    He was the leader and the innovator...when he was boy. But by 1845, imo ,the Brontë sisters cannot be blamed for keeping him in the dark about thier efforts to be published. He was no longer capable of a sustained effort.

    Besides that, Emily insisted it be kept a secret. She was not going to do it otherwise.

    Who can doubt Branwell would have babbled immediately about it at the Bull to anyone who would listen?

    It could have been Emily wanted it a secret from both Branwell and thier father in part so the sister's efforts would not be trashed in yet another pointless rehab attempt for Branwell. They may have kept it secret to keep it safe

    Barker is rather too easy on Branwell ( like his father,the Rev. Bronte) and a bit too hard on Charlotte.

    Charlotte told white lies to get out of social events she did not want to attend. But who among us doesn't do that and quite a bit?

    Rather than bluntly telling people you don't want thier company, you say " oh I can't because of Papa... " Is that Charlotte's big crime? Where I come from that's called "being nice" .

    Imo the one Barker took off the pedestal and rightly was Mrs.Gaskell. From her own experience with Patrick Brontë, Mrs.Gaskell knew he was not the cartoon. mad Irish character she blithely printed.

    But in her mind, her novel/bio needed a villain and Gaskell elected him. He was treated shabbily by her from start to finish, and with Ellen Nussey's help I might add.

    Urged by Nussey, Patrick agreed to Mrs. G's book to refute, among other things , the outlandish stories in the press about Patrick.

    The funny part was Mrs.Gaskell was herself the source of the very falsehoods she was suppose to refute and printed them in the book pretty much as they were printed in the new paper 2 years earlier.

    In her 1899 book, "Charlotte Bronte at Home" Author, Marion Harland says about Patrick

    ...his daughter's steadfast piety may have had more warrant in character and behaviour than the majority of the Brontë cult are ready to admit


    For 140 years, no one was not allowed to deviate from the Gaskell line.

    Then in 1994 Barker published the first edition of her book showing the facts of the case. Thanks to this land mark publication , Patrick Bronte's reputation is being restored. If one only knows him though Gaskell, Barker's book is a revelation of fact, not fiction

    I do agree with Barker that she shows Haworth was bustling with all kinds of activity and her reading the news papers of the day is a huge contribution to Brontë scholarship. This source material is like a treasure chest

    Her book is a must read for any Brontë fan imo


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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