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

zaterdag 26 februari 2011

On this day in 1817 Mary Taylor close friend of Charlotte Bronte was born.

Charlotte Brontë’s most intelligent school friend.
Quiet but very self-possessed, she was an admirable
businesswoman, with a way of going straight to the point
that was at times disconcerting … Miss Taylor was indeed
a remarkable woman – probably in her mental endowments
the strongest woman who came within the Brontë circle.

Cleckheaton Guardian, 24 December 1903

Mary Taylor’s Wellington store

‘I have set up shop!’ Mary Taylor wrote to her friend, the novelist Charlotte Brontë, from Wellington in April 1850. The shop, on the corner of Dixon and Cuba Streets, was typical of the draperies, often started by women, that expanded into department stores. By 1853 it was listed in the Wellington and southern province almanac as one of the city’s ‘principal stores’. It later became James Smith’s, a major Wellington department store until the early 1990s. Taylor reported to Brontë that she was delighted with her business. ‘The best of it is that your labour has some return.’ (Quoted in Joan Stevens, ed., Mary Taylor: friend of Charlotte Brontë. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1972, pp. 92–93.)

Early New Zealand stores

New Zealand’s department stores mostly grew from small drapery shops in the second half of the 19th century. They met the need for clothing, footwear and household goods in the new settler communities.
Many of these stores were begun by women. In 1849 Mrs Bain, a widow, opened a Dunedin drapery which was later known as Brown, Ewing. In 1850 Mary and Ellen Taylor founded a Wellington drapery, which after changes of address and ownership became the department store James Smith’s.

Mary’s Novel – Miss Miles

Mary began writing her only novel, Miss Miles, or a Tale of
Yorkshire Life 60 Years Ago, in New Zealand but had difficulty
finishing it:

‘I began to read some pages of ‘my book’ intending to
write some more but went on reading for pleasure. I
often do this and find it very interesting indeed. It does
not get on fast … It’s full of music, poverty, disputing,
politics, and original views of life.’ (MT to CB, 1852)

Finally, and probably at her own expense, Miss Miles was published in 1890. Set
in industrial area like the Spen Valley, it tells the stories of four women and
contains many of Mary’s ideas about women’s position in society.
Joan Bellamy’s richly detailed and fascinating
biography of Mary Taylor
More Precious than Rubies

was published in 2002, after more than a decade of
research into Mary’s life and analysis of her writings.
More Precious than Rubies is available from Red House, price £11.50 plus
UK p&p:£1.50; Europe p&p:£4.00; USA/Canada p&p:£7.80; New Zealand/
Australia/Japan p&p: £9.20; (Surface mail outside Europe £2.10).
(ISBN 1 902645 28 6) 

2 opmerkingen:

  1. This is so wonderful! I didn't know there was any information out there about Mary's shop. I love that it grew to be a long lasting establishment..she would have ben pleased. I'll have to try to find copies of both books, she was a fascinating woman and such a good friend to Charlotte...I wish their correspondance had survived.
    xo J~

  2. Excellent post. Mary is indeed a fascinating player in the Bronte story...and how often do I too wish she had not burned Charlotte's letters! Mary's intelligence and distance, would, I believe, have made them even more interesting than the ones we have. It was quite something to take off for New Zealand back then. Brava Mary!


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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