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

dinsdag 1 november 2011

Strange ideas about Charlotte and Branwell Bronte

  • Charlotte had a brown skin
  • Charlotte and Ellen Nussey were lesbians
  • John Lennon was Branwell in an earlier life
  • Charlotte Bronte had a brown skin.
I received this reaction on my blog What did the Bronte Sisters look like?
Did you all notice the descriptions of brown and black skinned persons in Jane Eyre? Villette is described as of 'brunette'complexion, on the first page. Her Juvenalia on Angria stars with the lament of an African Queen. According to her publisher Smith, her face was marred by the shape of her mouth and complexion. She is supposed to have had a large mouth. Ugly was used to describe subnasal prognatism, a classical African facial trait. So I presume Charlotte Brontë had brown skin, and generous Black lips. 'Ugly' could mean she looked African. Perhaps today we would not judge so harshly. The same story about missing portraits and unlikely portraits is also found in the stories about Jane Austen (1775-1817). My research is : 'The eloquence of her blood; Was Jane Austen Black? We are dealing with the fall out of the French Revolution and that of 1848, when black supremacy was overcome. The nobility was brown and black of complexion, and despotically oppressed their white serfs. 
The Suppression of Lesbian and Gay History
Women in particular have been brought up to value discretion, modesty and propriety, and families take special care to protect the unblemished reputation of their female members: this ‘would have ensured that most passions between women were presented in letters and memoirs as harmless and innocent’ (Donoghue 1993). But at the same time, women tend to record more intimate personal details in their diaries and letters than men, possibly because they are urged to cultivate their sensibilities and express their feelings more than men, so it is not surprising that documents of possibly-lesbian important are frequently suppressed. None of Ellen Nussey’s letters to Charlotte Brontë survive; presumably they were destroyed just as Nussey was asked by Brontë’s husband Arthur Bell, soon after their marriage, to destroy those she had received from Brontë because of their ‘passionate language’. She refused, but her proposed biography of Brontë had to be suppressed because Bell refused to grant her copyright permission to quote any of the letters.
Women’s feelings for other women are regularly trivialized in biographies, while their feelings for men are exaggerated. To dismiss the love of Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey as an ‘adolescent crush’, as has been done, is to define adolescence ‘as a somewhat protracted period continuing until the age of 25 or so’ (Miller 1989). 

It is not surprising that Mrs Hall’s connections arouse envy in others. None of the Brontës had children and, to my knowledge, no one has ever claimed there to be any illegitimate offspring, even for the decadent Branwell. Direct descendancy being out of the question, Audrey Hall has the next best thing: Ellen Nussey, Charlotte Brontës best friend, and the recipient of hundreds of Charlotte’s elegantly penned letters. The Nussey family were inter-related with the Cookes and the Taylors, two great mill-owning families from whom Audrey is herself descended. They all lived in the Birstall area, a few miles east of Haworth, and Audrey’s family would have met Charlotte Brontë when she stayed with Ellen Nussey. Rather daringly, I mentioned controversial claims of a lesbian affair between Charlotte and Ellen. Audrey dismissed this right away. “There’s no evidence at all – my family would have known. charlotte cory/bronte/afriendofcharlotte/
Letters to Charlotte: The Letters from Ellen Nussey to Charlotte Brontë 
Caeia March
* Paperback: 290 pages
* Publisher: Pink Press; First edition (14 Oct 2010)
* ISBN-10: 1907499431
* ISBN-13: 978-1907499432
Ellen I wish I could live with you always, I begin to cling to you more fondly than ever I did. If we had but a cottage and a competency of our own I do think we might live and love on till Death without being dependent on any third person for happiness. (Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey, 26 September 1836)
Certain fragments from Charlotte Brontë's private correspondence have sparkled endless debates, but few - if any - have been as thoroughly discussed and examined as the above(1)bronteblog/letters-to-charlotte
  • Similarities between Branwell Brontë and John Lennon
In the Jewelle St. James book, the author notes the similarities between Branwell Brontë and John Lennon: Branwell, like John, was an artist and a poet. Branwell drank and did drugs, actually he did more than doing drugs, he was an addict. Branwell, like John, lost his mother at an early age, and had sisters but no brothers. Oh, and Branwell had good friends in Liverpool. … Branwell and John both drew caricatures, depicting aspects of their lives. [And finally - ] Branwell’s self portraits are the image of John Lennon! The nose, the glasses, everything.
Unfortunately, the book neglects to include photos to illustrate the point, so here we go, internet to the rescue!There aren’t that many pictures of Branwell Brontë to go by, but of those we have, the similarities with John Lennon are indeed striking, right down to the glasses.
We swear that this is not a joke. Believe it or not, this has just been published:
The Lennon - Brontë Connection
Jewelle St. James  
Foreword by Judy Hall
Paperback: 162 pages
Publisher: St. James Publishing; 1st edition (October 14, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0973275243
ISBN-13: 978-0973275247

Is ex-Beatle John Lennon the reincarnation of Branwell Brontë, troubled brother to England's most literary sisters? The untimely death of John Lennon in 1980 prompted a Canadian woman, Jewelle St. James, to investigate life after death and other spiritual phenomena. Research spanning thirty years, and ten journeys to England, was necessary to unravel past-life mysteries and other surprising connections. 

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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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