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 5 december 2011

Letters written by Louise Heger

I am searching for more information about these letters.

In this letter Louise Heger describes how one morning in 1913 she heard men selling the newspaper Le Petit Blue shouting about the ‘love affair’ of Monsieur Heger.  She and her brother Paul had just given the letters Charlotte wrote to Monsieur to the British Museum, after which they were published in The Times.

Louise Heger was born in 1839, 3 years before Charlotte and Emily Brontë enrolled at the Pensionnat Heger. She studied under the Belgian Impressionist Alfred Stevens and painted in a studio at the bottom of the Pensionnat Heger garden. Louise was a successful landscape artist and exhibited a Coastal Landscape and a View of the River Ourthe at an 1893 exhibition in Brussels.
She died in 1933 .thebrusselsbrontegroup.org/heger

Since the October excursion I have been greatly assisted by Renate Hurtmanns, who paid several more visits to Evere cemetery, as you can see from her report below, with the latest on this research. She has also helped me in transcribing letters written by Louise Heger, the daughter of Monsieur and Madame Heger. Some time ago I discovered that the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts has a large very interesting collection of letters written by her, including many she wrote to her parents, sisters and brother that give a valuable new insight into the family.

Exhibition and Lecture at Museum M, in Leuven

On October 27, 2011 several members of the Brussels Brontë Group went to Leuven to an exhibition of paintings and drawings by two Belgian women artists, Isala van Driest (1842-1916) and Louse Heger (1839-1933), and in the evening to a lecture by Professor Sue Lonoff of Harvard University on Louise Heger and Charlotte Brontë. The exhibition was called ‘Isala & Louise, Two Women Two Stories’. Remarkably their surnames were not part of the title, probably to stress the invisibility of women in the professions at the time, for its theme was how these two gifted women overcame prejudice and forged a way into what were conventionally regarded as male preserves – Isala van Driest as a medical doctor, and Louise Heger as an artist specializing in landscape painting and drawing.
Of crucial interest was the role Louise played many years later when her parents were long dead, namely what was to become of the letters Charlotte wrote to her teacher M Heger when she had left Brussels for the last time. Louise knew that at least some of them had been kept, having first been torn up and subsequently pieced together, perhaps by Mme. Heger. The actual facts are not really known. But Louise did know that her mother wanted them to be preserved and had therefore bequeathed them to her. Even during Mme Heger’s lifetime Charlotte Brontë had become a very famous author and Mme wanted to scotch any insinuation that her relationship with her husband had been anything other than a schoolgirl’s crush. So it was Louise who initiated the quest to preserve the four letters for posterity – on the one hand to exonerate her father altogether and on the other, as part of British literary heritage. She discussed the case with her brother Paul who knew nothing about the existence of the letters. They decided to consult an eminent English art-critic, Marion Spielmann, and at his suggestion donated the letters to the British Museum (they are now in the British Library) in 1913. Later on they were published in The London Times -- and caused a sensation.
In his writings on the subject Spielmann seems to play down Louise’s role in the preservation of the letters, possibly, as Sue Lonoff implied, because he had a tendency to disregard the female in any but a conventional role; on the other hand, Louise herself may have been too modest a person (we might say under-assertive) to claim her true position. More might come to light as research is done on the life and work of Marion Spielmann. brusselsbronte.blogspot.com/exhibition-and-lecture-at-museum-m-in.html

Spielmann, M.H., “Mlle. Louise Heger. Last link with the Brontës,” in The Times (19 August 1933). An obituary.


Marion Harry Alexander Spielmann (1858–1948) was a prolific Victorian art critic and scholar who was the editor of The Connoisseur and Magazine of Art. Among his voluminous output, he wrote a history of Punch magazine, the first biography of John Everett Millais and a detailed investigation into the evidence for portraits of William Shakespeare. Spielmann was born in London May 22, 1858 and was educated at University College School andUniversity College, London. He soon established himself as an art journalist, writing for the Pall Mall Gazette from 1883 to 1890, most notably discussing the work of G. F. Watts.[1] By the 1880s, Spielmann had become "one of the most powerful figures in the late Victorian art world". Marion Spielmnn painted by John Henry Frederick Bacon.

1 opmerking:

  1. I think this is the first time I've understood why Mme. Heger wanted the letters preserved...she wanted Charlotte to always be portrayed as a having a school girls crush, don't know why I never saw that before. I had always thought it strange that she mended the torn up letters...my eyes have been opened, thank you!!
    xo J~


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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