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 22 januari 2011

Brontës in Brussel: de roman

De Vlaams/Nederlandse journaliste en schrijfster Jolien Janzing is bezig met een roman over de Brusselse periode van de Brontë-zussen Charlotte en Emily. Helen MacEwan van Brussels Brontë Blog wist de schrijfster in een vorige week gepubliceerde blog al wat informatie te ontfutselen over de roman die waarschijnlijk in het najaar van 2011 of begin 2012 wordt gepubliceerd bij De Arbeiderspers.

In het blog vertelt de schrijfster die in 2009 debuteerde met de roman ‘Grammatica van een obsessie’, dat ze voor haar tweede fictiewerk graag een historische roman wilde schrijven over iemand die echt bestaan heeft. Ondanks dat ze Villette van Charlotte Brontë wel gelezen had, dacht daarbij niet meteen aan de Brontës. Pas na een zoektocht kwam ze erachter dat Charlotte en Emily een tijd in Brussel hebben gestudeerd bij Pensionat Heger.

In het blog zegt Janzing onder andere dat ze invloed van religie op de relatie tussen Charlotte en haar leraar Heger verder wil uitdiepen. Het is een onderwerp dat haar persoonlijk raakt omdat ze zelf ook als protestants meisje opgroeide in een katholieke omgeving. Ook zal er volgens Janzing in het boek parallellen worden getrokken met het verhaal van Arcadie Claret die als maitresse van de Belgische Koning Leopold I net als Charlotte met Heger verliefd was op een getrouwde man. Het is een van de manieren waarop de schrijfster in haar roman probeert te onderzoeken hoe echte gebeurtenissen in 19de eeuws Brussel invloed kunnen hebben gehad op de zussen uit Yorkshire.
Mogelijk omdat je van een ongepubliceerde roman niet kunt eten, heeft Janzing eind vorig jaar ook haar research-tripje naar Haworth te gelde gemaakt. Ze beschreef haar pelgrimage naar de ‘toeristische trekpleister’ voor een reisbijlage van de Vlaamse kwaliteitskrant De Standaard.

In het verhaal geeft ze toe ‘lichtelijk bezeten door de Brontës’ te zijn. Ze doet verslag van hoe ze in de voetsporen treedt van eigenlijk iedereen die het stadje om Brontë-redenen bezoekt. Ze bekijkt natuurlijk de Parsonage en de kerk met het Brontëgraf, koopt een Brontë-boek bij het lokale antiquariaat met Brontë-specialisatie en wandelt naar de Brontë watervallen.

Over de gesprekken die ze voert met ‘mensen die het dorp en de geschiedenis van de familie door en door kennen’, vertelt ze helaas bitter weinig. Of ze daar iets van heeft opgestoken zullen we pas merken als we haar nieuwe boek lezen. Onze interesse is na deze twee ‘teasers’ in ieder geval gewekt.
Het interview met Janzing is te vinden op bronteblog
Een pdf van het verhaal in De Standaard staat op de website van Janzing.
brussels bronte.blog
website Jolien Janzing

Barbara Whitehead. In Memoriam

    Barbara Whitehead. In Memoriam

The Telegraph & Argus reports the sad news of the death of Barbara Whitehead (1930-2011). Writer of historical romances and crime fiction, author of the only available biography of Ellen Nussey: Charlotte Brontë and her Dearest Nell and former owner of the Brontë's birthplace in Thornton which she helped to restore and make available for public viewing. Regrettably her illness and retirement made it impossible for her to keep it and the house was sold in an auction.

In January 1831, a chance meeting in a Yorkshire school between a new arrival and a homesick pupil was to develop into the most important friendship of the two girls' lives. That homesick pupil was fourteen year old Charlotte Brontë, and the new arrival was to become her 'dearest Nell' - Ellen Nussey.


Charlotte Brontë and her Dearest Nell
Barbara Whitehead

As the two girls grew into adulthood, their friendship strengthened and deepened. They confided in one another at every important point in their lives, and corresponded constantly. Ellen was a frequent visitor to Haworth Parsonage, as was Charlotte to the Nussey family home. Ellen was, Charlotte told her, the closest to Emily outside the family. Ellen's brother proposed to Charlotte; with Ellen she visited his vicarage at Hathersage, and nearby North Lees Hall was the inspiration for Jane Eyre. Indeed, many of the themes, characters and settings in the novels can be traced back to Ellen’s own background.

Charlotte 's experience of the society in which Ellen moved formed the background of her novel Shirley, and its character of Caroline Helstone was based on Ellen. Charlotte’s final letter to Ellen was penciled in her last illness; and it was Ellen who suggested to Mr. Brontë that Mrs. Gaskell be asked to write a posthumous biography of Charlotte.
Ellen, the closest friend of the family, was the last surviving link with the Brontës after their deaths. To Bronte enthusiasts she was 'the mine from which they take their ore'. Although Charlotte's husband had demanded their destruction, Ellen kept her collection of some 500 letters from Charlotte. 'What would we have known of the sisters but for you?', said a contemporary, and were it not for Ellen, we would know very little about the Brontës today.

Charlotte Bronte and her 'dearest Nell' - the result of twelve years' research, much of it based on previously unseen Nussey family archives - presents the clearest picture yet or this deep, lifelong friendship. Everyone interested in the Brontës owes Ellen a debt. In her own right, Ellen is fascinating; as an aid to understanding the Brontës, she is invaluable.

vrijdag 21 januari 2011

21-01-1821 Maria Bronte wife of Patrick Bronte was diagnosed with cancer.

Maria was petite, plain, pious, intelligent and well read with a ready wit. She made friends easily, and the friends that the Brontë's made in Thornton remained life-long friends to Patrick and his children. Her only extant written work, apart from letters, is the tract, The Advantages of Poverty, In Religious Concerns, but it was never published. The essay can be found in the book Life and Letters by Clement Shorter.

Maria Branwell was the eighth child of twelve born to Thomas Branwell and Anne Carne in Penzance, Cornwall, though only five daughters and one son grew to adulthood. Thomas Branwell was a successful merchant and owned many properties throughout the town. The Branwell family was involved with local politics, several serving as Mayor in the 19th century and other civic offices. The family were prominent Methodists,Thomas's sister and two of his daughters marrying clergymen of Wesleyan leanings. With the Carne family and others, they initiated and developed the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Penzance.
 
Maria had an annuity of £50 a year, which would have been a great help to Patrick Brontë who had nothing but his stipend. Their first home was Clough House, Hightown, near Hartshead, and their first two children, Maria and Elizabeth were born there in 1814 and 1815.
Clough House, which is in Halifax Road just above Quaker Lane. This is also a 17th century house.


The Peters Church, Heartshead, near Brighouse
See also: hartshead
 
 
Thornbush Farm, known in those days as Lousy Thorn Farm, at Windybank Hightown
 
Patrick Bronte was the minister at St Peter’s from 1811 to 1815 and had lodged at Thornbush Farm near the end of Miry Lane before this.

















Clough House, Hightown, near Hartshead 
 
Maria and Elizabeth were born here
 
He moved to Clough House, Halifax Road, Hightown (pictured above), on his marriage to Maria Branwell in 1812.

He was at Clough House when the croppers banded together to try to destroy the cropping machines being installed in the large mills. They called themselves Luddites, and met at the Shears inn in Halifax Road to plan the attack. The Shears inn was built in 1773.

Thornbush Farm (Hightown)


The village of Hartshead was the model for Nunneley in “Shirley” by Charlotte (1849).

Left: Market Street, Thornton
In 1815 Mr. Brontë moved to a larger living at Thornton, three miles north of Bradford, where, in a house in Market Street, the other four children were born, Charlotte (1816), Patrick Branwell (1817), Emily Jane (1818) and Anne (1820).
 

In 1820 the family moved to Haworth. Soon after the move to Haworth, Maria Branwell Brontë, exhausted from bearing six children in seven years, died of cancer after a long illness. A servant heard her cry, "Oh God, my poor children!" Charlotte was only five years old. The youngest, Anne, was less than a year old.

woensdag 19 januari 2011

19-01- 1880 Martha Brown servant of the Brontes died aged 52.

Martha was one of the six daughters of John and Mary Brown of Haworth. John Brown was the village Sexton and, although thirteen years older, he was a close friend of Branwell Brontë. The Browns lived in Sexton's House, which John himself had built on the eastern end of the Church School, shortly after the school was built in 1832. Most of John Brown's daughters worked at the Parsonage at one time or another, cleaning, washing and running errands, but Martha was the only one to live in.
Since 1826, Tabitha Aykroyd had been the only servant living in at the Parsonage. In 1836 she broke a leg very badly, which left her lame. Emily Brontë took on many of Tabby's duties, but by 1839 it was clear that permanent extra help would be needed, and eleven year old Martha Brown moved in to share the bedroom of sixty eight year old Tabby. This arrangement continued until Tabby's death sixteen years later, when, with only Mr. Brontë and Mr. Nicholls left to look after, Martha finally had the room to herself. Her duties ranged from basic washing, cleaning and laying fires, to running errands and, after Tabby's death, preparing food. She was also called upon to help nurse the sick of the household, and for all this she was paid £6 a year when she started, rising to £10 a year by 1858.

On the death of Patrick Brontë in 1861, the Brontë household was broken up, and Martha went with Arthur Bell Nicholls (Charlotte's widower) back to Northern Ireland. Whether this was just to help Mr. Nicholls settle in to his new home, or whether it was intended that she settle there as his housekeeper, we do not know, but by Christmas 1862, Martha was back in Haworth, living with her widowed mother at Sexton's house (John Brown had died of 'dust on his lungs' in 1855). Martha took domestic work in the village, including a stint with Dr. Amos Ingham (lately the Brontë family physician) at the Manor House in Cookgate. Martha's mother died in 1866, and in 1868 Martha, who increasingly by then was in poor health, went to live with her sister Anne Binns and her family at Saltaire. She stayed there for nine years, until the domestic tensions between her sister and her husband Ben became intolerable for her, and she returned to Haworth, where she spent the last three years of her life living alone in a small damp cottage in what is now Sun Street. She died there of stomach cancer on the 19th January 1880.

Throughout her post-Parsonage years, Martha and Arthur Bell Nicholls maintained a regular correspondence, and Martha visited Mr. Nicholls (and his second wife after 1864) a number of times. He always asked her to stay, and she always declined. Martha had featured in Elizabeth Gaskell's best selling biography, The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), and in her later years she became something of a celebrity. Martha treasured a large collection of Brontë memorabilia that she was happy to display, but reluctant to sell. On her death however, this collection was divided between her sisters and it gradually dispersed.

Parsonage

Parsonage

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).

Parents
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.

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