This is a blog about the Bronte Sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. And their father Patrick, their mother Maria and their brother Branwell. About their pets, their friends, the parsonage (their house), Haworth the town in which they lived, the moors they loved so much, the Victorian era in which they lived.
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
In May of 1849 at the young age of twenty-nine, Anne died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Though she had been the third of six children, with Anne’s passing Charlotte was made an only child. Since her mother had died, when the children were very young, Charlotte was left to care for her aged father who, surprisingly enough ended up outliving all of his children. As you would assume from reading the poem, Charlotte and Anne had a strong bond. While all of the Bronte siblings were close, due to the deaths of the other Bronte children, the sisters were made inseparable especially towards the end of Anne’s life. Knowing this, it is no surprise that Charlotte wrote this poem for her precious sister.
In June 1843 Anne's charges at Thorp Green - the Robinson girls - gave her this spaniel dog as a gift. Anne named it 'Flossy', and brought it home to the Parsonage where it spent the rest of its life. The following summer Flossy had a pup, and this was given to Ellen Nussey as a gift: Ellen decided to name it 'Flossy' after its parent. This water-colour painting was produced in 1843 - soon after Flossy's arrival in the Brontë household: for many years it was attributed to Charlotte, but recent study into many aspects of the painting leave little doubt that it was actually by Emily. The dog outlived Anne by many years, dying in 1854 - 'without a pang . . . no dog ever had a happier life or an easier death' - reported Charlotte many years later.
The year 1857, which should have been triumphant for Elizabeth Gaskell with her biography of Charlotte Bronte written and in the publishers' hands, was in now well-scripted parlance an "annus horribilis".
On May 7th., 1857, Elizabeth stated simply to Laetitia Wheelwright, in a formal note: "I have today finished my Life of Miss Bronte; and next week we set out for Rome". On June 16th., she wrote to Ellen Nussey: "I am in the Hornet's nest with a vengeance". Lady Scott, formerly Mrs. Lydia Robinson, was depicted in "The Life" as the cause of Branwell Bronte's dismissal and disgrace - he was besotted with her and on her mocking dismissal of his marriage proposal he turned again to much drink and many drugs and an early grave. Mrs. Robinson buried her husband Edmund on May 26th., 1846 and by 1848 she had set her sights on Sir Edward Dolman Scott who had a terminally ill wife. Before the year was out, she had led him to the altar; he was seventy-five - she a grasping forty-eight.
Elizabeth Gaskell had been straightforward with George Smith the publisher writing that "I have three people I want to libel - Lady Scott (that bad woman who corrupted Branwell Bronte), Mr. Newby, & Lady Eastlake". A compromise was negotiated on Newby and Lady Eastlake, but to her cost not Lydia Scott.
The first edition of "The Life" was published on March 25th., 1857, and well received; Lady Scott sued for libel and the matter seemed to have been settled in Elizabeth's absence. A second edition, a straightforward reprint, was announced on May 9th. Then, unexpected, came a letter from Lady Scott's solicitors announcing that legal action would follow unless all passages about her were withdrawn and a public apology made. All unsold copies were called in and on May 26th., two days before Elizabeth returned, William Shaen, one of the Gaskells' solicitors sent a formal letter of retraction which was placed in "The Times" and the "Athenaeum".
The revisions took all summer and so depressed Elizabeth that at the end of June she wrote to George Smith asking him if he could find someone else as editor. He astutely did not reply, and Elizabeth resigned herself to "my weary and oppressive task". When it was finally finished in November, the third edition was longer than the first. http://www.maggs.com/title/MO36832.asp
The Reverend Thomas Gisborne was known as a divine and a poet. He was a lifelong friend of the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce having studied together at St. John's College, Cambridge along with Thomas Babington whose family seat was Rothley Temple in Leicestershire.
Gisborne married Thomas Babington's sister Mary in 1784, a year after he was ordained as a priest. They settled down at Yoxall Lodge which he had inherited from his father a few years earlier along with a considerable amount of money.
The Rev Thomas and Mary Gisborne led a content and happy life at Yoxall Lodge producing eight children but their youngest daughter Lydia was to scandalise society by conducting an affair with Branwell Brontë, brother of the Brontë sisters.
William Wilberforce became a regular visitor to Yoxall Lodge from about 1794 making it his summer residence and convalescing there after bouts of ill health.
The large and comfortable house gave Wilberforce and Thomas Babington the perfect retreat from which to work on the abolition of the slave trade.
Unfortunately, the old house was pulled down in 1928 after falling into a state of disrepair.
Lydia Robinson, née Gisborne, was the youngest daughter of the Reverend Thomas Gisborne (1758-1846), a well-known Anglican priest and writer who lived at Yoxall Lodge in Staffordshire.
Thomas Gisborne and his wife
The Gisbournes had eight children, of whom the youngest was Lydia.
By the time Lydia met Branwell Brontë, she was in her thirties and had been the wife of the Rev. Edmund Robinson, a curate from Derby, for at least fifteen years.
In 1840, the 20-year-old Anne Brontë (the youngest of the Brontë girls) had started working for the Rev. and Mrs. Robinson as a governess to their four children. Anne had moved in with the Robinsons, living in their family home at Thorp Green Hall, a wealthy country house near York.
In 1843, Anne also secured a position there for her unsettled brother Branwell, then aged 26. While Anne continued to tutor the three Robinson girls, Branwell was to take over from her as tutor to the Robinsons’ only son, Edmund (junior), who was now growing too old to be under Anne’s care.
Branwell did not live in the Hall itself with the Robinson family as Anne did, but in a smaller building nearby on the same grounds, known as The Monk’s Lodge.
During this time he corresponded with a number of old friends about his increasing infatuation with Robinson's wife Lydia, who was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Gisborne. He was dismissed on unspecified charges in 1845. It is thought, according to his account to his own family, the Robinson family's silence on the reason for his dismissal, and subsequent gifts of money from Mrs. Robinson through her servants, that he had an affair with Mrs. Robinson and that the affair had been discovered by her husband.
When his mistress' husband died in May 1846, Branwell was convinced he would now marry Mrs. Robinson, though she had no intention of marrying a penniless man seventeen years her junior. She kept Branwell away by telling him that Mr. Robinson's will required her to stay away from him, never mind marrying him.
Charlotte Brontë’s mahogany writing desk, a pen-holder and some sugar tongs are amongst the latest acquisitions to join the important collection of material owned by the Parsonage.
These rare Brontë items once formed part of a large and important collection of Bronteana amassed by William Law who sought out people that knew the Brontë family in order to enrich his own collection. After his death in 1901, these passed to his nephew, Sir Alfred Law, who sold some of the drawings and manuscripts at auction. Some of the personal Brontë items, including the selection given to the museum, were previously given as gifts to his nurse.
Sir Alfred Law died in 1939 and the present whereabouts of the remainder of this unique collection, which is known to have included manuscripts and books of great rarity and value, remains a mystery.
Along with these Brontë treasures donated to the Parsonage were a wooden trunk, a display case, a black morocco stationary case, a pocket cigar case and copies of Brontë books- all previously owned by William Law himself.
It’s always exciting when new Brontë items come to light and when we’re able to add to the museum’s wonderful collection. But a donation on this scale, with an item as significant as the writing desk used by Charlotte Brontë, is very rare. We’re delighted that these items are now where they belong, here in Haworth; where they can be enjoyed by generations of visitors to the museum. We’re extremely grateful for such a generous donation. (Andrew McCarthy, Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum)
The anonymous donor purchased these items from an auction at Sotheby’s in London on 17th December 2009 but decided that the appropriate place for them to be housed permanently would be the Parsonage museum.
The items will be on display from Tuesday 31 May.
Precious items once belonging to the UK’s most famous trio of writers have been returned to their home in Haworth.
The collection has been given to the Bronte Parsonage Museum by an anonymous donor.
And the donation is particularly satisfying because it includes items, like Charlotte Bronte’s mahogany writing desk, which Bronte staff could not afford to bid for at auction in 2009. At the time, they were successful in buying Emily Bronte’s artist’s box for £32,000, but saw the other items sold elsewhere.
“It’s extraordinary the way things have turned out. When we got the message that those items were to be donated to the museum, I was speechless,” said Ann Dinsdale, the museum’s collections manager.
“We would have been thrilled to have them on loan, but to actually be given them is wonderfully generous. I am not able to say who has donated them, but in future we hope they will let us release details.”
The new treasures, which will go on show from next Tuesday, May 31, include Charlotte Bronte’s mahogany writing desk, a pen-holder, sugar tongs a wooden trunk, a display case, a black morocco stationery case, a pocket cigar case and copies of Bronte books.
Museum director Andrew McCarthy said: “A donation on this scale, with an item as significant as the writing desk used by Charlotte Bronte, is very rare. We’re delighted that these items are now where they belong, here in Haworth.the telegraph and argus
The wonderful thing about reading through an author’s letters is seeing their voice when they are just being themselves –it’s fascinating to catch glimpses of their character. Throughout the month of June Gaskell Blog will be featuring a quote or excerpt from Mrs. Gaskell’s letters along with works of art.
Charlotte Bronte visited Filey staying at the same lodgings she and Ellen Nussey had stayed after Anne's death. Charlotte went to visit Anne’s grave and discovered a number of errors on the Gravestone, in particular Anne's age, the date on the stone is 28, she was 29 when she died.
On May 23rd 1852 Charlotte returned to the same lodgings. She had been ill for some time and it was felt a change of air might help her.
On 6th June she wrote to Ellen Nussey:
"I am in our old lodgings at Mrs. Smith's; not, however, in the same rooms, but in less expensive apartments. They seemed glad to see me, remembered you and me very well, and, seemingly, with great good will. The daughter who used to wait on us is just married. Filey seems to me much altered; more lodging-houses - some of them very handsome - have been built; the sea has all its old grandeur."
June 2nd 1852 Charlotte wrote to her father:
"I have not bathed yet as I am told it is too cold and too early in the season. The sea is very grand. Yesterday was a somewhat unusually high tide - and I stood about an hour on the cliffs yesterday afternoon - watching the tumbling in of great tawny turbid waves - that make the whole shore white with and filled the air with a sound hollower and deeper than thunder..... When the tide is out - the sands are wide - long and smooth and very pleasant to walk on."
Eric Ruijssenaars, who’s done so much research on the Brontës in Brussels, is spending a year in the USA doing research of a different kind (though he hopes to find time for Brontë investigations too).
On Tuesday April 19thI left the Low Countries to go to the United States. For a year I will be doing research at the New Netherland Institute in Albany, the capital of New York State. It is therefore here that the archives of NYS are housed and thus also the papers of the periodwhen the Dutch ‘owned’ quite a large part of what is now the US (1609-1664, 1673-4). Even after the latter year places like Albany remained overwhelmingly Dutch-speaking for a long time, and up to this day one finds many Dutch names, of places and persons.
It is a great adventure for me of course, and what makes it even better is that I have the opportunity to do Brussels Brontë research here.Many Brontë manuscripts have ended up here in a number of collections all over the country. I hope to find things about the Brontës and their stay in Brussels. It is known many Americans visited the Pensionnat Heger when it was still there, and that Villette was much more popular here than in England. read on: brussels 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.
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.