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 4 februari 2012

Inspiration and imagination of Charlotte Bronte: determined to make her heroine plain, small, and unattractive


Anyone who has studied her writings,--whether in print or in her letters; any one who has enjoyed the rare privilege of listening to her talk, must have noticed her singular felicity in the choice of words. She herself, in writing her books, was solicitous on this point. One set of words was the truthful mirror of her thoughts; no others, however apparently identical in meaning, would do. She had that strong practical regard for the simple holy truth of expression, which Mr. Trench has enforced, as a duty too often neglected. She would wait patiently searching for the right term, until it presented itself to her. It might be provincial, it might be derived from the Latin; so that it accurately represented her idea, she did not mind whence it came; but this care makes her style present the finish of a piece of mosaic. Each component part, however small, has been dropped into the right place. She never wrote down a sentence until she clearly understood what she wanted to say, had deliberately chosen the words, and arranged them in their right order. Hence it comes that, in the scraps of paper covered with her pencil writing which I have seen, there will occasionally be a sentence scored out, but seldom, if ever, a word or an expression. She wrote on these bits of paper in a minute hand, holding each against a piece of board, such as is used in binding books, for a desk. This plan was necessary for one so short-sighted as she was; and, besides, it enabled her to use pencil and paper, as she sat near the fire in the twilight hours, or if (as was too often the case) she was wakeful for hours in the night. Her finished manuscripts were copied from these pencil scraps, in clear, legible, delicate traced writing, almost as easy to read as print.

The sisters retained the old habit, which was begun in their aunt's life-time, of putting away their work at nine o'clock, and beginning their study, pacing up and down the sitting room. At this time, they talked over the stories they were engaged upon, and described their plots. Once or twice a week, each read to the others what she had written, and heard what they had to say about it. Charlotte told me, that the remarks made had seldom any effect in inducing her to alter her work, so possessed was she with the feeling that she had described reality; but the readings were of great and stirring interest to all, taking them out of the gnawing pressure of daily-recurring cares, and setting them in a free place. It was on one of these occasions, that Charlotte determined to make her heroine plain, small, and unattractive, in defiance of the accepted canon.

She once told her sisters that they were wrong--even morally wrong--in making their heroines beautiful as a matter of course. They replied that it was impossible to make a heroine interesting on any other terms. Her answer was, 'I will prove to you that you are wrong; I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours.' Hence 'Jane Eyre,' said she in telling the anecdote: 'but she is not myself, any further than that.' As the work went on, the interest deepened to the writer. When she came to 'Thornfield' she could not stop. Being short-sighted to excess, she wrote in little square paper-books, held close to her eyes, and (the first copy) in pencil. On she went, writing incessantly for three weeks; by which time she had carried her heroine away from Thornfield, and was herself in a fever which compelled her to pause.


vrijdag 3 februari 2012

The relation between George Smith and Charlotte Bronte, Part 3


Villette was published on 28 January 1853. The date of the publisher's catalogue varies in different copies, from January 1853 to December 1854, according to Smith. The novel was difficult and slow to complete for the author, partly because of the circumstances of her own life, with the unresolved personal relationships with George Smith and James Taylor in the background colouring and mirroring the tale itself. "Experience was slowly eradicating the ancient fallacies of her romantic girlhood. She was gradually moving towards a complete realization of the truth of her particular destiny, and instantly transmuting it into another truth--the truth of art..." (Winifred Gérin, Charlotte Brontë.
The Evolution of Genius, p.508) sothebys.com/en/

donderdag 2 februari 2012

The relation between George Smith and Charlotte Bronte/ Part 2

The last lecture was one from Margaret Smith, who talked about George Smith and William Smith Williams and their connection with Charlotte Brontë. Smith was a very good friend, gave her advice on financial matters and was even an alleged love interest, although he wasn’t in the least attracted to Charlotte. William Smith Williams sent her books and advised her to write a three-part work (Jane Eyre) rather than another two-part work like The Professor. Charlotte dissolved their correspondence with a rather cold letter. 
brusselsbronte/ bronte-conference-in-york-2009

 
Transforming her loneliness and personal sorrow into a triumph of literary art, Charlotte pens her 1847 masterpiece, Jane Eyre. Charlotte’s novel becomes an overwhelming literary success, catapulting the shy and awkward young woman into the spotlight of London’s fashionable literary scene—and into the arms of her new publisher, George Smith, an irresistibly handsome young man whose interest in his fiercely intelligent and spirited new author seems to go beyond professional duty. But just as life begins to hold new promise, unspeakable tragedy descends on the Brontë household, throwing London and George into the background and leaving Charlotte to fear that the only romance she will ever find is at the tip of her pen Scandalous Woman

Disappearing history

Mary Taylor
BBC News covers the Red House story (don't forget to sign the petition if you haven't yet):
Joan Bellamy, author of a biography of Mary Taylor, said the sale of Red House would be a big loss to the history of the local area.
"It's a disaster. If it was sold then the history of the house would be in danger of disappearing," she said.
"The history of the area - the textiles, the Luddites and Charlotte Brontë's novel - all those elements represented by the house would disappear."
Kirklees Council said in its proposals for 2012 budget consideration that the possible closure of Red House at the end of September 2012 would mean a saving of £116,000 a year.
A council spokesman said: "Councillors have difficult decisions to make as there is a continuing need to achieve efficiencies from across the whole range of services in the three-year budget plan.
"The proposal to close Red House Museum is one of a large number of measures up for consideration which have been proposed to fill a very big gap in the council's budget and reduce expenditure."
The spokesman added that "no decision" had been made on the sale of Red House, and local residents were being invited to make their views known. documents/RedHouse-MaryTaylor
And the Yorkshire Evening Post has received a letter from a reader on the subject:
The Red House Museum is an integral part of the literary history of Yorkshire and of England.
Its value to the community and to the country is evidenced by the fact that it had 30,000 visitors from all over the world and is a place of learning and research.
In an age when much of Britain’s literary heritage is being lost, taking away such a valuable resource would be tantamount to permanantly removing a vital component of the literary history and traditions of a great people.
It also seems strange that when we are celebrating the 200th anniversay of Charles Dickens we should be considering closing a site of value to those other great literary giants – the Brontë sisters. It seems to me that Kirklees Council together with the Yorkshire Tourist Authority can make much more of the Museum and help, not only to increase its visitor numbers but to also use it as the Brontë sisters and the people of their times.
Judith Tampoe, by email  bronteblog/disappearing-history

woensdag 1 februari 2012

Brontë Parsonage Blog: Parsonage re-opens today

Brontë Parsonage Blog: Parsonage re-opens today: The Brontë Parsonage re-opens today following a hectic month of activity including maintenance work, cleaning, conservation and developme...

The relation between George Smith and Charlotte Bronte/ part 1

I am going to search what kind of a relationsship Charlotte Bronte had with George Smith, her publisher. 
Who is George Smith? 

George Murray Smith (19 March 1824[1] – 6 April 1901) was the son of George Smith (1789–1846) who with Alexander Elder (1789–1846) started the Victorian publishing firm of Smith, Elder & Co.. His brainchild, The Cornhill Magazine, was the premier fiction-carrying magazine of the 19th century.[2]
The firm was extremely successful. G. M. Smith succeeded his father and expanded the product and sales areas to cover most Victorian topics and the British Empire. The firm also supplied a catalogue full of other products desirable to British expatriates.
George Smith is widely acknowledged to have inspired the character of Graham Bretton inCharlotte Brontë's novel Villette (as he himself believed).
From 1890 until his death, Smith lived at Somerset House, in Park Lane, having bought the lease from Lady Hermione Graham, a daughter of the twelfth Duke of Somerset. The house became known as 40, Park Lane.[3] He died at St. George's Hill, Byfleet, Surrey on 6 April 1901.
 
Charlotte first met George Smith in July 1848 when she and Anne had travelled overnight to London to prove the separate identity of the brothers Bell; for T. C. Newby had told an American publisher that he and not Smith, Elder would be publishing ‘Currer Bell’s’ next novel. Newby had assured George Smith that ‘to the best of his belief’ all three Bells were one writer. Charlotte and Anne convinced the astonished George Smith that Newby had lied. Smith’s natural reaction was the wish to make a show of his best-selling author. Charlotte’s resistance to this, and her excitement and exhaustion, gave her ‘a thundering head-ache & harassing sickness’. Thus she did not at first like her young and handsome publisher. A better understanding and warm friendship developed after she had stayed with Smith, his mother, and his sisters in December. There were to be other friendly visits, companionable outings in London, and an exhilarating stay in Edinburgh. From mid-1850 Smith became Charlotte’s principal London correspondent. The brief business letters she had previously written to him gave place to their friendly correspondence of late 1850, followed by twenty-four long, candid, often affectionately teasing or cheerfully satirical letters in 1851. There were fewer letters in 1852, though the friendship continued; and then a marked falling off in their correspondence from the spring of 1853, caused in part by the long strain of overwork on Smith’s part as the firm expanded its banking and export business. Charlotte could not know that Smith was also more happily preoccupied with the beautiful Elizabeth Blakeway, whom he first met in April 1853. On 10 December 1853 Charlotte wrote a curt, contorted letter of congratulation to him on his engagement to Elizabeth. She wrote more warmly to him on 25 April 1854, when she had received his congratulations on her engagement to Arthur Nicholls. fds.oup.com

Few episodes in the publishing history of the nineteenth century are of higher interest than the story of his association with Charlotte Brontë. In July 1847 Williams called Smith's attention to a manuscript novel entitled 'The Professor,' which had been sent to the firm by an author writing under the name of 'Currer Bell.' The manuscript showed signs of having vainly sought the favour of other publishing houses. Smith and his assistant recognised the promise of the work, but neither thought it likely to be a successful publication. While refusing it, however, they encouraged the writer in kindly and appreciative terms to submit another effort. The manuscript of 'Jane Eyre' arrived at Cornhill not long afterwards. Williams read it and handed it to Smith. The young publisher was at once fascinated by its surpassing power, and purchased the copyright out of hand. He always regarded the manuscript, which he retained, as the most valued of his literary treasures. He lost no time in printing it, and in 1848 the reading world recognised that he had introduced to its notice a novel of abiding fame. Later in 1848 'Shirley,' by 'Currer Bell,' was also sent to Cornhill. So far 'Currer Bell' had conducted the correspondence with the firm as if the writer were a man, but Smith shrewdly suspected that the name was a woman's pseudonym. 
wiki/Memoir_of_George_Smith

Biographical Information
The publishing firm of Smith, Elder and Company was founded in 1816 by George Smith (1789-1846) in partnership with Alexander Elder. In 1843, Smith's son, George Smith (1824-1901), took over much of the firm's operations, and, upon the death of his father in 1846, became sole head of the company. Smith lived in London with his mother, Elizabeth Murray Smith (1797-1878), until 1854, when he married Elizabeth Blakeway. They had two sons and three daughters.
Smith, Elder and Company prospered under George Smith's leadership. Early in his tenure, the firm published works by John Ruskin, Charlotte Bronte ( Jane Eyre in 1848), and William Makepeace Thackeray ( Esmond in 1851). In 1859, Smith started The Cornhill Magazine with Thackeray as editor; in 1865, The Pall Mall Gazette, an evening newspaper with literary leanings, began publication. Both the magazine and the newspaper attracted contributions from leading writers and artists.
In his later years, Smith's chief authors were Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, and Leslie Stephen, all of whom were close personal friends. Smith was also the founder, in 1882, of the Dictionary of National Biography.
In 1894, Reginald J. Smith, husband of George Smith's youngest daughter, joined Smith, Elder and Company, and, in 1899, became sole head. Smith,Elder_and_Co

'I think the Brontë sisters are mad'

The Red House story (sign the petition here) continues being featured in local newspapers such as the Yorkshire Post:
This is not a 'difficult decision to make'. It's just a silly, self-damaging decision. Good for the 100 letters an emails, though - keep those coming and get as many people as possible to sign the petition.
The story has also reached a national newspaper: the Guardian.
The blog Secluded Charm is appalled by the story.
The Telegraph reports adapter Andrew Davies's thoughts on the Brontës:
'I think the Brontë sisters are mad'

maandag 30 januari 2012

Visiting Haworth in 1971


These photographes are from Georges Renaux
I met Georges through Facebook
These photographes are taken in 1971
when he and his wife were visiting Haworth
Thank you George for sharing.






This letter George received from The Bronte Society


Aspect of that wintery afternoon

"Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that wintery afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast."

Chapter 1 in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
bronteweather/failing-eyesight

Michele Howarth Rashman

Fiona Russell meets Michele Howarth Rashman, an artist who likes to work with a material she can afford.
High above St George’s Square in Hebden Bridge, at the top of a rickety wooden staircase, is the attic studio of Michele Howarth Rashman. Like the talented girls from Haworth Parsonage, Michelle spends her days engaged in meticulous, minute work (“developing long-sight and a dowager’s hump”) and she has a keen eye, which can get her into trouble (“I do use people I know and it can get a bit tricky”). And while she chooses to base herself in Yorkshire, she exhibits with the best of her London contemporaries.
Yorkshire Post

zondag 29 januari 2012

Christopher Fry's The Brontës of Haworth

BlogCritics reviews the upcoming The Brontës of Haworth DVD release:
Playwright Christopher Fry's The Brontës of Haworth, a five-episode dramatization of the lives of the 19th century literary sisters and their tortured brother televised in England in 1973 but never shown in the United States will be available in February in a two-disc DVD set from Acorn Media. Beginning with their widowed father's birthday gift to the young Branwell of the set of toy soldiers which became the inspiration for the children's early imaginative efforts as they joined together to create a fictional world modeled on the Byronic romances popular at the time, Fry traces their attempts to make their way in the world, their failures and their success, culminating in the sister's monumental achievement and early deaths. (...)
Clearly it is [Michael] Kitchen and perhaps [Alfred] Burke who are the stars of this production. Perhaps not as oddly as it would seem in a film about the Brontë family, much of the early episodes are concerned with the tragic life of Branwell rather than that of his sisters. He is after all a man haunted by demons beyond his control, the kind of fodder no dramatist can resist.  (...)
The DVD runs approximately 260 minutes. The only bonus material it contains is a short prose essay on the Brontë's home in Haworth. (Jack Goodstein)

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.

Blogarchief

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails