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

vrijdag 27 april 2012

The moors shaped their work. But, dear reader, their gardening skills were prosaic at best


 
Their books and poems – even their paintings – evoke the wild beauty that surrounded them at their remote parsonage home. Yet although the Brontë sisters could conjure the elemental splendour of the Yorkshire moors with their pens and brushes, it seems they were sadly lacking when it came to cultivating nature on the small plot outside their home. Research carried out while creating a special Brontë-themed garden for this summer's Chelsea Flower Show has unearthed evidence of the sisters' surprising lack of green-fingered talent. Researchers at the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, West Yorkshire, discovered repeated references to the women's horticultural failings. 

Among them was one from Charlotte's close friend Emily Nussey who described Haworth in 1871. "The garden, which was nearly all grass, and possessed only a few stunted thorns and shrubs, and a few currant bushes which Emily and Anne treasured as their own bit of fruit garden," she wrote. 
 

 
Two decades earlier James M Hoppin, an early visitor after the cult of the Brontës began to spread after the publication of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, observed "a small flower garden (though rather run to waste now)".
Meanwhile, Charlotte's celebrated chronicler Elizabeth Gaskell, describes the "great change" endured by the author when she moved to Haworth – "a place where neither flowers nor vege- tables would flourish and where a tree of even moderate dimensions might be hunted far and wide".

Tracy Foster, who is designing The Brontës' Yorkshire Garden on behalf of the regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, conceded that the windswept Pennine conditions were very challenging for both people and plants although the garden flourishes today in the hands of a skilled horticulturalist.
 "They were obviously very observant and made many comments about individual plants and flowers in their poems and novels and also painted them in exquisite detail so they were obviously very aware," she said. "But the conditions they had were very difficult and exposed. Maybe they were just too busy producing great literary works to be great gardeners."

The mid-19th century was a thriving time for gardening. The activity had become fashionable among some of the Brontës' better-heeled acquaintances with the arrival of different plant species from far-flung colonies.


Charlotte painted a number of studies of flowers and plants, including wild roses, primulas and even exotic tiger lilies. Her correspondence reveals that Emily, who wrote while sitting on a small stool in the garden, gratefully received seed from Ellen Nussey. Poems such as The Bluebell (The Bluebell is the sweetest flower) and Love and Friendship (Love is like the wild rose-briar) also reveal the women's interest.

The Chelsea garden will have as its centrepiece The Meeting of the Waters – a favourite moorland spot which the sisters would visit as children. Andrew McCarthy, director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, said: "They were highly attached to the wilderness landscape of the moors rather than the much more cultivated idea of the domesticated garden." Independent

donderdag 26 april 2012

Bronte painting withdrawn from sale in Northamptonshire

 

The sale of a painting believed to show the Bronte sisters has been halted following information that could prove it depicts the literary trio.
The portrait of three women was due to be auctioned in Northamptonshire this week.
But it was withdrawn from sale after a collector came forward about a similar Bronte portrait by the same artist.
The auctioneer said this could prove there was a link between the sisters and the artist, Sir Edwin Landseer.
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said: "In light of the new information and its potential significance, we have postponed the sale and will evaluate the strength and implications of what has now come to light.
"This could help prove beyond doubt, the important link between Landseer, one of the 19th century's greatest artists, and the Bronte sisters, English literature's most perennial siblings."
He added: "We can only do our best to prove beyond doubt, and obviously the more information we have the better our conclusion can be." bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england

maandag 23 april 2012

Jane Eyre costumes return to Haddon Hall


Through PeriodDramas.com, we learn that Haddon Hall (outside Bakewell in Derbyshire), the Thornfield of no less than three different Jane Eyre adaptations (Gainsbourg/Hurt 1996Wilson/Stephens 2006Wasikowska/Fassbender 2011), is to have an exhibition of the costumes of said productions. Last year, they displayed costumes from the 2011 production, but now they're getting ones from the previous two as well. Yay!!

If it was just the 2011 costumes, I wouldn't be that tempted to go - been there, seen those - but with the other two adaptations as well ... awwww, I'll totally have to. Just imagine, seeing Rochester's deep green coat ... wow. Also, the 2011 costumes are incredible:  the squeee

zondag 22 april 2012

Zenobia


Zenobia Ellrington was a significant figure in the Brontës' early writing and as a strong, intellectual woman, she was a forerunner of the great Brontë heroines to come. The drawing is also interesting for its connection with the Countess of Blessington, whose portrait is believed to have provided the model. Certainly Lady Blessington's literary career and private life accord well with Zenobia's role in the early writings, and Charlotte would also have been aware of her friendship with Lord Byron, whose influence on the writings of all four Brontë siblings cannot be overestimated. Although Charlotte is famous for her writing rather than her drawing, she did consider a career as a visual artist at one time.
  • Medium: pencil on paper
  • Dimensions: 9 x 7.9cm
  • Art Fund Grant: £2750 ( Total: £11,550)
  • ArtFunded in: 2009
  • Vendor: Private collection

Provenance

Margaret Illingworth; purchased at Dawson's of Pall Mall, late 1960s; private collection; by descent; through Bloomsbury auctions. zenobia-marchioness-ellrington

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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