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

woensdag 15 mei 2013

Bronte biographers part I (till 1900) I am still busy with this blog, so it can change.

I am reading the Bronte Myth of Lucaste Miller
In the years after Elisabeth Gaskell till  1900
  • Rumours about the relationship between Charlotte Bronte and Constantin Heger.
  • Biographers and writers believed or attached these rumours.
  • Biographers believed that everythng Charlotte wrote is from her life
  • Working class education started.
  • Cheap editions of the novels flooded the market
  • English literature began to take root as an academic subject.
  • Concept ideal women artist. A new spiritality. Charlotte's subdued social manner is spiritual superiority.
  • Emily appeared as child of the moors.
  • No careful examination of the evidence, but devotion to the subjects
  • The question came up: Who did write Wuthering Heights? Branwell or Emily Bronte or together?
  • Women wanted  role models who symbolized female freedom from social conventions.
BIOGRAPHERS  ( and writers)
1867 William Dearden "Who wrote Wuthering Heights"?
Under the headline 'Who wrote Wuthering Heights?' Dearden described a meeting which had taken place in the summer of 1842 between himself, Branwell and their sculptor friend Joseph Leyland at the Cross Roads Inn between Haworth and Keighley. A month earlier, the two poets had each agreed to produce a verse composition set in the mythical time before the Deluge. But when Branwell arrived at the appointed pub to show off his handiwork, he found that he had accidentally picked up the wrong manuscript. What he read out was not the antediluvian poem 'Azrael or the Eve of Destruction' he had written in answer to Dearden's challenge, but a fragment whose scene and characters 'so far as then developed' were, according to Dearden, 'the same as those in Wuthering Heights, which Charlotte Bronté [sic] confidently asserts was the production of her sister Emily'. bronteblog/wuthering-heights-at-cross-roads-inn
1883 Laura Carter Holloway An hour with Charlotte Bronte  
1877   Thomas Wemyss Reid- Charlotte Brontë: A monograph e-book charlottebronte 
Had been given access by Ellen Nussey to correspondence
 of Charlotte's which Mrs. Gaskell had not seen
He hinted that Charlotte ""had tasted strange joys"" at the Pensonnat Heger
1883 Gutenberg/ EMILY BRONTË/ Mary Robinson (click the link to read the book)
The Life of Emily Brontë
Mary Robinson wrote to Ellen Nussey asking for help with material.
She wanted  to humanize Emily, a free spirit, child of the moors.
She wanted to give a "Death blow"" once and for all to the theory that Branwell Bronte had written Wuthering Heights
How could a simple young woman, a clergyman's daughter, have created the brutal and passionate Heathcliff? The first biography of Emily was by A. Mary F. Robinson, Emily Brontë (1883, reprinted 1978) Mary Robinson, thought she had found the answer. Emily herself was not a bad person; no, she was a bright, charming girl. It was her older brother Branwell, who had put such evil thoughts into her head. Emily was, in Robinson's biography, an innocent victim of his depravity—so close to Branwell that she had no choice but to pour her agonized soul and his agonized sufferings into a strange book. (Miller, 238-241) maidsbrmyths
Was the first to suggest that Charlotte had probably destroyed Emily' s and Anne' s  letters and literary effects.
1899  Marion Harland Charlotte Bronte at home
Believed Charlotte could not be emotially attached to Heger.
There is nothing in Charlotte' s novels that is not a direct copy from life.
He believed Charlotte Bronte wrote also Wuthering Heights 

5 opmerkingen:

  1. Great post!

    I have read Marion Harland's "Charlotte Bronte at home" from 1899 and found it excellent.


    Harland met one of the Garth sisters in old age and in the US...thanks to this meeting we know a great deal about the family's younger days than would be lost to us other wise.

    A very diffrent view of Patrick emerges from these pages ...but this view of him was not allowed to contradict the mad Patrick found in The Gaskell Holy Scriptures

    That only happened with Baker's book, " The Brontes" in 1994...almost 100 year later

    Marion Harland has an interesting dedication to her book


    for thirty seven years incumbent of Haworth in cordial appreciation of the unfailing courtesy and kindly aid extended by him to the American stranger within his gates This Volume is Gratefully Dedicated

    So it seems he was not always hostile to topic of the Brontes

    Also whether one accepts Malham Dembleby's fascinating view that Charlotte wrote everything, or not , a Bronte fan should read his very interesting book " The key to the Bronte's work" . You learn a great deal

  2. What is fascinating about 150 years of books about the Brontë is they often say more about the individual author than the Brontës. The Brontës are a mere canvas for their ideas .

    When society says women should stay at home, Emily is favored. When society feels women should be ambitious, Charlotte is favored. Because we have so many years between them and now, we can see many mood swings in society.

    Then there are those who love Branwell and think Charlotte was a horror ...but I feel if they themselves had to deal with Branwell for any length of time , we would find them running from the Parsonage lol

    Malham Dembleby thought Charlotte wrote everything with the Brontë name on it. One can dismiss this as most do ...but his showing the Brontë novels in side by side columns in his book is an eye opener. There are many striking similarities.

    Really, a Brontë fan should read all these books and decide for themselves.... just as you are doing. :)

  3. Geri, I read Lucaste's bool prior to Juliet Barker's, but much prefer Juliet's. I also love Rebecca Fraser's biography. Both Lucaste's and Juliet's books really opened my eyes to what a diservice Elizabeth Gaskell did to Patrick and Arthur, but I suppose for the times, it was good for Charlotte's name and reputation, society sympathized with her and forgave her the "courseness" of her writings. Now, during our times, we can handle the reality of the true and raw emotions she expressed so much better.
    xo J~

  4. It's interesting that there is a letter of Mrs Gaskell's where she calls Charlotte's work " naughty books". Her book is about Elizabeth Gaskell, High Victorian Novelist, wanting to reshape Charlotte Bronte, Genius into an image she much preferred.

    This also throws an interesting light on Elizabeth Gaskell wanting to "edit" The Professor" after CB's death to remove its "coarseness" and fit it in with her book about Charlotte .

    Charlotte's husband ,Arthur Bell Nicholls reread " The Professor ". Declared it fine, was confounded over what Gaskell saw as "course" in it. Arthur would not permit it being published if it was touched. It was therefore published as Charlotte wrote it

    He did not have to have CB's intellect . His instincts were rather marvelous. Something Charlotte came to realize. And frankly Charlotte just about never engaged in rewriting either . She would say about a piece of writing the mood is past and it must stand as is

    Mrs Gaskell simply wanted " The Professor" to be of a piece with her bio . I even wonder if she actually cared about Charlotte. She kept putting off a visit to Haworth in the fall of '54, saying she was too busy with her book...when in fact Mrs Gaskell had gone on to her new interest and just as important, the newer sensation , Florance Nightingale, staying with her 2 times in Oct of that year.

    CB's death reinvigorated Gaskell.s interest in her greatly to say the least

    Thankfully Patrick and Arthur are finally getting their due today.

    It's intolerable these men not only suffered the horrific loss of Charlotte herself , they also suffered the willful blacking of their names in regards to their relationship with her . How that must have added to their pain.

    Finally, Mrs Gaskell has been called to account for , well, her lies. ...
    what else can you call them?

  5. Yes Anne, Patrick and Arthur are finally getting their due, as is Mrs. Gaskell, though I still believe it helped Charlotte's name at the time...even though it caused so much pain to both men. If only they had read Gaskell's manuscript before publishing...I'm sure a happy medium could have occured that would have still benefited Charlotte without scourging their names. Ellen Nussey deserves a lot of 'scolding' for her part in it all too...she misled Gaskell on a number of fronts in her jealousy of Arthur. But much good did come from her as well...thank heavens she saved all of her letters from Charlotte...such a treasure.


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.



Related Posts with Thumbnails