It’s my birthday and wedding anniversary next week and I’ll be making my way to Haworth where I shall be staying at the Old Registry and visiting for the umpteenth time, the Brontë Parsonage Museum. My husband says that my face always lights up when we get our first glimpse of the Parsonage and that he has never seen me so happy as I am when I am there. I’m currently rereading Wuthering Heights as this year is the bicentenary of Emily’s birth. There’s been a bit of controversy in the Brontë Society too over the appointment of a literary partner. However, this has led to more interest than ever in the Brontë Family. But where did my love for the Brontë family begin and how has it remained so passionate for the past forty-odd years?
In the early 1960s, my Dad was taken on a school trip to Haworth and to the Brontë Parsonage Museum. He tells me that in those days the Brontë Industry had yet to take off and Haworth was very much as it was during the Brontë era. My Dad, a practical man, who had failed his 11+ and had to go to a secondary modern school, was transfixed by what he saw at the Parsonage. He found the story of how three sisters, living in such a remote location, became famous novelists, fascinating and it is true to say that he instantly resolved to discover more about them and read their works
Fast forward to the early 1970s, and when my Dad passed his driving test, he decided to take my Mother, my brother and I, to visit the same location where he had been inspired to discover more about the Brontë Family. I can vividly recall my first visit to the Parsonage, although I must have been only about three years of age. My parents later told me that, as we went around the Parsonage, I was able to tell them the contents of each room and what they signified, even though I had never been there before. My Mother took this as a spiritual sign that I had been ‘on this earth before’. My Father was more pragmatic and suggested that I was probably savvier than they had realised and had looked up the place in his AA Treasures of Britain book and managed to read some of it. I really have no idea where it came from but all I knew was that going there always felt like I was going somewhere I loved and where I felt happy. You can read into that whatever you like. In those days, it was possible to see the Bonnell collection on display of many of the Brontë juvenilia. These tiny books transfixed me, and I decided that I was going to make my own tiny books at home. Yet much like my Dad, it had been the tragic nature of their lives that had really touched me.