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

maandag 16 augustus 2021

The foundation of the Brontë Society and the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the links with Dewsbury.

 The foundation of the Brontë Society and the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the links with Dewsbury, through William W Yates in The Dewsbury Reporter:

The new owners dispensed with the services of the paper’s long-standing editor, Mr William W Yates, who, aged 74, was probably deemed too old. Shame on them. However, his enforced retirement allowed him to complete a book he had been writing for 20 years about Patrick Bronte entitled “Father of the Brontës”Patrick spent only two years in Dewsbury, as curate at Dewsbury Parish Church, from 1809 to 1811, and later became Vicar of Hartshead Church. During his stay here, Patrick made a great impression on the people, especially the poor, and Mr Yates would do the same, some 60 years after him. 

For Mr Yates took up his appointment with the Reporter in 1861, the same year as Patrick Brontë died.
And it was only after Mr Yates arrived here from Leicester that he discovered there was a Brontë connection with Dewsbury and district. Being an astute journalist, he realised how important it was for the paper to trace and talk to those who had known Patrick before they too would pass away.
He interviewed anyone who had known the Brontë family and he quickly realised there was a great need for a society to be formed to safeguard all he had discovered. He also saw the importance of finding somewhere to store all this history, along with the many Bronte artefacts which had been brought to his attention.

It was not long before he became instrumental in founding what is now the highly respected Brontë Society, and he arranged its first meeting in Dewsbury Town Hall. He also played an important part in founding the Brontë Museum in Haworth, where Patrick had been vicar for more than 40 years. While I was doing my own research of the Bronte Society and the part Mr Yates played in it, I was surprised to discover that the Brontë Museum very nearly started life in Dewsbury. For, when the newly formed Brontë Society was looking for somewhere to store their artefacts, the old Dewsbury Borough Council offered them Crow Nest Park. But before the offer could be accepted, Haworth Parsonage was put at their disposal, and this is where the museum still stands today. (Margaret Wilson

zaterdag 14 augustus 2021

T.S. Elliot estate and Stephen Fry in the fight to keep the Honresfeld collection together.

According to the Daily Mail, the T.S. Elliot estate has stepped in (not the first time it comes to Brontës help) in the fight to keep the Honresfeld collection together: One tweet from Stephen Fry boosted the appeal last month to save a secret £15million treasure trove of literary masterpieces, which are at risk of being split up and sold after staying hidden for a century. Following Fry’s intervention, I can reveal that T.S. Eliot’s trustees, 56 years after his death, have donated £50,000 to help save the manuscripts of Charlotte Brontë, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns for the nation. (Richard Eden and Juliet Conway)

Stephen Fry himself published this a few days ago in the Air Mail:
But what most catches the eyes is the extraordinary trove of Brontëana. There are seven exquisitely produced miniature books written, illustrated, and bound by the teenage Charlotte, chronicling adventures in her imagined world of Glass Town. We have always known that, after Emily’s death, Charlotte found a notebook of her younger sister’s poetry, but it has been assumed that the verses themselves were irretrievably lost. Yet now here that notebook is, filled with 31 Emily Brontë poems in her own hand for academics and enthusiasts to pore and purr over. (...)

Yet hold awhile. Jane Austen continues to grow as (please don’t hit me) a global brand. The Brontës inspire more and more generations around the world. Scott has always been venerated on the Continent, and especially in this year of the 250th anniversary of his birth his reputation is resurgent in his homeland, the Scotland whose identity he more or less invented. To the Scots, Rabbie Burns is more than a national bard; he is a personal friend. (...)

Sotheby’s has agreed to hold off the sale until November, allowing a new-forged and unprecedented consortium of British libraries (Oxford’s Bodleian; the British Library; the Brotherton, in Leeds; the National Library of Scotland; inter alia) time to raise the needful, a gulp-inducing $21 million. Their plan is to keep the collection whole in name and substance, but collaborating and sharing elements with their most natural homes. To Abbotsford, the vast mansion Sir Walter built that now serves as the Scott museum; to Jane Austen’s House, in Hampshire; to the Haworth Brontë Parsonage Museum; to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, in Alloway. Public access remains the key. The palpable physicality of the handwritten is especially to be prized in our Digital Age. You can almost hear the scratch of pens racing across the paper in these astonishing diaries, letters, and notebooks. (..)

Reader, as Charlotte B. liked to apostrophize, perhaps you can help?


dinsdag 3 augustus 2021

The final resting place of Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls.


I found this photograph on Facebook
Photo by courtesy of Marcus Crothers Fitz-Gerald

He wrote
 Was here the weekend!
The final resting place of Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls.

vrijdag 23 juli 2021

Villagers vow to not let historic Yorkshire village Post Office go without a fight.


Campaigners are fighting to save a beloved Post Office on the street where the Brontës lived.

There has been a Post Office on Haworth Main Street, near Keighley, for over 150 years, and the Brontës may well have used the old premises, which was housed just metres away from its current home. Read more: Examiner live

vrijdag 16 juli 2021

A new Jane Eyre edition.


Featuring artwork by artist Christina Rauh Fishburne, The Crow Emporium Edition will be a superb addition to the shelves of lovers of literature. thecrowemporium/the-crow-emporium-press/jane-eyre-by-charlotte-bronte-illustrated-crow-emporium-edition
 



dinsdag 22 juni 2021

In the footsteps of the Brontës in Brussels – on an app.


Read all on: brusselsbronte/follow-in-footsteps-of-bronte-sisters

The Belgian app company Totemus has just launched a treasure hunt (‘chasse’) in the form of a historical walk in Brussels on the theme of Charlotte and Emily Brontë’s stay in the city in 1842-43. As far as I know, this is the first time the Brussels tourist services have launched a Brontë-themed walk. 

zondag 20 juni 2021

FNL forms consortium to save literary treasure trove for the nation FNL is leading a bid to save Honresfield Library a treasure trove of literary manuscripts.

Read all: fnl.org.uk/50-fnl-forms-consortium-to-save-literary-treasure-trove-for-the-nation

Friends of the National Libraries has announced that it is leading a bid to save one of the most important private collections of manuscripts and printed books associated with some of the greatest writers in the United Kingdom.  FNL is today launching an appeal and is in discussion with private philanthropists and sources of public funds to raise the purchase price of £15million. FNL, and the participating libraries and museums listed below, are profoundly grateful to the vendors and their representatives Sotheby’s for deciding to postpone the auction of the first part of the library, originally announced for July, in order to preserve the entire library as a collection to be allocated to libraries around the UK for the benefit of the public.

Friends of the National Libraries is the only UK charity that focuses on saving our written and printed heritage, by giving acquisition grants to regional, national and specialist archives and libraries throughout the UK.  Its national role makes it ideally placed to spearhead the campaign to purchase the Honresfield Library.  Today it launches an appeal for funds to enable the Honresfield Library to be preserved and shared across the United Kingdom.

Taking a UK-wide approach to acquiring the Honresfield Library, FNL, along with a consortium of libraries and museums, will work to raise the substantial funds needed to acquire the Honresfield Library and will then pass ownership of every individual item to the appropriate national, regional and specialist institution across the UK that will benefit the widest possible public.

 A major and co-ordinated effort is needed to save this astonishingly important collection.  The consortium of institutions that has come together to realise this vision includes:

Abbotsford: The Home of Walter Scott, Melrose, Scotland;
The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford;
The British Library, London and Yorkshire;
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh;
The Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, Yorkshire;
Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire;
The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds;
The National Trust for Scotland: The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway.
Taking an innovative approach, FNL will ensure that the Honresfield collection will be cared for and made available in institutions across the UK, enabling the widest possible audience to see, study and enjoy this pre-eminent material.

Bronte diaries and letters at heart of private family collection.

Rebecca Yorke, Interim Director of the Brontë Society, said: “The thought that rare and precious Brontë manuscripts were going to be sold off individually at auction was devastating, so this is wonderful news.

"We’re proud to be working on the fundraising campaign to bring these unique items home to Yorkshire. The sums involved are significant, but we will do all we can to save the ‘little books’, letters, first editions, Emily’s notebook and other items, so they can be enjoyed by Haworth residents and visitors for years to come.”

Charles Sebag-Montefiore, Trustee and Treasurer of FNL, said:  “FNL is thrilled to be able to take the lead in saving the Honresfield Library. FNL is working with a consortium of institutional funders and individual philanthropists to raise the substantial funds need to secure this extraordinary collection for the benefit of everyone in the UK. This is a crucial national endeavour to raise enough funds to keep this unique treasure trove in Britain. This is cultural levelling up, as the items will be spread across the UK from Yorkshire to Edinburgh, Oxford and London.” thetelegraphandargus

zaterdag 19 juni 2021

It happened at Sotheby's.

My friend, Geri Meftah, of The Brontë Sisters  blog, told  me  about The Honresfield Library collection  and its Brontë items to be auctioned off via Sotheby's. One of her emails contained this information:

".... literary lovers will be able to see items from the private collection at exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and New York"

New York? That's well within a day trip for me, so my husband and I decided to see if we could view the collection. I was particularly interested in seeing the manuscript of Emily's poems, which would be in the  Sotheby's NYC display.

Display area

For many years it has been said such Emily papers were destroyed. Well here were  some and quite possibly they were among the very papers that electrified Charlotte in the autumn of 1845 when she read Emily's poems and resolved they would all seek publication.

These pages are arguably the most important Brontë manuscript there is, based on the rarity of Emily's effects, the importance of her poetry and for being the spur that ultimately brought us the Brontë sisters books.  

At first I wondered since we were not gong to be bidding, we would not be let in to see the collection. But that's wasn't the case at all. Sotheby's was very welcoming. All one had to do was make an appointment via email. This we did. 

Sotheby's  NYC, should be known as a free, cool thing to do in Manhattan. You get to wonder about and  look at all the items featured  in up coming autions. We saw three floors of priceless jewels, paintings and much else. There's also a great Italian cafe on site!

The Brontë items on display in New York , besides Emily's poems, were Martha Brown's copy of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey (signed by Patrick Brontë) , two letters of Branwell's, plus the family's 1816 Berwick Book of Birds, featured in the beginning of Jane Eyre.

Branwell letters


It was all great to see. There's nothing like Brontë items. We enjoyed looking at it all for some time. We then went off to see everything else on display in this historic auction house.

When we were about to leave, I said to my husband " let's say goodbye to the Brontë items." and we returned to the Honresfield display. I noticed a young man looking it over. "Oh I thought how nice,  another fan". We had the area all to ourselves earlier, it was good to see another enthusiast. 

There was a tag in Emily's poems, placed like a bookmark. My husband wanted to know its significance.
A young woman came by who was obviously connection to Sotheby's and he asked her about it. Turned out it was something to do with the packing. Anyway instead of leaving, we fell into conversation about the items with her and the young man. 

We all were excited about the items and chatted about them.

Then as she was speaking, the young woman reached into her pocket,took out a key and opened the Brontë case.

Bronte display case

My shock was such, it was as if we had entered another dimension.
In fact I said aloud.

 " She's opening the case!"

She then handed the young man the Berwick Book to look over .

I said"  She's taking stuff out! "

I now realized I was in the presence of a for real bidder and a curator. I later read the young man's  business card. He was  a representative of a large, antiquarian  book company with shops around the world.

After he looked the book over,  the curator very kindly showed my husband and I the Jane Eyre related pages and prints .

 I was pinching myself already.

Berwick book


The Berwick book was put back in its place and she then took out Emily's poems to hand to him for inspection. When he was about to hand them back, I saw my chance and I took it.  I would regret it forever if I didn't.

" May I hold that too? " I asked and she said" Certainly "

Holding EJB poems


I do believe these poems were among the ones CB found in 1845.  The poems were neatly written in ink in Emily 's hand (like block printing as they did in the little books, but larger) with editing marks done later by Charlotte in pencil. These pages were not put to the flames when Emily and Anne's papers were burned. That speaks of a special attachment on Charlotte 's part. I did think of Emily's writing her poems and Charlotte holding these pages. Everything started after that discovey, and here, somehow, I held those pages too...even if for a half minute. You can't even hope for something like that. It's a kind of miracle.

Close up of poems photo


And now for the good news! The sale has been postponed so Friends of the National Libraries, the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford and Jane Austen's House in Hampshire, among other groups, can raise the funds needed to keep the collection together and in public venues! The group thanked Sotheby's for giving them time to try to "preserve the entire library as a collection to be allocated to libraries around the UK for the benefit of the public".

Anne Lloyd.

The British Library Has Joined Forces With Other U.K. Institutions to Save a Historic Manuscript Collection From the Auction Block.

Read all: news.artnet/uk-institutions-save-historic-literary-library-sothebys

Next month, a once-in-a-generation collection of literary manuscripts, including pieces by Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and the Brontë sisters, was set to hit the auction block.

A consortium of British libraries and museums have come together in an attempt to save the prized group of manuscripts from being split up and disappearing into private hands—and Sotheby’s has agreed to postpone the sales while the effort is underway. 

In a statement this week, the consortium vowed to raise the £15 million ($21 million) needed to purchase the collection and redistribute it to libraries around the U.K. “for the benefit of the public.”

“Once in a generation, a collection of books and manuscripts appears from almost nowhere that is met with a mixture of awe and stunned silence, followed by concerted action to bring it into public ownership,” said John Scally, an FNL trustee and the head of the National Library of Scotland, in a statement. “The U.K.-wide consortium is determined to raise the funds to ensure we can save the Honresfield Library for everyone to share and enjoy.”

The consortium has put out a plea for help from institutional funders and individual philanthropists, while the FNL has launched a crowdfunding campaign

“We are pleased to play our part in this potential outcome for this great library,” said Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in English literature and historical manuscripts, in a statement. “The unprecedented initiative is testament to the continued power of literature to inspire the public so many years after these writers first put pen to paper.”

woensdag 9 juni 2021

The legacy within the Bronte Academy Trust of successful women, who lead and shape young children’s lives, is something we are extremely proud to continue to foster.

 

A PLAQUE has been unveiled in tribute to a Keighley-district pioneer.

The unveiling took place at Oldfield, where Margaret Wintringham was born.

Mrs Wintringham became the first-ever female Liberal MP in 1921 and was the first British woman to take a seat in parliament.

The Yorkshire Society blue plaque has been installed at Oldfield Primary School, where she taught.

James Travers – headteacher at Oldfield Primary, part of the Bronte Academy Trust – said: “We are thrilled to acknowledge that Margaret Wintringham was born here.

“The legacy within the Bronte Academy Trust of successful women, who lead and shape young children’s lives, is something we are extremely proud to continue to foster. Our namesake, the Bronte sisters, are testament to a long history of female accomplishment.” 

Whilst she may not be a household name, the plaque will serve as a testament to her place in history and as encouragement for the future. The ability to break down barriers is one of the most important things in our society and there are many we still need to overcome.”

 Read all the article: thetelegraphandargus

dinsdag 8 juni 2021

The Sotheby’s Auction Of Bronte Treasures.


One of two letters from Branwell Bronte to Hartley Coleridge, image courtesy of Sotheby’s

The Bronte Society has rightly called for the collection to be saved for the nation and has written to MPs. Unfortunately, the vast value of the Honresfield collection is too much for them to hope to raise without governmental help, and this government has shown no inclination to support literary heritage and the arts, before or during the pandemic. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and you can read their response, and find out how to support it, here. If you are in the UK you can also download a template letter to send to your own Member of Parliament.


The Bronte family Bewick, courtesy of Sotheby’s

What is for sure is that a fabulous collection will be sold by Sotheby’s next month and that this has brought them to light once again – even if only fleetingly. I’m off to look down the back of my sofa for some spare pennies, if any of you have a million or two to spare, please get in touch. I will see you again next Sunday for another new Bronte blog post but I leave you with this thought: how astonished would the Bronte sisters have been if they could have known that their work would be so valued, and create such excitement, two centuries after their births?

In today’s post we’re going to look at perhaps the most eagerly anticipated literary auction of the century: the auction of the Honresfield Library at Sotheby’s on 13th July, with online bids accepted from 2pm on the 2nd.

Special thanks go to Dr. Gabriel Heaton and Melica Khansari of Sotheby’s who have supplied me with lots of details and images of the items to be auctioned so that I can share them with you.  This, in fact, is the first of three Honresfield auctions which are taking place ion 2021 and 2022, so what is the Honresfield Library and why is it of such interest to Bronte lovers?

The Sotheby's Auction Of Bronte Treasures | Anne Brontë (annebronte.org)

zondag 6 juni 2021

“This material should be kept together. The three sisters were writing much of it around the same table,”

With a wide range of unique Brontë and Jane Austen material on the auction block, campaigners are calling for a blanket export bar on items from the library leaving the UK, with institutions including the Bodleian Library exploring how to safeguard the collection.

“This material should be kept together. The three sisters were writing much of it around the same table,” Dinsdale said. She said that for institutions strapped for cash after the Coronavirus epidemic “July doesn’t give us much time at all”.

The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport would not comment ahead of the sale.(...)

In a measure of the library’s worth, Sotheby’s recently offered one of the jewels in the collection, seven miniature books handwritten by Charlotte Brontë between the ages of 13 and 22, covering 174 pages, to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in a private sale for £4.5 million, which would keep it out of the auctions.

In November 2019 the Parsonage ran a major fundraising campaign to buy a single miniature work, called the The Young Men’s Magazine, at a Paris auction for €600,000. Dinsdale said the Parsonage was not ruling out an attempt to buy the books, but “all our energy is focussed on trying to keep the collection as a whole together. We have always tried not to be involved in inflating the prices of Brontë material.“ (Tim Cornwellthetimes/fight-to-keep-early-burns-book-out-of-private-hands

zaterdag 5 juni 2021

The Honresfeld Collection is now on display at Sotheby's New York.

The Honresfeld Collection is now on display at Sotheby's New York and so The New York Times puts the spotlight on some of its Brontë items (#SaveTheHonresfeldLibrary) in a slideshow. Sotheby’s said recently that it would offer a “lost library” that includes a cache of Brontë material. “It’s just absolutely gobsmacking,” one Brontë biographer told me. Highlights are on view in New York through June 9. 


The Parlour

The Parlour

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.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.

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