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 10 december 2010


The first edition of Wuthering Heights was published in December, 1847.

After Wuthering Heights was written, the sisters tried to find someone to publish it along with Anne’s novel Agnes Grey. They had trouble finding a publisher, and finally were able to convince Thomas Newby to publish it. He published Wuthering Heights as Volumes I & II, and Agnes Grey as Volume III. They had to pay money upfront for the publication, and contracted Newby to print 350 copies. However, Newby proved himslef to be a horrible published by only printing 250 copies and ignoring the proofing sheets submitted by Emily. This led to the first edition having many errors in the print. This first edition was published in December, 1847.

Wuthering Heights was first received by critics with hostile reviews. Five reviewers were found in Amily’s desk after her death and were reprinted in William Sale’s edition of Wuthering Heights. The first review was published in January 1848 by the Atlas. The Atlas review begins by calling Wuthering Heights a "strange, inartistic story…[that] is inexpressibly painful." The reviewer briefly touches on the mystery of the author of Wuthering Heights and whether it was written by a man or woman, and if the same person wrote Agnes Gray. He calls the questions of authorship "matters really of little account" but does assert his "private conviction" that the names of Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell are "mere publishing names." The writer of the review asserts that there has never been a work of fiction that "presents such shocking pictures of the worst forms of humanity." The author believes that had there been a few "glimpses of sunshine" in the book, it would have "increased the reality of the picture and given strength rather than weakness to the whole." He describes every character in the book as "hateful or thoroughly contemptible" which makes the readers hate and despise them. He claims that even the women of the book "turn out badly." He ends his review by stating that the work of Ellis Bell is not a "great performance" like that of her sisters in Jane Eyre, but that it is "only a promise, but it is a colossal one."

December 1847, Wuthering Height and Agnes Grey published

The year 1847 was a remarkable one for the Bronte sisters of Haworth , Charlotte, Emily and Anne, as all became published novelists – Charlotte with Jane Eyre beating the other two by some six weeks or so in spite of the fact that Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey had both been accepted by the publisher (and crook) Thomas Newby before Jane Eyre had been completed.

Newby demanded payment of £50 each to publish Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, but having received the money and at least type-set the book and produced proof copies he seems to have considered his duties at an end – indeed given the agreement was to return the £50 fees when 250 copies of the books had sold it was almost in his interest not to publish.
The success of Jane Eyre, published by a somewhat more ethical house,    persuaded Newby to publish Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey in a three-volume edition, expecting to cash in on the Bell pseudonym (though he had no idea that such it was) adopted by the sisters.

In spite of its lengthy time span it is a claustrophobic novel, the grim moors almost a prison for the actors in the story. Wuthering Heights shocked some contemporary reviewers, its dark tone and intertwining sexual tensions and relationships very different as it were from the home life of our own dear Queen. Had Emily not hidden behind the apparently male name Ellis Bell it might have stirred greater controversy. That view changed over time, the novel eventually recognized as a classic of the genre, with innumerable films, TV series and other adaptations and takes on the story made, most famously the 1939 with Laurence Olivier as an unconvincing Heathcliff, and perhaps the song which made Kate Bush’s name in 1978.

maandag 6 december 2010

The Brontës. Revised and Updated Edition - A Review

Over the years at BrontëBlog we have reviewed a few books which we have claimed couldn't be missing from a Brontëite's bookshelf, but if there's just one book - apart from the Brontë novels, of course! - that simply has to be there then it's Juliet Barker's thorough biography The Brontës.

First released in 1994, it became an instant classic, and deservedly so. The wealth of information contained there in and Juliet Barker's clearly extensie research in order to get nearly each and every fact ever linked to the Brontës verified is simply overwhelming. Juliet Barker's goal was no other than to try and dispel - or confirm - the many myths surrounding the Brontë family(1) going back to the sources, thus doing the dirty work for many present and future researchers. A huge number of the books/articles on the Brontës' lives published since then have listed The Brontës in their bibliography.
Time didn't stop in 1994 and as we say many books have been published since and a few discoveries have been made. And so Juliet Barker decided it was time to update the book and so, too, keep it in print for the new generations of Brontëites.
The Brontës. Revised and Updated Edition - A Review

Tabby, badly breaking a leg, in december 1837

In December 1836, around christmas, Tabby slipped on ice in Haworth's main street, badly breaking her leg. Aunt Branwell suggested that she leave the Parsonage to be nursed by her sister Susannah, but the Brontë children objected, even going on hunger strike, and Tabby stayed in the Parsonage nursed by the children. The leg never fully healed however, and over the next 3 years many of Tabby's duties were taken up by Emily.

Les soeurs Brontë (1979)

Isabelle Adjani - Les soeurs Brontë

Les soeurs Brontë (1979)

Les soeurs Brontë (1979)

Trailer - Les soeurs Brontë (1979)

zondag 5 december 2010

World's First Christmas Card

The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843 and featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley.[1] The picture, of a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each.
Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as were increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations and materials. In 1875 Louis Prang became the first printer to offer cards in America, though the popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market. The advent of the postcard spelled the end for elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, cards with envelopes had returned.

Een Victoriaanse kerstkaart

Toen Koningin Victoria met aan haar zijde Prins Albert in 1837 de Engelse troon besteeg was er eigenlijk al tijden geen echt kerstfeest meer. Oliver Cromwell en zijn rigide puriteinse handlangers hadden daar halverwege de zeventiende eeuw korte metten mee gemaakt. In het land bestonden nog steeds wel allerlei Joelfeesttradities, maar die kenden een marginaal bestaan.
De uit Duitsland afkomstige Prins Albert gaf de aanzet tot een radicale ommezwaai. Hij introduceerde in Windsor Castle de ‘Weinachtsbaum’, een kerstboom vol licht.

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.



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