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

zaterdag 26 februari 2011

On this day in 1817 Mary Taylor close friend of Charlotte Bronte was born.

Charlotte Brontë’s most intelligent school friend.
Quiet but very self-possessed, she was an admirable
businesswoman, with a way of going straight to the point
that was at times disconcerting … Miss Taylor was indeed
a remarkable woman – probably in her mental endowments
the strongest woman who came within the Brontë circle.

Cleckheaton Guardian, 24 December 1903

Mary Taylor’s Wellington store

‘I have set up shop!’ Mary Taylor wrote to her friend, the novelist Charlotte Brontë, from Wellington in April 1850. The shop, on the corner of Dixon and Cuba Streets, was typical of the draperies, often started by women, that expanded into department stores. By 1853 it was listed in the Wellington and southern province almanac as one of the city’s ‘principal stores’. It later became James Smith’s, a major Wellington department store until the early 1990s. Taylor reported to Brontë that she was delighted with her business. ‘The best of it is that your labour has some return.’ (Quoted in Joan Stevens, ed., Mary Taylor: friend of Charlotte Brontë. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1972, pp. 92–93.)

Early New Zealand stores

New Zealand’s department stores mostly grew from small drapery shops in the second half of the 19th century. They met the need for clothing, footwear and household goods in the new settler communities.
Many of these stores were begun by women. In 1849 Mrs Bain, a widow, opened a Dunedin drapery which was later known as Brown, Ewing. In 1850 Mary and Ellen Taylor founded a Wellington drapery, which after changes of address and ownership became the department store James Smith’s.

Mary’s Novel – Miss Miles

Mary began writing her only novel, Miss Miles, or a Tale of
Yorkshire Life 60 Years Ago, in New Zealand but had difficulty
finishing it:

‘I began to read some pages of ‘my book’ intending to
write some more but went on reading for pleasure. I
often do this and find it very interesting indeed. It does
not get on fast … It’s full of music, poverty, disputing,
politics, and original views of life.’ (MT to CB, 1852)

Finally, and probably at her own expense, Miss Miles was published in 1890. Set
in industrial area like the Spen Valley, it tells the stories of four women and
contains many of Mary’s ideas about women’s position in society.
Joan Bellamy’s richly detailed and fascinating
biography of Mary Taylor
More Precious than Rubies

was published in 2002, after more than a decade of
research into Mary’s life and analysis of her writings.
More Precious than Rubies is available from Red House, price £11.50 plus
UK p&p:£1.50; Europe p&p:£4.00; USA/Canada p&p:£7.80; New Zealand/
Australia/Japan p&p: £9.20; (Surface mail outside Europe £2.10).
(ISBN 1 902645 28 6) 

“Charlotte Bronte,” from Evert Augustus Duyckinck, Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America (New York: Johnson, Wilson, 1873) 2: 44. George Richmond’s drawing of Charlotte Brontë (1850) has been engraved and tinted for this gallery, which boasts that it is “illustrated with highly finished steel engravings from original portraits by the most celebrated artists.”

“Haworth Parsonage and Graveyard.” From Ellen Nussey, “Reminiscences of Charlotte Brontë,” Scribner’s Monthly 2:1 (May 1871): 18–31. [p. 25] Courtesy of Cornell University Library, Making of America Digital Collection. [Making of America,2005, http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/ (accessed August 10, 2007).]


Charlotte Bronte to Henry Nussey0August 7, 2010

This 1839 letters is Charlotte’s response to Nussey’s proposal of marriage, Henry Nussey was brother of her close friend Ellen Nussey.

HAWORTH, March 5th, 1839

My Dear Sir

Before answering your letter, I might have spent a long time in consideration of its subject; but as from the first moment of its reception and perusal I determined on which course to pursue, it seemed to me that delay was wholly unnecessary. You are aware that I have many reasons to feel gratified to your family, that I have peculiar reasons for affection towards one at least of your sisters, and also that I highly esteem yourself. Do not therefore accuse me of wrong motives when I say that my answer to your proposal must be a decided negative. In forming this answer — I trust I have listened to the dictates of conscience more than to those of inclination; I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you — but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you. It has always been my habit to study the character of those amongst whom I chance to be thrown, and I think I know yours and can imagine what description of woman would suit you for a wife. Her character should not be too marked, ardent and original — her temper should be mild, her piety undoubted, her spirits even and cheerful, and her ‘personal attractions’ sufficient to please your eye and gratify your just pride. As for me, you do not know me, I am not this serious, grave, cool-headed individual you suppose — You would think me romantic and eccentric — you would say I was satirical and severe. However, I scorn deceit and I will never for the sake of attaining the distinction of matrimony and escaping the stigma of an old maid take a worthy man whom I am conscious I cannot render happy.”
Read on:


vrijdag 25 februari 2011

Ellen Nussey "Dearest Nell""

Ellen Nussey (20 April 1817–26 November 1897), was a lifelong friend and correspondent of British author Charlotte Brontë and, through hundreds of letters received from her, was a major source for Elizabeth Gaskell's 1857 biography The Life of Charlotte Brontë.

Nussey was the twelfth child of John Nussey (1760-1826), a cloth merchant of Birstall Smithies in Yorkshire, and his wife Ellen, née Wade (c.1771-1857). Nussey first attended a small local school before progressing to the Gomersal Moravian Ladies Academy. Nussey and Brontë first met in January 1831, when they were both pupils at Roe Head School, near Dewsbury in Yorkshire. They corresponded with each other regularly over the next 24 years, each writing hundreds of letters to the other. In 1839, Ellen Nussey's brother, Henry, proposed marriage to Brontë, but she found him dull and refused him.

Through her frequent visits to the Parsonage at Haworth Nussey also became a friend of Anne and Emily Brontë, and was accepted as a suitable friend for his daughters by the Reverend Patrick Brontë. Indeed, when in May 1849, Anne decided to make a visit to Scarborough in the hope that the change of location and fresh sea air might be good for her failing health, and give her a chance to live, she went with Charlotte and Nussey. En route, the three spent a day and a night in York, where, escorting Anne around in a wheelchair, they did some shopping, and at Anne's request, visited the colossal York Minster. However, it was clear that Anne had little strength left.

Read more

Her other friend, Miss Ellen Nussey, whose sweet and gentle character Charlotte afterward attempted to depict in Caroline Helstone, was drawn toward her by compassion on the first day of her arrival, upon seeing her standing alone by the school-room window watching the other girls at play yin the snow without, and crying from loneliness.

Letter from Charlotte to Ellen.

1843: Charlotte called herself "stunted and plain,
" in this sketch waving goodbye
to her friend Ellen

donderdag 24 februari 2011

Bronte Juvenilia

Childhood fantasy is often stifled by the imposition of adult demands. The Brontë children escaped such censure, however. Writing without the requirement to put neat handwriting before creative expression, they developed storytelling skills that are reflected in their adult writings. Michael J. A. Howe describes the imaginary world chronicled by the Brontë children, revealing their sources of inspiration in the experiences of real people and the places they read about.

The imaginary worlds had their beginnings around 1826, when Charlotte and Emily, who shared a bed, invented simple unwritten plays, not unlike those created in many children's imaginary play. The very first of the Brontks' plays took most of the characters from toys, especially their brother Branwell's toy soldiers. The earliest surviving play that was written down, by Branwell, is set in Lorraine and concerns the imaginary intrigues and battles between would-be rulers, in the course of which the imagined events include a rebellion and a siege. As the Brontës' biographer Juliet Barker notes, most of the essential elements of their juvenile writings were already in place at that time, including political rivalries, battles, and rebellions that are played out within fantasy kingdoms (Juliet Barker, The Brontës, 1994, p. 152). Numerous sources were drawn upon. A particularly important inspiration was Blackwood's Magazine, a monthly journal containing a wide mixture of articles ranging from fiction to political satire and humour. Branwell's toy soldiers were given names and pressed into service as fictional characters.

Read more:  http://www.fathom.com/feature/122071/index.html

Our plays were established; Young Men, June, 1826; Our Fellows, July, 1827; Islanders, December, 1827. These are our three great plays, that are not kept secret. …The Young Men's play took its rise from some wooden soldiers Branwell had; Our Fellows from Æsop's Fables; and the Islanders from several events which happened. I will sketch out the origin of our plays more explicitly if I can. First, Young Men. Papa bought Branwell some wooden soldiers at Leeds; when Papa came home it was night, and we were in bed, so next morning Branwell came to our door with a box of soldiers. Emily and I jumped out of bed, and I snatched up one and exclaimed, 'This is the Duke of Wellington! This shall be the Duke!' When I had said this Emily likewise took one up and said it should be hers; when Anne came down, she said one should be hers. Mine was the prettiest of the whole, and the tallest, and the most perfect in every part. Emily's was a grave-looking fellow, and we called him 'Gravey.' Anne's was a queer little thing, much like herself, and we called him 'Waiting-boy.' Branwell chose his, and called him 'Bonaparte.' [1]

During this time Branwell acquired several sets of toy figures such as soldiers, Turkish musicians, and Indians. These toys were the impetus for the founding of the imaginary lands of Angria and Gondal. The children began to write plays about the figures, with Emily and Charlotte composing "bed plays" that they kept secret from the adults as well as from Branwell and Anne. In "Tales of the Islanders" (1829) Charlotte gave a history of the early plays, underscoring Emily's early affiliation with the works of Sir Walter Scott, for she chose the Isle of Arran for her island and Scott for her "cheif [sic] man." This affinity grew with Aunt Branwell's 1828 New Year's gift to "her dear little nephew and nieces," a copy of Scott's The Tales of a Grandfather (1827-1829). In addition to Scott's works the Brontë children drew material for their plays from the family library of Aesop's Fables, The Arabian Nights' Entertainment, and wood-engraver Thomas Bewick's History of British Birds. Their most important influence during these early years was most likely Blackwood's Magazine, whose satires, political commentaries, and extensive book reviews provided them with a wealth of detail that seeded their imaginations throughout their early years of creativity.

In 1831, after Charlotte left for Roe Head School, Emily and Anne began to concentrate their energies exclusively on the Gondal saga, distinct from the Angrian fantasies of their brother and sister, a special form of imaginative play in which the two younger sisters alone engaged for the remainder of their lives. Emily's first mention of Gondal occurs in her diary paper for 24 November 1834, a series of notes written by Emily and Anne about every four years and the earliest piece of Brontë's writing to have survived.

Read more:  www.poetryfoundation.org/

 November the 24
1834 Monday
Emily Jane Brontë
Anne Brontë
I fed Rainbow, Diamond, Snowflake Jasper phesant (alias this morning Branwell went down to Mr. Drivers's and brought news that Sir Robert peel was going to be invited to stand for Leeds Anne and I have been peeling apples for Charlotte to make an apple pudding and for Aunt's [? - unreadable] and apple Charlotte said she made puddings perfectly and she was of a quick but lim[i]ted intellect Taby said just now come Anne pillopuate (ie pill [peel] a potato Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said where are you feet Anne Anne answered onthe on the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour Door and said B gave Branwell a Letter saying here Branwell read this and show it to your Aunt and Charlotte - The Gondals are disc discovering the interior of Gaaldine.
Sally mosley is washing in the back kitchin. It is past Twelve o'clock Anne and I have not tid[i]ed ourselvs, done our bed work or done our lessons and we want to go out to play We are going to have for dinner Dinner Boiled Beef Turnips potato's and applepudding the Kitchin is in avery untidy state Anne and I have not Done our music exercise which consists of b majer Taby said on my putting a pen in her face Ya pitter pottering there instead of pilling a potate I answered O Dear, O Dear, O Dear I will derectly with that I get up, take a Knife and begin pilling (finished pilling the potatos papa going to walk Mr Sunderland expected. Anne and I say I wonder what we shall be like if all be well and what we shall be and where we shall be this year if all goes on well in the year 1874 -- in which year I shall be in my 57th year Anne will be going in her 55th year Branwell will be going in his 58th year And Charlotte in her 59th year hoping we shall all be well at that time We close our paper.
Emily and Anne November the 24 1834

maandag 21 februari 2011

Old pictures of Haworth

The pictures are taken around 1890
so, in a later period than the Brontes were living
but still, it gives an impression of their time.

Juliet Barker

It was here she settled down to research and write her best-known book – the definitive and wonderfully-readable biography The Brontës, which was highly acclaimed and won The Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award.
It is a myth-busting blockbuster and the first updated edition is just out, with new nuggets on the world’s most famous literary sisters, their brother, Branwell, and father Patrick. The book, first published in 1994, stems from her own childhood in Bradford, where her father was a wool merchant. She became obsessed with the Brontës and read Mrs Gaskell’s biography on Charlotte Brontë when she was 13.
When she landed a job as curator and director of the parsonage museum, in Haworth, it allowed her to delve deeper into the reality of a story that had been heavily romanticised and fictionalised by everyone from Charlotte’s friend, Mrs Gaskell, to film makers and fans.
“What surprised me most was that they didn’t live in some backward village cut off from society. I spent two years reading local newspapers of the time and they showed clearly that the place described by Mrs Gaskell was quite different to the real Haworth. It was a busy, industrial township with its own subscription library and lots going on,” says Juliet, who is most proud of rescuing Branwell’s reputation. [...]
“He was the leader, the innovator. Where he led, his sisters followed. What I also found was that what was supposed to be the most shameful event in his life never actually happened. He was supposed to have won a place at the Royal Academy, where he spent money on drink and drugs and was sent home to Haworth in disgrace. In fact, he never went there at all. Manuscripts show that his tutor felt he wasn’t quite ready for the academy.”
Her latest version of the book includes new material on Charlotte. “She really struggled to be a writer and an independent woman, but I upset people by taking away her pedestal. She is painted as someone who sacrificed everything to look after her sick father and that’s not strictly true. She was a dutiful daughter, but she was much more complex than that. She used him as a convenient excuse not to go to London or to avoid events she didn’t want to attend.”
“It will soon be just the two of us and this is a big house. It’s time to go and although I will miss it, I’m still going to have a moor to look at, which I’m pleased about. That’s very important to me.” (Sharon Dale)


zondag 20 februari 2011


I found another weblog about the Brontes.

Nice article about making Charlotte's dress:

De new Jane Eyre film will be released in march.

Alfred Burke. In Memoriam

Alfred Burke. In Memoriam

The Independent, The Times or The Guardian publish obituaries of the actor Alfred Burke (1918-2011) who died last February 16:
Fhe Brontëites he will always be the Rev. Patrick Brontë in the 1973 series The Brontës of Haworth. He also toured the UK with his one-man-only performance of the father of the Brontës.
The Brontës of Haworth - DVDThey were the most talented family in English literatureStyle ID: 0758625A fascinating period drama documenting the lives of the Brontë sisters from the successes of their literary achievements to the tragedies that beset both their own and their brother’s lives.Written by the poet and the playwright Christopher Fry, the accent is on accuracy and authenticity.Starring: Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Alfred Burke, Freda Dowie, Vickery Turner, Michael Kitchen, Rosemary McHale, and Ann Penfold2 DVD • Running Time: 260 mins • Rated PG

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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