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 8 april 2011

08-04-1839 Anne Bronte became governess for the Ingham family at Blake Hall Mirfield.

In April 1839, at the age of nineteen, Anne

acquired her first employment, becoming a governess to the Ingham family at Blake Hall, Mirfield. This was only about 2 miles from Roe Head School - the establishment she had attended a few years earlier.

The Inghams were well known to Miss Wooler, and also had connections with the Nussey family, and it was probably through one of these avenues that Anne attained the post. As it transpired, the Ingham children were spoilt and wild, and persistently disobeyed, defied, teased and tormented her. She was not empowered to inflict any punishment, and consequently experienced great difficulty in controlling them, and had almost no success in instilling any education.

On leaving for her Christmas holidays in December of that year, she was told her services would no longer be required.59n The Inghams had decided they needed to find some other mode of care and tuition for their offspring.

The whole episode was so traumatic for Anne, she reproduced it in almost perfect detail in her later novel, Agnes Grey; where Blake Hall became 'Wellwood House' (though the name was almost certainly taken from Mirfield's Wellhouse Chapel: where the Moravian minister, James La Trobe, came from when he visited her at Roe Head School - detailed above), and the Inghams were authentically depicted under the guise of 'the Bloomfield family'.

Joshua Ingham is reputed to have been a tyrannical father - ruling his children by fear. He, himself, had a Puritan and patriarchal upbringing where 'women were thought of as wholly subordinate'.

His wife, Mary Ingham (nee. Cunliffe), while giving no support to Anne in the controlling and disciplining of their horrendous children, was otherwise, very kind to her.

Joshua Ingham died on 16 May 1866 at the age of 64; his wife, Mary, reached the ripe old age of 88, dying on 17 September 1899.

mirfield memories

Housekeeping in the Victorian period.

Mr. Brontë had intended that his second daughter, Elizabeth, should be a housekeeper, and the other four, governesses. The only paid employment that Emily ever undertook was teaching at the Law Hill School near Halifax in 1838, and she lasted only six months. Emily Brontë was only ever happy at home; she enjoyed housekeeping, and she enjoyed the company of the family's elderly servant, Tabitha Aykroyd.

Nancy and Sarah Garr had accompanied the Bronte family in Thornton in 1820. Nancy had joined the family as a nurse-maid, but was later promoted to cook and assistant housekeeper. In 1824 Nancy married. Sarah emigrated to America.

In 1821, Elizabeth Branwell travelled up to Yorkshire and moved into the Parsonage to nurse her dying sister and help run the household. She subsequently spent the rest of her life there raising the Brontë children - to whom she was known as 'Aunt Branwell'. She provided much of the children's education, including needlework and embroidery for the girls. After Aunt Branwell died in 1842 Emily took on the role of housekeeper helping out in the kitchen.

Since 1826, 'Tabby' was the cook/housekeeper and for the first 15 of her 31 years at the Parsonage, she was the only servant living in, although the Brontë sisters themselves also cooked, cleaned and washed clothes.

In December 1836 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. Emily cooked and ironed.

In 1839 Tabby seems to have retired temporarily, moving into a house in Newell Hill that she had bought with her now-widowed sister Susannah. Mr. Brontë engaged Martha Brown, the 11 year old daughter of his Sexton, John Brown, but the greater part of the skilled and the heavy work fell upon the Brontë girls, with Emily becoming Housekeeper. In 1842, Tabby moved back into the Parsonage where she stayed, sharing the little servants' bedroom with young Martha, for the next 13 years.

Martha's duties ranged from basic washing, cleaning and laying fires, to running errands and, after Tabby's death, preparing food. She was also called upon to help nurse the sick of the household, and for all this she was paid £6 a year when she started, rising to £10 a year by 1858.

The Servant's Room. Tabby Ackroyd lived local, as did Martha Brown. To the left of the fireplace is a section of a staircase which would have gone outside.

1) Charlotte in a letter to Ellen Nussey: (after Tabby had been ill)
"" I discovered a most unladylike talent for cleaning, sweeping up hearths, dusting rooms, making beds etc., so if everything else fails- I can turn my hand to that- if anybody will give me good wages, for little labour. I won't be a cook, I hate cooking, I won't be a nurserymaid, nor a lady's maid, far less a lady's companion, or a straw-bonnet maker, or a mantua-maker, I will be nothing but a house-maid.""

2 ) Emily and Anne Brontë's Diary Paper, November 24, 1834.
I fed Rainbow, Diamond Snowflake Jasper pheasant (alias) this morning Branwell went down to Mr. Driver'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 us an apple pudding and for Aunt nuts and apples Charlotte said she made puddings perfectly and she was of a quick but limited intellect. Taby said just now Come Anne pilloputate (i.e. pill a potato) Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said where are your feet Anne Anne answered On the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour door and gave Branwell a letter saying here Branwell read this and show it to your Aunt and Charlotte–The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine Sally Mosley is washing in the back kitchen.

It is past Twelve o'clock Anne and I have not tidied ourselves, done our bedwork or done our lessons and we want to go out to play we are going to have for Dinner Boiled Beef, Turnips, potatoes and applepudding. The Kitchin is in a very untidy state Anne and I have not done our music exercise which consists of b major 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 directly with that I get up, take a knife and begin pilling (finished) pilling the potatoes papa going to walk Mr. Sunderland expected.
Emily and Anne

3) Anne Brontë's Diary Paper, Thursday July 31, 1845
Charlotte has lately been to Hathersage in Derbyshire on a visit of three weeks to Ellen Nussy–she is now sitting sewing in the Dining-Room Emily is ironing upstairs I am sitting in the Dining Room in the Rocking chair before the fire with my feet on the fender Papa is in the parlour Tabby and Martha are I think in the Kitchen Keeper and Flossy are I do not know where little Dick is hopping in his cage

4) Emily Brontë's Diary Paper, Thursday, July 30, 1845
Tabby has just been teasing me to turn as formerly to-'pilloputate'. Anne and I should have picked the black currants if it had been fine and sunshiny. I must hurry off now to my taming and ironing I have plenty of work on hands and writing and am altogether full of buisness;


The back yard of the Parsonage contained a peat store and the two-seater privy, with seats for children and adults. A large wash kitchen, built on the back of the house.
A mixture of  coal and peat would have been burnt for heat, Mrs Gaskell recalled how fires burning in the grates ""made a pretty warm dancing light all over the house"".

A visitor to the Parsonage recalles how ""everything was exquisitely neat, and the copper pans shone like gold. it was a snug, warm crooning place.

Emily studied German, with her book propped up before her, when she kneaded dough"".


A Homekeeping Schedule One of the things most stressed for the woman of the past was to keep a regular homekeeping schedule. A schedule meant all things were done in a timely manner.

"FOR convenience as well as efficient work in housekeeping, a schedule of regular daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly processes should be made out. Time can then be well planned, and a routine established that simplifies the machinery of housekeeping. " ~ A Manual of Home-Making
"A very good order of work is :
Monday, washing.
Tuesday, ironing.
Wednesday, mending.
Thursday, cleaning silver, preserving, etc.
Friday, sweeping, and window cleaning.
Saturday, thorough cleaning of kitchen closets,
cellar, etc., baking, etc.

a woman's work in the victorian age
victorian laundry
victorian servants

Behind Closed Doors is a fascinating look at Georgian domestic life. The period covered is the long 18th century, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the end of the 1820s.
Behind Closed Doors is published by Yale University Press & it’s gorgeously produced with lots of plates & illustrations in the text & heavy, creamy paper. A beautiful object worthy of its contents.
I also have the DVD of the TV series Amanda Vickery made based on the book, At Home with the Georgians. I’ve watched the first episode & enjoyed it very much. I loved seeing the people in the book brought to life in their own words & seeing their houses & portraits was fascinating. I was also intrigued to see Amanda Vickery whip out her iPad at every opportunity to show us a print (which she enlarged with a touch to the screen to show details) or a document as well as lots of more traditional documentary scenes of her lovingly unwrapping diaries in various libraries & archives. Seeing poor, frustrated Gertrude Savile’s diaries with their crossings-out & miserable scribble was very poignant. I’ll be watching the other episodes over the weekend.

donderdag 7 april 2011

The parsonage kitchen

Emily in her diary: 'Anne and I have been peeling apples for Charlotte to make an apple pudding . . . Charlotte said she made puddings perfectly, and she was of a quick but limited intellect. Taby said just now "come Anne pillopuate" (i.e. peel a potato). Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said "Where are your feet Anne?". Anne answered "On the floor Aunt". . . '

The Bronte children would often listen to their servant Tabby tell of stories about Haworth and the moors. After Aunt Branwell died in 1842 Emily took on the role of housekeeper helping out in the kitchen.

“I am in the Kitchen of the Parsonage house Haworth. Tabby the servant is washing up after breakfast and Anne my youngest sister is kneeling on a chair looking at some cakes which Tabby has been baking for us. Emily is in the parlour brushing it, papa and Branwell are gone to Keighley. Aunt is up stairs in her room and I am sitting by the table writing this in the kitchen.”
Charlotte Brontë - The History of the Year.

In March 1829, Charlotte is sitting in the kitchen, with a book.
Once papa lent my Sister Maria A Book it was an old Geography and she wrote on it[s] Blank leaf papa lent me this Book. the Book is an hundred and twenty years old[.] it is at this moment lying Before me while I write this [.] I am in the kitchin of the parsonage house Hawarth[.] Taby the servent is washing up after Breakfast and Anne my youngest Sister (Maria was my eldest) is kneeling on a chair looking at some cakes.... Our plays were established Young Men June 1826 Our fellows July 1827 islanders December 1827



[BRONTË, Charlotte, Emily and Anne]. BELL, Currer, Ellis, and Acton. Poems. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1846 [1848].

First edition, second issue, in the initial second issue binding (with harp) as illustrated in Smith, without errata slip or publisher's catalogue but with one leaf of advertisements at rear. Octavo (6 5/8 x 4 in; 169 x 103 mm). iv, 165, [1, colophon], [1, advertising], [1, blank] pp.

Original light green vertically-ribbed cloth. Gilt lettered spine with two single rules and four decorative bands in blind. Blindstamped double line rectangular border enclosing decorative floral designs with blindstamped fancy harp at center. Unopened. With the Armorial book plate of James Hale Bates on the front paste down. Spine a little sunned but the gilt still fresh and bright. A near fine copy.

The distinction between the first and second issues rests upon remaining sheets: One thousand copies of Poems were printed by Aylott and Jones in London May 1846 but with less than fifty copies sold or distributed, the unused sheets were put in storage. It was not until the success of Jane Eyre in 1847 that its publisher, Smith, Elder and Co., bought the approximately 960 remaining quires and bindings from Aylott and Jones. Many of the old bindings were restamped and new title pages (cancels) for the Smith imprint were added (the copy under notice possesses a binder's ticket from Westley's on the rear pastedown). Beyond these cosmetics, there were no textual changes.

The author's first name is printed at the conclusion of each poem. Charlotte contributed nineteen poems, Emily and Anne twenty-one each.

It took fourteen years for the initial print run of 1000 to sell out, with many binding variants over subsequent years. Smith believes that the light green binding with fancy harp "represents, I believe, more truly than any other the initial Smith, Elder publication effort and isolates it from some vestiges of the bibliographical confusion that resulted from the purchase of unsold quires and binding cases from Aylott and Jones" (Smith I, note 1).
Smith 1. Carter, Binding Variants, p. 94.
Price: $4,900

woensdag 6 april 2011

On this day in 1846 Charlotte Bronte wrote to publisher Aylott & Jones.

Aylott and Jones: Publishers and booksellers of Paternoster Row. Charlotte wrote to them 28 Jan 1846 to see if they would publish a short collection of poetry, if necessary “on the Author’s account.”

They agreed to publish it if the author covered the cost of paper and printing. On 6 Feb 1846 Charlotte revealed that the poems “are the work of three persons – relatives.” Thereafter the printing and publication went smoothly, Charlotte paying £31.10.0 in March and a further £5 in May, with some extra payment for advertising. Of this they received back £24.0.6 when Smith Elder bought and reissued the remaining sheets of the volume in 1848. There was in March “a little mistake” (to Aylott and Jones, 28 Mar 1846) which was possibly Branwell opening a letter or package, so Charlotte asked for post to be addressed to Miss Brontë instead of C. Brontë Esqre. By May Charlotte was sending the names of journals she wished to be sent review copies, and the early reviews were favorable enough for her to authorize in July the spending of a further £10 on advertisements, with a quote from The Critic , though these were later deferred or cancelled. Charlotte seems to have been very satisfied with her dealings with the firm, in spite of the meager sales of the volume. She enquired (6 Apr 1846) whether they would be interested in publishing “three distinct and unconnected tales,” this time not at the authors’ expense.

THE linnet in the rocky dells,
The moor-lark in the air,
The bee among the heather bells,
That hide my lady fair:

The wild deer browse above her breast;
The wild birds raise their brood;
And they, her smiles of love caressed,
Have left her solitude !

I ween, that when the grave's dark wall
Did first her form retain;
They thought their hearts could ne'er recall
The light of joy again.

They thought the tide of grief would flow
Unchecked through future years;
But where is all their anguish now,
And where are all their tears ?

Well, let them fight for honour's breath,
Or pleasure's shade pursue–
The dweller in the land of death
Is changed and careless too.

And, if their eyes should watch and weep
Till sorrow's source were dry
She would not, in her tranquil sleep,
Return a single sigh !

Blow, west-wind, by the lonely mound,
And murmur, summer-streams–
There is no need of other sound
To sooth my lady's dreams.


At Ponden Hall and Cowan Bridge

At Ponden Hall and Cowan Bridge THE world’s most famous literary sisters inspire fanatical devotion but Julie Akhurst and Steve Brown only realised how besotted Brontë lovers can be when they bought Ponden Hall.“We regularly find people weeping in the front garden. It’s quite extraordinary but I can understand it,” says Julie, whose home is said to have been the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Its links with both Emily Brontë and one of literature’s best-loved novels are both powerful and verifiable. Emily and her family were regular visitors to Ponden Hall and would walk across the moor to the Heaton family home. Branwell Brontë’s short story The Thurstons of Darkwell is based on it. The Heatons, who owned nearby Ponden Mill, also had what was reputed to be “the best library in the West Riding” and Emily certainly used it. Although the Victorian portraits make her look severe, the dark-haired, intense woman is said to have captured the heart of one of the Heaton boys. She spurned him, but in the back garden of Ponden Hall are the withered remains of a now-dead pear tree, supposedly the gift of the lovesick teenager to the older woman. “Fans love to see that too,” says Julie, who is selling the house after 13 years. “It’s a link with Emily. They can picture her here and that’s very affecting. There is something about her that makes people very emotional. [...]There is some debate over whether Ponden Hall inspired Heathcliff’s domain, Wuthering Heights, or Thrushcross Grange, the grander home of the fictional Linton family. Many people, including Julie and Steve, believe it is Wuthering Heights, although there is another contender for that title – Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse with a wilder setting that looks the part, but has no recorded Brontë connection.“We’ll probably never know for sure and it was all from Emily’s imagination. But this house is much more like Wuthering Heights. It is a much more humble dwelling than Thrushcross Grange. Plus the date plaque above the main entrance identifies the hall as being rebuilt in 1801 and Emily’s story starts with that exact date,” says Julie. There is another important clue in an account by William Davies, who visited Emily’s father Patrick Brontë and wrote: “We went on to an old manorial farm called ‘Heaton’s of Ponden’, which we were told was the original model of Wuthering Heights, which indeed corresponded in some measure to the description given in Emily Brontë’s romance. ”For fans of the book, the most evocative part of the property is the tiny east gable window in the master bedroom. It is said to have given Emily the idea for Cathy’s ghost, scratching and crying at the pane to get in.“It’s plausible because there was a box bed beside it at one point and that is just how it is described in Wuthering Heights,” says Julie, a former deputy editor of OK magazine, who bought the hall in 1998 when she moved up from London to marry Steve, a builders’ merchant from Bradford.“We saw a three-line private advert for it in a newspaper and came up even though it was out of our price range. I’ve always been fascinated by the Brontës and as soon as we saw it we had to have it. The owner Brenda was lovely. She had blue hair and ran it as a B&B and yoga centre and did teas for walkers, but it really was in need of renovation.”Ponden Hall was built in 1634 by the Heatons and as their fortunes flourished they modernised, added and rebuilt to suit their status.The family eventually dwindled to a bachelor who died in 1898, after which the contents of the house were sold off. Books from the library were reputedly hawked in the market in Keighley. What didn’t sell was torn up for vegetable wrappings and mystery still surrounds what happened to a Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s rarest books worth millions.The property was then used by farmers before Brenda bought it in 1975. She played host to Juliette Binoche, who stayed there with her voice coach rehearsing for her role as Cathy in the ill-fated film version of the book, and Sir Cliff Richard who visited before playing Heathcliff in the short-lived musical. [...]Unlike the fictional Wuthering Heights, Ponden Hall feels friendly and warm. “We’d never have bought it otherwise. It’s always felt welcoming,” says Julie. She and Steve are selling to move closer to their daughter’s new school.“I’ll miss it. I love it for what it is and the little hamlet here is lovely. I’ve also enjoyed the Brontë connection. We’ve always been happy to show people round by appointment and we’ve had people from all over the world including the Japanese ambassador to the United Nations,” says Julie. “I just hope it sells to someone who loves the Brontës as much as I do.” (Sharon Dale)

maandag 4 april 2011

Haworth museum bosses are in talks with producers of two upcoming Bronte movies.

The link-up could lead to events at the Bronte Parsonage Museum to tie in with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The latest version of Jane Eyre premiered in the USA recently and will be released in the UK in September. The film stars Australian actress Mia Wasikowska – star of Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland – in the title role. Also appearing in the adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel are Judi Dench and Billy Elliot actor Jamie Bell.
A new version of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is expected to be released at the end of this year.
Parsonage bosses hope to host a visit by the film’s writers later this year as part of the museum’s contemporary arts programme.
They also hope to organise an exhibition of costumes from Wuthering Heights at a future date.
Museum director Andrew McCarthy said it was too early to comment on the quality of the film.
But he said: “We would hope it’s a good rendition. The casting seems pretty promising, and we look forward to it.
“At a practical level a film usually means increased interest in the Brontes which can translate into more visitors, so it’s likely to be positive.”
The new Jane Eyre, a BBC co-production, is directed by acclaimed film-maker Cary Fukunaga.
Much of the story is told in flashback after Governess Jane flees the imposing house where she worked for Edward Rochester
The publicity says: “She reflects upon the people and emotions that have defined her. It is clear that the isolated and imposing residence – and Mr Rochester’s coldness – have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience.” Jane has to decide whether to return to Thornfield House to come to terms with the past that haunts her.
The new Wuthering Heights is directed by Oscar-winner Andrea Arnold who made gritty independent movies Red Road and Fish Tank.

zondag 3 april 2011


In 1920 the ideal Film Company arrived in Haworth
 to make the first film adaptaption of
Here you see the leading actors Anne T
trevor and Milton Rosmer

The screenplay of one of the most famous Bronte films has been bought by the guardians of their home in Haworth. The script of the movie, Jane Eyre, will go on display for the first time at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth.
The film, starring Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine.
Parsonage bosses managed to buy the script for an undisclosed sum, thanks to a grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives’ Victoria and Albert fund.
It has special status because it is annotated throughout by Aldous Huxley, the British author who adapted the movie for the big screen.
Jane Eyre was filmed in Hollywood during the Second World War and released in 1943.
Ann Dinsdale, Bronte Parsonage Museum’s collections manager, said: “It’s a fascinating archive which includes the preliminary script – it means you can see how the screen play evolved and changed when the film was in the making.
“For anybody studying or researching film and interested in how scripts are adapted and how a film evolves, it will be extremely interesting.”

The museum re-opens on Tuesday, February 1, following a months closure for maintenance work, cleaning, conservation, revaluation of the museum’s collections, decorative archaeology and the development of new displays. A team of experts have also been carrying out decorative analysis which it is hoped will help reveal how the place was decorated during the Bronte time in the early 1800s.
Information relating to the project will be available to visitors and the museum will be formulating a plan to completely redecorate the Parsonage in 2012.
Visitors to the museum will also be able to see a variety of new displays, with more of the museum’s collection on display than ever.

What happened after the death of Charlotte Bronte?

On 04-04-1855 Charlotte Bronte was buried in the family vault at Haworth Parish Church.

On Easter Sunday, 1st April, 1855, many people walked over the Haworth moors to the church to obtain particulars of the sad death of one who had become so widely known. The whole district mourned for the old vicar's last daughter, who, like her sister Anne, had longed to live in order to accomplish a larger task. The old Haworth custom of " bidding " a large number of people to the funeral was adopted. The custom
still obtains of issuing invitations to the funeral to an equal number of householders on each side of the home where the death has occurred. In Charlotte Bronte's case, almost every family in the village had one member " bidden," and there was a very large funeral procession, in this respect unlike Emily's
and Anne's, which were only attended by members of the family.

A poor, blind girl begged to be taken to her funeral, for she had received much needed help in the shape of a small annuity.

Outside the small family circle, none felt Charlotte Bronte's sudden death more than Mrs. Gaskell, who wrote a kind letter to the poor, stricken father, and also to the bereaved husband.

Mr. George Smith had got possession of A Fragment of a Story, written by Charlotte Bronte, which had been forwarded by Mr. Nicholls. It was intended to publish this in The Cornhill


After her death, Arthur stayed with Rev. Patrick Bronte to care for him.

Martha Brown, the faithful servant, who was a woman of twenty-six, remained with the two mourners, and her sisters Eliza and Tabitha helped her.

In 1860 Elizabeth Gaskell, accompanied by her daughter Meta, paid her last visit to see Mr Brontë, who was by this time confined to bed: 'we were taken into his bedroom; where everything was delicately clean and white, and there he was sitting propped up in bed in a clean nightgown, with a clean towel laid just for his hands to play upon ...' Mr Brontë, having outlived his wife and children, died here on 7 June 1861, at the age of eighty-four.

Strange world of the Brontes Marie Campbell
Arthur Bell Nichols packed up his belongings and all his mementos of Charlotte and returned to Ireland taking Plato, Patrick's last dog, with him. In Banagher the Royal School was now being run by Dr. Bell's second son, James, who had taken it over on the death of his father. He was living in Cuba House, so his mother, Arthur's aunt, had gone to live in a small house at the top of the hill in the little town, with her daughter Mary Anna. After Cuba House, Hill House must have felt minute, hut it was pretty, opposite the church and stood in twenty acres of land. It is still there though much changed over the years.

Arthur made his way to Hill House where he joined his aunt and cousin, Mary Anna. He became a small farmer, giving up the Church altogether. Martha Brown, one of the faithful Brontë servants came over from time to time and took over the housekeeping. She had nursed Charlotte and was one of Arthur's last links with the old days. When he was forty three and Mary Anna thirty two they decided to get married. She had always loved her cousin and he was fond of her.
They married in 1864 and the ceremony was performed by Rev. Joseph Bell, Mary Anna's brother, and Arthur's cousin. It seemed to be more of a marriage of convenience, a friendship than anything else. There were no children of the marriage. Arthur died in 1906 at the age of eighty eight and Mary Ann in 1915 aged eighty five. They are both buried across the road from Hill House in the Churchyard of St. Paul's. Arthur's aunt, Mary Anna's mother, lived to the great age of 101, dying in 1902, a wonderful old lady. Arthur never recovered from Charlotte's death.  .lisburn.com/books/historical 
23/07/1855 Elizabeth Gaskell visited Haworth to meet Patrick Bronte to discuss the biography of Charlotte Bronte.

07/02/1857  The manuscript of the "Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell was completed.

25/03/1857 The "Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell was published.

06/06/1857 Charlotte Bronte's previously rejected novel "The Professor" was published.

01/03/1893 Mary Taylor close friend of Charlotte Bronte died.

26/11/1897 Ellen Nussey, Charlotte Bronte's life long friend died aged 80

02/12/1906 Arthur Bell Nicholls husband of Charlotte Bronte died.

After his death in 1906 at the age of 88, his wife who was short of money, sold many of her husband's souvenirs of his former wife to the Brontë Society, including the portrait by Branwell Brontë of the three sisters, that had been kept.
Bonnell’s earliest opportunity to buy Brontë manuscripts would have arisen in 1895 or 1896 when some letters and early manuscripts, including little books (Figure 4), appeared on the market. They were part of the collection that Arthur Bell Nicholls had taken to Ireland with him when the Brontë household was broken up in 1861 and he had guarded it jealously, selling nothing for over thirty years. The story of how Arthur Nicholls was persuaded to part with his treasured mementos, and by whom, has itself been the subject of books, but the bones of the story are this: on the 31 July 1895, the fortieth anniversary of Charlotte’s death, Arthur Nicholls received a visit from Clement Shorter, a book collector and journalist on the Illustrated London News who had written an introduction to one of the cheap editions of Jane Eyre. Shorter was researching a new biography of Charlotte that was to come out the following year under the title Charlotte Brontë and her Circle (1896), and he interviewed Nicholls at length.

However, during the interview, Shorter managed to persuade Nicholls to part with the greater part of his manuscripts and letters, including the little books. Shorter told Nicholls that close study of the juvenilia would cast valuable new light on the Brontës’ literary development, and he promised that, when he had finished with the manuscripts, they would be deposited in the safe keeping of the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. Nicholls was, by 1895, seventy-six years old, and the promise of his
treasures being secured for the nation rather than cast, after his death, upon the market, evidently appealed to him, as too would the money, for his means were by then straightened. He sold the collection, with exclusive rights, to Clement Shorter.
But Shorter was not working alone in the purchase of Nicholls’ collection, he had a partner in the London bibliographer and book dealer, T. J. Wise, and Nicholls received cheques from both of them. Over the years that followed, most of the Brontës’ early poems and stories were first published (under Shorter’s assumed copyright) by either Shorter or Wise, but none of the manuscripts ever saw the inside of the South Kensington Museum. Wise vandalized Nicholls’ collection and sold it, scattering it across the globe.
Under the terms of Bonnell’s will his widow, Helen, retained some eighty items of Brontë memorabilia but the rest of his collection, some 336 items, were despatched in 1929 to the newly acquired Parsonage Museum — 336 items that would be the firm foundation on which other donors of Brontë memorabilia would thereafter have the confidence to build. His bequest included the manuscripts of fifteen of Emily’s poems, her French devoirs, and the desk on which she wrote Wuthering Heights.

There were fifty of Charlotte’s manuscripts, including The Story of Willie Ellin, Angrian poems, and her French devoirs; nine of Anne’s poems and twenty by Branwell, and over a hundred of Charlotte’s letters. There were thirty-four drawings and watercolours; Mr Brontë’s Homer and his Horace, both prizes from St John’s ‘for having always kept in the first class’

Whilst at college, Patrick Bronte, in addition to his scholar- ship and exhibitions, gained two prizes at least, consisting of two quarto copies of Homer and Horace. " Homeri Ilias. Graece et Latine. Samuel Clarke, S.T.P. Impensis Jacobi et Johannis Knapton, in Ccemeterio D. Pauli, mdccxxix." This book bears the College Arms on the cover, and has the following inscription : " My prize book for always having kept in the first class at St. John's College, Cambridge. P. Bronte, A.B. To be retained semper.
" Horatius Flaccus, Rich. Bentleii. Amstelodami, 1728.
" Prize obtained by Rev. Patrick Bronte, St. John's College."

Mr Brontë’s Bible, Emily’s Prayer Book, Anne’s book of Christian poets, and Branwell’s music book, and there were first editions of every Brontë novel, and every one of Mr Brontë’s six published works.

Martha Brown treasured a large collection of Brontë memorabilia that she was happy to display, but reluctant to sell. On her death however, this collection was divided between her sisters and it gradually dispersed.

A meeting took place towards the end of 1893 in the office of Mr Butler Wood, Chief Librarian of Bradford Public Libraries, followed by articles suggesting that the time had come to secure and preserve for the use of the public the literary and other relics of the Brontë sisters.
A public meeting took place shortly afterwards, the Brontë Society was established and has flourished ever since. Brontë items began to come in, many on loan, and in 1895 the upper floor of the Yorkshire Penny Bank building in Haworth was rented as a public museum.

In January 1896 there were 260 members and during the following summer months about 10,000 visitors passed through the Museum.
The antiques shop was previously used by the Bronte Society as a museum from 1895.

It contains numerous  relics of the Bronte family. Altogether there are some three hundred exhibits, and a number of letters and manuscripts written by Charlotte and Branwell Bronte. There is a copy and translation of the letter written by M. Heger to Mr. Bronte in  1842 (someone had evidently copied it and given it to Ellen Nussey, as it was purchased at the Nussey Sale), and one from Mrs. Gaskell to Martha Brown. A specimen of almost every article of dress worn by Charlotte Bronte is also exhibited, including her boots and house shoes, as well as many relics of other members of the family.
There is Ellen Nussey's copy of the privately printed book made up of the letters from Charlotte Bronte to her, which Mr. Horsfall Turner compiled, and there are also some early editions of the Bronte novels and poems, which have been presented to the Society. In addition are many sketches made by Charlotte, Branwell, and Emily Bronte; even the old leather trunks used by the family have a place there, as
well as a saddle bag used by old Mr. Bronte. Thackeray's statuette is in the window-sill, facing visitors as they enter the main room, and from its prominent position it is the first object to be seen from the street.

4 augustus 1928
thousands turned out
for the opening
of the
Bronte parsonage museum

In 1930 the dining room
then housing
the Bonnell Collection

Haworth, the home of the Brontes," is now a familar and well-recognised description of the little moorland village in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Here everything of importance appropriates the name of Bronte. The parsonage is always an object of interest, though it is by no means so desolate and bare as in the Bronte days. Bronte pilgrims may often be seen in the churchyard, looking over the low wall which
separates it from the vicarage garden, but in summer the leafy trees act as a screen to the parsonage. The church naturally claims much attention, though the tower is the only part of the old church which remains. When the church was pulled down in 1879, Mr. Wade, the Incumbent, was very careful that
the Bronte grave should not be disturbed, and since the new church was built in 1881 a brass plate has been fixed over the grave, with the simple inscription



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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