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 14 mei 2011

The imaginary worlds of the Brontë children.

Brontës The British Library’s

Major new exhibition
 Out of this World:
Science Fiction but not as you know it
 reveals the imaginary worlds of the Brontë children.

Victorian children
(not the Bronte Sisters)

In their childhood, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne Brontë created imaginary countries collectively called the Glass Town Federation. Branwell and Charlotte invented the kingdom of Angria, while Emily and Anne created the world of Gondal. They became obsessive about their imaginary worlds, drawing maps and creating lives for their characters and featured themselves as the ‘gods’ (‘genii’) of their world.

Their stories are in tiny micro-script, as if written by their miniature toy soldiers.The Brontës wrote about their imaginary countries in the form of long sagas which were ‘published’ as hand-written books and magazines.

The Young Men’s magazine (the history of which is told by Branwell in 'The History Of The Young Men From Their First Settlement To The Present Time'), contains an introduction where Branwell gives an account of the toy soldiers which gave rise to the game that resulted in creating imaginary worlds. Originally a place of fantasy, Glass Town, the capital of the Federation, assumed the characteristics of the 19th century city.

The map of Glass Town drawn by Branwell has a prototype - a map of real explorations in northern and central Africa in 1822-1824, while the hero of the saga was the real Duke of Wellington – a foreshadowing of what would later become the established genre of alternative histories. At some point Emily and Anne stopped contributing to the Glass Town and Angria stories in order to create their own imaginary world of Gondal, probably as a rebellion against their older siblings who usually gave them inferior roles to play in the games. Unfortunately, the chronicles of this imaginary place written in prose were lost and only poems are now known. As with the Glass Town writings, these poems are concerned with love and war and explore various modes of identity.

Emily Brontë’s Gondal poems relate to characters in the stories, who came from either side of two warring factions. Early biographers of Emily assumed that the events described in the poems related to her own life, but instead they were figments of her extremely active imagination, and, like Wuthering Heights, not directly written from personal experience. Charlotte Brontë’s poem ‘The Foundling’ tells the story of a young man who emigrates to Glass Town. There he gets involved in politics, falls in love and discovers that he is of a noble background.
While the sense of fantasy is strong, there are teasing examples of what might be called the beginnings of science fiction.“I hope the exhibition at the British Library will challenge what people think of as science fiction and show that it is not a narrow genre, but something that appears in many times, cultures, and literary forms. It embraces works of utopian and speculative fiction that many people may not consider as 'Science Fiction', such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George Orwell’s 1984 and Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife.”


vrijdag 13 mei 2011

Charlotte Bronte visit to the Lake District.

Charlotte Bronte stayed at Brierly Close in August 1850, seeing the Lake District for the first time. She found the countryside ‘exquisitely beautiful’. It was here that she met the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. The two became such firm friends that Mrs Gaskell wrote the first biography of Charlotte Bronte.

Published on June 2006

A previously unpublished letter by Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre, is expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction after surfacing among a pile of papers in an attic.
The 1850 missive to William Smith Williams, her publisher’s reader, contains forthright views on literary and society figures of her day and her love of the Lake District.
Bronte writes that during a visit to the Lakes, she met future biographer, Elizabeth Gaskell: “I like her very much; her manner is kind, candid and unassuming.” The letter was penned three years after Jane Eyre’s publication. The letter was found in the attic of a house in a village on the Sussex- Surrey border.

CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S first interest in the Lake District must have been awakened when she wrote to Southey in 1837, and afterwards to Wordsworth and Coleridge. Southey had pressed a wish to see her if she visited the English Lakes. In those days money was not too plentiful at the Haworth parsonage, and much as Charlotte Bronte would have liked to pay a^visit to the Lake District it was all but impossible.
Alas ! when she did get an opportunity of going, Southey had been dead for seven years, Hartley Coleridge had recently died in 1849, and Wordsworth in April, 1850, so that the poets in whom she was specially interested had all passed away.

As Branwell Bronte had been at Broughton-in-Furness in 1839, and had visited Hartley Coleridge,

Charlotte Bronte would have heard something of the beauties of the English Lakes at least ten years before she herself became a guest at Briery Close, Windermere.
The English Lake District, so redolent of the poets associated with its name, was an ideal spot for Charlotte Bronte to visit, and, although she had been away from home for six weeks in the June and July of 1850, her father persuaded her to accept an invitation from Sir James Kay Shuttleworth

and Lady Shuttleworth to a house known as Briery Close, which they ad rented on the shores of Lake Windermere, just above the little landing stage at Low-wood. The house is still there, but it has been recently altered; it had been renovated previously and enlarged, so that it is a more palatial mansion than when Charlotte Bronte visited it. The house is sheltered by trees, and is approached from the shore of Lake Windermere by a steep, winding path. The view from the house is the same as in Charlotte Bronte's days, and Coniston Old Man and Langdale Pikes can be seen overlooking the lake. Dove Nest,
where Felicia Hemans lived, can be seen among the trees in the distance, and the view, up and down the lake, is magnificent.

Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, who knew Mrs. Gaskell in Manchester, before he was acquainted with Charlotte Bronte, had invited the author of Mary Barton to meet the writer of Jane Eyre. One who was present to meet the two novelists at this time described Charlotte Bronte as extremely nervous
and shy, looking as if she would be glad if the floor would open to swallow her, whilst Mrs. Gaskell sat bright, cheerful, and quite at ease. Hitherto the two writers had not met. Charlotte Bronte did not approach the house from the lake, but from Windermere Station, the railway having been opened in 1847.

Windermere Station

She arrived at Briery Close on 18th August, 1850, and Mrs. Gaskell a day later. Sir James K. Shuttle wroth never seemed weary of inviting Charlotte Bronte and trying to give her pleasure; he had written two novels himself, Scars dale, dealing with the Lancashire border, and Ribblesdale. Charlotte Bronte
seemed to be nervous in his company, though she tried to appreciate his kindness, and he certainly was very good to her.
Fortunately Mrs. Gaskell wrote a long descriptive letter concerning her first meeting with Charlotte Bronte. It has been said that Mrs. Gaskell did not keep a regular diary, but she did, perhaps, what was better: she made notes of her visits to distinguished people, and she wrote long letters to her husband
and others, which were of great use when she needed material for her stories. Had she known that she was to be the biographer of Charlotte Bronte, she could scarcely have been more particular in recording her impressions of her friend. This will readily be admitted by reference to her letters.
Much as Charlotte Bronte enjoyed the scenery, " My visit passed off very well ; I am very glad I went.

woensdag 11 mei 2011

The history of this photograph.

This photograph - held to be a photograph of Charlotte Brontë (died 1855) taken during her honeymoon in 1854 - is by Sir Emery Walker, died July 22d, 1933.



The photograph is believed to have been taken during a serene period in Charlotte's life—about the time of her marriage in 1854, at age 38, to the Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls. Charlotte's happiness was brief; she died nine months after the marriage, as a result of complications of a pregnancy. The photo—a glass-copy negative made by Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933) some years after the original was taken—is thought to be a companion piece to a honeymoon photo and is marked with Charlotte's name on the back. It surfaced in early October at an exhibition of family portraits that were on loan from the National Portrait Gallery to the Brontë museum, which is located at the family home in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Gallery had discovered the picture when members of the staff belatedly got around to cataloging a collection of glass negatives, which they had rescued from the Walker estate in 1956. (A flood in the basement fortunately speeded up the work.)

In 1986, the Bronte Society received a bequest of Mrs. Seton Gordon, the granddaughter of George Smith, publisher of Charlotte. She said her grandfather, eager to collect memorabilia from the authors he published, had accumulated letters, drawings and manuscripts. Forgotten among this collection was a small photo-card in sepia on the back, the words "Within a year of CB's death and accompanied by a letter from Emery Walker dated January 2, 1918, which showed clearly that it s'agisait of the original glass negative that is at the NPG.

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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