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 26 augustus 2011

On this day in 1846

Patrick Bronte, the father of the Bronte Sisters.

In 1846 Charlotte Bronte began her most famous novel, Jane Eyre, in a terraced house in Hulme, south Manchester miles away from the Yorkshire moorland that we associate with her family. What was she doing there?
Mr Brontë's eyesight deteriorated with age until he was almost blind. When he was sixty-nine he travelled to a surgeon in Manchester and underwent on 26 august a cataract operation without anaesthetic which improved his sight, though he continued to wear spectacles and to use a magnifying glass to help him to read. It was while Charlotte was nursing her father in their lodgings in Manchester that she began to write Jane Eyre.
kleurrijk bronte sisters/ patrick-bronte-cataract-operation

Old School Room

An historic Haworth building which was at risk of being sold off to developers has won a reprieve.
Campaigners have been working to save the Old School Room, which is the only building in Haworth to have been designed and constructed by the Rev Patrick Bronte, father of the famous sisters.
The Church Street property is owned by Haworth Parish Church, but it is in urgent need of restoration. Dry rot was discovered in the building’s roof space in June.
A committee called Bronte Spirit has been investigating how to drum up support for the expensive project.
It has been estimated that nearly £1 million is needed to repair and refurbish the roof.
On Monday, a spokesman for the group said: “Following a series of crisis meetings between the church’s parochial council and Bronte Spirit, it was decided last week that enough potential support had been received for the restoration project to continue for the time being.
“At a meeting last Wednesday it was agreed that archaeologist Dr Angela Redmond, one of the current directors of Bronte Spirit, would lead the project, that the planned application for charitable status would continue and that discussions with two organisations are to be explored.”
Dr Redmond, who had been employed by Bronte Spirit when an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was being advanced in 2008, said: “We believe that the building has a future with a role in the community and that’s something we’ll be exploring in the next few weeks.
“We were concerned that the lack of funds and support were threatening the project. But we’ve been encouraged by our initial discussions with organisations and individuals who want the Old School Room to be restored and remain true to Patrick Bronte’s vision of having a building available for public good.
“We don’t want to say publicly which organisations have been in touch with us because negotiations are at a delicate stage. No doubt if those discussions are successful it will be possible to make appropriate announcements later.”
The Rev Peter Mayo Smith, the priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, said: “We’re exploring every avenue and, although we recognise that these are not easy economic times, we believe that it could be possible to secure enough grants to enable us to restore and develop the building as a community asset.
“None of us really wanted to sell the building but we have been in real danger of having to take that drastic step. Fortunately, we have been able to step back from that brink.”

Charlotte Bronte gown.

Its a hybrid gown, I wanted to make a brown gown for my Bronte wardrobe as brown is fairly well represented in the parsonage catalogues of Bronte clothing and accessories. Its sleeves are modelled on the going away gown, the bodice is a hybrid between the shape of the going away gown and the details in the Photograph dress, the gown had a removable collar initially but I removed it and decided to wear it with a little lace trimmed neckline and  lace trimmed velvet ribbon, I wanted to create echos of the Richmond portrait. I also wore the gown with a white lace trimmed collar but decided that it was too much of a style overlap even for out of London fashions.
Read more on the beautiful weblog: http://abigailsateliers.wordpress.com/

donderdag 25 augustus 2011

Brontë Festival of Women

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë were pioneering women writers and continue to inspire contemporary literature in limitless ways. Following the success of the first Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing in 2010, the museum is delighted to be hosting this second festival dedicated to showcasing and celebrating women’s writing. The weekend features talks, readings, workshops and family events. We hope you'll be able to join us. The full programme can be seen below. Brontë Festival of Women

woensdag 24 augustus 2011

Bertha by any other name

Read more “You are exactly my brand of heroin(e)”: Convergences and Divergences of the Gothic Literary Heroine  
Bertha Guillard, Julianne 
Girlhood Studies, Volume 4, Number 1, Summer 2011 , pp. 49-66(18)
What brand of heroine can be found in the Twilight series? What discernible characteristics of a heroine can be found in gothic fiction and do these characteristics contribute to a social definition of girlhood/womanhood? In an analysis of the Twilight series' protagonist as a gothic heroine in contrast to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, I claim that the author, Stephenie Meyer, constructs a particular category of contemporary gothic heroine. Drawing on the statement made by the novel's leading male character, Edward, to Bella that she is his “brand of heroin,” this article plays with the idea that Meyer merged elements of the bildungsroman and the Female Gothic to create her brand. This brand of heroine fulfills the three distinct categories of girlhood/womanhood that characterize both the Gothic novel and the bildungsroman: a dependent stage, a caretaker stage, and a wife stage.
by any other name

dinsdag 23 augustus 2011


First published in 1847, and thought to be based on Anne Brontë’s own experiences, Agnes Grey offers a fascinating insight into the plight of the educated spinster in Victorian times, for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career available.
One of several "governess novels" written and published in the mid-1800s, Agnes Grey falls into the tradition of the female bildungsroman, or novel of development, and thus dramatizes the theme of innocence and youthfulness passing into experience. Unlike many such works of the same era, however, Agnes Grey is thought by critics to treat certain subjects absent from, or only vaguely sketched, in the woman's bildungsroman. Various scholars observe in the novel a critique of mid-Victorian social attitudes, especially as they relate to morality, childrearing, the treatment of women, the surging tide of materialism, and the hypocritical cult of domesticity. Agnes's numerous confrontations with the recalcitrant children she is hired to educate are said to condemn the domestic deficiencies of the British upper classes—personified in the idle, cold, materialistic, and largely disinterested parents of the Murray and Bloomfield children. Commentators have also seen in Agnes Grey a clever depiction of the feminine struggle to acquire independence and a voice in the affairs of a society that relegates women to domestic functions. nineteenth-century-criticism/grey-agnes

Social instruction

Throughout Agnes Grey, Agnes is able to return to her mother for instruction when the rest of her life becomes rough. F.B. Pinion identifies this impulse to return home with a desire in Anne to provide instruction for society. Pinion quotes Anne's belief that "All good histories contain instruction" when he makes this argument. He says that Anne felt that she could "Reveal life as it is...[so that] right and wrong will be clear in a discerning reader without sermonizing."[11] Her discussion of oppression of governesses, and in turn women, can be understood from this perspective.[11]


Events representative of cruel treatment of governesses and of women recur throughout Agnes Grey.[12] Additionally, Brontë depicts scenes of cruelty towards animals, as well as degrading treatment of Agnes. Parallels have been drawn between the oppression of these two groups—animals and females—that are "beneath" the upper class human male.[13] To Anne, the treatment of animals reflected on the character of the person.[11] This theme of oppression provided social commentary, likely based on Anne's experiences. Twenty years after its publication Lady Amberly commented that "I should like to give it to every family with a governess and shall read it through again when I have a governess to remind me to be human."[1]
Beyond the treatment of animals, Anne carefully describes the actions and expressions of animals. Stevies Davies observes that this acuity of examination along with the moral reflection on the treatment of animals suggests that, for Anne, "animals are fellow beings with an ethical claim on human protection."[3]


Agnes tries to impart in her charges the ability to empathise with others. This is especially evident in her conversations with Rosalie Murray, whose careless treatment of the men who love her upsets Agnes.[14]


Maria H. Frawley notes that Agnes is isolated from a young age. She comes from a "rural heritage" and her mother brings up her sister and herself away from society. Once Agnes has become a governess, she becomes more isolated by the large distance from her family and further alienation by her employers. Agnes does not resist the isolation, but instead uses the opportunity for self-study and personal development.[15]

maandag 22 augustus 2011

“Caroline Brontë”


Caroline Brontë” 
The Literary World was a New York based weekly magazine published between 1847 and 1853.

On 15 October 1853 the magazine ran an article about ‘Anonymous works’, which attempted to reveal a number of writers’ pseudonyms. The ninth book was “”Jane Eyre,” 1848, by Caroline Bronte (who has since sent out “Shirley,” and “Vilette [sic],” though of conceded talent, producing less sensation, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell; the only survivor of three sisters; one other of whom is also known to the reading world.” The article also has Mrs “Gaskill”. The magazine earlier in the year had a very positive review of her CranfordAdvertisements The magazine does have one advertisement for the AmericanVillette, published less than two months after the English edition, by Harper & Brothers. Apart from that there was only one Agnes Grey ad – “By the author of “Jane Eyre,” “Shirley,” etc”. This book was published by T.B. Peterson’s.

zondag 21 augustus 2011

Branwell Family

August 14th, 1840.
My dear Ellen,—As you only sent me a note, I shall only send you one, and that not out of revenge, but because like you I have but little to say.  The freshest news in our house is that we had, a fortnight ago, a visit from some of our South of England relations, John Branwell and his wife and daughter.  They have been staying above a month with Uncle Fennell at Crosstone.  They reckon to be very grand folks indeed, and 
talk largely—I thought assumingly.  I cannot say I much admired them.  To my eyes there seemed to be an attempt to play the great Mogul down in Yorkshire.  Mr. Branwell was much less assuming than the womenites; he seemed a frank, sagacious kind of man, very tall and vigorous, with a keen active look.  The moment he saw me he exclaimed that I was the very image of my aunt Charlotte.  Mrs. Branwell sets up for being a woman of great talent, tact, and accomplishment.  I thought there was much more noise than work.  My cousin Eliza is a young lady intended by nature to be a bouncing, good-looking girl—art has trained her to be a languishing, affected piece of goods.  I would have been friendly with her, but I could get no talk except about the Low Church, Evangelical clergy, the Millennium, Baptist Noel, botany, and her own conversion.  A mistaken education has utterly spoiled the lass.  Her face tells that she is naturally good-natured, though perhaps indolent.  Her affectations were so utterly out of keeping with her round rosy face and tall bouncing figure, I could hardly refrain from laughing as I watched her.  Write a long letter next time and I’ll write you ditto.  Good-bye.’

Maria Brontë and Elizabeth Branwell were the daughters of Thomas Branwell, a successful property owner and merchant of Penzance, and his wife Anne, née Carne. The marriage of 1768 seems to have produced eight daughters and three sons, though four of these children died in infancy. Thomas died in 1809, Anne the next year. Among the sisters of Maria and Elizabeth were Anne, Charlotte (who married a Branwell cousin in Penzance on the same day as Maria married Patrick, and who CB was said to resemble), and Jane, who married unhappily a prominent but peccant Methodist preacher, John Kingston. Among the brothers was Benjamin, who became Mayor of Penzance in 1809. Branwell visitors stayed with the Brontës on at least two occasions. In 1840 they were visited by John Branwell Williams and his family, cousins of their aunt, and Charlotte as usual preferred the male to the female – “Mr Williams himself was much less assuming than the womanites” (to EN, 14 Aug 1840?). Thomas Brontë Branwell, son of Charlotte Branwell, visited in September 1851, and Charlotte’s “the coast is now clear” (in a letter to MW, 22 Sep 1851?, proposing a visit) suggests that he wasn’t someone she was anxious her friend should meet.
Penlee house history-of-penlee
family.rootsweb.ancestry branwell 

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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