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 15 oktober 2011

Pictures of the Parsonage and Haworth

The inspiration and imagination of the Brontes.

Belshazzar's Feast   John Martin

The children's imagination was also influenced by three prints of engravings in mezzotint by John Martin around 1820. Charlotte and Branwell made copies of the prints Belshazzar's FeastDéluge, and Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon (1816), which hung on the walls of the parsonage.[38]

Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon
Martin's fantastic architecture is reflected in Glass Town and Angria, where he appears himself among Branwell's Juvenilia[39] and under the name of Edward de Lisle, the greatest painter and portraitist of Verdopolis,[40] the capital of Glass Town. One of Sir Edward de Lisle's major works, Les Quatre Genii en Conseil, is inspired by Martin's illustration for John Milton's Paradise Lost.[41] Together with Byron, John Martin seems to have been one of the artistic influences essential to the Brontës' universe.38]

donderdag 13 oktober 2011

The inspiration and imagination of Charlotte Bronte.

Maria, the mother of the Bronte sisters, had a small collection of books and magazines from Penzence. Among these the Lady' s Magazine.

Charlotte Bronte told later, when she was 24 year old: " I read them before I know how to criticize
or object, they were old books belonging tot my mother or my aunt ; they had crossed the Sea, had suffered ship-wreck and were discoloured with brine - I read them as a treat on holiday afternoons or by stealth when I should have been minding my lessons- I shall never see anything
which will interest me so much  again- One black day  my father burned them  because they  contained foolish lovestories. With all my heart  I wish I had been born  in time to contribute  to the lady's magazine"
Juliet Barker. The Brontes. 
The Lady's Magazine and the Lady's Monthly Museum were undoubtedly targeted to the middle class woman.  The Lady's Magazine sold for a mere 6 pence for at least its first twenty-five years (1770-1795). Ten years later, by 1805, it had doubled in price to 1 shilling, and by 1828 the cover price had risen to 2 shillings 6 pence.  This was a well-established and very popular publication by the time of the Regency, so its circulation may have been substantial, though probably not as high as theGentleman's Magazine
Fashion plates as hand coloured engravings really began in England with the publication of an English monthly magazine called The Lady's Magazine in 1770.  The publishers did not tint the plates in each Lady’s Magazine issue in the early days, but dressmakers did this themselves so by about 1790 they were sold touched with colour.  Before that, coloured versions were simply tinted by enthusiasts at home.  Fashion plates from The Lady's Magazine run until 1837.

woensdag 12 oktober 2011

Charlotte Brontë's letter to Ellen Nussey

The Charlotte Brontë letter to Ellen Nussey auctioned at Sotheby's last July has finally reached its final destination: the Brontë Parsonage Museum. The Telegraph & Argus carries the story:
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the museum in Church Street, said the fact Charlotte wrote so many letters to Ellen, and that Ellen kept them, was the reason historians knew so much about the domestic life of the famous literary sisters.
The letter, dated June 19, 1834, was written at the beginning of the two women’s friendship. In it, Charlotte talks about Ellen’s recent trip to London.
Miss Dinsdale said: “Ellen was from a more affluent background than the Brontës and she had been on a visit to London. Charlotte had never been to London and all her ideas about it were from literature. She considered it to be a wicked place and she was amazed that Ellen had returned the same person.
“The letter shows the contrast between their lives. Charlotte would have loved to travel but because the Brontës were relatively poor it wasn’t really an option.” (Kathryn Bradley)
Bronte blog letter-came-home 
Property removed from Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire
Charlotte Brontë Autograph Letter Signed, to Ellen Nussey

Estimate 15,000-20,000 GBP
17500 GBP SOLD to the Brontë Society.

"...I know my own sentiments because I can read my own mind, but the mind of the rest of man and woman-kind, are to me sealed volumes, hieroglyphicked scrolls which I cannot easily either unseal or decipher; yet time, careful study, long acquaintance overcome most difficulties, and in your case, I think they have succeeded well in bringing to light and Construing that hidden language whose turnings, windings, inconsistencies, and obscurities, so frequently baffle the researches of the honest observer of human Nature..."

A remarkable, intense letter by the young Charlotte Brontë to one of her closest friends. The two young women had met in 1831 when both were students at Margaret Wooler's school near Dewsbury (some 15 miles from Haworth). By the time of this letter she was 18 and back living at the parsonage with her siblings, the four of them together deeply immersed in writing about their imaginary kingdoms of Gondal and Angria. Her letters to Ellen through the early months of 1834 show the deep impression made on her by her friend's first trip to London. This letter reveals the extraordinary contrast between Brontë's wide-ranging and free imagination - her talk of "hieroglyphicked scrolls" and observations of human nature - and the constraints of her domestic life, which made London an almost-unimaginably distant place of fascination and sin.
A partially unpublished letter. Although included in ed. Smith, Letters of Charlotte Brontë Vol I, 1829-1847 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), where it is cited as an untraced manuscript, the published text has elisions and includes a numb
er of textual anomalies which the original manuscript can correct.

Bronteblog letter-of-Charlotte-to-be-auctioned

dinsdag 11 oktober 2011

The inspiration and imagination of the Brontes. What did the Bronte children read?

The periodicals that Patrick Brontë subscribed to were a mine of information for his children. The Leeds IntelligencerBlackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, conservative and well written, but better than the Quarterly Review that defended the same political ideas whilst addressing a less refined readership, (the reason why Mr Brontë did not read it);[33] were exploited in every detail, and Blackwood's Magazine in particular, was not only the source of their knowledge of world affairs, but a map of Africa published in it in July 1831, interested them immediately because it confirmed their world of Glass Town which they had situated in West Africa.[34] Their knowledge of geography was completed by Goldsmith's Grammar of General Geography of which there was a copy at the parsonage.[35]

Blackwood's was conceived as a rival to the Whig-supporting Edinburgh Review. Compared to the rather staid tone of The Quarterly Review, the other main Tory work, Maga was ferocious and combative. This is due primarily to the work of its principal writer John Wilson, who wrote under the pseudonym of Christopher North. Never trusted with the editorship, he nevertheless wrote much of the magazine along with the other major contributors John Gibson Lockhart and William Maginn. Their mixture of satire, reviews and criticism both barbed and insightful was extremely popular and the magazine quickly gained a large audience.
For all its conservative credentials the magazine published the works of radicals of British romanticism such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Through Wilson the magazine was a keen supporter of William Wordsworth, parodied the Byronmania common in Europe and angered John KeatsLeigh Hunt and William Hazlitt by referring to their works as the "Cockney School of Poetry". The controversial style of the magazine got it into trouble when, in 1821, John Scott, the editor of theLondon Magazine, fought a duel with Jonathan Henry Christie over libellous statements in the magazine. John Scott was shot and killed.[1]
By the mid-1820s Lockhart and Maginn had departed to London, the former to edit the Quarterly and the latter to write for a range of journals, though principally for Fraser's Magazine. After this, John Wilson was by far the most important writer for the magazine and gave it much of its tone, popularity and notoriety. By the 1840s when Wilson was contributing less, its circulation declined. Aside from essays it also printed a good deal of horror fiction and this is regarded as an important influence on later Victorian writers such as Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, and Edgar Allan Poe; Poe even satirised the magazine's obsessions in "Loss of Breath: A Tale A La Blackwood," and "How to Write a Blackwood Article." The magazine never regained its early success but it still held a dedicated readership throughout the British Empireamongst those in the Colonial Service. One late nineteenth century triumph was the first publication of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in the February, March, and April 1899 issues of the magazine.

maandag 10 oktober 2011

The inspiration and imagination of Charlotte Bronte.

It is often pointed out by Bronte biographers that the juvenile writings of the Bronte children were greatly influenced by romantic poets, especially the tremendously popular Lord Byron. The children had access to the literary magazines Blackwood’s Edinburgh Review and Fraser's.  One of the heroes of the magazines, Blackwood's in particular, is Lord Byron. The Bronte family also owned Thomas Moore’s Life of Byron, which Charlotte read and recommended to a friend (Barker 29). A brief overview of Byron’s work and its influence on Charlotte Bronte will be useful in understanding one of the many dynamics at work in Jane Eyre.

Bronte’s later juvenilia began to move her heroes deeper into the Byronic sphere. “Love and romance now became the dominant topic of Charlotte’s fiction” (Howe). Her character, the Duke of Wellington, was replaced by his son, who became a “figure of depravity and brutality.” The new character becomes obsessed with a rival character’s daughter, causing his wife a “death from a broken heart” (Hoeveler 21). In addition, her character Alexander Percy “is an obvious imitation of Byron’s Conrad; Charlotte even calls him a ‘Corsair’” (Elfenstein 131). It is often pointed out that Charlotte’s and her brother Branwell’s juvenilia are overly simplified, especially in regards to gender roles. Andrew Elfenstein specifies how: “Whereas Byron’s Turkish Tales flirted with the possibility that the inner self might belong to a woman as much as to a man, Charlotte’s and Branwell’s Byronic mode gave it exclusively to men” (131).  However, by the end of “The Corsair,” Byron, too, reserves the inner self for men alone. Elfenstein also reminds readers of Bronte Juvenilia that: “In Byron’s poems, gender relations are quite complex, but in the clichéd Byronism of Charlotte and Branwell they are simple: dominating men annihilate women” (133).
In Jane Eyre Bronte gives complexity to her characters, regardless of gender; at the same time she can be seen highlighting simplified Byronic gender roles. As an adult, however, Bronte relies on Byronic clichés in an effort to reform the “demonic lover,” and the societal customs that allow him to thrive. Bronte goes beyond Byron in Jane Eyre by going beyond “flirting with the possibility that the inner self might belong to a woman.” Instead, through the reformation of both hero and heroines, she decisively asserts that the inner self belongs equally to women and men, and in so doing is finally able to leave behind her childhood hero.   

zondag 9 oktober 2011

What do we know about the inspiration and imagination of Charlotte Bronte?

Charlotte told Mrs. Gaskell of her desire "amounting almost to illness" to express herself as the result of visuel stimulation. At first she wanted  to learn to express her ideas by drawing, but after she had tried to draw stories and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing. The unhappiness and uncertainty of her early childhood predisposed Charlotte to escape more than most children into the world of imagination. 

As a girl, Charlotte longed to become an artist and - perhaps because she was so shortsighted - examined the engravings with her eyes close to the paper, as if she saw something that others were missing. Brought up, as Bewick had been, on country ghost stories, she responded in particular to his eerie scenes of night and demons. When he died in 1828 she wrote a poem, imagining his traveller on the dreary moor and his chill picture of the surf crashing at sea:
There rises some lone rock all wet with surge 
And dashing billows glimmering in the light 
From clouds that veil their lustre, cold and bright.
Of a wan moon, whose silent rays emerge 
The earliest of Charlotte's drawings  include many copies of Bewick's woodcuts.

Jane Eyre:
I returned to my book—Bewick's “History of British Birds:” the letter-press there of I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of “the solitary rocks and promontories” by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape—
Where the Northern Ocean, 
in vast whirls,
 Boils round the naked, 
melancholy isles
Of farthest Thule; 
and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides,”
Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, SpitzbergenNova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with “the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary space—that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulations, of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concenter the multiplied rigors of extreme cold.” Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own; shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.
I can not tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary church-yard, with its inscribed head-stone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.
The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms. The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror. So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows. Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humor; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped her night-cap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and other ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of “Pamela,” and “Henry, Earl of Moreland.”
With Bewick on my knee, 
I was then happy: 
happy at least in my way.

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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