I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

zaterdag 26 november 2011

Luddenden Foot and Branwell Bronte

Is situated on the Calder river, it is protected from the northerly winds by Midgley Moor Luddenden Foot was developed faster than Luddenden with the arrival of the Rochdale canal (1794-1802) from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester and later  extended in 1828 to Halifax. The earliest church register of  Midgley names given for the township of Midgley were Anthony, Richard and William 10. The earliest marriage given here is between John and Isabella Midgley  4th February 1541. Common first names for males were John, Thomas, William, Robert and Richard and for females, Agnes, Isabella, Elizabeth, Anne, Marion, Margaret and Alicia.
At Luddenden Foot, a canal runs from Littleborough to Todmorden which passes through Sowerby, Luddenden Foot and Hebden Bridge. This canal was used to help construct the railway at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. The canal had a "basin" at Luddenden Foot where the bargees ("boaties") tied up.They would stay overnight at one of the three taverns here, The Woodman, The Weavers Arms and The Anchor and Shuttle.
There was also a corn mill by the canal in the 1800's owned by George and William Thompson with mills on the hilltop at Midgley which were owned by Ely Titherington who was a wealthy worsted spinner. Ely and his son James also owned a house called Old Ridings overlooking the Luddenden Valley. Luddenden Foot is probably best known for its association with Branwell Bronte the unfortunate brother and artist of the Bronte sisters of Haworth.

In the 1800's Branwell Bronte who was working as a station master at Luddenden Foot railway station,  frequented the Lord Nelson Inn with the Luddenden Reading Society.

Some of the members were9:
Timothy Wormald,  the landlord of the Lord Nelson and clerk to the church across the way. John Whitworth a mill  owner at Longbottom on the canal, who owned a fine residence called Peel House beyond Luddenden.
John Garnett, a manufacturer of Holm House.
Francis Grundy, a railway engineer (Richard Grundy drove the first train from Manchester to the Calder Valley.)
William Heaton a handloom weaver of Luddenden.
Francis Leyland a printer.
William Wolven, a ticket collector
G. Thompson, a corn merchant.
John Murgatroyd, a wealthy woollen manufacturer of Oats Royd, Luddenden. He employed the Liverpool Irish in his mills. Many Irish worked the mills and canals (Cols, Colls, Killiners and McColls).
George Richardson the wharfinger of Sowerby Bridge (controlled the warehouses and Wharfs)

Branwell Bronte lodged at  Turn Lea cottages ("up t' hill"). His bedroom window overlooked the Ewood Estates at Midgley, once owned by John Grimshaw who inherited Ewood when he was twelve from his grandfather.  Later it was inherited by John Crossley of Caitcliffe Hall. Branwell also lodged at Brearley Hall. By the end of March 1842 Branwell Bronte had been dismissed from his post as station master at Luddenden Foot. (The railway had arrived in 18

Branwell Bronte (Frequented by)
Branwell Bronte frequented this pub when he was working as a clerk on the Leeds and Manchester Railway in charge of Luddenden Foot Station. Having abandoned art as a career Branwell turned to something more practical. Charlotte sarcastically announced: 'A distant relation of mine, one Patrick Boanerges, has set off to seek his fortune in the wild, wandering, adventurous, romantic, knight-errant-like capacity of clerk on the Leeds and Manchester Railroad.

Unfortunately he was soon dismissed. The notebook in which he was supposed to keep the station records became his personal journal and comprises a miscellany of rough sketches, draughts of poems and the occasional note on railway affairs. He also missed the fact that his under-clerk was stealing railway funds. During this period he was writing some of his best poetry and mixing with an important circle of Halifax writers, artists and poets who encouraged him to publish some of his poems in The Halifax Guardian.

The 1634 datestone over the door of the pub recalls its origin as a private house. It did not become an alehouse until the middle of the 18th century when it was called the White Swan. In 1776 one of the district's first libraries was set up in the pub which was an added attraction to local literary regulars including poet William Dearden and the knight-errant Branwell.

The Lord Nelson today is an excellent, comfortable village local. With lots of small individual rooms. The front bar has exposed stone walls and stone mullioned windows. Hanging in the bar is a floodlit photograph of the pub with a caption which reads: "I would rather give my right hand than undergo again the malignant yet cold debauchery which too often marked my conduct there". Branwell Bronte. A stylised statue of Branwell stands nearby in Old Station Road.


vrijdag 25 november 2011

Branwell and his friends/ Francis Leyland


Francis Leyland was a former bookseller and friend of Branwell Brontë's, having been introduced to him by his brother, the Halifax sculptor J.B. Leyland (probably Branwell's closest friend), at Sowerby Bridge Station in 1840 (see his letter to Woollven below). After his brother's death in 1851 he inherited his considerable collection of letters, sketches and poems by Branwell which he was keen on publishing. In 1886 he brought out The Brontë Family with Special Reference to Patrick Branwell Brontë. In it, he "took up the idea that Emily had been particularly close to her brother but turned it into a means of bolstering and elaborating on William Dearden's and Francis Grundy's earlier claims aboutWuthering Heights, arguing that the novel was a work of joint authorship. Without Charlotte's knowledge, Branwell had, Leyland claimed, handed over the unfinished manuscript for his favourite sister, the sympathetic Emily, to complete" (Lucasta Miller The Brontë Myth, Anchor edition, 2005, p.242).

The present collection was largely assembled during the course of Leyland's research for the book. His speculations about Wuthering Heights notwithstanding, the book contains a good deal of information about his friend Branwell which is not available elsewhere and which has been analysed in depth by Juliet Barker in The Brontës (1994). The present collection, which was unknown to Juliet Barker when preparing her biography, is particularly valuable in that it allows us direct access to that evidence, without Leyland's intervention.

Leyland's advocacy of Branwell in the face of what he saw as Mrs Gaskell's vilification did not make him popular with either Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, or her friend Ellen Nussey. The collection contains a pair of autograph letters by each, written between 1884 and 1885. The two by Ellen Nussey are written at a high emotional pitch: "Your letter respecting Branwell Brontë & your intended publication of his letters &c is simply a grief for me - Why not let the poor erring brother rest in peace? What good can possibly arise from reviving the memory of him? It was unwise, it was unjust to his patient & enduring sisters to say what has been said of him.../...In your eagerness to defend the Brontës' Brother you are in danger of injuring his sisters. How can you know the exact truth?... How can any one dare to judge in such a case where blame begins & ends? Who has fathomed the depths of suffering he inflicted on his devoted sisters? If you gather that Charlotte was 'injudicious' it must certainly have been her brother's morbidmind to represent her as such... You did not know them - You only saw them once, I have been informed...". While the two by A.B. Nicholls are blunt to the point of rudeness. In both he refuses to have the portrait medallion of Branwell, which Leyland's brother had executed, photographed. When told by Leyland that he, Leyland, had given it to the family, Nicholls replies: "I was not aware that you had given the portrait to Mr Brontë - I always understood that it had been found in a Broker's shop in Halifax - I know that my late wife gave £5 for it". From the draft of Leyland's reply, it transpires that the rascally sexton John Brown, who had been entrusted with its carriage, sold it instead. For good measure, Nicholls twice refuses Leyland permission to publish "Mr Branwell Brontë's Manuscripts"; this partly on the advice of Richard Monckton Milnes (see Barker, p.817).

Equally evocative are letters by two of Branwell's fellow employees at Luddenden Foot railway station, the minor poet William Heaton and H. Woollven (as he signs himself here, rather than 'Woolven', the form more usually given). Heaton, writing in 1863, tells Leyland: "I knew Mr Bronte well he was the station Master at Luddenden foot but how long it is since I cannot tell at that time I frequented the Anchor and Shuttle Inn and so did he sometimes he was blyth and gay and at others he looked down cast and sad...tis true he loved his cup as he frequently called his glass of Brandy but I shall never forget his love for the sublime..." (for the text of this letter as printed by Leyland, see Barker, pp.370-1). The testimony of Woollven is especially important for its bearing on the question as to whether Branwell ever did in fact go to London, rather than merely acquire seeming familiarity with the capital through his reading, as Barker argues (pp.227-9). What had seemed a stumbling-block to Barker's case is that "Leyland's account... cites one 'Mr Woolven', who, while later working on the construction of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, met and remembered Branwell from the Castle tavern at Holborn" (p.229). However Woollven's original letter (which is on Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway headed paper) does not in point of fact describe such an encounter. What Woollven actually tells Leyland is that Branwell "was a very extraordinary character. I remember previous to my being engaged in the Railway Service, I one night visited the Castle Tavern in Holborne London then Kept by the once Champion Prize fighter Tom Spring. The parlour was full of sporting characters, Pugilists &c. One of the company, I believe was Mr Bronte, to whom was referred to decide many disputes about great battles that had been fought". Woollven is not claiming to have seen him. Merely that he was led to believe (no doubt by Branwell himself, long afterwards) that he was there. Woollven goes on to relate the story of Branwell's passion for Mrs Robinson, eliciting the shocked response from Leyland that "Branwell was indeed a very strange character... No man in his sound senses, entrusted with the heart, honour, and fair name of a married woman, would make a public talk of it everywhere...". (It is pleasing, also, to note that this correspondence confirms the corporeal reality of the enigmatic Woollven, of whose existence Juliet Barker can find no trace outside the pages of Leyland, see footnote 12, pp.881-2).

The collection also includes a letter by Patrick Brontë's friend the Halifax poet William Dearden written in August 1857, in which he discusses their joint visit to Patrick that year and the publication of Mrs Gaskell's biography five months earlier: "He [Patrick] said he did not know that he had an enemy in the world before Mrs Gaskell's publication of the life of his daughter, and he really could not tell from what source she had derived her information about himself except it might be from some discarded servant..." (see Barker, p.803). There is also Leyland's own account of his visit to Haworth on 28 January 1874 to interview John Brown's brother ("...Visited Haworth twenty-six years after the death of Branwell Bronte, and found, still living, William, the brother of John Brown late grave digger and sexton... The ardent, imaginative, and impulsive youth fell a victim to this man of coffins, graves, pickaxes, and spades...") with an autograph letter to him by William Brown, Haworth, 18 February 1874, and an autograph journal of his further visit to the Browns at Haworth in May 1874 ("...William Brown had been expecting me by the train and overtook me in the street. We passed the memorable 'Bull' in our way to his house where he introduced me to his niece Martha, late servant to the Brontës and now with Mr Nicholls the husband of the late Charlotte... Mrs Brown said that when Branwell was forbidden to approach Mrs R. he was in a state of frenzy walking round their table, clenching a knife in his hand, and wildly raving at the irrevocable decrees of damned fate!...").

As well as Leyland's retained copies or drafts of his outgoing letters (as for example to the editor of the Athenaeum, submitting "My brother's lyrics and ballads, of which I have found some in his old metallic books, where they were scribbled, are weird and beautiful"), the collection also comprises Leyland's transcripts of letters to William Dearden by Martha Brown ("...Mother says you asked her on Saturday whether Mrs Gaskell had any talk with me before she began to write the memoir of my late Mistress...") and Patrick Brontë ("...As Mr Nicholls has stated, I have given to him, all Branwell's writings and wish, earnestly that no one should write his life - enough, I think, has been said on that head. He was a young man of varied, and brilliant talents; but alas! his appetite, was stronger than his reason, and thus all his fair prospects were blighted, his life shortened, and great sorrow brought upon his sisters, and me...")


Branwell Brontë and his friends.

John Brown was the sexton at Haworth church for a twenty year period during the Brontës' time. He was also a stonemason, carving headstones for the churchyard, and he lived, for many years, in the house adjoining the Sunday School - just beside the church. His daughter, Martha, worked as a servant at the Parsonage for over 30 years. John Brown became a very close friend, drinking companion, and confidant of Branwell, who painted this picture of him sometime between 1835 - 1839. Brown died in August 1855 (just 4 months after Charlotte) at the age of 51.

John Brown was the village Sexton and, although thirteen years older, he was a close friend of Branwell Brontë . The Browns lived in Sexton's House, which John himself had built on the eastern end of the Church School, shortly after the school was built in 1832. Sexton's House is directly opposite the Church, and about a hundred yards from the Parsonage. The Sexton was responsible for the fabric of the church and the maintenance of the burial ground, where he dug the graves and carved memorials. Most of John Brown's daughters worked at the Parsonage at one time or another, cleaning, washing and running errands, but Martha was the only one to live in. bronte.info
Parmi les noms souvent associés à la famille Brontë, celui de John Brown apparaît à de nombreuses reprises… Mais, que sait-on de l'homme ? Les liens qu'il a entretenus avec Patrick Branwell Brontë nous pousse, cette semaine, à écrire quelques lignes à son sujet…
John Brown avait 16 ans lorsque la famille Brontë vint s'installer à Haworth. Rapidement, il fascine Patrick Branwell Brontë qui le prend pour modèle et ami. En 1830, John Brown est initié à la franc-maçonnerie, et en à peine un an, il devient maître de la Loge des Trois Grâces. Il poussera ensuite Branwell à rejoindre la Loge et jouera un rôle important dans son initiation.
En 1835, à la mort de son père, John Brown prend sa suite et devient le fossoyeur et tailleur de pierre du village. Par son métier, il entre en contact avec Joseph B. Leyland, le sculpteur dont Branwell admirait l'œuvre. Les trois hommes deviennent de très proches amis. John Brown était reconnu à Haworth pour son sérieux. C'est pourquoi Patrick Brontë le laissa prendre en charge Branwell lorsque celui-ci sombrait dans l'alcool et l'opium. Néanmoins, il reste difficile de savoir aujourd'hui si l'influence qu'il a eu sur son jeune ami était bonne ou mauvaise…
John Brown et sa femme, Mary, eurent un fils qui mourut enfant et six filles, dont Martha Brown, qui entra au service du presbytère en 1845 et y resta jusqu'à la mort de Patrick Brontë. En 1861, elle suivit Arthur Bell Nicholls en Irlande. Le mari de Charlotte Brontë avait, par ailleurs, était logé par John et Mary Brown pendant son vicariat à Haworth, de mai 1845 jusqu'à son mariage en 1854.
John Brown était une figure importante dans la vie du village et reste une figure importante dans la vie de Patrick Branwell Brontë. Il resta l'un de ses plus fidèles amis, malgré la déchéance que Branwell connut. John Brown était avec lui quelques temps avant sa mort, l'aidant même à franchir pour la dernière fois vivant la porte du presbytèrebrontefrancejohn-brown-biographie

The Full Brontë A culture-filled stay in Lancashire discovering the legacy of the Brontë family and the beauty of North West England

This year is the 150th anniversary of the death of Patrick Brontë, father of six children, the most famous of whom were Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, whose novels, such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, are renowned the world over.
While we were on a recent visit to the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire, the museum’s director Andrew McCarthy explained to me and my partner that the “Brontë tourism industry” began even while Patrick was still alive in the 19th century.
He outlived his children, and soon after their passing, their lives and writings were already attracting visitors to the Parsonage. Patrick Brontë himself gave private tours of the house, showcasing the books and artworks of the family to dignitaries of the time.
To this day the enduring legacy of the sisters’ novels has much to do with the influence their father had on them, encouraging their passion for literature, something the sisters voraciously absorbed.
Today, the rooms of the house and furniture within them (much of which is original) have been carefully preserved and remain much as they would have done in their day, containing a vast array of the Brontë family possessions and artefacts.

Read more Cowan Bridge Nestled within the verdant setting of the Lune Valley at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire is the “Brontë Cottage”. Dating back to the 1750s, the grade II listed former school house is both unassuming and cosy in appearance, belying its place and significance in the history of the Brontë family. and Kirkby Lonsdale & Lancaster Historic City

A evening with the Brontes dec 19th

I  am really thrilled to have been invited to display my costumes at Scar top, sells beautiful solid wood  furniture but also  many other attractions among which are its tea rooms on the upper floor, which also hosts varoiuse Bronte  talks and events. It is this floor where  room is being prepared  for me to display costumes, the first display will be Bronte themed, dresses etc from around 1760/1770 to 1850. It will also include my two Bronte gowns which are being retired  after their hard work over summer .
I have also been asked to be involved in an interesting evening, there’s going to be a meal but the main part of the evening is a  christmas carol type Bronte presentation. Its set  a year after Emilys death so the date also coincides loosley with the second anniversary of the publication of wuthering heights. Charlotte plans to sort through Emilys possessions before packing them away and after thinking back to the events of the past two years  has a dialogue with an imaginary or ghostly Branwell. Read more on: Abigails ateliers

woensdag 23 november 2011

Weather Diaries

Bronte weather writes: Yesterday I went to Cliffe Castle in Keighley to look at the original weather diaries written by Abraham Shackleton of Braithwaite near Haworth. He kept records from 1801 until the end of 1857. Some of the records cover the time that the Bronte family were living in Haworth, so it's been fascinating to see the weather conditions at the time. The diaries aren't on permanent display in the Museum so we had to arrange to see them especially, which made the trip even more exciting. Read more on:  bronteweather/weather-diary
Bradford museums

dinsdag 22 november 2011

the Brontes of Haworth part 1

the Brontes of Haworth part 2

the Brontes of Haworth part 3

the Brontes of Haworth part 4

More Brontë lots at the historical Sotheby's auction that will take place next December 15th. More Ellen Nussey's copies of the Brontë-related books are also auctioned:

Sotheby's auction (III)
Lot 38
Shirley. A Tale. By Currer Bell. Smith, Elder & Co., 1849. Presented by the author near the time of publication to her lifelong friend Ellen Nussey; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent.

Lot 40
The Professor, A Tale. By Currer Bell. Smith, Elder & Co., 1857. Provenance The author's close friend Ellen Nussey, probably acquired near the time of publication; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent.

Lot 42
Brontë, Rev. Patrick Collection of Seven Works in Five Volumes. Provenance Sir George Armytage, and his eldest son G.J. Armytage, of Kirklees Park, their bookplates in (all but the last volume); thence by descent.

Lot 35
Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Smith, Elder & Co., 1846 [1848]. Provenance: According to the additional printed leaf bound in (signed by Ellen Nussey) at the beginning of each volume, this copy was presented by the author near the time of publication to her lifelong friend Ellen Nussey [However, considering the circumstances of its anonymous publication, and the author's closely guarded secret of her authorship, it may be that this copy was purchased separately by Ellen Nussey, probably on her visit to London in June 1848 (see Winifred Gérin,Charlotte Brontë. The Evolution of Genius,1967, pp.356 ff.)]; subsequently a gift of Ellen's (in May 1889) to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (his bookplate in all volumes); thence by descent.

maandag 21 november 2011

Branwell Brontë's "honest and kindly friend": Dr John Crosby of Great Ouseburn

The cause of Branwell’s dismissal has long been a subject of debate, while in recent years there has been increasing interest in Anne and appreciation of her work. The lack of information about their time at Thorp Green has therefore been most unfortunate; the following account of Branwell’s ‘honest and kindly friend’1 Dr John Crosby and his friends and neighbours, whose social life Branwell probably shared, may therefore be appreciated.

John Crosby - accomplice or dupe?
Moreover an unfortunate consequence of this interpretation is the reputation of the local surgeon, Dr John Crosby, who necessarily appears either as Mrs Robinson's accomplice or her dupe.  In fact Juliet Barker herself points out in a footnote that the inscription on the tablet in Great Ouseburn church erected in John Crosby's memory by "a large circle of friends who deeply lament his sudden removal", which speaks of "his universal kindness, professional ability, benevolent disposition & active usefulness", "suggests that he too may have been duped by the lady".
Crosby held dinner parties attended by John's elder siblings, his aunt, his cousins, and the Boroughbridge and Aldborough doctors; John went to tea there and stayed the night, and in turn Crosby's nephew stayed overnight with the Stubbs family; John and Crosby played whist at uncle Henlock's house, together with other male friends and family and the gamekeeper; John went to Crosby's for tea, and they played Bagatelle and cards; he called at Crosby's and met a young visitor, Miss Johnson ("She played & sang   I turned over the leaves   she has a very sweet voice").  Crosby was fond of company and evidently well-disposed to the young.

Branwell – like Mark Smallwood and Tom Johnson after him – will have been a welcome addition to this circle.  At the time of Branwell's arrival at Thorp Green in the neighbouring parish of Little Ouseburn, he was 25 years old and John Crosby was 46, twenty years younger than Branwell's father. In this small society, Crosby's friends spanned all ages – John Stubbs' aunt Ann, for example, was seven years older than Branwell.
Branwell was sociable and had (in Charlotte's words) a "strong turn for active life"; he was probably happy to join in Crosby's circle of friends. Moreover, there are several minor points about this social circle that might have seemed familiar or caught his interest.

We do not know what Crosby believed to be the situation between Branwell and Mrs Robinson – chaste mutual passion, unrequited longing, or unfortunate delusion.  Nevertheless, according to Branwell's surviving correspondence, Dr Crosby continued to take a sympathetic interest in him after his dismissal, as a source of kindly advice and some money. 
John Crosby's kindness to Branwell and others

Mrs Robinson may have been the source of the money, perhaps (ostensibly or in reality) as financial aid to employee(s) in need, but Dr Crosby may have assisted Branwell himself out of charity – especially if Branwell had also belonged to the local Oddfellows Lodge, in which case support for a fellow-member was a moral duty. His concern for Branwell must not only have derived from the emphasis he and his circle set on keeping up with friends and acquaintances, but also his undoubted sympathy for those in distress. 

John Crosby (1797-1859) and his family
Shocked by John Crosby's sudden death of a stroke at Euston railway station on 1 December 1859 at the age of 62, his friends not only erected a tablet in his memory in the church at Great Ouseburn, but also an obelisk in the graveyard.  The inscription on the latter has almost disappeared, but fortunately the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds holds a transcription taken before the weather obliterated much of the lettering.  It recorded that 

"the benevolence of his disposition, the urbanity of his manners, the sympathy he manifested for the suffering poor and the skill he evinced in the exercise of his professional duties left a name which is cherished in many abodes, that in health had been cheered by his genial spirits and in sickness had been solaced by his kindly aid."  Read more on the weblog of Alice Barrigan: North Yorkshire History

Branwell and his friends.

Grundy, Francis Henry

In the words of his friend, Francis Grundy: 
Patrick Branwell Brontë was no domestic demon – he was just a man moving 
in a mist, who lost his way.  More sinned against,  mayhap, than sinning,  at 
least he proved the reality of his sorrows.  They killed him …
Friend of Branwell from his Luddenden Foot days. He was himself a railway engineer, lodging at the time in Halifax with a nephew of George Stephenson. He was also the son of a minister, in his case a Unitarian, and was joyously kicking over the traces of his background and upbringing. He participated in Branwell’s excesses of the time, but he remained faithful to the friendship: it was he to whom Branwell appealed when he hoped for re-employment on the railways, and apparently it was he through whom Branwell approached the Martineau family and Leigh Hunt. He kept in touch during Branwell’s long decline, asking him to Skipton to meet him in the summer of 1846, and going to Haworth to see him, shockingly altered, in his last days. His book Pictures of the Past (1879) was in part an attempt to put the record straight, as he saw it, about Branwell. Marred by muddled memory and the misdating of Branwell’s letters, it nevertheless gives a lively and vivid picture of the younger man, with a strong pathos and sense of wasted talents in the account of their later contacts. Grundy was a very fallible human being, but on the whole a good friend. His claim that Branwell told him he had himself written “a great portion of Wuthering Heights ” is possible but extremely unlikely.
blackwell reference grundy
It was probably during the six weeks when Mr. Bronte and Charlotte were absent in Manchester that Mr. Grundy resolved to visit Branwell. He says: 'As he never came to see me, I shortly made up my mind to visit him at Haworth, and was shocked at the wrecked and wretched appearance he presented. Yet he still craved for an appointment of any kind, in order that he might try the excitement of change; of course uselessly.'
It must, it seems, have been on this occasion, in the course of conversation at the parsonage, that Branwell made a statement, respecting his novel, to Mr. Grundy, which has acquired considerable interest. I give it in the words in which Mr. Grundy recalls the incident. 'Patrick Bronte declared to me, and what his sister said bore out the assertion, that he wrote a great portion of "Wuthering Heights" himself.'the-bronte-family-

In late September, Francis Grundy came to Haworth.  He ordered dinner for two in a private room at the Black Bull and sent a messenger up to the parsonage for Branwell.  While he waited, Patrick came to warn him 
of the dramatic change in Branwell’s appearance. Grundy noted: He spoke of Branwell with more affection that I had ever heretofore heard him express, but he also spoke almost hopelessly.  He said that when my message 
came, Branwell was in bed, and had been almost too weak for the last few days to leave it, nevertheless, he had insisted upon coming, and would be there immediately. Despite the warning, Grundy was shocked when Branwell arrived: Presently, the door opened cautiously, and a head appeared. It was a mass of red, unkempt, uncut hair, wildly floating round a great, gaunt forehead:  the cheeks yellow and hollow, the mouth fallen, the thin white lips not trembling but shaking, the sunken eyes, once small, now glaring with the light of 
madness. Once Branwell was warmed by a glass or two of brandy, “he looked frightened – frightened of himself”.  Later, as Grundy took his leave, Branwell produced a carving knife and confessed that he had imagined the message was a call from Satan.  He had armed himself with the knife and come to the inn determined to rush into the room and stab its occupant.  Only the sound of Grundy’s voice and his manner had “brought him home to himself”.  Grundy “left him standing bare-headed in the road with bowed form and dropping tears.

More Brontë lots at the historical Sotheby's auction that will take place next December 15th. Besides a Charlotte Brontë manuscript, Ellen Nussey's copies of the Brontë novels are also auctioned:

  • Lot 41 Wuthering Heights. A Novel by Ellis Bell and Agnes Grey. A Novel by Acton Bell. London: Thomas Cautley Newby, 1847. Provenance Probably presented by the author's sister Charlotte in or before January 1849 to their close friend Ellen Nussey, ownership signature ("E Nussey") on front free endpaper of volume 3 (Agnes Grey) and references in The Letters of Charlotte Brontë, ed. M. Smith; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent.
  • Lot 36 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. By Acton Bell. London: T.C. Newby, 1848 Provenance Presented by the author on 8 January 1849 to Ellen Nussey, inscription on front endpaper; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent.
  • Lot 39 Villette by Currer Bell.Smith, Elder & Co., 1853 Provenance Presented by the author near the time of publication to her lifelong friend Ellen Nussey, presentation inscription in the hand of Ellen Nussey on front free endpaper; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent
  • Lot 44 The Life of Charlotte BrontëSmith, Elder & Co., 1857 Provenance Presented by the author to Ellen Nussey, presentation inscription in the hand of the recipient on front free endpaper of volume 1; given by Ellen in May 1889 to Sir George John Armytage, 6th baronet of Kirklees (Armytage bookplate and additional printed leaf, c.1889, with full provenance, signed by Ellen Nussey, bound in at the front of each volume); thence by descent.

zondag 20 november 2011

The home of the sisters Bronte. -Extract from The Bradford Observer, Saturday, November 20, 1875

Haworth Village, whose parsonage was so long the residence of the Bronte's, is in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and situated only a few miles from three towns of considerable importance - Halifax, Bradford and Keighley. The friend of Charlotte Bronte has endeavoured to give some idea of the appearance of the district, but even she fails to depict it as it existed in the early part of the present century. In addition to the dull, monotonous stretch of moorland, with here and there a "beck" or crag as the sole variation for the weary eye, there was a population to be met with which in some respects exhibited no advance whatever over, that of the Middle Ages. Nor is this scarcely to be wondered at, for within the knowledge of the present writer, to whom the whole locality is perfectly familiar, they were living a few years ago individuals who have never beheld one of the foremost powers of civilisation- the railway. Great natural shrewdness undoubtedly was a characteristic of the inhabitants of the Riding, and in many cases a rough kind of bonhommie was added, which, however, was frequently made mere offensive than positive rudeness. Add to this that there was very little opportunity afforded to the poor for culture, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen hours per day being their constant labour at the factories- and the imagination will have little left to do in forming an estimate of the exoteric existence of the Yorkshire character. Haworth-village

Newspapers are full of information about people such as councillors, magistrates, victims of accidents, advertisers and others. The Bradford Observer (which started in 1834)

Branwell Brontë and his friends

I am going to search
for information
about the friends of 
Branwell Brontë
I  know the names 
and the stories

What can I find on internet
are there pictures of them?

J. B. Leyland

Joseph Bentley Leyland, born in Halifax 1811, sculpted Kilmeny. He started working in 1827 
Photograph of the sculpture of Kilmeny at Bankfield Museum, Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Leyland had visited London in the December of 1833
At the age of twenty-one, J. B. Leyland modelled a statue of great size. It was of Spartacus, the Thracian hero. The statue was displayed at the Manchester Exhibition of 1832. It was said to be the most striking work of art on display, and a work far beyond the sculptor's age. This praise heralded the arrival of a young genius. This youthful sculptor and poet was one of a group of young Yorkshire artists and writers who had emerged in the late Georgian and early Victorian period. They met regularly at the George Hotel, Bradford where they would discuss and criticize each other's literary and artistic offerings in a convivial atmosphere. Branwell Brontë was a member of this group. This article looks at the life and work of J. B. Leyland — 'flawed genius'.

Sotheby's auction (I)

The Young Men's Magazine manuscript is certainly
the big star in the upcoming Sotheby's auction (December 15th)
 But it is not the only item to be auctioned.
 In this series of posts  Bronte Blog
 tries to give details of all the Brontë lots.

Charlotte's first burst of creativity, of which the magazine is a representative example, came in early adolescence. Its wellspring was the intense community she formed with her three siblings. Brontë juvenilia is of unusual importance as their childhood empires of the imagination loom so large in our understanding and appreciation of their mature works: generations of readers have been moved by the thought of these four extraordinarily gifted children conjuring up wonderful worlds together in their lonely Yorkshire parsonage. In their father's words: "As they had few opportunities of being in learned and polished society, in their retired country situation, they formed a little society amongst themselves – with which they seem'd content and happy." (Rev. Patrick Bronte to Mrs Gaskell, 20 June 1855).

"[A]n immense amount of manuscript, in an inconceivably small space" was Mrs Gaskell's comment when she saw Charlotte's juvenilia. Its minute size is the most extraordinary physical feature of this manuscript, as it is of the other early works by Charlotte and her siblings. The manuscript offered here contains more than 4000 words crammed on to 19 pages (including the title page and half title) each of which is no more than 35 x 61mm. It must have been extraordinarily laborious work, especially as Charlotte's desire to replicate a printed magazine went so far as carefully printing out each individual letter. The tiny scale of the manuscript reflects the miniature nature of its subject, since Glass Town was originally populated by characters based on Branwell's toy soldiers, as well as its intimate nature – it was produced to be shared only among the four Brontë children. This imaginary world was intensely private and the miniature scale of these works ensured that they were easily hidden and indeed could only be read without a magnifying glass by the sharp eyes of a child.

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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