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 30 december 2011

Brontë in Paris; pity poor Haworth

My news from Paris is that on Jan 30 this cultural jewel, a tiny manuscript written by a youthful Charlotte Brontë in 1830, will go on public display for the first time.
That is an awful long time for the public to have had to wait. So it is good to be able to add that there is a geographical bonus: there are far worse places to find yourself on a winter's day than the vicinity of 222 Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Le Musée des lettres et manuscrits - someone please explain to me why Le not La, but do NOT get me on to the subject of the accent in Brontë - was successful in an auction at Sotheby's in London on Dec 14 in securing the "little book", which measures just 35 x 61mm but nevertheless contains 20 pages with more than 4,000 words of minuscule script. Read more: France salut

donderdag 29 december 2011

Portrait of Emily.

It is well known what our opinion and the Brontë Society's opinion is about this alleged portrait of Emily Brontë (attributed to John Hunter Thompson of Bradford around 1840) recently auctioned at J.P. Humbert Auctioneers. This is the press release of its auction sale:
Emily Brontë 'Bonnet' Portrait sells in excess of £23000
A portrait of Emily Brontë has sold at a Northamptonshire auction house for £23,836 (premium inclusive) against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000. It will stay in England after a fierce bidding battle with a prospective buyer in America.
After much speculation over the past month as to whether the 7 'A' x 5 '/4" oil on board was of the reclusive English writer or not, the evidence as produced by the auctioneers seemed to stack up meeting much international interest and buyers in the room and online.
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert of J.P. Humbert Auctioneers Ltd of Towcester said: "we are delighted with the result which seems to prove our contention that this was in fact a hitherto unknown portrait of Emily Brontë."
"During viewing, at least four independent authorities on the Brontë family concurred with our view, one of whom has written a definitive publication on Wuthering Heights." 
We wonder who these anonymous independent authorities are. bronteblog/better-disputed-bronte-than-none.html
Frocktalk posts a very interesting interview with Michael O'Connor, costume designer of Jane Eyre 2011 in which he says thinks like this:
Tell me about how you arrived at the color palette.  It was exquisite.  Was it a result of conversations with the Production Designer and DP, or was it something the director had in mind?
The colour palette really is about the balance between Jane and other characters. The book often describes Jane as wearing plain black. I thought this would be too severe so chose shades of grey, dark blue and slate colours with subtle patterns to reflect the mood of the scene. Once these colours were established, other characters fit in around her. So, for example Rochester has a brown frock coat and not the more usual black; likewise Mrs. Fairfax is mostly in brown. Blanche Ingram, where the temptation is to be brash and colourful, could be designed more subtly. bronteblog

A Brontë mention in the Downton Abbey Christmas special, the book title they have to guess in the Christmas charade is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. You can see a complete photoset on Sunny Dreams.

The new black in economy and politics is, of course, budget cuts. They know no limits and we wonder if when they are planned someone looks beyond the sheer figures and thinks of the consequences (social and economical) of many of these (improvised) decisions. The latest in this series comes from Kirkless Council:
Museums could close for a quarter of the year to cut costs.
Kirklees Council officials have drawn up plans to shut cultural centres across the district in December, January and February.
The move would affect sites including: (...)

Red House Museum in Gomersal, an 1830s home which featured in the Charlotte Brontë novelShirley.
Oakwell Hall in Birstall, a 17th Century stately home with extensive grounds which also featured in Shirley. (...)
The proposal is set to be formally unveiled next month, with the museums due to close in December 2012.
Unison’s chief steward for wellbeing and communities Kath McHendry told the Examiner yesterday: “We haven’t got firm details but the thing they are looking at is closing them in December, January and February.
“The museums would be closed for three months, unless there was a special event. That seems to be the proposal they want to run with.” (...)
Huddersfield Civic Society chairman Chris Marsden also attacked the plan yesterday.
“I think it’s a miserable idea to close the council’s cultural offering for a quarter of the year,” he said.
“The education of schoolchildren should be higher up the council’s agenda. This plan would spread ignorance.”

Mr Marsden believes the closures would harm Huddersfield’s tourism industry.
“It’s discouraging people from visiting the town,” he said.
“If you bring someone to Huddersfield, you would expect to be able to offer people some insight into the town through art and museums.”
Mr Marsden added that Kirklees should consider less radical ways to save money.

“I would like to know the rationale behind this,” he said.
“Closing museums for one day a week, or shutting earlier in the evening would be kinder.
“Closing for three months would be hard. The winter is a good time to visit museums, in the summer people want to do outdoor things, like go to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.”  (Barry Gibson in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

woensdag 28 december 2011

UK DVD Releases: March 2012

The DVD (and Blu-Ray) release of Jane Eyre 2011 in the UK will be next March 12 (thanks to Traxy for telling us). It seems that the edition will contain the same extras as the Region 1 edition:T
 Jane Eyre (Triple play Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy)
Universal Pictures UK
March 12, 2011

Additional Material:
  • Audiocomentary by Cary Fukunaga
  • A Look Inside Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre Featurette 03:39)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Easter Egg: Audiocomentary by Rob Meyer and Ameer Youssef, close associates of director Cary Fukunaga. 
  • To Score Jane Eyre (02:11)
  • The Mysterious Light of Jane Eyre (01:50) — Interviews with cast and crew on the cinematography and the novel's gothic aspect.Bronteblog 

dinsdag 27 december 2011

The Rylands Online Collection

Browse images related to Mrs. Gaskell at the Rylands Online Collection. Including some of her letters, plates of drawings that originally appeared in first editions or the magazine publications of her works, and the famous miniature portrait. I highly recommend you to visit it:enriqueta.man.ac.uk Gaskell

zondag 25 december 2011

A Christmas Carol

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Happy Christmas to all Bronte Sisters readers!

The Bronte Sisters and their Christmas holidays.

Only two months later, when Charlotte was home for the Christmas holidays, the sisters had a chance to test this power further. The Brontë household servant Tabby had broken her leg on the frozen Mainstreet of Haworth and was to be sent away to recover at her sister's cottage. Emily, Charlotte and Anne protested, but were ignored. They initiated a hunger strike that only lasted 24 hours before their Aunt and father gave in, and allowed Tabby to be nursed at Haworth. 
As late as 1833, when Charlotte was seventeen, her father"s  Christmas present to her was a notebook at the front of which he thought it necessary to make the written plea that 'all that is written in this book, must be in a good, plain and legible hand' (Barker, The Brontës, p. 201).

But, in the Christmas holidays, the three sisters again met at their home, and discussed their hopes and prospects

It was about Christmas time of 1836 that Miss Wooler transferred her school from the fine, open and breezy Roe Head, to Heald House, Dewsbury Moor a much less bracing situation, which was sure to be less healthy to anyone accustomed, as the Brontes were, to the moors at Ha worth ; Charlotte very much regretted the change, especially for the sake of her sister Anne. Charlotte returned to the school after the holidays

When returning home for her Christmas holidays, Anne informs the Robinsons that she wishes to terminate her employment with them. She wants to stay at home, taking the place of Emily, who will soon be leaving, with Charlotte, to attend a school in Brussels. However, Anne has made herself so indispensable at Thorp Green that the Robinsons plead with her to return, which she ultimately decides
 to do.

Christmas 1839 saw the whole Bronte family reunited in Haworth, all four children having failed to hold a job  and all four now unemployed.

Charlotte to Miss Wooler
"Dec. 12th, 1853.

"I wonder how you are spending these long winter evenings. Alone, probably, like me. The thought often crosses me, as I sit by myself, how pleasant it would be if you lived within a walking distance, and I could go to you sometimes, or have you to come and spend a day and night with me.

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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