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 6 juli 2012

New Charlotte Brontë letter at Parsonage Museum betrays her sympathy for poor governesses. An important letter has returned to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, 150 years after Charlotte Brontë wrote it there.

Miss Mary Holmes was a struggling writer and musician originally from Gargrave, North Yorkshire, who wrote to Charlotte for advice on her book. She worked as music teacher to the daughters of novelist William Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, and he had already kindly found someone to review the book in a national newspaper, as well as offering to help pay for it to be privately printed. Thackeray passed on Charlotte’s address so that Miss Holmes could send it to the now-famous Haworth author for some advice – they came from villages just 20 miles apart.

Charlotte’s response, dated 22 April 1852, and sent from the Parsonage in Haworth, was friendly and encouraging – which was not always the case: the author of Jane Eyre, by now a bestselling literary star, could be dismissive of fellow authors seeking advice. Either she was keen to do Thackeray a favour, though, or she spotted genuine talent in Miss Holmes’s work, for she wrote that the book: seems to [me] very clever and very learnedYou erred in telling me to skip the first chapters; I am glad I disobeyed the injunction.

Miss Holmes has clearly mentioned in her letter to Charlotte that she has worked as a governess. Charlotte replies: You are right in supposing that I must feel a degree of interest in the details of a Governess-life. That life has on me the hold of actual experience; to all who live it – I cannot but incline with a certain sympathy; and any kind feeling they express for me – comes pleasantly and meets with grateful acceptance.

The letter was purchased from an auction at Bonham’s in London on 12 June 2012.
It will be displayed from early 2013. 
Read all the article on: Bronte Parsonage

donderdag 5 juli 2012

Weblogs and the Brontes



(Fritz Eichenberg, illustration from Wuthering Heights, Random House edition 1943; from here)

Lady Edna Clarke Hall, ‘The Earnshaw Family by the Fireside’, circa 1899; in the Tate Collection along with other sketches the artist made to illustrateWuthering Heights over a long period)

(Detail from Sylvia Plath, ‘Wuthering Heights Today’; from here)

                 On rereading Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

woensdag 4 juli 2012

On this day in 1847 The manuscripts of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Anne's Agnes Grey were sent to the publishers; T.C. Newby. They were published in December 1847.

Charlotte submitted three novels to the firm of Thomas Cautley Newby: The ProfessorWuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Newby rejected the first of these but agreed to publish the second and third. He agreed to print 300 copies but demanded his usual harsh terms for first time novelists: £50. This sum he promised to return to the authors once 250 of the 300 copies were sold.
Having obtained the money and set the book in type and sent proof sheets to the Bells, Newby then did nothing. The Bells (Brontës) wrote. Newby did not respond. He had his money. What further income could he expect from the venture?
Meanwhile, Charlotte pressed on. After Newby rejected The Professor, she sent the manuscript to Smith, Elder and Company. Like Newby they refused but in a thoughtful and courteous letter. The consequence was that later that same month the furiously writing Charlotte sent another manuscript, Jane Eyre. Its first reader, W. S. Williams, immediately saw its quality and passed it on to George Smith, who spent a Sunday ( ! ) reading it. This was late August 1847, as Charlotte’s cover letter is dated 24 August. By October, Smith, Elder and Company had published it. By December it was the talk of literary London.
Newby in October 1847 was still dilly dallying on Wuthering Heights, hesitating at a dubious commercial undertaking. He did not so neglect all his authors. In the same year as Wuthering Heights appeared, Newby published Anthony Trollope’s first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran, obligingly sent him by Trollope’s mother, Frances, a successful novelist. Judging shrewdly that the Trollope name was worth something, he brought out Trollope’s book at his own expense, suggesting when he could that it was the work of the then more famous mother. It was only when Jane Eyre proved that the Bell name might also be worth something that Newby resumed production on Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. Even then he rushed the job, ignoring corrections Ellis and Acton Bell had made on the proofs he had supplied. 

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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