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 4 augustus 2012

As far as we know, Patrick Brontë didn't have a copy of Audubon's magnificent (and very expensive) Birds of America. Nevertheless Audobon's five volumes of his Ornithological Biography (published in the 1830s) were owned by the Brontës.

This article is from bronteblog/all-these-have-i-procured
The Economist has a fascinating article about the copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America who is at the Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio. Regrettably some of the facts in the article are slightly misleading:
In Margot Livesey's novel "The Flight of Gemma Hardy", an update of Charlotte Brönte's (SIC) Jane Eyre, the heroine spends hours reading her uncle's copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America", the famous double-elephant folio of bird prints.  (...)
But while the suggestion that Jane could carry the book is unrealistic, Ms Livesey's reference to her access of the book makes sense. Brönte's (SIC)  father, the Reverend Patrick Brönte (SIC) owned the "Birds of America" books at one time. In her Life of Charlotte Brönte (SIC), Elizabeth Gaskell reproduces a letter from her to Emily, which includes a list of book recommendations. "For Natural History, read Bewick, and Audubon, and Goldsmith," she wrote. Brönte's (SIC) set, enjoyed by Anne and Emily as well as Charlotte, does still exist, intact, and bound in brown leather. Where? In Cleveland, Ohio.
The complete set is on permanent display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, far from Bröntes' (SIC) Haworth. The books are on the museum's second-floor library, inside a specially built cabinet from 1947. There is no disputing the book's provenance: the Reverand Brönte (SIC) signed four volumes of the Biography. (The first volume contains some of his notes as well, but the museum has resisted efforts at deciphering them.)
How did this set of books, so key to both literary and bibliophilic history, get to Cleveland? Via another literary great, Amy Lowell. An American poet, Lowell bought the set from a London book dealer in 1901, and paid $1,575. After her death in 1925 the books were sold, and in 1926 were listed by a Boston book dealer for $4,750. In 1947 John Sherwin, a Cleveland banking giant, bought the set and donated it to the Cleveland museum. (A.T.)
As far as we know, Patrick Brontë didn't have a copy of Audubon's magnificent (and very expensive) Birds of America. Nevertheless Audobon's five volumes of his Ornithological Biography (published in the 1830s) were owned by the Brontës. In the first volume, Patrick Brontë inscribed the following (despite what the article says about resisting deciphering):
"There are 5 volumes of this work - prince &1.4.0each - amounting together to &6.0.0. All these have I procured - P.B. 1852".

vrijdag 3 augustus 2012

A reader asked me: Is er ook iets bekend over breiwerk in die tijd ( Victoriaanse lace ? In the Victorian age, what kind of knitting did women do?)

If the end of the 18th Century heralded the decline of the handknitting industry
The 19th century heralded the beginning of the craft of home-knitting for pleasure rather than profit. 

This was the time of white cotton work, doilies, chair backs, curtains, shelf edgings etc.
If an article could be knitted, then the Victorian lady knitted it.

  • By 1835 knitting had become a very fashionable hobby for middle class drawing rooms of England and Scotland
  • Between 1835-40, English knitting books appeared in large numbers, these were very popular
  • New imported yarns, fine wools and improved quality needles now became available
  • 1836 is the date of first known pattern publication, this was by Jane Gaugain.
  • In 1837, Jane produced a small slim book on family knitting
  • In 1840, she published a bookThe Ladies Assistant which included crochet as well as knitting
  • between 1852-3, she produced lots of books, they contained patterns for
    caps, counterpanes, purses, baby clothes, shawls, bags, pin cushions, doyleys, cuffs, spencers, blankets,
    muffs, scarfs, mittens, and stockings
  • It was in about 1837, in Gaitloch, Scotland that the first Argyle or Tartan stockings were produced Mini knitting stuff
Lacy and lush, with delightful flower patterns and lovely colors – that is what the Victorian look is all about; it is what Victorian knitting and crochet were all about, too. From delightfully flattering clothes to wonderfully luxurious bed coverings, Victorian women loved to stitch gorgeous items in dainty patterns. Nowadays, it’s easy to make the same kinds of wonderful pieces yourself. Sources abound for yarns and patterns with that unmistakable Victorian appeal.

Coverlets were one of the most exquisite knitted items in any Victorian home. They were a lavish mix of many floral lace patterns, creating a look of opulence. According to legendary knitting expert Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns, “lace knitting” is “the height of the knitter’s art,” and to achieve the best results “knitters used the finest of knitting needles and the doilyfinest of knitting yarns.” Delicate designs such as bluebell, laburnum, and beech-leaf captured the beauty of the garden with leaf and flower motifs. 
Another essential for any Victorian knitter was the doily. Ladies of the era pulled out all the stops when they crafted these delightful accents, using often a dozen lace designs in a single piece. Crochet was also a popular method for crafting doilies, as well as similar items such as vase mats – thicker and smaller doilies meant to keep furniture free of water spots. Three-dimensional flowers graced the edges of many crocheted doilies, with the same styles of leaf motifs found in knitting – adding to it flowered charm.
Knit and Crochet Fashions: Stepping Out in Lace and Luxury
knitted shawl
Clothes were another way for a Victorian lady to enjoy hand-knit lace.  Shawls were a favorite accessory. Some were simple one-stitch designs, while others were lavish, with ornate patterns, scalloped edges, and long fringe. For more warmth, shawls were often crafted from non-lacy patterns, such as garter stitch or double crochet, and then enhanced with a lacy edge. Whether they were lacy or cozy, shawls were often trimmed with ribbon and made in fashionable hues of red, mauve, and blue. Victoriana/VictorianCrafts/knitting

Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre:
Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.  

The Professor: Next day was appropriated to the first class; on my arrival, I found the directress seated, as usual, in a chair between the two estrades, and before her was standing Mdlle. Henri, in an attitude (as it seemed to me) of somewhat reluctant attention. The directress was knitting and talking at the same time.

dinsdag 31 juli 2012

Celebrating Emily Brontë Emily Brontë, author of classic novel Wuthering Heights was born on this day in 1818.

Born on this day in 1818.

Weblogs and Emily Bronte
Life had not been fair to Heathcliff and now theories abound on why he acted the way he did.

The six-year-old Emily was considered a delight at Cowen bridge and seems to have been a favourite among the teachers. She was more fully described  by a unamed source ( possibly be Ellen Nussey) as  having ” a never-failing quiet unselfishness a genial spirit always willing to help, with timid but faithful affection.  Or in the  word of other servants, ""Pleasant  and sometimes quite jovial, friendly, or from villagers, clever, timid, a clever lass with a spirit of her own, ( quoted in New York times 1883  from the famous women series Emily Bronte by A Mary F Robinson. 
We can be sure that Emily had dark brown hair as it can be seen in the mourning jewelry at the parsonage, she is described by eye witnesses as having beautiful dark brown hair, she seems to have held it up in her adult years with a tall comb similar to those still used in Spain, though smaller. In her teenage years she wore it in a tight frizz that was very unbecoming.  Abigails Ateliers/will-the-real-emily-bronte-please-stand-up
The moors she loved so much
Heathcliffe and Cathy in a dramatic scene from Wuthering Heights. Illustration by James E. McConnell
                       Look and learn/birth-of-emily-bronte/

maandag 30 juli 2012

What connection has Burton Agnes with such famous names as Lewis Carroll (the pen-name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) Charlotte Brontë and William Wilberforce? The link, rather indirect but still valid, comes through St Martin's Church and the Old Rectory behind the Hall, not as grand as the hall but still a substantial building.

St Martin's Church in Burton Agnes
The Rev Charles Henry Lutwidge became Rector of Burton Agnes in 1833. Three years earlier he had married Anne Louisa Raikes, daughter of the wealthy and influential Robert Raikes, of Welton, who was patron of the living of Burton Agnes and conveniently appointed his clergyman son-in-law Lutwidge to the well remunerated position of rector. The Lutwidge's were well established in our area. Grandfather Charles Lutwidge lived in a fine house in Hull's smartest address, Charlotte Street (now incorporated into George Street), and held the prestigious post of collector of customs for Hull. His daughter, Francis Jane, married the Rev Charles Dodgson at Christ Church, which stood near the New Theatre but was bombed in the war and later demolished.  They were the parents of the author of Alice In Wonderland and the Rector of Burton Agnes was his uncle. Whether  (born 1832) ever visited Burton Agnes we shall never know but their dates overlap and he could, quite reasonably, have been taken there as a child on a family visit.
Lewis Carroll is always associated with St Mary's Church, Beverley. The White Rabbit drawn by John Tenniel for the original edition of Alice is identical to the one in Beverley. Again, there is no proof but it would have made sense for Carroll, a clergyman and enthusiastic photographer, to have visited St Mary's and pointed his camera at the carving. Uncle Charles at Burton Agnes took on a curate to assist him in his not too onerous duties: Henry Nussey, whose sister Ellen was Charlotte Brontë's best friend. 
Looking in a somewhat calculating way for a wife who could act as his housekeeper, Nussey proposed marriage to Charlotte Brontë. She promptly turned him down, fortunately as events proved by his later disastrous marriage and Charlotte's finding a more suitable husband, the Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls. William Wilberforce is forever associated with Hull, but the Burton Agnes link comes through his second son, Robert Isaac, born at Clapham in 1802. 
The house in High Street was William's birthplace but he did not live there as an adult. Through his father, Robert was brought up in the Evangelical tradition. It was at Oxford that he came into contact with High Church Anglicans, Keble, Pusey and particularly John Henry Newman, who influenced him in following their ideas and beliefs. Robert married Agnes, daughter of Archdeacon Wrangham, though it is recorded that he spent the first day of his honeymoon unromantically writing a book. After her early death he married her cousin. In his church life he prospered, becoming Lutwidge's successor at Burton Agnes in 1840 with the additional position of Archdeacon of the East Riding. This gave him important social standing in the area and he duly enlarged and Victorianised the Georgian rectory. He also embarked on a programme of alterations to the church, concentrating on the chancel in accordance with his religious inclinations, installing a stained-glass window at the east end and, as a tribute to his father, had his head and shoulders carved in stone. In 1853 his second wife died and he made the momentous decision to resign his living at Burton Agnes and become a Roman Catholic. Intending to be ordained, he went to Rome but died there of gastric fever in 1857. His famous father had died in 1833, but this visual reminder of the family link with Burton Agnes remains.
                                   Eastfield farm site of Ellen Nussey's house Easton
Eastfield Farm built in 1961 on the site of an earlier house was where Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey came to stay in 1839. Ellen’s brother was curate at Burton Agnes and had proposed marriage to Charlotte, which she declined. The rector was Charles Henry Lutwidge, uncle of Lewis Carroll. travel/guide/yorkshirewolds

Whilst Charlotte Bronte and her friend Ellen Nussey were staying in Boynton in 1839, they came to visit friends and probably visited the church, where Ellen’s brother had been curate. He had proposed marriage to Charlotte which she declined. The rector was Charles Henry Lutwidge, uncle of Lewis Carroll. travel/guide/yorkshirewolds

—Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights 

zondag 29 juli 2012

Juliet Barker's monumental The Brontës will be republished this autumn in a new edition. Publishers Weekly talks about it and asks the author to list all the Brontë novels:
Juliet Barker's landmark biography, The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family, has just received an update--making the feat of chronicling literature's most famous family even more heroic, and making the 1,200 page volume even more comprehensive. Barker, the former curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Howarth (sic), ranked the books of the sisters for Tip Sheet.
Ranking Jane Austen’s novels may cause controversy – but it’s a storm in a tea-cup compared to the elemental forces unleashed when asked to choose between the Brontë novels. The three weird sisters of Haworth arouse passions like no other writers: Austen has fans but the Brontës have devotees and, believe me, there’s a very big difference – criticising Pride and Prejudice doesn’t provoke a baying lynch-mob in quite the same way as hinting that all is not perfection inWuthering Heights.
Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have consistently spent decades in the top five best-selling and most popular novels of all time, so doesn’t that make them the obvious candidates for joint first? But I’d like to make the case for...
1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne is the also-ran of the Brontë family yet The Tenant shares all the virtues of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – powerful writing, gripping storyline, dramatic tension and passionate authorial involvement – whilst remaining firmly rooted in reality (no Rochester fooling his guests by disguising himself as a gypsy-woman or Heathcliff digging up his lover’s corpse). (...)
2. Jane Eyre3. Wuthering Heights4. Villette5. Agnes Grey6. The Professor7. Shirley (Read more)
Bronte blog 

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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