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 7 september 2012

the Gondal saga

In 1831, after Charlotte left for Roe Head School, Emily and Anne began to concentrate their energies exclusively on the Gondal saga, distinct from the Angrian fantasies of their brother and sister, a special form of imaginative play in which the two younger sisters alone engaged for the remainder of their lives. 
  • Emily's first mention of Gondal occurs in her diary paper for 24 November 1834, a series of notes written by Emily and Anne about every four years and the earliest piece of Brontë's writing to have survived. The first paragraph of the entry reads, "Taby said just now Come Anne pilloputate (i.e. pill a potato) Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said where are you feet Anne Anne answered On the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour door and gave Branwell a letter saying here Branwell read this and show it to your Aunt and Charlotte--The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine Sally Mosley is washing in the back kitchen." In addition to noting the astonishing absence of punctuation conventions in the sixteen-year-old Emily's diary entry, critics uniformly point to her seamless fit of the imaginary Gondal into the fabric of everyday events in the Brontë kitchen. 
Scholars such as W. D. Paden in An Investigation of Gondal (1958) have deftly recovered much of the history of Gondal despite Charlotte's destruction of the plays and prose after her sisters' deaths, from the birthday notes, the undated lists of character names Anne wrote, the list of place names she wrote into a copy of J. Goldsmith's A Grammar of General Geography (1819), and Emily's and Anne's Gondal poems. Most recognize, however, their own creative responsibility in such a reconstruction, for while Brontë wrote almost seventy poems that are undoubtedly part of the Gondal story, the majority of her poems cannot always be attributed to Gondal, and many are clearly more personal lyrics. Scholars therefore find Fannie Ratchford's Gondal's Queen: A Novel in Verse (1955), an attempt to fit the whole of Brontë's poetic output into the Gondal fantasy, an interesting but far-fetched effort. 
  • What can be determined is that Gondal, according to Anne, was "a large island in the North Pacific" and that Gaaldine was "a large island newly discovered in the South Pacific." The rigorous scenery of these islands derives much from Scott's fiction and is filled with mountains, heather, and snow. 
  • The Gondal stories concern impetuous royalty, political intrigue, love thwarted and abandoned, wars, murders, and assassinations. 
  • In a noteworthy article in 1939 Helen Brown was one of the first critics to point out the influence of George Gordon, Lord Byron, on Brontë's Gondal characters and their isolation, passions, dark crimes, and darker thoughts. 
  • The main character in Brontë's Gondal poems, the speaker of at least fourteen and the subject of many others, is the passionate, dark-haired queen Augusta G. Almeda, or A.G.A., perhaps based on Mary, Queen of Scots and the young Queen Victoria, in whose accession to the throne Brontë took a good deal of interest. 
  • A secondary character is Julius Brenzaida, king of Almedore in Gaaldine. 
Critical reception of the Gondal poems has been uneven. 
  • Some critics reject them for their melodrama, formulaic qualities, and simplistic meters and rhymes. 
  • Recently, however, feminist critics have taken special note of the prominent role played by the queen, A.G.A. Christine Gallant, for example, calls attention to the fact that Gondal is "a mythic world emphatically excluding the real world" known to Victorian women, controlled by a "dominating presence of female figures." 
  • Teddi Lynn Chichester believes that Brontë was continually working through her own loss of significant female figures, that "through Augusta, Brontë could explore, in private, her need to create a powerful, even indestructible" woman, and that A.G.A. "ultimately reinforced the disturbing connection between mortality and the feminine" that is such a potent undercurrent in Western literature. 
  • Richard Benvenuto points out that without the years Brontë spent "developing her Gondal imagination, the mature imagination she did attain would have been a considerably different mode of vision." 
  • While a knowledge of the facts of Gondal can deepen the reader's understanding of Brontë's creative life, we can still appreciate the poems for their merits apart from their place in the Gondal saga. In writing the Gondal poems Brontë took on different voices and personae, and the themes of imprisonment and death that inform her better-known poetry were first explored therein. The dark and overpowering emotions first manifested in these poems certainly fed her invention of Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heightspoetryfoundation/bio/emily-jane-bronte

donderdag 6 september 2012

We had very early cherished the dream of one day becoming authors.

This dream, never relinquished even when distance divided and absorbing tasks occupied us, now suddenly acquired strength and consistency: it took the character of a resolve. We agreed to arrange a small selection of our poems, and, if possible, to get them printed. Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because -- without at that time suspecting that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called "feminine" -- we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we had noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.
The bringing out of our little book was hard work. As was to be expected, neither we nor our poems were at all wanted; but for this we had been prepared at the outset; though inexperienced ourselves, we had read the experience of others. The great puzzle lay in the difficulty of getting answers of any kind from the publishers to whom we applied. Being greatly harassed by this obstacle, I ventured to apply to the Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh, for a word of advice; THEY may have forgotten the circumstance, but I have not, for from them I received a brief and business-like, but civil and sensible reply, on which we acted, and at last made a way.
The book was printed: it is scarcely known, and all of it that merits to be known are the poems of Ellis Bell. The fixed conviction I held, and hold, of the worth of these poems has not indeed received the confirmation of much favourable criticism; but I must retain it notwithstanding.
Ill-success failed to crush us: the mere effort to succeed had given a wonderful zest to existence; it must be pursued. We each set to work on a prose tale: Ellis Bell produced "Wuthering Heights," Acton Bell "Agnes Grey," and Currer Bell also wrote a narrative in one volume. These MSS. were perseveringly obtruded upon various publishers for the space of a year and a half; usually, their fate was an ignominious and abrupt dismissal.
At last "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" were accepted on terms somewhat impoverishing to the two authors; Currer Bell's book found acceptance nowhere, nor any acknowledgment of merit, so that something like the chill of despair began to invade her heart. As a forlorn hope, she tried one publishing house more -- Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co. Ere long, in a much shorter space than that on which experience had taught her to calculate -- there came a letter, which she opened in the dreary expectation of finding two hard, hopeless lines, intimating that Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co. "were not disposed to publish the MS.," and, instead, she took out of the envelope a letter of two pages. She read it trembling. It declined, indeed, to publish that tale, for business reasons, but it discussed its merits and demerits so courteously, so considerately, in a spirit so rational, with a discrimination so enlightened, that this very refusal cheered the author better than a vulgarly expressed acceptance would have done. It was added, that a work in three volumes would meet with careful attention.

I was then just completing "Jane Eyre," at which I had been working while the one-volume tale was plodding its weary round in London: in three weeks I sent it off; friendly and skilful hands took it in. This was in the commencement of September, 1847; it came out before the close of October following, while "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey," my sisters' works, which had already been in the press for months, still lingered under a different management. 

womens history/brontes

Gondal and Poems

Poems by Currer, Ellis and Action Bell, published in 1846 and paid for by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, contained twenty-one poems by Emily and by Anne and nineteen by Charlotte. Despite the fact that it received two encouraging reviews, only two copies were sold. Charlotte edited Emily's poems and rewrote some for the 1850 edition of her sisters' poems and novels. She included seventeen previously unpublished poems from Emily's manuscripts and one poem not found in Emily's manuscript ("Often rebuked, yet always back returning"). Nothing of the Gondal history remains except Emily's poems, the references in the journal fragments by Anne and Emily, the birthday papers of 1841 and 1845, and Anne's list of the names of characters and locations.
  • Emily Brontë has been called one of the great English lyric poets and has found admirers among other poets. Emily Dickinson thought so highly of Emily Brontë's poetry that she chose "No coward soul" to be read at her funeral.
  • To Imagination (September 3, 1844). Emily personifies Imagination as a physical presence separate from the individual in several poems, including this one.
  • The Two Children (May 28, 1845). Emily's name for these two poems in the Gondal saga was "A. E. and R. C"; it was Charlotte who gave them this title. The image of two children appears a number of times in Emily Brontë's poetry as well as in her novel. In this poem, the "melancholy boy" resembles Heathcliff and Hareton, while the "Child of Delight! with sunbright hair" resembles Catherine Earnshaw and Cathy Linton; the poem hints that they are to redeem the "melancholy boy." The dark-light, male-female pair appears in the novel and in the Gondal saga as well.
  • How beautiful the Earth is still ( June 2, 1845). Charlotte Brontë wrote "Never was better stuff penned." in the manuscript of this poem.
  • The Prisoner. A Fragment (October 9, 1845) This poem is part of a larger Gondal poem which Emily revised for publication in 1846. She cut lines 1-12, 45-64, and 93-152. She added the concluding stanza, which starts with "She ceased to speak..." The original title of the poem is "Julian M. and A.G. Rochelle," the names of two lovers in the Gondal saga.
  • The Visionary (October 9, 1845). This poem is part of the same Gondal poem from which Emily carved "The Prisoner. A Fragment." Charlotte Brontë took lines 1-12 of Emily's original poem, "Julian M. and A.G Rochelle," and added 8 lines of her own. Thus, the positive ending in which the watcher has a spiritual experience is Charlotte's and the watcher may be seen as Emily rather than a Gondal character. In Charlotte's version, it is hard to explain the guiding light in the window of stanze 2.
  • Often rebuked, yet always back returning. Harold Bloom calls this Emily Brontë's finest poem; however, C.W. Hatfield, who edited her poems, speculates that Charlotte wrote or revised this poem. It first appeared in the 1850 edition of Emily's novel and poems; no manuscript version of this poem is known. academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/
  • Anne's poems are generally divided into two categories: the 'Gondal', and the 'non-Gondal'. The former are the ones that she wrote as part of the fantasy world - Gondal - which she created and developed throughout her childhood and youth with Emily: most of these where written while Anne was in close proximity with her sister. When the two sisters were parted, Anne rarely ever wrote Gondal verses. mick-armitage.staff.shef.ac.uk/anne/poems
  • Most of the poems quoted come from the manuscript note-book in the British Museum.  The manuscript of the “Alcona” poem is in the Bonnell Collection at the Parsonage Museum. ingentaconnect
  • wiki/Poems_by_Currer,_Ellis,_and_Acton_Bell

dinsdag 4 september 2012

The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë/Introductory Essay on Emily Brontë

  • Of the complete poems  twenty-two appeared in the Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell published in 1846. 
  • After the death of Emily Brontë, seventeen poems were published by Charlotte Brontë. These are all derived from a manuscript transcribed in February 1844 by Emily Brontë, and written in microscopic characters. 
  • Four were left unprinted by Charlotte Brontë, and are now published. 
  • In addition, there was another volume of manuscripts and some small poems written on small slips of paper of various sizes. 
  • All of these were unpublished till 1902, when sixty-seven were privately printed by Dodd, Mead and Co. in an edition of only a hundred and ten copies. 
  • Read on: wiki/The_Complete_Poems_of_Emily_Bronte/
  • Ganymedes

maandag 3 september 2012


It was during December 1827 that the world really took shape, when Charlotte suggested that everyone own and manage their own island, which they named after heroic leaders: Charlotte had Wellington, Branwell had Sneaky, Emily had Parry, and Anne had Ross. Each island's capital was called Glasstown, hence the name of the Glasstown Confederacy.[4]
Emily and Anne, as the youngest siblings, were often relegated to inferior positions within the game. Therefore, they staged a rebellion and established the imaginary world of Gondal for themselves. "The Gondal Chronicles," which would have given us the full story of Gondal, has unfortunately been lost, but the poems and the diary entries they wrote to each other provide something of an outline.[5]The earliest documented reference to Gondal is one of Emily's diary entries in 1834, 9 years after the Glasstown Confederacy, when the two younger sisters were aged 16 and 14 respectively; it read: "The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine."[4][5]
All of the prose chronicles are now lost. The only surviving remnants of the Gondal works are made up of poems, diary entries and some occasional memory aids such as lists of names and characteristics.[6]
The Gondal saga is set on two islands in the South Pacific. The northern island, Gondal, is a realm of moorlands and snow (based onYorkshire). The southern island, Gaaldine, features a more tropical climate. Gaaldine is subject to Gondal, which may be related to the time period of the early nineteenth-century in which Britain was expanding its Empire.[6]
The character stories created by the Bronte children are filled with melodrama and intrigue. The early part of Gondal's history follows the life of the warlike Julius Brenzaida, a figure reminiscent of the Duke of Zamorna from the siblings' earlier Tales of Angria and Prince of Gondal's primary kingdom of Angora. The two loves of his life are Rosina, who becomes his wife and queen, and Geraldine Sidonia, who gives birth to his daughter, Augusta Geraldin Almeda (A.G.A). Julius is evidently a two-faced king. After sharing a coronation with Gerald, King of Exina, he imprisons and executes him. Julius is eventually assassinated during a civil war and is succeeded by his daughter, A.G.A., who is similar to her father in temperament. She has several lovers, including Alexander of Elbë, Fernando De Samara, and Alfred Sidonia of Aspin Castle, all of whom die. She also is eventually murdered during a civil war.[6]  wiki/Gondal

(1) A notable exception is the pioneer work of  TJ Wise & JA Symington (eds), The Miscellaneous and Unpublished Writings of Charlotte and Patrick Branwell Brontë (Shakespeare Head Brontë), 2 vols: 1 (1936) and 2 (1938) 
(2) Alexander, Christine (ed), An Edition of the Early Writings of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 1. The Glass Town Saga 1826-1832 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987);  vol 2. The Rise of Angria 1833-1835: part 1, 1833-1834, part 2, 1834-1835 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), vol 3 (forthcoming).
Neufeldt, Victor (ed), The Works of Patrick Branwell Brontë: An Edition, vol 1 (New York: Garland, 1997), vols. 2 and 3 (1999). 
Paperback editions: Barker, Juliet (ed), Charlotte Brontë: Juvenilia 1829-1835 (Penguin, 1996)
Glen, Heather (ed), Charlotte Brontë: Tales of Angria (Penguin, 2006) 
It should be mentioned also Christine Alexander's coordination of the Brontë juvenilia volumes of Juvenilia Press, a pedagogic press which publishes juvenilia edited by graduate students.
(3) In the Editor's Preface to the New Edition of 'Wuthering Heights', 1850:

Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is. But this I know: the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself.
(4) Emily made fair copies of her poems and divided them into two notebooks. One famously inscribed Gondal poems (which is at the British Library in London) and another one inscribed E.J.B. and known as the Honresfeld manuscript, which is usually understood to contain poems of a more personal nature, but that is not exactly known. The Honresfeld manuscript is unfortunately lost, although a facsimile of it was made prior to that. Bronte Blog/tales-of-glass-town-angria-and-gondal

zondag 2 september 2012

A Daydream, poem by Emily Bronte

 On a sunny brae alone I lay
 One summer afternoon;
 It was the marriage-time of May,
 With her young lover, June.

 From her mother's heart seemed loath to part
 That queen of bridal charms,
 But her father smiled on the fairest child
 He ever held in his arms.

 The trees did wave their plumy crests,
 The glad birds carolled clear;
 And I, of all the wedding guests,
 Was only sullen there!

 There was not one, but wished to shun
 My aspect void of cheer;
 The very gray rocks, looking on,
 Asked, "What do you here?"

 And I could utter no reply;
 In sooth, I did not know
 Why I had brought a clouded eye
 To greet the general glow.

 So, resting on a heathy bank,
 I took my heart to me;
 And we together sadly sank
 Into a reverie.

 We thought, "When winter comes again,
 Where will these bright things be?
 All vanished, like a vision vain,
 An unreal mockery!

 "The birds that now so blithely sing,
 Through deserts, frozen dry,
 Poor spectres of the perished spring,
 In famished troops will fly.

 "And why should we be glad at all?
 The leaf is hardly green,
 Before a token of its fall
 Is on the surface seen!"

 Now, whether it were really so,
 I never could be sure;
 But as in fit of peevish woe,
 I stretched me on the moor,

 A thousand thousand gleaming fires
 Seemed kindling in the air;
 A thousand thousand silvery lyres
 Resounded far and near:

 Methought, the very breath I breathed
 Was full of sparks divine,
 And all my heather-couch was wreathed
 By that celestial shine!

 And, while the wide earth echoing rung
 To that strange minstrelsy
 The little glittering spirits sung,
 Or seemed to sing, to me:

 "O mortal! mortal! let them die;
 Let time and tears destroy,
 That we may overflow the sky
 With universal joy!

 "Let grief distract the sufferer's breast,
 And night obscure his way;
 They hasten him to endless rest,
 And everlasting day.

 "To thee the world is like a tomb,
 A desert's naked shore;
 To us, in unimagined bloom,
 It brightens more and more!

 "And, could we lift the veil, and give
 One brief glimpse to thine eye,
 Thou wouldst rejoice for those that live,
 BECAUSE they live to die."

 The music ceased; the noonday dream,
 Like dream of night, withdrew;
 But Fancy, still, will sometimes deem
 Her fond creation true.
-- Emily Bronte

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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