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 14 juni 2013

Haworth Through The Lens of History

Published on Oct 28, 2012
Photography has been entertaining and amusing people since its invention in the 1800's. Nowadays old photographs can serve as a window into the past. In this video we shall blend old and new photographs to help transport you back in time, exploring how the landscape and social fabric of this area has changed.

Full video available on DVD, running time 34 mins: info@bayvideoproductions.co.uk

The History of the Withins Farms, 1567-1930

This year's annual lecture was given not by an academic but by an enthusiastic local historian - Steve Wood. It was accompanied by a fascinating selection of slides, some of which came as a surprise for many members of the audience in the Baptist chapel, an appropriate space for events like this because it is like a compact theatre.

The subject was The History of the Withins Farms, 1567-1930 . Most Society members tramp up to Top Withins at some time, usually in good weather. Steve Wood read a few minds when he suggested that perhaps we should have made good use of the fact that the moors around Haworth and Stanbury were significantly bucolic and that the talk should have taken place on the tops, near the set of restored ruins which are possibly one of the inspirations for Wuthering Heights. But then it would have been awkward for him to show us the old
photos, and the drawings.

 We saw a set of three farms in various states of repair - not only Top Withins, but Middle Withins and Low Withins as well. Only Top Withins remains, the other two having been demolished. Steve gave us a brief survey of the families which had once survived up there, some of them managing hay meadows and keeping cattle, some of them installing hen coops and pigsties. The animals had to come in with the human inhabitants, separated by walls and doors. We saw the careful plans which Steve had drawn. It would have been almost comfortable in winter in the bothy, near the beasts' heat. In one photo, oatcakes could be seen, draped over a beam to dry. They lived mainly on porridge and oatcakes, it seems. Even the dogs were served porridge. Read more: Bronte Parsonage.blog

dinsdag 11 juni 2013

" I really and truly did see her"!

I found this beautiful illustration Anne made. Here is the story that refers the illustration:

One day in the autumn or winter succeeding Mrs Brontë's death, Charlotte came to her nurse wild and white  with the excitement of having seen a fairy standing by Baby Anne's cradle.
When the two ran back to the nursery,
Charlotte was flying on ahead and treading softly not to frighten the beautiful visitant away. None was there besides the baby sleeping sweetly  in the depths of her forenoon nap. Charlotte stood transfixed, her eyes wandered incredulously around the room

"But she was here just now" she insisted

" I really and truly did see her"!

 and no argument or coaxing could shake her from the believe 


maandag 10 juni 2013

"Significant and exciting"

Bronte blog, ITV News reports briefly yesterday's exciting news about Charlotte Brontë's L'amour filial essay. The Brontë Society website announces the acquisition as well:
The Brontë Society is delighted to announce its acquisition of a significant and exciting autograph manuscript by Charlotte Brontë: a previously unpublished homework essay – known as a devoir – on the subject ‘L’Amour Filial’ (the love of a child for parents), written during her time in Brussels, and marked by Constantin Heger, the married teacher with whom she was deeply in love.
Acquired by private sale for the sum of £50,000, and generously funded by private and public donors, the devoir was unknown until December 2012, when the Society was contacted with news of its discovery in a private library. Expert analysis of the handwriting confirmed its author was indeed Charlotte Brontë.
The single-page document, written on both sides, is composed in French and written on a topic assigned to Charlotte Brontë by Constantin Heger as part of her French lessons at the Pensionnat Heger school he and his wife ran in Brussels. Produced at a turbulent time in Charlotte’s life, it deals with the subject of love for parents in dramatic style, claiming that the child who treats a parent unlovingly is little more than a murderer in the eyes of God.
‘We know Charlotte had a deep love and respect for her father Patrick Brontë, but lost her mother at the age of just five, when she died from what is now believed to have been ovarian cancer,’ commented Brontë Society Executive Director Professor Ann Sumner today. ‘This new and exciting window on her love for her father, written at a time of great turmoil, is of incalculable value to our understanding of Charlotte’s interior life, and will form the focus of much new scholarship.’
Last month the Brontë Society launched a public appeal for donations to help fund the devoir’s purchase, and received over £3,000. ‘The response was magnificent,’ commented Brontë Society Chairman Sally McDonald today. ‘Many individual members of the public sent contributions, big and small, and the Society was also generously supported by the V&A Purchase Fund, which gave us a grant of £20,000, and Friends of National Libraries, which contributed £5,000.
‘To all these donors we offer our heartfelt thanks that we can now preserve this significant manuscript for the nation as part of our unparalleled collection of Brontë manuscripts and artefacts here at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth.’
The devoir went on display to the public at the weekend, as part of the Society’s Annual General Meeting celebration weekend. News of its acquisition was conveyed to members during Saturday afternoon’s Annual General Meeting.

zondag 9 juni 2013



Heather, harebells, lapwings, curlews and skylarks

The Yorkshire Post  and  Bronte blog alerts to yet another (unexpected and particularly stupid) threat to the Brontë country we know and love:
The moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights has remained untouched by time since the Brontë sisters visited its wild beauty in search of inspiration. But now the glorious carpet of heather is in danger of being usurped by invading flora planted by mourners who have scattered the ashes of loved ones on the moors.  Penistone Hill, which features in Wuthering Heights as Penistone Crag, has become a focal point for those brooding on the loss of family and friends.  As a high point above the former Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, it has long been a favourite spot for memorial benches.  But it seems many are no longer content just to sit and reflect, or lay the odd wreath. They now turn up with trees, shrubs and flowers to plant on the moors. Problems have emerged as few are indigenous to Howarth - or moorland in general – and have been spreading through the landscape like wildfire. 
The Brontë Society is concerned that - if left unchecked - the traditional flora such as heather and harebells so beloved by the sisters will be lost forever. The spread of foreign plants is also endangering the fragile habitats of moorland birds that the Brontës wrote about, such as lapwings, curlews, and skylarks.
Penistone Hill has a special place in the hearts of Brontë fans since it inspired the great romantic scene between Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in the 1939 film.  Members of the Brontë Society are so concerned for its future that they have teamed up with Bradford Council to create a memorial garden. 
The aim is to draw the problem away from the moorland wilderness to the tidiness of Haworth Park - where council gardeners can contain the threat of alien spores. The heritage and conservation officer for the society, Christine Went, insisted the threat to the literary landscape and its sites of special scientific interest was very real. She said: “As far as we can tell from the Brontës correspondence the moors have changed very little since they walked upon them..”
< br />  

""Much of the poems and writing on moorland themes and mentions include heather, harebells, lapwings, curlews and skylarks. “They are all still there - along with a lot of other species. So the last thing we want is non-indigenous species coming in and putting pressure on natural habitats.
“These include a great variety of mosses which are very delicate habitats. It would be so easy to upset the balance and wipe out whole species

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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