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 3 augustus 2013

Debate the export ban on Jane Austen's ring.

For those who may have missed it, our Director Ann Sumner appeared on BBC 5 Live to debate the export ban on Jane Austen's ring. Also on the show was Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Affairs.

Listen again to this very interesting discussion here: bbc.co.uk

donderdag 1 augustus 2013

Emily's Birthday Excursion

From the newsletter of the Bronte Parsonage:

Beautiful summer returned after the storms yesterday, just in time for Emily's Birthday Excursion, a very special new day of talks and tours in honour of the 195th anniversary of Emily Brontë's birth.
We're hoping July 30 will be a new, vital day in the Parsonage calendar, when the whole of Haworth village gets involved in the celebrations, and this year got the ball rolling in style with our first ever collaboration with the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
The Brontës may not have travelled on this particular branch line - Haworth station didn't open until 1867, 19 years after Emily's death - but she certainly used the railways, and the new freedom they brought women travellers, who - enjoying the comfort and discretion of a railway carriage - were suddenly able to become more independent than ever before.
With Emily's railway journeying in mind, our Director, Professor Ann Sumner, together with railway historian David Pearson, boarded the 12.10pm steam train from Keighley to Haworth, with a carriage full of excursioners, who were treated to talks on the history of the railway and the Brontës all the way there.
With them travelled 'Emily' herself - costume historian Lyn Cunliffe, pictured - who was happy to pose for pictures with fellow excursioners, and talk about her genuine Victorian dress. Then, once in Haworth, everyone piled on to the vintage bus trip up Main Street, grabbed a quick lunch in a local cafe, then arrived at the Parsonage to begin an afternoon of special tours.
There was a chance to see close up genuine manuscripts by Emily and her sisters in our library - along with other remarkable Brontë treasures, and a talk by Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale.
There was a guided talk on the meadow and garden by our gardener Jenny Whitehead - who happily pointed out where the family once hung their washing to dry!
Finally, there was a guided walk up on to Penistone Hill with our Education Officer Sue Newby, who was able to point out the paths the Brontës walked, before the vintage bus picked up everyone to return them to Keighley via Brontë-walk landmarks en route.
In the evening the garden was the venue for a special Birthday Garden Party - and the first meeting of our new West Yorkshire branch of the Brontë Society. We were delighted to welcome among our guests Sir James and Lady Aykroyd - Sir James is the grandson of Sir James Roberts, who first gifted the Parsonage to the Society when he bought it from the Church of England in 1928 for the then princely sum of £3,000!

Jackie Kay, MBE, new writer-in-residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum

From the newsletter Parsonage Museum:

The Brontë Society is delighted to welcome award-winning poet Jackie Kay, MBE, as our new writer-in-residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Jackie will regularly be engaging with visitors and students as the Museum’s writer-in-residence over the next few months - and has already been talking to sixth formers about writing during her first two weeks in residence. Now she is busy at work on a series of new pieces exploring the lives and works of the Brontë sisters. A series of public events, including poetry workshops and readings, will showcase her work, culminating in an exhibition at the Museum in March 2014 as part of the Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing. Jackie will be opening the Festival and reading from her work.
‘Having grown up with the Brontës, on Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Villette, Emily’s poetry, and having returned to them again and again all my reading life, it’s a huge privilege to be at the Parsonage, to put the pieces of the Brontë jigsaw together – and to be freshly inspired by this inspirational family,’ she told us. ‘The Parsonage Museum is astonishing: the care that has been taken to bring the past to the present. I’m hoping to write a series of linked poems, and am delighted to have been chosen as writer-in-residence.’
Edinburgh-born Jackie Kay came to prominence in 1992 as winner of The Scottish First Book Award for her volume of poetry The Adoption Papers. Her third volume of poetry, Trumpet, won the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1998, and her memoir Red Dust Road – about her search for her natural parents, in Scotland and Nigeria – drew wide critical acclaim for the warmth of her storytelling and the beauty of the poetry with which she told it.  Now living in Manchester, Jackie was awarded the MBE in June 2006, and teaches creative writing at Newcastle University.
‘I so enjoyed meeting Jackie and hearing about the themes she will be exploring,’ commented Brontë Society Executive Director Ann Sumner. 'It was wonderful she was so inspired by her visit to Haworth during that period of beautiful warm weather.'
'I am already looking forward to reading Jackie's Brontë-inspired work,' added Brontë Society Chair Sally McDonald. 'All the Brontë family wrote poetry and found inspiration here at the Parsonage.

"Emily and Her Sisters"July 18, 1928

The New Republic celebrates Emily Brontë's anniversary with the publication of a 1928 article by Robert Morrs Lovett about 'Emily and her sisters': bronteblog

Emily Brontë was born 195 years ago today. In her honor, we bring you New Republic associate editor Robert Morss Lovett's 1928 take on Emily, her sisters, and her legacy. 
As a biographer of Emily Brontë, Miss Wilson presents herself with certain indubitable credentials. A Yorkshire woman with memories of a childhood on the moors, she is prepared to enter into the environment of her heroine. As a novelist who has explored the obscure depths of the unconscious, she finds dues everywhere to the labyrinthine ways of personality. Her method is to reconstruct Emily’s experience by psychoanalysis from the themes and material of her poetry and fiction. Now it may be that Emily as a child was shut up in a room associated with death and, haunted by ghosts and phantoms, fell into a fit. This may be the origin of the recurring prison theme in her poetry; and Charlotte may have recalled the originating episode in Jane Eyre. Again, it may be that Emily suffered from jealousy of Branwell's high place in the family, and “solaced her jealousy with contemplation of the unrelieved blackness of her future, in contrast to the unrelieved brilliance of his”; that “in secret, in imagination she began to foster and love a dark soul in herself, a dark thing grew and grew upon her and ultimately possessed her, body and soul” and became Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Read more: robert-morss-lovett-emily-and-her-sisters-


woensdag 31 juli 2013


Charterize the romantic novel:
  • The dynamic antagonism or antithesis in the novel tends to subvert, if not to reject literary conventions; often a novel verges on turning into something else, like poetry or drama. In Wuthering Heights, realism in presenting Yorkshire landscape and life and the historical precision of season, dates, and hours co-exist with the dreamlike and the unhistorical; Brontë refuses to be confined by conventional classifications.
  • The protagonists' wanderings are motivated by flight from previously-chosen goals, so that often there is a pattern of escape and pursuit. Consider Catherine's marriage for social position, stability, and wealth, her efforts to evade the consequences of her marriage, the demands of Heathcliff and Edgar, and her final mental wandering.  
  • The protagonists are driven by irresistible passion–lust, curiosity, ambition, intellectual pride, envy. The emphasis is on their desire for transcendence, to overcome the limitations of the body, of society, of time rather than their moral transgressions. They yearn to escape the limitations inherent to life and may find that the only escape is death. The longings of a Heathcliff cannot be fulfilled in life.                
  • Death is not only a literal happening or plot device, but also and primarily a psychological concern. For the protagonists, death originates in the imagination, becomes a "tendency of mind," and may develop into an obsession.
  • As in Gothic fiction, buildings are central to meaning; the supernatural, wild nature, dream and madness, physical violence, and perverse sexuality are set off against social conventions and institutions. Initially, this may create the impression that the novel is two books in one, but finally Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights fuse.
  • Endings are disquieting and unsatisfactory because the writer resists a definitive conclusion, one which accounts for all loose ends and explains away any ambiguities or uncertainties. The preference for open-endedness is, ultimately, an effort to resist the limits of time and of place That effort helps explain the importance of dreams and memories of other times and location, like Catherine's delirious memories of childhood at Wuthering Heights and rambles on the moors. academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu

dinsdag 30 juli 2013

There is a letter, printed by Mrs. Gaskell, from Charlotte Bronte to Ellen Nussey, in which Miss Bronte, when a girl of seventeen, discusses the best books to read, and expresses a particular devotion to Sir Walter Scott.

Scott gathered the disparate strands of contemporary novel-writing techniques into his own hands and harnessed them to his deep interest in Scottish history and his knowledge of antiquarian lore. The technique of the omniscient narrator and the use of regional speech, localized settings, sophisticated character delineation, and romantic themes treated in a realistic manner were all combined by him into virtually a new literary form, the historical novel. britannica

Walter Scott also had the creative and technical brilliance to reassert the place of romance at the heart of a literary culture, nationally and internationally. To read Scott is to be made aware of the strong shaping force of stories in a wider culture, and in literary history. It is fitting, then, that the period in which he was so prominent has been modeled along fictional lines of special interest to readers and historians of romance. blackwellreference

Walters Scott's study hall
It was Byron, the story goes, who forced Sir Walter Scott to invent Romantic fiction
The difference between Waverly and a Gothic novel is that the setting is more than a spooky backdrop—the local people and history are crucial to the development of the story. In a sense, they are the story. This regional, folk-oriented writing, rich in quaint habits and dialect, was pioneered by Maria Edgeworth.
Walter Scott died in 1832. Most of his best fiction—Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian, Ivanhoe—had been written in the decade immediately following Waverly, and his final years saw both Sir Walter’s talents and finances in decline. Yet Romantic fiction’s last flowering was still to come, close by on the barren Yorkshire heath. This is the setting for Wuthering Heights (1847), a novel about an isolated farming family with deep, inbred passions, and their struggle against the civilizing influences of the outside world. Emily Brontë could hardly have been more different from Sir Walter Scott. Solitary and obscure, she, like her character Catherine Earnshaw, spent most of her life in the isolation of rural Yorkshire, and was close only with her father, brother, and her two sisters Charlotte and Anne. And her book was a very different sort of book from Waverly. Gone is the history, the marching troops, the curious rustic customs and the Byronic hero waylaid by adventure. Wuthering Heights, with its setting of a few square miles of moors, is Romantic fiction distilled to a simple flame.
Wuthering Heights is a singular masterpiece, a wild and haunting novel that disturbs even modern readers desensitized by graphic images and cinematic blood. It represents an introspective farewell for the Romantic tradition that, even then, was fading. walter_scott

30 juli 1818 Birthday 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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