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 21 maart 2014

The Salutation pub

Picture source
The Manchester Evening News reports that Manchester Metropolitan University will give £235,000 towards restoring The Salutation pub, built in the 1840s. As the article says, The building also bears a plaque marking the site nearby where Charlotte Bronte began to write Jane Eyre on a visit in 1846. (Yakub Qureshi)
This Wikimedia article goes a bit further into it: The blue plaque on the side of this rather nice looking pub says:
Charlotte Bronte (1816 - 1855). In 1846 The Revd. Patrick Bronte came to Manchester for a cataract operation accompanied by his daughter Charlotte. They took lodgings at 59 Boundary Street West (formerly known as 83 Mount Pleasant). It was here that Charlotte began to write her first successful novel Jane Eyre.
So, ambiguous info from Manchester's Blue Plaque people (who are presumably bigging up Manchester's tourist opportunities), but clearly it wasn't this building, which I'd say dates from the 1880s?
The problem is that the plaque was first placed on a building in Boundary Lane some distance to the west. When this building was demolished for redevelopment the plaque was saved. The Brontes were lodging at 83 Mount Pleasant and the eye hospital was then in South Parade, Manchester (until 1867)
The building, as per the Manchester Evening News article, however, does date from the 1840s, not the 1880s. bronteblog


Did you know?

When Patrick Brontë went to Manchester on 19th August 1846 for his cataract operation, he wrote:

“I was bled with 8 leeches, at one time, & 6, on another, (these caused but little pain) in order to prevent, inflammation”.

He also added a note in the margin saying, “Leeches must be put on the TEMPLES and not on the eyelids”!!

dinsdag 18 maart 2014


On 15 February, for our first event of the year we were pleased to welcome Eric Ruijssenaars, who gave us a fascinating slide show of pictures relating to the research he did for his two books, Charlotte Brontë’s Promised Land: The Pensionnat Heger and other Brontë places in Brussels (2000) and The Pensionnat Revisited; More light shed on the Brussels of the Brontës (2003). Eric guided us on a virtual walk of the area round the Pensionnat. Many of those present have already been on one of our actual guided walks and this presentation provided an opportunity to gain a fuller picture of the area and its history. Eric, who lives in Leiden and has been researching the subject for the last twenty-five years, is always delighted to return to Brussels and his old Brontë haunts here.

It is 25 years ago that I started doing research on the Brussels of the Brontës, aiming to recreate the Isabella quarter for her, the lady who had introduced me to Villette. Over the next decades I looked at every book and picture I could get hold of, in archives and libraries, to try to understand what the old quarter had looked like in the days of the Brontës. In 1990 I visited Brussels and the quarter for the first time, with Elle. I remember the excitement of standing on the Belliard Steps, though obviously having no real idea of the world ‘down these Steps’, and what it would all bring. Most recently, my talk for the BBG.

Of invaluable importance was and is the iconic Tahon photo of the quarter, supposedly dating from 1909. For many years it hung on the wall at my desk. The crucial breakthrough came in 2003, when I took the picture to a photography professor of Leiden University. She said it must be an 1850s photograph. It’s possibly the highlight of these 25 years. Finally we fully understood the quarter. By implication it shows us the quarter as it was in 1843.

With all we had gathered then, it had become possible to do a sort of virtual walk through the old quarter, in the mind. Just as I can easily imagine walking in, for instance the quarter as it is now. I hope that those who joined my walk can agree.

One of my last and nicest discoveries was the following picture:

Hotel Ravenstein, circa 1920

It’s a picture of the area where the Terarckenstraat now ends (with Hotel Ravenstein on the right). This time though we only need to climb over the gate to continue our walk, ‘through the mist of time’ (unfortunately I forgot to say that at my talk). At the same time it’s also a sad reminder of the very charming quarter that not long before had been demolished.

Eric Ruijssenaars
On Google Earth

Patrick Bronte's magnifying glass

Patrick Bronte's magnifying glass he used when reading as his eyesight deteriorated with age.

maandag 17 maart 2014

A very happy 237th birthday to Patrick Brontë

A search on th internet. The connections between the Brontes and Saltaire.

On Facebook I found this information. facebook.com/pages/Bronte-Parsonage-Museum
Visit Saltaire World Heritage Site and explore the Bronte connection with Saltaire owner, James Roberts. It made me curious. I wanted to know more about the connection between the Brontes and Saltaire. I found this:

Martha Brown started as a servant to the Bronte family as an eleven year old in 1839 and remained with the family until 1862.  In 1868 she came to stay with her sister Anne Binns in Saltaire where she stopped for 9 years.  Does anyone know where Anne Binns lived.

16/17 Victoria Road.

Martha took on domestic work in the village, including a stint with Dr Amos Ingham (lately the Brontë family physician) at the Manor House in Cookgate. Martha's mother died in 1866, and in 1868 Martha, who increasingly by then was in poor health, went to live with her sister Ann Binns and her family at Saltaire. She stayed there for nine years, until domestic tensions between her sister and her husband Ben became intolerable for her, and she returned to Haworth

Helen's  Bronte walks are unique in that they focus on Charlotte, Emily and Anne’s fictional and poetic writing. On these Bronte Country walks you will hear the extracts from their novels and some of their poetry as you discover more about the people and places that inspired them to write their famous novels:helensheritagewalks

An interesting sale of Bronte relies has just taken place at Saltaire, in the course of the disposal of the effects of the late Mr. Benjamin Binns, tailor, of Saltaire, into whose possession they had come through his wife, the sister of that Martha Brown who was such a faithful domestic of the Brontes, and to whom they had been committed by the Rev. P. Bronte as mementoes of his famous daughter.

Bronte relies
77 Housewife used by Charlotte Bronte, afterwards given to Martha Brown
24 Deed of Gift from Eev. P. Bronte to Martha Brown of some of the drawings in this collection
43 Charlotte Bronte's portfolio, which formerly contained the drawings given to Martha Brown
46 Fourth portion of a Shawl worn by C. Bronte, given to Martha Brown
56 A copy of " Jane Eyre," given to Martha Brown by Charlotte
76 Snuff Box used by the Rev. P. Bronte, from Binns' sale, Saltaire
80 Lock of Charlotte Bronte's Hair, taken after death by Mr. Nicholls and given to Martha Brown


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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