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 5 april 2014

Literary heritage: The three-bedroom cottage in the West Yorkshire village of Thornton was once home to the Bronte family

 Patrick Bronte, his wife Maria and their first two children, Maria and Elizabeth, moved there in 1815 and it is where Charlotte, Emily, Anne and  Branwell were all delivered in front of the fireplace in 1816, 1818, 1820 and 1817 respectively. But five years after making it their home, the family moved to the Parsonage at nearby Haworth – which has claimed the spotlight in the Bronte story ever since. The cottage was shut up for years following the failure of a birthplace museum on the tourist trail. It was let as private rented accommodation until it came back on the market last year. The historical home had been rented as bedsits to tenants in search of cheap accommodation but the plaques commemorating the births of the four gifted children outside the faded front door were barely noticed. After the last tenants packed their bags the absentee landlord put the property on the market last year. The Bronte birthplace trust was formed by local villagers to save the property and turn it back into a museum again.  But this scheme failed after Bradford Council decided it could not afford to buy the property. Amid fears it would be turned back into flats, businessman Mark de Luca and his wife Michelle spotted the near-derelict property believing it to be an unpolished tourism gem.

He renovated the home which was suffering from damp and flooding and has turned it into a deli where visitors can look round the Bronte’s private quarters. The cafe is due to open up in May following an extensive renovation. Among other features, visitors will be able to inspect the very hearth where all three sisters were born. It also boasts the writing desk built into the structure where Patrick Haworth wrote his first sermon - about the Battle of Waterloo.

Birthplace: The drawing room still boasts the fireplace, in front of which Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell were all born

The new owners, both 29, sold their cottage in the village to buy the Bronte home. They
snapped it up as a repossession for £120,000 and then spent another £30,000 doing it up. The couple already had a track record, having converted a Grade II listed building around the corner into a hair salon. But it was cheap because the 100 year old timber windows were rotten, the roof was leaking, and the wallpaper was falling off the walls -which were riddled with rising damp. The old scullery at the rear of the property had flooded through the back door with waste from the overflowing drains. Mr de Luca, a former quantity surveyor, said: ‘It was so damp and humid. The drains were overflowing with years of dirt and debris.’‘The property has been mistreated over the years and I wanted to bring tourists back to the village,’ he said. ‘It is a very important property for England and we wanted to reclaim the history and restore the place to its former glory.’ The couple are sleeping in Patrick and Maria’s room complete with the writing desk where he wrote his first sermon – on Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.

 The owners' private living room complete with a wardrobe used by the Bronte family
The second bedroom where the younger Brontes slept has become the drawing room, though it still has the built-in wardrobe used by the children. The third bedroom used by the Bronte children’s nurse serves as a study while the downstairs scullery has become their private kitchen. The rest of the downstairs rooms, including the drawing room with the famous fireplace, have been laid out as a delicatessen and coffee shop with room for 35 people due to open next month. A counter and open kitchen serving cakes, sandwiches, and pastries has been created in one of the front extensions built in the 1900s as a butcher’s shop. The couple hope the trendy décor will attract of a new generation of Bronte fans who previously may have regarded the sisters’ writings as a touch highbrow. Mr de Luca added: ‘We want to make the Brontes cool and trendy. The Bronte Society meetings and events at Haworth seem to attract mainly older people. ‘The original idea of a museum is great - but you do not really get to sit there and enjoy reading a Bronte book or a newspaper.’ Birthplace Trust Chairman Steve Stanworth said: ‘I am delighted. It will  once again be somewhere that Bronte fans can see the actual place the literary giants were brought into the world. ‘It could have been turned into flats - and that would have been a real shame. But Mark spotted a unique selling point for a coffee house.

The original desk where Patrick Haworth wrote his first sermon - about the Battle of Waterloo

Thornton village needs the recognition as the first stop on any pilgrimage and we hope this helps the regeneration of the village.’

Bronte Society Chairman Sally McDonald said: ‘The birthplace in Thornton is hugely important in the Bronte story. ‘In the bicentenary year of 2016 the world’s attention will turn to all places linked with Charlotte Bronte. ‘Some years ago former Bronte Society member, Barbara Whitehead, bought and tried to restore the house but sadly it proved just too big a project. ‘It is a pity the Birthplace Trust’s hopes of turning the house into a museum were pipped at the post but it wasn’t to be and it is heartening to hear the new owners are keen to sympathetically retain the history.’ Patrick Bronte wrote of his time in Thornton: ‘My happiest days were spent there.‘This is where the family was complete: father, mother and children, and where they had kind friends.’ In Haworth, he said, he felt like ‘a stranger in a strange land’.

Here you can see how it lookes in Barbara Whitehead's time :kleurrijkbrontesisters/the-birthplace-of-charlotte-bronte

vrijdag 4 april 2014

Charlotte Brontë’s time in the city of Brussels.

From: Charlotte Mathieson. read more and see more pictures on her website.
Although it is well known that two of her novels, Villette (1853) and The Professor (published 1857) are based on her time as a student and teacher in the Belgium capital, the importance of Brussels is typically given less attention other than as a topographical reference-point for her novels. In my research I’m exploring the legacy of Charlotte Brontë in Brussels over the past 150 years, and this visit was the first step in seeing the sites for myself and meeting the Brussels Brontë Group


A small section of the Rue Terarken, just a few steps away from the Pensionnat, has survived and gives a sense of what the area would have looked like when the Brontë sisters were there: The street is narrow and close, with the overhanging buildings adding to the sense of proximity; it also shows the difference in depth of the past topography of the area, as the photo above is taken from the current street level, and a series of steps descend into the Rue Terarken

There are also the houses of some of the Brontës’ friends in Brussels, including 11 Rue de la Régence, home to the Dixon family and inspiration for Madame Walravens’ house in Villette:

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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