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 13 december 2014

Historic ‘Bronte’ staircase found in US

Blake Hall, illustration, reproduced from photographs taken at the end of 19th century

A wooden staircase with Brontë connections which was sold when the manor from which it came from demolished, has been tracked down to a house in New York. Lifelong Brontë enthusiast Immelda Marsden, described by her peers as the ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’, managed to trace the Queen Anne staircase to a house in Long Island on the other side of the Atlantic. The find has come at an important time as preparations are being made to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Charlotte Bronte in 1816. A number of events are planned both here and in the US to mark the occasion and now the staircase has been found it is hoped it too could form some part thereof. Immelda, 68, took up the story: “The staircase was once part of Blake Hall on Church Lane and I can remember going there as a very small child. But the mansion was demolished and today it’s a housing estate. Bits of it were sold to dealers and the staircase went to one in Kensington, London.“It was sold at auction to a Mr and Mrs Toppings, who had just built themselves a new house on Long Island and were in London looking for things to fill it with. They took the staircase and installed it in their house and there it stayed.”Indeed, the discovery, which was aided by museum staff in New York, came as a complete surprise to the current owners of the building. Immelda said: “Anne Brontë was a governess at Blake Hall in 1839, looking after two of the five children of the Ingham family. There was Tom, aged six and Mary-Anne, who was about four or five. The story goes that Tom was a bit of a handful and used to do all sorts of nasty things and Anne Bronte had trouble controlling him. On one occasion, she tied the children to chairs. The family must have found out about this and they dismissed her the same year. She would have worked there for about nine months in all.” (...)
“That house was demolished in 1954 and, although the interior parts were dismantled and auctioned off, their fates were lost in the mists of time. With one exception.“Due to a short article in the Mirfield Reporter back in the 1960s, the wonderful Queen Anne staircase, hand-carved in burled yew, went to a London dealer. He then sold it to Allen and Gladys Topping, an American couple he met at Kensington Antiques Fair in 1958 and they installed it in their house on Long Island, New York. The story goes that Mrs Topping saw a ghost on the stairs in 1962. Was it Anne? Who knows?”She went on: “Having checked this much out, our ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’ made inquiries abroad but things did not look promising. People seemed to think that the house had been lost in one of the many hurricanes that occur so commonly there.“The breakthrough came when a keen local librarian suggested contacting the Quogue Long Island Historical Society and they tracked down the exact location of the house and contacted the current owner. Much to their joy they discovered that not only was the staircase intact but the current owner was unaware of its origins and delighted to invite them over to see it. (...)“Now Mirfield and Quogue are working together to document this little-known link between them with a view to incorporating it in the bicentenary celebrations.”
She added: “Sometime in 2016 you will be able to see the fruits of their labours for yourselves. All thanks to crucial evidence in local newspapers and business records unearthed by a killer combination of keen locals and bright librarians on both sides of the pond.”The ghost story has circulated widely and appears in books and newspapers (where the location of the house known as Sanderling in Beach Lane, Quogue, Long Island, is also mentioned) but, apparently, nobody has looked for the exact location of the house until now.yorkshireeveningpost

vrijdag 12 december 2014

Paganini in Halifax

In the early 1800s at the time of the Brontes, Holdsworth House was owned by the Wadsworth Family. Our diaries of their daughter Elizabeth tell of her having been to see concert violinist Paganini in Halifax – as do the chronicles of the Brontes. holdsworthhouse

This event took place the following day, Thursday, February 9, at the New Assembly Rooms in Harrison Road. The star of the show was Niccolo Paganini, often regarded as the most famous violinist of all time, as well as a great composer.

On February 11 the Halifax and Huddersfield Express reported the assembly rooms "exhibited a brilliant and numerous assemblage of the leading gentry and fashion of the town and neighbourhood" and said the musician was "as singular in his personal appearance as he is wondrous and unrivalled in the musical world".

Of his virtuoso perform-ance, the newspaper was full of enthusiasm. "We have no language that can adequately describe the unearthly melody of Paganini" it stated and added that it was "at a loss, too, for language to express the powerful emotions produced by his performance".Traffic in 1832 was horse-drawn and the streets were not nearly as wide as today. The gentlemen and ladies turning up for the concert arrived, of course, by coach, and the narrow streets became blocked by horses and carriages, each with a coachmen or grooms in attendance. The surrounding streets became gridlocked and in the confusion many of the horses became frantic and carriage wheels became entangled. One collision required the summons of a coach builder to release two carriages, which had become firmly interlocked. The private coachmen of the local gentry, in their colourful dress livery, were privileged to hear Paganini for themselves, being allowed admission after the half-time interval, free of charge. Read all: halifaxcourier

Again a page with a lot of information about the Brontes.

Interesting alternative perspectives

A documentary series looking at alternative perspectives - which are based on more than pure conjecture - of major UK histories.
Within this pilot trailer, we follow Ian Howard, who along with Josh Chapman, the grandson of the late Joanna Hutton - the first female curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in 1962 - who are looking at some of the research, and at Emily Brontë's book itself - which suggests that the inspiration of Wuthering Heights is not Top Withins. Follow them to the location many historians think may be the actual location - along the way many unusual markings are found which suggests druid and Freemason activity.

donderdag 11 december 2014

A lot of information

Benjamin Hartley

Benjamin Hartley was born on 20 March 1832 in Shaw, in the hamlet of Far Oxenhope, the second son of John and Sarah Hartley.  He was baptised on 2 October 1832 by Patrick Bronte.
According to census entries, his father John Hartley* was born around 1788, though no christening record has been found.  His possible antecedents are discussed in the Notes   below.
John Hartley’s wife was Sarah Holmes.  The couple had 5 children and lived in a terraced house in Shaw. See photo here.  Sarah died in 1853, John in 1867. 
By the age of 18, Benjamin had taken up his father’s trade of Woolcomber or Spinner and was a choirboy at Haworth Parish Church, where Patrick Bronte was the incumbent. At the age of 20, in 1853, he married Amelia Sutcliffe.  Amelia was born in Shaw in 1831 to †Abraham Sutcliffe, another Woolcomber.  In 1861 the couple were at Cobling, a smallholding on the Sawood estate (Far Oxenhope) near the Dog & Gun Inn.  Benjamin was described as a Milk Hawker though, in trade directories published in 1864 and 1866, he was a Farmer. This fits roughly with a family story that the Hartleys had a poor dairy farm near Haworth that supplied the Brontes with milk. Read more: windhillorigins

woensdag 10 december 2014

Oxenhope and the Brontes

Until the 1840's Oxenhope was part of Haworth parish and Anglicans who wished to attend church had to take the long walk up to Haworth for services. As the population grew it was decided that Oxenhope needed its own church and the then vicar of Haworth, Patrick Brontë, sent his curate Joseph Brett Grant to establish the new parish. Initially services were held in other buildings but Grant was an effective fundraiser and by February 1849 the foundation stone for a parish church was laid and the building finished just eight months later. Brett was a popular and respected vicar who served the parish for over 30 years. The stained glass windows in the choir are dedicated to his memory. visitbradford

Photo: The original vicarage built for Joseph Brett Grant, Patrick Brontë’s former curate

Until 1845 anyone in Oxenhope who wished to attend an Anglican church had to walk to Haworth and back to do so. Otherwise the only churches available were Methodist and Baptist. Then an Act of Parliament said that anywhere needing a church could build one. As the population had increased because of the mills, the Rev. Patrick Bronte of Haworth sent his curate, the Rev. Joseph Brett Grant to start the church in Oxenhope. He had to hold services in a house at the top of the catsteps, although nobody now knows which one it was. He was allowed to perform baptisms, but marriages and funerals could only take place in a church. As a school and vicarage were needed as well as a church, it was decided to build the school first. This was completed in 1846, and services were held there. The Rev. Brett Grant raised money by approaching people, telling them he needed money to build a church, holding out his hand and asking them how much they would give him. Charlotte Bronte described him in her novel 'Shirley' under the name of the Rev. Don, adding that
he had walked so far he had worn out 14 pairs of shoes! She quite rightly described him as 'the champion beggar'.
As a result of his persistence, the foundation stone was laid on 14 February 1849 and the finished building was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon on 11 October 1849. The total cost was £1308. thesunflowertrust

Arthur Bell Nicholls’s predecessor as Patrick’s curate at Haworth, taking up the position in late 1844, and performing his last duties in May 1845. He became curate and later perpetual curate in nearby Oxenhope, and was a close ally of Nicholls during his dispute with Patrick over his suit for Charlotte’s hand; when they finally married he and his wife were asked “to the breakfast – not the ceremony” as Charlotte told Ellen Nussey firmly (letter of 16 June 1854). He was a pall-bearer at Patrick’s funeral. Judging by Charlotte’s portrait of him as Mr Donne in Shirley she disliked him intensely, finding him conceited, intrusive, and insensitive. She acknowledged the portrait was of him, and remarked wonderingly that “It is a curious fact that since he read ‘Shirley’ he has come to the house oftener than ever and been remarkably meek and assiduous to please” (to WSW, 3 Apr 1850). He married Sarah Anne Turner, of Woodford in Essex, and if Shirley and Mr Donne are any guide she was “a most sensible, quiet, lady-like little woman” and “the making of him” (ch. 37). The man had much to endure, including Mr Brontë sometimes addressing him as Mr Donne (W & S, v. 4, p. 258), but it seems likely his self-esteem pulled him through. One would certainly not have wished to be among the audience at the Haworth Mechanics’ Institute being addressed by him “on the advantages of knowledge” ... blackwellreference



Charlotte Brontë's fisherman

Via this passing mention on Newsweek
Other items included more illustrations by E.H. Shepard, a handwritten manuscript from poet and writer Dylan Thomas (sold for £104,500), dozens of works by artist and designer Eric Gill, a 1632 folio of Shakespeare’s works (£74,500) and a pencil drawing by Charlotte Brontë (£13,125). (Stav Ziv)

Charlotte Brontë's fisherman.

Auctioned yesterday afternoon at Sotheby's in London as part of their English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations Including Eric Gill – The Felix Dennis Collection auction. This drawing by Charlotte Brontë dated October 23, 1829 was expected to fetch 6,000-8,000 pounds but ended up selling for 13,125.
Here's how Sotheby's described it:

encil drawing on card (image size: 70 x 105mm, card size: 100x 145mm), depicting a figure in a hat holding a fishing rod in driving rain, huddled by a river beneath a windswept tree (copied from Thomas Bewick, History of British Birds (1816), volume 2, p.47), signed and dated, 23 October 1829, mounted, framed, and glazed (frame size 230 x 285mm)
LITERATURE. Alexander and Sellars, no. 24

A first edition of Shirley was sold as well and it fetched 1,500 pounds (the estimate was 1,200-1,800).

8vo (189 x 112mm.), 3 volumes, FIRST EDITION, 3-page advertisement for the third edition of Jane Eyre at end of volume 3, with volume 2, p.304 correctly numbered and with the error '"Well said he' in line 1 not corrected, contemporary half calf, spines gilt, red morocco lettering-pieces, lacking 16-page publisher's catalogue in volume 1, some wear to hinge of volume 2 with small tear at foot of gutter in first few pages
PROVENANCE. B. Williams Ball, bookplate; F.W. Fitzwygram, inkstamp
LITERATURE. Parrish, p.93; Sadleir 348; Smith 5

On Facebook, Wuthering Hikes shares a stunning recreation of how the Haworth Parsonage would have looked like in the 19th century (before the Wade wing was added to it). And via the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page, we see that the second episode of the BBC's Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance featured the Brontës' upright piano.

dinsdag 9 december 2014

On Bonnie Greer's words

The Yorkshire Post publishes a letter from a reader who strongly disagrees with Bonnie Greer.
From: Catherine Rayner RGN, MA, BSc and BA, Life Member of the Brontë Society and former member of council.
It was with growing concern that I read the interview with Bonnie Greer, current President of the Brontë Society, in your newspaper (The Yorkshire Post, December 1). Following her warnings, at the recent EGM, “of the dangers of talking to the Press” and how “she did not want to hear any criticism of the Brontë Society in print”, I found it particularly offensive.
The Brontë Society Council is currently being challenged and constructively advised by a group of members (The Modernising Group) who know and understand the problems of the last 18 months and are trying to rectify a lot of mistakes and move the society forward in to the 21st century.
Ms Greer speaks of setting up an Advisory Group and bringing “money into the village”. Money seems to be the aim and yet she has not consulted with the village traders or the inhabitants, who may not want her interfering in their affairs. Ms Greer has not consulted with any of the Modernising Group, declaring that she does not know who they are despite many of us standing up at the EGM and declaring our names and concerns. By her own admission, therefore, she is woefully ill-equipped to advise anyone on the running of the society or on the future of Haworth and its residents.
I have been a life member of the Brontë Society for over 35 years and served on its council for six years. After being re-elected to council in June this year, I resigned a month later because of poor governance and internal wrangling. I find it unpalatable that the president, who holds an honorary title only, should be allowed to air her views whilst trying to silence the very people who are desperately trying to move the society forward.
Ms Greer has her own agenda and is trying to take on a role for which she has no local knowledge or experience. She appears to be riding on the backs of all those who have spent months trying to set up a dialogue and organise constructive talks and action, both within the society and alongside the local population. A great deal of positive work and fruitful liaison has been achieved by the local ministers working with the traders and the community. Ms Greer has continually turned a blind eye and is now trying to take on the role of saviour.
It is an insult to the hard-working and dedicated members of the Brontë Society and also to the people of Haworth, who have both benefited, and suffered, from having such a famous legacy in their midst.

The Brussels Brontë Group’s annual Christmas lunch

The Brussels Brontë Group’s annual Christmas lunch took place on Saturday 6 December, at the restaurant ‘Carpe Diem’. It was attended by 38 enthusiastic lovers of the Brontës and 19th century literature.

Read all: brusselsbronte

We also would like you to visit our various web-sites. Please also go into Facebook to become a friend of the Brussels Brontë Group. We will post more informal posts there on a regular basis. If you are reading this you are already on our blog (http://brusselsbronte.blogspot.be/). You can also look at our website where there is more background information about the group. We also post here a program of our events. (http://www.thebrusselsbrontegroup.org/).

zondag 7 december 2014

The Hester Forbes-Julian collection of letters and autographs

The Hester Forbes-Julian Letter Collection
The Hester Forbes-Julian collection of letters and autographs, now one of the Museum’s most valued possessions, remained hidden until 1987, when it was rediscovered during storage improvements. The collection comprises 16 albums of autographs, letters, engravings and cuttings relating to some 1500 individuals, many of them major figures of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The fields of literature, politics, science and music are all represented: John Keats, Jane Austen, the Brontë’s, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Guiseppe Verdi, Dr. Livingstone, the Duke of Wellington to name but a few.
The catalogue can be found in the National Archives: Charlotte Brontë, 10 September 1850. More details can be found on Newby's Chicanery: New Brontë Letters by Alexander, Christine, Notes & Queries; Jun95, Vol. 42 Issue 2, p189:

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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