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

donderdag 25 december 2014

Christmas holidays of the year 1842

The death of Miss Branwell had brought Charlotte and Emily home from Brussels; and Anne, from her situation, was present on the sad occasion. When the Christmas holidays came round, the sisters were all at home again. Branwell was with them; which was always a pleasure at that time, and Charlotte's friend, 'E,' came to see her. Having overcome the first pang of grief on the death of their aunt, they enjoyed their Christmas very much together. Branwell was cheerful and even merry; and in Charlotte's next letter, written in a happy mood to her friend, who had just left them, he sent a playful message. 'Branwell wants to know,' says Charlotte, 'why you carefully excluded all mention of him, when you particularly send your regards to every other member of the family. He desires to know in what he has offended you? Or whether it is considered improper for a young lady to mention the gentlemen of a house?' [4] While they were together, plans for the future were talked over with eagerness and hope. Charlotte had accepted the proposal of Monsieur Héger that she should return to Brussels for another year, when she would have completed her knowledge of French and be fully qualified to commence a school on a footing which was yet impossible. Emily was to remain at home now to attend to her father's house, and Anne was to return to her situation as governess.
Branwell also found occupation as tutor in the same family where Anne had been for some time employed. He commenced his duties, in his new position, after the Christmas holidays of the year 1842. On his arrival at the house of his employer, he was introduced to the members of the family; and it is not too much to say that his new friends were more than satisfied with his graceful manners, his wit, and the extent of his information. Here Branwell felt himself happy; for, contrary to his expectation, he had found, to his mind, a pleasant pasture, with comparative ease, where he had only looked for the usual drudgery of a tutor's work. His family were contented that he was thus respectably and hopefully employed.  gutenberg

Oxenhope's St Mary the Virgin Church.

Keighley News reports:
An historic Oxenhope church with links to the Brontë family will share in a £550,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust to 30 churches and chapels in the UK
The funding from the National Churches Trust includes £15,000 for Oxenhope's St Mary the Virgin Church. Custodians of the Grade II listed building, in Hebden Road, will use the cash to help fund urgently-needed repairs to the church tower as part of a £120,000 project. (...)
We'd only asked for £10,000 because we didn't want to appear greedy, but they said they liked what we were doing and that we could have the full £15,000. It is amazing."
Reverend Wright added that the church's exposed location means it often gets a battering from harsh weather sweeping down off the moors. (...)
In 1845, Reverend Patrick Brontë, father of the famous novelist sisters Charlotte, Anne and Emily, appointed the then curate, Reverend Joseph Brett Grant, to take charge of the newly formed ecclesiastical district, now know as Oxenhope village parish.
Reverend Grant began holding services in a nearby wool combing shop. Within a year he had raised enough money to build a day school, which served as a Sunday school and church.
He was a tireless worker who collected money for a purpose-built new church. According to Charlotte Brontë he wore out 14 pairs of shoes in his quest for money.
His efforts were rewarded on February 14 1849 when the foundation stone for St Mary's was laid.
The church was built from millstone grit with stone and natural slate roofs. The square west end tower is 44-feet high and houses two levels of meeting rooms, which were added in 1991

A School Progress Report for the Brontë Sisters

The Journal of Education: A Monthly Record and Review, January 1900.

The Ransom Center

maandag 22 december 2014

Was Branwell Bronte bipolair?

Hathaways of Haworth is working on a post about the authorship of Wuthering Heights and I was pondering the behaviour and tragic decline of Branwell Bronte and it suddenly occurred to me that he may have been bipolar .I probably wouldn’t have considered the possibility of mental health problems within the Bronte family if I hadn’t just finished a post on Emily to address  the question of her possible Asperger’s. did-emily-bronte-have-aspergers-autism
Its seems to me very possible Branwell had or developed a mental health problem that falls within the bipolar spectrum.  Having lived with some one with a bipolar disorder, for years there was something about Branwells behaviour that niggled at some indefinable part of my mind.Then I began reviewing Branwell after  I recently watched someone with bipolar slowly loose their moral compass and behave  in increasingly uncharacteristic ways I saw many echo’s in Branwells final sad decline.
I don’t yet have research to back up this idea and may not pursue it but several aspects of Branwells life suggested the possibility. He was clearly extremely talented in many areas yet he also lacked the ability to maintain any interest for long enough to make a living ,he makes rapid progress then suddenly seems to loose interest or cant concentrate and apply himself .He often make grandiose claims  and plans which he then looses interest in fulfilling. He is affectionate and caring ,yet is sporadically capable of being selfish  cruel and aggressive. He is aware of this  and deeply upset by it but cant control it. Hes normally very gentle and  protective of his sisters and father yet can be suddenly abusive and frightening. He has sleep problems and delusions.He appears to be worse after some emotional upset or after sudden success. He is by turns elated and depressed ,sometimes in rapid succession ,sometimes they changes can last days or weeks. Something I had not realised until recently ,each progressive episode seems to wear away at the suffers normal emotional state producing a gradual suppression of their normal self and an increasing intrusion of manic traits into their everyday lives. Many aspects of his behaviour have been explained as results of abuse of alcohol and  laudanum but there’s no evidence at all that he was using either of these  when he makes his first “mistakes” and despite social drinking doesn’t seem to have lost control of his intake until the very last days of his life .The drug and alcohol abuse could have been a coping mechanism, misunderstood by those around him who would have no idea of his complex mental health problems. Thoughts to ponder by those more well versed on Branwell than myself

zondag 21 december 2014

Did Emily Bronte have Asperger’s /Autism?

Hathaways of Haworth thinks the answer is a very clear no, based on overwhelming evidence from her day to day interactions .The suggestion is usually put forward by people who have read standard biographies or  accounts by strangers about Emily’s public behaviour. I realise the subjects complex and I am only covering popularly  perceived traits in both those with Asperger’s and those with other forms of Autism .However  its usually these specific traits which are signalled out in Emily to support the theory she had some form of Autism. I think a superficial  examination is however enough to disprove the idea.

The main reason.
Emily is an emotionally  normal child possibly even a overly friendly one whereas Autistic children often present with problems quite quickly  autism

Emily is an affectionate and sweet natured child  with a character open and trusting enough to be able to endear strangers to her quite quickly. Emily was very  clearly an endearing  child and good around strangers while as she gets older her behaviour becomes more eccentric and reclusive ocialy, showing “learned” antisocial traits rather than core character traits. While there isn’t a huge number of accounts of Emilys early childhood, the ones that survive most notably from Cowen Bridge talks about her being seen as "a sweet little thing”. Miss Evans, the superintendent of the new school, called Brontë a “darling child” and “little petted Em” and the admissions register referred to her as “quite the pet nursling of the school.” Who doesn’t seem to have had trouble adapting to a different routine and one that was extremely rigid and in almost all respects different to her home life. Nor at this time does she seem to be having any problems interacting with strangers. Autistic children show problems with change and social interactions quite quickly. The negative responses to change and social environments is progressive but variable. It seems that as she gets older she gets less able to  or willing to adjust.

Read more on: Hathaways of Haworth

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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