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

zondag 27 december 2015

""The community was fantastic. Everybody really pulled together."

A fire chief has praised Haworth residents for their community spirit during yesterday's flooding chaos. Keighley watch commander Darren Armstrong said villagers had rallied round to help those affected and to support emergency services personnel. Firefighters spent much of the day at Mill Hey, where there was severe flooding. Part of the former Royal Oak pub, due to reopen next spring as the Mill Hey Brew House, was swept away. Around half a dozen homes were evacuated and the Spar store and other businesses were flooded. Three people had to be rescued from a car which had become stuck in the flood waters. Fire crews from Keighley, Silsden, Rawdon and Hunslet pushed out a bridge wall to divert water as levels continued to rise. And they used pumps to help clear away some of the deluge. A kitchen to feed people was set-up at the railway station on the Worth Valley line, which had been closed due to the flooding. "The community was fantastic," said Mr Armstrong.
"People were filling bags with ash for folk to use as sandbags, volunteers on the railway opened-up their facilities and Spar and others gave food. "Everybody really pulled together." keighleynews_in_Haworth

Furious response to news that plan to establish community safety hub in Haworth has been put on hold. CAMPAIGNERS claim they have been "kicked in the teeth" after a plan to convert and re-open Haworth's closed fire station was removed from a key meeting agenda. They took to the streets of Haworth to protest in pouring rain on Saturday, after learning the scheme to turn the mothballed facility into a community safety hub would not be discussed at tomorrow's fire authority meeting.
A fire service spokesman has said the project is not dead, but warned the service is having to review its financial situation. Read all: keighleynews

I received this reaction from Anonymous with an explanation.

The river is below that road. The flood waters are trapped by the walls. Walls that used to have gaps and gates. The wall in the photo next to the pub was destroyed to save the Royal Oak. This situation is yet another example of the stupidity of the local councils. The actual source of the flood was due to the rail bridge upstream of the road bridge that has not been cleared. Yorkshire Water applied to reduce the flow in the river so that they could extract more, but have failed to clear the silt that accumulated. The river is partially blocked by a large manhole constraining the flow (the sewer is under the river bed). Each obstruction adds a little bit more height to the river and the sum of all the increases overflows the walls.

Also the river used to flow down the "goit" to the mill and then down the mill race, so bypassing the constriction of the bridge. Well it did in the old days when those in charge knew how to manage the water. Instead the site of the mill has been totally altered and the flood waters do not have a chance to get to the mill race anymore. They are limited to the single bridge span of the road bridge.

They strive so much to save money, but it costs them a fortune.

See this video: facebook/Haworthvillage


zaterdag 26 december 2015

vrijdag 25 december 2015

Merry Christmas to all of you.

"Music I love - but never strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine -
As that we hear on Christmas morn,...

Upon the wintry breezes born."
To tell you the truth I didn't know this poem
 (from Music On Christmas Morning by Anne Bronte)
I found it on the Facebook page of Nick Holland
“A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway.”
― from JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë

zondag 20 december 2015

National Portrait Gallery to reveal mysteries of shadowy Bronte brother


Painted by Branwell, who hoped to become a professional artist, it is well-known to scholars of the Brontes, first mentioned by author Mrs Gaskell in 1853 when it showed just the three sisters separated by the pillar Photo: National Portrait Gallery

By , Arts Correspondent:
For decades, he has been the shadowy figure gradually emerging in between his sisters in the only existing group portrait of the Brontes. Now the National Portrait Gallery is set to reveal the mysteries behind Branwell Bronte’s self-portrait, after using the latest scientific techniques to reveal how he began sketching himself only to change his mind immediately. Experts expect to be able to show the most accurate images yet of what his picture would have looked like, before he painted a solid pillar over his own face and took himself out of the family group. The painting, which hangs in the gallery and shows Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte together, is to be the centrepiece of a new exhibition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Jane Eyre author’s birth.

Painted by Branwell, who hoped to become a professional artist, it is well-known to scholars of the Brontes, first mentioned by author Mrs Gaskell in 1853 when it showed just the three sisters separated by the pillar. The portrait itself disappeared, before being found folded carelessly on top of a cupboard in 1906 by the second wife of Charlotte’s husband Reverend A.B. Nicholls. Since being acquired by the NPG in 1914, fading paintwork and the steady march of time has gradually unveiled a shadowy male figure in the middle of them, widely believed to be Branwell. The painting is now undergoing scientific testing to tell the true story behind how the painting was constructed, and give fans of Charlotte Bronte a deeper insight into her home life.

A study of paintwork, which allowed experts to date different part of the portrait, has shown Branwell only made the briefest of sketches of himself, and did not begin painting his skintone at all.
The pillar is now believed to have been painted on immediately by Branwell, likely as an artistic decision, rather than seeing him covered up at a later date. By February, when the exhibition opens, curators hope to use the latest technology to show what the original image looked like in its most detail yet, and tell the full story of how it came to the public eye. A spokesman said: “Central to the display will be the presentation of new research into the only surviving painted portraits of Charlotte with her two sisters, Emily and Anne, by their brother Branwell, in the Gallery’s Collection.

“This will explore the intriguing story of its discovery folded on top of a wardrobe, subsequent acquisition by the Gallery and its restoration.” Lucy Wood, assistant curator of the exhibition, said latest research had shown there was no sign of “flesh paint” under the pillar, adding: “It appears that he was only ever loosely sketched and never fully painted up. “The pillar was added in at an early stage, so it appears he painted himself over.” The painting will go on display alongside dozens of items loaned from the Bronte Parsonage Museum, home of Charlotte and her siblings. It includes paintings and drawings by Charlotte, letters and journals, the famous ‘little books’ created by the Brontë sisters as children and the first book Charlotte ever made.

Other items include a pair of cloth ankle boots worn by Charlotte, first editions of Jane Eyre, chalk drawings of the author and Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography, Life of Charlotte Brontë. Ms Wood said: “This rare chance to see the only painted portrait of Charlotte Brontë alongside illuminating personal treasures from the Brontë Parsonage Museum provides a fascinating opportunity to celebrate her life and remarkable achievements as one of the most celebrated authors of the 19th century. “It will enable visitors to learn more about her private life, her influences and come away with a real sense of who she was.”

Juliet Barker, former curator of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, biographer and author of the forthcoming The Brontes: A Life in Letters, said the image of Branwell is already well-known, but said new techniques may allow experts to uncover more. .telegraph/National-Portrait-Gallery-to-reveal-mysteries-of-shadowy-Bronte-brother

zaterdag 19 december 2015

Historic photographes Haworth.

Bottom of Main Street Haworth c1890- 1900
Beautiful view on the Church. Not many trees in that time.

c1910-20 pre Park


donderdag 17 december 2015

The Bronte Society was formed 122 years ago today!

Opening of the Haworth Parsonage Museum
In 1893 The Brontë Society was founded to organise a permanent home for these treasures, and to keep them together as a collection.

Even before Charlotte died in 1855 enthusiastic visitors were making their way to Haworth to spot the famous author around the village. Mr Brontë's Sunday afternoon congregations were sometimes swollen with sightseers, eager for a glimpse of his daughter, or, failing that, happy just hear her father preach.
Towards the end of the century, when cheaper editions of the novels appeared, and after Mrs Gaskell's 'Life of Charlotte Brontë' made popular the story of the three doomed and tragic sisters, interest in the Brontës boomed. Anyone who had known them was besieged with requests for anecdotes and souvenirs. Mr Brontë had died in 1861, at which point the Parsonage contents had been sold off and moved out. Many items had gone with Charlotte's husband Arthur Bell Nicholls to his new home in Ireland; others had been given to friends and servants as keepsakes. The sisters' manuscripts, letters and personal belongings began to appear in salerooms, and many fetched high prices on the American market.
In 1893 The Brontë Society was founded to organise a permanent home for these treasures, and to keep them together as a collection. The first Museum opened in 1895 above the Yorkshire Penny Bank on Haworth Main Street. The Society began to purchase Brontë treasures at auction, and many others were loaned or donated. By the following summer 10,000 visitors had passed through. In 1928 the Church put up for sale Haworth Parsonage at a price of £3000, and it was bought by Sir James Roberts, a Haworth-born wool merchant and lifetime Brontë Society member, who handed the Society the deeds. It was, of course, the perfect home for their collection.
The wealthy Philadelphia publisher Henry Houston Bonnell bequeathed to the Society his extensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, first editions and personal effects, which arrived at the Museum upon his sudden death in 1926. From then on the Museum could boast the world's largest collection of Brontëana, and many subsequent bequests allowed them to bid successfully for Brontë items coming up for sale at auction. Today the Brontë Society is one of the world's oldest and most respected literary societies, with a worldwide membership of around 1500. bronte/bronte-society/history

From; bronte/bronte-society We are one of the oldest literary societies in the world, founded in 1893 and today we have a thriving worldwide membership. The Brontë Society is a charity and depends entirely on admissions and the generosity of members for its income. The Society is responsible for running the famous Brontë Parsonage Museum in the picturesque village of Haworth in West Yorkshire, once the home of the Brontë family and also for promoting the Brontës' literary legacy within contemporary society.
The Brontë collections at the Brontë Parsonage Museum are the largest and most important in the world and continue to inspire scholars, writers and artists. Our Contemporary Arts Programme includes literary events, exhibitions, artistic responses, a competition and festivals, and our lifelong learning programme enables us to reach students of all ages across the country.
Becoming a member of the Brontë Society supports our work especially as we approach the celebrations for the bicentenaries of Charlotte Brontë in 2016, Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020. By joining today you will assist us maintain the legacy of this remarkable family whose novels remain as popular today as when they were first published in the first half of the nineteenth century. You can join online or when visiting the Brontë Parsonage Museum. members.bronte./Join-Online

woensdag 16 december 2015

Campaigners in fight to save Bronte landmark from threat of cash cuts

EVOCATIVE: The ruins of Wycoller Hall in the village of Wycoller, said to be the setting of Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre
AN EAST Lancashire landmark which inspired Charlotte Bronte is under threat – and a petition to support it has already been signed by more than 700 people. Wycoller Hall, on the outskirts of Colne, was the model for ‘Ferndean Manor’ in Bronte’s Jane Eyre – and the historic venue is the starting point for the Bronte Way which leads to the Parsonage Museum in nearby Haworth.
But the countryside service offered by Lancashire County Council is under threat, as part of the £262m cuts required over the next five years, which has sparked a wave of protest.

Also under threat are the Queen Street Mill in Burnley and Helmshore Textile Mill near Haslingden.
The Friends of Wycoller is behind the petition on the change.org website, citing the hall’s links with one of Bronte’s most memorable characters, Mr Rochester.
The petition reads: “‘Ferndean Manor’ is the centrepiece of the gorgeously romantic Wycoller hamlet, clustered around a stream at the heart of Wycoller Country Park. Its moody scenery and residents inspired the Bronte sisters.

Read more: lancashiretelegraph/Campaigners_in_fight_to_save_Bronte_landmark_from_threat_of_cash_cuts

How the moors changed my mind about the Brontës

Read everything of this article on:  theguardian/moors-brontes-charlotte-emily-anne 

I’ve just got back from a week’s filming in Haworth and its environs – its bleak, freezing, inhospitable, endlessly compelling environs – for a documentary about … yes, you guessed it: the Brontës. There were three of us presenting, each going in to bat for a different member of the family.
The novelist Helen Oyeyemi was Emily’s champion, the BBC stalwart Martha Kearney was Charlotte’s, and I was there to represent Anne. She’s the only Brontë sister I can really cope with. The others, with their Wuthering Heights and their Jane Eyres, are just … too much. T’Sturm und t’Drang are not my way, in life or in reading. Give me the quiet, forensic scrutiny of Agnes Grey, the eponymous heroine of Anne’s first book, based on her miserable experiences as a governess for two rich families full of semi-feral children. Or the slow, pitiless anatomising of the effects of alcoholism on a Victorian family, so accurate that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall could have been written yesterday.

maandag 14 december 2015

CHARLOTTE Brontë married her sweetheart

CHARLOTTE Brontë married her sweetheart – watched by a huge crowd of well-wishers in Haworth churchyard. The BBC today recreated the 1800s wedding of Charlotte, then the only surviving Brontë sister, to her clergyman father’s assistant Arthur Bell Nicholls. A crew filmed the ceremony inside Haworth Parish Church with a costumed wedding party made up of professional actors and Brontë Parsonage Museum staff. Brontë enthusiasts and local people, invited along by the museum, lined the churchyard to cheer the happy couple and throw confetti.

The event was filmed by BBC Bristol as part of a series due to be shown in 2016 to mark the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth. Living Like A Brontë will be part of a year-long BBC season focusing on classic literature in a bid to get more people in the UK reading. During today’s ceremony Rebecca Yorke, the parsonage museum’s marketing officer, played bridesmaid Ellen Nussey, Charlotte Brontë’s best friend. She said: “The ceremony was really moving. The two people playing Charlotte and Arthur were really well cast and it felt very real, being in the Brontë Chapel. “When we were in the church we could hear the rain hammering down, so it was amazing that so many people were outside to greet us.

“I’d had lots of inquiries so I knew a lot of people were interested in going. We had responses from people all over the world.” Ann Dinsdale, a Brontë historian and collections manager at the parsonage museum, said she was surprised how touching the event was. She said: “We spent a week with a film crew around Haworth to got used to them, but it was quite moving to see the actual ceremony. Mrs Dinsdale said the replica dress was created from descriptions of the actual dress and the design of the real wedding bonnet and veil from the museum’s collection. She added: “The real dress didn’t survive. Arthur Bell Nicholls kept it for many years but left instructions that it should be burned after his death. Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls after publication of her novel Jane Eyre and the death of sisters Anne and Emily. Filming is being carried out with support from staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Living Like a Brontë will be screened next spring as two 60-minute episodes.

Journalist and broadcaster, Martha Kearney; columnist and author, Lucy Mangan; and novelist, Helen Oyeyemi, are travelling to the parsonage, home of the Brontë sisters, to discover the stories behind their classic novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. A BBC spokesman said: “With help from a range of experts, each presenter will explore one of the Brontës in detail.
“By re-living the sisters’ daily routines, visiting the key places in their world and immersing themselves in their letters and diaries, and through the sisters’ interactions with each other, they’ll discover what it was that served as their sources of inspiration.” The BBC Get Reading season will also include Brontës At The BBC, showcasing excerpts from the many TV adaptations of Brontë works, and To Walk Invisible, a new drama about the Brontë sisters written by Last Tango In Halifax and Happy Valley creator, Sally Wainwright. thetelegraphandargus

The wedding took place at eight o’clock in the morning, but one important man was not to be there. At the last moment Patrick said that he felt too ill to attend, although we’ll never know if this was true or if he was still harbouring some resentment at the marriage itself. Margaret Wooler stepped into the breach and it was she who gave Charlotte away, with Reverend Morgan, Patrick’s friend who had baptised Charlotte, conducting the ceremony.Also present at the church were Joseph Grant, a friend of Nicholls, and his wife, Sutcliffe Sowden, the vicar of Hebden Bridge, the sexton John Brown and his daughter Martha, Joseph Redman, the parish clerk, and John Robinson, a local boy and former pupil of Charlotte’s. We can also assume that the by now aged and infirm Tabby Aykroyd would also have been there if she was well enough on the day. It was a low key affair, as Charlotte wanted, and they held a reception afterwards at the Sunday school building that lay between the church and the Parsonage. annebronte/the-wedding-of-charlotte-bronte

zondag 6 december 2015

December 1847 at the Parsonage.

The beginning of December 1847 was a time of great excitement in the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, but it was nothing to do with the impending arrival of Christmas; it was the month that saw the joint publication of Agnes Grey, by Acton Bell, and Wuthering Heights, by Ellis Bell, and the gestation of these great novels had been anything but smooth. Read more of this wonderful post on the weblog of Nick Holland:  annebronte/the-birth-of-agnes-grey-and-wuthering-heights/

A Victorian Christmas

maandag 30 november 2015

The Bronte Trail is one of a series of ‘Ure Walks Through Time’

Passing a large field of deer, we reached a farm, and entered a grassy path, with thick vegetation on either side, and opened up to open countryside. In Anne’s day this footpath was known as Bowsers Lane. It emerges at Thorp Head, close to the River Ouse. Branwell Bronte’s poem ‘Lydia Gisborne’ begins:
‘On Ouse’s grassy banks – last Whitsuntide, I sat, with fears and pleasures, in my soul commingled, as it ‘roamed without control’.’
Read all: thetelegraphandargus

At the entrance toThorpe Grange Farm the ‘ridge and furrow’ strips can be seen in the field that gave it’s name to the Stripe Houses. Demolished in 1883 they housed the poor families of the area and were the influence for the cottages visited by Agnes and the Murray girls.

Passing HolyTrinity Church and crossing over the picturesque little bridge, you’ll come to the spot from which Anne sketched the church. In those days,Ouse Gill Beck was much wider, forming a lake on both sides of the bridge. boroughbridgewalks

woensdag 25 november 2015

This weekend in Haworth!

*Fairy Parade 2pm - Fairies of all ages welcome to dress up and join in! (meet bottom of Main St)
*Haworth Craft Fairs in the Old School Rooms...
*Haworth Church Winter Fair

*Scroggling the Holly 2pm (meet bottom of Main St). A lovely way to welcome in the spirit of Christmas!
*Haworth Craft Fairs in the Old School Rooms
*Oakworth Morris Men 1.00pm Main Street.

Music and bands on Main Street.
Photo of Main Street by facebook/photo.markdavis   Mark Davis Photography


Our beautiful Christmas cards for this year are now available in selected shops on Main Street including Rose & Co. Firth's Boutique, Hawksbys, Fleece Inn Haworth, Simple Inspiration, Mrs Beightons and Apothecary Tea Rooms. £2 each or 3 for £5.
A lovely memory of your Christmas in Haworth!
Huge thanks to Mark Davis Photography for these stunning images.

dinsdag 24 november 2015

George Richmond' s portrait de Charlotte Brontë et ""le-vrai-visage-de-Charlotte".

Louise Sanfaçon made the portrait in the right.
Lorsque le portrait de Charlotte Brontë, réalisé par l’artiste George Richmond, fut publié en frontispice de sa biographie en 1857, soit deux ans après sa mort à l’âge de trente-huit ans, il a attiré quelques commentaires acrimonieux de son ancienne amie Mary Taylor : «Je ne suis pas du tout favorable à l’idée de publier un portrait qui embellisse ses traits.» a-t-elle répliqué à la biographe Elizabeth Gaskell.  «J’aurais de loin préféré voir le vrai visage de Charlotte, avec les yeux et la bouche plus rapprochés, de même que son menton carré et son grand nez disproportionnésoeursbronte/le-vrai-visage-de-charlotte/

When the portrait of Charlotte Brontë, directed by George Richmond, was published as the frontispiece of his biography in 1857, two years after his death at the age of thirty-eight years, he drew some of his former acrimonious comments friend Mary Taylor: "I am not at all favorable to the idea of publishing a portrait that embellish his features." she replied to the biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.
I had rather the mouth and eyes had been nearer together
and shown the veritable square face and large disproportionate nose'
Gaskell herself had written of her subject’s “plain, large and ill-set features”, “crooked mouth and large nose”, and in private had been even more specific about “a reddish face; large mouth & many teeth gone; altogether plain; the forehead square, broad and rather overhanging”.
George Smith was so impressed by the prominence of Miss Brontë’s brow that he took her to a phrenologist in 1851 to have it analysed, but thought little of her personal charms, recalling that her head “seemed too large for her body” and that “her face was marred by the shape of the mouth and by the complexion”.  

zondag 22 november 2015

Steampunk in Haworth

facebook./photo/Simon Waldren
Thanks to Simon Waldren, the photographer.

Day one of our first ever Steampunk experience and we were impressed by how many dressed up and how amazing the costumes were!

The Brontë Death Jewellery

Take a look at the beautiful bracelet at the top of our latest Brontë blog; it’s one that was especially precious to Charlotte Brontë, and she wore it wherever she went, but what is it made of? At the centre is a sparkling amethyst but the strap around it is made of the intertwined hair of her dead sisters, Emily and Anne Brontë.

Read all of it: annebronte Nick Holland is talking about the color of the hair of the Brontes, about hairworkers, the people who crafted these objects and more very interesting things.

vrijdag 20 november 2015

Charlotte Bronte and a case of mistaken identity

Chalk drawing by George Richmond, 1850, left; photograph, right, date unknown

Published: 30 September 2015
Chalk drawing by George Richmond, 1850, left © National Portrait Gallery, London; photograph, right, date unknown, © Brontë Society
A s the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth approaches (April 21, 2016), many picture editors, exhibition organizers and publishers will be looking round for a suitable image of the author and perhaps feeling a little disappointed with the available choices. Only two pictures of Brontë survive that were made from life: the first, crudely painted by her brother Branwell when she was a teenager (in the group portrait known as “The Brontë Sisters”), makes the subject look doughy and dull; the second, a chalk drawing commissioned by the publisher George Smith in 1850 and executed by the fashionable artist George Richmond, veers the other way towards flattery. When Richmond’s portrait was published as the frontispiece to Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë in 1857, two years after Brontë’s death at the age of thirty-eight, it drew some blunt comments from the subject’s old friend Mary Taylor. “I do not altogether like the idea of publishing a flattered likeness”, she told the biographer; “I had rather the mouth and eyes had been nearer together, and shown the veritable square face and large disproportionate nose.”

Taylor was by no means the only person to remark on Brontë’s un-beautiful appearance. Gaskell herself had written of her subject’s “plain, large and ill-set features”, “crooked mouth and large nose”, and in private had been even more specific about “a reddish face; large mouth & many teeth gone; altogether plain; the forehead square, broad and rather overhanging”. George Smith was so impressed by the prominence of Miss Brontë’s brow that he took her to a phrenologist in 1851 to have it analysed, but thought little of her personal charms, recalling that her head “seemed too large for her body” and that “her face was marred by the shape of the mouth and by the complexion”. William Thackeray described Brontë as “homely-faced”, “without a pennyworth of good looks”, while his daughter Anne recalled their famous visitor’s defensive and unpleasant demeanour: “I remember how she frowned at me whenever I looked at her, but perhaps it was specially at me – at least so I imagined. There was a general impression of chin about her face”. These plain-speaking judges did all grant Brontë one outstanding feature; large, shining eyes “of extraordinary brilliance and penetration”. From their descriptions, it seems safe to conclude that Charlotte Brontë had an unusually large brow, large expressive eyes, a wide mouth collapsing over missing teeth and a big nose (like her father, whom she was said to resemble). Richmond’s portrait, for all its prettification, does actually indicate those characteristics in a veiled form. Read all: http://www.the-tls/The Times Literary Supplement


A wedding invitation from the BBC

Haworth and the Parsonage are great locations for film and tv and with Charlotte’s bicentenary year just around the corner, we are receiving even more media enquiries than usual.     We are very excited to be working with BBC Bristol on their one hour Brontë documentary and are looking forward to welcoming the crew to the Parsonage next month.  'Living Like a Brontë'  will be presented by Martha Kearney, Lucy Mangan and Helen Oyeyemi and will air on BBC2 in the spring.
The week of filming will culminate in a re-enactment of Charlotte’s marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls and everyone is invited!  The BBC would like Brontë fans and local residents to line Church Street and celebrate as Charlotte enters the church on her wedding day. We think this will be a lovely way in which to end the year and hope that many of you will join us.  Filming will take place outside the museum on Friday 11 December and anyone interested should contact rebecca.yorke@bronte.org.uk in order to receive further information as details become available. 

dinsdag 17 november 2015

Charlotte Bronte, did she use opium? Or do we see the creation of a new Bronte Myth?

Charlotte Brontë kept this journal while working as a teacher at Roe Head school in West Yorkshire. The pages shown here were written in August 1836. In the journal she records both imaginary happenings in Angria and the banalities of her everyday life as a teacher:

What I imagined grew morbidly vivid,...All this day I have been in a dream, half miserable and half ecstatic: miserable because I could not follow it out uninterruptedly; ecstatic because it shewed almost in the vivid light of reality the ongoings of the infernal world. ...Then came on me, rushing impetuously, all the mighty phantasm that we had conjured from nothing to a system strong as some religious creed. I felt as if I could have written gloriously - I longed to write. The spirit of all Verdopolis, of all the mountainous North, of all the woodland West, of all the river-watered East came crowding into my mind. If I had had time to indulge it, I felt that the vague sensations of that moment would have settled down into some narrative better at least than any thing I ever produced before. But just then a dolt came up with a lesson. I thought I should have vomited.
- See more at:bl.uk/collection-items/charlotte-brontes-journal

Claire Harman in her new biography is suggesting Charlotte Bronte was using laudanum/ opium during the time she was a teacher at Roe Head. What does her suggest this:

  • Branwell and Charlotte were both reading Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincy. The young Brontes were fascinated by the book. 
  • Branwell later told a friend that he had experimented with opium eating after reading de Quincy. Claire Harman thinks it is unlikely, given the opportunity, Charlotte would not have joined him in some testing of the magical drug.
  • Phantasms as Charlotte discribes in her Roe Head diary are like the phantoms that was commonly used to describe opium -induced reveries.
  • Claire Harman uses a foot-note: Christina Alexander brought readers' attention to something Charlotte wrote 3 years after the priod in Roe Head "Now Thownshend, so suffering, how far did I err when I had recourse to the sovereign specific which a siple narcotic drug offered me"
  • Opiates, laudanum drops were a common tranquilliser in the Brontes time, easily available over de druggist counter. 
There is one person who ever asked Charlotte Bronte if she was using opium during the time she was writing Vilette and that is Elizabeth Gaskell.

“I asked 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, &c.  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 she had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling asleep, – 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 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.”.
One of the things why I love Charlotte Bronte is because of this answer. It is giving such a good expression of creativity. I love: Specially 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 am interested in the process of creativity, I am a painter myself. And I found many testimonies of creative people like painters, writers who are telling exactly the same. And I have experienced it myself.

Elizabeth Gaskell is ending with: I cannot account for this psychologically: I only am sure that it was so, because she said so. Claire Harman is asking: Maybe Charlotte being evasive, making a rather specious distinction about the size of a dose and if so, why?

To my surprise in a review in  the theguardian  the question mark is gone. When Gaskell had asked Brontë about fact and fiction in the novels, she got some unexpected answers. Brontë was evasive about whether she had based the opium trance in Villette on personal experience (in an age when opium was readily available and often used.

It starts to become a truth. Is this the way in the past Bronte myths were created? I wonder is it enough for a biographer to use a question mark, without having a real prove? What is the real prove Claire Harman has? Did she forget that the Brontes from their childhood on were full of imagination?
Is it so incredible to think that Charlotte made her work on her own power of creating? Charlotte was a teenage girl when she was working as a teacher at Roe Head. Is it so strange she had strong visions and feelings? I had them when I was a teenager and I certainly did not use opium.

zaterdag 14 november 2015

Both Charlotte and Emily returned to school after the midsummer holidays in this fatal year. Is this true?

I can tell you I am the proud owner of a copy of Claire Harman's ""Charlotte Bronte"".  Thanks to Anne, who sent it to me. I really am happy with it. And off course I am reading in it since I received it.
I own the Bronte biographies of Juliet Barker, Rebecca Fraser and Elizabeth Gaskell. I love the biography of Elizabeth Gaskell because I find it interesting that a lady, a woman of the world like Elizabeth Gaskell became so close to Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte who was so shy and insecure, but the same time so brave, so trusted her. I think Elizabeth Gaskell did the best she could with the knowledge she had at that time. And she showed courage to mention all the difficulties like Cowan Bridge and the love affair between Branwell and Mrs. Robinson. Afterwards she came in trouble because of her writing. She called it ""a hornet's nest"".

Later Juliet Barker wrote a fabulous biography in wich she proved when and why Elizabeth was wrong, for instance about Patrick Bronte. There is so much information in her book and she is giving so many details, so many notes to back it up.

In the biography of Rebecca Fraser I like the part she, like a detective, is searching for the truth behind the poststamps on the loveletters Charlotte Bronte sent to Mr. Heger.

The new biography
I started to be surprised from the beginning when I was reading the new biography of Claire Harman.  I get the feeling the days of Elisabeth Gaskell returned. Patrick Bronte as a selfish, excentrike man, only focused on himselve. And Haworth, a remote village, far away of civilisation. As if Juliet Barker never proved the opposite.

But I started to be shocked reading Patrick Bronte sent Charlotte and Emily back to Cowan Bridge, after their sisters Maria and Elizabeth died. Reason,  as Claire Harman is writing, because he had paid for it already. Did Patrick Bronte really did such a thing????? I didn't remember reading this before. So I started to search. I could not find this story in Juliet Barker, nor in Rebecca Fraser but then, yes, I found it in  Elizabeth Gaskell's book. So it is true. I am shocked. Elizabeth wrote: Both Charlotte and Emily returned to school after the midsummer holidays in this fatal year. But why didn't the other biographers mention it, I ask myself? Some hours later I thought, maybe there are notes in the book of Elizabeth Gaskell? And yes, I found it. The note: As Miss Gérin has shown (op.cit.p.16) this statement is inaccurate: the surviving Bronte sisters left the school for good on 1 June 1825.

I was trying to find out what Winifred Gérin was writing
Read here:

So, really I am confused. How is it possible that in the newest biography something is told
what is refuted in other biographies?
And.... Patrick Bronte got his money refunded? This really is a different story.

November and december in Haworth

The following list includes events (many of which are held on a regular annual basis) which take place in or near to Haworth village (appearing in approximate forthcoming order):

The big tree is up in ! Just in time for the Christmas market in Central Park this w/e.

Events which are held on a more regular basis include the following:

donderdag 12 november 2015

“Mary thou dids’t not know that I was nigh / Thou dids’t not know my gaze was fixed on thee. Brontë Society discovers manuscripts in ‘much-treasured’ book owned by the writer’s mother

Maria Brontë died when her six children – the authors Emily, Charlotte and Anne among them – were very young. Among the few possessions she left behind was a copy of Robert Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White, which was “much-treasured” by the family, according to the Brontë Society. Stuffed with annotations, sketches, and markings by various members of the household, the volume just acquired by the society also contains unpublished manuscripts by the teenage Charlotte, stuck in among the pages. “We knew the book existed but we didn’t know it had these papers in it,” said spokesperson Rebecca Yorke. “They’ve never been published or come to light before.”

The family sold the book after the death of Charlotte’s father Patrick in 1861. It travelled from the family home in Haworth to the US, where it eventually ended up in the hands of an American book collector. The circle will be completed in the new year, with the volume due to go on display at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. The society received £170,000 for the purchase from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, in addition to contributions from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries.

Collections manager at the museum Ann Dinsdale called the book “one of the most significant Brontë items to come to light in many years”. She described the finds as “hugely important”. The book “was clearly well-used and of great sentimental value to the Brontë children, who lost their mother while they were very young. In addition, the unpublished writings by Charlotte offer new opportunities for research, which is really exciting.”

Both pieces of work relate to the fantasy world of Angria imagined by Charlotte and her brother Branwell in a series of tiny books. “It played a huge part in their lives,” said Dinsdale. “Everything they read and everyone they met in Haworth fed into their imaginary world.”
The short story features a public flogging, embezzling from the Wesleyan chapel, and a “vicious” caricature of the Reverend John Winterbottom – a religious opponent of the children’s father. Winterbottom is “in the middle of the night dragged from his bed” and then “by the heels from one end of the village to the other”, writes Charlotte in the story.

The poem features Mary Percy, the lovesick wife of the king of Angria Zamorna, and “one of the leading Angria characters”, said Dinsdale. “It’s quite an ambitious poem for a young girl, full of thees and thous,” she added.

Mary thou dids’t not know that I was nigh / Thou dids’t not know my gaze was fixed on thee,” the poem opens. “I stood apart and watched thee passing by / In all thy calm unconscious majesty.”
The pieces have been dated to 1833, when Charlotte would have been around 17. The story runs to 74 lines, and the poem is 77 lines. Dinsdale predicted that it would be of interest to general readers as well as scholars. “It’s of interest to anyone interested in Charlotte’s life, and because of the tragic story of the Brontës, their lives are particularly appealing to a wide range of people,” she said

Historian Juliet Barker, author of the biography The Brontës, said that “the book alone is a valuable acquisition because of its rare associations with Mrs Brontë before her marriage to Patrick, but its importance is immeasurably increased by the unpublished manuscripts tipped into it”.
According to the Brontë Society, the Southey title is one of Maria’s “rare surviving possessions”, after a box containing all her property was shipwrecked off the Devon coast shortly before she married Patrick Brontë in 1812. It also features Patrick’s Latin inscription, reading that it was “the book of my dearest wife and it was saved from the waves. So then it will always be preserved.”

Unpublished manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë.

The Brontë Society is delighted to announce the acquisition of Mrs Brontë’s copy of Robert Southey’s ‘The Remains of Henry Kirke White’ which contains unpublished manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë. The volume, which was much-treasured by the Brontë family, has been acquired thanks to £170,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), in addition to funding from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries. The book is one of the rare surviving possessions of Mrs Maria Brontë, whose box, containing all her property, was shipwrecked off the Devonshire coast shortly before her marriage to Patrick Brontë in 1812. It contains Latin inscriptions in Patrick’s hand stating that this was ‘….the book of my dearest wife and it was saved from the waves. So then it will always be preserved.’ The pages of the book contain annotations, markings and sketches by various members of the Brontë family. Also included are a poem and a fragment of prose by Charlotte Brontë and a letter by Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte’s husband, written shortly after her death in 1855. bronte.org.uk

woensdag 11 november 2015

Biographer of the Brontës gets her own biography

A leading biographer of the Brontës herself comes under the spotlight in a new book. Helen McEwan has written a biography of Winifred Gérin, whose own four volumes were for many years the standard biographies of the family members. Winifred first visited Haworth in her 50s and was so impressed that she went on to write separate biographies of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell. After a life spent trying poetry and playwriting, she achieved renown for her biographies, written between 1959 and 1971. She died in 1981. The life of Winifred has been explored by Helen MacEwan, a long-time Brontë scholar and founder of the Belgian branch of the Brontë Society.
A Brussels resident for the past 11 years, she decided to write about Winifred after discovering their shared links with the Belgian city. Helen said Winifred was “bowled over” by Haworth during her 1954 visit and felt people could not understand the Brontë family without becoming immersed in a their environment. Helen said: “Very romantically, on that first visit Winifred met her second husband, John Lock, also a Brontë enthusiast. “They both decided to move from London to Haworth and devote themselves to writing biographies of the Brontës.
Read more on: keighleynews

Rarities to go on show to commemorate Elizabeth Gaskell

First editions of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels and a selection of the author’s letters are to go on show this week at her former home to mark 150 years since her death.

The celebrated novelist died on November 12 1865 at the age of 55, and lived at 84 Plymouth Grove in Manchester which reopened to the public in 2014 as the attraction Elizabeth Gaskell's House.
One of the Victorian era's most iconic authors, Gaskell is known for her works of social realism featuring strong female characters including 'North and South', 'Cranford' and 'Mary Barton' as well as her biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë.
First editions of her novels which feature her annotations, a music book with a note from her husband William to Elizabeth, and her own notes on how to cure a range of ailments in cats - featuring copious amounts of porridge, from Central Library's Gaskell Collection are among the works which will be shown at her former home.

Visitors can also explore the home of the author and learn more about her private and public life. The event is free with the admission fee and advance booking is not required.

Archives Uncovered: The Elizabeth Gaskell Collection at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Thursday November 12, 11am-3pm, 84 Plymouth Grove. Entry fee adults £4.95, concessions £3.95, under 16s free with tickets valid for one year.
See seven of the women who made Manchester great from Time Out. timeout/manchester

dinsdag 10 november 2015

The Brontë Cabinet - A review

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects
by Deborah Lutz (Author)
W. W. Norton & Company, May 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0393240085

Deborah Lutz has managed to combine a 'chatty', conversational way of writing with solidly scholarly background and research. The Brontë Cabinet is a wholly entertaining read, yet thoroughly researched and incredibly enlightening. New Brontëites will find some of the facts about the Brontës interesting and old Brontëites will refresh their memories and - we are pretty sure - learn new things if not about the Brontës themselves, then surely about the period they lived in.

So Deborah Lutz takes each object and writes a chapter around it, telling us both the Brontë story and the Victorian story, putting the Brontës firmly in the period they lived in but with which they aren't always really associated both because they lived in the earlier part of it and because their tastes and style tend to be reminiscent of an earlier period. And yet, looking at their belongings and their way of life, it's clear that they can't have been anything else. The Brontës were Victorians through and through.
Read more on: Bronteblog

zondag 8 november 2015

Winifred Gérin, biographer of the Brontës

To celebrate the Brontë bicentenaries, Helen MacEwan has written a new book exploring the life of one of their most important biographers. On 21 November at Waterstones Piccadilly, she will be launching Winifred Gérin, biographer of the Brontës (publication date 15 November). Having written about the Brontës in Brussels, Helen first became interested in Gérin’s life story because of her Belgian links and her special interest in Charlotte Brontë’s Brussels period.

Winifred Gérin (1901-81) is known as the biographer who moved to Haworth to write the lives of all four Brontë siblings, literally treading in their footsteps as she researched them. But her ten years in Haworth were just part of a romantic, eventful and sometimes tragic life.

Marriage to a Belgian cellist, Eugène Gérin, took her to Paris and then, in 1939, to Brussels where the couple worked for the British Embassy. Following the German invasion of 1940 they had various hair-raising adventures in France, finally escaping to Britain where they worked for Political Intelligence. After Eugène Gérin’s death in 1945, Winifred sought consolation in writing poetry and plays until discovering both her literary vocation and second love on a fateful first visit to Haworth. 

Gérin went on to write biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and Horatia Nelson. She also wrote plays about Jane Austen, Fanny Burney and Charlotte Brontë. This book is based on her letters and her unpublished memoir. bronteparsonage

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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