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 17 december 2017

Over the last few years it has become increasingly apparent that something is rotten in the state of Haworth’s Brontë Society.

Here, you can read an article of Nick Holland:
Please read it all on his blog, there is more to read.....

I cannot agree more

Over the last few years it has become increasingly apparent that something is rotten in the state of Haworth’s Brontë Society. Annual General Meetings have descended into open warfare between modernisers and traditionalists, but it seems now that the council is being run along the lines of BBC farce W1A. For the last two years or so, a consultancy has been advising the Brontë Society on what to do – with pathetic results.

The drive now is for one thing – attracting a young audience. Being trendy is the ultimate aim, with the Brontës themselves relegated to the sidelines. The museum has a wealth of Brontë treasures, but they are now favouring the display of artificial items they feel will appeal to a modern audience. For this reason rather than seeing Branwell’s items in his anniversary year, we see a mock up, TV style, guess of what his studio would have looked like.

In 2016, Charlotte’s year, a large display area was given up to a modern artwork of miniature pieces that had been fabricated in some sort of bizarre tributes – including a miniscule pair of shoes with a sign underneath saying that Charlotte had sewn them together using hair from her sisters. From what I heard at the time, and what I’ve seen shared on social media, many people believed these ridiculous items were authentic, when the fact was the authentic items were locked away in storage. The rot had set in.

The drive to attract younger members to the Brontë Society is a pointless one. We hear people say, echoing the consultants, that the membership is too old – ‘look at the events, look at the meetings, everyone is old!’ In today’s society it has become a crime to be old.

Where is the problem in the majority of members being middle aged or older? Yes they will eventually wither and fade from this world, but they will then be succeeded by another generation if middle aged and old society members. It is the way it always has been and always will be, unless they drive loyal members away, as they have done with me.

This is in no way a denigration of many of the brilliant staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and their wonderful volunteers who give up their time not to attract a certain demographic but because of their passion for the Brontës. They are heroes, but it brings to mind the fate of our World War One soldiers who were lions led by donkeys.

I am obviously completely out of kilter with the Brontë Society and it’s aims, but I am afraid I shall stay in my old fashioned world where I can continue to gain immense pleasure from the words of Anne, Emily and Charlotte Brontë – and it is their words above all else that are their true museum and testimonial. I will certainly still continue to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, it is a place I love more than any other, but I can no longer continue to be a member of the Brontë Society whose leaders’ views are so opposed to my own. It’s best that I leave the society now, before they announce James Corden as the creative partner for 2019, a year in which Patrick Brontë is being remembered, and Rita Ora as organiser for Anne Brontë’s celebrations in 2020.

zondag 10 december 2017

Snow would not have stopped Emily walking upon the moors she loved.......

Snow would not have stopped Emily walking upon the moors she loved, though it may have prevented Anne from accompanying her as she liked to do. Worse even than the snow were the cold winter winds that blew, rattling window panes and creeping under doors. They often brought ill health with them, as Anne Brontë revealed in an 1848 letter to Ellen Nussey:
‘We are all cut up by this cruel east wind, most of us i.e. Charlotte, Emily, and I have had the influenza or a bad cold instead, twice over within the space of a few weeks; Papa has had it once, Tabby has hitherto escaped it altogether.’

Snow features in all the sisters’ books, but it is almost a character itself in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights – gone is the white purity normally associated with snow; it is instead dark, blinding, incredibly dangerous – snow is in effect nature’s Heathcliff.

donderdag 7 december 2017

Haworth, Christmas decorations and Bronte Treasures by Candlelight

I was searching on Facebook and Twitter
for beautiful photographs about
Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage
preparing themselves for Christmas

These photographes are from

Yarnbombed wreath Haworth

Pull out and save the events pages this month. Let the season begin!

Yule Window, The Apothecary, Haworth 
(c) Karen Hild facebook/Karenarthilder

One evening in Haworth...
(c) Karen Hild

Decking the halls

Bronte Treasures by Candlelight

08-12-2017. In this special hour-long session, a member of our curatorial team will share facts and stories about a number of carefully-selected objects, offering a specialist insight into the lives and work of the inspirational Brontë family. You will also have the chance to experience the historic rooms of the Parsonage by candlelight. Fascinating and moving in equal measure, this Brontë Treasures by Candlelight is a not-to-bemissed experience. Places are limited to 12 so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Tickets £85 per person which includes a glass of wine. Please book in advance at  www.bronte.org.uk/whats-on or by calling 01535 642323.

woensdag 6 december 2017

Christmas with the Gaskells.

So far as secular celebration of Christmas was concerned, they seem to have done the usual things.  They gave each other Christmas presents.  In 1853, Elizabeth discusses with Marianne what she wants for Christmas, and reminds her about the two younger daughters: “think what Flossy & Julia would like for Xmas presents”. [4]  Later, in 1861, she comments that “Meta [her second daughter] and I wearied ourselves out for Xmas presents”, but then oddly adds: “We made no great ado about presents this year. Julia a scarlet Connemara Cloak … Florence a remnant of silk for a gown”.[5]  They had special Christmas food.  In 1852, Elizabeth recorded that “there is a great concoction of mince-meat & plum-pudding going on”, noting that one of the servants, “Huddlestone has never tasted either”.[6]  Did they, like so many people in the Victorian period, have a Christmas goose?  There is no evidence, but Elizabeth, visiting London in December 1847, noted the geese hung up outside poulterers’ shops (to keep them cool in the days before refrigeration), and commented: “they sell geese here with their necks hanging down full length, instead of being tidily tucked up like Lancashire geese”.[7]  Did they have a Christmas tree? Elizabeth commented appreciatively on other people’s trees.[8] When she notes in 1852 that the Gaskells are “not having a tree”, this may imply that they usually did.[9]

This reference to the absence of a Christmas tree is followed, in a letter to Elizabeth Holland by the words: “Our Xmas days are always very quiet, principally a jollification for the servants.”[10]  This has sometimes been taken to indicate that the Gaskells always had a quiet Christmas, but the significant factor in 1852 was that both the older daughters were away from home.  In a letter to Marianne, at the same time, Elizabeth writes: “I wish you were at home, though it will be exceedingly quiet here.  No one coming, nor going out, except to Chapel.  Flossy & Julia send their very very very best loves; we are not going to keep Xmas day till New Years day, partly because you won’t be here, partly because the presents are not ready.”[11] They evidently did not feel they had to make a big thing of Christmas, but they duly enjoyed it: “we are all deep in preparations for Christmas”, Elizabeth wrote in 1849”.[12]  Doubtless they shared the common Victorian view that Christmas was a family festival, and their celebrations were affected by which members of the family were at home or away.[13]

A vivid memory of Christmas that remained in Elizabeth’s memory from her childhood was of country children singing carols.  “At Knutsford we have Christmas carols, such a pretty custom, calling one from dreamland to almost as mystic a state of mind; half awake and half asleep, blending reality so strangely with the fading visions; and children’s voices too in the dead of the night with their old words of bygone times.”[14]  Such a carol is quoted in Elizabeth’s story, “Christmas storms and Christmas sunshine” (1848). Anthony Burton, Volunteer and Trustee at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Read all: elizabethgaskellhouse/christmas-with-the-gaskells

zondag 3 december 2017

A Brontë Advent – Haworth Christmas Events

What a beautiful photograph
I found it on the weblog from Nick Holland 

Anne Brontë was undoubtedly the most devout of the Brontë siblings, so she in particular would have loved the Advent celebrations advancing week by week in her father’s church a short walk from the parsonage she called home – such as the lighting of advent carols and the singing of hymns. Christmas music was a particular delight to Anne – so much so that she wrote a poem called ‘Music on Christmas Morning’, which begins:

‘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.’

We can imagine this warming sight as Christmas day dawned at the Haworth Parsonage: Emily Brontë, a highly accomplished pianist, playing a carol while Anne, who Ellen Nussey said liked to sing in a quiet yet sweet voice, sang to her family.

The village of Haworth also loves music at Christmas – and indeed the Advent Christmas period as a whole is one of particular joy in this beautiful moorside village. In recent decades the modern tradition of ‘scroggling the holly’ has drawn the crowds, but there is no scroggling this year – fear not, for there are lots of other exciting activities coming that are great for Brontë lovers and families alike.

This weekend is ‘choral weekend’ – one the whole Brontë family would surely have enjoyed. The 9th of December is the night of the torchlight procession, a moving spectacle as folks in Victorian attire process up the steep and picturesque Main Street. Sunday the 10th is even more spectacular, as a there is a candelit carol procession from 4.30 which culminates in a traditional carol service at St. Michael and All Angels’ Church.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum is also particularly magical throughout December – particularly on Thursday 8th December – as there’s a chance to experience the parsonage by candlelight and then look at some of the Brontë treasures including manuscripts by Charlotte, Emily and Anne. It’s a tour I’ve done myself, and it truly is thrilling. Places are limited but you can find out more at the Brontë Society website here where you’ll also find details of other events including Christmas wreath making workshops.

It’s certainly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in Yorkshire, by which I mean that it’s absolutely freezing of course, but life feels good when you wrap up warm and read a Brontë book with a warm drink near to hand!

Book launch by Helen MacEwan, 7 December, 2017

As we continue to celebrate the Brontë bicentenaries (2016-20), I’d like to invite you to the launch of my new book Through Belgian Eyes: Charlotte Brontë’s Troubled Brussels Legacy, which is being published next month (Information here):

Thursday 7 December at 19.00 at Waterstones bookstore, Boulevard Adolphe Max 71, 1000 Brussels.

Those of you who were at my talks on 1 April and 14 October have had a preview of some of the aspects explored in the book. It does two things. It is the first book to look at how Belgian commentators have responded to Charlotte Brontë’s depiction of Brussels and Belgian life in Villette and The Professor. Their reactions cover a wide range: hostile, humorous, enthusiastic. At the same time, to provide context for Belgian readers’ reactions, the book fills in the background to the novels by exploring the Brussels world that Charlotte experienced in 1842-43. Her views are contrasted with those of other foreign visitors and of the Belgians themselves.

The book offers a new way of reading Villette and The Professor as well as new perspectives on Charlotte Brontë.

I also look at ways in which the Brontës’ stay in Brussels has entered the literary mythology of Brussels and fired imaginations. Did you know that in the nineteenth century there were tales of sightings of Charlotte’s ghost in the Belgian capital? Or that all three Brontë sisters lived in a house in Grand Place in 1852 – at least according to some guide books!

The book has around 60 illustrations, some in colour. Those who were at my talk earlier this month saw a sample of them.
Read all: brusselsbronte/book-launch-by-helen-macewan-7-december

woensdag 29 november 2017

Coming Soon Without the Veil Between Anne Brontë A Fine And Subtle Spirit Book Trailer

This book gives us Anne. Not Anne, the ‘less gifted’ sister of Charlotte and Emily (although we meet them too as convincingly drawn individuals); nor the Anne who ‘also wrote two novels’, but Anne herself, courageous, committed, daring and fiercely individual: a writer of remarkable insight, prescience and moral courage whose work can still astonish us today. ~ Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books https://booklaunch.io/dmdenton/withou... Thank you to Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books, author Thomas Davis, and author Mary Clark for words used in the text of this video. The music is Song Without Words, No 46 in C minor, OP 102 by Mendelssohn, Public Domain, Royalty Free music from Musopen

donderdag 23 november 2017

under the influence: the legacy of Branwell’s drinking.

My earth, my women, my colors and practices, my manners were different—outlandishly so—from that of the Brontës’ and what they wrote.”

Read all of this beautiful story about the impact of the Bronte Sisters: lithub/chasing-the-bronte-sisters-from-south-india-to-the-yorkshire-moors/

My questions about the Brontës began in the small town of Madikeri, up in the hills of southern India where I was born and raised. The whole town is nestled at the bottom of a nearly round valley, with tall, green, imperfect mountains circling its corners. The district of Kodagu, of which the town is a part, is funnily enough, called the “Scotland of India,” a sobriquet from when the British took over and started the first coffee plantations there in the mid-1800s. The excessive rain, the verdant rolling hills, the dense impenetrable forests and the opaque mist that rarely parted would have reminded them of home.

Kodagu remains coffee country. We have words for our place-names in many languages, for this landscape that runs in the blood. But we do not have words for grey—grey weather, grey rain, grey hills. Moors and marshes are just as alien. The monsoons are hard, but desolation is incomprehensible. There is enough color to counter it in our kitchens, our wardrobes, our window views.

“In the 1990s, there was not a single bookstore in town. (There still isn’t.) But when my grandfather died, no one wanted his vast library, and I inherited it—even though I hadn’t been born yet. In those dark, antiqued bookshelves, many summers before I was meant to, I would meet and fall in awe and love with the Brontë sisters and the fiery women and brooding men they created. In a pre-Google world, reading their books opened a world that did not seem part of this earth. For my earth, my women, my colors and practices, my manners were different—outlandishly so—from that of the Brontës’ and what they wrote.

zondag 19 november 2017

Paper conservator at the Parsonage working on some Charlotte Bronte manuscripts.

We have a paper conservator at the Parsonage working on some Charlotte Bronte manuscripts.

Display of Aunt Branwell items at the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Here is the display of Aunt Branwell items at the Bronte Parsonage Museum, including her nightcap & salts bottle. Nick Holland

This was a time of great political change, with Manchester as a centre of radical political activity.

Manchester was a great cultural and intellectual centre, with institutions like the Literary and Philosophical Society, the Mechanics Institute and the Portico Library, all of which William was involved in. It was also Britain’s first major industrial city, creating much wealth as well as extreme poverty and squalor. Friedrich Engels described the homes of the factory operatives in The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 writing:- “The workers’ dwellings of Manchester are dirty, miserable and wholly lacking in comforts. In such houses only inhuman, degraded and unhealthy creatures would feel at home.”This was a time of great political change, with Manchester as a centre of radical political activity.

Elizabeth Gaskell observed all this closely, and used what she saw in her novels Mary Barton and North and South. elizabethgaskellhouse

donderdag 16 november 2017

Civic group proposes new 'blue plaque' scheme for Bradford's significant buildings.

SIGNIFICANT buildings across Bradford could soon sport blue heritage plaques thanks to a new scheme proposed by a local group. The Bradford Civic Society hopes to create a number of plaques, and in the New Year will be asking for local residents and businesses for ideas for which buildings could be marked.

The scheme would operate in a similar way to the English Heritage plaques, with are attached to buildings that have links to a famous event or person.
Many are found on the birthplaces or family homes of significant historical figures, although they are not installed outside of London, leaving it up to local groups or councils to run their own plaque schemes.

The idea has been inspired by Marc De Luca, who owns the Bronte Birthplace in Thornton, and has been pushing for a blue plaque to be installed on the building for several years.
The Market Street building, now a cafe, is where the Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell were born, making it one of the most literary significant buildings in the world. Plans are underway by the De Luca family to install the plaque in time for the the 200th anniversary of Emily’s birth.

Si Cunningham, Chair of the Bradford Civic Society, said the group also hope St George’s Hall could have a plaque installed after the current refurbishment of the hall, the country’s first purpose-built concert hall, is complete. The group will start looking for funding in early 2018, as well as holding public meetings to discuss what buildings could be marked.  thetelegraphandargus
It's Book Week in Scotland and they have an online poll to find out people's favourite songs with a literary connection as The Guardian reports:
Will it be The Invisible Man or Bell Jar, The Dark Is Rising or For Whom the Bell Tolls? Scottish Book Trust is celebrating Book Week Scotland with an online poll, of course. But this year’s vote isn’t looking for readers’ favourite books, instead it is trying to find our favourite songs with a literary connection.
Some of the songs on their 40-strong list of possible choices wear their bookish credentials on their sleeves. There are songs where no attempt has been made at obliqueness or subtlety, with titles lifted directly from the works that inspired them. Step forward Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë) and the Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch). For others, the connection is almost as direct. Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel was the lead song from the movie adaptation of Richard Adams’s Watership Down, while Leonard Nimoy’s The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins does exactly what it says on the pipeweed tin. And Radiohead’s Paranoid Android takes its title from Douglas Adams’s depressive robot in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (David Barnett) bronteblog

vrijdag 13 oktober 2017

New book about Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Nicolls Bell upcoming.

Anne Lloyd of the stayathomeartist.blog
Is creating a book about Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicolls
On her blog you can read a lot
about the process of creating a novel
And about the visits
Anne and her husband made to Bronte places ( Haworth Parsonage, Bannagher etc.)

It is very interesting reading

vrijdag 6 oktober 2017

“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." ―from JANE EYRE (1847)

Charlotte Brontë's JANE EYRE was published in England on this day in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell. 

“It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."
―from JANE EYRE (1847)
Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel describes the passionate love between the courageous orphan Jane Eyre and the brilliant, brooding, and domineering Rochester. The loneliness and cruelty of Jane’s childhood strengthens her natural independence and spirit, which prove invaluable when she takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But after she falls in love with her sardonic employer, her discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice. Ever since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has enthralled every kind of reader, from the most critical and cultivated to the youngest and most unabashedly romantic. It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and as a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect.

A final glimpse of Patrick Bronte, thanks to a letter he sent to his niece in Cornwall.

Nick Holland
A final glimpse of Patrick Bronte, thanks to a letter he sent to his niece in Cornwall:

vrijdag 15 september 2017

'The Bank-Bill reached me safely: I assure you I felt rather proud of its amount;

I read this on the Facebook page of the Bronte Society.
Does anyone know what this 500 pound would be worth now?

After receiving news that Shirley has been accepted for publication, Charlotte writes the following to George Smith on 14 September 1849:

'The Bank-Bill reached me safely: I assure you I felt rather proud of its amount; I am pleased to be able to earn so much, for Papa will be pleased too when I tell him. I should like to take care of this money: it is Papa's great wish that I should realize a small independency if you could give me a word of advice respecting the wisest and safest manner of investing this £500, I should be very much obliged to you. I have already a few shares in a Railway, but these are so much fallen in value of late that I hardly like to venture on so uncertain an investment a second time. A hint on the subject - provided it costs you no trouble - would be very acceptable to me.'

woensdag 13 september 2017

THE BRONTË Society will return to its original home.

THE BRONTË Society will return to its original home after winning the chance to run Haworth’s Visitor Information Centre. Bradford Council today rubber-stamped the bid by the society to run the Main Street facility in addition to its existing Brontë Parsonage Museum. The museum devoted to the Brontës’ lives and works was first housed in the small stone-built building at the junction with Changegate. The council’s ruling Executive voted to allow the society to take on the threatened service, which for many years has provided information to tourists about local attractions and accommodation.

The council had Brontë Society executive director Kitty Wright said: “We welcome the council’s decision and the opportunity to work with them to continue the delivery of visitor services in Haworth. “The museum is an award-winning attraction currently welcoming over 70,000 visitors a year and we look forward to stepping up to the challenge of ensuring that visitors old and new discover all that the Bradford area has to offer. “The museum’s first home was in the building which now houses the Visitor Information Centre on Main Street and it seems particularly fitting that we will return there during our bicentenary celebrations to promote this corner of Yorkshire to the world.”

The Brontë Society is currently in the second year of its five-year celebration of the 200th anniversaries of the births of the Brontë siblings, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne.
Bradford Council launched a public consultation earlier this year regarding the future of its tourism service as it bid to slash costs. Campaigners vowed to fight any attempt to close the Haworth facility.
Under the plan approved this week, the Brontë Society will take over the lease of the Haworth VIC building in Main Street. Provision will be based on the current seven-day opening and a full range of Discover and Visit Bradford guides would be carried. The promotion of local and district events and accommodation providers in Haworth would continue, as well as a ticket agency service.
Bradford Council launched a public consultation earlier this year regarding the future of its tourism service as it bid to slash costs.

As part of district-wide changes, also approved by the Executive, Ilkley VIC will be funded by the town’s parish council, Shipley College will have an information point in Victoria Hall at Saltaire and Bradford VIC will remain in its current location until 2019 while new options are developed.
There will also be a team of ‘pop up’ volunteers at key events across the district to act as ambassadors, and a tourism digital media officer. Cllr Sarah Ferriby, the council’s executive member for environment, sport and culture, said the ‘visitor economy’ currently generated around £612 million for the district

woensdag 30 augustus 2017

Photographs from Mark de Luca, inside the Bronte Birthplace Thornton.

Situated on Market Street in the village of Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford in the heart of West Yorkshire's Bronte Country is the Bronte Birthplace, where the Bronte Sisters (along with their brother Branwell) were born before moving to Haworth. Patrick and Maria Bronte moved in to the property with their infant child (Elizabeth, who was born in 1815 at their previous home in Hartshead), with Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne being born in 1816, 1817, 1818 and 1820 respectively. During this time Patrick was curate at the Old Bell Chapel in Thornton. In 1820 the family moved to the parsonage in Haworth  bronte-country/bronte-birthplace. Since then the Bronte Birthplace has undergone several changes of use.

In the late 1990s the property was purchased and lovingly restored by the crime novelist Barbara Whitehead, who (with the support of the Bronte Birthplace Trust) opened the property as a museum before having to sell up in 2007. The historical home had been rented as bedsits to tenants in search of cheap accommodation but the plaques commemorating the births of the four gifted children outside the faded front door were barely noticed.

Businessman Mark de Luca and his wife Michelle spotted the near-derelict property believing it to be an unpolished tourism gem. Acquired following repossession, the birthplace has been sympathetically renovated with the ground floor Market Street south facing rooms being converted to commercial use, now a well regarded and established coffee bar known as Emily's.

Beautiful photo's of the interior
The Birthplace again for sale
Now, thanks to photographs taken by Mark, we can see parts of the building normally out of bounds to the public, and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce some of them here. Comments on the photo's from Mark de Luca.

  1. Home and birthplace to what became one of the worlds most famous families - literary geniuses - The Brontë's. Here the family was complete and unite for 6 years, and Charlotte (1816), Patrick Branwell (1817), Emily (1818) and Anne (1820) were all born here in the former dining room (ground floor windows to the right of the entrance).
    (Note: Photo is a collage of what remains and gives the impression of what the original building would of looked like at the time of The Brontë Family. No original photo, to date, exists)
  2. There's no photo in existence, but this is what the property here in Thornton would of looked like when the Brontë Sisters were born here before the extension to the front in 1898.

An elevation of the building that gets overshadowed by the front - this is the external elevations of the former Scullery (ground floor) and the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom (first floor).

It would be a good assumption that the land levels to this area have changed as properties to the sides and rear have been constructed in years past, between 1830-1840 - you can picture the wilderness... Sarah and Nancy Garrs would of been exposed to in the winter months to the north facing section of the building, their workplace!

The view from the former
Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom

The view from the smallest window, in the smallest room of the house, the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom.

I'm sure as Sarah and Nancy would of laid down to rest as dawn came in, they would of been blessed with a very different view to what we now see - although 'Coffin End' is a beautiful, landmark property in Thornton.

Stone staircase

The stone staircase leading from the former Scullery to the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom, with independent access to the former Children's Bedroom.

No wonder these stairs are showing so much wear with four children under 5 in The Brontë's final year in Thornton - you can still just about hear the constant steps of Sarah and Nancy up and down these stairs!

The drawing room

  1. The fireplace in the former Drawing Room (ground floor windows to the left of the entrance). This fireplace is not original to the time of The Brontë's, although is of the period and as believed to be installed by author Barbara Whitehead, the proprietor at the time the birthplace was a small museum (1996-2006)
The dining room

  1. The fireplace in the dining room, the original fireplace in the room when the Brontë children were born.....that's Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne- this fireplace is now 215 years old, assuming it was the original to when the property was built in 1802!

Feature stonework header and corbel detail to now an internal doorway from the former Dining Room to what we are sure is an extension to the property to the far right.

Judging by the thickness of the wall and this stonework detailing, this was once the external wall and door - remember no properties either side of the property existed until 1830-40. In essence, this property stood completely alon...e; hard to visualise now as it stands central in a built up village.

Patrick and Maria's bedroom

  1. The fireplace in the Rev. Patrick and Maria's bedroom, the parents of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne Brontë.....a prominent feature in this room. First floor windows to the right of the entrance).

Children's bedroom

  1. The fireplace in the Brontë children's bedroom.....with a vintage toy box for good measure!
  1. The floor to ceiling wardrobe in the former Children's Bedroom, and has been said to be original to the time of The Brontë's. You can just imagine the bed linen being stored here, and used frequently by the servants and nursemaids Sarah and Nancy Garrs.
    Their room and stair access to the ground floor former scullery via an independent stone staircase is just through the door to the right of the photo.

Featured within the former Children's Bedroom is the original timber floor. This has been exposed, repaired, and painted in a classical Old White shade. It's likely in the time of The Brontë's, that either a carpet or large rug would of featured in this room, with an element of the timber floor being exposed to the perimeter of the room.

  1. The original timber staircase and balustrade to the entrance corridor. The waterfall carpet was specially designed and made bespoke for the property when it was a museum between 1996 to 2007, and is a design of the period to when The Brontë Family lived here.

vrijdag 4 augustus 2017

On this day in 1928, Haworth Parsonage opened to the public .

On this day in 1928, Haworth Parsonage opened to the public as the Bronte Parsonage Museum, having been bought by Sir James Roberts and presented to the Bronte Society.

Here you can read and see more photographes: brontesisters/ after+the+death+of+Charlotte+Bronte+

donderdag 20 juli 2017

THE birthplace of Haworth's legendary literary siblings is up for sale.

Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte – and their brother Branwell – were all born and raised in the Thornton building between 1815 and 1820, before the family moved to Haworth. Now the Market Street property, which has been Emily’s coffee shop delucaboutique since 2014, is being sold. After running it as a successful cafe, owner Marc De Luca has decided to sell the business, due to family commitments.

Since the cafe opened he and his wife Michelle have had two children, and he said they were no longer able to devote enough time to family, Emily’s and their other business, De Luca Hair. He is planning to sell the business and building privately, which he says will help him make sure the building’s future is in safe hands. He has no plans to shut the business before a new buyer is found.
The unassuming terrace property was occupied by the Rev Patrick Bronte during his tenure at Thornton Chapel.

In the years before the coffee shop opened, the future of the building was uncertain – it had been shut for some time and efforts to re-open it as a museum never bore fruit.

Although Emily’s operated as a business, many of the features still remained, and customers could sit in front of the fireplace the siblings were said to have been born in front of. The business has become one of the best rated in the district on TripAdvisor.

Mr De Luca said: “The idea is for someone else to take the business on to take it to the next level. We’re not selling because the business is unsuccessful, we’re just struggling to be able to open more than four days a week because of commitments. When we bought the property and set the business up we didn’t have two young children. Running two businesses is something that requires your full attention. “Whoever buys it has to be the right calibre of person. We don’t want to sell it to a property developer from London. “We live in the village so we still want to make sure any new owner does the best for Thornton. It is a great starting point for anyone who wants to open a business here. Our intention is to keep it open until it is sold. keighleynews/Bronte_birthplace_for_sale

Wuthering Heights Trailer 2017

dinsdag 18 juli 2017

Literary legends: Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

18 July 2017 is a special day for literature aficionados across the globe, for it marks the 200th anniversary of the death of perhaps the most beloved writer of them all: Jane Austen.

It was on this day in 1817, in a modest house in Winchester, that Jane drew her last breath aged 41, but in her four decades she had revolutionised the world of writing forever. Jane not only helped secure the popularity of the novel as an art form, often seen as subservient to poetry at the time she wrote her first work, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811, she also paved the way for new generations of women writers who would follow her.

Women like Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and especially the Brontë sisters. Charlotte, Emily and Anne are in the middle of 200th anniversaries of their own, as we remember the bicentenaries of their births in the years 1816 to 1820. Along with Austen they crafted brilliant works of genius that are the equal of any novels written by men, and in the public’s eye the Brontës and Jane have become inextricably linked.

I once asked one of the hard-working guides at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth what question they are asked more than any other. It was ‘Which of the Brontë sisters wrote Pride and Prejudice?’ followed closely by, ‘Is this where Jane Austen wrote her novels?’

It’s easy to see why the four writers should become mixed in the public’s perception. On a superficial level there are some similarities between Jane and the Brontës: Jane was after all an early nineteenth century writer who never married and lived with her family throughout her life. So far, so similar with Anne, Emily and Charlotte (who, admittedly, did marry aged 38, only to succumb to the effects of excessive morning sickness and die less than a year later). In other ways, however, Jane was very different to the Yorkshire triumvirate.

Jane was writing earlier in the century than the Brontës, and in a century that changed so radically as the decades advanced, this made a huge difference. Jane Austen was very much a regency woman, familiar with the values and traditions of the late eighteenth century, whereas the Brontës grew up at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign, and witnessed the huge social impact brought by the industrial revolution in a way that Jane never did. As an example of this, Jane Austen travelled to London from Chawton, in Hampshire, in 1815 by horse drawn carriage. In 1848, Charlotte and Anne Brontë travelled from Keighley to London via train.

The purpose of these two meetings reveals another important difference between Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters: Jane was travelling to meet the Prince Regent, later George IV, who was a huge fan of her work; Charlotte and Anne Brontë were travelling to meet the publisher George Smith, where they would finally reveal their true identity away from the masks of Currer and Acton Bell that they had hidden behind.

Jane Austen’s writing made her famous in her lifetime, a success that Anne and Emily would never know or desire. The Brontë sisters needed money in a way that Jane never did, but they eschewed fame and preferred public anonymity, although after the death of her younger sisters Charlotte did, reluctantly, step into the limelight.

Another important distinction between Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters was their social position. Whilst the Brontës were respectable, thanks to their father Patrick’s position as a long established priest in the Church of England, they were never rich, and were solidly lower middle class, whereas Jane was from an upper middle class background. Her financial position, and her position in society, became even more secure when her brother Edward was adopted by the very wealthy Thomas Knight. Knight had no children of his own, and in 1783 chose his distant relative the 15 year old Edward Austen, afterwards Edward Austen Knight, to be his legal heir. Edward adopted a number of grand properties, including the beautiful Chawton House. He also obtained a nearby property at Chawton for Jane to live in, and it was there that she worked on some of her greatest masterpieces.
The contrast between Jane’s brother Edward and the Brontës’ brother Branwell could not be greater: Branwell seemed to be a promising talent in his own right, but there would be no wealthy patronage for him, and he died at the age of 31 after a long addiction to drink and opium.

Other than their brilliant writing, there is one striking similarity between Jane Austen and the Brontës: sisterly love. Emily and Anne Brontë in particular were very close, being referred to as being like inseparable twins, despite their age difference. A similar relationship existed between Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra, two years older than Jane and always by her side throughout her life.
In the 200 years since her death, Jane Austen’s reputation has grown, but just what did Charlotte Brontë think of her? In fact, Charlotte reported that she had never read Jane Austen’s work until she was urged to by the critic G. H. Lewes. She was far from impressed as we can see from her reply to Lewes:

‘Why do you like Miss Austen so very much? I am puzzled on that point... I had not seen Pride & Prejudice till I read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book and studied it. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a common-place face; a carefully-fenced, highly cultivated garden with neat borders and delicate flowers - but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy - no open country - no fresh air - no blue hill - no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses.’

Charlotte’s judgement should be seen in the light of her irritation that Jane Eyre was being compared to Austen novels. It was a fate that befell Anne Brontë’s first novel too, as we see from the following extract from a review: ‘Agnes Grey is a somewhat coarse imitation of one of Miss Austin’s charming stories.’ It’s a pity, of course, that the reviewer hadn’t found the stories so charming that he’d remembered how to spell Miss Austen’s name.

If we take a more dispassionate look than Charlotte did, we simply have to acknowledge that Jane Austen’s books are works of genius just like those of herself and her sisters. One early twentieth century writer, however, thought it was unfair that Anne Bronte in particular was being overlooked in favour of Jane Austen. In 1924, celebrated Irish author George Moore wrote:

‘If Anne Brontë had lived ten years longer, she would have taken a place beside Jane Austen, perhaps even a higher place.’

We can equally lament that Jane Austen did not live another ten years. Her novels will always be read and always be loved. While ever this planet of ours continues its restless orbit around the sun, readers will still swoon over Mr Darcy and root for Emma to find her Knightley. Times will change, but the novels of Jane Austen will remain timeless. On this special day, we should all give a silent thanks to Jane Austen for her novels, and her ground-breaking role in the history of literature.

By Nick Holland. Author of 

maandag 10 juli 2017

Brontë bicentenary: How the literary society is making a comeback from turmoil.

A year ago, the Brontë Society was riven by discord and in-fighting. But now David Barnett finds that the future is looking brighter in Haworth.

2015 saw a swathe of resignations from the society – Bonnie Greer, then the president, among them – and the following year’s AGM saw scenes of discord never before witnessed, as answers were demanded about just what was going to happen to the venerable society going forward. What happened was Kitty Wright.

“There was perhaps a lack of confidence,” says Wright. “A torpor when it came to planning for the future.” So what did she bring to the party? She smiles. “You might say, an Australian can-do attitude.” Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Wright arrived in Britain in 1999.

“I’m not saying I’m succeeding where others have failed, just that with no-one in this post for 18 months there was something of a leadership vacuum. I suppose if I’ve done anything I’ve tried to create a climate of permission, of optimism and energy.”

She is constantly talking about the hard work of the core management and administration team that is based with her in a few rooms at the back of the parsonage – even as executive director, she shares her office with three other people – and bursts with almost visible pride at the work they do there.

Last week the Brontë Society was named as a new member of a rather exclusive club when it became one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations. What this means in real terms is funding of £930,000 over the next four years. Wright was the one who put in the bid, and there are big plans for the money.

The parsonage already attracts international visitors – a group of Japanese tourists are browsing the exhibits while I’m there – but Wright wants to get the word out with a much stronger online presence. She has a vision of an “augmented reality” website, digital maps, digitised texts from the stock of exhibits: in essence, making their online presence an extension of the physical museum rather than, as Wright calls it, “just an electronic brochure”.

Partnerships with other bodies and organisations to encourage more engagement from under-represented demographics is key to the five-year plan of the Brontë Society – be that schools, higher education establishments, or groups working with black and ethnic minority communities.
And there’s also a bricks-and-mortar aspect to the proposals. Wright looks out of her office window and points to a meadow, beyond the trees that border the the parsonage grounds.

“Up there is an underground reservoir,” she says. “It was fed by springs and was built after Patrick Brontë’s work on improving the sanitation in Haworth. We’re hoping to launch a fundraising campaign next year to create a centre for contemporary women’s writing there, a flexible space that could host events, exhibitions, be hired by creative people who want to write, hold classes…”
It’s an ambitious project, Wright knows – it’ll cost between £2.5 and £3m, depending on how easy or difficult it is to run utilities up to it, and that’s without taking into account actually getting planning permission… and what the rest of the members of the Brontë Society think about building on the land.

There’s another plan as well, which she says is merely “a glint in our eyes”. “Did you see To Walk Invisible? There was a barn in that, that used to stand just outside the parsonage. It would be fantastic to recreate that, make it a curatorial and research space, with an interpretive exhibition, perhaps…”

Read all the article: independent/bront-society-bicentenary-charlotte-haworth-kitty-wright-

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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