I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

zaterdag 28 juli 2018

Are we going to ‘The Brontës’?

My love of the Brontë Family – I have written this for my Dad, as it was he who sparked my interest many years ago. From: Write on Ejaleigh

It’s my birthday and wedding anniversary next week and I’ll be making my way to Haworth where I shall be staying at the Old Registry and visiting for the umpteenth time, the Brontë Parsonage Museum. My husband says that my face always lights up when we get our first glimpse of the Parsonage and that he has never seen me so happy as I am when I am there. I’m currently rereading Wuthering Heights as this year is the bicentenary of Emily’s birth. There’s been a bit of controversy in the Brontë Society too over the appointment of a literary partner. However, this has led to more interest than ever in the Brontë Family. But where did my love for the Brontë family begin and how has it remained so passionate for the past forty-odd years?

In the early 1960s, my Dad was taken on a school trip to Haworth and to the Brontë Parsonage Museum. He tells me that in those days the Brontë Industry had yet to take off and Haworth was very much as it was during the Brontë era. My Dad, a practical man, who had failed his 11+ and had to go to a secondary modern school, was transfixed by what he saw at the Parsonage. He found the story of how three sisters, living in such a remote location, became famous novelists, fascinating and it is true to say that he instantly resolved to discover more about them and read their works

Fast forward to the early 1970s, and when my Dad passed his driving test, he decided to take my Mother, my brother and I, to visit the same location where he had been inspired to discover more about the Brontë Family. I can vividly recall my first visit to the Parsonage, although I must have been only about three years of age. My parents later told me that, as we went around the Parsonage, I was able to tell them the contents of each room and what they signified, even though I had never been there before. My Mother took this as a spiritual sign that I had been ‘on this earth before’. My Father was more pragmatic and suggested that I was probably savvier than they had realised and had looked up the place in his AA Treasures of Britain book and managed to read some of it.  I really have no idea where it came from but all I knew was that going there always felt like I was going somewhere I loved and where I felt happy. You can read into that whatever you like. In those days, it was possible to see the Bonnell collection on display of many of the Brontë juvenilia. These tiny books transfixed me, and I decided that I was going to make my own tiny books at home. Yet much like my Dad, it had been the tragic nature of their lives that had really touched me.

I remember keeping my special entrance ticket and my Mother also bought me a Charlotte Brontë bookmark which had a poem on it;
Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
I learnt this poem off by heart and as soon as I could read fluently, my Mum had bought me abridged versions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. She also brought me library books concerning their lives to pour over. One I continued to renew, was Brian Wilkes, The Brontës and my absolute favourite Margot Peters Unquiet Soul, both published in 1975. In the Notes section of Unquiet Soul, I was fascinated by some brief genealogical details concerning the Irish and Cornish relatives of the Brontë family. I wondered if I could perhaps find out if there were any living relatives or if, as I really hoped, I could discover that I was related to the Brontës, hence my unexplained obsession with them?
My parents encouraged my obsession and I was regularly rewarded with membership of the Brontë Society despite my relatively young age. They arranged for me to visit Haworth annually and we would stay at the Black Bull Hotel, which in those days was run by a very welcoming couple who allowed me to sit on Branwell’s chair. I even attended Society events and a kind lady took me to the AGM meeting where I sat soaking up the atmosphere, believing that I was incredibly honoured and special to be allowed to participate, even though I had no idea what they were talking about. The Parsonage also allowed me, a very precocious but shy girl of eight, into their library to do my genealogical research. I showed them what I had produced, and they were so kind in offering me additional avenues to research. Somewhere in my Dad’s loft, I think there is still a very detailed Brontë family tree.

Then Kate Bush came along. With her supposed ballet training and love of the Brontës, she was always going to be a heroine of mine. I wrote to her and was ecstatic when I received a signed poster, which remained on my bedroom wall for many years. The first album my parents bought me was The Kick Inside and I would listen to Wuthering Heights repeatedly, dancing to it like some demented banshee.
As the years passed, my love never waned. We would still make our pilgrimage and as I was older, we would always incorporate a long walk across the moors to the Brontë Falls and Top Withens. For years I kept an empty aspirin bottle on my dressing table that contained the water from the falls as though it was some magical elixir.
I’m sure that part of the reason I chose to study French literature at Hull University was because of my Brontë obsession. In fact, during my year abroad, I would regularly visit Brussels and retrace the steps of the Brontës with my worn copy of Villette; my favourite Brontë novel. I went into a Catholic Church, lit many candles and pretended to confess my sins. I even had the notion that I should fall in love with a Frenchman to truly identify with Charlotte and Lucy Snowe. Yet it never happened.
Over the years I have discovered many other cultural passions, but nothing has ever come close to my obsession with the Brontës.  One of the benefits of our digital age is that I can discuss all things Brontë with other lovers via social media. There is a very supportive and welcoming group on Facebook. The Brontë Parsonage Museum is now far more involved than it ever was. There are regular events and some great opportunities such as participating in workshops led by Simon Armitage and Sally Wainwright.
My brother died unexpectedly in 2013 and he was always nagging me to do a PhD. I did start to produce my own study / book of the Brontë relic forgers TJWise and Clement Shorter. As part of my initial studies into this, I went to the Brotherton library and held an actual letter written by Charlotte Brontë. The Brotherton is an incredible Aladdin’s cave for Brontë lovers. They even have some of their collection online.  I then somehow ended going down the road of fiction writing instead. I’m sure that I will go back to that one day, when work commitments allow.
Last year on my birthday, my husband arranged an incredible surprise for me. I’d always wanted a reproduction Charlotte Bronte ring from the shop. However, it is very expensive as it needs to be custom made. We went into the shop and whilst I was there, my husband called me over. Then in front of me, he produced my own Charlotte ring. I ended up in tears, as did most of the shop staff!
So, next week I’m really looking forward once again to going, as we always called it in our family, to the Brontës.  I’ll go around the Parsonage at least twice, spend time, and quite a bit of money in the shop, visit the Church, walk down the cobbled Main Street and then sit just soaking up the atmosphere. I can’t always make it onto the moors now as I have a very bad back. But I’ll definitely give it a try.

Sometimes, there’s no place I would rather be.

I am going to make my own party with regard to Emily Bronte's 200 th birthday.

From 30-07-2018 I will dedicate a blog to Emily every week. I will read the two books on the photo and tell you everything I like about it. I own these books for a long time and they gave me a lot of pleasure. I love the books of biographer Willifred Gerin and I learned a lot about the poetry of Emily in "The Art of Emily Bronte". I start on 30-07,  the day of birth of Emily.

vrijdag 27 juli 2018

Something Terrific: Emily Brontë’s 200 Years.

Very interesting article. Read all on: sydneyreviewofbooks
in the article also a very beautiful photograph of the Haworth Churchyard. Photo: Simon Warner

1818. In that year the illustrious novelist Walter Scott discovered a box of lost Crown Jewels hidden in Edinburgh Castle and was rewarded with the title of baronet. Percy Bysshe Shelley pseudonymously published his sonnet ‘Ozymandias’ and Mary Shelley anonymously published her novel Frankenstein, which was influenced, her husband notes in the Preface, by the physician Erasmus Darwin’s experiments. Frankenstein was reviewed that year by Walter Scott. Wars of independence and colonialism were being fought around the globe. Karl Marx was born in Germany and would one day be a great reader of English literature. He was deeply affected by P. B. Shelley’s radicalism, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones was his favourite novel, he considered Scott’s Old Mortality a masterpiece, and by the early 1850s he was lauding Wuthering Heights for its condemnation of the middle classes. In 1818 Darwin’s grandson Charles was nine years old, a directionless boy (his father thought) who consumed Byron, loved books, and would go on to ‘read and reread until they could be read no more’ the novels of Scott, Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell. He read Jane Eyre; we can assume he’d also read Wuthering Heights and would have recognised the author of this story of ferocious generational struggle as a kindred spirit. It’s not known if Emily Brontë ever saw a copy of The Voyage of the Beagle (1839), which foretold On the Origin of Species (1859); I like to think she did. And if not that book, then perhaps other works of scientific discovery, Georg Forster’s classic A Voyage Round the World (1777), or George Anson’s Voyage Around the World in the Years 1740-1744 (1748), as it’s known there was a copy in the library at nearby Ponden Hall to which the Brontës had access, or indeed anything by or about the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry, whom Emily chose as one of her earliest heroes in the games she played with her siblings. Her Gondal poems were set in fantasy lands in the North and South Pacific, conceiving for the southern island bright Eden skies, palm trees alongside cedars and beeches, and ‘tropic prairies bright with flowers’.  The Brontë Parsonage Museum has a family copy of Goldsmith’s Modern and Ancient Geography, with Gondal place names added to the index, most likely by Emily. In her own imagination she was well travelled. Her French teacher thought that she possessed the disciplined mind and superior will of a great navigator.

Sam Baker journeyed north to uncover the wild and unconventional life of the Wuthering Heights,

Ahead of Emily Brontë's bicentenary Sam Baker journeyed north to uncover the wild and unconventional life of the Wuthering Heights author.

donderdag 26 juli 2018

Postbox tribute to mark Brontë anniversary.

A special postbox paying tribute to author Emily Brontë has been put up in Yorkshire to celebrate the bicentenary of her birth. The novelist was born on July 30, 1818 in the village of Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford.

And with the help of students from Thornton Primary School, Royal Mail unveiled the postbox in Market Street in the village yesterday. It features quotes from some of the author’s most famous works, including Wuthering Heights and her poetry. Mark Street, head of campaigns at Royal Mail, said: “As one of the guardians of the written word, we relish the opportunity to celebrate the life and times of Britain’s most treasured writers. “The incredible impact that Emily Brontë’s work has had on our culture is undeniable, and we are delighted to honour her work in this way.”

Rebecca Yorke, head of communications at The Brontë Society, said: “It’s perfect that Royal Mail has chosen to commemorate the bicentenary of Emily Brontë in this way.

“Correspondence played an important part in the lives of Emily and her sisters. 

“Their letters have made a significant contribution to what we know about them. “Emily spent most of her life at the Parsonage in Haworth, but we’re delighted that Thornton, where Emily was born, is also taking part in the bicentenary celebrations. We hope residents and visitors alike will enjoy the commemorative postbox.” 

woensdag 25 juli 2018

Cults, Misfits, and a Hot Mess: Is Emily “the Other Brontë?”

A few days ago I began writing this piece about Emily Brontë’s status as the so-called “other Brontë”, intending to post it in time for her 200th birthday on 30th July. However, the day after I began drafting the piece, an article entitled “The strange cult of Emily Brontë and the ‘hot mess’ of Wuthering Heights” written by Kathryn Hughes for The Guardian appeared and addressed the same issue, but rather than asking questions, the article made massive and derogatory assumptions about everything from Emily herself to Wuthering Heights, Brontë fans, and female academics in addition to a very strange comparison between Brontë and American poet Sylvia Plath. Even several days later, I’m not really sure what the point of Hughes’ article was other than to attack a beloved author in the run up to the celebration of her bicentenary.
Read all: brontebabeblog

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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