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 29 mei 2021

The garden is coming to life.


‘Priceless’ Brontë manuscripts could be lost to private buyer, warn experts

The Brontë Society is calling for immediate government intervention to prevent the “priceless” literary treasures of the Honresfield Library, which include a rare notebook of Emily Brontë’s poetry, from disappearing back into private hands at auction.[...]

But the trustees of the Brontë Society are calling on MPs to take action to save the “unique” collection for the nation. Describing the library as “unrivalled in its holdings of northern British literary treasures”, the society has written to all northern MPs and elected mayors warning that the Sotheby’s auctions will see “trophy items” acquired “at prices beyond the reach of British museums and libraries”, with many liable to “disappear into the bank vaults of international private investors”. 

“This calculated act of heritage dispersal has no regard for matters of curation, conservation, scholarly access or public benefit,” writes chair Trish Gurney. “The Honresfield Library is not just paper and ink, but cultural good.”

Oxford academic Professor Kathryn Sutherland, who is working with the society, warned that “without immediate government intervention in the public interest a national collection hidden for 100 years will soon be scattered piecemeal across the world – perhaps never to be seen”. Sutherland suggested that the library would be “the perfect founding collection for projected developments at British Library North”, which is being planned for Leeds. “We urge its purchase intact and whole in the national interest. Retained as a coherent collection, it will repay scholarly investigation and provide enjoyment for all lovers of literature for the next 100 years,” said Sutherland.

Ann Dinsdale, the principal curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the family lived, described the manuscripts as priceless. “My ideal would be for it all to be kept together and for it to be at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, but the main thing is that it goes to a public collection, where it can be cared for appropriately, and where it will be available for generations to come,” Dinsdale said she found it heartrending to think about the collection returning to private hands. “I’ve heard of wealthy collectors framing literary artefacts and hanging them on the walls where they’re exposed to light,” she said. “There’s nothing to govern how those things are cared for.”

Sotheby’s said that while the material going up for sale had always been in private ownership, it had all been “fully published and the contents are therefore freely available to those interested in the Brontës”.
“The decision was therefore made to offer it at auction, while ensuring that relevant institutions, including the Brontë Parsonage, were given advance notice of the projected sale in order to allow them time to raise funds should they wish to acquire the originals,” it said in a statement. “It is also worth pointing out that when material like this is acquired by collectors abroad, it often ends up on public view, as an ambassador for British culture.” The auction house added that “private collectors can be great custodians of such material, and these items have been very well cared for by a private family for almost 130 years. Often private collectors are very happy to allow scholars access to their holdings, and in this case there has been some scholarly access maintained throughout the long line of ownership.” (Alison Flood)


  • A rare handwritten manuscript of Emily’s poems, mentioned in the preface to Wuthering Heights, with pencil corrections by Charlotte (est. £800,000-1,200,000
  • The well-loved Brontë family copy of a book immortalised in Jane Eyre (est. £30,000-50,000
  •  Presentation copies of novels gifted to family friend Martha Brown
  • An exceptional letter from Charlotte to her publisher George Smith
  • Three letters from Charlotte to her oldest friend Ellen Nussey in 1850
  • Two letters from Branwell Brontë to Hartley Coleridge, 1840 (est. £6,000-8,000)
  • The auction also offers eleven pages worth of letters written by fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell on Charlotte and Haworth in 1853 (est. £3,000-5,000), several of Charlotte’s drawings, including one of their aunt Elizabeth Branwell (est. £5,000-7,000), and charming notes passed between Anne and Emily, including a little sketch of them writing at the table – all of which provide evocative glimpses of life at Haworth parsonage
Read more and see photographs: sothebys/honresfield-library-highlights

The greatest highlight of this first selection from the Honresfield Library is an autograph manuscript volume of poetry by Emily Brontë.

The greatest highlight of this first selection from the Honresfield Library is an autograph manuscript volume of poetry by Emily Brontë. Written in her miniature hand between 1844 and 1846, this slim volume contains 31 poems, many with pencil revisions by her sister Charlotte, and is the sole manuscript witness to many of her greatest poems. Autograph material by Emily Brontë is exceptionally rare. Very little has appeared at auction in recent decades and this is much the most important manuscript to remain in private hands. 

The sale also includes the finest copy of Emily Brontë’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, to have been seen at auction in recent decades: a first edition in original cloth inscribed by the Rev. Patrick Brontë to the family housekeeper Martha Brown.

Other Brontë treasures in the sale include the family copy of Bewick’s History of British Birds – the book that brings solace to the lonely young Jane at the beginning of Jane Eyre – and fascinating letters by Branwell Brontë to Hartley Coleridge. 


vrijdag 28 mei 2021

Beginning next month, notes BBC News, literary lovers will be able to see items from the private collection at exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and New York.

 “In the last 90 years, only one or two (very discreet) scholars have had access to slivers of the material, so essentially, only two people alive have seen any of it,” a Sotheby’s spokesperson tells the Guardian’s Alison Flood.

Beginning next month, notes BBC News, literary lovers will be able to see items from the private collection at exhibitions in London, Edinburgh and New York. Where the trove will end up after the auction remains to be seen, but as the Brontë Society notes in a statement, it “believes that the rightful home for these unique and extraordinary manuscripts, unseen for a hundred years, is at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where they can be enjoyed by visitors, explored by scholars and shared with Brontë enthusiasts around the world for generations to come.”

Given the financial challenges posed by Covid-19, however, the society acknowledges that it is “faced with the very real possibility that this immensely significant collection will be dispersed and disappear into private collections across the globe.”


Other items in the Honresfield Library include:

 Other items in the Honresfield Library include:

  • Jane Austen first editions, including Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice
  • A copy of Don Quixote printed in 1620 for Shakespeare publisher Edward Blounte
  • An annotated copy of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poems showing his changes
  • The complete manuscript for Sir Walter Scott's 19th century novel Rob Roy
  • Little-seen letters to and from the likes of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, Hartley Coleridge (son of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge), and George Smith - publisher and champion of The Bells, which was the Bronte's secret pseudonym
  • Works from Homer, Ovid, the Grimm Brothers, Montaigne, Ann Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft also make an appearance

Statement in response to Sotheby's announcement re the sale of the Honresfeld Library.

The Brontë Society exists to collect and preserve Brontë manuscripts and artefacts for the public benefit.   The manuscripts in the Honresfeld Library were written in Haworth and, as a collection, they bear witness to the intense collaboration and creativity that bound Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë together and to their home at Haworth Parsonage. 

The Society believes that the rightful home for these unique and extraordinary manuscripts, unseen for a hundred years, is at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where they can be enjoyed by visitors, explored by scholars and shared with Brontë enthusiasts around the world for generations to come. 

Regrettably, we are faced with the very real possibility that this immensely significant collection will be dispersed and disappear into private collections across the globe.  We are determined to save as much as we can, but due to the dramatic financial impact of the pandemic, the timing is unfortunate.  While Covid has reinforced the comfort and hope that we find in literature and culture, museum revenue has fallen away to almost nothing and competition for public funds has become fiercer than ever. 

We all have a stake in these remarkable treasures.  We need to look beyond the narrow commercialisation and privatisation of heritage and work together to protect and share what we all value.  As our campaign takes shape, we urge all with an interest in saving this remarkable collection intact to contact us. bronte/rare-bronte-manuscripts-to-be-sold-at-auction

A Lost Brontë Library Surfaces A trove of manuscripts acquired from the Brontë family in the 19th century, all but unseen for the past century, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s.

Credit...via Sotheby’s

A trove of Brontë family manuscripts — all but unseen for a century — will be auctioned by Sotheby’s as part of what the auction house is billing as the sale of a legendary “lost library” of British literature treasures.

The Honresfield Library, a private collection assembled by two Victorian industrialists that vanished from public view in the 1930s, contains more than 500 manuscripts, letters, rare first editions and other artifacts from a number of canonical authors, including the manuscripts of Walter Scott’s “Rob Roy” and Robert Burns’s “First Commonplace Book.” 

Credit...via Sotheby’s

But it is the Brontë material — based on hoopla surrounding past Brontë auctions, and the estimates for this one — that is likely to cause the biggest stir. Highlights, which will be exhibited at Sotheby’s in New York from June 5 to 9, include a handwritten manuscript of Emily Brontë’s poems, with pencil edits by Charlotte. It carries an estimate of $1.3 million to $1.8 million.

The trove also includes family letters, inscribed first editions and other relics that offer a glimpse into life in the Brontë household, like the family’s heavily annotated copy of Bewick’s “History of British Birds” (which features in the opening scenes of “Jane Eyre”).

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s specialist in English literature and historical manuscripts, called the Honresfield Library the finest he had seen in 20 years, and the Brontë cache the most important to come to light in a generation.

The Honresfield Library took shape not far from the parsonage at the edge of the West Yorkshire moors, where Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother, Branwell (born between 1816 and 1820), grew up creating elaborate shared imaginary worlds. It was assembled starting in the 1890s by Alfred and William Law, two self-made mill owners who had grown up less than 20 miles from the Brontë home in Haworth (which is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum).

The Laws’ collection, held in the library at their home, Honresfield House, included what Heaton called “grand country-house books” like a Shakespeare First Folio (long since sold off). But the brothers, less typically, were also keen collectors of manuscripts, acquiring the Brontë cache from a dealer who had bought them directly from Charlotte’s widower. William, the more serious collector, also paid frequent visits to Haworth to buy family relics that had been saved by neighbors and relatives.

After the deaths of the brothers (who never married), the collection passed to a nephew, who granted access to select scholars, and had facsimiles made of some items. But after his death in 1939, the originals fell out of public view.

Credit...via Sotheby's

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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