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

woensdag 8 maart 2017

International Women's Day: an apt passage form Anne's 'The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall'

“I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are or should be written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.”

dinsdag 7 maart 2017

Brontë children were born in Yorkshire, and most of their unfortunate short lives spent in Haworth – a small village near the Yorkshire dales. No wonder, that this area is associated first of all with these three extraordinary writers, whose books bare definite traces of this magnificent environment. For those, who love literature, being in Haworth is a true magic. It’s a place where every second inn is called “Brontë”, “Wuthering Heights”, every pub, café or even a real estate agencies must attach on themselves a distinguishing sign of their belonging to this great family.independentpeople/visiting-bronte-world-haworth

House (with Brontë connection) for sale !

Some of you may remember that two years ago (in 2015) I reported on our detective work during our annual holidays in Ireland, more in particular regarding a Brontë-related house, i.e. Kill House near Clifden, in the Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland. This is the house where Arthur Bell Nicholls’ cousin, Harriette Bell, lived with her husband, John Evans Adamson, and their children. Harriette was the cousin Arthur proposed to in 1851 and who declined his proposal.

In 2015, we found the house while driving around in  the Connemara with only vague information on its exact location. As the house was in private ownership, we could not view the inside. We only saw the house from the gate (as shown below).
Read all: brusselsbronte/house-with-bronte-connection-for-sale.

The milestone anniversary of Mary Taylor, a close friend of Charlotte Bronte

February marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the renowned feminist and businesswoman Mary Taylor. Highly intelligent and ambitious, Mary Taylor is defined as a woman who broke new ground at a time when a woman's place was deemed to be very much in the home. While other women were content to keep a lovely home and look after their men folk, Mary had other ideas. Far from her wings being clipped, she yearned to travel - and did - to countries as part of her educational journey and sharing her experiences with one of her dearest friends - the famous literary sibling, Charlotte Bronte.

The pair would often meet at Mary's home - Red House. The imposing red-brick abode in Oxford Road, Gomersal, was latterly a museum, closed to the public in December - a victim of budget cuts.
While travelling they still kept in touch through written correspondence - a legacy many historians have no doubt poured over during painstaking research to find out more about these famous friends.
Born on February 26 1817, this year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Taylor's birth. Last year a range of events were planned and celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth.

Read all: thetelegraphandargus

dinsdag 7 februari 2017

Branwell Brontë's desk

Beautiful pictures from Tim who visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum

Thank you Tim for letting me use your pictures

the Hat
I wondered about the hat
is this really the hat of Branwell?
I asked the Bronte Parsonage Museum
I received this answer

Hi Geri - The pictures are of elements of our new exhibitions, Mansions in the Sky and To Walk Invisible: From Parsonage to Production. The hat and dresses were designed for Sally Wainwright's Brontë drama, To Walk Invisible, and are on display in the Museum throughout 2017.

Pictures from the Mansions in the Sky exhibition.

Beautiful pictures Edwin J.M.Marr made when he visited the Bronte Parsonage

From the exhibition

Thank you Edwin for letting me use your pictures


I wondered about the dresses
Are they really from the Bronte Sisters?
I asked the Bronte Parsonage Museum
This answer I received

Hi Geri - The pictures are of elements of our new exhibitions, Mansions in the Sky and To Walk Invisible: From Parsonage to Production. The hat and dresses were designed for Sally Wainwright's Brontë drama, To Walk Invisible, and are on display in the Museum throughout 2017.

Brontë 200 - Mansions in the Sky

Who was Branwell Brontë? This new exhibition, curated by poet Simon Armitage, invites us inside the mind and world of the notorious Brontë brother in a search for answers to this question. Inspired by an early poem sent to William Wordsworth by the optimistic and precocious twenty-year old, Armitage explores Branwell’s colourful personal history through his writings, drawings and possessions, displayed at the Parsonage alongside newly created installations.  
Highlights include a series of new poems by Armitage in response to Branwell’s belongings in the Museum collection, a dramatic recreation of Branwell’s studio designed in collaboration with the production team of the BBC’s To Walk Invisible, and the actual letter and poem posted to Wordsworth, loaned by the Wordsworth Trust especially for the bicentenary. In delving into the life and times of the infamous Branwell, Mansions in the Sky will provoke
new insights into the charismatic and complicated brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

vrijdag 3 februari 2017

New exhibition celebrates life of Branwell Brontë.

A new exhibition about Branwell Brontë has opened at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth to celebrate his bicentenary. It is curated by the poet Simon Armitage and explores Branwell's history through a series of writings, drawings and possessions. At the heart of the exhibition is a letter which Branwell wrote to the poet William Wordsworth. The letter was written in January 1837 when he was 19-years-old. He enclosed one of his own poems with the letter, expressing the hopes and dreams of a young romantic, intent on building 'mansions in the sky'. Wordsworth did not reply. itv/new-exhibition-celebrates-life-of-branwell-bronte

donderdag 26 januari 2017

I received a nice reaction.

I received this nice reaction from Anushka Nair
I always love to meet people who are as much interested
in the Bronte Sisters as I am
Anushka, I wish you a lot of succes and pleasure with your weblog
I know how much knowledge and fun it will give to you
And I am certainly going to follow it!

This is amazing. I have been keeping myself updated on this blog for years - I learned a lot about the Bronte sisters here. I haven't had the chance to say how fascinating all of this is. And it's really, really hard to find any fanbase or community dedicated to the Bronte sisters, especially one that focuses on the minute details of their life!

I've started a web-blog on the Bronte sisters, too. My blog also focuses on the Bronte fan community, in addition to the the Bronte family's lives. It is at whatsupwithbrontemania.wordpress.com. I would love if you could check it out, as I'm just starting! My guiding question for this blog is - what drives the strange obsession with these Victorian-era-Yorkshire-countryside trio of authors?

This is a wonderful blog. Keep writing!! :)

zondag 22 januari 2017

‘Take courage, Charlotte, take courage’.

Anne Brontë’s final words to her sister Charlotte were ‘Take courage, Charlotte, take courage’, and they have proved to be inspirational not only to her sister, but to people across the world over a century and a half later. Read all on this beautiful article of Nick Holland: annebronte/take-courage-the-final-words-of-anne-bronte/

dinsdag 17 januari 2017

Flowers for Anne's birthday.

Flowers for Anne's birthday
Thank you very much to the person who sends them every year -
they are much loved

zondag 15 januari 2017

Branwell called and chaired a meeting of the inhabitants of the township in the school room to petition Parliament to repeal the Poor Law Amendment Acts of 1834

Kimberly Eve is 
a writer and Independent scholar of Victorian studies
In this article she is writing about Branwell Bronte

With his father’s support, on 22 February, 1837, Branwell called and chaired a meeting of the inhabitants of the township in the school room to petition Parliament to repeal the Poor Law Amendment Acts of 1834 whose measures were just beginning to be put into practice in Yorkshire. Charles Dickens Oliver Twist comes to mind. The Act ended outdoor relief, which had been administered locally by the parish vestry and had supplemented the incomes of the poor during periods of unemployment for need. Poor Law unions, administered centrally by commissioners in London, were formed by parishes and those who through old age, infirmity or unemployment were no longer able to support themselves could only obtain assistance by residing in the workhouse. Sadly, this also meant separation of the sexes: separating husbands and wives, parents and children which angered everyone. Patrick and Branwell addressed the assembled crowds, ‘upon that occasion neither speakers nor hearers had met to promote the interest of party, but to plead the cause of the poor.’ Branwell read and moved the petition, which was carried unanimously and sent to one of the local members of Parliament and the Archbishop of Canterbury for presentation to the Houses of Commons and Lords respectively. News coverage included The Times making Patrick Bronte a bit more popular than he liked.

 It is fair to say that the life of Branwell Bronte was a turbulent one; known for his drinking and career failings in the railway and somewhat as an author. He was never as successful as his famous sisters. In childhood, Branwell shined as the golden boy for his poetry and writing but in adulthood he was overshadowed and surpassed by his sisters. He struggled to publish his own works as an adult, even with the help of his sisters; it just never came to fruition. He mainly translated others works for publication or had the odd poem published in a yearly magazine. The only way Branwell’s poems would be published was amongst the poems of his sisters. However, Branwell longed to have editions and volumes of his poetry and writing published as his sisters would soon enjoy.

maandag 9 januari 2017

Ever wondered what happens #behindthescenes while we're closed?

Brontë Parsonage     
day 4. Mr 's silk neckerchief is inspected for any signs of change in condition.

Brontë Parsonage     
Day 3 : the Bronte family clock has gone to visit the horologist

Brontë Parsonage     
Charlotte's dress being carefully removed from display

Brontë Parsonage     
Ever wondered what happens while we're closed? We put the house to bed. Here's the dining room - shrouded in tissue.

Author and broadcaster Peggy Hewitt said she could not recognise the real Brontë family members from their fictional versions in To Walk Invisible.

A BRONTËLAND icon has blasted the BBC’s Christmas movie about the Brontës. Author and broadcaster Peggy Hewitt said she could not recognise the real Brontë family members from their fictional versions in To Walk Invisible.

She blasted screenwriter Sally Wainwright’s efforts – much praised by Brontë enthusiasts and local councillors – to portray the Brontë story as gritty reality rather than chocolate box nostalgia.
Peggy Hewitt wrote These Lonely Mountains, widely regarded as the definitive book about the Haworth moors and their links to the Brontës, in the 1980s.

She went on to become a successful TV, radio and children’s book writer, and These Lonely Mountains was republished in 2004 and last year as Brontë Country: Lives and Landscape.
A life member of the Brontë Society, Peggy currently lives close to her family in Scotland but says her “heart and soul” belong to the Brontë moors.  Like millions of viewers Peggy sat down to watch To Walk Invisible, filmed last summer at Haworth locations, during the Christmas break.

She said “When Sally Wainwright described the Brontës as the 'ultimate dysfunctional family' it was clear what we were in for, but even so To Walk Invisible was a shock.”
Peggy was also displeased with Charlotte’s portrayal in the film as a woman with a “constant pinched mean look”. She said: “I wondered how Ellen Nussey, a welcome streak of life in this film, could have formed a close relationship with this apparently dried-old woman. “Emily was a free spirit, but why did she have to look like a corpse? The true genius of the family, her rapport with Branwell came a bit late in the film. “And what about that moment on the moors when Emily was reading her sublime points to Anne? It could have been very moving, but background mood music was far too loud.” Peggy accepted the Brontë family did suffer, with no mother and coping with their brother’s problems, but added: “Branwell was vastly overplayed.

“No doubt they had their ups and downs, as families do, but this bound them together, not sundered them, as appeared in the film. “The Brontës were, against all odds, a brave family, a functional family, and the real story is as fascinating as any of their books.” Peggy also blasted the “mild and ineffectual” screen version of the writers’ father, the Rev Patrick Brontë, who she claimed was a fiery Irishman, Cambridge graduate, forward-looking social reformer and keen supporter of his children.

donderdag 5 januari 2017

Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life.

If you’ve read Samantha Ellis’s charming bibliomemoir How to be a Heroine – a heartwarming trip down memory lane as she looks back over the literary ladies that have shaped her life – you might be surprised to discover it’s Anne Brontë, the oft-overlooked 'third Beatle' of England’s most famous literary siblings, who’s the subject of her second book, Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life.

Better known Charlotte and Emily were both integral to the journey recounted in How to be a Heroine, Ellis’s entire enterprise inspired by an argument with her best friend regarding the respective allure of passionate headstrong Cathy Earnshaw versus dependable independent Jane Eyre. The stories told in both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are held aloft as grand romances, inspiring a host of adaptations, sequels and prequels from fan fiction through to Jean Rhys’s revisionist masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea. Similar approbation for Anne’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), would be tricky since it lays bare the underbelly of the romance fantasy, taking a leading lady “who starts out like other Brontë heroines, charmed by a sexy dangerous man,” Ellis explains, “but she sees the light and leaves him.” As Ellis points out, this depiction of female agency was radical for its time. While readers today will no doubt find the story hugely "refreshing," it wasn’t exactly what people either expected or wanted in the mid 1800s.

This novel (Anne’s second and final work) is central to Ellis’s project though, her modus operandi being to “see Anne through the stories she told, not the stories told about her,” especially since when it comes to the latter, there are two significant stumbling blocks. Firstly, nowhere near as much is known about the baby Brontë as compared to her more famous sisters; and secondly, what is available has been filtered through Charlotte, who suppressed the publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne’s death (by then she was the only surviving sibling). Hence the image of the “virginal Victorian spinster, sweet and stoic, selfless and sexless, achieving very little before wasting away at twenty-nine” has held sway. Not least over Ellis herself. Until, that is, the day she was shown Anne’s last letter, written only five weeks before her death. Despite the writer’s failing health, Ellis is captivated by the “hope and spirit” she sees on the page.

As such, Take Courage is as much an account of Ellis’s own discovery of Anne's work as it is that of her subject’s life, and herein lies the book's unique appeal. Ellis – who is, it should be noted, as intelligent and perceptive a reader as she is an evocative storyteller – truly writes from the heart, which isn’t to say she hasn’t done her research. She has. But if you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill scholarly biography heavy with footnotes, this isn’t what Take Courage is. Instead it’s a deeply sympathetic and interesting re-evaluation of a woman ahead of her time who has much to teach us all about living courageously. independent/books/reviews/take-courage-anne-bronte

zondag 1 januari 2017

Two new biographies of Anne Bronte.

New 2017 books are presented in The Irish Independent:
This month also sees the publication of a long-overdue appraisal of the third Brontë sister, Anne. Take Courage (Chatto), by How To be a Heroine author Samantha Ellis, is being released on January 12, ahead of Anne's birthday on January 17. (Hilary A. White)
Lucasta Miller reviews the biography in The Sunday Times:
Anne is the Cinderella of the Brontë sisters, the youngest, least recognised and, by all accounts, the prettiest. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights subsequently became Hollywood classics. After Anne died, her novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was publicly dismissed by Charlotte as an “entire mistake”.
Anne’s book was, however, far more radical than anything her more famous sisters ever wrote. In its coruscating portrait of an abusive marriage it bypassed the romanticism of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights to “get” feminism in a way that Charlotte and Emily never did. Although generally considered as the quiet and docile one, Anne was, in fact, the secret firebrand of the family.
The effort to reclaim her has been going on for some time. Winifred Gérin’s biography of Anne was published in 1959. However, the dominance of the two elder sisters means that there remains a need to bring her out of the shadows. In Take Courage, Samantha Ellis has risen to the challenge. (...)
Take Courage is almost as much about Ellis’s vicarious relationship with her subject as it is about Anne Brontë. If scholarly footnotes are your thing, it isn’t for you. But if you want to share in a biographer’s emotional journey, you will find insights aplenty here. The account of Anne’s death from TB at the age of 29 is truly moving. bronteblog

Don't forget there is another Anne Bronte's biography released in 2016 by Nick Holland.

Anne Brontë, the youngest and most enigmatic of the Brontë sisters, remains a bestselling author nearly two centuries after her death. The brilliance of her two novels – Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – and her poetry belies the quiet, yet courageous girl who often lived in the shadows of her more celebrated sisters. Yet her writing was the most revolutionary of all the Brontës, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable.

This revealing new biography opens Anne’s most private life to a new audience and shows the true nature of her relationship with her sister Charlotte.

'Holland has enormous affection for Anne Brontë, and his excellent book is filled with passion and pathos. Its triumph is that Anne is given voice and is no longer swamped by her siblings.' - Roger Lewis, The Mail On Sunday

'Holland's way of telling about Anne Brontë's final illness and last days is particularly touching while avoiding the easy slide into parable territory. This new biography proves that Anne Brontë's afterlife is just like her life: not about quantity but about quality.' - Brontë Blog Book Review 

Nick Holland also has an interesting weblog about Anne. annebronte

vrijdag 30 december 2016

First impressions: To walk invisible.

I was looking forwards to see "To walk Invisible". The new BBC adaptation of the life of the Bronte Sisters. Tonight it was the time.

First impressions
  • Beautiful clothes. Did they wear such beautiful clothes?
  • In my imagination Emily is completely different from the actrice playing Emily.
  • Charlotte and Anne I found well chosen.
  • The house. Great to see all the rooms, to walk with the sisters through it.
  • Flossie and Keeper. Love it.
  • Big part giving to the situation of Branwell. To my taste a little to much.

I read in radiotimes

Meanwhile, the subject of the drama as a whole is a little unfocused – to some extent it’s chronicling the downfall of Branwell as he succumbs to self-pity and drunkenness (after a doomed affair with an older woman at his tutoring job), but it’s also concerned with the sisters’ literary success and attempts to get published. Doubtlessly the two threads were inextricably linked in real life, but somehow in this case the two halves to the story feel a little disjointed, the sisters’ great literary triumph lacking some of the emotional intensity of their scenes with Branwell and thus feeling a little flat.

I agree.
  • Beautiful walks on the moors.
  • I loved the meeting between Anne, Charlotte and George Smith and William Smith Williams. I always love this part of their story and it is beautiful filmed.
  • I wonder, if you don't know much of the Bronte Sisters and you see the movie, will you understand them better? Will you understand what they mean for literature?

I am going to look again
But these are my first impressions

zaterdag 24 december 2016

Christmas Eve

Max Nicoll     
Christmas Eve in Haworth

Music On Christmas Morning - Poem by Anne Bronte

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 borne.

Though Darkness still her empire keep,
And hours must pass, ere morning break;
From troubled dreams, or slumbers deep,
That music KINDLY bids us wake:
It calls us, with an angel's voice,
To wake, and worship, and rejoice;

To greet with joy the glorious morn,
Which angels welcomed long ago,
When our redeeming Lord was born,
To bring the light of Heaven below;
The Powers of Darkness to dispel,
And rescue Earth from Death and Hell.

While listening to that sacred strain,
My raptured spirit soars on high;
I seem to hear those songs again
Resounding through the open sky,
That kindled such divine delight,
In those who watched their flocks by night.

With them I celebrate His birth--
Glory to God, in highest Heaven,
Good-will to men, and peace on earth,
To us a Saviour-king is given;
Our God is come to claim His own,
And Satan's power is overthrown!

A sinless God, for sinful men,
Descends to suffer and to bleed;
Hell MUST renounce its empire then;
The price is paid, the world is freed,
And Satan's self must now confess
That Christ has earned a RIGHT to bless:

Now holy Peace may smile from heaven,
And heavenly Truth from earth shall spring:
The captive's galling bonds are riven,
For our Redeemer is our king;
And He that gave his blood for men
Will lead us home to God again.

kleurrijkbrontesisters  The Bronte Sisters and their Christmas holidays.

I think Charlotte would have been a champion tweeter.

What would the Brontës be like today - queens of social media, perhaps?

“Emily would have detested social media,” says Chloe. “She wouldn’t have adapted.

“I think Charlotte would have been a champion tweeter. Although I have a romantic attachment to Emily and her wildness, you have to admire Charlotte Brontë for her pragmatism, her foresight and determination to bring their voices to the world.” Read more: huffingtonpost

dinsdag 20 december 2016

The 200th birthday of Branwell next year.

In an attempt to “get to know Branwell”, Simon Armitage, the Huddersfield-born poet and playwright, has been appointed as a creative partner to the Brontë Parsonage Museum and will help to spend a £97,702 Arts Council grant to celebrate the 200th birthday of Branwell next year, and that of Emily the year after.

The Parsonage Museum’s exhibition, curated by Armitage, is called Mansions in the Sky. It opens in February and will feature Branwell’s writings, drawings and possessions. thetimes

The Happy Cottagers - Poem by Patrick Branwell Bronte

The linnets sweetly sang
On every fragrant thorn,
Whilst from the tangled wood
The blackbirds hailed the morn;
And through the dew
Ran here and there,
But half afraid,
The startled hare.
Read all: poemhunter

maandag 19 december 2016

Some of the reactions on the social media about 19-12-1848, the date Emily Bronte died.

Nick Holland:
On 19th December 1848, Emily Brontë, in my opinion the author of the greatest novel ever written, died aged just thirty of tuberculosis. Emily can be a hard woman to pin down, incredibly shy and yet capable of incredibly powerful writing. A woman who shunned romance in real life, and whose most powerful love in life was for her sister Anne Brontë, and yet whose novel and poems are filled with romance. Read all: annebronte

    Brontë Parsonage       
December 19: in 1848, Emily Jane Brontë died in Haworth, aged 30. Her funeral card mistakenly stated she was 29.

A poem to mark the anniversary of Emily's death:
It was night and on the mountains
Fathoms deep the snow drifts lay
Streams and waterfalls and fountains...
Down in darkness stole away

Long ago the hopeless peasant
Left his sheep all buried there
Sheep that through the summer pleasant
He had watched with fondest care
Now no more a cheerful ranger
Following pathways known of yore
Sad he stood a wildered stranger
On his own unbounded moor

The History Press         

in 1848 writer Emily died. she was a crack shot w/ a rifle? \\

The Long Victorian         
Emily Brontë died (1818-1848). “She burned too bright for this world.”

Oxford Classics
1848: Emily Brontë dies of consumption at age 30, three months after having caught cold at her brother Branwell's funeral.

Write for Wellbeing  
That chainless soul, , died on this day 1848 age 30: “Riches I hold in light esteem,

Catherine Curzon 
Emily 's diary, 26th June 1837, showing her working alongside her sister, Anne. Emily died in 1848.

Today 1848: Emily Bronte died. Review of WH: "How a human being could have attempted such a book...without committing suicide..is a mystery"

‘She burned too bright for this world’ – Emily Brontë, WUTHERING HEIGHTS

    Órfhlaith Foyle        
Emily Bronté died today 19 December 1848 'I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.'

Ms. Hester  
Wuthering Heights still contains some of my most favorite romantic and gothic pieces

Write for Wellbeing   
That chainless soul, , died on this day 1848 age 30: “Riches I hold in light esteem,

“Riches I hold in light esteem,
And love I laugh to scorn,
And lust of fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn....

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, 'Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!'

Yes, as my swift days near their goal,
'Tis all that I implore -
In life and death, a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.”
― Emily Brontë

La Caída   
Un día como hoy perdimos a la gran Emily Brontë.

zaterdag 3 december 2016

Study of Noses, pencil drawing.

Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855), Study of Noses, pencil drawing, ca. February 1831. Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will. Reviewed by Ed Voves and Anne Lloyd.

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

The Morgan Library and Museum
September 9, 2016 through January 2, 2017

Reviewed by Ed Voves and Anne Lloyd.

Charlotte Brontë's life was like a Victorian "three-decker" novel. Her incredible rise from obscurity to become a literary sensation with the publication of
Jane Eyre in 1847 was followed by staggering family tragedies, then marriage, brief happiness and early death in 1855.

What sounds like the plot of one of her novels was actually Charlotte Brontë's path to immortality.

The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City has organized an exhibition in honor of the bicentennial of Brontë's birth. With the cooperation of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, and the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library in London, the Morgan's exhibit is worthy of Brontë's life and achievement. 
Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will sets a standard of curatorial excellence that will be hard to top.

Earlier this year, I reviewed part of this exhibition as it appeared at the National Portrait Gallery. The Morgan's exhibit, drawing upon three international famed institutions, is vaster in scale and superlative in the quality of the objects on display. 

In the earlier post, I focused upon the 1850 portrait of Charlotte Brontë, created by George Richmond. It was a gift to Bronte's father, Patrick, from her publisher, George Smith. In this review, I will comment upon several of the other Brontë treasures on view in the spectacular exhibit at the Morgan.

Born two hundred years ago in 1816, Charlotte Brontë was a product of what used to be dismissively referred to as England's "Celtic Fringe." Her father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë was born in Ireland in 1777, while her mother's family came from Cornwall. Charlotte Brontë was also a strong-willed Yorkshire woman at a time when the northern regions of England were the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution. She also represented, along with her sisters Emily and Anne, the final flowering of the literature of the Romantic Rebellion. Seldom has one little woman embodied so much British history and so much individual achievement in one, very brief life.

And Charlotte Brontë
was a little woman.  In physical stature, that is. According to the joyner who made her coffin, she measured four feet, nine inches.

The first object to greet visitors to the Morgan exhibit is one of Charlotte Brontë's dresses, the so-called "Thackeray dress". Brontë is reputed to have worn this dress to an ill-fated dinner party at the home of William Makepeace Thackeray on June 12, 1850. She almost certainly did not wear the dress to dinner. But the story illustrates the "outsider" position of Brontë - and her sisters - in the British literary scene of the 1840's and 1850's.

The Brontë dress on view at the Morgan is of a type known as delaine dress. The word "delaine" originally referred to woolen dresses. By 1850, the term was used for light-weight dresses made of various printed fabrics, including wool-cotton mix as in the case of this dress.

Historian Eleanor Houghton of the University of Sussex has made a detailed study of this dress. She believes that Charlotte Brontë likely wore the dress for daytime business or social meetings, including one with Thackeray prior to the dinner party. The style was certainly acceptable for daytime use in 1850. But it would have been a laughable blunder to wear it at a dinner party when silk dresses were the norm. Charlotte Brontë was extremely sensitive about her appearance, so much so that she refused to have photos taken of herself when she was married in 1854.

Thackeray's thirteen-year old daughter, Anne, left a vivid account of the dinner party. She described Charlotte Brontë as "a tiny delicate, serious little lady, pale with fair straight hair, and steady eyes. She may be a little over thirty; she is dressed in a little barège dress, with a pattern of faint green moss."

According to Houghton, barège was a mix of woolen and silk threads, very much in fashion for evening dresses in 1850. When it came to fabrics, Charlotte Brontë clearly knew her "stuff."

To focus upon the "Thackeray" dress may seem obsessive, when the Morgan exhibit is bursting with "once-in-a-lifetime" treasures, including the manuscript of Jane Eyre. Yet, it is worth considering this dress along with a famous quote by Brontë who was responding to critics of Jane Eyre. "To you I am neither Man nor Woman - I come before you as an Author only - it is the sole standard by which you have a right to judge me - the sole ground on which I accept your judgement."

Brontë published
Jane Eyre under the nom de plume, Currer Bell. When she and her sisters, Emily and Anne decided to "earn their fortune" as professional writers they chose enigmatic male names, Currer, Ellis and Acton, respectively. The surname "Bell" was, perhaps coincidentally, the middle name of their father's assistant curate and Charlotte's eventual husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls. 

The Brontë sisters tried every form of employment deemed suitable for gentlewomen to earn their bread. Governessing, managing a school of their own, all that was now at an end. Their hearts were not in it and their brother Branwell's erratic behavior forbade housing students even if they could find any.

A legacy left to the sisters by their Aunt Branwell allowed them some financial freedom, but it wasn't a complete answer. In the autumn 1845, during  this time of uncertainty , Charlotte Bronte came across her sister's Emily's poems. They electrified her. Charlotte faced down Emily's fury and insisted that the poems must be put before the public. The rest is history.

Charlotte Brontë, aka Currer Bell, had the right to insist upon being judged "as an Author only."  Though politically conservative, Charlotte Brontë was in the vanguard of the eminent Victorian women who would stubbornly smash the barriers of the "Old Boy" British establishment.

The "Thackeray" dress, Charlotte Brontë's portable writing desk, the Richmond's portrait and the manuscript of Jane Eyre testify to the front-row place which Charlotte Brontë earned for herself among the "greats" of English literature. But these objects from Brontë's later life can only be understood in terms of the wondrous "little books" and poems which she and her siblings created as children.
On display at the Morgan exhibit is a miniature manuscript book with water color drawings. It is dated to 1828, when the nine-year old Charlotte created this tiny treasure for her younger sister, Anne, later the author of
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

There once was a little girl and her name was Ane” reads the opening line of Charlotte Brontë’s first tale, complete with misspelling. Looking at this incredible work of love, one is struck by the unshakable thought that here is “genius" or at least the seed of genius.

The Brontë treasures, currently on view in the gallery of the Morgan Library, certainly testify to one of the great sagas of creativity in human history. Why else would we continue to read
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Villette and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? Why else would we throng to an exhibition such as Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will at the Morgan Library?



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.



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