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

Parsonage

Parsonage

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).

Parents
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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