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

maandag 10 juli 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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