This is a blog about the Bronte Sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. And their father Patrick, their mother Maria and their brother Branwell. About their pets, their friends, the parsonage (their house), Haworth the town in which they lived, the moors they loved so much, the Victorian era in which they lived.
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
The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects
by Deborah Lutz
May 11, 2015
$27.95 USD, $32.95 CAD, £17.99, €22.00
Hardcover 320 pages 8 pages of color illustrations.
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
W. W. Norton & Company
Though Brontë claimed that Villette “touches on no matter of public interest” (qtd. in Gaskell 390), the position of single women in English society had become very much a matter of public interest by the mid-nineteenth century. The spinster had increasingly become a topic of concern to the state, as the disparity between the male and female populations became apparent. By 1851, for example, two years before the publication of Villette, there were more than a million unmarried women over the age of 25 (Gordon 9), and around 405,000 more women in Britain than men (Jeffreys 86).
Charlotte Brontë was sharply aware that nineteenth-century English society had no obvious role or place for the unmarried woman. As she wrote to her publisher, William Smith Williams: “When a woman has a little family to rear and educate and a household to conduct, her hands are full, her vocation is evident—when her destiny isolates her—I suppose she must do what she can—live as she can—complain as little—bear as much—work as well as possible” (Barker 189-90). While the vocation of the married woman was “evident,” the vocation of the single middle-class woman was not. As critics and historians often remind us, middle-class women had very few employment options, and could adopt only the professions of teacher, governess, or lady’s companion without a loss of class status. Unmarried until the age of 38, Brontë was clearly personally concerned with the question of what exactly unmarried women should do, though wary of discussing the issue publicly: “I often wish to say something about the ‘condition of women’ question—but it is one respecting which so much ‘cant’ has been talked, that one feels a sort of repugnance to approach it” (Barker 189).
In the 1830s, women received official government support for emigration, for example, which prompted a number of working class women to leave Britain, while in the mid-nineteenth century there was a flurry of plans to assist single, middle class women, just like Rose Yorke and Lucy Snowe, to emigrate. In 1849 alone, the Governess Benevolent Institution tried to set up a emigration scheme for governesses, Hyde Clark drew up plans for a National Benevolent Emigration Fund for Widow and Orphan Daughters of Gentlemen, Clergymen, Professional Men, Officers, Bankers and Merchants and the British Ladies’ Female Emigrant Society was formed (Hammerton 94, 99).
Brontë was familiar with the notion of emigration as a solution to the “problem” of the spinster in practice as well as theory. Indeed, Shirley’s Rose Yorke is widely believed to have been based on Brontë’s friend, Mary Taylor, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1845.(1) Taylor set up home in Wellington, which was itself one of the first settlements founded by the New Zealand Company, whose directors included Wakefield. However, Mary Taylor did not emigrate hoping to marry. Instead, the feminist Taylor explicitly rejected the normalising impulse of much discourse on spinster emigration by writers such as Wakefield. Indeed, she later indignantly responded to W. R. Greg’s suggestion that single women should emigrate in order to marry in her collection of essays, The First Duty of Women, arguing: “The men who emigrate without wives, do so because in their opinion, they cannot afford to marry. The curious idea that the women, whom they would not ask in England should run after them to persuade them would be laughable if it were not mischievous” (43). Taylor’s emigration was motivated not by marriage, but by her desire for a vocation and by her frustration at the limited options available to her in England. Read all: ncgsjournal
Governess Benevolent Institution
A body founded in 1843, usually referred to by Charlotte as the “Governess Institution.” It attempted to raise the status of governesses by the provision of lectures at Queen’s College, London, leading to oral examinations and a certificate of competence. Charlotte’s reactions were mixed. On the one hand she felt it was “absurd and cruel” to raise standards, when not a half or a quarter of governesses’ attainments are required in the teaching and are not reflected in their salaries (to WSW, 12 May 1848). Later, when his daughter was hoping to embark on a Queen’s College course, she told the same correspondent that “an education secured is an advantage gained . . . a step towards independency” (to WSW, 3 July 1849). Kathryn Hughes records in The Victorian Governess (1993) that no woman sat on the governing body of the GBI, or taught at Queen’s College above assistant level blackwellreference
BRONTE society president Bonnie Greer is to bring in special advisors to develop a strategy to boost visitor numbers to Haworth and “make it buzz all year round.”
The playwright and novelist is setting up an advisory group to discuss new ideas with the aim of refreshing the work of the literary society. She spoke exclusively to The Yorkshire Post yesterday following a long-running row among members about the direction of the 120-year-old society.
Critics have claimed that the Society needs to engage more with people in Haworth and must stop “micro-managing” the running of the Museum. Ms Greer has drafted in Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio and a former producer with Radio Leeds, to be on a new president’s advisory group.
The president expects to recruit other experts as well as bringing in “one or two” Haworth residents to draw the Society closer to the village, home of the Museum. The Chicago-born writer plans to use connections in the United States to encourage more tourists and Bronte fans from across the Atlantic to visit Haworth. She also wants a younger Society membership and to increase the 1,750 membership to 2,000 within two years. Asked about her role as president, she said it was “ambassadorial, honorary” but that she now wanted to spend more time in Haworth and stimulate debate about new ideas. She is keen to work with “constructive critics”. “I think with the President’s Advisory Group, the first thing we will aim to do is work with those constructive critics - I’m very interested in them, the ones that say ‘let’s work together’. I’m not interested in the divisive ones.”
Ms Greer said the critics - who tried to force a change of leadership at a recent emergency meeting - had damaged the reputation of the Society and the Museum and leaks to the Press had upset her.
“My first concern is not me. What we have is a very fine museum, with very fine people. For critics to run amok and put them in professional jeopardy is untenable.” Her idea for an advisory group has been given informal support by members of the ruling Bronte Society Council, which meets today in Haworth. One of her main aims, she said, was to “bringing money into the village.” “I want to do a writers’ festival and exchange visits. I want this village filled 365 days a year with things that emanate from us.” On the subject of in-fighting, which led to 52 disgruntled members forcing an emergency meeting, she admitted she had not got to the bottom of it. “Whatever has been going on, I don’t even know all of it. I’m not saying it’s a bed of roses. I don’t know who they (the critics) are.”
Recent troubles had made up her mind about the need for change. “I feel I have permission to do it now. This crisis has given it to me...it’s a juncture for change. I’m interested in keeping the Society going and making it even greater. I’m interested in what people have to say. I’m not interested in those who undermine us.” yorkshirepost
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.
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.