Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let Me In


'Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to rise, but she seized his hair, and kept him down.
--"I wish I could hold you," she continued bitterly, "till we were both death! I shouldn't care what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn't you suffer? I do! Will you forget me? Will you be happy when I am in the earth? Will you say twenty years hence, 'That's the grave of Catherine Earnshaw. I loved her long ago, and was wretched to lose her; but it is past. I've loved many others since: my children are dearer to me than she was; and at death, I shall not rejoice that I am going to her: I shall be sorry that I must leave them! Will you say so, Heatcliff?"
--"Don't torture me till I am as mad as yourself," cried he, wrenching his head free, and grinding his teeth."'

(from Wuthering Heights)

  • "The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of LINTON? I had read EARNSHAW twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window."

  • "Terror made me cruel; and finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes..."- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

    "Last night, I was on the threshold of hell. To-day, I am within sight of my heaven. I have my eyes on it: hardly three feet to sever me!" Wuthering Heights

    Seeking Emily

    "Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. "

    "He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine..."


    "I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of creation if I were entirely contained here?"

  • "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."


  • "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."
    - Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

  • "If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it."

  • " ....may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you — haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe — I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"

    "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
    - Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights


    "No coward soul is mine,
    No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
    ......
    Vain are the thousand creeds
    That move men's hearts: unutterably vain
    ;
    Worthless as withered weeds,
    Or idlest froth amid the boundless main…

    Though earth and moon were gone,
    And suns and universes ceased to be,
    And Thou wert left alone,
    Every existence would exist in Thee."

    - Emily Bronte

    File:Caspar David Friedrich 016.jpg

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010


    The Bronte family originated in beautiful county Down in Northern Ireland, the Bronte Homeland. Their father Patrick Brontë had been a preacher and a teacher at the tiny village of Drumballyroney.

    Patrick Brontë was born Patrick Brunty in 1777. He later moved to England and changed his name to Brontë.


    Remains of Bronte cottage.

    No one knows for sure why. Some suggest that he might have wanted to hide his humble origins while others point out that, being a man of letters, he might have chosen the name because of classical Greek influence, since in Greek mythology Brontes means “thunder” and was the name of one of the cyclops.

    Patrick spelled his name with a dieresis over the “e” (Brontë) to stress that two syllables are pronounced (and highlight the second syllable as the one accented as in the Greek?).

    bronte country churchChurch and school house in Drumballyroney.


    The school where Patrick taught still stands and has been restored and functions as a little museum. Next to it the old Church of Ireland church where his family attended and where he later preached. From the church grounds you have a beautiful view over the surrounding green rolling hills of Co Down, though on in winter it can be very cold and windy up there.

    Bronte Homeland schoolhouse Patrick BronteSchool where Patrick taught.


    Patrick Brontë (as a young man)

    Patrick as a young man.




    The old church, Haworth.
    Portrait of the sistersThe Brontë sisters (Anne, Emily and Charlotte, aged about 15, 17 and 19 respectively) painted by Branwell in 1834

    Emily only wrote the one novel, Wuthering Heights, although she was working on a second when she died. However, no trace of this book remains. We only know she was writing it because her publisher, T C Newby, sent her a letter dated 15 February 1848 which said:

    I am much obliged by your kind note and shall have great pleasure in making arrangements for your next novel. I would not hurry its completion, for I think you are quite right not to let it go before the world until well satisfied with it, for much depends on your new work. If it be an improvement on your first, you will have established yourself as a first rate novelist, but if it fall short the Critics will be too apt to say that you have expended your talent in your first novel. I shall therefore have pleasure in accepting it upon the understanding that its completion be in your own time.

    Bronte family tree

    Family tree of the Brontes
    Emily's signature

    Description

    Emily Bronte

    Emily had an unusual character, extremely unsocial and reserved, with few friends outside her family. She preferred the company of animals to people and rarely travelled, forever yearning for the freedom of Haworth and the moors. She had a will of iron – a well known story about her is that she was bitten by a (possibly) rabid dog which resulted in her walking calmly into the kitchen and cauterising the wound herself with a hot iron.

    She had unconventional religious beliefs, rarely attending church services and, unlike the other children, never teaching in the Sunday School.

    In appearance, she was lithesome and graceful, the tallest of the Brontë children (her coffin measured five feet seven inches – 1.7 meters) but ate sparingly and would starve herself when unhappy or unable to get her own way. As her literary works suggest, she was highly intelligent, teaching herself German while working in the kitchen (her favourite place outside of the moors) and playing the piano well enough to teach it in Brussels. Her stubbornness lasted to the end where she refused to see a doctor or rest while she was dying of tuberculosis.

    In 1871, Ellen Nussey, a lifelong friend of the Brontës, wrote of her first impressions of the fifteen-year-old Emily in Reminiscences of Charlotte Brontë:

    Interpretation of EmilyEmily Brontë had by this time acquired a lithesome, graceful figure. She was the tallest person in the house, except her father. Her hair, which was naturally as beautiful as Charlotte's, was in the same unbecoming tight curl and frizz, and there was the same want of complexion. She had very beautiful eyes – kind, kindling, liquid eyes; but she did not often look at you; she was too reserved. Their colour might be said to be dark grey, at other times dark blue, they varied so. She talked very little. She and Anne were like twins – inseparable companions, and in the very closest sympathy, which never had any interruption.


    Charlotte famously said of her sister:

    Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone.

    The Genealogy of Wuthering Heights:

    The Genealogy of Wuthering Heights:
    Relationships of Heathcliffe et. al.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Remembrance by Emily Bronte


    Cold in the earth - and the deep snow piled above thee,
    Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
    Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
    Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?

    Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
    Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
    Resting their wings where heath and fern leaves cover
    Thy noble heart forever, ever more?

    Cold in the earth - and fifteen wild Decembers,
    From those brown hills, have melted into spring;
    Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
    After such years of change and suffering!

    Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,
    While the world's tide is bearing me along;
    Other desires and other hopes beset me,
    Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!
    No later light has lightened up my heaven,
    No second morn has ever shone for me;
    All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
    All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

    But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
    And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
    Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
    Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.

    Then did I check the tears of useless passion -
    Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
    Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
    Down to that tomb already more than mine.

    And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
    Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
    Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
    How could I seek the empty world again?




    Why Did Emily Write Wuthering Heights



    EMILY BRONTË: A THEORY
    By Sarah Fermi
    Keywords: Emily Brontë, Robert Clayton (of Haworth)
    Why did Emily Jane Brontë write Wuthering Heights? And how was she able to do it? In
    spite of the massive amount of material published about the Brontë sisters over the past
    one hundred and fifty years, these two questions still remain unanswered. Yet given the
    autobiographical nature of much of the material in the novels of Charlotte and Anne
    Brontë, it is almost unthinkable that Emily would not also have used her own experience
    in the creation of her great book. How could she write so vividly about love, grief, and
    hatred without having known these emotions in her own life?

    Many Brontë biographers have puzzled over these questions, and some have even
    suggested as a possible answer that Emily had a serious romantic attachment at some
    point in her life, but they have been daunted by the scarcity of facts about Emily’s life
    and left the question open.1 In his A Life of Emily Brontë Edward Chitham has gone a
    step further and proposed a possible relationship with an offspring of the Heaton family
    — the child of Elizabeth Heaton and John Bakes. The suggestion that perhaps the object
    of Emily’s affections was connected with the Heatons of Ponden, an old local family well
    known to the Brontës, whose home, Ponden House, certainly appears to be connected
    with Wuthering Heights, seemed to be very promising.

    This was the starting point of a quest which brought me to the West Yorkshire
    Archives in Bradford in the spring of 1989. One afternoon’s research there with the
    Heaton Papers quickly dispelled this hope — the child in question was little Eliza
    Matilda Bakes, who died in 1817 aged two, and is buried with her mother in Haworth
    churchyard. Nevertheless, the idea of an early love interest in Emily’s life struck me as
    worth pursuing. For the next few years I worked on learning more about the important
    Haworth families, particularly the Heatons, and also the most significant local family,
    the Greenwoods. In parallel with this study, I learned all I could about Emily, and
    carefully examined the chronological development of her poetry.

    There are quite a few aspects of her life which present interesting questions. Why did Emily change from a charming and outgoing child to a solitary and reserved young woman? Why was she sent away to Roe Head School in 1835 at the relatively advanced age of 17, for what
    appears to be no good reason, and when Mr Brontë’s finances were likely to be stretched
    by the plan to send Branwell to the Royal Academy Schools? Why did he write a warning
    letter to his old friend, Mrs Franks, hinting at possible trouble ahead? What was the
    real reason for Emily’s near-fatal illness at Roe Head? Why is there a striking change in
    the tone of her poetry between 1836 and 1837? It occurred to me that all these questions
    could be answered if one assumed the following theory:

    1) When Charlotte goes away to Roe Head School in January 1831, Emily and Anne
    begin to create their own private world of Gondal, which they act out on the moors.
    2) They enlist the help of a local boy to play with them.
    3) This boy is working-class and therefore an unsuitable playmate, and the meetings
    are kept a secret from Mr Brontë and Aunt Branwell. A romance develops.
    4) The secret is somehow discovered in the summer of 1835, and Emily is sent off to
    Roe Head School to break up the relationship between her and the young man. The
    collapse of Emily’s health, requiring her return home, is partly due to her despair at
    this separation from the young man.
    5) In the winter of 1836–37 the young man dies, leaving Emily deeply affected. Her
    poetry strongly suggests that she experienced a traumatic event at this time: all the
    poems of 1836 (the earliest that exist) are cheerful or thoughtful, or, in one case,
    exuberant. There are no poems in January, 1837, and in February she begins, almost
    obsessively, to write poetry about death, grief, and nightmare.

    Using this rudimentary theory as a beginning, I then examined the Haworth Parish
    Records to see if, in fact, there had been a working-class lad who died at the suggested
    time. I found one candidate: Robert Clayton. He was the second son of a local weaver,
    Nathan Clayton. Robert was born in July 1818, the same month and year as Emily, and
    he died in December 1836.

    I also learned that there once existed a group of letters
    from Emily Brontë in the possession of a lady named Fanny Clayton, but which were
    destroyed many years ago. Sadly, I was unable to learn any more about these letters.
    However, I did discover many interesting bits of information relating to the Clayton
    family. They were descendents of an important (and persecuted) Quaker family, stalwarts
    of the Stanbury Quaker Meeting in the seventeenth century. At the time of the
    Brontës, the Claytons were friendly with the Heatons of Ponden, a fact evidenced by
    their inclusion in lists of friends invited to several Heaton family funerals. Robert and his
    family lived for some time at Far Slack, an old house on the edge of the moors across the
    valley of Ponden Beck from Ponden House. The family moved away from the area
    shortly after Robert’s death, but returned to Haworth about 1842. One of the most
    suggestive facts I uncovered was the death of Robert’s older brother, John, in May
    1833. Emily wrote two poems, both of which concern two deaths: the first, written
    19 December 1839, reads:


    Heaven’s glory shone where he was laid
    In life’s decline.
    I turned me from that young saint’s bed
    To gaze on thine.
    It was a summer day that saw
    His spirit’s flight;
    Thine parted in a time of awe,
    A winter-night.

    The other poem is the strange and beautiful ‘Death that struck when I was most
    confiding. . .’ written in April 1845, which also speaks, albeit metaphorically, of two
    deaths — one which barely moved her (‘little mourned I. . .’), and a second which ruined
    her life (‘Time for me must never blossom more. . .’). It is possible that both of these poems
    refer to the deaths of John in late spring, 1833, and then Robert in mid-December, 1836.

    Finally, there is one tiny piece of possible documentary evidence for the connection
    between Emily and Robert: the Gondal poem ‘Heavy hangs the raindrop. . .’, written in
    May 1845, about a ‘melancholy boy’, is accompanied by the initials A.E. and R.C.
    The first set is very likely to stand for Alexander Elbë, an early character in the Gondal
    stories (who is already dead before Emily and Anne begin to write these stories down
    in about 1837), and the second set is, perhaps, for Robert Clayton, who, in my theory,
    played the part of Alexander Elbë in the girls’ early Gondal games on the moors. Emily
    wrote two of her sad early poems (March and August 1837) about the death of
    Alexander Elbë and she returned to the subject again in December 1844. The initials
    R.C. do not correspond to any known Gondal character.

    My research into another local family, the Greenwoods of Bridgehouse, Springhead,
    and Woodlands, has suggested an addition to the theory. It seemed to me highly likely
    that when Emily was sent home from Roe Head after less than three months, Aunt
    Branwell might well have considered it her duty to find a more respectable suitor for
    Emily. A close friend of Patrick Brontë’s, Joseph Greenwood, Esq., of Springhead, had
    three daughters exactly the same ages as Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (and there is
    written evidence that the girls were friendly) and, as it happens, he also had two eligible
    sons, William and James, several years older than the girls. This is all very speculative,
    but the parallel between a Greenwood boy and Edgar Linton, Catherine Earnshaw’s
    suitor in Wuthering Heights, seemed too good to ignore: Joseph Greenwood was, like
    Mr Linton, the local magistrate; he was also the Lord of the Manor of Oxenhope. Like
    the Lintons, the Greenwoods were at the top of the social tree in the area — marriage to
    one of the boys would be a big step up the social ladder for the Brontës. In my theory,
    Emily is courted by young James Greenwood, and for a few months she enjoys his
    attentions. But when Robert Clayton learns of her betrayal, he is deeply hurt and in
    his despair he dies in a careless accident on the moors in the winter of 1836. Robert’s
    death puts paid to any ideas Emily might have had of ‘marrying up’; she feels partly
    responsible for his death and is left with life-long feelings of guilt and isolation.

    Because I am not able to prove this theory beyond the circumstantial evidence
    outlined above, I have never tried to publish it as conventional ‘academic’ paper. But I
    thought it would be interesting to see if the story could be told in another form, so
    several years ago I suggested this theory to the BBC with the idea that it would make an
    intriguing drama-cum-documentary. The producers were enthusiastic, but decided it
    would work best as straight drama. They obtained development funds for the idea, and
    the services of a well-known screen writer to write the script — Sally Wainwright, whose
    television drama ‘Sparkhouse’ was loosely based on Wuthering Heights. Sally has
    written a dramatic and moving script, but unfortunately it was not commissioned for
    production, though its time may yet come.

    Since then I have written a fictionalized biography of Emily Brontë in the form of her
    own private journal; this work includes not only the theory outlined above, which covers
    the years 1831 to 1837, but also Emily’s life after Robert’s death right up to her own
    death in 1848.

    My theory is unlikely to be true in every detail, but I believe that something very like
    it must have happened. I have found nothing to contradict the speculative sequence of
    events outlined above, and the discovery of Robert and John Clayton, whose deaths ma
    have been obliquely recorded in Emily Brontë’s poetry, seems to me to confirm the original
    idea, and perhaps bring us a step closer to an answer to the questions of how and
    why Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights.


    BBC Radio has published the play

    Cold in the Earth and Fifteen Wild Decembers

    By Sally Wainwright, based on a theory by Sarah Fermi.

    Why did Emily Jane Bronte write Wuthering Heights? And how was she able to do it? In spite of the massive amount of material published about the Brontë sisters over the last 150 years, these two questions still remain unanswered. Yet given the large amount of autobiographical material in the novels of Charlotte and Anne Bronte, it is almost unthinkable that Emily would not have also used her own experience in the creation of her great book. How could she write so vividly about love, grief and hatred without having known these emotions in her own life?

    This is a compelling drama about the story of Emily Bronte's socially transgressive love affair with a weaver's son.


    Emily Bronte...Author


    Emily Jane Brontë was the most solitary member of a unique, tightly-knit, English provincial family. Born in 1818, she shared the parsonage of the town of Haworth, Yorkshire, with her older sister, Charlotte, her brother, Branwell, her younger sister, Anne, and her father, The Reverend Patrick Brontë. All five were poets and writers; all but Branwell would publish at least one book.

    Fantasy was the Brontë children’s one relief from the rigors of religion and the bleakness of life in an impoverished region. They invented a series of imaginary kingdoms and constructed a whole library of journals, stories, poems, and plays around their inhabitants. Emily’s special province was a kingdom she called Gondal, whose romantic heroes and exiles owed much to the poems of Byron.

    Brief stays at several boarding schools were the sum of her experiences outside Haworth until 1842, when she entered a school in Brussels with her sister Charlotte. After a year of study and teaching there, they felt qualified to announce the opening of a school in their own home, but could not attract a single pupil.

    In 1845 Charlotte Brontë came across a manuscript volume of her sister’s poems. She knew at once, she later wrote, that they were “not at all like poetry women generally write…they had a peculiar music–wild, melancholy, and elevating.” At her sister’s urging, Emily’s poems, along with Anne’s and Charlotte’s, were published pseudonymously in 1846. An almost complete silence greeted this volume, but the three sisters, buoyed by the fact of publication, immediately began to write novels. Emily’s effort was Wuthering Heights; appearing in 1847 it was treated at first as a lesser work by Charlotte, whose Jane Eyre had already been published to great acclaim. Emily Brontë’s name did not emerge from behind her pseudonym of Ellis Bell until the second edition of her novel appeared in 1850.

    In the meantime, tragedy had struck the Brontë family. In September of 1848 Branwell had succumbed to a life of dissipation. By December, after a brief illness, Emily too was dead; her sister Anne would die the next year. Wuthering Heights, Emily’s only novel, was just beginning to be understood as the wild and singular work of genius that it is. “Stronger than a man,” wrote Charlotte, “Simpler than a child, her nature stood alone.”


    Anne Bronte...Her Life


    Anne Brontë (1820-1849)
    Anne Brontë was born in Thornton, the last of the six
    children. At the age of 1, Anne lost her mother Maria. During her
    earliest childhood, she also lost her two eldest siblings, Maria and
    Elizabeth, who both died of tuberculosis contracted at the Clergy
    Daughters' boarding school at Cowan Bridge in 1825. Much has
    been written about the influence of these deaths on Anne and her
    remaining siblings as well as its possible influence on their writings.
    Anne was educated at Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head,
    Mirfield starting in 1835. Between 1839 and 1845 she worked as a
    governess, first for the Ingham family, and later for the Robinson
    family. While working for the Robinsons, Anne encouraged the
    family to hire her brother Branwell to serve as a tutor. In 1845 both Portrait by Charlotte Brontë
    Anne and Branwell left the Robinson household amidst rumors of an
    affair between Branwell and Mrs. Robinson.
    While working as a governess, Anne used her spare time to write, an activity she
    pursued from her early childhood with Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell. In 1846, Anne,
    Emily, and Charlotte’s work was published as Poems by Curer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. At
    the same time, Anne began work on her first novel, Agnes Grey. The novel was published
    in 1847 within a month of Charlotte's Jane Eyre and was originally bound in three
    volumes with Emily's Wuthering Heights. Her second and last novel, The Tenant of
    Wildfell Hall was published in 1848, shortly before the deaths of Branwell and Emily in
    September and December of 1848 respectively.
    Remembered as the most pious of the three Brontë sisters, Anne was a Christian
    universalist, believing that all people will eventually be saved. She discussed that belief
    in a December 1848 letter to the Rev. David Thom.
    In May 1849, Anne died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the seaside resort of
    Scarborough, England, where she had gone to convalesce after a prolonged illness. A
    blue plaque on the wall of the town's Grand Hotel marks her place of death. She was
    buried in the town's Saint Mary's Churchyard.

    Emily Bronte...Her Life



    Emily Brontë (1818-1848)
    Emily Brontë was born in Thornton, the fifth of six
    children. In 1820, the family moved to Haworth, the town where
    Emily would live for all but two years of her life. In 1824, three
    years after the death of her mother, Emily left Haworth to attend
    school with her three elder sisters. She attended school for less
    then a year before being brought home following the illness, and
    eventual death, of her sisters Maria and Elizabeth.
    It was at home during the following years that the family’s
    literary work began to flourish. The most commonly known work
    from the family at this time were their tales of Angria (written
    largely by Charlotte and Branwell) and Gondal (by Emily and
    Anne). While some of the Angria tales still exist, little of Emily
    and Anne’s work remains. Beyond these writings on Gondal, Portrait by Branwell Brontë
    Emily also composed plays with Charlotte. Charlotte later wrote
    of these: “Emily’s and my bed plays were established the 1st December 1827; the others
    March 1828. Bed plays mean secret plays; they are very nice ones.” While these plays
    are also lost, the do show a strong connection between Emily and Charlotte at this time.
    In 1831 Charlotte left to attend Roe Head School. During this time, Emily’s bond with
    Anne strengthened as they wrote more together, while her connection with Charlotte
    faded.
    In 1835 Charlotte took a job teaching at Roe Head School. Emily accompanied
    her as a student, however she did not adjust well to the school. A solitary girl by nature,
    Emily became very ill and homesick, and was sent home in mere months. After returning
    home, Emily again immersed herself in writing. One of her earliest surviving poems
    comes from this period:
    High waving heather; ‘neath stormy blasts bending
    Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
    Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
    Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
    Man’s spirit away from its drear dongeon sending,
    Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.
    -December 13, 1836
    In 1838, Emily commenced work as a teacher at Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy at Law
    Hill School, near Halifax. Again, Emily suffered from homesickness, and returned to
    Haworth six months later. In 1842, at Charlotte’s urging, Emily and Charlotte together
    traveled to Brussels to attend the Pensionnat Heger. Emily’s time there was cut short by
    the death of her aunt. Charlotte and Emily returned home for the funeral, and Emily
    opted to remain at home from then on, feeling that was where she belonged.
    In 1846, poems by the three sisters were collected and published as Poems by
    Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. This collection was followed a year later by the publication
    of Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, in 1847. Originally, the book was published
    under the Ellis Bell pseudonym, and as two volumes of a three volume set, the last
    volume being Agnes Grey, by Acton Bell (Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat
    puzzled critics, and although it received mixed reviews when it first came out, the book
    subsequently became an English literary classic. Three years later, in 1850, Charlotte
    edited and published Wuthering Heights as a stand-alone novel and under Emily's real
    name.
    Like her sisters, Emily's health had been weakened by the harsh local climate
    (Haworth had one of the worst death rates in the country). In September 1848, Emily
    caught a chill during the funeral of her brother Branwell, and her health quickly
    deteriorated. She refused all medical help, insisting to her sisters that nature be allowed
    to take its course. On December 19, 1848, Emily died of tuberculosis. She was interred
    in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire.



    Patrick Branwell Bronte...His Life



    Branwell Brontë (1817-1848)
    Patrick Branwell Brontë was the fourth of six children and
    the only son of the Brontë family. He was born in Thornton and
    moved with his family to Haworth in 1820. Of the four Brontë
    siblings who survived into adulthood, Branwell seems to have been
    regarded within the family as the most talented, at least during his
    childhood and youth. While four of his five sisters were sent to
    Cowan Bridge boarding school (resulting in the death of his two
    oldest sisters, Maria and Elizabeth), Branwell was kept at home to be
    privately educated by his father, who gave him a classical education
    suitable for admission to Oxford or Cambridge. Branwell
    collaborated as a writer with his sisters in childhood and adolescence, creating fictional
    worlds. His surviving juvenilia shows that he collaborated most closely with Charlotte on
    their imaginary world of Angria.
    As a young man, Branwell was trained as a portrait painter in Haworth, and
    worked as a portrait painter in Bradford in 1838 and
    1839. His most famous portrait is of his three sisters, in
    which he seems to have painted himself out. (pictured,
    left) In 1840, Branwell became a tutor to a family of
    young boys in Broughton-in-Furness but was dismissed
    within six months. During this time he wrote a translation
    of Horace. He was then employed on the Luddenden Foot
    railway station in 1841 but was dismissed in 1842 due to
    a deficit of eleven pounds in the accounts attributed to
    incompetence rather than theft. During his period of
    employment both as a tutor and on the railways he
    harbored literary ambitions and published poetry under
    various pseudonyms in the Yorkshire press.
    In 1843 Branwell took up another tutoring
    position in Thorp Green, appointed as the tutor to the
    Robinson family's young son. He gained this position
    through his sister Anne, who was the governess to the Robinsons' two older daughters.
    During this time he corresponded with a number of old friends about his increasing
    infatuation with Lydia Robinson. He was dismissed on unspecified charges in 1845. It is
    thought, according to his account to his own family, the Robinson family's silence on the
    reason for his dismissal, and subsequent gifts of money from Mrs. Robinson through her
    servants, that he had an affair with Mrs. Robinson and that the affair had been discovered
    by her husband.
    Branwell returned home to his family at the Haworth parsonage. Devastated by
    Mrs. Robinson's abandonment and the increasing unlikelihood of a reunion, he turned to
    alcohol. He became an alcoholic and was thought to be addicted to laudanum. His
    behavior became irrational and dangerous as he developed delirium tremens. Charlotte's
    letters from this time demonstrate that she was angered by his behavior, but that her
    father was patient with his broken son.


    Although it was at this time that his sisters' first
    novels were being accepted for publication, it is not known whether he was even
    informed.
    Branwell's severe addictions masked the onset of tuberculosis, and his family did
    not realize that he was seriously ill until he collapsed outside the house and a local doctor
    identified him as being in the disease's terminal stages. Not long after, in 1848, Branwell
    dies, allegedly while standing up and leaning against a mantelpiece, purely in order to
    prove that it could be done. His sister Emily died of the disease in December of that year,
    while Anne followed the next May.


    Charlotte Bronte...Her Life



    Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
    Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire,
    the third of the six Brontë children. In April 1820, Charlotte
    moved with the family to Haworth. After her mother died in 1821,
    Charlotte and the children were left in the care of their father and
    aunt Elizabeth Branwell. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with
    three of her sisters; Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, to the Clergy
    Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire, which she
    would later describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre. Its poor
    conditions, Charlotte maintained, permanently affected her health
    and physical development and hastened the deaths of her two
    elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, who both died of tuberculosis in
    1825 soon after they were removed from the school.
    At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other surviving children,
    Branwell, Emily, and Anne, began creating imaginary kingdoms and chronicling the lives
    and struggles of their inhabitants. Charlotte and Branwell wrote stories about the country
    of Angria, while Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about the country of Gondal.
    The sagas were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in part manuscripts) and
    provided them with an obsessive interest in childhood and early adolescence, which
    prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.
    Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head school in Mirfield from 1831 to
    1832, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary
    Taylor. During this period she wrote the novella The Green Dwarf under the name of
    Wellesley. Charlotte returned as a teacher in 1835. In 1839 she took up the first of many
    positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841.
    In 1842 she and Emily traveled to Brussels to enroll in a pensionnat run by Constantin
    Heger and his wife Claire Zoé Parent Heger. In return for board and tuition, Charlotte
    taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the pensionnat was cut short when
    their aunt Elizabeth Branwell died of internal obstruction in October 1842. Charlotte
    returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the pensionnat.
    Her second stay at the pensionnat was not a happy one; she became lonely, homesick,
    and deeply attached to Constantin Heger. She finally returned to Haworth in January
    1844 and later used her time at the pensionnat as the inspiration for some of The
    Professor and Villette.
    In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published a joint collection of poetry
    under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Although the book failed to
    attract interest (only two copies were sold), the sisters decided to continue writing for
    publication and began work on their first novels. Charlotte continued to use the name
    'Currer Bell' when she published her first two novels. Of this, she later wrote:
    Averse to personal publicity, we veiled our own names under those of Currer,
    Ellis, and Acton Bell; the ambiguous choice being dictated by a sort of
    conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we
    did not like to declare ourselves women, because - without at that time suspecting
    that our mode of writing and thinking was not what is called 'feminine' - we had a
    13
    vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice; we
    had noticed how critics sometimes use for their chastisement the weapon of
    personality, and for their reward, a flattery, which is not true praise.
    Her novels were deemed coarse by the critics. Much speculation took place as to who
    Currer Bell really was, and whether Bell was a man or a woman.
    Charlotte's brother, Branwell, the only son of the family, died in September 1848.
    His death was attributed to tuberculosis, which also claimed sisters Emily and Anne in
    December 1848 and May 1849, respectively.
    Charlotte and her father were now left alone. In view of the enormous success of
    Jane Eyre, she was persuaded by her publisher to visit London occasionally, where she
    revealed her true identity and began to move in a more exalted social circle, becoming
    friends with Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Makepeace Thackeray and G.
    H. Lewes. However, she never left Haworth for more than a few weeks at a time as she
    did not want to leave her aging father's side.
    In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, and
    became pregnant very soon thereafter. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and
    according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by "sensations of
    perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness." Charlotte and her unborn child died
    March 31, 1855. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis),
    but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment,
    caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness. There is also evidence to
    suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the
    Brontë household's oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in
    the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire,
    England.

    Patrick Bronte



    Patrick Brontë (1777-1861)
    Reverend Patrick Brontë (born Drumballyroney, County
    Down, Ireland, March 17, 1777, died Haworth, Yorkshire, June 7,
    1861) was an Irish Anglican curate and writer who spent most of his
    adult life in England and was the patriarch of the Brontë family. Born
    Patrick Brunty, he changed the spelling of his name to Brontë. It is
    not known for certain why he did this, although it is speculated that he
    may have wished to hide his humble origins. The name Brontë may
    have been chosen for the Greek god Bronte, God of Thunder. Other
    theories argue that in 1799 King Ferdinand of Naples bestowed the
    honour of Duke of Bronte in Sicily to Lord Nelson for fighting off the
    French Navy. Patrick may have taken the name as a sign of respect for Lord Nelson.
    Patrick was the first of ten children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor McCrory in
    Drumballyroney (near Rathfriland), County Down. He had several apprenticeships (to a
    blacksmith, a linen draper, and a weaver) until he became a teacher in 1798. In 1802 he
    moved to Cambridge to study theology at St John's College. He gained his BA degree in
    1806 and was appointed curate at Wethersfield, Essex, where he was ordained a deacon
    of the Church of England, and ordained into the priesthood in 1807. In 1809 he became
    assistant curate at Wellington in Shropshire and in 1810 he published his first poem,
    “Winter Evening Thoughts”, in a local newspaper, followed in 1811 by Cottage Poems, a
    collection of moral verse.
    The following year (1812) he was appointed school examiner at a Wesleyan
    academy, Woodhouse Grove School, near Guiseley, where he met Maria Branwell (1783-
    1821). The couple were married on December 29, 1812. Their first child Maria (1814-
    1825) was born after their move to Hartshead, Yorkshire, and their second, Elizabeth
    (1815-1825), after the family moved to Thornton. There the rest of the family was born;
    Charlotte (1816-1855), Patrick Branwell (1817-1848), Emily (1818-1848), and Anne
    (1820-1849). Patrick was offered the Perpetual Curacy of Haworth in June 1819, and
    took the family there in April 1820.
    His sister-in-law Elizabeth Branwell joined the household in 1821 to help look
    after the children and to care for the elder Maria, who was suffering the final stages of
    terminal cancer. After Maria passed away later that year, Elizabeth moved permanently to
    Haworth to act as Patrick's housekeeper. During this time, he was responsible for the
    building of a Sunday School in Haworth, which opened in 1832. He remained active for
    local causes into his old age and between 1849 and 1850 organised action to procure a
    clean water supply for the village, which was eventually supplied in 1856.
    Throughout these years, Patrick dealt with the losses of his six children. In 1825,
    his two eldest daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, died within six weeks of each other from
    tuberculosis. In 1848, both Branwell and Elizabeth also succumbed to tuberculosis,
    closely followed by Anne in 1849. In 1855, Patrick’s last surviving child, Charlotte, died
    just nine months after her marriage. Patrick worked with Elizabeth Gaskell on
    Charlotte’s biography, and was responsible for the posthumous publication of her first
    novel The Professor in 1857. Charlotte's husband Arthur Bell Nicholls (1819-1906), who
    had been Patrick's curate, stayed with Patrick until 1861, when Patrick Brontë passed
    away, having outlived his entire family.


    Bronte family Timeline


    Brontë Family Timeline
    1777 Patrick Brontë is born “Patrick Brunty” in County Down, Ireland.
    1806 Patrick earns a bachelor’s degree in theology from Cambridge.
    1807 Patrick is ordained by the Church of England.
    1810 Patrick publishes his first poem, “Winter Evening.”
    1812 Patrick marries Maria Branwell and moves to Yorkshire.
    1814 Maria Brontë is born.
    1815 Elizabeth Brontë is born.
    1815 Patrick Brontë is named curate at Thornton.
    1816 Charlotte Brontë is born.
    1817 Patrick Branwell Brontë is born.
    1818 Emily Jane Brontë is born.
    1820 Anne Brontë is born and family moves after Patrick is offered the Perpetual
    Curacy at Haworth.
    1821 Maria Brontë (wife of Patrick) dies.
    1824 Maria and Elizabeth attend the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in
    Lancaster; Charlotte and Emily soon follow.
    1825 Maria and Elizabeth Brontë die within six weeks of each other from tuberculosis;
    Charlotte and Emily return home.
    1831-32 Charlotte attends Roe Head School in Mirfield.
    1835 Charlotte becomes a teacher at Roe Head School. Emily enrolls as a student but
    returns home shortly after. Anne takes Emily’s place at Roe Head.
    1837 Charlotte and Anne return home after Anne becomes ill. Charlotte resigns her
    position.
    9
    1838 Emily is hired to teach at Law Hill School. She returns home six months later.
    1838 Branwell goes to Bradford to become a portrait painter.
    1839 Anne works briefly as governess to the Ingham family but is soon dismissed and
    becomes governess to the Robinson family.
    1840 Branwell takes a position as assistant clerk in Sowerby Bridge Railway Station.
    1842 Charlotte and Emily travel to Brussels to study at the Pensionnat Heger.
    1842 Aunt Elizabeth Branwell dies at the family home in Haworth. Charlotte and
    Emily return home for the funeral. Charlotte returns to Brussels, while Emily
    remains in Haworth.
    1843 Charlotte becomes a teacher in the Pensionnat Heger. Branwell is hired as tutor
    for the Robinson family.
    1844 Charlotte returns to England.
    1845 Anne resigns from position as governess to Robinson family and Branwell is
    dismissed for having an affair with Mrs. Robinson.
    1846 Publication of Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.
    1847 Charlotte's Jane Eyre published.
    1847 Anne's Agnes Grey and Emily's Wuthering Heights published together.
    1848 Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall published; Branwell dies of tuberculosis,
    followed three months later by Emily.
    1849 Anne dies of tuberculosis.
    1849 Charlotte's Shirley is published.
    1853 Charlotte's Villette is published.
    1854 Charlotte marries Arthur Bell Nicholls.
    1855 Charlotte dies of tuberculosis and complications from pregnancy.
    1857 Charlotte's The Professor is published.
    1861 Rev. Patrick Brontë dies, having outlived his entire family.


    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Ellen Nussey Remembers









    ant bushes which Emily and Anne treasured as their own bit of fruit garden, is now a perfect Arcadia of floral culture and beauty. At first the alteration, despite its improvement, strikes one with heart-ache and regret: for it is quite impossible, even in imagination, to people those rooms with their former inhabitants. But after-thought shows one the folly of such regret,; for what the Brontes cared for and lived in most were the surroundings of nature; the free expanse of hill and mountain, the purple heather, the dells and glens, and brooks and the broad sky-view, the whistling winds, the snowy expanse, the starry heavens, and the charm of that solitude and seclusion that sees things from a distance without the disturbing atmosphere that lesser minds are apt to create. For it is not the seclusion of a solitary person, such as Charlotte endured in after days, which in time becomes awfully oppressive and injurious. It was solitude and seclusion enjoyed with intelligent companionship, and intense family affection.



    The Last Sketch by Thackery

    The Last Sketch.

    Not many days since I went to visit a house where in former years I had received many a friendly welcome. We went into the owner’s—an artist’s—studio. Prints, pictures, and sketches hung on the walls as I had last seen and remembered them. The implements of the painter’s art were there. The light which had shone upon so many, many hours of patient and cheerful toil, poured through the northern window upon print and bust, lay figure and sketch, and upon the easel before which the good, the gentle, the beloved Leslie labored. In this room the busy brain had devised, and the skilful hand executed, I know not how many of the noble works which have delighted the world with their beauty and charming humor. Here the poet called up into pictorial presence, and informed with life, grace, beauty, infinite friendly mirth and wondrous naturalness of expression, the people of whom his dear books told him the stories,—his Shakspeare, his Cervantes, his Moliere, his Le Sage. There was his last work on the easel—a beautiful fresh smiling shape of Titania, such as his sweet guileless fancy imagined the Midsummer Night’s queen to be. Gracious, and pure, and bright, the sweet smiling image glimmers on the canvas. Fairy elves, no doubt, were to have been grouped around their mistress in laughing clusters. Honest Bottom’s grotesque head and form are indicated as reposing by the side of the consummate beauty. The darkling forest would have grown around them, with the stars glittering from the midsummer sky: the flowers at the queen’s feet, and the boughs and foliage about her, would have been peopled with gambolling sprites and fays. They were dwelling in the artist’s mind no doubt, and would have been developed by that patient, faithful, admirable genius: but the busy brain stopped working, the skilful hand fell lifeless, the loving, honest heart ceased to beat. What was she to have been—that fair Titania—when perfected by the patient skill of the poet, who in imagination saw the sweet innocent figure, and with tender courtesy and caresses, as it were, posed and shaped and traced the fair form? Is there record kept anywhere of fancies conceived, beautiful, unborn? Some day will they assume form in some yet undeveloped light? If our bad unspoken thoughts are registered against us, and are written in the awful account, will not the good thoughts unspoken, the love and tenderness, the pity, beauty, charity, which pass through the breast, and cause the heart to throb with silent good, find a remembrance too? A few weeks more, and this lovely offspring of the poet’s conception would have been complete—to charm the world with its beautiful mirth. May there not be some sphere unknown to us where it may have an existence? They say our words, once out of our lips, go travelling in omne oevum, reverberating for ever and ever. If our words, why not our thoughts? If the Has Been, why not the Might Have Been?

    Some day our spirits may be permitted to walk in galleries of fancies more wondrous and beautiful than any achieved works which at present we see, and our minds to behold and delight in masterpieces which poets’ and artists’ minds have fathered and conceived only.

    With a feeling much akin to that with which I looked upon the friend’s—the admirable artist’s—unfinished work, I can fancy many readers turning to the last pages which were traced by Charlotte Bronte’s hand. Of the multitude that have read her books, who has not known and deplored the tragedy of her family, her own most sad and untimely fate? Which of her readers has not become her friend? Who that has known her books has not admired the artist’s noble English, the burning love of truth, the bravery, the simplicity, the indignation at wrong, the eager sympathy, the pious love and reverence, the passionate honor, so to speak, of the woman? What a story is that of that family of poets in their solitude yonder on the gloomy northern moors! At nine o’clock at night, Mrs. Gaskell tells, after evening prayers, when their guardian and relative had gone to bed, the three poetesses—the three maidens, Charlotte, and Emily, and Anne—Charlotte being the “motherly friend and guardian to the other two”—“began, like restless wild animals, to pace up and down their parlor, ‘making out’ their wonderful stories, talking over plans and projects, and thoughts of what was to be their future life.”

    One evening, at the close of 1854, as Charlotte Nicholls sat with her husband by the fire, listening to the howling of the wind about the house, she suddenly said to her husband, “If you had not been with me, I must have been writing now.” She then ran up stairs, and brought down, and read aloud, the beginning of a new tale. When she had finished, her husband remarked, “The critics will accuse you of repetition.” She replied, “Oh! I shall alter that. I always begin two or three times before I can please myself.” But it was not to be. The trembling little hand was to write no more. The heart newly awakened to love and happiness, and throbbing with maternal hope, was soon to cease to beat; that intrepid outspeaker and champion of truth, that eager, impetuous redresser of wrong, was to be called out of the world’s fight and struggle, to lay down the shining arms, and to be removed to a sphere where even a noble indignation cor ulterius nequit lacerare, and where truth complete, and right triumphant, no longer need to wage war.

    I can only say of this lady, vidi tantum. I saw her first just as I rose out of an illness from which I had never thought to recover. I remember the trembling little frame, the little hand, the great honest eyes. An impetuous honesty seemed to me to characterize the woman. Twice I recollect she took me to task for what she held to be errors in doctrine. Once about Fielding we had a disputation. She spoke her mind out. She jumped too rapidly to conclusions. (I have smiled at one or two passages in the “Biography,” in which my own disposition or behavior forms the subject of talk.) She formed conclusions that might be wrong, and built up whole theories of character upon them. New to the London world, she entered it with an independent, indomitable spirit of her own; and judged of contemporaries, and especially spied out arrogance or affectation, with extraordinary keenness of vision. She was angry with her favorites if their conduct or conversation fell below her ideal. Often she seemed to me to be judging the London folk prematurely: but perhaps the city is rather angry at being judged. I fancied an austere little Joan of Arc marching in upon us, and rebuking our easy lives, our easy morals. She gave me the impression of being a very pure, and lofty, and high-minded person. A great and holy reverence of right and truth seemed to be with her always. Such, in our brief interview, she appeared to me. As one thinks of that life so noble, so lonely—of that passion for truth—of those nights and nights of eager study, swarming fancies, invention, depression, elation, prayer; as one reads the necessarily incomplete, though most touching and admirable history of the heart that throbbed in this one little frame—of this one amongst the myriads of souls that have lived and died on this great earth—this great earth?—this little speck in the infinite universe of God,—with what wonder do we think of today, with what awe await tomorrow, when that which is now but darkly seen shall be clear! As I read this little fragmentary sketch, I think of the rest. Is it? And where is it? Will not the leaf be turned some day, and the story be told? Shall the deviser of the tale somewhere perfect the history of little EMMA’S griefs and troubles? Shall TITANIA come forth complete with her sportive court, with the flowers at her feet, the forest around her, and all the stars of summer glittering overhead?

    How well I remember the delight, and wonder, and pleasure with which I read “Jane Eyre,” sent to me by an author whose name and sex were then alike unknown to me; the strange fascinations of the book; and how with my own work pressing upon me, I could not, having taken the volumes up, lay them down until they were read through! Hundreds of those who, like myself, recognized and admired that master-work of a great genius, will look with a mournful interest and regard and curiosity upon the last fragmentary sketch from the noble hand which wrote “Jane Eyre.”

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