Friday, March 26, 2010



I am a retired school teacher with a passion for gardening and the Brontes'. I have a walk through flower garden that stops traffic in its tracks and I am perfectly happy working in it. I use rocks of all sizes to good account and statues, one I call Emily. I do geanealogy, write poetry and my memories and collect all I can on the Brontes, words and images. I paint in oils, only for fun and have no training and no talent, only determination. I love walking with my black labs, the same dogs that Heathcliff used in hunting, in the movies, at least.

Where did Heathcliff go for 3 years when he ran away and what did he do to transform himself into wealthy gentleman? Three years is not really much time, so he must have got into something lucrative and perhaps illegal. Was it smuggling, slaving, rum running, or piracy? Any ideas? Rosi

I have always wondered what it was like to be a Bronte sister in a house with no plumbing, and a cold house, at that. How did they wash? Was it always a sponge bath with the basin and pitcher? Did they ever have a bath? Did they fill up a round metal tub in the kitchen on Saturday nights and take turns? How did they wash their hair and with what soap? How did they maintain their dainty appearance in spite of no plumbing? Was water piped into the house or was it carried?

As to the toilet? The outhouse in the yard - was it clean - was it roomy - how did they manage with their long skirts and petticoats? Did they use it at night or did they use chamber pots? How uncomfortable was it?
What was life really like for them? Would love to know?
How did Aunt Branwell cope? I have never read anything about this side of the Bronte household life. Where did they heat water for all the scrubbing of floors and laundry? Did they soak their feet before the fire after long cold walks?

Would love to know. Also, would love to see the sisters as wax figures. Any chance of this, do you think?


Visiting Haworth
Jan 13 2008, 9:39 PM EST | Post edited: Jan 13 2008, 9:39 PM EST
In 1986 I backpacked around Europe with my 21 year old daughter. I was 40 and we passed as sisters, staying in Youth hostels. Nothing I saw compared with the beauty and power of Yorkshire. Tears flowed down my face. I went around in shock, stunned with the magic of the moors, the sky, the food, the people. I said, " No one could be wishywashy and live here." I munched on a mince pie washed down with cold milk from a glass pint milk bottle, waiting for the parsonnage to open. The girls were not there but everywhere outside, in the mist, in the gray stone, in the heather. My daughter was spooked and wanted to leave sooner than I did.

We stayed in one of the little cottages on the main street on the wonderful hill. It ran with damp, the sheets dripped and out feet almost squished on the damp floors.

We picked bilberries on the moors and marvelled at the sky. I could have stayed forever.

The morning we left, an Italian man, dressed in a long biege trenchcoat and hat, paced up and down in front of the parsonnage, looking up at the windows. He asked us, in Italian, which we don't speak, where Emily was buried and we understood and told him. As we walked away, I looked back, and there he waited, shrouded in mist, anxious, like a lover, for the house to open; waiting for Emily.

Angels on Yorkshire bus
Feb 21 2008, 9:50 PM EST | Post edited: Feb 21 2008, 9:50 PM EST
I visited Haworth with my daughter on a backpacking holiday in 1986 and we were enchanted . The enchantment was much deep and this little incident was part of the cause.

My daughter and I made our way from Liverpool to Haworth by bus, arriving in Leeds to spend the night at the Golden Lion Hotel. Our two bus drivers had convinced us we couldn't get to Haworth that day and had suggested we stay at that hotel, a real treat for us backpackers, as we usually stayed in youth hostels. The next morning, we caught another bus and we on our way when some kids, who were rather jolly in the back of the bus, caused us to turn around for a look. There, several seats behind us, were two men, one of whom, was the double of my father who had died, three years before, in 1983. We kept taking little looks behind us and suddenly both men moved up close and the other one began a conversation. " Hi, Canadians, he said, I have relatives in Grand Bay, do you know them? "

I finally said to the man who looked like my Dad, " I can't help staring at you because you are just like my Dad,- the bone structure, the hair, and the sweet and gentle manner you have about you. I can tell you are a kind person like he was."

The man burst into tears and so did I. Both my daughter and I found the hairs on our arms and on the back of our necks standing up. The man said, "I'm going to my friend's house for dinner. I was in the war, and I missed my wife. I never saw her."

Just then, it was their stop and they hurried off the bus before I could ask anything. I was in shock and my daughter was spooked. We saw everything through a haze.

Back in Canada, a book about angels took my eye. I opened it at random and read, " How to know when you meet an angel ... the hairs stand up on your arms and the back of your neck "

Even readers can attain greatness
Feb 20 2008, 7:59 PM EST | Post edited: Feb 20 2008, 7:59 PM EST

All of you can be great. You may be a scientific genius. You, a famous writer. You, a great surgeon. I have been great. I’ve been an artist, a scientist, a nurse in Alaska, a missionary in China and a prisoner of war in Siberia. I have also been notorious. I have robbed, murdered and lied. I have loved, passionately and true with a love that defied even death. How have I done all of these things? I have experienced the trials and the joys of greatness vicariously, through books. These experiences are as real to me as if I were involved myself.

Vicariously, I have established a bold Canadian art while painting Indian sculpture with Emily Carr. With Gladys Albright, I guided hundreds of Chinese children over rugged mountains to safety. As a nurse, I watched an old Eskimo woman, with worn and broken teeth, pop a round, black eye of a seal whole into her mouth, like a grape, and smack her lips in satisfaction. As the Polish prisoner of war, I have walked from Siberia, through freezing winter, to Mongolia, through scorching deserts, feeding on deadly snakes, to freedom in India. As Macbeth, I dreamed of power and fashioned my doom with lies, treachery and murder. All this and more I did in the wonderful world of books, through reading.

These vicarious experiences have become dear to me, a part of me. I thrill to the passionate and tragic love of Heathcliff for Catherine. My heart aches with Lil and Our Else who “seen the little lamp” in Kieza’s dollhouse. Vicariously, I have achieved greatness without paying its price as Marie Currie did. After spending a lifetime searching for the elusive element radium, she surprised a newspaper woman by saying, “Radium, I have none. It is too expensive.”

You and I have a distinct advantage. We can touch greatness touch and have it change our lives by reading.
Love and or Marriage
Feb 19 2008, 5:06 PM EST | Post edited: Feb 19 2008, 5:06 PM EST
I am really impressed with Emily Bronte's attitude toward love and or marriage, especially with the fact that she recognized love and marriage may have little or nothing to do with each other. Her certainty that love is a thing that happens, that seizes upon the heart and soul, without the reason of rules or law, would be surprising for any ordinary spinster to know, but then Emily was never ordinary. Emily knew that the passion of great love was as terrible as it was glorious and more painful than pleasurable, because it must try to live in an ordinary world where society, as she knew it and as we know it today, has little room for passions that override the framework of everyday life. Emily is so truly great in understanding the passions of the soul that she stands alone in literature and I believe she learned these truths because she was alone with her own soul in an atmosphere of wild solitude that taught her well. Emily died unsung, unpraised, and without proper recognition of her genius. But then, she died whole, a passioned and free soul. Bravo, Emily Bronte!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Rosi, I've just discovered your blog and don't even know if youre still blogging here or not but I cam across this post and had to laugh because I have always wondered the exact same things as did the Bronte's live, really live, as women and all that women have to contend with concerning their toilete...I'm so curious. I've tried to find information on victorian women in general aboutthis and haven't found anything, it's a fascinating subject, especially if you're a woman!

    Best wishes to you from another Bronte lover...
    xo Jessica


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