The Brontes’ World

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The sun slunk behind a threatening cloud as we trudged, slightly out of breath, up the winding, steep hill, past a tea shop which registered and whispered as we passed…My hitherto excited mood, dampened slightly, but I was determined to enjoy the experience. After all, I was about to visit Haworth Parsonage, where a tragic, literary family doggedly wrote their way through too many illnesses and deaths, and a slender-built young woman literally penned one of my favourite books, JANE EYRE.

table smlThe queue was a long one, which pleased me, especially to see so many Chinese or Japanese people there… I wished the Brontes could have known just how far their talents reached! Once inside the building, my spirits rose, especially on seeing Charlotte’s tiny gloves and shoes and imagining her scribbling away the darkening, oil-lit hours, her quill pen the only sound competing with the grandfather clock.

Charlotte was the third child of the Reverend Patrick Bronte and his Cornish wife, Maria, who went on to have a son, Branwell and two more daughters Emily and Anne, but tragically lost her mother and two, older sisters when they were just ten and eleven years old, while still a young child herself. Their aunt Elizabeth Branwell cared for the family thereafter.

How their young minds must have laboured through their tragedies as they bravely fought constant adversity and wrote in such an expressive way, and what a release it must have been at times. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell often inhabited a make-believe world – the fictional land of Angria – which kept sanity happy, although it was said that the only male of the brood’s behaviour could have been bettered, and he failed to fulfil earlier promise as an artist and writer.

Dress etc smlThe girls were educated with a view to earning their own living, and Charlotte, like Emily, attended the Clergy Daughters’ School in Kirby Lonsdale, Yorkshire, and later continued to educate her two sisters Emily and Anne. Before becoming a governess and school teacher. to improve their languages, Charlotte and Emily also enrolled at the Pensionatt in Brussels where Charlotte formed a deep but unrequited fascination for her tutor Constantin Heger.

Poems by “Currer, Elllis and Acton Bell” (the brother and sisters) were published but Charlotte’s first novel The Professor met stony ground and wasn’t published until after her death. Fortunately, one year after its completion, her novel Jane Eyre was published to immediate success, although it was, at first, presented as the work of Curer Bell.

Emily was recognised as a poet of power and genius, Charlotte a lesser poet, whose talents lay in prose, while Anne’s poetry had a truth and simplicity which elevated her work. Their father Patrick was educated at Cambridge and also wrote didactic poetry, and son Branwell wrote poetry, and his translations were well regarded.

jane-eyreOf course, Emily’s Wuthering Heights is as well known as Jane Eyre but I `preferred the latter. It is known that Charlotte wrote to the Poet Laureate Southey and he replied: “Literature cannot be the business of women, of a woman’s life. And it ought not to be.” What an ignorant man! It was as well she paid him no heed!

I first read Jane Eyre, aged thirteen – when my hormones were racing around as if on Speed… At college, I had recently met my ‘very best friend’ Sheila (Slim) Devo, the same age as me and the most charismatic person I had ever clapped eyes on. She seemed full of confidence, while I was a little shy, she was bold and humorous with it… and great fun to be with. Well… in the book, Jane’s best friend died, and I was devastated and imaged how tragic if my new friend Sheila died too. The fact that she was as fit as a fiddle seemed neither here nor there. Emotions and brains are complicated things, aren’t they, especially for teenagers?! She went on to live a very full and fascinating life, and should have been a movie star… but sadly died just recently, aged 89. May she rest in peace.

Back to Jane Eyre, I again read it as an adult and portions of it recently. It still brought forth tears and had all the elements of a good read within it, but of course the language and mores of the times laboured it a little. Nevertheless, I found the description of the desolate countryside and moors highly expressive, and the emotion in the denouement very moving. To reflect on the fact that Mr Bronte lost his wife so young and all six children before they reached middle age and just after Charlotte found personal love and was expecting her first child, was as tragic as any of their stories and poems.

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2021

30 thoughts on “The Brontes’ World

  1. Little Miss Traveller 09/09/2021 / 1:20 pm

    Interesting to read Joy as I’ve not yet visited the Bronte parsonage but am a great fan of Jane Eyre.

    • joylennick 09/09/2021 / 2:38 pm

      Hi, Thank you Little Miss. I’m sure you would be fascinated. Take care on your travels. Best wishes Joy x.

  2. Norah 09/09/2021 / 1:26 pm

    What a wonderful adventure to explore their home. I read Jane Eyre for the first time earlier this year and loved it. I would have loved it as a teen as well, if only I’d known.

    • joylennick 09/09/2021 / 2:41 pm

      Hi Norah, Thank you for reading. It was a great experience, and so easy to imagine how it was in Charlotte’s time. Cheers. xx

  3. quiall 09/09/2021 / 2:22 pm

    What lovely insights. Thank you for sharing.

  4. joylennick 09/09/2021 / 2:42 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, Pamela. It was a great treat. Cheers. x

  5. Liz Gauffreau 09/09/2021 / 5:54 pm

    When I’ve visited the houses of authors, their homes seemed so small and ordinary. How could such great works of literature have been produced in such humble surroundings. The thought I had as I was reading your post was how difficult it must have to revise a novel written with a pen. Not even a typewriter to make the task a little easier!

  6. joylennick 09/09/2021 / 6:02 pm

    Thank you, Liz. I’ve often thought the same. Such a messy process writing with ink and quill compared with our cosseted equipment today! Even when compared to Tippex! x

  7. Yeah, Another Blogger 09/09/2021 / 7:27 pm

    Hi. I haven’t read the book. Probably I should. But I’ve seen two or three film versions, and enjoyed them all. It’s an enduring story.

    • joylennick 10/09/2021 / 11:54 am

      Gracias for reading, sir. I first read it as a vulnerable teenager when I became overly emotional… but still enjoyed it as an adult and thought it had all just the right ingredients. Keep well.. x

  8. D. Wallace Peach 09/09/2021 / 7:59 pm

    I would love to go there and get immersed in the Bronte’s world. I read their books as a young teen too, Joy, and have wonderful memories of being swept away. I preferred Wuthering Heights as a moody teen. Lol. This post made me want to read it again. Thanks for sharing your visit!

    • joylennick 10/09/2021 / 11:58 am

      Thanks for reading, Diana, It’s amazing how atmospheric some places can be. Gets the imagination working a treat! (Although I think you have a very special store-room for it!!) x

  9. robbiesinspiration 09/09/2021 / 8:39 pm

    Hi Joy What a marvelous post about two of my favourite authors, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. I love Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and also read Villette and Shirley. I’ve read one of Anne’s works but I don’t like them as much. Branwell was spoiled by his father who favoured him over his daughters. I loved Haworth and the Bronte Museum. I particularly liked the portable writing desks and the tiny books.

    • joylennick 10/09/2021 / 12:04 pm

      What a delight to have visited Haworth Robbie! Wasn’t Charlotte a tiny young woman! Her little gloves and shoes struck me as very touching, and what sadness she endured, being the last sibling! All the best. xx….

  10. Jacqui Murray 10/09/2021 / 7:54 pm

    You definitely make me want to re-read this excellent classics. It’s been a long time.

  11. CarolCooks2 11/09/2021 / 4:19 am

    How delightful to visit and experience the Brontes world…Like you I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as a teen methinks it is time to have a reread…A lovely post Joy which I enjoyed immensely 🙂 x

  12. joylennick 11/09/2021 / 11:36 am

    Hi, Thank you kindly Carol. I do hope your daughter is progressing and the news is good. Take care. Hugs xx

  13. A wonderful glimpse behind the scenes of this talented but tragic family.. Thank you Joy.. Jane Eyre is one of my favourites too both in book form and the television adaptations.. wonderful.. I will share in the blogger daily on Tuesday… enjoy your weekend..hugsxx♥

  14. joylennick 11/09/2021 / 2:08 pm

    As ever, thanks, Sally. Life was so hard for so many years ago, eh?! Have a good weekend. Hugs xx

  15. dgkaye 13/09/2021 / 5:58 pm

    What a treat that had to be, to visit their home Joy. So many writers have tragic backgrounds, it spurs the might pen. Again, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend Joy. That had to be very difficult. Hugs my friend ❤ xxx

    • joylennick 15/09/2021 / 12:16 pm

      Gracias, Debs. My charismatic school-friend was a one-off. She should have been an actress, and dabbled in amateur dramatics (successfully) while I pranced around dancing (my singing would have caused mass bird-suicide!) ALWAYS lovingly remembered. Take care xx.

      • dgkaye 15/09/2021 / 4:18 pm

        We always have our memories Joy, and nobody can take those. ❤ Still chuckling at your 'mass bird suicide' LOLOL Hugs xox

  16. Jessica Norrie 15/09/2021 / 11:28 am

    My favourite is – or was – Anne. It’s too long since I read these though, you’ve reminded me. thanks for a lovely post.

  17. joylennick 15/09/2021 / 12:07 pm

    Thanks for reading Jessica. So many wonderful writers to enthrall us! xx

  18. joylennick 20/09/2021 / 10:24 am

    You’ll probably find it a bit ‘laboured’ writing now. Tandy but it still has that necessary ‘eloquence ‘ and strong emotional pull. Thanks for reading. Best wishes. x

  19. Jennie 25/09/2021 / 2:24 pm

    I loved this post, Joy! Your history and view was captivating. Such tragedy.

  20. joylennick 25/09/2021 / 6:42 pm

    Gracias for reading Jennie.It was a powerful experience. Life was so cruel then.x .

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