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

woensdag 30 september 2015

A visit to Banagher

I am very proud to announce to you a quest blogger, Anne Lloyd from Stay at home artist
Anne also made the photographs.

A visit to Banagher
By Anne Lloyd

Every Bronte enthusiast dreams of visiting Haworth.  I realized that dream when my husband and I traveled to the famous Yorkshire village in 2014. The idea to also visit Banagher then came to the fore. Especially when I found out Hill House, the Irish home Arthur Bell Nicholls shared with his  2nd wife, Mary Anna, Aunt Harriette Bell and his treasure trove of Bronte items for 45 years, was now a handsome B and B called Charlotte's Way.

You mean one can stay there?
In the very house?


The lure was irresistible.

I'm an Arthur Bell Nicholls fan. It seems to me not just anyone could get a Bronte to the alter. I think it took a special person. It is singular that those who honor Charlotte Bronte,  the author who taught us not to discount a plain governess, often forget the lesson when it comes to the plain curate she chose for her husband. I think Charlotte's judgment can be trusted in this matter.

After Charlotte's tragic death in 1855,  Arthur looked after Haworth parish and his father in law, Patrick Bronte  until Patrick's own passing in 1861. Arthur was not rewarded the Haworth living. So he returned home to Banager and to his Aunt Harriette who had raised him.

Years before Harriette Bell had lived at Cuba Court, the site of the Royal School where her husband, Dr. Bell was headmaster. This large house was where Arthur and Charlotte stayed when they visited on their honeymoon in 1854.

In 1861 Aunt Bell resided at Hill House, near St Paul's church with her daughter, Arthur's cousin, Mary Anna. That is where Arthur joined them.

Indeed I did not know until I visited Banager that Hill House was once the parsonage to St. Paul's. So after Patrick Bronte's death, Arthur went from living in a Parsonage to another Parsonage and as a married man, Arthur always lived with an in-law.

Hill House, is now a B and B called Charlotte's Way. The name is in deference to its Bronte connection. The house is situated in the Irish midlands with the River Shannon near by. It could not be more in the middle of the emerald isle and as an American, it's almost a puzzle where to fly in. We choose Shannon because it is 30 miles closer to Banagher than Dublin.

At first I looked at buses to complete our journey,  train to the Banagher stopped long ago. But there was only one bus daily and it took four hours to arrive in  Banagher. In addition, one had to ask the driver especially to go on to Banagher, otherwise the bus would begin its return trip before reaching the town.

I couldn't see a four hour bus ride after a transatlantic flight, so we opted to hire a car and driver to met us at Shannon. It was a pleasure to sit back and watch the Irish country side roll by.  I have to say as we drew closer and the name " Banagher " began to appear on road sings, our excitement mounted. In an hour's time we were there.

It was awe inspiring. The house is beautiful and wonderfully kept. We were greeted  by Mr. John Daly, the owner's father as she, Nicola, was still at work. He showed us to the honeymoon suite. It was once Hill House 's attic and where Arthur stored many of his Bronte mementos. I imagine Arthur would visit here from time to time and here we were.

Today it has been beautifully made over into an inviting en suite with a jacuzzi tub! Its large skylight gives one a view over the Irish Midlands that goes on seemingly for miles. It was called the Hill House after all.

We soon met Nicola's mother, who kindly offered to make us coffee and toast! Later, we met Nicola herself. Her welcome could not have been warmer. Charlotte's Way is an excellent B and B, with all the professional points one expects and yet it is also a real Irish home. Remarkable.

We immediately became devotes of the ever glowing turf fire in the living room. B and B patrons are usually off elsewhere after breakfast. But we loved just sitting before the turf fire in the home where  Arthur lived with his memories for 45 years.

Nicola herself has a deep passion for the house, its history and for those who were there before. I saw photos of how the house was when she bought it 12 years ago. A ruinous shell. You would never know looking about today. It  seems original. Interestingly Nicola's mother was a housekeeper here years ago and Nicola played here as a child. So both would know better than most how the house was before the abject ruin.

When the house went up for sale, Nicola jumped at it. As you speak to her about the house, one gets a lesson in the Irish love of the land. These feelings are core. One has to know the young Irish clergyman Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, arriving in Haworth, was without " brass"  (money) or property back home. If he had it, he would be seeing to it rather than looking for a post in England.

It is also of note a few years after Arthur's  marriage to Mary Anna, Aunt Bell gave her son-in-law Hill House and its property. Arthur finally had something of his own to care for. Of course Aunt Bell's trust in Arthur was rewarded, just as Charlotte's and Patrick's trust was before. 

Haworth is Bronte country and Banagher is Bell country. No wonder Charlotte was enthusiastic about her " new relations ".  Among Aunt Bell's nine biological children were two doctors, two clergymen and one of the doctors was also a colonel in the British Army.  In Haworth it was thought Arthur was over stepping his place by seeking Charlotte in marriage. But in Banagher, Charlotte found herself  socially improved by being married to gentry!

The B and B Charlotte's Way would be very worthy of one's custom even without its historic  associations. Besides the charming house, comfortable rooms, and its beautiful setting, the B and B  advertises a "full Irish breakfast" Indeed. Nicola has her own chickens to supply the wonderful eggs  and our warmed plates also had delicious sausage and ham. Generous resupply of coffee,  toast and Nicola's own homemade soda bread are just for the asking ( and she does come  round to ask! ). Plus there is cereal,  yogurt and juice to enjoy as you wait while Nicola expertly cooks your eggs etc.

You won't leave the table hungry! The Irish believe in filling you up! lol. While eating in Banager itself, we asked for one portion of chips ( fries ) to share and were staggered at the mound brought to our table! Irish chips are wonderful btw. That's another thing they take serious, lol There are excellent pubs known for their music and food down the hill from the house, plus the marina on the river.

Of course visiting Arthur's grave was a major draw to us. He is at rest a short way at St. Paul's, Church of Ireland. The church is small but still very imposing with its beautiful tower and east facing window un the top of the hill. One cannot see Arthur and the Bell's graves from the road, a large tree blocks the view ( the plot is behind the church to the left if you stand at the iron gate ). We  learned St Paul's graveyard was open all the time! I had thought it was available only on Sunday. I had made sure our visit included Sunday for this propose. When we found out we could visit the graves anytime, we were out like a shot. It's a minute walk to St Paul.
It was astonishing to finally stand at Arthur's and Mary Anna's grave. Locals tell me the stones were much brighter 30 years ago. They are almost unreadable now. We visited the graveyard every day, just as we went to the Parsonage every day were were in Haworth. Why not? What a privilege to finally be in such places.

Married couples sharing a grave seems to have been a Bell family tradition. In the four graves above, Aunt Bell  ( 2nd grave from the left ) is a surrounded by her 3 clergymen sons, both biological and adopted, and their wives. Arthur and Mary Anna rest on the farthest grave on the right.
On Sunday, we also went to St Paul before noon to attend the weekly service. It got close to noon without a sign of life, but just before the hour stuck,  a car pulled in. It was a lay minster and his teenage children. I have to say they could not have been more gracious and welcoming. It interested  them why we Americans were there. We ran into that a good bit in the town ...friendly wonder over what brought us to Banagher. I don't think they see very many Yanks! We explained we were Bronte fans and were visiting Charlotte's husband's home and grave.

Inside the St. Paul's was like a time machine, it has lovely old style oak box pews and gorgeous stained windows. There is a beautiful marble tribute to Aunt Bell's third son, Arthur Bell, the army  colonel and doctor.  He died in India of cholera in 1869, leaving behind a wife and three children. The tribute was funded by his fellow officers. 

We know of the sadness in the Bronte history, but Aunt Bell had much grief to endure herself.  She outlived all her 6 sons and one of her three daughters.

After the service, I understood more the type of worship both Rev Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls presided over and the strong role of the  gospel in it . We brought flowers in town to lay at the graves. It was very special to finally come to Banager, to St Paul's,  to Arthur's grave and to Charlotte's Way.


zondag 27 september 2015

Another photographe of Ellen Nussey

TitleEllen Nussey
Descriptionblack & white photograph, head & shoulders, Ellen Nussey in old age, full face, slightly smiling, white hair, black bonnet with flower, dark dress, lace. Oval cream coloured card mount, unframed, complete, fair condition, 350mm l x 252mmw

bronte Parsonage museum

donderdag 24 september 2015

Today is the 167th anniversary of Branwell Brontë's death.

Off course I know the complete story of Branwell Bronte. But today I wanted to remember the positive things.

Branwell is described as a small in stature, bushy red hair that was piled high on his head, giving him the appearance of added height, small eyes, and a large Roman-like nose, which balanced small spectacles. He is represented as a brilliant, fun and humorous young man. bjtanke

As a child, he wrote well and as much if not more than his sisters. Although his sisters were sent off to school, his father believed that he could give him a quality education and therefore kept the boy at home.

Branwell Bronte biographer Francis A. Leyland speaks favorably of the Bronte brother. He defends his artistic works and character–and he should know: his brother was a close friend and coworker of Branwell and Francis himself was friends with him. thevictoriandaily

The poems of Branwell published in several newspapers in his lifetime and his poetry work, albeit not read - and not available - widely, witnesses to a prodigious mind. Hartley Coleridge too praised his translation of Horace's Odes and encouraged him to follow that path. bronteblog-branwell

Here are a few lines of Branwell
'Think not that Life is happiness,
But deem it duty joined with care;
Implore for hope in your distress,
And for your answers, get despair;
Yet travel on, for Life's rough road
May end, at last, in rest with God!'.'
The complete story Gutenberg/FRANCIS A. LEYLAND

woensdag 23 september 2015

The Gaskells at Home

Join us for an intimate entertainment in celebration of the creative spirit of Elizabeth Gaskell's House past and present. elizabethgaskellhouse

maandag 21 september 2015

Superstar Cartoonist Kate Beaton on Superheroes, Strong Female Characters, and ‘Brontëmania’

What is it about the Brontë literature that makes it so rich for mining in your comics? I don’t know. I feel a lot of comradeship with the Brontës. They’re three women writers, and I’m one of four girls. They wrote, they created themselves, and created these stories and worlds, and they had to pretend to be men in order to get their books published at first, with androgynous pen names. And they created these works of fiction that are not really romances, but because they’re women they’re taken as romances. Like, Wuthering Heights is not really a romance, but people believe that it is, partially because it’s about a relationship between a man and a woman, but also because it was written by a woman. But then you read it and you’re like, These people are terrible!
Read all: vulture/kate-beaton-interview

donderdag 17 september 2015

Emory names Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library for alumnus Stuart Rose

A rare copy of “Poems" (1848) by the Bronte Sisters writing as "Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell," part of the Stuart Rose collection at the newly named Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University.

Emory University's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) has been named in honor of university alumnus and literary benefactor Stuart A. Rose of Dayton, Ohio. Read all: emory_rose_library

maandag 14 september 2015

The Bronte Parsonage in september.

Thanks to    Tim Robertson
My 1st visit to in 30 yrs - as moving as ever. A small house where 3 young women expanded the world.

zaterdag 12 september 2015

Thornton Brontë Festival: 10th -13th September 2015

Thornton, a village around four miles from Bradford and five miles from Haworth is often overlooked by those on a literary pilgrimage, but it is in fact one of the wonderful secrets of this region. As we stand on the brink of the Brontë bicentennial celebrations (2016, 2018 and 2020 mark the 200th anniversaries of the births of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë respectively), Thornton has launched a new festival to proclaim itself, quite rightly, as the birthplace of the Brontës.

Many of the events will be held at Thornton’s St James’ church, and further details can be found on their website. The church itself stands opposite the ‘Bell Chapel’, the ruins of the church in which Patrick served. On Thursday 10th, St James’ will also be officially unveiling this Brontë mural:
Thornton mural
One special delight is the rare display of the original christening records of Anne, Emily, Branwell,and Charlotte. The children were christened by Reverend William Morgan, a family friend. Sadly he would also, all too soon, be tasked with presiding over Branwell’s funeral, as he did for the funerals of Maria and Elizabeth at Haworth. Read more: annebronte and on James4u/bronte

zondag 6 september 2015

Letter from Charlotte Brontë to Lady Kay-Shuttleworth

An exhibition currently at the Museum of Literature in Preston, Lancashire contains an interesting piece of Brontëana. A letter from Charlotte Brontë:

75 Years, 74 Treasures
Some of the county’s rarest historic items, brought together to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Lancashire County Council’s archive service.

Museum of Lancashire, Stanley Street, Preston, until Saturday, September 27
Lancaster Maritime Museum, Custom House, St George’s Quay, Lancaster from October 3 until January 10, 2016.

But now items like a letter from Charlotte Brontë, watercolour paintings of Lancashire landmarks, a ship’s logbook, lost property registers from Blackpool trams, maps and sketchbooks, are considered such gems they feature in a new exhibition. (The Blackpool Gazette) In their day, they would have seemed nothing out of the ordinary.

The letter is from Charlotte Brontë to Lady Kay-Shuttleworth, 22 March 1850 after her visit to Gawthorpe Hall. bronteblog

vrijdag 4 september 2015

Museum buys-up Bronte paintings

Linda Pierson, a library research volunteer at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, examines Charlotte Brontë’s watercolours following their arrival at the Haworth museum.

TwO of Charlotte Brontë’s watercolours have been delivered to the Brontë Parsonage Museum ready for display next year. The Brontë Society, which runs the Haworth museum, bought the paintings in July during an auction at Sotheby’s. Experts have attributed both pictures to Charlotte, the writer of classic novel Jane Eyre and the eldest of the tragic Brontë sisters. The parsonage this week tweeted a picture of the watercolours on a desk at the museum, and said they will be handed to conservation staff so they can be prepared for display in 2016.

One watercolour is a study of a white carnation, and the other depicts a convolvulus, a crocus and an aster. The pictures were previously unknown and have never been on public display. They are connected to the Sidgwick family, for whom Charlotte Brontë worked as a governess in 1839. Charlotte is best known for writing novels, such as Jane Eyre, but her early ambition was to earn her living as an artist
She was an accomplished painter, but came to realise she did not have the necessary level of skill to have a career in this field. Literature experts said Charlotte’s ability to observe and accurately record detail was a valuable foundation for her written work and a contributing factor in her subsequent success as an author.   
Parsonage Museum collections manager, Ann Dinsdale, said staff are delighted to have acquired the two paintings for the museum. She added: “Although unsigned, they have excellent provenance and are stylistically similar to other Charlotte Brontë paintings already in the Brontë Society’s collection.
“We look forward to putting them on display in the Parsonage as part of Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary celebrations next year.” The Brontë Society has also announced a major conference in Manchester as part of its celebrations for Charlotte’s 200th birthday. The event, at the Midland Hotel from August 19 to 21, will focus on the issue that most concerned Charlotte herself – the position of women in the mid-19th century. Speakers, who include famous feminist Professor Germaine Greer, will address the subject from many different angles, Other speakers include Prof Sally Shuttleworth, an expert on the medical and mental problems of women in the early Victorian era; Claire Harman, noted author of the new biography Charlotte Brontë, A Life; and Prof Christine Alexander, who is currently working on the first new scholarly edition of Jane Eyre in more than 40 years.

woensdag 2 september 2015

Charlotte Bronte and her 'dearest Nell'.

Thanks to  Nick Holland who posted on Twitter:                   

Wonderful portrait of Ellen Nussey in old age, the close & faithful friend of Charlotte, Emily & Anne

 I am now aware of a portrait of Ellen Nussey I did'nt know before
 I knew only two portraits of Ellen Nussey

Ellen Nussey first met her lifelong friend Charlotte Brontë in January 1831 at Miss Wooler’s school Roe Head, Mirfield, where they were both pupils. Ellen was 13 and Charlotte 14. She was a steady, conscientious and reliable friend for Charlotte, and the Reverend Patrick Brontë approved their friendship. Visiting the Parsonage often, she was soon also a friend of Anne and Emily. It was during her time at Roe Head that she began her correspondence with Charlotte, which lasted until the end of Charlotte’s life, and which is responsible for so much of what we know today of Charlotte’s life.

It doubtless meant something in her development that at an impressionable age Charlotte should have been introduced occasionally to a prosperous, and even luxurious environment. She loved Ellen Nussey, moreover, although she had no common ground of intellectual interest. Her letters to her are frequent, and they are always affectionate.

But Charlotte Bronte described the limitations of the friendship in a letter to W. S. Williams: " " True friendship is no gourd, springing up in a night and withering in a day. When I first saw Ellen I did not care for her; we were schoolfellows. In course of time we learnt each other's faults and good points. We were contrasts " still, we suited. Affection was first a germ, then a sapling, then a strong tree " now, no new friend, however lofty or profound in intellect, not even Miss Martineau herself " could be to me what Ellen is; yet she is no more than a conscientious, observant, calm, well-bred Yorkshire girl. She is without romance. If she attempts to read poetry, or poetic prose, aloud, I am irritated and deprive her of the book; if she talks of it, I stop my ears; but she is good; she is true; she is faithful, and I love her."

Ellen helped Charlotte with packing her bags when she had to go to London. Ellen had much more knowledge about fashion and the appropriate things a woman should have in a situation like this.

They spend holidays together.

Ellen was besides Charlotte when Anne Bronte was dying and helped Charlotte with all the things need to be done afterwards.

When Charlotte Brontë married her father's Curate, the Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, at Haworth in June 1854, Nussey was one of two witnesses present. Their engagement had caused a cooling in the friendship on Nussey's part, who was probably jealous of Brontë's attachment to Nicholls, having thought they would both live as spinsters. But not only this. After the marriage Ellen received this letter from Charlotte:

to ELLEN NUSSEY, [20 October 1854]
Arthur has just been glancing over this note -- He thinks I have written too freely about *Amelia &c. Men don't seem to understand making letters a vehicle of communication -- they always seem to think us incautious. I'm sure I don't think I have said anything rash -- however you must burn[three underlines] it when read. Arthur says such letters as mine never ought to be kept -- they are dangerous as lucifer matches -- so be sure to follow a recommendation he has just given "fire them" -= or "there will be no more." Such is his resolve. I can't help laughing -- this seems to me so funny, Arthur however
says he is quite "serious and looks it, I assure you -- he is bending over the desk with his eyes full of concern. I am now desired "to have done with it--" so with his kind regards and mine -- Good-bye dear Ellen

Yours affectionately
CB: Nicholls (295) 
I can imagine how Ellen must have felt. If it happened to me I should be angry as well.

After the death of Charlotte Brontë in 1855 Nussey devoted the rest of her life to maintaining the memory of her friend, and she was often sought out by Brontë enthusiasts and biographers.
Ellen Nussey died in 1897, aged 80, at Moor Lane House in Gomersal in Yorkshire. Following her death, her possessions and letters were dispersed at auction, and many of Charlotte Brontë's letters to her eventually made their way through donation or purchase to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth in Yorkshire.

And now this new painting Nick Holland is mentioning
I asked Nick for more information. His answer: It's by Frederic Yates, an artist who moved to England from USA in 1890 so he must've painted Ellen between 1890-1897. Here is more information about this painter. wiki/Frederic Yates 

I was wondering, is it really a portrait of Ellen Nussey? I asked it to the Bronte Parsonage Museum and this is the answer. 

2 september om 12:29
Hi Geri - our collections team have advised that the portrait in question was donated to the Brontë Society not long after its formation in 1898, prior to the museum moving to its current location at the Parsonage. The portrait has always been documented as being of Ellen Nussey in later life. Hope this helps!

Sure it helps. I am excited. I learned something new
Thanks to Nick Holland.


donderdag 27 augustus 2015

2 watercolours attrib'd to C Brontë & bought at auction

Brontë Parsonage @BronteParsonage                       
New acquisition - 2 watercolours attrib'd to C Brontë & bought at auction! Will be conserved then displayed in 2016

vrijdag 21 augustus 2015

Searching for Paternoster Row and the Chapter Coffee House.

Nick Holland  is looking for the exact spot of the Chapter Coffee House.

From his website;  the Unfortunately on the exact spot where the Chapter Coffee House stood is now a gap. In the gap is a pump saying erected by St Faith’s Parish 1819, but this pump was only moved to its current spot in 1973 just as the imposing Temple Bar behind it was only moved to its current site in 2004.

How can we be certain that this is the correct spot? As well as matching the approximate location on Patrick’s map the buildings alongside the gap should also be taken into account. On the left hand side is Paul’s bakery. To the right is Chapter House, now being restored by St Paul’s, and bearing a sign saying ‘Paul’s Alley on the side. Whilst the façade of Paul’s bakery is modern, the doorway retains its original portico-like shape, as do the doors and windows of Chapter House. Take a look at them now: Read more on his interesting website about: Anne Bronte

woensdag 19 augustus 2015

19 August 1850, —"we like each other heartily"


heeft geretweet
19 August 1850— meets Charlotte Brontë at the Kay-Shuttleworths nr. Windermere—"we like each other heartily"

Two little birds in the church yard.

This beautiful picture from Paul JonesI love Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage 

dinsdag 18 augustus 2015

The silent Wild.

I found myself pondering what we know, and what we imagine. The museum hints that we can over-romanticise the Brontës’ lives; for example, although many people assume they didn’t travel, one exhibit is a trunk used by the sisters on trips to London, Ireland and Brussels. It wasn’t quite the claustrophobic, intense life we imagine. The house is small, and the weight of the tragedies it saw hangs heavy. But it’s also possible to imagine it as a refuge from the heave and thrust of life; there’s a quotation from Mr Bronte on how his little family comforted him, and brought him happiness after the death of his wife. It’s easy to focus on the heartbreak, but there’s life and potential here too.

From the blog Accidento Bizarro I love these words. Read more on this blog about the exposition in the Bronte Parsonage ""The Silent Wild"" bronte/the-silent-wild 

vrijdag 14 augustus 2015

Rose and Co. Apothecary

Rose and Co. Apothecary is housed in the original apothecary where Branwell Bronte purchased opium

More pictures on: lovebirdsvintage

woensdag 12 augustus 2015

Dave Zdanowicz images of Haworth

In the two years since Dave Zdanowicz acquired the camera he has taken more than 20,000 photographs and won several prizes. This year he won BBC Countryfile's Winter Landscape photography competition with his sublime image of the sun setting at Harold Park in Low Moor.

Some of Dave's images of Haworth will appear in a new biography of Anne Bronte by local author Nick Holland, due for release next year through the History Press. Read all: .thetelegraphandargus

vrijdag 7 augustus 2015

What did Virginia Woolf wrote about Charlotte Bronte?

Virginia Woolf in her book The Common Reader: The only advice … that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at the liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess.

What did Virginia Woolf wrote about Charlotte Bronte in The Common Reader?

Charlotte Bronte has us by the hand, forces us along her road, makes us see what she sees, never leaves us for a moment or allows us to forget her. At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë. Remarkable faces, figures of strong outline and gnarled feature have flashed upon us in passing; but it is through her eyes that we have seen them. Once she is gone, we seek for them in vain. Read all: adelaide.edu./virginia/woolf

Virginia Woolf's account of a visit to Haworth was the first of her writings to be accepted for publication (and the second to appear in print.) Woolf's article was first published in The Guardian, unsigned, on 21st December, 1904.

I do not know whether pilgrimages to the shrines of famous men ought not to be condemned as sentimental journeys. It is better to read Carlyle in your own study chair than to visit the sound-proof room and pore over the manuscripts at Chelsea. I should be inclined to set up an examination on Frederick the Great in place of an entrance fee; only, in that case, the house would soon have to be shut up. The curiosity is only legitimate when the house of a great writer or the country in which it is set adds something to our understanding of his books. This justification you have for a pilgrimage to the home and country of Charlotte Brontë and her sisters. Read all: digital.library..edu/women/woolf/VW-Bronte


donderdag 6 augustus 2015

George Smith and Lesley Stephen. (father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell and husband of Minny, the daughter of Thackeray)

The story of George Smith, Leslie Stephen, Sidney Lee and the first Dictionary of National Biography is a classic tale of the making of a successful work of reference which is more than the sum of its articles.

The Dictionary of National Biography was conceived in the early 1880s by George Smith, publisher of Ruskin, of the Brontës, Trollope, and many other leading nineteenth-century novelists, and of many journals including the Cornhill Magazine. Smith, happily replete with funds from publishing and from the manufacture of Apollinaris mineral water (whose spring he bought in 1873), sought fresh challenges. He enjoyed new enterprises and had an interest in biographical reference works. He inquired into the possibility of a new, English language version of the Biographie Universelle.

He discussed this with Leslie Stephen (father of Virginia Woolf) editor of his Cornhill Magazine since 1871 and as such publisher of many new authors such as Thomas Hardy and Robert Louis Stevenson.

 In 1882 Smith was persuaded by Stephen that a universal biography on the scale envisaged was impracticable. As Sidney Lee, Stephen's successor as editor of the DNB, recollected, in what was in itself an admirably concise, accurate definition: Acting on Mr Stephen's advice, Mr Smith resolved to confine his efforts to the production of a complete dictionary of national biography which should supply full, accurate, and concise biographies of all noteworthy inhabitants of the British Islands and the Colonies (exclusive of living persons) from the earliest historical period to the present time. global/oxforddnb

Leslie Stephen wrote critiques of many authors and works, which were published in periodicals such as the Cornhill Magazine (of which he was editor from 1871), Fraser's Magazine and the Fortnightly Review. The Third Series, first published in 1879, includes commentaries on the works of Henry Fielding, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Kingsley and Walter Savage Landor, and the poetry of William Wordsworth. Stephen sets each writer's work in its historical context, comparing it to that of other significant authors of its era and evaluating its philosophical and moral qualities. His articles remain of great interest to scholars of early modern, Romantic and Victorian literature. abebooks/Hours-Library

Stephen’s own analysis of CB does, I think, display something like the desired balance. Here, for example, he proposes a standard against which to measure her overall achievement:

Miss Brontë, as her warmest admirers would grant, was not and did not in the least affect to be a philosophical thinker. And because a great writer, to whom she has been gratuitously compared, is strong just where she is weak, her friends have an injudicious desire to make out that the matter is of no importance, and that her comparative poverty of thought is no injury to her work. There is no difficulty in following them so far as to admit that her work is none the worse for containing no theological or philosophical disquisitions, or for showing no familiarity with the technicalities of modern science and metaphysics. But the admission by no means follows that her work does not suffer very materially by the comparative narrowness of the circle of ideas in which her mind habitually revolved. Perhaps if she had been familiar with Hegel or Sir W. Hamilton, she would have intruded undigested lumps of metaphysics, and introduced vexatious allusions to the philosophy of identity or to the principle of the excluded middle. But it is possible, also, that her conceptions of life and the world would have been enriched and harmonised, and that, without giving us more scientific dogmas, her characters would have embodied more fully the dominating ideas of the time. There is no province of inquiry–historical, scientific, or philosophical–from which the artist may not derive useful material; the sole question is whether it has been properly assimilated and transformed by the action of the poetic imagination. By attempting to define how far Miss Brontë’s powers were in fact thus bounded, we shall approximately decide her place in the great hierarchy of imaginative thinkers.

As Stephen points out: “What would Jane Eyre have done, and what would our sympathies have been, had she found that Mrs. Rochester had not been burnt in the fire at Thornfield?

Read more: openlettersmonthly./leslie-stephen-charlotte-bronte

Leslie Stephen was married to Minny Thackeray, the daughter of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray during this time. Julia developed a strong lifelong friendship with Minny’s sister Anny Thackeray. 

Harriet Marian (“Minny”) Thackeray Stephen (1840-1875) and Leslie Stephen (1832-1904) are seen here standing outdoors, probably on their wedding trip to Switzerland in 1867. Reproduction of plate 35d from Leslie Stephen’s Photograph Album.
Original: albumen print,  Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College kimberlyevemusings


Leslie and Julia Stephen in Grindelwald, Switzerland, 1889
by Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913)
Reproduction of plate 39e from Leslie Stephen’s Photograph Album
Original: albumen print (17.0 x 12.3 cm.)
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

dinsdag 4 augustus 2015

Collection of literary manuscripts by Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Darwin, a distant cousin of Elizabeth Gaskell.

The Library holds the world’s most important collection of literary manuscripts by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), including the only complete manuscript of one of her novels (Wives and Daughters) and her celebrated biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë. Her archive also contains nearly 400 letters from notable figures – including Brontë, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot, John Ruskin and many more – some of which were sent to Gaskell herself and some which she acquired for her own autograph collection. In addition there are artefacts (such as Gaskell’s inkstand) and famous portraits. Two related collections also contain significant Gaskelliana: the Jamison Family Archive, and the papers of Gaskell scholar and collector J.G. Sharps. Material from all of these collections has been digitised, along with some items which remain in the possession of Gaskell’s descendants. Together, these constitute an outstanding digital resource relating to Gaskell, her work and the circles in which she moved. luna.manchester


Elizabeth Gaskell knew Martineau and Newman, became friends with some American Unitarians, and definitely embraced the spiritual side of Unitarianism. She thought Priestley's brand of Unitarianism was cold and hard. Jesus, though not Christ, was a living presence, and the Bible remained an indispensable book. But Elizabeth Gaskell was also of the social reform school of Unitarianism, in company with Harriet Martineau and Florence Nightingale in England, and Theodore Parker and Dorothea Dix in this country.

Gaskell was writing at a time when the mill owners struggled against a social system in which the landowners were paramount and often charged exhorbitant rents to the industrialists. Thomas Malthus direly predicted that population would soon outstrip food supply. Utopian socialists planned alternative, cooperative societies. And Frederick Engels presented his dark picture of the situation in Manchester in "The condition of the Working Class in England." Gaskell's writing seems to us far from radical, and those on the left found her solutions paternalistic. But hers was a paternalism of aiding adult children and watching them become independent agents rather than the "Father Knows Best" paternalism prevalent at the time. In both Mary Barton and North and South she shows the folly of mill owners refusing to inform workers of even good reasons for their actions and assuming that workers wouldn't understand or had no right to know, anyway. Gaskell was one of the few writers with some sympathy for workers's unions. In North and South, she envisioned union leaders acting in an advisory capacity in the affairs of the mills.

Charles Darwin, a distant cousin of Elizabeth Gaskell, published On the Origin of Species, in 1859 and evolution was the center of the public debate throughout the 1860s. Unitarianism still was primarily the rational and scientific religion of Joseph Priestley despite the move toward more spirituality, and Unitarians welcomed the theories and as usual loved discussing Darwin's concepts. At the time, Oxford and Cambridge only allowed Anglican students, and studies concentrated there on ancient languages, literature and history. Science, as a discipline for study, was not valued. Gaskell, in Wives and Daughters illustrates the attitude with a vignette of two sons. The parents hail the eldest, a student of poetry, as the genius of the family, while they view the younger son, with a keen interest in science and nature, as slow-witted. Unitarians studied at other Universities, such as in Edinburg, that may not have been as prestigious, but had great science departments. They were among the Theory of Evolution's staunchest defenders in the early confrontations between science and religion. The Gaskells had two liberal Anglican friends at Oxford, Benjamin Jowett and Mark Pattison, who were charged with heresy for embracing Darwinism and denying the existence of hell. I'm not sure which outraged the Anglican establishment more, but a conviction of heresy was overturned on appeal. uufhc.net


vrijdag 31 juli 2015

Charlotte Bronte and Turner.

Letter to W. S. Williams (31 July 1848)

I have lately been reading Modern Painters, and I have derived from the work much genuine pleasure and, I hope, some edification; at any rate it made me feel how ignorant I had previously been on the subject which it treats. Hitherto I have only had instinct to guide me in judging of art; I feel now as if I had been walking blindfold — this book seems to give me eyes. I do wish I had pictures within reach by which to test the new sense. Who can read these glowing descriptions of (J. M. W.) Turner’s works without longing to see them? However eloquent and convincing the language in which another’s opinion is placed before you, you still wish to judge for yourself. I like this author’s style much; there is both energy and beauty in it: I like himself too, because he is such a hearty admirer. He does not give Turner half-measure of praise or veneration; he eulogizes, he reverences him (or rather his genius) with his whole soul. One can sympathize with that sort of devout, serious admiration (for he is no rhapsodist) one can respect it; and yet possibly many people would laugh at it. I am truly obliged to Mr. Smith for giving me this book, not having often met with one that has pleased me more.
  • Charlotte Brontë, on Modern Painters, Vol. 1 (1843), by John Ruskin. Letter to W. S. Williams (31 July 1848) The Letters of Charlotte Brontë

Frosty Morning was painted from a scene that Turner had witnessed in Yorkshire and when Claude Monet saw the painting decades later, he declared that Turner had painted it with “wide-open eyes.”

Charlotte Brontë wrote in 1848 to WS Williams on reading Ruskin’s Modern Painters.
A year later on 5 December she sent a letter to her father from London:
‘I have seen the pictures in the National Gallery.  I have seen a beautiful exhibition of Turner’s paintings’.
carefully distinguishing one from the other (as Heather Glen notes in Charlotte Brontë: The Imagination in History OUP 2002).  On 14 February 1850 she wrote to her friend Margaret Wooler of having seen
‘one or two private collections of Turner’s best water colour drawings’ as well as ‘his later oil-paintings’. turnerintottenham
What became the first volume of Modern Painters (1843), published by Smith, Elder & Co. under the anonymous but authoritative title, "A Graduate of Oxford," was Ruskin’s response to Turner’s critics. wiki/John_Ruskin

Paintings of Turner. google/Turner 

donderdag 30 juli 2015

Emily Bronte's birthday and the diary papers she and Anne were writing on her birthdays.

Today we celebrate
the birthday of Emily Bronte
Emily Bronte was born on 30 juli 1818
Emily and Anne Bronte
had agreed to write each a kind of reminiscence
 every four years
 to be opened by Emily on her birthday
Here the drawings Emily made on these diary papers
 The table was featured in an 1837 diary paper sketch by Emily,
 showing herself and Anne writing at the table with all their papers scattered before them.
Aren't they great these drawings?
Can we not imaging Emily
 sitting in her small room with Keeper at her feet
Or laying on her bed watching the stars in te night
 creating her beautiful strong poems and Wuthering Heights?
No Coward Soul is Mine
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
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?
 Clement Shorter: The last words that I have to say concerning Emily
 are contained in a letter to me from Miss Ellen Nussey.
‘So very little is known of Emily Brontë,’ she writes, ‘that every little detail awakens an interest.  Her extreme reserve seemed impenetrable, yet she was intensely lovable; she invited  confidence in her moral power. Few people have the gift of looking and smiling as she could look and smile.  One of her rare expressive looks was something to remember through life, there was such a depth of soul and feeling, and yet a shyness of revealing herself—a strength of self-containment seen in no other. She was in the strictest sense a law unto herself, and a heroine in keeping to her law. She and gentle Anne were to be seen twined together as united statues of power and humility. They were to be seen with their arms lacing each other in their younger days whenever their occupations permitted their Union. On the top of a moor or in a deep glen Emily was a child in spirit for glee and enjoyment; or when thrown entirely on her own resources to do a kindness, she could be vivacious in conversation and enjoy giving pleasure. A spell of mischief also lurked in her on occasions when out on the moors. She enjoyed leading Charlotte where she would not dare to go of her own free-will. Charlotte had a mortal dread of unknown animals, and it was Emily’s pleasure to lead her into close vicinity, and then to tell her of how and of what she had done, laughing at her horror with great amusement. If Emily wanted a book she might have left in the sitting-room she would dart in again without looking at any one, especially if any guest were present. Among the curates, Mr. Weightman was her only exception for any conventional courtesy. The ability with which she took up music was amazing; the style, the touch, and the expression was that of a professor absorbed heart and soul in his theme. The two dogs, Keeper and Flossy, were always in quiet waiting by the side of Emily and Anne during their breakfast of Scotch oatmeal and milk, and always had a share handed down to them at the close of the meal. Poor old Keeper, Emily’s faithful friend and worshipper, seemed to understand her like a human being.  One evening, when the four friends were sitting closely round the fire in the sitting-room, Keeper forced himself in between Charlotte and Emily and mounted himself on Emily’s lap; finding the space too limited for his comfort he pressed himself forward on to the guest’s knees, making himself quite comfortable.  Emily’s p. 180heart was won by the unresisting endurance of the visitor, little guessing that she herself, being in close contact, was the inspiring cause of submission to Keeper’s preference. Sometimes Emily would delight in showing off Keeper—make him frantic in action, and roar with the voice of a lion.  It was a terrifying exhibition within the walls of an ordinary sitting-room.  Keeper was a solemn mourner at Emily’s funeral and never recovered his cheerfulness.’gutenberg CHAPTER VI
More about Clement Shorter: independent
Clement Shorter received the diary papers from Arthur Bell Nicolls when he was visiting him in Ireland after the death of Charlotte Bronte. I am still searching on the internet of  a story about this happening.
Anne repplies: It's my understanding Arthur found these papers hidden in a tin box in 1895 . If it was Charlotte who destroyed Emily and Anne's papers, she missed gems because they were hidden.

Arthur found them when looking over what he had for Shorter...He didn't know of them before. Nicholls said to Shorter, that if he had not asked him to look for items, it's likely this box would have been discarded when Arthur passed ...and what if he had not brought that box from Haworth 40 years before ?!

We can't fault Arthur for being possessive when we have benefited by it so richly. Many Bronte items would have been lost if he had not held on to them for those 40 years When giving Shorter the diaries , Arthur said with feeling " Those poor girls!"



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).

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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