Heidi Büchner writes:
This book is the work of an accomplished teacher, to be sure, someone who gets to the point quickly and who knows when not to go on for too long. Drawing heavily on sources such as the monolithic The Brontës by Juliet Barker and also the Selected Poems that Barker edited for Everyman, Anne Crow presents us with a concise and readily accessible survey, with extensive quotations to illustrate the frequent salient points which she makes. She includes an excellent four-page chronology near to where her text commences, which begins in 1776 (American Declaration of Independence, in the year before the birth of Patrick Brontë) and ends with that patriarch’s death in 1861. Included are most events and publications which could be construed as relevant: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, for example, is placed next to the rejection of the Third Chartist petition in 1848, along with the deaths of both Branwell and Emily.
Crow is careful in particular to include plenty of background and information on Patrick to begin her survey, with interesting extracts and commentaries on Cottage Poems which are frequently skimmed over by those who want to home in, perhaps too speedily, on the lives and works of his talented son and daughters. Some of Patrick's poems have plenty of charm, while others seem bland, in spite of clever crafting. All are hard to obtain.
There is concise information on both Thornton and Haworth – all going over well-trodden earth – and evidence of some personal research, with some poignant photographs taken (by Crow herself) in Haworth cemetery.
Crow’s selections are a little scanty, and not entirely ‘predictable’. She gives almost equal space to the poems of Patrick and Branwell as to those of each of the sisters, which seems like an invitation to scrutinise, say, Branwell’s The desolate earth (written during his time at the Luddenden Foot railway station) with the same critical eye as Anne’s Lines Written at Thorp Green. This could be a very useful exercise for a group of sixth formers studying for A level!
The Brontës and their Poetry was self-published (by ‘Crowscapes’ no less) using the facilities at www.lulu.com
It can be bought from the Parsonage shop.