Lady Caroline Lamb, wife of Prime Minister, the 2nd Viscount Melbourne, took the risk when she became acquainted with Lord Byron. The Caroline Lamb who I know is certainly not dangerous to know but she is, as well as being a writer and producer, artistic director with the Dangerous to Know Theatre Company based in Manchester.
I first met Caroline in her native Sedbergh and during our conversation it was evident that she had a great admiration and enthusiasm for everything Brontë. I met Caroline again recently in the convivial surroundings of Cobbles and Clay in Haworth. Wearing a top with Emily Brontë’s famous words emblazoned on the front, and being on the last leg of a one hundred and thirty mile walk, Caroline certainly is not in possession, either, of a cowardly soul! She has written a play - The Dissolution of Percy - about the last years of Branwell Brontë - which deals with his failed love affair and it is a drama about double standards and gender politics. Percy was the family name of the Earl of Northangerland who featured in the Brontë children’s Angrian stories.
Caroline, on her walk, has followed in the steps of Branwell, starting in Broughton in Furness where he was for a very short time, in 1840, tutor in the Poslethwaite household. Her walk led her to Kendal from where Branwell may have written a letter to his friend John Brown and then on to Cowan Bridge where four of his sisters went to school. From there it was on to Gargrave, beside the banks of the River Aire, where Frances Mary Currer had lived at Eshton Hall and also Robert Storey who was known as the ‘Craven Poet’. Storey was published in the Yorkshire newspapers at the same time as Branwell Brontë was having success in that direction. Caroline had a long trek then to Halifax and then on to Leeds before arriving in Haworth via Thornton.
At every venue she had given readings from the Brontës’ poetry and prose and also items from individuals who have been inspired by them- including a piece of writing which fires the imagination with how a second novel by Emily may have begun. The evening in Haworth ended with three Brontë poems- the first was Life by Charlotte which perhaps shows that the spirit can bounce back from adversity. The second poem was Farewell written by Anne after the death of the well regarded curate at Haworth, William Weightman. No Brontë readings would be complete without hearing Emily’s great poem No Coward Soul is Mine and this is how a very pleasant evening ended.
The appreciative audience wished Caroline, who will take the part of Emily Brontë, all the very best as the play gets nearer to its first performance.
To echo Charlotte’s words as Caroline prepares for her final stage of her journey walking over the bleak moors from Haworth to Sowerby Bridge-
Oft a little morning rain foretells a pleasant day. I hope so.