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Sunday, 16 December 2007

American echoes of the Parsonage

Barbara Tanke from Elma, New York writes:

Since I had to move back to Western, NY last fall for my mother's failing health, I have discovered (by accident) an 1810 house near her nursing facility that reminds me of the Brontë Parsonage.

It is at the end of a lane, and when I was waiting for traffic to pass, I thought I was looking at the Brontë house - or one similar in style. Here are photos of the exterior and the inside window.

This is the Hull House, built in 1810, which the community is trying to renovate back to its original state. I see that it was built about 30 years after the Brontë Parsonage and wondered if there was any English inspiration to it. I will have to research further.

I have a nice warm feeling that I am back in Haworth -- if but momentarily -- when I go visit my mother.

Below, the Hull House:

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Fourth Brontë Sister?

This painting by Branwell will soon be on display in the Parsonage – a portrait of Mrs Maria Ingham of Stanbury.

“We made a successful bid for it at the recent auction,” Librarian Ann Dinsdale told the blog. “She looks quite handsome, I think.

You could say she looks a little like a fourth Brontë Sister, if you look at the style and put it next to Branwell’s other portraits. Of course we’ve got her brother Robert already.

Now they are reunited! The Parsonage is going to close soon, to reopen in February 2008, and when we do, visitors will be able to see Maria.

They will also be able to see some other new acquisitions: three Victorian envelopes which we bought at a small auction house in Colchester called Reeman Dansie Auctions. One contains a lock of Charlotte’s hair, one a lock of Anne’s hair, and the third contains a ring which belonged to Charlotte.

The envelopes were given by Ellen Nussey to her friend Lady Morrison in the 1880s.”

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Rebecca in Haworth

Martin Rippingale writes:

Next Friday brings a chance, I am noting, that if you can get to Haworth in Yorkshire you can watch the 1940 movie version of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

I would love to attend and to walk around the Brontë Parsonage as a prelude, but I’ll just have to fix myself up with a DVD viewing.

It cleaned up at the awards ceremony at the time, for good reason: Fontaine is at her emotional finest and Olivier is as impressive as always as Maxim de Winter, with those slightly clipped cultivated tones which made him such a wow in the London theatre.

Londoner Alfred Hitchcock made his mark as a director in the States with this movie as well, doubtless taking a bet that a novel published a couple of years previously to great critical applause would bring in the audiences – and it did.

Over in England, there was a war in progress, so I imagine the blitzed-out Brits escaping into a gothic du Maurier world, where the horrors were different. Sunken boats with bodies in them? It happened every day in the Atlantic – or come to think of it, the ocean not too far from Cornwall.

John Harrison and Robert Sherwood wrote the screenplay, and it hits the mark because according to all allegations and reports, the producer David O Selznick had an attack of sensitivity and demanded that it be faithful to the novel.

It is not a hundred percent faithful though. In the novel, Rebecca is slain by a slug from Maxim’s gun. Not so in the movie of course. The burning down of Manderly at the movie’s finale was not in the novel either, so perhaps the guy who called the shots – Selznick – was more influenced by Jane Eyre than Daphne du Maurier.
Richard Wilcocks adds:

The film will be shown at the West Lane Baptist Chapel at 7.30pm. Contact Andrew McCarthy on 01535 640194 to make sure of your seat. Entrance £6.00

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Milan meeting

The will be a meeting of the Italian section on Saturday 1 December. Scaffale Inglese means English Shelf. The meeting will cover the lives and works of twenty poets - including Emily Brontë of course.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Brontë Mass by Philip Wilby

On Saturday 24 November 2007 at 7:30pm in Leeds Town Hall, the World Premiere of Brontë Mass by Philip Wilby, will be performed along with works by Vaughan Williams.The performers are the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, with soloist Leigh Melrose (baritone), conducted by David Hill.

Commissioned by the Leeds Philharmonic Society, Brontë Mass is divided into two halves; the first is a Memorial, comprising three sections. Charlotte Brontë’s poem The Autumn Day sets a reflective tone at the outset, which is quickly dispelled by a stormy and bell-laden setting of the Sanctus

Anne Brontë’s A Prayer, with its linked themes of faith and doubt ends this part of the composition, here set for a cappella choir and solo trumpet. The second half is celebratory in tone, opening with Emily Brontë's No Coward Soul and concluding with the Gloria.

Professor Philip Wilby is the Director of Composition Studies in the School of Music at the University of Leeds. He has worked as a professional violinist, and joined the staff at Leeds in 1972. He has received commissions from California State University-Fresno, St Paul's, Norwich and Liverpool Anglican Cathedrals, the BBC and English Northern Philharmonia.

He is well-known for his connection with brass band and church music, and has described Baroque and Classical composers as very influential - he has played in Christopher Hogwood's Academy of Ancient Music on a large number of recordings on authentic instruments.

As part of his work in the School of Music, he has reconstructed performing editions of a number of unfinished scores by Mozart, including a new edition of his Mass in C Minor K427.

Much of his work is informed by his Anglican faith: his wife is a priest and he has lived in vicarages for many years.

See what's on in Leeds International Concert Season.

Below, Philip Wilby

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

People's Poet Laureate in Haworth

An Evening with Wendy Cope

Wendy Cope was Radio 4’s Poetry Please listeners' first choice for Poet Laureate following the death of Ted Hughes in 1998. She is one of the UK’s most popular poets and will be visiting Haworth and reading from, and discussing, a selection of her hilariously wry, ironic poetry for one night only - at 7.30pm on Saturday 10 November at the West Lane Baptist Centre.

"Wendy Cope has achieved both critical and popular acclaim through her poetry and it’s wonderful that she will be performing here in Haworth.

She reads in a wonderful, entertaining way and I’m sure that we’re in for a real treat. Her poetry is very different to that of the Brontës, but this is part of our intention to establish Haworth not just as a heritage centre but as vibrant creative centre too" (Andrew McCarthy, Deputy Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum)

Wendy Cope’s poetry collections include Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (1986), Serious Concerns (1992) and If I Don't Know (2001), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award. She received a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and was awarded the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse (American Academy of Arts and Letters) in 1995. She has also edited a number of poetry anthologies including The Orchard Book of Funny Poems (1993), Is that the New Moon? (1989), The Funny Side: 101 Humorous Poems (1998), The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories (1999) and Heaven on Earth: 101 Happy Poems (2001).

Tickets are £7.50/ £5 (under 16s) and should be booked in advance.

For further details and bookings please ring the Brontë Parsonage Museum, 01535 640194 or email

Below, Wendy Cope photographed by Caroline Forbes

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Graphic Jane Eyre

Jo Wheeler from Classical Comics has sent us this page of artwork from Jane Eyre. The artist is John M Burns. For more, go to the Jane Eyre Artwork link on the right hand side.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Brontë Soul Website

Randall Grimsley writes:

Marie Vaughn Manis, US Region 7 member, has recently created the Brontë Soul website. The link for this is here:

It presents the Brontës' prose and poetry in addition to information about their schooling, life in Brussels, artwork, devoirs, links to novels, film adaptations, daily lives and loves, pets, and life in the Parsonage. Brontë bibliography and links to related web sites can also be found there.

Marie continually updates her site. She is currently posting Emily's poems on it, along with several letters written by Charlotte.

Brontë Soul now has a page that offers an update on the Brontë movie due to be released next year.

Brussels “in the grip of Brontë frenzy”

Helen MacEwan reports:

The first talk organised by the Brussels branch, on 18 October, attracted an audience of over 50 people. At present the group members are predominantly expatriate so we were pleased to see Belgians there as well, including a well-known writer and students from a Brussels university.

Derek Blyth, who is a journalist, took a fresh and personal approach to the subject of the Heger letters, sharing with us his fascination in them and musing on some unanswered questions, from the exact nature of Charlotte's feelings to points of practical detail (why the torn-up letters were repaired as they were). He had taken the trip to the British Library to see them for himself, and had heard from Sally Brown, keeper of rare manuscripts at the Library, a Charlotte Brontë ghost story well known in Brontë circles but less familiar to our Brussels audience. Derek confided that when exploring Brussels he is often aware of Charlotte's presence, if not her ghost.

We hope to attract more Belgian members to our group, so were delighted by the amount of media interest in the talk. A national newspaper was interested enough to do an interview. The reporter was fascinated by the whole concept of literary societies, almost unknown here: "People meeting to discuss the works of the Brontë sisters: this is the latest craze blown across the Channel from Britain to Brussels"! A Brussels "What's On" also forecast a Brontë craze and advised bruxellois to be "one step ahead of the pack" by going to the talk: "Close your eyes and let yourself be swept along by this torrent of passion".

A radio station decided to get in on the act by broadcasting an interview with Derek Blyth. The interviewer, albeit good-humouredly, grilled him about Charlotte's comments on Belgians. Derek, while cheerfully admitting that had she been writing today she might possibly have been sued, tried to make amends by dwelling on her affection for Brussels.

Brussels offers unique advantages for organising literary events. It has a huge English-speaking community and most of the multinational staff at the EU and other international organisations speak English, as do many Belgians. There is a plethora of English-speaking events such as theatre and talks. But, until now, no literary societies.

To exploit some of this Brontë enthusiasm, we have started a reading group. Brussels abounds in these, but ours is the only one to specialise in 19th century literature. Eighteen people have already signed up - too many for the room Waterstone's has kindly placed at our disposal. Fifty percent of the members are British, the others are Swedish, Belgian, Finnish, Bulgarian, Slovenian, German and Thai! A multinational group of expats in Brussels, just as Charlotte was, coming together in the city where she spent two homesick but intense and fruitful years.

Below, stitched letter, stitched envelope:

Friday, 19 October 2007

Held in thrall

Amy Corzine writes about her work for Classical Comics:

What was it like writing the comic adaptation for Jane Eyre?

Wonderful. I was paid to wallow in an ocean of romance! The characters, language, plot and descriptive passages held me in thrall so that writing this adaptation was a joy. It was also great fun to suggest imagery, keeping to Charlotte Brontë’s vision while utilising my own imagination, and to plot the story, panel by panel, much as scriptwriters and playwrights plan their scenes.

Writing the graphic adaptation of Jane Eyre for Classical Comics gave me a fantastic excuse and tremendous opportunity to immerse myself in its author’s mind. It quickly became obvious that Brontë was propounding the belief, perhaps gleaned from her Irish forebears, that real spirituality arises from a natural goodness in human beings that is inextricable from Nature.

A potent mixture of Christianity and British folklore established a powerful psychological background for the love affair between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Symbolism made the novel sparkle. Jane’s show of strength was linked with the moon rising. Mr. Rochester was described as a bird of prey. He often called Jane a tiny bird of one sort or the other, or a fairy sprite.

Why is it such a great novel? Acute observations of the social and relationship constellations of the people of Bronte's time play a part. But the clever chemistry and verbal dances between the lovers are perhaps what most strike the heart. Often it seemed as if Brontë were simply recounting real conversations – perhaps ones she had really had with a schoolmaster with whom she fell in love while working as a governess in France.

The book was so well-plotted, its language so moving, and its descriptions so colourful, that putting it into visual form was one of the easiest and most enjoyable writing jobs I have ever had. My most difficult task was choosing which passages to leave out.

Its images remain indelibly imprinted upon my psyche. I became the unloved orphan rejected by wealthy relations who read a picture book while hiding on a heavily veiled window seat for solace. I grew indignant with childish rage against Jane’s early tormentors. I shivered with hunger in the cold of Lowood Hall. I fell in love with Mr. Rochester right alongside Jane, felt her fear and desperation upon discovering the mad Mrs. Rochester, and her despair as if it were my own, upon discovering the only man she had ever loved was deceitful and married. I contemplated the star above me as if I were Jane Eyre lying on the moor, penniless and alone.
The passions of another age, another time and place, filled me while I adapted this book. Now I understand the people of Brontë’s time, whom she described so movingly.

Jane Eyre showed me that the repressed Englishman has always been a myth. The emotions of the people on these islands rage as furiously, and deeply, as the seas around them.
I hope the comic book will inspire adults as well as young people to read the original work. The novel will draw them into the England of two centuries ago, and inspire them to contemplate ideas such as the nature of love and religion, and whether our spiritual consciousnesses are inextricable from Nature and each other. Nothing stimulates debate so well as a good story.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Two Hats on tour

Jane Thornton's adaptation of Wuthering Heights has been gathering popularity ever since it was first performed a few years ago by Hull Truck. It was on recently at the Theatre Royal in York, and now the Two Hats Company is touring it. Here is the official press release from Darren Scott:

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same

A mysterious orphan who sets two families at odds. A conflict passed down across generations. And a love that lasts beyond death. Cathy and Heathcliff grow up on the remote Yorkshire moors, soulmates and fellow victims of Cathy's brother. But when a chance mistake sends Heathcliff away, Cathy marries the wrong man...


Blanche McIntyre directs a cast featuring Two Hats regulars Chris Dobson, Emma Cooper and Nick Marshall and newcomers Matt Dudley and Krisha Harman to present an intimate evening of story-telling suitable for all ages.

Composer Darren Scott provides an evocative original score for this production, with costumes designed by Helen Brady.

Tour information:

Nov 19th & 20th Criterion Theatre, Coventry £8 (£7 members)
Nov 21st & 22nd Waterside Theatre, Stratford upon Avon £10
Nov 23rd & 24th Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham £10 (£9 concessions)
Nov 26th Napton Village Hall Tickets on door £7 (£6 concessions)
Nov 28th The Gap, Warwick £4
Nov 29th Greig Hall, Alcester £7 (£6 concessions)
Nov 30th The Herbert, Coventry £6
Dec 1st Malt House, Alveston Tickets on door £7 (£6 concessions)

About Two Hats Theatre Company

Formed in 1999, and based in Warwickshire, Two Hats is an outward-looking company, connecting the best of the region's professional actors with the wider community.

The Company is distinctive by combining broad audience appeal and accessibility with an uncompromising approach to both 'classics' and newer work. We use modern multimedia technology fused with traditional theatre practice to stage original and exciting productions.

A tightly-knit team, Two Hats is dedicated to the highest standards of preparation and production.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Kring zoekt spoor van Brontë-zussen

It means 'Group searches for traces of the Brontë sisters' and it comes from the Nieuwsblad, one of Belgium's leading Flemish-speaking newspapers. Helen MacEwan tells us that it was published because of a talk to be held by the Brussels group tomorrow, Thursday. She has also sent a translation, and comments that the original article contains "a number of oddities and inaccuracies" (see for yourself if you know Dutch or Flemish at but that it is generally good publicity.

Translation of the article:

Group searches for traces of the Brontë sisters
First Belgian branch of the Brontë Society

BRUSSELS – People who meet to discuss the works of the Brontë sisters: this is the latest craze blown across the Channel from Britain to Brussels. Helen MacEwan is leading the first Belgian branch of the Brontë society.

Brussels is once again displaying her international character with the formation of this branch of the Brontë Society. "In Britain, the fascination for the Brontë sisters is a national sport," says Helen MacEwan. "People are constantly doing research about the tragic lives of the Brontë family. And there is a continuous stream of TV and film adaptations of one or other of the Brontë novels."

MacEwan has founded the first Belgian branch of the Brontë Society in Brussels, where she works as a translator. It is hardly a coincidence that a branch has been set up in Brussels. Charlotte Brontë lived there in 1842 and 1843. She came here to study French and fell in love with her teacher. Her novel Villette tells the story.

During its first event, the Brussels Brontë Group organized a walk visiting several sites which were portrayed in Charlotte’s book, guided by British-born Derek Blyth.

Derek Blyth explains the worldwide fascination for the seven novels by the three Brontë sisters. "They are very personal works, with a psychological depth which somehow manages to reach every age group. My 16-year-old daughter is currently reading Jane Eyre. There aren’t that many 160-year-old books that teenagers of today still read."

No exam

The Brussels Brontë Group isn’t a collection of purists. You don’t have to pass an exam to join. Knowing the names of the three sisters is enough. And you should enjoy reading of course. With the expansion of the Group, it has set up a Reading Group, focusing particularly on romantic authors such as Austen.

Charlotte Brontë stayed in the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels in and fell in love with her teacher Constantin Heger, who taught her French. When she returned to England, she remained obsessed with her professor and wrote him a series of letters.

But the professor did not answer her letters. In fact Monsieur Heger tore them up. But his wife rescued them from the wastepaper basket and sewed them back together. Paul Heger, Constantin’s son, donated four of these letters to the British Museum in 1913.

On Thursday 18 October, at 19.30, in the Le Cercle des Voyageurs / Travel Arts Café, Rue des Grands Carmes 18, 1000 Brussels, Derek Blyth will talk about these letters.

Paul Demeyer

Below, Derek Blyth and Helen MacEwan

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Exhibition in Baltimore

Thanks, Randall Grimsley, for the reminder that this exhibition is still running. So if you're in Baltimore.......

The exhibition first appeared at the University of Virginia in 2006 and featured materials from the teaching collections of Rare Book School. Founded in 1983, the school moved to its present home in 1992. It is an independent non-profit educational institute for the study of the history of books, printing and related subjects. More info from

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tamar Yellin in Haworth

Deputy Director Andrew McCarthy writes:

Tamar Yellin, author of Kafka in Brontëland and other stories, will be reading from and discussing her work and the influence of the Brontës at the West Lane Baptist Centre in Haworth on Wednesday 17 October at 2.00pm. This event takes place as part of the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s contemporary arts programme.

Kafka in Brontëland and other stories was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and received the Reform Judaism Prize 2006. Born in Leeds to Jewish parents, Tamar Yellin moved to Brontë country at the age of 21 and has lived there ever since. Her novel, The Genizah at the House of Shepher, based on her Jerusalemite ancestry, has received several awards including the international Sami Rohr Prize for emerging Jewish writers which carries a $ prize.

The museum’s arts programme has featured lots of well known writers but it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to highlight the work of a writer living and working so close to the home of the Brontës. It shows that Haworth still has an inspirational attraction not only for readers of the Brontës' books but also contemporary writers and artists.

Admission is £2.75 on the door. Advance booking is not required. Free to day ticket holders to the Brontë Parsonage Museum. For further details and bookings please contact the Brontë Parsonage Museum, /

Below, Tamar Yellin:

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Fund-raising and filming

Director Alan Bentley writes:

Along with a number of other historic houses and museums, we are participating in a fund- raising effort on eBay.

Top Lots is a partnership between heritage organisations and EBay to auction “experiences” to raise money. We are auctioning Ann Dinsdale, or to be more exact we are offering the following –

An evening for a group of up to 15 people with exclusive access to the Parsonage and Garden, an introductory talk and tour followed by a unique behind-the-scenes look at items from the collection with Ann Dinsdale, Brontë Society Collections Manager and author. Wine and nibbles and entertainment with a chance to meet Branwell Brontë.

Find out more at

On the topic of the forthcoming new film Brontë, director Charles Sturridge and his team have visited the Parsonage recently, mainly to take mouldings of stonework (and photographs) of the exterior, because it will soon be reconstructed at a location near Sheffield in South Yorkshire. Other locations will include Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster, and Cannon Hall, near Barnsley. Haworth village will feature too – but at the moment it is not known how much.

The cast list has been changing recently, which has given rise to plenty of speculation. The latest names for the Sisters, as conveyed to me, are as follows:

Rebecca Hall (seen recently on TV as Antoinette in Wild Sargasso Sea) as Emily Brontë.

Natalie Press (seen recently on TV in Bleak House) as Charlotte Brontë.

Evan Rachel Wood (well-known from the film Running with Scissors) as Anne Brontë.

In addition, John Hurt replaces Brian Cox as Patrick Brontë, Geraldine Chaplin plays Aunt Branwell, Joan Plowright plays Tabby and Kristin Scott-Thomas plays Lady Robinson.

Brussels scenes will not be filmed in Brussels – but in Luxemberg.

Richard Wilcocks adds:

Rebecca Hall, I suspect, will be an excellent Emily, judging from her remarkable performance on BBC Four’s Wild Sargasso Sea recently. In this she is the perfect Antoinette, who can only assert herself occasionally. Her yearning for love from the cold, authoritarian Rochester is painful to watch, her vulnerability and indecisiveness beautifully conveyed. She is a creature of nature, at home in a hallucinatory landscape, who will do something mad if she is unnaturally confined, and we see that in her well before the end.

Below, Rebecca Hall

This Saturday

A reminder : poet Amanda Dalton will be resident at the Parsonage on Saturday 6 October to mark National Poetry Day - which is officially tomorrow, 4 October. See the post for 9 September below.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Brontë Circles

Robert Barnard - pictured here with Director of the Parsonage Museum Alan Bentley - gave a talk entitled People the Brontës Knew in Haworth yesterday, to a large and appreciative audience. It was to mark the recent publication of A Brontë Encyclopedia: the indefinite article signifying academic modesty is officially favoured, but this major (definitive?)work should soon be up there with the likes of Juliet Barker's The Brontës. Up there with Clement Shorter too.

Magazine editor Shorter produced
Charlotte Brontë and her Circle in the 1890s, and it was his title which provided Dr Barnard with the talk's structure. "Some might think that she didn't have a circle....but everyone has one....although you would be hard-pressed to find one for Emily.

"I am going to talk about two or three circles. The first is the one which Patrick and Maria gathered around themselves at Thornton."

Thornton was described as a place where the gentry (which included the clergy) was "not really impressive" but where it was more numerous than in Haworth. Thanks to Miss Elizabeth Firth of Kipping House, who welcomed the Brontës there in 1815, we know about most of the social engagements of the time. Less than three months after Maria's death, "Patrick contacted Elizabeth, then aged about twenty-one, and must have proposed marriage, because she records that she wrote back to him telling him that it was her last letter to him."

She probably considered him to be of too lowly an origin. And he was Irish, too: "Attitudes to the Irish were perhaps a little similar to some present-day attitudes to immigrant groups like West Indians or the Poles.....It was not usual for people of a humble Irish origin to espouse English conservatism."

Quoting from Dudley Green's
The Letters of the Reverend Patrick Brontë, Dr Barnard showed how Patrick, "although he cringed to the gentry he met at Thornton", and although he wrote that "a warmer or truer friend to Church and State" could not be found, nevertheless found himself bound to "advocate the cause of temperate reform".

The end of Patrick's association with "extreme conservatism" and the Thornton Circle was marked by his letter to Dr Outhwaite of 20 September 1844:

I thank You for your Laconic Letter - I will try to abide by your - prescription for in good sooth, I have much need of patience, especially, when under affliction, such as may arise from Old Age, and Old Friends. - But that God to whom you refer, will judge You and [me], on the day of Doom, when we shall be more on a Level than we are now are - You have in times past done me [and mine]good for which I shall ever be thankful, whatever you now do, or may do, in time to come -

I remain, Sir
Your most obedient Servant, P. Brontë

The second group of people which Dr Barnard selected was the clergy - part of Charlotte's circle. "We can guess her opinions from reading the opening chapter of
Shirley in which clergymen are ridiculed." Clergymen were the only ones who could be regarded as matrimonial prospects, and Charlotte did not think much of most of them - for example the one who absconded with charity money (Smith), the one with profligate habits (Collins) who was physically cruel to his wife and children, infecting her with syphilis, and her father's close friend William Morgan, referred to as a boring "fat Welshman", and whose visits she detested.

"For Charlotte, the majority of clergymen were stupid and mediocre, with few prospects. All they did was to pass the time between meals quarreling. They lacked any zest for life.

"So what an eruption of vigour it must have been when William Weightman arrived! He was exceptionally lively and outgoing, with a wonderful warmth emanating from him......such a contrast with her brother Branwell, always looking in on himself.....Weightman had a sense of love, of humanity.....all the Brontës were in love with him.....he sent them all Valentines, including Ellen Nussey."

The third circle selected was Charlotte's society of her equals. "This was the sort of society which she had been aiming for all her life. The evidence is in the Juvenilia, which is full of literary controversies."

Most of the members of this circle were connected with London, a place of "venomous literary quarrels" which Charlotte had long been aware of before her visits. She knew about disputes surrounding MacPherson (alleged Ossian translator) and Byron, and the vicious denigration of John Keats and Leigh Hunt in Blackwoods magazine ("the Cockney School of English Poets"), so she was well-primed when she met a collection of in-the-flesh critics at a dinner organised by George Smith. She found, unsurprisingly, that critics were more presumptuous and domineering than the actual writers.

In London, she met people she would never have been allowed to see previously, and her attitudes and opinions were suitably amended. Thackeray "fell off his plinth" after her earlier infatuation with him. She became disillusioned with him "and his duchesses". She also stayed in Ambleside with Harriet Martineau - an atheist. "Of course she was lucky to have such friends and guides as George Smith and W S Williams."

"I cut down on the Juvenilia in the Encyclopedia. Some characters are referred to only fleetingly, and they are all covered by Christine Alexander."

Copies of the book (read the review by M. on Brontë Blog at sold well after the talk.

Here are the details if you (or your library) want a copy. Order it from the Parsonage Shop:

Europe / Rest of World £55.00
Australia / New Zealand A$198.00
ISBN13: 9781405151191
ISBN10: 1405151196

Publication Dates

USA: Aug 2007
Rest of World: Jul 2007
Australia: Sep 2007

Format : 246 x 171 mm , 6.75 x 9.75 in

Details : 416 pages, 50 illustrations.

Robert and Louise Barnard's A Brontë Encyclopedia is an A- Z encyclopedia of the most notable literary family of the 19th century highlighting original literary insights and the significant people and places that influenced the Brontes' lives.
• Comprises approximately 2,000 alphabetically arranged entries
• Defines and describes the Brontes' fictional characters and settings
• Incorporates original literary judgements and analyses of characters and motives
• Includes coverage of Charlotte's unfinished novels and her and Branwell's juvenile writings
• Features over 60 illustrations

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Remarkable Children

Mary Haigh writes:

To all who have waited for the arrival of my children's book -

The Brontës Remarkable Children of the Moors in Their Everyday World

I am honored to have received the gift of inspiration to write and illustrate this book. At last, it is listed on

The book is self-published by XLIBRIS, and they have produced a truly beautiful book - a joy to look at, capturing the watercolors just as I painted them. The text is full of subtle biographical occurrences that were important in the development of the Brontë children's lives. It is all very exciting making use of this unseen technology available at the touch of a keyboard. All the details are available on:

Barnards in Haworth

Bob and Louise Barnard will both be in Haworth today (Wednesday) at 2pm for a talk entitled People the Brontës Knew. This will be upstairs at the Baptist Chapel in West Lane.

The talk relates to the recent (July) publication of a major work - The Brontë Encyclopedia. The definite article needs a strong emphasis, I think. More later.

*Go to Bob's obituary page here

Listen to Agnes Grey again

It's currently the turn of Agnes Grey to be on BB7. Blog readers outside the UK are reminded that the BBC's Listen Again facility is well worth investigating:

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Wuthering Heights on the Radio

Thanks, James, for reminding us about what is coming up on the radio - BBC7 to be precise. Wuthering Heights begins next Monday 17 September with an hour-long episode beginning at 11am, which will be repeated on Tuesday morning at 5am. Stand by your DAB!

The five-part adaptation runs throughout the week. John Duttine, Amanda Root and Sharon Duce are the principals. Mary Barton is coming as well...

Find out more by going to

If you are somewhere which can't receive BBC7 (North America for example) please note that the whole lot is available as an audiobook (four CDs) which can be purchased for fifty dollars - BBC Radio Collection ISBN-13: 978-0-7927-3987-6

John Duttine (best known perhaps for his role in The Day of the Triffids) is pictured below:

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Amanda Dalton: Poet in Residence


To mark National Poetry Day, poet Amanda Dalton will be resident in the Parsonage for one day. She will be working in the Parsonage, exploring its collections and engaging with museum visitors to produce material which will be developed into a series of audio installations in the rooms of the house.

Visitors will have the chance to contribute material which will feature as part of the installations. These will be in-situ from Saturday 17 November to Friday 14 December.

Amanda Dalton’s first full length collection of poetry, How to Disappear, was published by Bloodaxe Books and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. She has worked extensively in theatre and radio drama and is currently working on her second poetry collection for publication in 2008.

Amanda has also worked in education, as Centre Director for the Arvon Foundation at Lumb Bank, and is Associate Director (Education) at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

Free on admission to the Parsonage.

Friday, 7 September 2007

The Letters to Brussels

Deep in the heart of the British Library are four letters written by Charlotte Brontë to her Belgian teacher Constantin Heger. It is nothing short of a miracle that the letters have survived at all. They were torn into small pieces, repaired with needle and thread and then left forgotten in a drawer until 1913.

The importance of these letters can hardly be underestimated. They are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the true nature of Charlotte Brontë’s feelings for Monsieur Heger when she wrote to him from Haworth:

I would rather suffer the greatest physical agony than always have my heart lacerated by painful regrets. If my master withdraws his friendship from me entirely I shall be altogether without hope; if he gives me a little – just a little – I shall be satisfied – happy; I shall have a reason for living; for working.

It takes a certain dogged persistence to gain access to the letters, but Derek Blyth of the Brussels Brontë Group recently saw them for himself. With the letters on the table in front of him, he was able to obtain a better insight into Charlotte’s mind when she sat down to write to Heger. Study of the originals also helps to pinpoint the moment they were torn up, and to identify the person who saved these outstanding literary documents for posterity. Derek Blyth, a Brussels-based writer who has written guide books on Belgium, will be talking about the letters at the Cercle des Voyageurs Café in Brussels on Thursday 18 October.

More information on the talk at:

Or contact

Brussels tourist information:

The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent is currently organising a major exhibition titled British Vision that highlights some 200 years of British painting. The earliest works date from the Victorian period when Charlotte Brontë and her sisters were writing their novels and so provides some interesting insights into the artistic mind of the time. Held in Ghent’s recently restored neoclassical museum, this is a unique opportunity to discover the British imagination in all its richness.

More information on British Visions at

Images below:

Derek Blyth, drawings from Charlotte Brontë's tale High Life in Verdopolis, the story that she presented to Heger and that turned up mysteriously in a Brussels secondhand bookshop in the early 1890s - now in the British Library. "Portrait of a Young Woman" c. and "King of Angria, Duke of Zamorna" c. 1834.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Gondal Trio

Paolo Mencarelli writes:

My great passion for the Brontë sisters originated by chance from a desire to deepen my knowledge of female literature. English literature, from this point of view, is full of extraordinary examples: Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf to mention only a few, and the Brontë sisters, of whom until 2006 I had never read anything.

I started with Jane Eyre, a novel that impressed me deeply for the extraordinary character of the protagonist and her moral strength. After this, I continued with another enchanting Charlotte Brontë novel - Villette, then The Professor, Shirley and (with growing interest and passion) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne - and finally Emily’s poems.

These, in particular, struck me so much that I decided to postpone my reading of Wuthering Heights until August 11, 2007, at Haworth, after coming back from a wonderful walk on the moors.

This interior path urged me to involve my literary experiences also in my daily life. I am a cellist and together with my wife, Maddalena, a violinist, I am a permanent member of the orchestra of the theatre La Fenice in Venice. Our life-long interest in music prompted us to develop other experiences besides that in the orchestra and so, many years ago, we founded a piano trio. Recently we had to find another pianist for our group, and so, while looking for the name of our new trio, it was natural for me to suggest 'Gondal'.

The idea was accepted with great enthusiasm, since our new pianist, whose name is also Maddalena, is very fond of English Literature: she has prepared a dissertation on Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and a doctoral dissertation on the vocal chamber music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi.

The repertoire of our Gondal trio is mainly Romantic, centred on the trios of Brahms and Mendelssohn (our favourite) and for the next year we have many projects including the performance of the entire chamber music production of Beethoven next spring and the trios of Dvorak and Villa-Lobos.

I would like to spend a few words on my recent visit to Haworth in August with my wife. We arrived Friday 10 and we stayed in a nice B&B near Main Street.

The following day we went to St Michael's and All Angels. I was a bit excited when I crossed the threshold of the church. Inside there were only two people: a woman polishing the brass and the organist. The atmosphere, in that absolute silence interrupted only by the wonderful playing of the organ and the view of the beautiful stained glass windows was really breathtaking. At 10.30 am we started our walk to Top Withins and the Brontë Waterfalls. The pathway on the moors was enchanting: the heather was blooming and the wind modified in a few seconds the colours of a bright blue sky covered by dark and white clouds.

On Sunday 12 August we went to the Parsonage Museum. It’s difficult to forget the emotion of the visit. To look at the dining room with the black sofa, Emily’s piano, the small dress and Charlotte’s shoes, Branwell’s paintings, the wonderful embroideries of the sisters, the brooches, the pins and all those photographs was something really interesting and touching.

Two memorable days, but too, too short! Many things still remain to be seen and discovered ..... we will surely come back!

Below, pictures of us, of La Fenice, Top Withins in the distance and a patch of wild Rosebay Willow Herb:

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Friends raise more than £300

The day dawned fine and sunny for the Yorkshire Day event held by the Friends of the Parsonage. After a slow start lots of people found their way to the small field next to the Museum where the recently purchased gazebos made a colourful sight.

The tea and home-made cakes proved very popular. The Book and Craft stalls also did a good trade, and it was noticed that many who bought went away only to return for a repeat visit to find another bargain.

Many people appreciated the tranquil setting, an oasis of calm away from the busy Main Street of Haworth, lingering over their drinks whilst enjoying the first fine day for weeks. A total of £337.24 was raised and The Friends would like to thank everyone who came and supported them.

Pat Berry
Chairman of Friends

Monday, 30 July 2007

Well-dressed on Wednesday

Here's a reminder - on Wednesday next week (8 August) at 11am, 2pm and 4pm, History Wardrobe will bring Jane Eyre - The Well-Dressed Governess to the Parsonage.

Here is what they say about it:

The genteel, demure and modest fashions of the 1840s could sometimes clothe a woman of high intelligence and passionate intensity. Charlotte Brontë was one such woman. Her greatest fictional heroine - Jane Eyre - was another. Gillian Stapleton uses exquisite replica clothes and delightful original items to examine Jane's wardrobe in detail, following her fictional career from charity schoolgirl to governess then fairytale bride, exploring just how close the sartorial links between Jane and her creator really were.

Contact the Parsonage on 01535 640196 for the latest info

Sunday, 22 July 2007

A surprise walk to Brontë Falls

Brontë Society member Maddalena de Leo left temperatures of forty degrees in Ascea – Velia (not far from Salerno in Italy) for a visit to Haworth, where the temperature was a little less. As arranged earlier this year, she met up with Richard Wilcocks and has now sent the following account:

On 5 July last, the morning appointed for our meeting, I found myself at the Brontë Parsonage meeting with Richard Wilcocks, the recent editor of BS Gazette and until the end of June Chairman of the Council.

I and my daughter Francesca had arrived at Haworth the evening before and it was just the first day of our holiday, our disappointment being the wet, cloudy and cold weather all around us. What a pity not to be able to go to the moors that day!

Mr Wilcocks was waiting for me when I came out of the Parsonage Museum and, just after we met and greeted he proposed on the spot to leave for the so longed-for walk to the moors, maybe arriving at Brontë Falls and not Top Withins as he had originally planned. At first I and my daughter were very perplexed – rain and wind are not at all congenial to Mediterranean people and also windcheaters and umbrellas are usually a burden even in winter – but we both took courage and willingly followed our guide along the moor path he firmly took.

And it was really a blessed walk, with green all around and Yorkshire sheep here and there nibbling at the grass. Once beyond Middle Intake Farm my daughter and Mr Wilcocks started taking photos and he also showed us a purple long flower called a foxglove growing surprisingly solitary just there.

Finally after a long windy walk we arrived at Brontë Falls and the view was really breathtaking. The waters coming down from the hills met fluently, chasing each other, and a nice little stone bridge was there just to sit on to think about the Brontë sisters chatting and resting on the same spot almost two centuries ago. There was also a group of young students there and I was able to have a talk with their teachers.

After some time and a little rest the way back seemed shorter. Thank you Richard with all my heart! Without your insistence I would have never ventured into the moors because of that awful weather and without a guide during this sixth wet stay in Haworth. I surely would have lost a new chance to breathe my Brontës magic scent.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Vote for us now!

Vote Brontë Parsonage ‘Britain’s Best’ historical site with UKTV History!

This year, Brontë Parsonage is involved in UKTV History’s Britain’s Best campaign to find the nation’s favourite historic site. Hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, the campaign will involve two television series and a final programme presenting the winner as decided by you, the British public.

With voting drawing to a close, show your support for the Parsonage by voting online at, call 09011 31 2007 (calls cost 50p) or text BEST BRONTE PARSONAGE to 83222 (texts cost 50p plus standard network charges). You can also vote in person using the voting boxes at the Parsonage.

With just 1,500 votes we need your support and as someone who values the Parsonage we would ask that you take the time to vote for us. The website also gives you the opportunity to express why the Parsonage is important to you by writing your own review and/or uploading any images you may have of the Museum.

Watch Britain’s Best on UKTV History (Sky channel 537, Virgin TV 203 and Freeview 12) from 23 July to 27 August, and don’t miss the result on 17 September to see whether your support has paid off!

Alan Bentley

Still on the subject of voting........make sure you have voted for our Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale's handsome recent book The Brontës at Haworth. This is up for a new award which celebrates the very best of Yorkshire writing. The winner will be announced at the end of September at the Richmond Book Festival by local MP William Hague.

Ready-made voting cards are available in libraries and bookshops or you could visit The closing date is soon - 31 July.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Yorkshire Day at the Parsonage

The next event organised by the Friends of the Brontë Parsonage will be held on Sunday 29 July, the day that Haworth is celebrating Yorkshire Day. The Friends will be serving tea and home-made cakes in the small field next to the Parsonage from 10.30a.m. until 4.00p.m. There will also be a second-hand book stall, a plant stall and a craft stall selling items made by Museum staff.

So far this year the Friends have held a Ceilidh to celebrate Patrick Brontë's birthday and the Irish connection, sold tea and scones over two days at the Haworth 1940s event (the Parsonage remained open throughout the war years) and held a raffle at the Bronte Society AGM weekend in June.

In addition they have also served refreshments at various evenings organised as part of the Museum's Education Programme. It has been a busy six months and in this short space of time the Friends have raised over £1,000 for Museum projects, so please come along and support them.

Pat Berry

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

New Acquisitions

The Brontë Society has recently acquired three new items for the Museum Collection. They are:

A letter written to the Trustees for the Church Lands of Haworth, dated 1 February 1834, written by Charlotte Brontë and signed by her father. The letter concerns the rotation of the Trustees and the division of labour in collecting the rents. It was formerly owned by a descendant of James Greenwood of Haworth

The Society also purchased two letters which were auctioned at Christie’s on 3 July. They are Charlotte’s letter to W.S. Williams, written on 9 November 1849, and Patrick Brontë’s letter to George Taylor of Stanbury, dated 29 February 1844. Both letters were part of the huge collection of important historical letters amassed by Albin Schram, found in a filing cabinet in his laundry room.

Charlotte’s letter was written just days after the publication of Shirley, and expresses her disappointment on reading the first reviews. Charlotte was clearly missing the support and encouragement of her sisters Emily and Anne, who both died whilst she was writing the novel, leaving her vulnerable to the critics’ hurtful comments.

Patrick’s letter is a compassionate appeal written on behalf of Enoch Thomas, one of his churchwardens, said to be suffering a ‘very severe and great affliction’. He is clearly concerned about Thomas’s well-being and believes that ‘his friends ought to do for him all that lies within their power’. After attempting to interest George Taylor in Thomas’s plight, Mr Brontë goes on to enquire after Taylor’s own family. It is a letter which challenges the notion that the Brontës had little contact with the world outside their parsonage home, and that Patrick Brontëwas a selfish recluse who took little interest in the lives of his parishioners.

Details of the letter and a transcript will be published in the Society’s journal, Brontë Studies, and for those who are unable to visit the museum we are currently developing an online catalogue with virtual access to items in the Collection. It is our intention that this letter be appreciated by audiences beyond the locality of the Museum and access via the internet is one way in which this can be achieved.

All three letters will be displayed at the Parsonage over the coming months.

Ann Dinsdale
Collections Manager

Monday, 9 July 2007

Brontë - the name

This is my report on the 'What's in a name?' campaign which began just before Easter. To illustrate it, thunder clouds, because Bronte means thunder in Greek.

The aim of the letter sent to named managing directors of about forty companies in March (and subsequent phone calls) when I was still Chairman of the Brontë Society was not just to obtain donations and sponsorship but to put the Parsonage in the public eye just before Easter. A media release was sent out on 19 March 2007 which resulted in substantial articles in the local and national press, ten minutes on the Radio 4 programme You and Yours and two sessions of a similar length on the Radio Leeds Breakfast Show.

John Roberts wrote an article which was prominently placed (page 2) in the Yorkshire Post of 20 March. An article by Louise Jury in the Independent on 21 March was well-informed and accompanied by three illustrations. There was also a 'third leader' about the letter by Charles Nevin on the editorial page. On the same day, a very good article by Clive White (who rang several companies in the local area) was published in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Other articles appeared in the Keighley News and on various blogs and websites.

The You and Yours interview (lunchtime 26 March) resulted in a number of phone calls and emails, all sympathetic. The programme had used no less than four researchers to phone around for reactions from companies found on the Internet, which made me jealous. One reaction, from a Mr Robert Bolton from Bronte Whirlpools Ltd of Silsden, turned out to be typical – “I chose the name because the company is in Bronte Country. Otherwise we would have been Aqua something.”

The Radio Leeds broadcasts resulted in phone calls to the station, one or two jokey but all of them sympathetic. The presenter mentioned that she had been impressed by the Parsonage Museum during visits there, and there was talk of the fact that it might be a good place to visit over Easter.

The companies which received the letters were sifted from a long list after a check (by a volunteer named Ruth Wilson at the Parsonage!) that they were still in business and that they were reasonably large. Many of them received follow-up phone calls from myself. Some replies were cautious or evasive (eg “I’ll ring back when I have discussed this with my partner/head office etc”), some were surprised (“What letter?”) and some were very friendly. Here is a selection:

Rita Marsden from Brontë Weaving Shed in Haworth (visited personally) said that she was sending the letter on to head office in Edinburgh but that she was “interested in collaboration”.

Miriam Spollen from Brontë Bridal in Dublin was very friendly, and would like to visit the Parsonage (she comes over to Harrogate frequently). She promised a cheque and said she would get back to me in the autumn.

Julie Eyre from Brontë Business Networks of Solihull said she chose Brontë because of her own name and because she used to live in Oakworth. She sent her best wishes but added that hers is a start-up company and unable to give donations at the moment. However, the company would be willing to give advice on websites.

Mrs Clare Pickles of Brontë Country Cottages “will ring back after I have discussed it with my husband”.

Mr H.S. Sohal of Brontë Countrywear Ltd (Manchester) “will ring back after I have discussed it with fellow directors”.

John Matthewman of Brontë Tweeds rang to invite me to tour his mill in Tingley, which I did. It has not changed much for a hundred years and produces mainly tartan blankets and lambswool scarves of high quality. Apparently the same products can be labelled 'Brontë' or 'Highland'.

“It’s to emphasise that they are British,” he explained. “We are one of the few working mills left around here. We have so much competition from India and China.” He is unable to donate money but told me about a deal he has with the National Trust. He can supply items like scarves “at cost price” for resale. This information has been relayed to Parsonage shop manager Sean Killian, who will pay a visit.

Stephen Leach from Brontë Engineering Technologies also invited me to visit his company in Bradford, which specialises in valves for desalination plants. He was very sympathetic, has visited the Parsonage, and spent much of the visit telling me about the uselessness of Bradford Council. He has asked for his company website (currently under construction) to be linked to the Parsonage website and the Parsonage Blog, and said that he will send a cheque.

Alan Hardie of Patterson Arran Ltd of Livingston, Scotland (Brontë Biscuits, Café Brontë) sent a letter saying that there were “opportunities to work with you” but claimed to have “limited funds”, so no donation.

Sir James Aykroyd Bt (of Birstwith Hall, Harrogate) sent a letter saying that he had bought Brontë Liqueur and related trademarks some time ago “but due to other interests have so far done nothing to commercialise the product”. He pointed out that Sir James Roberts was his grandmother’s father, and that he can do little to help us at the moment – but he attached a cheque for fifty pounds. He said that should Brontë Liqueur be reintroduced he would be happy to include in the selling price a small contribution to the Society for each bottle sold. He wished us good luck in our fund raising efforts. In a subsequent phone call he repeated what he had put in the letter. He was invited to visit the Parsonage.

Incidentally I did not stand for re-election as Chairman of the Brontë Society at the last meeting of Council. I can no longer spare the time because my small business (publications and design) is expanding.

Richard Wilcocks

Below, a reminder of the original letter:


Copy of the original letter below:

Dear (name of Managing Director)

I am writing to you for the simple reason that your company uses the name Brontë in its title. I am guessing that this was chosen because it confers a certain prestige upon you, associating you in the public’s imagination with the Brontë family and perhaps the Brontë Parsonage Museum as well. Bronte is both the name of a town in Sicily and the Greek word for thunder, and it was chosen by the Reverend Patrick Brontë (with the addition of the diaeresis) as a new version of his family name of Brunty early in the Nineteenth Century, mainly because of its associations with Lord Nelson, a national hero at the time.

I hope that «Company_Name» is currently prospering. I am wondering whether you have recently visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, which is run by the Brontë Society. If you have, you will know that the home of the Brontë family, the Georgian house where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë wrote the books which made them world famous, is lovingly preserved by a dedicated staff in spite of a tight budget.

There is a programme of special events at the museum which runs throughout the year, which includes special exhibitions, talks, day-schools, courses, children’s holiday workshops, film, theatre and musical performances. Its education programme is ‘inspired’ according to the Judges’ Citation for winners of the prestigious Sandford Award.

The Brontë Society possesses one of the most important collections of Brontë items in the world, housed in the Parsonage, an invaluable resource for the many researchers seeking to shed further light on the Brontë writings, the Brontë family and the social, political and economic history of the Brontë times. Thus, there will always be a demand on the Society’s financial resources as newly-discovered and existing Brontëana come on to the market. There is also a considerable cost in the professional care, conservation, storage and management of the Society’s existing collection.

The Brontë Society gets no direct government assistance, so it is reliant on the generosity of its supporters and visitors to the museum. This is where you come in, because I believe that you could help. I am inviting you to make a donation to us, which would be gratefully received and publicly acknowledged.

Your company could sponsor an appropriate artefact, a special event, an exhibition, a children’s workshop…….the list is long. Or, you could contribute to our Acquisitions Fund, with a focus on a particular item. Your company’s name would feature in our publicity.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me by letter or email, or by ringing me directly on . I would be very happy to meet you personally to discuss how you could help us.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Two letters for the Parsonage

Good news! The Parsonage was able to buy the two Brontë-related letters which were auctioned at Christie’s yesterday as part of the Albin Schram collection which has been featuring in the national news.

The first is a letter from Charlotte to William Smith Williams written in November 1849, in which she flays the critics of Shirley. An extract from the letter is in Margaret Smith's collection, but the entire letter is unpublished. The Parsonage attempted to buy the letter in 1999 but missed out - so it is even more satisfying to have got it now at a good hammer price - £18,500.

The second letter is from Patrick: “In this letter, Mr Brontë writes to George Taylor, one of the trustees of Haworth Church, on behalf of Enoch Thomas, one of his churchwardens. He is clearly concerned about Thomas’s well-being and believes that ‘his friends ought to do for him all that lies within their power’. After attempting to interest George Taylor in Thomas’s plight, Mr Brontë goes on to enquire after Taylor’s own family.

"It is a letter which challenges the notion that the Brontës had little contact with the world outside their parsonage home, and that Patrick Brontë was a selfish recluse who took little interest in the lives of his parishioners.”

Again the letter was missed out on in 1999, but has now been purchased for a very reasonable £2600

Alan Bentley

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Well-dressed in August

Throughout August, the Parsonage will be hosting a summer season of family activities to ensure children of all ages have something exciting to do in the school holidays, whilst learning a thing or two about the lives of the Brontë family.

Events take place on consecutive Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays commencing 7 August and ending on 30 August 2007. These will include exploring history through artefacts, re-enactions and arts and crafts workshops.

New this year will be an audio dramatization of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë leading on from the display at the Museum, and a Brontë trail for families to follow accompanied by tour guides who will tell the story of life in and around the Parsonage.

Note down the date for a new costumed performance of Jane Eyre, the well dressed Governess on Wednesday 8 August at 11.00am, 2.00pm and 4.00pm which will explore the life of Jane Eyre through the clothes that she wore.

The summer season is always popular, with children and parents from across the UK making the trip to the Parsonage. Children will get the chance to dress up, write with quill pens and make bags and shoes whilst adults are entertained by Museum staff - in particular Andrew McCarthy - staging the hilarious Branwell’s About on the front lawn.

The Museum is open from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm and all activities are free upon admission.


Tuesdays - 11.30am - Guided Walk
12.30 pm - Branwell’s About
1.30 pm - Tabby’s Tour
2.30 pm - Guided Walk
3.30 pm - Branwell’s About

Wednesdays - Hands on History – Dress up, write with quill pens and take part in activities whilst handling a collection of artefacts exploring history and life in the Parsonage

Wed 8 August - Jane Eyre, the well dressed Governess

Thursdays - 11.00 am - 1.00 pm & 2.00pm - 4.00 pm
Arts and Crafts for all the family

Diane Kay

For general information please contact the Brontë Parsonage Museum on
+44 1535 642323 or visit

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Un incendio destruyó totalmente un teatro en Cordóba

Everybody connected with Cumbres Borrascos (Wuthering Heights), a rock opera which was to have premiered in Cordóba, Argentina, is feeling devastated at the moment, because the theatre burned down just before the first performance. Thanks to our friends at Bronte Blog for telling us about this.

You can read the whole story (in Spanish) in La Nacion at

You can watch a street interview with the director Hernán Espinosa on the production's blog at

I am sure the company will appreciate messages of support on this - click on Comentarios

Below, after the fire:

Jewel Joan

Paul Daniggelis from El Paso, Texas, sends this news clipping and message:

Joan Quarm, long time Brontë Society member, 87 years of age, still working, still making the news, still going strong. What a Jewel in the Crown!!!

Click on it to enlarge.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Brontë birthplace IS sold

So who is he? According to a spokesman for Eddisons, which conducted the auction yesterday, a large property investor who comes regularly, a man in his late 30s or early 40s who lives in London, has bought the place on a whim. Apparently, he does not know what he is going to do with it, but he says that he is not going to adapt it for buy-to-let.

The Brontë Society is in no position to take it on. The local paper, the Telegraph and Argus, is polling online readers on whether Bradford Council should buy it and run it as a tourist attraction. So far, a substantial majority thinks it should. But then, Bradford Council tends to take Haworth and the Parsonage for granted, doing very little: the old toilets run by Bradford in the village are inadequate and dirty and the famous setts (cobbles) on Main Street are poorly looked after.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Birthplace not sold

There were insufficient bids for Lot 53 today at the auction held in Leeds United's Banqueting Suite at Elland Road. Therefore 'No Sale' was declared for the Brontë Birthplace in Thornton. The guide price had been reduced from £200,000 to £180,000 previously.

Secret selves of the Brontës

A series of striking new paintings by artist Victoria Brookland will be exhibited shortly at the Parsonage, which has been developing a reputation for bold projects with visual artists, most recently Turner-prize nominee Cornelia Parker, as part of its much praised contemporary arts programme.

Secret Self, the new exhibition, features fourteen works by the Leicester based artist, who has used dresses in the museum’s collection as her inspiration, transforming them into powerful evocations of the Brontës’ enduring mystery.

What I found most moving and unsettling about the dresses was the way they evoked thoughts of melancholy and absence, of a great depth of silence and yearning. It seemed to suggest the unspoken aspects of womens’ lives - feelings too acute to be written, voices not heard. Not just the Brontës’ voices - but all womens’. I was struck by the realisation that despite being the most examined and analysed women writers in history the Brontës still retained absolutely their mystery, the secret of their deepest selves died with them - albeit with a wealth of tantalising clues left behind. (Victoria Brookland)

Items of Brontë clothing are amongst the most powerful and popular exhibits in the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and these paintings use images of dresses from the museum’s collection to powerfully evoke the mystery surrounding the Brontës’ unrevealed lives. They accentuate how much there is that we do not know about the Brontës, that we cannot define or contain them. (Andrew McCarthy, Deputy Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum)

The exhibition is part of a programme of events that has recently included a visit to Haworth by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, an event at the National Portrait Gallery with artist Cornelia Parker and an exhibition of giant photographs produced through a collaboration between local photographic artist, Simon Warner, and a group of visually impaired youngsters from Bradford.

The Secret Self exhibition opens on Sunday 1 July and runs to Sunday 30 September. Admission is included in the normal museum admission charge.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Brontë event in Milan

Franca Gollini Tiezzi writes:

An enthusiastic group of members of the Italian section of the Brontë Society gathered at the British Council in Milan on 26 May 2007 to meet Angela Crow, who introduced her latest book Miss Branwell’s companion.

It was a great honour to have Angela with us and to be introduced to her work, which was presented for the first time to an audience. Her talk was very interesting and let us know more about Maria Branwell, the Brontes’ mother, a clever and sensitive woman.

At the end of the lecture Angela signed copies of her book and then we had a lovely English tea party offered by the British Council.

Thank you, dear Angela, for your clever, involving talk and for your friendship. We hope you will come back to Italy soon!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Youngest member?

Paul Daniggelis writes:

Rachel Angela Daniggelis, 8 weeks old, has confided in me her desire to become an Angrian when she comes of age (4 years).

Until then, her Brontë library consists of this new volume* beautifully written and illustrated by Mary Haig, Region 10, US Brontë Society Representative. It is a gift to Miss Daniggelis from US Brontë Society Representative Theresa Connors, to whom we give our thanks.

*now available at the Parsonage shop