Thursday, 11 January 2007

Charles Lemon MBE 1914 - 2007

The following is from a recent news release sent to the local and national press:

The Brontë Society has sent its condolences to the family of Charles Lemon MBE, who died on the morning of 4 January. His funeral is at St Anne’s Catholic church in Keighley at 12pm on Friday 12 January.

Charles Lemon joined the Brontë Society in 1936 after having cycled to Haworth (from London) the previous year. He was a very active member, elected to the Society’s council several times and serving as chairman. He was the editor of Transactions (the Society’s academic journal) from 1964 – 1983 and served on the editorial board of Brontë Studies, the journal which replaced it, until the day he died.

As Bibliographical Secretary (a post which no longer exists) he frequently attended auctions on behalf of the Parsonage, helping in the purchasing of letters and other Brontë memorabilia.

His publications include :

A Leaf from an Unopened Volume by Charlotte Brontë (1986) (new transcription, edited by Charles Lemon)

A Centenary History of the Brontë Society

Early Visitors to Haworth (1996)

Classics of Brontë Scholarship (1999) (selected and introduced by Charles Lemon)

In the foreword to A Centenary History of the Brontë Society, the famous historian and past President of the Brontë Society Asa Briggs (born in Keighley in 1921) wrote, “The Brontë Society has a long and fascinating history and no one is better suited to write it than Charles Lemon, who has played an active part in the story.”

Current Chairman of the Brontë Society Richard Wilcocks commented, “ With the death of Charles Lemon we have lost an extraordinary member.

“Through his efforts and imagination he set an example for us all. He is one of the reasons the Brontë Society has survived and flourished since its founding in 1893, longer than most other literary societies.”

Previous Chairman Bob Barnard said, “He was a gentle, scholarly man, enormously well-read, who came over the years to represent all that is best in the Society”.

When he spoke to younger members of his family he remembered that as a young child in London he was held by his mother during bombing raids - by Zeppelins. He also recalled the return of his father from the Great War: he had been fighting in France and in Italy.

He attended Davidson Road Junior School, which a few years earlier (1908 - 1911) had boasted D H Lawrence on its staff. Later, at Selhurst Grammar, where he first discovered Jane Eyre, he particulary loved History, Latin and English, and would undoubtedly have had a distinguished university career had his parents' finances permitted - but he left to take a job at the age of sixteen.

A full obituary will appear in the next issue of Brontë Society Gazette.

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