Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Three Quartets

Richard Wilcocks writes:

On Saturday 11 October at 6.30pm in St Margaret’s Church Hall in Ilkley, there will be a (free) talk by Ian M Emberson entitled Three Quartets: the Rossettis, the Mendelssohns and the Brontës. It is an event in the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Ian is a writer, artist and former music-librarian who is the author of one book and many articles about the Brontës. The talk will be brilliant, I know, because I heard a version of it a while ago in the Parsonage cellar. He focuses on the childhoods of three gifted families, discussing how this background influenced their later achievements. In each case there are four exceptional children, slightly apart from their immediate surroundings, yet ultimately blending different cultures in their mature creative activities.

The talk is the result of extensive research: all three of the significant ancestors of the families were exiles in some way. For example Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of Felix, was a partner in a silk firm in Berlin at the time of Frederick the Great and a writer on the theme of Immortality of the Soul, who achieved the status of ‘protected Jew’, which made a big difference at a time when Jews were subject to frequent restrictions and humiliations. Gabriel Rossetti was a political agitator and scholar who sought asylum in England, where he taught Italian at London University, and of course Patrick Brontë escaped a life of poverty in Ireland to go to Cambridge.

All three brought something beautiful, fresh and new from the outside to their country of settlement.

Below, Ian Emberson (look at his website here) – photo by Richard Wilcocks

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