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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Get in touch

Would the man who commented very recently on our May 2007 post Haworth Clampers as 'Anonymous' please get in touch by email. You may have a legal case, especially if damage was done to your vehicle.

Monday, 13 December 2010

A visitor from Greece

Elena Spanou from Greece has posted on her blog a very interesting account of her visit to Haworth and the Parsonage, together with some superb photographs. Here is the link:

Friday, 10 December 2010

Are you one of the enthusiasts?

Fatima Shafiq writes:
Fresh One Productions are currently producing a new documentary and campaign series exploring the secret to lasting love and are looking for couples with a love story to share. Adventurous British couple Mike and Alanna Clear are on a quest to uncover the secrets of lasting relationships in the UK.

On a motorbike and sidecar they have already travelled from Alaska to Argentina, meeting and interviewing couples who all had something inspiring, thought-provoking or humorous to share about the secret to a lasting relationship. Armed with the insights from their previous trip, Mike and Alanna are now embarking on a fascinating journey on home soil, fuelled by a desire to find out how British couples make their relationships work. We are hoping to speak to confident, happy, loving couples from all over the UK who might be able to let us in on their secrets to a great relationship. You can view some of Mike and Alanna’s exploits so far on their Facebook page

As a part of the documentary we would love to talk to couples who are Wuthering Heights enthusiasts. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, or if you know of someone who might be then please email me on or call me on 0203 375 5116.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Review of Brontë in Love by Sarah Freeman

 A review by IMS:
Brontë in Love is by Sarah Freeman, a Leeds-born journalist and writer. The book, as the title suggests, describes how Charlotte Brontë fell in love on more than one occasion and how those loves influenced and are reflected in her own writing. Charlotte’s character is laid bare from very early on in the book as Freeman describes the involvement she had with men before she married her father’s curate, having yearned all her life for affection and after resigning herself to growing old single and lonely.

We read of the proposal by the clergyman from Colne, Charlotte’s obsession with the married Constantin Heger and her hopes for a future with her publisher, George Smith. It is interesting to read how Charlotte questions her own decision not to accept a proposal from the shadowy figure James Taylor, employee of Smith Elder & Co. Although she feels that it would be a partnership of equals she cannot forget her feeling of repugnance concerning him and how her veins ‘ran ice’ when he came near her.

Reading Freeman’s interpretation of this very important part of Charlotte’s life - taken from letters and biographies - the feminine yet insecure side of her character is brought very much to the fore. We are told of her burning passion from a very early age, and how she brings to life the Angrian character- the ultimate embodiment of raw machismo, the Duke of Zamora. We read that because she fell in love with M. Heger she interprets what he writes to her as she wishes those words to be. We feel for her and sympathise, somewhat, with her in her anger and frustration when Branwell goes to pieces after Mrs Robinsons’s final rejection of him. She had not allowed herself the same indulgence when she realised that nothing would come of her own love for M. Heger- however much she longs for it.

The book progresses into showing Charlotte’s poor estimation of herself and her falling in love with ‘unobtainable’ men: Constantin Heger, living in another country, with the responsibilities of a wife and family, George Smith, younger than her and from a different environment - he belonging to a metropolitan world and she to Haworth and her father.

There are a number of printing errors, for example Ellen Nussey’s home is called ‘Bookroyd, instead of ‘Brookroyd’ (p.150), and a statement which could imply that Branwell may not have been the only son of the family: ‘her brothers and sisters knew that Charlotte was leading a dangerous double life.’ (p.19) When describing Charlotte’s portrayal of Lowood School, in Jane Eyre, the tyrannical Mr Blackwood (p.83) is mentioned (confusion here perhaps with Blackwood’s Magazine?) as the founder and benefactor of the school at Cowan Bridge, instead of Mr Brocklehurst!

However some of the factual errors may be more misleading. It was Anne and Emily who formed an alliance to create the Land of Gondal, not Anne and Elizabeth - Elizabeth having died earlier after her brief sojourn at Cowan Bridge (p.15). The curate from the Colne area, who proposed to Charlotte whilst on a brief visit to Haworth, was the Reverend David Pryce not Bryce. (p.35) His grave is pictured below.

Freeman states that when Charlotte and Emily were planning to go to Brussels Anne was working as a teacher at Roe Head. (p.41) Anne had been a pupil there- leaving in 1837- but had never taught at that establishment. She had become a governess to the Ingham family for about eight months in 1839 but in 1840 became governess at Thorpe Green, between Harrogate and York. Describing Charlotte facing her worst nightmare- the realisation that her beloved Emily was going to die, Freeman states that by the middle of December Emily was bedridden. (p.95) Perhaps the most intriguing question regarding the enigma which is Emily Brontë could be why, when she became so ill, did she refuse all medicine and medical aid? She certainly was not bedridden as she rose at the same time every morning, trying to do all the jobs she had done before, rebuffing any offers of help.

After Emily’s death, and as Charlotte turns with a heavy heart to nursing her last sister, Anne expresses a wish to see Scarborough for one last time. In Freeman’s  book there is a description of a sombre party - Ellen Nussey accompanying the sisters- making their way to Scarborough in June 1849. (p.96)  In actual fact- as the photograph of Anne’s headstone on Page 99 confirms- Anne died on 28 May 1849 – the party having left Haworth on Thursday 24 May. Freeman makes the point that, after Mr Nicholls moves away from Haworth when Charlotte rejected him and Mr Brontë becomes more and more dependent on Charlotte, the servants Tabby and Martha are old themselves. (p.142) Tabitha Aykroyd would certainly have been well advanced in age in 1853, having joined the Brontë household in 1824 at the age of 54. However Martha Brown, daughter of John Brown the sexton, Branwell’s great friend, arrived at the Parsonage to assist Tabby in 1841 at the age of 13. Therefore, at the age of 25, she would be younger than Charlotte herself at the time Freeman describes.

Notwithstanding the above errors the book describes this facet of Charlotte’s life in great detail and it makes interesting reading and perhaps sets in context some of the characters in her novels. It could be a good starting point for anyone wishing to learn more of this side of Charlotte’s character, providing the numerous factual errors are corrected in any subsequent edition. We are left feeling that Charlotte, during her isolation, her self doubts, in all her sadness and her loneliness, her brilliance in writing her novels - where in the main her heroines found the love of their lives - craved the love of a man she could truly call her own. We are found asking ourselves, by the end of the book, does Charlotte understand, at last, just how Branwell felt when Mrs Robinson turned from him, when she joins Mr Nicholls at the garden door, where he leans in a paroxysm of anguish? As she sees him lingering at the Parsonage gate, unable or unwilling to make a final step away from Haworth and the woman he has fallen in love with, is that the moment when she realises what true love really is?

Early on in the book there is an excerpt from a letter Charlotte wrote to Ellen Nussey after her rejection of Ellen’s brother Henry’s rather clinical proposal of marriage, the first she received. She wrote, ‘I could not have that intense attachment which would make me willing to die for him and if I marry it must be in the light of adoration that I will regard my husband.’ It is ironic that perhaps in the end she was willing to die for the love of Arthur, dying, just as her father had feared, during the early stages of pregnancy, its consequent violent nausea wearing her down.  Probably, the disease to which her siblings had succumbed was, in her weakened state, waiting to claim her too.

It is quite poignant that some of the last words to flow from the pen of the great writer that was Charlotte Brontë were to Ellen, telling of Arthur’s tender loving care. She described him as ‘the tenderest nurse, the kindest support, the best earthly comfort that ever woman had. His patience never fails.’

Charlotte, maybe too late, had at last found what love really meant. She had married a man for whom, she confessed, she did not have the same passionate feelings she had had for Monsieur Heger. She had married a man who did not love her for her fame, her talent, her beauty or her wealth but just for her ‘plain, obscure self’ and at the end she did not find him wanting. 

Brontë in Love
by Sarah Freeman
published by Great Northern Books, September 2010.
Hardback, full colour, 192 pages, £14.99,
ISBN 9781905080700.

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Memorial Inscription: The Reverend David Pryce at Christ Church Colne

Sum sua praemia Laudi

Sepultus hic jacet
Reverendus David Pryce    AB TCD
Ecclesiae Trawdensis Pastorprimus
Desderio omnium maximo
Prid non Januarii
Aetatis suae
Vigesimo nono
Mortem obiit

Virtutis pietatisque hoc monumentum
Familiarium e donis adid collatis
Hibernicus Hibernico
ponendum curavit

Merit has its own reward.

Here lies buried
Reverend David Pryce AB TCD [Bachelor of Arts Trinity College Dublin]
First Minister of Trawden Church
Much missed by all
He died on the 4th January AD 1840 in the 29th year of his age
This memorial to a virtuous and pious man
Was paid for from a gift from the college
And contribution from Ireland for an Irishman

[Trawden is a little village about two miles from where the grave is.]