Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ian Emberson 1936 - 2013

The unexpected death on Monday of writer and artist Ian Emberson, who was much involved with the Brontë Society, has caused great distress for all who knew him.

Ian's website -

Isobel Stirk writes:
It is with a feeling of great sadness that I write of the death of Ian Emberson who died, unexpectedly, on 4 November. Ian was a life member of the Brontë Society and was a very good friend of mine and his cheerful and friendly presence will be missed by so many people.

He had numerous articles printed in Brontë Society Gazette and Brontë Studies and his
e-book Seaport at Sunrise,  with its background of Cyprus in the 1950s, was published recently. He was an impressive artist, and his postcards and the illustrations in his own books and those of other authors show his wonderful talent. As a retired music librarian he had a great love of music, and beautiful settings have been composed for his poetry and an opera to his libretto. His knowledge of the Brontë family was vast and his book Pilgrims from Loneliness was an exploration and interpretation of Charlotte Brontë’s  Jane Eyre and Villette - drawn from books which had had an early influence on her mind. He and his wife Catherine discovered recollections of the Brontës by George Sowden, younger brother of Sutcliffe Sowden who had officiated at Charlotte’s wedding, which had lain forgotten for one hundred years. They subsequently published them.

The funeral service will be on Monday 18 November at 1.30pm in St Mary’s Church in the centre of Todmorden. Burial is at 3pm and it is so fitting for Ian, a great lover of nature, the countryside and the outdoors, that his final resting place will be in Cross Stone graveyard - high on the hills above the Todmorden valley. The four Brontë children were very familiar with Cross Stone as in September 1829 they went there with Aunt Branwell to stay with their great-aunt’s widower- the Reverend John Fennell. It was from the vicarage there that Charlotte wrote her first ever letter, a letter to her father back home in Haworth. In July 2005 Ian co-authored, with Catherine, an article, Turns in the circle of friendship: ‘Uncle Fennell’, 1762-1841, which appeared in Brontë Studies.

Deepest sympathy is sent to Catherine and I am sure that those who knew Ian will agree with me that we are much poorer for his death but certainly richer for having known him.

Catherine Emberson writes: 
Since Ian's death I have received over 250 cards, letters and messages of sympathy,  many from Brontë friends worldwide - thank you all.

Ian was incredibly gifted in many of the arts and in addition to his articles and lectures many will know his beautiful poetry and artwork, especially through book illustrations and postcards - all of which sprang from a well of deep and  highly sensitive creativity.    Anne's insightful comment (see below) sums up Ian's contribution perfectly '...he brought love to his scholarship and this is the best kind...'     Ian's was an important legacy and when I regain my strength somewhat I will do my best to maintain it.

My ever grateful thanks are due to Isobel Stirk for the lovely tribute, for her dear friendship over the years, and especially for her comforting support at this difficult time."


Anne said...

This is a great loss . All I knew of Mr. Emberson came from purchasing the booklet " Recollections of the Brontës by George Sowden, that Ian and his wife Catherine discovered and published.

Just over the course of the sale , Mr. Emberson's emails were so friendly and caring for the Brontës , I was greatly impressed.

He brought love to his scholarship and that is the best kind.

My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, Catherine, his family, friends and all fellow Brontë enthusiasts.

It is a loss in the family

Anonymous said...

How very sad. Condolences to Catherine and all the family. He will be very greatly missed.

Gerald (SK14) said...

That is a lovely photograph of Ian. I've published my own small tribute to him at

Cath said...

Dear Friends

Since Ian's death I have received over 250 cards, letters and messages of sympathy, many from Bronte friends worldwide - thank you all.

Anne's insightful comment "He brought love to his scholarship" totally sums up Ian's contribution and I wholeheartedly agree that "that is the best kind".

In addition to his published articles, many will know Ian's poetry and art work - all of which sprang from a well of deep and sensitive creativity. Ian's legacy is an important one and once I have regained some strength from this devastating loss I will do my best to preserve and enhance this.

Special and sincere thanks go to Isobel Stirk for her lovely tribute, her dear friendship to us both over the years, and her support in these difficult times.