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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Jane Eyre

This Tuesday is going to be my first full day kids free!!! So I am going to treat myself to a trip to the cinema to see the new Jane Eyre. I am very excited about seeing it.
When I was a teenager I had an obsession about the Brontes. Strange girl I know. But I read all their books many times as well as every biography I could find.
While doing my GCSE`s I saved up for a trip to their home village of Haworth in Yorkshire. When a few friends heard about the trip they said that they would come to. But when the time came they all dropped out and I went alone. At 17 yrs old I had never been away on my own before but I got on a bus and after a very long journey reached Bradford then taxi to Haworth. I fell in love . Haworth is the most beautiful place in England. A little picturesque village with very steep cobbled streets that really are surrounded by wild moors.The Bronte parsonage, the church, the pub , chemist and houses all stand as they did when the sisters walked the streets.
The atmosphere and and the stillness of the place was amazing for a history buff like me. From that day my plan was to gain a history degree so that I could work for the rest of my life in the Bronte sisters house. I got the degree but life got complicated so I never got my dream job.
To this day my head is still bursting with thousands of Bronte facts so I thought I would share some with you.

1 .     The Bronte`s two older sisters died as children because of very poor conditions at the clergy daughters boarding school. Which Charlotte described at the start of Jane Eyre.

2 .    While teaching in Brussels in 1843 Charlotte fell in love with a married professor ( nothing happened between them). She wrote him a letter which he ripped up and threw away. Later his wife collected the pieces and sew them together with thread. The letter is at the Bronte parsonage museum.

3 .  Their father Rev Patrick Branwell Bronte had a fear of fire and would not allow any curtains in their home.

4. The three  remaining sisters first published some poems under the names Currer, Acton, Ellis Bell.

5 . They chose the surname Bell because they would often make fun of their fathers assistant curate Arthur Bell Nicholls .

6 . Emily was anorexic and would often sit at meal times reading a book while others ate.

7. Emily tried to move away to work at a school and study but her nature could not cope away from her home and beloved moors so she soon returned.

8. A ruin of a farm house called Top Withens which stands alone on a hill in the moors is believed to have inspired the idea for Wuthering Heights.

9 . The sisters only brother was Branwell Bronte. He was a talented artist but had many varied jobs. But everything he touched in his life would go wrong. His life would make an interesting film.

10 . Branwell turned to drink and drugs. In Haworth you can still go in the chemist where he bought his drugs then go across the road to the pub and still see his chair standing in a corner.

11 . Because of Branwells now violent intoxicated mood swings ( and fear of burglars) Rev Bronte slept with a gun next to his bed . Each morning he would point the gun out of the bedroom window and fire the loaded gun at the facing church tower. Funny thing is that he was going blind.Villagers must have made sure they did not go for walks in the church yard in early mornings. You can still see the bullet holes in the tower today.

12 . Rev Bronte campaigned for the grave head stones to be stood upright. Before this time most of the grave stones layed flat.  Because of this the village water was contaminated by the runoff from the church yard which caused the children's mortality rates to be as bad as the London slums.

13 . Emily caught a cold during the funeral of her brother Branwell in September 1848 and died 19th December 1848 at two in the afternoon on this sofa.

14 .  Charlotte attended the Great Exhibition of 1851.

15 .  Rev Bronte refused to attend Charlotte's wedding to Arthur Bell Nicholls as he believed her too old to marry. She was the only Bronte sibling to marry.

16 . Charlotte was pregnant with her first child when she died. There are some baby items she bought or made in the museum.

17 . Rev Patrick Branwell Bronte survived all him family. He died  8 June 1861(1861-06-08) (aged 84).

Branwell painted this picture of himself with his sisters (from left Emily, Anne, Charlotte) .But decided he did not like the image of himself so painted it out.

The only Known Photo of Charlotte

The Bronte parsonage museum


Emilys bedroom. You can still see some writing and drawings she did on the wall.

The three sisiters wrote their novels sitting at this table. Emily died on this sofa.
Kitchen. Emily did a lot of the cooking.
Charlottes dress. You can see how tiny she was.

The family are entombed in the village church opposite their house.

I think I had better shut up now, I could talk about them for hours. If you have the chance please go and visit Haworth

 The new Jane Eyre


  1. P.S If anyone has any Bronte questions please ask :)

  2. Why did Madame Heger sew the letters back together. It didn't make much sense to me. Why would she want to keep them?
    Charlotte's father didn't refuse to go to her wedding because he thought she was too old! He wanted her to wait till she was older so she would have children because he thought she wasn't strong enough.

  3. Maybe she was going to use it as evidence of any affair later on.Guess we will never know.
    Charlotte father first refused the wedding becuse he first thought a country clergy was not good enought for his now famous daughter. But then he did give his consent. Rev bronte feared losing Charlotte ( his last living child)through childbirth as she was 37yrs old when she married in June 1854 and 38yrs old when she died 31st March 1855.

    Wikipedia quote
    "She became pregnant soon after the marriage. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by "sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness."[10] Charlotte died, along with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. There is also evidence to suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Brontë household's oldest servant, who died shortly before her."

  4. Terrific post!

    Indeed, imo Madame Heger was quite wise. Love makes us do foolish things. If Miss Bronte threatened to make any sort of trouble, Zoe Heger had the letters to keep her at bay ...( I believe there were 5 all together.) Madame Heger couldn't know Charlotte would not do so and I believe she kept the letters simply as insurance.

    After CB's death, she may have kept them to prove who was the pursuer in this relationship ( CB) ...and again, as insurance for her husband's recuperation if word of them ever came out during thier life times etc.

    My money is on Tabby's typhus being the cause of Charlotte's death. It's all so tragic as she was finding real personal happiness in her marriage.

    Thank you for posting the photo with CB's dress AND people in the photo...usually I only see it alone and one needs people along with the dress to understand how small Charlotte was. the writer, Harriet Martineau, said CB was the smallest woman she had ever seen out side of a fair! We have this dress because her devoted husband, Mr. Nicholls, kept it and all the other items for 50 years

    Charlotte's father also knew a marriage with his assistant, meant CB's focus, as a clergyman's wife, would be on Haworth, rather than London...which was what she seemed to want at this time. She was turning away from London and Patrick gained alot of pleasure from CB's career. He also had hoped for a much more brilliant match for his daughter.

    16 . Charlotte was pregnant with her first child when she died. There are some baby items she bought or made in the museum

    Lord, I didn't know she had baby things already...sad.
    And that means Mr. Nicholls kept them as well.

    When one looks at the Bronte group portait...I think perhaps Bramwell painted himself out because from what's left, he painted himself way too big for the other sitters...( we know Emily was taller as well) I can see them laughing at that and he painting himself out in a snit. Pure speculation on my part...but the shadow is proportionally way too large for the others

    Thanks again!

  5. thank you for this article. Bronte family history is just so sad. They have always been a mystery to me. with so much bad things happening still they manage to write such beautiful books, it just show talent matters, and will shine through no matter what