Jane Eyre in the news ix postage stamps to mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Charlotte’s death were launched in February by the Royal Mail. News releases were sent, appropriate photo-opportunities were created, and as a result the story was taken up far and wide. Inevitably, the phrase “stamp of approval” appeared in a number of headlines.
Enlarged stamps were delivered to the Parsonage by thirty year-old Simon Hughes, a postman who lives near Haworth and who happens to be studying for a degree in English Literature at Leeds University. “It’s a bonus that I have the Brontës right here on my doorstep,” he told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus. “I decided to take A-Level English out of interest and it all snowballed from there. I got into literature and when the opportunity came up to study at university, I went for it.” The stamps were all designed by Portuguese artist Paula Rego from the twenty-four lithographic prints inspired by Jane Eyre which have been exhibited internationally and which were on show at the Parsonage last summer. The enlarged stamps are still there, in the shop. In the photograph, the one in which a baleful Brocklehurst glares at young Jane (£1.12) is being held by young Haworth residents Holly Holmes, Olivia Holmes and Billie Moran-Whitehead.
made of a Royal Mail survey to coincide with the launch, involving 2,100 respondents. One third of them claimed to have read “a Charlotte Brontë book” in the last year! René Weis, Professor of English at University College, London, commented, “I feel that as long as people read at all – even the Da Vinci code – it is a good thing. The truth about the classics is that they tend to be surrounded by a certain aura of the classroom, alas.” The Belfast Telegraph found a strong Irish connection. A story under “Brontë stamp linked to Antrim cleric” included details of Arthur Bell Nicholls from Kilkead near Aldergrove who “fell in love with Charlotte when he joined her Banbridgeborn clergyman father Patrick Brontë’s Haworth parish in Yorkshire as a curate. After the nuptials the couple honeymooned in Ireland and it is claimed by locals that they returned to his old home village and that one Sunday they worshipped in Killead Presbyterian Church…the house where he lived in Killead is still standing.”
Jane is in the foreground in front of a blazing Thornfield Hall on the First Class stamp, an equestrian Mr Rochester with the huge-headed Pilot on the Second Class. Jane is alone on the forty pence, with pupil Adele on the fifty-seven pence and with children at Lowood on the sixty-eight pence.
The Hampstead and Highgate Express, on the other hand, found a strong Hampstead connection, including an interview with the artist, who lives there. “Jane Eyre attracted me as an example of courage and resourcefulness,” she told the paper. “She thought she was an orphan and brought up by someone nasty, which would amount to child abuse today.
On the BBC News World Edition Internet page, under the sober “Stamps commemorate Brontë death”, mention was
“I was born in Portugal and it could have happened there, even possibly within my lifetime.”
Was the right decision made?
he Brontë List (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BRONTE) is hosted by Mick Armitage from Sheffield, who has a great personal interest in Anne. Visit his excellent, well-researched website Anne Brontë – The Scarborough Connection at:
http://www.shef.ac.uk/misc/personal/cs1ma/anne/bronte.html Earlier this year there was a week-long online debate about whether or not it was right to remove the concrete kerbstones which once surrounded Anne’s grave. Mick Armitage joined in with a contribution in which he stated that he was “not at all pleased” with the changes. On page seven of this issue, you will find representative arguments for and against, along with Lyn Glading’s outline of the events leading to Council’s decision.
LETTERS Dear Editor Were any other members fortunate enough to hear the Saturday afternoon play on Radio 4, on 4th December 2004, entitled Death at the Bed End, by Stephen Wakelam? This concerned the publication in 1857 of Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte, and its inclusion of an alleged affair between Branwell and Mrs Robinson. The publishers, having been threatened with legal action by Mrs Robinson (now Lady Scott) engage a Scotland Yard detective to travel north to investigate – one Sergeant Downe according to the play. From the sound of the Sergeant’s train hooting into Keighley station to his thoughts on the homeward journey, the listeners were provided with a well-acted production which stirred the imagination. I did manage a tape recording but lost some of the Sergeant’s final thoughts. I contacted the BBC to try to obtain an audio tape but was told that due to copyright this was not possible. However, I was assured that a suggestion would be put forward about a possible rerun of the play in 2005. Please remember to consult your Radio Times! Yours sincerely, Harriet Spilman, Barnsley
The novels are listed by author’s name, in alphabetical order, and under the title of each novel we have listed a selection of characters, an average of about ten characters per novel. Participants can fill out questionnaires on as few or as many characters in as few or as many novels as they choose. Filling out a questionnaire on a single character usually takes less than five minutes. All participation is anonymous. Please feel free to distribute this URL to students, friends, and colleagues. The questionnaire contains questions on each character’s motives, personality, and agonistic status (protagonist/ antagonist), on the criteria the character uses for selecting a spouse or romantic partner, and on your emotional response to the character. The last ten questions on the questionnaire are designed to assess each character on five major factors of personality: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience. After you have filled out a questionnaire on a character, the program will provide a graph that displays the results of your coding on those five factors. With thanks, Joe Carroll, Jon Gottschall, John Johnson, and Dan Kruger, University of Michigan
It’s still up Dear Editor,
Dear Friends and Colleagues We would like to invite anyone who is interested in British novels of the longer nineteenth century to participate in a collective research project. We are a research team consisting of two literary scholars and two psychologists. We have put together a website questionnaire on about 2,100 characters from 202 novels from Austen through Forster.
Last weekend, on March 12th, I paid a visit to Brussels. Having read the account of Selina Busch in the Gazette of September 2004, I searched for the plaque she left in the Rue Terarcken. And it is still there! It looks really official, so I don’t think anyone dares to remove it. So thank you, Selina Busch, for creating such a special reminder of the Brontës in Brussels!
Here is the website address: http://survey.ehap.isr.umich.edu/carroll-intro.html
With best wishes, Karin Quint, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Bob Duckett ob Duckett has been on Council for perhaps longer than he cares to think about, in fact from the late eighties. He has been an Ordinary Council member, Publications Secretary and Vice-Chairman. In the past few years we must thank him for his brilliant editing of Transactions and its successor Brontë Studies, and especially for the way he has kept the needs and tastes of all sorts of Brontë-interested readers in mind. He has also been responsible for a lively publications programme, including Charles Lemon’s splendid collection of the accounts of Early Visitors to Haworth and the edition of Arthur Bell Nicholls’s letters to Martha Brown, edited by one of our oldest members Geoffrey Palmer, who, alas, died earlier this year. Bob has now decided he needs a break from the Brontës, and from the Council, but he has promised to continue editing Brontë Studies at least for the time being, and we all wish him a happy, productive and brief retirement.
Chairman’s letter Dear Fellow-Member, lready I am getting that end-of-term feeling. Not, surprising, I suppose, after three years as ViceChairman and six years altogether as Chairman. I shall be giving up the responsibilities of office and of being on Council, but I shall not be giving up the Brontës. Many of you will know that Louise and I have for several years now been writing a Brontë Encyclopaedia. It is now reaching the point in the tunnel where light at the end becomes visible. I am through the checking of entries to the letter H, with only a few entries here and there which, for some reason, remain unwritten: the poetry of Charlotte (perhaps the politest thing would be to be brief) and Haworth (so much to say, so little space).
As one stands back to look at the project, patterns do begin to appear. In the days before Charlotte’s fame the family’s acquaintances (as opposed to their friends) seem to consist entirely of clergymen and tradespeople, whether mill- or shop-owners. The clergymen’s lives very often seem to run on a pattern of early engagement which proves to be long, then early widowerhood when the wife dies in late childbirth. Once Charlotte’s novels bring her acquaintance with the wider world she is awkward with it at close quarters but very confident in her epistolary contacts, often modifying her tone, tactfully and sensitively, to the recipient of the letter. Her contacts often brought her anger and break-up (Lewes, for example, and Harriet Martineau), but more often they provided the intellectual life which, as a woman, she felt she had thus far been denied, in England if not in Brussels. We have tried to include as many as possible of the Brontës’ circle in the book, and Louise has found out many details of their lives from her trawl through the files of the Leeds and many other newspapers. It has been interesting too to explore the origins of some of the myths and stories of doubtful authenticity about the
Brontës. Juliet Barker has been brilliant in exposing many of these, though I fear she may have inadvertently started some herself. I would be happy never to hear again the assertion that Branwell fathered an illegitimate child while he was at Broughton-in-Furness, but I am sure I shall. Many of you will be aware that in recent months, at Bob Barnard with the Crime the Conference and Writers’ Diamond Dagger Award elsewhere, the Society has for Lifetime Achievement been voicing unease at the direction literature teaching in schools has taken in the last few years. On the day I write an article by a teacher in the Sunday Telegraph hails the new Education Secretary’s White Paper on secondary education in terms we would want to echo. He calls the English syllabus for GCSE “miserable” because it “does not really test a pupil’s ability at all, except their facility for parroting what the teacher has told them.” He ends up: “Her next step should be to sack the bureaucrats, cut the National Curriculum to its bare minimum, and allow schools the freedom to innovate, set their own curricula, and to teach.” Hurrah! I’m not suggesting anyone at the Department for Education and Skills has been listening to us, but it is good to know that there is a wave, and we have been part of it. With which clarion call I will sign off without delay. As Keats said, closing his last letter: “I always made an awkward bow.”
A LINK WITH NEW JERSEY?
Paul Danigellis from El Paso, Texas, regularly cruises the Internet on Brontë business. He has found an article by Soni Sangha on a book published recently by local historian Mary Lou Boyd on Haworth, New Jersey. This article, entitled Facts, figures and fond memories, can be read at the following address:
Artist Barbara Tanke is a member from San Diego, California, who has produced a series of contemporary portraits of the Brontës. She told Gazette: “I believe Charlotte was plainer than previously depicted by Richmond who “prettified” her for artistic purposes...I wanted to do an interpretation as to how they might realistically appear, or at least a contemporary version, as opposed to what we have seen in earlier, historical depictions.” Some of her artwork can be viewed at http://bjtanke.com/uk.htm
http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2 Y3dnFlZUVFeXk1NSZmZ2JlbDdmN3ZxZWVFRXl5NjY0ODA5 NiZ5cmlyeTdmNzE3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTM= He is currently petitioning to get a copy of this book, wondering whether she has traced a definitive tie to Haworth, England.
LEGACIES Over the years, many have remembered the Brontë Society in their wills and we are deeply grateful for all contributions which support the Society’s continuing work. Please help us in this way, using the following form of words in your will:
She would like anyone interested to contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I bequeath to the Registered Charity known as the Brontë Society a sum of………….(free of legacy duty/inheritance tax) and I declare that the receipt of the secretary for the time being of the said Charity shall be good and sufficient discharge for the same.
Het mysterie van de Brontës met the Brontës when I was about fifteen years old, in the late sixties of the twentieth century. We lived in Hillegersberg, a suburb of Rotterdam in The Netherlands. One evening I was in the local library with my mother. I was looking for something exciting or mysterious, but could not find it at first. Then mamma said that we should go home, because uncle Coen was expected to visit us. Uncle Coen was not really my uncle, but like my father, a captain in the merchant navy. He was older than my daddy and already retired. He was always a favourite of mine, because he was a great story-teller, so I took the first book I saw with the word ‘mysterie’ on it and we went back home.
Next day when I started reading in the book I realised it was not a novel but a book about a novel, a Dutch book about an English novel. Its title is Het mysterie van de Brontës (Amsterdam/Antwerpen, uitgeverij Contact,1967) and it is written by Johan van der Woude (1906-1979). He was an art critic and wrote novels and poetry. In this book he tells the story of the Brontës as a family and then concentrates on Emily and Wuthering Heights. One chapter, especially about the Irish connection of the Brontës, was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Science. I cannot remember learning anything about the Brontës at school. The curriculum for foreign languages (English, French, German) at the kind of grammar school I was attending in The Netherlands was about reading and summarising texts, preparing you for study at the university and a scientific career. ‘Scientific’ usually meant mathematics, chemistry, physics and all that, not history or literature. Of course next thing to do was to read Wuthering Heights and from that time I was hooked on the Brontës. One way or
LETTER Dear Editor, I am a new member of the Brontë Society, since 30th September 2004. In 1956, when I was fifteen and attending high school, our black and white television transmitted Wuthering Heights. It enthralled me completely, stealing my brain and soul – the stormy Pietro Vazzola setting, Heathcliff’s odd notions about the chamber, Catherine’s scratchings, Lockwood disturbed by the fir tree rattling its cones against the panes and the abundant snow – but what still gives me the shivers are the little ice-cold hand and the most melancholy voice sobbing, “Let me in, let me in!” and Catherine’s child’s face looking through the window.
another I always met them again, especially in bookshops when I was on holiday in the UK. I read English easily, because we lived in the United States for a few years, when I was a little girl. I cannot even remember whether I read Wuthering Heights in English or in translation first. Books about the Brontës are not often originally in Dutch. Besides the one I mentioned above I have only one other: Johanna Gerharda Mooi’s Emily Brontë, een studie over vrijheid in haar werk (Meppel, Kris Repro, 1986), but there might be more. The title means ‘a study on freedom in her [Emily’s] work’. I do not know if it was ever translated into English. And in the Brontë-related part of my library I have a translation of Pauline Clark’s The Twelve and the Genii (inspired by Branwell’s soldiers) – in Dutch De Twaalf Dapperen. With my Brontë press-cuttings I keep a one-issue magazine in Dutch with several articles that were first published in the fifties of the last century in the newspaper Het Vaderland by W.Jos.de Gruyter, a famous Dutch art critic and later museum director whose mother was English. From his archive I know he was interested especially in Emily and I hope to be able to tell you some more about this in future. Marcia Zaaijer, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Well, I ask myself if there is anything more touching than this in this coldly technological world. As you suggested in the last Gazette, my first encounter as an adolescent lad with Emily was exactly like falling in love for the first time. That love increased when a year later, Italian television transmitted Jane Eyre. My admiration for the Brontës escalated. I bought a pocket edition of Wuthering Heights in Italian, perhaps the same as the one Maddalena de Leo had. In 1964 when I was twenty-three I worked at a hospital in Northampton and attended a course in English as a Foreign Language, but I regret that I was unable to visit the place where that great but unlucky literary family lived. Now I am a pensioner continuously in search of news of the Brontës, mainly through the Internet. In my heart burns restlessly a blazing hearth with smoke ascending like a prayer in memory of an entire suffering family which was boundlessly great in soul and mind. Pietro Vazzola, Venice, Italy
Keeping a Remembrance n the January 2005 Gazette, Lynne Hyde wrote not only about her introduction to Jane Eyre but also about the letter she has kept from the Museum written in 1973. The custodian then was my father, Norman Raistrick. The letter may have been a standard one but members and visitors were special to him.
The article prompted me to bring down from the loft one of my father’s boxes of Brontë memorabilia. In it I found faded newspaper cuttings and photographs showing him with various people: Brian Johnston for Down your way, Joan Bakewell admiring a posy of flowers, a Parsonage staff group from 1969 welcoming the one hundred thousandth visitor and in 1977 the two hundred thousandth visitor to the Parsonage that year, smiles all round. Yet the article in The Dalesman proved that all was not well, when the floor in Branwell’s room gave way and legs appeared in the room below! There’s a list of the personalities he greeted as well as a record of a bomb scare and a suspect parcel to investigate. Incidentally membership in 1980 was two thousand, five hundred and JeanBull fifty nine.
Norman Raistrick with Joan Bakewell
I remember visiting the Museum from Lees Primary School: as natives of Haworth, we visited frequently. I had flown the nest when my parents actually lived in the flat at what is now Museum offices but my children and I certainly soaked up the atmosphere when the visitors weren’t there. Truly a privilege. Jean Bull
New short stories
East of Glasgow. What is Chosen is based on Diana Rivers, Jane’s cousin from Jane Eyre.
oor, Obscure, Plain and Little was the title of a series of stories which were recorded for BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 March at the West Lane Baptist Chapel in Haworth. Five writers were approached to contribute a short story inspired by a character from Charlotte Brontë’s novels.
Next, David Crellin read Le Grand Jete by Linda Cracknell, who is one of Scotland’s foremost short story writers. She has had many short stories published and broadcast on BBC Radio. Mr Hunsden from The Professor was the inspiration for Le Grand Jete.
Mad Girls in the Attic by Michele Roberts, read by Deborah McAndrew was first. Michele Roberts is a leading contemporary writer and the author of ten novels, including Daughters of the House, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize, and Reader, I Married Him. Mad Girls in the Attic is inspired by Jane Eyre and centres on Sophie, the maid at Thornfield, as she flees to France with Adele.
Finally, Helen Longworth read The Secret Diary of Mr Rochester by Irish novelist Clare Boylan, whose novels include Emma, which follows on from Charlotte Brontë’s unfinished manuscript. The Secret Diary of Mr Rochester imagines Jane’s story after the end of Jane Eyre.
Second was Not Nobody by Stevie Davies, read by David Fleeshman. Novelist, literary critic, biographer and historian, Stevie Davies is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Academi Gymreig in Cardiff. Her non-fiction includes books on Renaissance feminism, Shakespeare and the poetry of the Brontës. Not Nobody is inspired by Monsieur Paul from Villette. Third was What is Chosen by Elizabeth Reeder, read by Barbara Marten. US born Elizabeth Reeder was shortlisted for the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday short story competition and has written novels which include Standing Still and The Fremont Inheritance. She is the Writing Fellow for the North-
Enthusiastic audiences not only enjoyed the readings, which may be broadcast in May, but also learned much about the routines and techniques used by radio producers, tolerantly listening to repeated recordings and clapping at appropriate moments, when asked. The Baptist Chapel is not, of course, professionally soundproofed, so distant sounds of passing cars may occasionally be discernible.
The Penzance Home of Maria Branwell was living in Sheffield in 1973 when Yorkshire Television transmitted their excellent series The Brontës of Haworth. I bought the book by Phyllis Bentley which accompanied the series from Haworth Post Office in November of that year and became a life member of the Brontë Society in January 1974. I left Sheffield shortly after to take up various teaching posts around the country – each one further south and when it came to retirement I settled in Paignton, South Devon.
So 2004 was a sort of Thirtieth Anniversary Year for me and though I should have liked to celebrate it by visiting Haworth once more, for a variety of reasons it was not possible. Then in the late summer the local newspaper contained an offer from Wessex Trains offering free travel; the furthest west you could go was Penzance and in the oldest part of that town is Chapel Street where the home of Maria Branwell, mother of the Brontë sisters, remains to this day. I decided to make the trip. Before going I carried out a little research beginning with Margaret Newbold’s excellent article The Branwell Saga which appeared in the March 2002 edition of the Brontë Society Journal. I also recalled seeing an article in Transactions which carried a photograph of the unveiling of a plaque outside 25 Chapel Street ‘to commemorate the residence there of Maria Brontë (née Branwell) and her sister, Elizabeth Branwell’. I eventually located that article in No 5 of Volume 16, 1975. Finally, I turned to Juliet Barker’s The Brontës which gives a wealth of information and notes that ‘Maria’s father owned cellars at the quay…and Tremenheere House, the only mansion in the town’. Many other buildings that would have been familiar to Maria still exist, including The Turks Head and the picturesque smugglers’ inn, The Admiral Benbow in Chapel Street. As you leave the station on arrival, a sign in Cornish ‘Pensans A’Gas Dynergh’ welcomes you to Penzance. One of the first buildings to be seen is Branwells Meadery at the bottom of Market Jew Street. In this context ‘Jew’ means ‘Thursday’ so the name simply refers to ‘Thursday Market Street’. This is the old heart of Penzance. Market Jew Street is a fascinating place with its gift and book shops and the Penzance pasty shops. At the top on the left is
The Admiral Benbow
the local Wetherspoons Pub – appropriately called the Tremenheere. Turning left towards Chapel Street is yet another pub – The Globe and Ale House – which carries a sign indicating the Morrab Gardens. These contain tropical plants including acacias, palms and fruit-bearing olive trees and they are also home to The Morrab Library – a rare and remarkable thing – a large independent library, and it is a real pleasure to be there. Some of that is due to the building itself – a fine Victorian mansion set in delightful gardens, with large and comfortable rooms. The Reading Room, with its current magazines and reference books, is especially sunny and welcoming – although members use every room as a reading room, except perhaps the pantry where they make themselves coffee! But above all, thanks to its members and staff, the Morrab has the happy atmosphere of an unstuffy club. So after visiting and photographing the famous house in Chapel Street I decided to visit the Morrab gardens and library. Although not a member, I received a warm welcome. I had read that the library had a copy of Thomas Branwell’s will and I was anxious to see it. At the time of the unveiling of the commemorative plaque in 1975, the owner-occupiers of the house were Miss L Oldham and Miss S Richards. After their death, many of their Branwell and Brontë related documents were passed to the Morrab Library including the copy of the will. Unfortunately, it was not possible to photocopy it, so I sat in one of their splendid rooms and made a fair copy by hand. It is dated 25th May 1808 and contains the following paragraph: Also I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Maria Branwell and her assigns for and during…one annuity yearly Rent charge or sum of Fifty Pounds of like lawful money, free of taxes and all other Deductions Parliamentary or otherwise, to be severally issuing and payable out of all and singular any freehold messuages or Dwelling House and premises called or known by the name of the Golden Lion Inn lying in or near the Market Place in Penzance – aforesaid [now] in the occupation of Messrs Griffin and John Tremenheere, Gentlemen; my Freehold Dwelling House and Stable lying in the same [lane] within the said Town. There are many more documents held by the library which I should like to study and it is my intention to return to Penzance, hopefully to stay for a few days this time, especially given that 2005 is the thirtieth anniversary of the unveiling of the commemorative plaque. J Stuart Anderson
Maria and Elizabeth’s home
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Was the right decision made? CHARLOTTE WOULD HAVE APPROVED I think she herself would have been happy with the pretty arrangement over her. Charlotte set things up in a hurry at Scarborough: she wasn’t fully expecting the end to come when it did, and Anne herself (according to Ellen Nussey), debated the idea of going back to Haworth before the doctor said she wouldn’t make it back. A couple of years later, Charlotte confessed to Ellen that she wasn’t pleased with the errors on Anne’s stone, and I’m guessing that, if there had been time and emotional energy at Anne’s death, the set-up of the grave would have different anyway – they might even have transported Anne back to Haworth, as was briefly discussed, but rejected so as to spare Mr Brontë the ordeal of another funeral. As it was, when Charlotte came back, she says in a letter to Ellen that she was criticised for not bringing Anne back home. So it was an ad hoc project, characterized by grief, exhaustion, and the sense that it should be finished as soon as possible, and then Ellen could take further charge over Charlotte and help her recover. Not something Charlotte would be particularly happy about later in any case. Returning the grave to this former state does as little favor to Charlotte as it does to Anne, and I’m betting that if Charlotte could have seen the kerb decoration, she would have approved too.
IT’S A GOOD IDEA Bringing Anne Brontë’s grave back to its original state is a good idea for several reasons, the most important being that it will once again be the way Charlotte Brontë intended it. When she returned to Anne’s grave in 1852, she had most errors on the stone corrected but nothing else changed. The original, simple grave – without the little garden – was common in the mid-nineteeth century; a look at Haworth’s own cemetery confirms that. Besides, the concrete surrounds don’t match with the old and worn dark grey gravestone with its simple decoration at all. Removing the garden will also give visitors a chance to leave their own little tribute, for example a bunch of flowers.
I’d have nothing against taking the original stone inside for safe-keeping. It might not be a bad idea to protect the original and place a newer, sturdier stone in place. Might be less costly, financially and historically, in the end. Anne’s been an after-thought for most of her life and after-life. It doesn’t suit anyone to return the grave to “after-thought” mode.
I would prefer to leave the original stone in place as long as possible, but in order to preserve it in the long term, the Brontë Society might have to consider replacing it with a copy at some time in Monika Park the future to prevent it from crumbling away in Scarborough’s salty air, unless of course technical abilities in the preservation area can keep it in place. In my view one of the Brontë Society’s tasks is to preserve and give access to what we have, not to enhance!
Maria Torres, New York, email@example.com
Monika Park, Amsterdam
The conservation of Anne’s gravestone or some years now the Council of the Brontë Society has been concerned about the rapidly deteriorating condition of the gravestone on Anne’s grave at Scarborough. Accordingly in 1999 the Society commissioned a stonemason recommended by York Minster to visit the grave and prepare a report on the stone’s condition together with recommendations about future care. It has always been the Council’s wish that if possible the original stone should be preserved and kept on the grave, though we were prepared to remove the same into the Church if necessary and replace it with the replica which was prepared some years ago.
commissioned by the Council and a Faculty sought from the Church Authorities for conservation work to be carried out on the stone in situ. It was felt that in applying for the Faculty the time was perhaps apt for Council to decide whether the grave should be returned to its original appearance (as Charlotte Brontë would have known it), the kerb stones having been a much later addition. The Church Council at St Mary’s Scarborough agreed with this and accordingly the removal of the kerbstones was added to the Faculty application, the grave to be turfed subsequent to the work being carried out.
The report when presented to council made clear that the stone was in a terrible condition, mainly due to its exposed position on the Scarborough cliff top, and would deteriorate completely within forty years unless conservation measures were taken. The good news however was that with proper care the stone could be left on the grave.
The Faculty was granted in June 2003 and the conservation work duly carried out by the conservator between August and October of 2004. If any of you have seen the grave recently you will note that the landscaping where the kerbstones have been removed remains to be done, due to the fact that turf cannot be laid successfully before the spring. This work is the beginning we hope of an ongoing programme of monitoring the grave and perhaps future restoration if it is felt that this is desirable.
Accordingly a further report from a stone conservator was
Leaving Home he opening of Leaving Home on Friday 11 March showed how successfully and sympathetically contemporary art can be displayed at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, providing fresh insights into familiar narratives and attracting new audiences. Leaving Home, which remained on show until 31 March, comprised a series of video installations showing four films by Simon Warner celebrating the special significance and inspiration that the Parsonage and its surroundings had as home to the Brontë children.
Immediately striking on opening night was Light Quartet, the video installation representing the four ancient elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, themes frequently found in the Brontë novels. This was projected on to the Georgian frontage of the Parsonage with stunning effect. Using footage taken on the moors surrounding Haworth of brooding skies, babbling streams and burning heather, the film conveys the intimate connection between the natural elements and the creative inspiration of the Brontës. Superimposing the film on to the façade created a fascinating juxtaposition of textures and shapes, sometimes almost abstract, accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack. Inside the Parsonage the installations were on a smaller scale but just as impressive in the seamless way that they fit the fabric of the Museum. On the wall of the kitchen Silent Country showed three distant female figures in 19th century clothes walking along a moorland path, against a totally still landscape – pausing, talking and occasionally disappearing from view. In the Children’s Study a shadow puppet play,
Other literary anniversaries everal literary ‘greats’ will be celebrated this year in addition to Charlotte Brontë. It is 250 years since Samuel Johnson compiled his remarkable dictionary. His house, just off Fleet Street in London, can be visited.
There will be plenty of excuses to celebrate in the Lake District. It is 100 years since author and artist Beatrix Potter purchased her farmhouse Hill Top, near Windermere, which means that Miss Tiggywinkle will have been in existence for a century. It is the 200th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem The Prelude and the 75th of Arthur Ransome’s children’s classic Swallows and Amazons, which is set mainly on Coniston Water. It is 100 years since the publication of Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children. The National Railway Museum in York will be running a series of events.
with silhouettes created by Rachel Lee, began with depictions of the Brontë children playing with their wooden soldiers followed by a retelling of Charlotte’s early story Ratten’s Attempt – an evil assassination plot against the Duke of Wellington. Projected on to the pillow of Mr Brontë’s bed in a darkened room, Fallen was a more sinister film, but not without a certain macabre humour. Using fragmented pictures of the moon with clouds scudding in front of it, a tortured sketch by Branwell Brontë, and depictions of the Grim Reaper, it was a reflection of the troubled state of Branwell’s mind as his health deteriorated, when he shared this bedroom with his father. As Jane Glaister, Head of Arts and Museums at Bradford City Council, said in her introductory address to the large audience that had turned up for the opening, this was a highly satisfying and intriguing exhibition with national importance as an arts initiative. Den Stubbs
Thinking of writing for Gazette? ■ Reports and articles are welcome in any form, but
should preferably be typed. ■ If you can, send your contribution by email to
firstname.lastname@example.org ■ If your article is longer than 500 words, it is best to
check first that space will be available for it. Try to keep the length down – to about 400 words. ■ Your photographs are important. Please don’t forget to
send them in! You could also send them as jpg attachments in an email. ■ The deadline for the next issue is 13 July 2005.
EDITOR’S APPEAL If you marked the anniversary of Charlotte’s death in any way – by attending one of the events in England or elsewhere, for example – please send in your reports, with photographs if possible.
Contributions for the next issue should be sent to The Editor of the Gazette, The Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, Keighley, BD22 8DR. This issue was edited by Richard Wilcocks.