A Digital-ish Bronte Trip…

For many Bronte fans & super-fans a trip to the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth is the trip of a life-time, but sadly, at present none of us can travel. So as I am really missing the Parsonage and love all things Bronte, I’ve created a kind of digital / book tour of the Bronte Parsonage & Haworth. I wanted to share with you some of the places, books, dvds and websites that are worth a visit and hold real history and importance within the lives and stories of the Bronte Sisters.

First off, lets take a look at The Parsonage Haworth – Yes, I’m starting with the obvious, but, when you visit the Bronte Parsonage, you can really take your time and absorb and notice all the wonderful little details that speak of who the Bronte family really were. As the legend of them grows, we can lose sight of them as real people, a little bit, so it is really incredible to be inside their home environment and so close to their personal belongings, that allow us to glimpse the real individuals behind the myths.

Please note that some of the links in my blog are affiliate links, this menas that if you make a purchase through themI receive a very small commison, which helps me pay my bills, so thank you for your support.

Like the Bronte Parsonage, the book – The Brontes is a fantastic insight into the Brontes and their lives, it’s written by Juliet Barker. She writes really well and was curator at the Parsonage for Six years and her book is based on first-hand research of the Bronte manuscripts and documents, it is a compelling read for any Bronte fan!

The exterior of the parsonage is really amazing, it is relatively unchanged, from when the Bronte Sisters lived there. From here we see the views and environment that the Brontes lived in and it’s really atmospheric creating a very solid impression of where their inspiration for their work came from. A visit to the church, St Michael’s that was so central to the lives of the Brontes is not to be missed and this is where the Bronte memorial can be found.

Next stop Haworth Village, not to be missed, it’s sits right on the Parsonage’s doorstep and most of the buildings that you can see and visit today were there when the Bronte Sisters lived. You can stay in the village or if you only have time for a day trip go for a quick pint or a meal at the Black Bull, it was one of Branwell Bronte’s favourite haunts, so a great place to get in touch with his character a bit. Take a quick stroll down main Street and enjoy some more of views that influenced Charlotte, Emily and Anne’s writing. Haworth History Tour and a great way to get a feel for Haworth.

The Moor & Top Withens – If you’re feeling energetic then a walk of the moors is a must. This is where all of the Brontes were at their most relaxed and they desparately loved the moor. Please be careful the moor is vast and it is remarkably easy to get lost up there, so please go with an organised tour or with an experienced guide, wear appropriate clothing and footware and take survival essentials, don’t just wander off up there. The Brontes At Haworth is a great book for planning walks and getting local history.

The Moor is a magnificent place and you can feel the sense of freedom the Bronte Sisters felt up there. If your heading to the moor, then Top Withens is a great destination to make for. It’s believed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte and it really feels like Wuthering Heights!

Finally, a shameless plug for my blog piece A Potted History of The Brontes and if you’d like some Bronte gifts then check out my Bronte inspired creations.

I know it’s no substitute for the real thing, but, I hope you enjoyed this little digital / virtual tour of The Bronte Parsonage and Haworth.

Stay home & stay safe.

Thanks & take care

Sarah x

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. By Anne Bronte – A Review.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Bronte’s most well know work, but as Anne is often referred to as the least known of the Bronte Sisters, it is often overlooked, seemingly obscured by the fame and brilliance of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Despite this The Tenant of Wildfell Hall remains one of my favourites and I’ve just read it (again), so here’s what I thought.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

Please note that this blog contains affliate links, so if you purchase throgh them I receive a (very) small commission, it helps pay my bills, so thank you!

Warning: if you haven’t read it, this is a spoiler alert!

Anne writes her story from the perspective of a ‘gentleman farmer’ who is telling the story to his brother-in-law. Hummm – It’s an interesting storytelling device, also used by Emily Wuthering Heights and as they were published together it makes me wonder if they did this on purpose and if so, then was it a bit of a competition amongst the sisters, to each create a story using this device?

Anyway, I digress….

The story is set in a small rural community and starts with the arrival of the widowed; Mrs Graham and her little boy, as the tenants of the isolated and dilapidated Wildfell Hall. I love the name of the house, it is so gothic and evocative. Anne’s depiction of the hall and it’s surroundings is everything you could wish for in a forbidding and unwelcoming environment and she’s drawn heavily on the bleak Yorkshire landscape of her home.

The unwelcoming environment mirrors Mrs Graham’s outward demeanour as she repels all attempts to welcome her into the local community. She works hard to maintain distance and her privacy, as she raises her son and paints pictures for a living. Despite all her attempts to maintain her seclusion, she & Mr Markham become friends. Anne clearly couldn’t resist her love of the sea; one most light-hearted parts of the story is a happy visit to the coast for Mrs Graham and her new friends.  

As the story reaches crisis, Mr Markham & Mrs Graham become aware that they’re in love and Mrs Graham reveals her past and why their love is doomed. Anne uses Mrs Graham’s diary, which she gives to Mr Markham by way of explanation, to give us this earlier part of her story.

The end of the tale gives an ending favoured by all the Bronte sisters and rightly so! Anne gives us a well-paced and interesting story of deception, lost innocence and ultimately love. The cast of characters are all well drawn and realistic and their internal struggles and contradictions she depicts are timeless. The plot has some very neat little twists and turns and the story is one that we recognise just as much today as Anne did when she wrote it.

Girl meets boy, she falls for his ‘bad boy’ charms and believes she can change him, they marry. A few years and a child later, his continued ‘bad boy’ bad habits causes the relationship to turn toxic & she finds herself as a single mum, trying to raise her child and keep body and soul together.

The way Anne handles the relationship between Mrs Graham and her husband really reveals the strength of Mrs Graham’s character – she’s really strong! She recognises her errors, decides what is right for her and her child and then despite many challenges, she enacts her plans.

Mr Markham’s character is also well written, in counter-point to that of Mrs Grahams husband, they are both flawed, but, Mr Markham choses to change and improve himself and his behaviours, whereas Mrs Graham’s husband does not. The moral of the story – we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves!

Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a fantastic read, not too long or wordy, but with plenty of substance and there is a wealth of subtlety in the way she draws her relationships, which is as strong as that displayed by her sisters in their more famous novels!

If you enoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, you could also try Anne’s other novel Agnes Grey and there’s also a blog post on Anne herself, she was an amazing woman!

Ane’s other stories are equally great reads and not to be missed, I really recommend them!

Thanks & Enjoy!

Sarah x

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Bronte Gifts!

I know it’s the New Year and I’m sure this is the time for retrenching ones expenditure afer the excesses of Yultide, buuuuut…… it may also be the time to treat yourself, so come and check out this range of quirky gifts ideal for Bronte fans – you know who you are…..

Also they’re all designed in the Bronte’s home county of Yorkshire!

Bronte Sisters T-shirt & hoodies for all Bronte fans – a cute t-shirt featuring the names of the brilliant Bronte Sisters & their brother, it’s 100% Cotton, features a curley font and comes in a wide range of colours and sizes, you can have this design as a t-shirt or a hoody, take your pick!

Bronte t-shirt, comes in a range of colours and sizes.

Bronte sweatshirt – a very cool & comfy sweatshirt featuring the legendary literary surname, again in a range of colours and sizes. It’s the Brontes, with a sleek modern vibe!

Sleek modern Bronte sweatshirt

Gone To The Heather Bracelet – a sweet bracelet featuring the phrase that defined Emily Bronte “gone to the heather” and also the inspiration for this blog. The bracelet is in Sterling Silver and comes in a range of finishes, with a choice of bracelet strap styles and lengths.

Lowood School Bag – a cool large, thick, organic cotton tote bag, featuring the phrase Property of Lowood Insitution. A really useful gift for any Bronte fan, especially Charlotte Bronte fans and Jane Eyre fans.

I hope you enjoy this selection and maybe even find a great gift for a Bronte fan! There are more Bronte gifts available, so go take a peek!

Thanks & have a wonderful day!

Sarah

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I re-read Wuthering Heights – after 25 years and here’s what I found…

Any links in this blog may well be affiliate links (so I would earn a tiny commission if you purchased through them). This helps me pay my bills, so thank you for your support.

I am a Bronte fan and have read and loved almost all their work, revisiting much of it in book or film almost every year, with one exception – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.

It has always been my least favourite book by the Brontes. I first read it when I was about 15 and I really didn’t enjoy it. I found Cathy & Heathcliff and indeed almost every character in the book spoilt, petulent and vapid, the atmosphere was bleak and depressing – the whole thing felt pretty whingey!

Having been a Bronte fan for a long time, I have discussed and debated many aspects of the Brontes & their work and I found that I’m not alone in my view of Wuthering Heights. However, I try to keep an open mind about most things and having discovered a love for olives, coffee, knitting and cherry brandy (all of which I hated in my teens) I decided I should give it another go. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while – about 20 years! Anyway, last week, I finally got around to re-visiting Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte and here’s how that little adventure turned out…

It was with some trepidation that I sat down and started with Wuthering Heights again. I told myself that I’d give it a few chapters and if it’s still not my thing, at least I tried. That first sitting lasted over two and a half hours! I only stepped away when backache and hunger could no long be ignored. I now have bags under my eyes from late night / early morning reading sessions! I couldn’t put it down and having reached the end I have taken a little break to read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and then I shall return and read it again. I am amazed and delighted at the change in my perception of this fabulous book.

Reader I loved it…..

My long awaited second reading of Wuthering Heights revealed how much I had missed as a teenager! Having now realised that the main protagonists of the story were barely adults themselves, I suspect that my original irritation with Catherine Ernshaw and Heathcliff stemed from the unflattering reflection it gave of my own teenage behavior and attitudes.

Also, I have yet to meet a teenager who would not stare blankly at the utterence of the phrase ‘ look at that view’, so it is clear that the remarkable depiction of the landscapes and environments that Emily acheived were lost on me, during my original reading. The ‘great love story’ between Cathy & Heathcliff was lost on me as I was a pretty cynical teenager – ah time is great teacher!

My more recent reading of Wuthering Heights has revealed a story populated by fantastiacally rich and nuanced characters. I discovered the landscape, so beloved by Emily, captured in intricate detail.

Most striking was her inherant understanding of the nature of love and how facetted and, at times obscure, it is. Yet, how it sits within the foundation of self and is unmoveable. I love how beautifully she illustrates that we often cannot be saved, especially from ouselves and that we must try to make peace with that.

I can’t wait to get back to Wuthering Heights again, I am sure I’ll find yet more wonderful detail and I long to escape back into that captivating world, so carefully created by Emily – it really has been a ‘gone to the heather’ moment.

My feeling is that; Wuthering Heights is one of The Bronte’s best works but, if like me, you struggled with it – then go and give it another chance. I hope it ensares you too!

If you need a new copy of Wuthering Heights then take a look at this edition, that is being released this month – it is a thing of beauty!

Finally, have a great week!

Thanks & Enjoy

Sarah

P.S. If you’d like to read a little more about Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte check out this new blog piece I’ve written about the Bronte Sisters Lives.

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