Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

May 1, 2006


Filed under: Academic,Art,Illustrations,Media,Resources,Shirley,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 5:05 pm

T. H. Robinson Shirley Illustrations

I have been quite busy this morning uploading a lot of illustrations at the Bronteana Resource Site. It will take me some time to actually get all of them linked, but I hope to have each artist catalogued over the next few days. For now, something a little different. There are 8 full-colour illustrations of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley available here. I have scanned them from my own edition so I have a few things to say about the volume. It is a Collins Clear Type Press edition, although not one of their lovely palm-sized books. This one is very large by comparison (I have the Collins Clear Type Press editions of Jane Eyre and Villette as well- their illustrations will be scanned in eventually…). Also, since these are from my own edition, I have them in 100 dpi, but they are also available in a much higher resolution upon request.

March 19, 2006


The Butterfly, by Emily Bronte I've just finished transcribing Sue Lonoff's translation of Emily's Belgian devoir entitled 'Le Papillon' ('The Butterfly'). I've transcribed the translation rather than the original French this time so that the anglophone readers of Bronteana can enjoy some of Emily's work as an essayist as well. I will transcribe the French at a later date. The transcript is available here. I have also begun to scan the rest of the illustration I have for Villette, and these will soon be appearing on the site. Thereafter, I have some for Shirley, The Professor, and Jane Eyre to add in time. Le Papillon is my favourite of Emily's devoirs, at least of those I have read so far. Here are a few excerpts from the transcript: In one of those moods that everyone falls into sometimes, when the world of the imagination suffers a winter that blights its vegetation; when the light of life seems to go out and existence becomes a barren desert where we wander, exposed to all the tempests that blow under heaven, without hope of rest or shelter– in one of these black humors, I was walking one evening at the edge of a forest. It was summer; the sun was still shining high in the west and the air resounded with the songs of birds. All appeared happy, but for me, it was only an appearance. I sat at the foot of an old oak, among whose branches the nightingale had just begun its vespers. "Poor fool," I said to myself, "is it to guide the bullet to your breast or the child to your brood that you sing so loud and clear? Silence that untimely tune, perch yourself on your nest; tomorrow, perhaps, it will be empty." But why address myself to you alone? All creation is equally mad. Behold those flies playing above the brook; the swallows and fish diminish their number every minute. These will become, in their turn, the prey of some tyrant of the air or water; and man for his amusement or his needs will kill their murderers. Nature is an inexplicable problem; it exists on a principle of destruction. Every being must be the tireless instrument of death to others, or itself must cease to live, yet nonetheless we celebrate the day of our birth, and we praise God for having entered such a world.

March 9, 2006


Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Random Acts of Bronte,Shirley,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:37 am

A Very Random Act of Brontë

I am half-way through my week of trails. There's still the in-class essay and the conference to prepare for. This afternoon I met with several colleagues also presenting at the Classics conference. They were drafting a letter accepting invitations to the conference's luncheon. The three of us are in some way students of English and Classics. We amused ourselves with writing the most grandeloquent prose humanly possible, describing our professors as "most sapient", and beginning with terms such as "Lord Admiral Nelson (Ph.D)," and "*professor's name here*, Duchess of Lambton Tower," and ending with something like "your most obliguing and obedient servants." I think 'conference' was consistently replaced with 'confabulation.' When it came to how I would be mentioned in this letter, the first option proposed was to make me an esquire. But then I explained how ladies can't be esquires…

"Unless you are Shirley, from the novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë- She is the only one allowed to break this rule!"

And a hush falls, since no one knows what I'm talking about. But it's a start! I just have to keep mentioning it and eventually someone will ask me to explain. I do not remember how they resolved my title. It was troublesome:

"You're not married to a baronet, are you?"

"…Not to my knowledge."

Click here if you do not remember Random Acts of Brontë.

November 26, 2005


Rose Ann Heslip and the Living Cousins of the Brontës

Today we have a very special guest post here at Brontëana. Without further ado, here is an article written by Kate Bower, to give us all more information on Rose Ann Heslip and the modern descendants of the Irish Brontës- who are not quite so scarce as it seems. (It probably suits the mystique of the Brontes to think of their extended family fading away but such is hardly ever the case). Thank you, Kate, for taking the time to write this for Bronteana.

The commemorative event for Rose Ann was held on 6th October and the sun shone, it turned out to be a glorious day. There was a dinner held at Healds Hall Hotel attended by family members including Rose Anns’ 89 year old great grand daughter Olive Emily, members of the Bronte society and SpenValley Civic Society, and the Deputy Mayor & Mayoress and the Deputy Sheriff of Yorkshire.

“Healds Hall was one of the most fashionable residences in the district when built in 1764. It was the largest house in Spen Valley. The Hall first became famous through links with the Bronte family when it was owned by the Reverend Hammond Roberson, immortalised as the Reverend Matthew Helstone in Charlotte Bronte's novel "Shirley".”

After a very good meal and a ‘photo opportunity’ session, the party (slowly!) made its way to Dewsbury to the church of St Luke with Whitechapel. Flowers were laid on the grave and the local press were there in force – we all felt like minor celebrities for the day! Then into the lovely church for a memorial service (forgive me for saying so, but it has to rate as one of the dullest services I have ever attended). This was followed by a reading of some of Emily Bronte’s poems and a posy was presented to Olive.

Rose Ann was a very special lady I think. She was the kind of indomitable woman beset by tragedy and hardship you often find in a certain kind offiction. She was born in 1821 in Ireland and therefore lived through the famine – she must have seen some terrible things in her life.

Her parents were Sarah (nee Bronte) and Simon Collins and she was the only one of their ten children to marry. She had five (perhaps six) children only to watch them succumb one by one to consumption. Only one daughter, Emily, lived to marry. Emily, and her husband Hugh Bingham emigrated to Scotland where all their five children were born. Then Hugh moved down toYorkshire to take up work as a foreman at a gas works. By this time Emily was sick with consumption herself and her widowed mother aged over 70 came over to nurse her dying daughter.

Together the elderly lady, the sick daughter and five small children made the long and arduous journey by road from Scotland to Yorkshire. Aged just 33 Emily died and was buried at St Lukes with Whitechapel. Rose Ann stayed to look after her son-in-law Hugh and her grandchildren. What a sense of love and duty she must have had to stay in late Victorian industrial Yorkshire after the open spaces and close knit network of family and friends she had left behind in Ireland. It must have been a very grim place indeed.

“Salthorn was a deserted, forlorn place, surrounded by black pit-hills and standing amidst swamps and pools on the rough uncultivated common – at night lighted up by the lurid flames which belch from the furnaces at Low Moor and Bowling.”

Heckmondwike Herald, 24th August 1893

Eventually Rose Ann seems to have developed some kind of dementia and was admitted to the infirmary at the local work house. Full of character to the end, she climbed over the wall and made her way back home on the back of a cart on at least two occasions, according to family tradition. She lived to94. I would have loved to have known her.

Her eldest grand daughter, Mary Jane – my great grandma also died in her thirties of breast cancer, leaving three children – Leonard, Ernest andOlive Emily. But the younger grand daughter Elizabeth Anne lived to a grand old age, and I can just about remember her as a very old lady who smoked imaginary cigarettes (having been banned them by the doctor) and who frightened me very much when she once threw the ‘stub’ into the grate and asked me “Did it go in?”. I wasn’t used to grown ups behaving like this and I had absolutely no idea what to say to her! This aside, my mother and aunt tell me that she was a lovely lady, and ‘Aunty Annies’ sponge cake’ is a recipe which is still used in the family.

I have known that we had a Bronte connection for as long as I can remember. When I was around 16 I wrote to the Bronte Society to try and confirm this particular family tradition. Sadly, they were not really very helpful. They confirmed that Emily Heslip had married Hugh Bingham, but stated that they had no record of any children of the union. It was clear from the tone of their letter that, as far as they were concerned, the matter was closed.

It was only this year, when Imelda Marsden of the present day Bronte Society, ‘found’ us as the present day descendents of Rose Ann. She is researching a book on the relations of the Brontes and she is particularly interested in Rose Ann. This provided the first concrete proof that we did have a blood connection with the Brontes. After the brush off I had previously received, I wondered if Mary Jane and the others were perhaps Hugh’s children from a previous or subsequent marriage.

Because of this I can trace an unbroken maternal line back almost 250 years to Eleanor (Alice) McClory, born around 1759/60, the mother of Patrick and Sarah and the grandmother of the Bronte sisters and Rose Ann. Since I have a particular interest in womens’ history, and tracing a female line is usually quite difficult, this has been a source of special satisfaction to me – even without having famous cousins.

November 18, 2005


'Cottage Poems' by Patrick Brontë

At last! The Cottage Poems have been published by Project Gutenburg! Click here to read the full texts. They were released on november 16th. Could 'Maid of Killarney' be far behind? How very exciting! Other Bronte texts available through the Project include:

A, C, and E Brontë: Poems by Currer, Ellis and, Acton Bell
Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey, Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre, Villette, The Professor.

Il y a Jane Eyre ou Les mémoires d'une institutrice>>, le roman en Francais aussi. Je ne sais pas qu'est le traducteur de cet roman. C'est tres intéressante. Je pense qu'il est comme lire la roman encore- pour le premier fois. Il a un peu plus …de melodrame. Ou plus de poésie, peut-etre. D'accord. Chacun langue chante son poésie. And, no, there is no text for Shirley! Shame, shame! (Nothing for Branwell either).

Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights.

Also: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell: The Life of Charlotte Brontë volume one and two.

A friend of mine is responsible for Really Slow productions of Shakespeare. People volunteer to record their lines, and then this is all pasted together with the magic of the internet into… a really slow production of Shakespeare. Some of my other friends and I were then inspired to try a really slow production of Jane Eyre the Musical. The trouble here was that all of my friends are ladies (the ones who sing, at any rate). And so, we had a soprano Rochester and myself who plays St.John Rivers (also a soprano, although I can sing alto as well). I forget how Brocklehurst came out… Our Jane was a certain classicist from Nova Scotia. Alas, before we ever even took our little horrendous productioni seriously, she ran away to a religious order.

And now, she's back! And she's not a nun. She found true love… in the religious order. I am astounded and amazed, and it is beautiful. She is no longer my soon-to be nun friend who despaired of leaving behind her copy of Villette. I now have a deliriously happy non-nun friend who can have as many books as she likes- and the true love thing is rather nice too.

ps. Don't worry, Martha- I got your email! I think this deserves a post of its own 🙂

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