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After even the briefest of walks on the West Yorkshire moors, near the old town of Haworth, you're left feeling very definitely wuthered. There's really no other word to describe quite so perfectly both that bracing, wind-blown outdoorsy feeling and the exposed, blustery landscape that has caused it. Thank you Emily Brontë.The Telegraph discusses parsonages in a review of The Old Rectory by Anthony Jennings.
This part of England, however, owes a lot more to Emily and her sisters Anne and Charlotte than a heartfelt adjective. What it now owes is a thriving tourist industry which draws some 80,000-odd Bronte pilgrims through the region every year. This is not West Yorkshire. This is Brontë Country. It even says so on the motorway signs.
And for those Brontë devotees who make the pilgrimage, there are two places they must see for themselves.
The first is those bleakly beautiful moors. Walking amid the bogs and bracken with the wind whipping your ears, it's not hard to see where the three sisters found their inspiration. It's a foreboding, yet compelling place.
The other centre for pilgrimage is the rather more hospitable Brontë Parsonage Museum on the outskirts of Haworth. It was here Anne, Charlotte and Emily, with their brother Branwell, grew up under the guidance of their widowed father.
Largely cloistered from the world, they amused themselves and each other with stories and made-up worlds. Here their housekeeper entertained them with ghostly stories of the moors.
Today most of the house has been preserved, or recreated, much as the Brontës would have known it. Wander through the dining room where Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey first saw the light; stand, a little disconcerted, and see the couch where Emily succumbed to tuberculosis, aged 30.
The museum is a well-preserved time capsule which lets Bronte fans peek down a wormhole in time to imagine the sound of footsteps around the table as the siblings read and performed for each other nightly. It offers a clear insight into how their life here fed into their writing.
The town of Haworth is all quaint cobbles and stone buildings, housing tea rooms and any number of Bronte-themed businesses. It's also a key stop on the Keighley and Worth Valley steam railway which winds through the heart of Brontë Country. (Read more)
Their occupants were generally better educated than most people. They studied a bit (quite often, a lot), in their libraries. It is a melancholy thing to visit an existing or former parsonage with no books in it. Not for nothing were Jane Austen, Alfred Tennyson, Gilbert White, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Joshua Reynolds, the Brontës, Laurence Sterne, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Dryden, George Herbert, George Crabbe, Jonathan Swift and – to lower the brow a bit – the Revd W Awdry of Thomas the Tank Engine fame, the children or the incumbents of such buildings. Parsonages were central to the life of the English mind. (Charles Moore)We are not leaving Yorkshire just yet, as the Yorkshire Post asks dancer and choreographer Sharon Watson,
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performerAnother Brontëite is actress Gemma Arterton who for a few weeks was the new Cathy (not anymore). She says to The Sun,
My book used to be Jane Eyre when we did it at school. I had a good English teacher who brought it all alive and I escaped into a fantasy world.
"I have to say that even though I am a romantic, I always thought romance was passionate and tumultuous, and that's probably because I read Brontë when I was young." (Grant Rollings)And it's now clear that political commentary can't be done without the Brontës. As if Gordon Brown 'playing' a string of different Brontë characters in the past, we now have this from The Times:
Was it to be the dark, dangerous, sullen, brooding one in whom “a half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire”?On the blogosphere, Wuthering Heights is discussed by Ampli (in Catalan) and Dreamland (in Portuguese). And Lessons in Grace and El Baúl Artesano de Bego (in Spanish) post about Jane Eyre. Finally, Writer Ropes and Hopes would pick Charlotte and Emily Brontë to have lunch with (among other writers).
Or the wealthy young milksop with a sweet, low manner of speaking who cried for mama at every turn “and sat at home all day for a shower of rain”? That was the choice facing Cathy Earnshaw in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as she contemplated a life with either brutish Heathcliff or dull Edgar Linton.
Now another hot catch from Yorkshire, Nick Clegg, has been forced to choose between his heart and head from a pair of eager but imperfect suitors. (Dominic Kennedy)