Christmas Lunch and Entertainment 2016 - The annual Brontë Group Christmas Lunch took place last Saturday, 3 December. Around 40 members turned up to enjoy a three-course meal, drinks and entertai...
15 hours ago
pp. iii Author: Adams, Amber M.
The Mystery Behind the History of the Brontë-Heger Letters
pp. 1-7(7)(7) Author: Lonoff, Sue
When Charlotte Brontë’s four letters to Constantin Heger were published in The Times in 1913, they caused a sensation. Six years later, Marion Harry Spielmann published ‘The Inner History of the Brontë-Heger Letters’. There, for the first time, he acknowledged the crucial role of Heger’s second daughter, Louise, in preserving Charlotte’s letters and transferring them to England. But even then, he did not reveal the whole story or explain why he and her brother Paul had received all the credit for this coup. This article considers the reasons for Louise’s erasure from the record. It also draws on little known and unpublished documents to analyse the private concerns behind the public headlines.
Marion Spielmann’s Brontë-Heger Letters History: Fact or Fiction?
pp. 8-18(11) Author: Bracken, Brian
In 1919 Marion H. Spielmann published a short seven-page article entitled ‘The Inner History of the Brontë-Heger Letters’. This article claims to offer the true background facts to the four letters written by Charlotte Brontë to Constantin Heger in 1844‐45. It has been much quoted in studies on the Brontës, but has rarely been subject to critical analysis. In our essay we argue that many of the claims Spielmann makes in his article are difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with true historical facts. A careful revision of Spielmann’s article is long overdue, for it is the only inner history we have of the letters. If his article is as unreliable as we claim it to be, then the history of these letters, among the most important biographical documents in the entire Brontë story, will have to be radically reconsidered.
Charlotte Brontë’s Heron Scissors: Cancellations and Excisions in the Manuscript of Shirley
pp. 19-29(11) Author: Marin, Ileana
Charlotte Brontë’s legible and beautifully uniform handwriting mesmerizes the reader of her manuscripts. It is so neat that even when (or perhaps because) a passage is cancelled, the reader is tempted to decode it, thus violating the author’s explicit wishes to eliminate it altogether. After the publication of Jane Eyre, she resorted to a more radical and effective means of concealing her struggle to write Shirley: excision by scissors. While she still cancelled portions of text simply by crossing them out with one thin line that left the text perfectly legible, she used excisions twenty-eight times in this manuscript. This paper examines how Charlotte Brontë escalated from cancellation in Jane Eyre to cancellation and excision in Shirley.
A Recently Rediscovered Unpublished Manuscript: the Influence of Sir Humphry Davy on Anne Brontë
pp. 30-41(12) Author: Flaherty, Clare
This paper explores the influence of Sir Humphry Davy’s writing on the work of Anne Brontë. I use the rediscovery of an unpublished Anne Brontë manuscript, in which she creatively engages with Davy’s text, Consolations in Travel, Or, The Last Days of a Philosopher, to analyse the reference to Davy’s work in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I argue that this reference supports Anne Brontë’s stated intention to write novels that could act as tools for an individual’s personal development.
Physiognomy and Identity in Villette
pp. 42-53(12) Author: Tytler, Graeme
Charlotte Brontë’s Villette exemplifies some of the interesting ways in which physiognomic theory had been influencing English fiction since the publication of Lavater’s Essays on Physiognomy in the late eighteenth century. This influence is principally manifest in the heroine’s highly analytical descriptions of the physicality of several people portrayed in her narrative. But though physiognomy also helps us to discern someone’s character and history, the author is none the less aware of the subjectivity lying behind many a physiognomic judgement. In other words, how you are as a physiognomist depends for Charlotte largely on the kind of person you are. Furthermore, even if an experienced physiognomist such as Paul Emanuel is exceptional in his psychological interpretations of the outward person, the reader is in the end still left pondering the question whether it is possible for anybody to determine someone’s identity through physiognomy alone, especially someone as complex as Lucy Snowe.
Charlotte Brontë’s Circumvention of Patriarchy: Gender, Labour and Financial Agency in Jane Eyre
pp. 54-65(12) Author: Owsley, Lauren
Whether Jane Eyre functions as a primarily feminist text has been a source of debate in recent literary and gender discourse; Jane’s ultimate marriage and pregnancy seemingly diminish her desire for independence and her resistance to socially constructed norms of appropriate femininity. However, these concessions on Jane’s part of her prized self-sufficiency are not sacrifices of her earned agency, but, alternatively, cognitive choices that she can afford to make as a result of her purchased societal station. Jane’s inheritance, a necessary rhetorical implementation on Charlotte Brontë’s part, provides her with the luxury to negotiate her own interpretation of the social conventions of marriage and motherhood. Financial autonomy allows Jane to view romantic involvement as a potentially equitable partnership rather than as an opportunity for social or monetary security; in order to grant Jane a truly egalitarian relationship with Rochester, Charlotte Brontë simultaneously relieves Rochester of his corporeal masculinity, effectively elevating Jane to the position of head of the household.
Robinson Reflections Part 2: Abolition and Evangelicalism
pp. 66-78(13) Author: Gamble, Bob
The second of three complementary articles collected as ‘Robinson Reflections’, ‘Abolition and Evangelicalism’ explores the background of Lydia Robinson’s father, the Anglican divine and poet, the Reverend Thomas Gisborne. His prominence in early nineteenth-century Derbyshire and Staffordshire society is demonstrated and his contribution to the campaign to end slavery, through his core membership of the Clapham Sect, is presented. His earlier days at St John’s College, Cambridge, brought him and other leading Evangelicals (including William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton) into contact with the young Reverend Patrick Brontë. With these relationships in mind, the article connects the Clapham Sect to Thorp Green Hall, setting in context the reactions of the Brontës to the crisis of 1845, and explaining why Lydia’s connections were so eager to distance her from Branwell after the unmasking of their alleged affair..
pp. pp. 79-90(12)