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Special Issue: The Brontës and the 'Condition of England'
pp. iii-iv Author: Butcher, Emma
Maternal Forebears of the Brontë Archive: 'Nothing comes from Nothing'; or Stories from another Canon
pp. 269-275 Author: Hardie-Budden, Melissa
J. Hambley Rowe issued a challenge in 1911 that concluded: ‘it is generally considered that distaff influences are the more important in the moulding of capabilities and temperament […] the history of the mother’s family is quite as attractive as that of the father’s’.
This paper reports my attempt to construct a family archive for the Brontë siblings’ mother, Maria Carne Branwell. Though largely ignored in literary studies, key figures in Brontë histories rooted in West Cornwall went on to play contemporaneous roles in Brontë family lives. Their stories create a spiritual swell, or rising ground, of oral tradition and experience from which Maria and Elizabeth Branwell took sustenance, growth and memories. Aunt Branwell spoke often of her younger days in Cornwall: ‘she would be very lively and intelligent in her talk’. However, she was not the lone cultural carrier of south-western stories and intelligence: her home-grown Cornish family of Fennells, Morgans and Carne-Branwells surrounded the Brontës in Yorkshire.
The Brontë novels as Historical Fiction
pp. 276-282 Author: Thormählen, Marianne
Like other well-known nineteenth-century novelists, including Dickens and Thackeray, the Brontë sisters wrote fiction set in the past. Indeed, the main action in all their novels is backdated by at least one generation. This article explores reasons for the three writers’ respective choices of temporal framework, looking at works by all of them in the historical contexts to which they supposedly belong. The bulk of the analysis is devoted to the only Brontë book that may be called a condition-of-England novel, Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley. The paper addresses the stereoscopic properties of the action in that novel, Luddism prefiguring Chartism. Showing how past and present coalesce in the book’s portrayal of Yorkshire and Britain, this paper supplies an outline of what, to Charlotte Brontë, made Britain great.
Haworth and the World Beyond
pp. 283-289 Author: Wilks, Brian
In considering the Brontë family and the Condition of England in the mid-nineteenth century, I shall look to people of the period beyond Haworth, indicate some of their preoccupations and show how their anxieties about the Condition of England reflect back to the family of writers. Being in my eightieth year I find I have more and more sympathy for Patrick Brontë in particular! My chosen people, in chronological order of their birth, are: Tom Paine; Feargus O’Connor; Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth; Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale.
'God save it! God also reform it!: The Condition of England's Church in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley
pp. 290-296 Author: Pearson, Sara L.
Northern Lights: The University of Durham and William Weightman
pp. 297-305 Author: Gamble, Bob
In September 1831, the gathering clouds over the Established Church persuaded the wealthy and powerful See in Durham to instigate a process that was to lead to the creation of the first university in the North of England. The Reverend William Weightman was one of the University of Durham’s first alumni, achieving a Licentiate in Theology. What were the influences and experiences that this highly educated young clergyman carried with him from Durham when he became a curate at Haworth in 1839? How had the turbulent English religious climate of the 1830s shaped him? This paper examines William’s privileged position as one of the early precious products of Durham’s important new theological project, one of the very first Northern Lights sent to shine over the ‘bogs and mountains’, and shows how this context may give us a greater understanding of related events in the Brontë canon.
Captains of Industry and the Subversion of the Professional Ideal in Charlotte Brontë's The Professor and Shirley
pp. 306-313 Author: Nyborg, Eric
Robert Moore’s reformation as a mill owner in Shirley and his decision to marry for love rather than money has been explained as a process of domestication. However, it is more productive to consider this reformation in light of the emergent professional service ideal in the Victorian period. Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Smiles and John Ruskin all presented ideal versions of the professionalized mill owner. Charlotte Brontë engages with this ideal in her depictions of mill owners in both The Professor and Shirley, but challenges and questions the possibilities for personal and professional morality to lead to success without being compromised by personal pride.
The 'Woman Question' and Charlotte Brontë
pp. 314-319 Author: Fraser, Rebecca
This article puts Charlotte Brontë’s feminism into its historical perspective, revisiting and celebrating her response to the ‘Woman Question’ that engulfed Britain throughout the nineteenth century. Born out of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Enlightenment and Evangelical Christianity, these political and social changes rebranded women as agents of England’s moral rehabilitation, Charlotte’s novels adopting this image and contributing to the legacy of women as powerful figures of morality and reform.
The Brontës, the Corset and the Condition of England
pp. 320-327 Author: Berglund, Birgitta
During the late 1860s a debate raged in the pages of The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine which generated hundreds of letters from readers, male as well as female. The debate concerned the use of corsets in general and tight-lacing in particular. It was part of a larger discussion about women’s dress, a discussion which was to culminate in the reform dress movement, which was, in its turn, part of the greater ‘Woman Question’. In their lives and in their novels Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë engaged to different extents in the question of women’s dress.
Dwelling in the Heart-Shrine: Lucy Snowe's Creative Architectural Metaphors in Charlotte Brontë's Villette
pp. 328-334 Author: Rider, Molly
Many studies of Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Villette, cohere around imagery of surveillance and confinement. Less remarked is the fact that Charlotte gives us a heroine, Lucy Snowe, who imbues her narrative with creative architecture. At odds with her environment, Lucy creates her own architectural interiors, imagining an alternative to the restrictive architecture she experiences throughout the novel. Thus she is not entirely a victim of spatial circumstance, as has been suggested, but instead becomes a creative architect through metaphor.
A Question of Colour
pp. 333-342 Author: Fermi, Sarah
Although a great deal has been written on the colonial influences in the works of the Brontë sisters, there is always more to discover. This paper will present several little-known facts that appear to connect the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge during the time of the Brontës’ attendance there with the world of West Indian plantation owners and Yorkshire cotton spinners. No conclusions are drawn but the material is suggestive, particularly in connection with Charlotte’s last unfinished novel, Emma. This paper will also propose that both Charlotte and Emily Brontë reworked the only important black character from the juvenilia — Quashia Quamina — into their mature writing: Charlotte, in her late juvenilia, presents him as a minor and comic character. Emily uses his story as a template for Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.