Page wall post by Jeanette Sears - Jeanette Sears: You may be interested in my new novel which comes out in October and is about a group of women reading 'Jane Eyre'. Here is the blurb and ...
14 hours ago
Winifred GérinIt's like a Brontë rite of passage. When you read the Brontë novels and - for some reason(1) - you need to know more about the women who wrote them, you go through the standard biographies and of course you can't miss the Gérin ones. Who can resist an individual biography for each of the four Brontë siblings? You begin by whoever attracted you the most in the first place and read your way through the other three. This usually entails either trips to the local library or a search around secondhand bookshops, as neither of the Gérin biographies have ever been reprinted after their first publication. Still though, and this is obviously to their credit, they are perhaps more read than more recently-published books on the Brontës.
Biographer of the Brontës
Sussex Academic Press
Their favourite game that summer involved regularly parading the heads of various dolls [...] on top of wooden poles [.] [...] On that Sunday afternoon on 14 July 1907 the children were marching the heads of their decapitated victims through the front garden, red ink streaming in abundance down the poles, belting out the words of the Marsellaise, 'Allons enfants de la patrie', at precisely the moment the visitors' carriage drew up at the front gate. Despite [their father]'s explanations of the significance of the date for Francophiles, the startled visitors were unamused by this choice of a Sunday-afternoon pastime, confining themselves, however, to remarking that 'the children seemed extraordinarily bloodthirsty'.A trip to Haworth with her artist sister Nell brought her to the man who would be - unexpectedly for her - her second husband. Twenty years her junior, John Lock was a Brontë enthusiast who sparked in Gérin the Brontë interest that was already there. Together they formed a Brontë team: they got married, moved to Haworth and lived what would seem like the perfect life for any Brontë fan. They spent their days getting to know the place that saw the Brontës bloom into writers, researching their lives and writing about them. Sadly, and as Helen MacEwan points out and which seems to be the case with the Brontë Society, embroiled in fights with the Brontë Society over renovations and appointments to the point of resigning their membership. It's something you don't expect, do you, these two well-known Brontë biographers (John Lock went on to write - after much effort - the pioneer biography of Patrick Brontë: Man of Sorrow) which led the path for much of today's works, not being members of the Brontë Society in protest for their way of doing things.
What would these moors, that high carpet of grass, these rolling hills, what would they mean to us without the memory of Emily Jane Brontë? [...] Would they seem beautiful or grim? Haunt us or be forgotten? most of us will never know, for it is her life, her writings, that have led us on, will draw us back again, just as surely as if she held our hand.And of course Helen MacEwan highlights some of the thoughts we had when we first read Gérin's biographies in the late 1990s-early 2000s, technologically light years away from both Gérin's time of research and today. We obviously didn't know about Gérin's background then, but we knew that what she had done was ground-breaking in terms of research. MacEwan deems it 'an impressive achievement', particularly for a 'newcomer to biography'. The rivalry with Daphne Du Maurier when they were writing their biographies of Branwell Brontë at the same time(4) turns the craft of biography-writing into a most thrilling race and makes for a very interesting read on the background of both takes, which ended up being so different. Even if she claims that her Branwell biography 'placed [Gérin's] reputation on a still firmer footing', MacEwan seems resigned to consider Daphne Du Maurier to be the 'winner' because 'it is [her] book that is still on sale today' but we think that's not a valid point when it comes to Gérin's books as none of her Brontë biographies have been republished and Brontëites from all over the world must - as we said above - look for them in secondhand bookshops. And besides, Du Maurier's Infernal World was only republished in 2006 by Virago alongside many of her lesser-known novels in preparation of the centenary of her birth in 2007.
Such fanaticism may be found alongside a certain lack of fulfillment in the devotee's own life.We beg to differ.