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...
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A country hotel originally built as the residence of Charlotte Brontë’s doctor has gone on the market. Ashmount, in the author’s home village of Haworth, has a five-star rating and dates back to 1870, when Dr Amos Ingham was the first owner. The villa, which has stained glass windows, is situated on Mytholmes Lane, just five minutes from the Brontë family parsonage. The property was built after Dr Ingham, the village surgeon, tended both Charlotte and her father Patrick before their deaths in 1855 and 1861. He is believed to have been the source of the story about the only Brontë son, Branwell, setting fire to his own bed while drunk. The doctor was present when Charlotte died. Leisure property specialists Fleurets are marketing Ashmount’s freehold with an asking price of £650,000 after its current owners put it up for sale due to ill health. The luxury hotel has eight guest bedrooms - including the chamber once occupied by the doctor - three of which are spa suites with whirlpool baths and hot tubs. There is a private apartment for the owners, dining and breakfast rooms, a residents’ lounge and extensive gardens. Nick Thomas from the Fleurets Leeds office said: “Ashmount is a successful, luxury operation with plenty of repeat and regular custom. It also offers new owners the opportunity of continuing to run the business along established lines, or to explore the potential to increase trade with non-resident dining. Furthermore, there is lapsed planning permission to add a conservatory and an additional ground floor letting bedroom.” (Grace Newton)Bdaily has more information for potential buyers.
If Thomas Hardy’s literary genius brings the West County to life and Charles Dickens evokes Victorian England, then surely Yorkshire’s strongest literary connection must be with the Brontë family. And we continue to heap praise upon these three seemingly innocuous sisters, described by their publisher as ‘rather quaintly dressed little ladies, pale faced and anxious looking’.The Oxford Eagle is unfair to Jane Eyre, expecting her to be satisfied with the burnt porridge served at Lowood.
Anyone lucky enough to visit their former home, Haworth Parsonage, will probably concede that it still seems to possess their ghosts. You can imagine them rattling away, discussing ideas at the parlour table and playing with their toy soldiers in the bedroom. Since their deaths, the Brontës’ home has remained virtually untouched, which makes the atmosphere even more suffocating, verging on sinister, but also totally thrilling. [...]
I recently read a wonderful new book on the Brontës called A Life in Letters by Juliet Barker. Despite being over 400 pages long, I finished it in two days. It’s an incredible collection of personal letters, making their long deceased voices come to life. I was surprised to find that rather than being the shy wallflower who hid behind her writing desk in the parsonage, Charlotte stormed down to London together with her sister Anne to convince her publisher that the Brontë novels were written by three separate people rather than just one person.
Charlotte took a shine to her handsome publisher George Smith, though he sadly said of her: ‘It may seem strange that the possession of genius did not lift her above the weakness of an excessive anxiety about her personal appearance; but I believe that she would have given all her genius and her fame to have been beautiful.’
I’m currently a quarter of the way through writing my first novel and I can’t explain what a hard slog it is. I find it very difficult to imagine how those women managed to be such prolific authors in a world where they had to create pseudonyms, Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell and, during their lifetime, only took brief trips away, being mainly based at the imposing but stifling parsonage. But, as well as being inspired by the stunning, if often bleak countryside, a few unrequited relationships and the loss of family members at a young age, I think the family also shared intense and joyful relationships full of love and adoration. And their legacy is bound to live on for another 200 years. I even named my own daughter Brontë after Yorkshire’s greatest literary family. (Lisa Byrne)
Jane Eyre, who seemed dissatisfied with any food put before her, once found grudging satisfaction with these berries while out on the moor one day: “I saw ripe bilberries gleaming here and there, like jet beads in the heath: I gathered a handful and ate them with the bread. My hunger, sharp before, was, if not satisfied, appeased by this hermit’s meal.” (European blueberries were slightly different from ours and were usually referred to as bilberries.) (Taylor Watkins)She wasn't dissatisfied if the food was worth it. Case in point from chapter VIII:
Having invited Helen and me to approach the table, and placed before each of us a cup of tea with one delicious but thin morsel of toast, she got up, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a parcel wrapped in paper, disclosed presently to our eyes a good-sized seed-cake.Reviews of PJ Harvey's works tend to include Brontë mentions as Town Topics has noticed:
“I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,” said she, “but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,” and she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.
We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied.
The Brontë ConnectionThe Sentinel shares a Wuthering Heights book trailer made by local high-school students.
One reason I’m thinking of Emily Brontë is that my first listenings to Hope Six coincided with a rereading of Wuthering Heights. More than that, it’s because Harvey’s vocal hovers like an eerie act of nature above the subtly incantatory “River Anacostia” as the poet takes over from singing reporter poetry with lines like “A small red sun makes way for night, trails away like a tail light.” I wish the real-life residents of Anacostia who find Harvey’s depiction of their down-and-out neighborhood unfair could hear the rapture in her voice when she sings “Oh my Anacostia, do not sigh, do not weep” as if she were mourning the broken heart of her homeland.
I’m not the first to read Wuthering Heights into PJ Harvey. A November 2000 review in Vanity Fair dubbing her “the Emily Brontë of rock’n’roll” found her music similarly “foreboding, intricately designed, and, at times, just a little out of control.” It was also noted that Polly Jean, like Emily, “grew up in the English countryside — in a hamlet just outside of Yeovil.” (Stuart Mitchner)