Saturday, July 15, 2017

Remember the dinner service created by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell which included a Charlotte Brontë plate? Keighley News reports that its final destination will be the Brontë Parsonage Museum, among several other things:
Items connected to Charlotte Brontë returned home to Haworth this week following the auction of a large private collection of Brontëana.
The four lots acquired by the Brontë Society include the address panel of a letter by Charlotte Brontë sent to her father and a portrait of Charlotte Brontë by Bloomsbury Group member Vanessa Bell.
The society also bought a letter written by social reformer Caroline Norton praising Jane Eyre and speculating on its author, and an envelope addressed by Charlotte Brontë to her friend Ellen Nussey.

Ann Dinsdale, the society’s Principal Curator, said the society was delighted to have acquired these items for action.
She said: “The address panel of a letter written by Charlotte to her father and autographed by him is of particular interest.
“After Charlotte’s death, Mr Brontë cut her letters into snippets to meet the many requests for samples of her handwriting that came from admirers of her books.
“We believe that this address panel came from Charlotte’s letter to announce her return home following Anne’s death at Scarborough.

“The Vanessa Bell portrait of Charlotte is also an exciting addition to our collection. It was a design for a large dinner service commemorating famous women, and was commissioned by Kenneth Clark in 1932-33.”
There were 75 Brontë-related lots in the sale by Forum Auctions, which took place in London on Monday.
Amongst them was an envelope addressed by Emily Brontë to Ellen Nussey, but the Brontë Society was unsuccessful in its attempt to acquire it.
Ms Dinsdale said the society was very disappointed to be outbid on the envelope.
She added: “The letter which was originally contained in the envelope is part of the collection at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and it was hoped that the two items could be reunited and displayed at the Parsonage in 2018, the bicentenary of Emily’s birth.” (David Knights)
The Scarborough letter is discussed in the Yorkshire Post:
It was an unspeakable bereavement. His wife and their six children had all gone and only their letters remained. Charlotte, his last surviving daughter, had succumbed to suspected tuberculosis at 38. She was carrying his grandchild. In the outpouring of grief that followed, her admirers implored The Rev Patrick Brontë to send them samples of her handwriting as keepsakes. He took out his scissors, put the fragments into envelopes and sent them into the world. A century and a half later, they are still trying to piece them back together. It was, said Ann Dinsdale, principal curator at the Brontë Society, like a game of fridge poetry magnets. This week, however, another tile fell into place. The Brontë Museum, inside Patrick’s former parsonage in Haworth, West Yorkshire, paid £5,000 at auction to acquire the address panel of a letter Charlotte had sent to her father from Scarborough, in 1849. She had taken her ailing younger sister, Anne, to the seaside, in the vain hope that the sea air would relieve her symptoms of consumption. “A dreadful darkness closes in”, Anne had written of her terminal illness. In her letter home, six years before her own death, Charlotte told her father she would soon return to Haworth, and detailed Anne’s funeral expenses. “It’s such a poignant image. Patrick, in his old age, cutting the letters into snippets,” Ms Dinsdale said. “I’ve no idea why he thought it wouldn’t be more important to preserve the letters.” The letter from Scarborough was not the only one he cut to bits, but given its content, it is among the most significant. Fragments of it are in Texas and New York but others are missing. One was already back at the parsonage, where its journey had begun. Its text has been unscrambled from the surviving pieces. (David Behrens)
Two additional reviews of the touring National Theatre's Jane Eyre adaptation:
This new, imaginative live adaption of Jane Eyre is both brave and incredibly well thought through, with Sally Cookson adapting one of Britain’s most loved classics into a phenomenal on stage production. Cookson strips back Brontë’s masterpiece to its bare bones and it is not one to be missed. (Gemma Corking in What's On NorthEast)
Chilling and brilliant masterpiece full of wonder and emotion. A truly fantastical haunting piece of theatre with outstanding actors. A must see production. (Becky Mary in All Things Stagey)
A new Brontë mention in a TV series. TV Eskimo recaps The Affair S03E07:
I have to say, while Vik may have his faults (keep in mind he bought one of Furkat’s vagina photographs), he seems to be the only one who cares about the Solloway children. Poor Trevor tries to tell his mother about his role in Jane Eyre The Musical and Helen is detached and distracted.
Hilary Mantel quotes the (in)famous opinion of Charlotte Brontë about Jane Austen in The Guardian:
Charlotte Brontë did not like Jane Austen because she thought she was mimsy, with a fenced-in imagination. But the teenage Jane was ruthless, well read, exuberant and scathing.
Also in Die Tagespost (Germany), El Español (Spain).

The Daily Mail interviews the journalist and newsreader Naga Munchetty:
The book that holds an everlasting resonance… Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, a powerful tale of love, cruelty and revenge that I studied at A-level. It was the first book I'd read that didn't sugar-coat life. (Rob McGibbon)
Halifax Courier describes a walk in the West Yorkshire Moors
Rise slightly between two stone walls, turning left towards a charming deserted house that inspires thoughts of Wuthering Heights-esque stories of remote moorland living. (Caroline Spalding)
Cultjer discusses one of the greatest movies ever made, F.W. Murnau's Sunrise:
The photography (Charles Rosher and Karl Struss are credited as the cinematographers) is truly a thing of beauty. It looks like an early Noir but has a lightness to the character that Noir would have cowered from. It is a romance with moments that would suit Wuthering Heights yet it is in no way gothic. It is just a simple, honest film. (SteveAmos)
The Times' Serious Money section is devoted to manuscripts:
“Manuscripts often tell stories in profound ways, sometimes from the content, or sometimes the date can also be enough, such as the letter from Jane Austen at the time her first book was published.”
Ms Rowell says documents from Austen, Darwin, Emily Brontë, Horatio Nelson or Winston Churchill are always desirable. (Marc Shoffman)
Danmarks Radio (Denmark) presents the album Moorland Elegies by  Tõnu Kõrvits:
Albummet hedder ’Moorland Elegies’, og titlen er på engelsk, da musikken er baseret på digte af den engelske forfatter Emily Brontë, der er bedst kendt for romanen ’Stormfulde højder’. (Malene Wichmann and Max Fage-Pedersen) (Translation)
Página 12 (Argentina) interviews the writer Mariana Enríquez:
También está presente ese motivo de grandes amores trágicos donde uno tiene que matar al otro. ¿Tuviste una época de lectura de novelas románticas? Leí que tu libro preferido es Cumbres Borrascosas. (Marina Yuszczuk)
Sí, cuando era chica un poco más. Las Brontë especialmente me gustan mucho, y sobre todo, como Drácula, son esas cosas que leés en la infancia y de las que después es muy difícil desprenderse. Hasta Mujercitas también tiene eso, la cosa de la chica joven que muere, como una especie de melodrama muy operístico y de grandes amores. Aunque a Helena se le pasa bastante rápido, ella es más estoica. Es como que pasé de la desesperación total y el desenfreno de Cumbres borrascosas a la cosa mucho más estoica de Jane Eyre, que cuando se da cuenta de que él ya está casado, y para colmo con una loca, se va. Se va consciente, segura. Y cuando vuelve ya no está apasionadísima. (Translation)
Frankfurter Allgemeine reviews An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls:
Ihre Lektüren sind vielseitig, erstrecken sich von Arthur Conan Doyles Kriminalgeschichten über Charlotte Brontës Gothic-Bildungsroman „Jane Eyre“ zu Lewis’ „Chroniken von Narnia“. (Katharina Laszlo) (Translation)
Medium lists the 100 must read books for the Thinking Christian and Jane Eyre is in the 69th position. The New York Times briefly mentions the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls which includes the Brontës. The New Yorker also mentions Kay Woodward's Jane Airhead.


  1. The mind behind Jane Eyre:

    Dear Curator,

    Am very interested in the letter from Caroline Norton, speculating the (nature/gender?) author of Jayne Eyre.
    During strife (disgrace & dispossession) she (a pioneer also, married a beast, lobbied first Family Act 1839) was supported financially and emotionally by Edwin Landseer.
    His portrait 1837 shows Caroline wearing the only other solid jet bangle apparent in any portrait, made.
    That year Landseer, Britain's champion of Feminist Endeavour, walked from Scarborough to the artisan sheds of Whitby jet (his g/father was a jeweller).

    Common friend, common cause, Caroline may have had an inkling, suspected or known C. Bell's identity, esp. if the spiritually resonant pseudonym was conceived before 1839.

    I wonder if your interpretation shows it plausible- may not be but am fairly sure Landseer would have told Caroline about the brave Brontes- she may have encouraged Him to encourage them..,



  2. cont/

    We are delighted to have the Caroline Norton letter. It is written to Lady Dacre, praising Jane Eyre and speculating on the identity of Currer Bell. The relevant passage reads:

    ‘I hope Mrs Butler prospers: I hear she will be in London for awhile. I never for an instant thought “Jane Eyre” likely to be hers. Nor, except the power & talent shewn in it, is there any apparent reason people should give it to her. It is a very remarkable book, whoever wrote it, and one which made a deep impression on me.’

    Best wishes.


    Dear (Integrity),

    Thank you as ever.

    January 1848, less than 3 months since publication. Caroline qualifies an even earlier question (to Lady Dacre) concerning the author's identity and/or gender. (Is she the first on record?)
    Her response to Dacre's guess or presumption she was referring to Mrs Butler does suggest or imply Caroline had hinted or proposed the author was a woman.

    She tactfully closes the topic with 'whoever wrote it', perhaps as one would when avoiding contentious opinion, or risking breach of confidence in a shared insight.

    That Caroline was aware of Lanny's gaggle of smouldering girls is probable (and likely the girls, especially Anne were aware of what had happened to Caroline and how she was responding- a great inspiration.)
    I feel sure she would have urged her dearly benevolent friend to encourage the girls to control their fate and express themselves in words.

    Hoping you find out more, or better.


    Am deliriously pleased to discover all three striven, creative women linked in the paragraph, Lady Dacre, Mrs Butler and Caroline Norton were (pre 1839) close to the wonderful 'fairy godfather' philanthropist Edwin Landseer.

    Under directions from Jacob Bell (mentor/druggist on whom Landseer dependent) the convalescing artist severed all social ties, (to concentrate on paying patrons) no more bohemians and ne-er do wells like the Bradford Circle or burdensome Brontes, even the decadent Bolton Bachelor, 6th dk Devonshire, who visited Patrick in 1856.
    The duke in a wheeled basket and like Patrick, sporting an ear-trumpet, perhaps hoping for a memento. He subsequently installed heating systems in the Haworth church and schools, and likely gave Patrick Landseer's cartoon of the revelling duke (c.1833) with raised glass (page 340 'Art of the Brontes') wrongly attributed to Branwell. (A personal or compromising cartoon was always retained by the victim, never the artist). The parson and duke most likely first met in 1834 at the private viewing of Charlotte's exhibit 'Bolton Abbey'.

    Although resurrected by social pioneer Queen Victoria, Landseer's unmentionable disgrace still lingered during the time of correspondence, his name would unlikely flutter through polite conversation, until 'Dialogue at Waterloo'.

    Well, his subversive, constructive portrait celebrating the brave resolve of three vulnerable women who refused to marry for money may have a new owner tomorrow evening.

    Footnote, in the 'living-room' rendition, Charlotte has a lion's head in her oval jet brooch (5 other 30 X 40mm oval sepia drawings survive) , the first lion Landseer met was called Charlotte, the last meaningful work he completed, while tortured by returning demons, were our Lions.
    Hope anyone curious how the Brontes 'happened' read my short leap-along history 1833-'39 (42 pp) available unabridged through auction link or email me

    best wishes, James

  3. Many thanks for publishing the intriguing and rewarding correspondence above. Quiz anyone? How did 6th dk Devonshire's ungainly (and comical) cartoon c.1830 by Landseer end up in the parsonage? (Ooooh that's a drawing of an 'unknown man with raised glass' by Branwell...). Ah ha.

  4. Moderators- have not intended any more than sharing discovery, facts and some 'mystery' and with fun and I hope some enchanting concepts and revelations, the reunion of Bird's Nest Hunt's portraits of Branwell and Charlotte for example (Tate T10270 & NPG 1444) he really was beautiful and vulnerable, just lost dream job unfairly..