Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 1:23 am by M. in    No comments
We have received some bad news from the Brussels Brontë Group as one of its founding members, Maureen Peeck O'Toole (1935-2020), passed away on June 13th. Here's what they have sent us about her.
I have just heard the sad news that Maureen Peeck O’Toole (born Maureen O’Toole in Bradford in 1935, married to Joan Peeck, a professor of psychology at the University of Utrecht) died on 13 June; she had been ill for some time. Maureen taught English language and literature at Utrecht university and was the author of a book on Emily Brontë’s poetry, Aspects of Lyric in the Poetry of Emily Brontë (1988).

Some of you will remember Maureen from the early days of our Group. She was one of a group of members from the Netherlands who were involved in setting up the group (others were Eric Ruijssenaars, author of Charlotte Brontë’s Promised Land: the Pensionnat Heger and other Brontë Places in Brussels; Selina Busch, who designed our first website; and Marcia Zaaijer, another founder member who still attends our meetings, all the way from Rotterdam).

Maureen gave her time, ideas and knowledge to the Brussels Brontë Group. She was one of our first speakers. In the attached photos you can see her taking part in some readings from Villette she organised for our first ever Christmas lunch (in 2007) and giving a talk to our group in February 2011 on Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (our celebration of Anne Brontë this year in Brussels has of course been postponed due to the coronavirus). You can read on our blog about two of the events in which Maureen was involved:



As well as in Brussels, some of us regularly met up with Maureen at Brontë Society weekends in Haworth. She was young in spirit, down-to-earth and good company. For years she used to take groups of her students from Utrecht to stay with her in a holiday cottage she rented near Haworth, so as to tell them about the Brontës in situ. Below you can read a little piece she wrote for our website in 2007, when we posted pieces about some of our earliest members. We will miss her.

Best regards,

Helen MacEwan
Brussels Brontë Group
Maureen Peeck’s self-portrait 2007
My name is Maureen Peeck (born Maureen O'Toole). As you will gather I am of Irish ancestry. I am a Brit, born and bred in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Bradford is about 8 miles from Haworth and I went there many a time as a girl. The whole area around the big, then industrial, city of Bradford was lovely countryside, mostly moorland and we were forever off to Shipley Glen, Ilkley or Haworth moors, or hitch-hiking to the Dales or the Lakes. However I married a Dutchman and went to live in the Netherlands! Living abroad makes one more aware of one's own background, culture and language, I find.

I taught English Literature for many years at Utrecht University until my retirement. Of course I have often given courses on the Brontës, and done research in this field. I am particularly interested in Emily Brontë as a poet and her place in the canon of English poetry.

I now teach part-time at the University, this time giving courses to older people. I continue to give Brontë courses and in this way I keep abreast of what is going on in Brontë matters which I find very stimulating. 
EDIT: Check the Brussels Brontë Blog for further information.


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