53.831349,-1.956446

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Revision as of 14:52, 17 February 2012

POI Descriptive Title

Home of the Brontës / Brontë Parsonage Museum

Latitude

53.831349

Longitude

-1.956446


Contents

POI Historical Details

This parsonage was home to the prolific literary family of the Brontës from 1820-1861. It is currently the site of the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

The Brontë Family

The Reverend Patrick Brontë (1777-1861) moved here with his wife Maria (1783-1821) in 1820 with their children: Maria (1814-1825), Elizabeth (1815-1825), Charlotte (1816-1855), Patrick Branwell (1817-1848), Emily Jane (1818-1848), and Anne (1820-1849). In residence also were Elizabeth Branwell (sister to Maria), Arthur Bell Nicholls (who married Charlotte in 1854), and several servants to the Brontë Family, among them the loyal Tabitha Aykroyd (Tabby). [1]

BronteParsonage.jpg

Literary Heritage

The Brontë sisters were are among the most famous writers of the Victorian Era. In this house, under their father’s nose (but without his knowledge), Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote their poetry and novels, sending them out for publication under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. After a commercially unsuccessful printing of their collected Poems in 1846, the sisters turned to novel writing. The following year, each of the sisters published a novel: Charlotte's was Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights, and Anne's Agnes Grey. They drew on their extensive knowledge of Romantic poetry and Gothic literature, and tapped into the wild atmosphere of the moors outside their doors and the bustle of the manufacturing town of Haworth.

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne had rich imaginations and were avid writers from a very early age. Many of Charlotte and Branwell's narratives took place in the kingdom of Angria. Emily and Anne set their stories in kingdom of Gondal.

Charlotte was the most prolific of the sisters due to her slightly longer life. After Jane Eyre, she published Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). The Professor, which had been rejected for publication during her lifetime, was published posthumously in 1857.

Emily produced just one novel, Wuthering Heights, but she is also highly regarded for her dark and atmospheric poetry.

In addition to Agnes Grey, Anne published another novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in 1848.

Although Branwell aspired to literary fame and showed promise in his youth, he published very little. It is likely that he never knew of his sisters' authorial success.

The Graveyard

The parsonage’s situation in the midst of a crowded graveyard may also have influenced the Brontës’ writing. Poor sanitation and disease in the town of Haworth led to a higher-than-usual mortality rate among the locals, and when they were buried in the overcrowded cemetery, the diseases of which they had died made their way back into the water supply to poison the town further. As the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s website points out, “Against the mortality figures the Brontë deaths, though tragic, were unremarkable.” [2]

ParsonageGraveyard.JPG

A Succession of Deaths

The Brontë family was plagued with death and disease. Patrick's wife, Maria, died of cancer in 1821.

The four eldest daughters were sent to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge, in 1823. The eldest, Maria, diagnosed with tuberculosis, was sent home in February of 1825. Elizabeth also suffered from tuberculosis; she was sent home in late May. The two girls, aged 10 and 11, died within weeks of each other on 6 May and 15 June 1825. Charlotte and Emily were quickly withdrawn from the school.

Branwell, the only son, did not live up to the family's expectations for him. He battled addictions to alcohol and laudanum, but eventually succumbed to what was probably tuberculosis on 24 September 1848.

Emily began to complain of a cough soon after Branwell’s funeral and her health deteriorated rapidly, although she denied that she was dying until her last breath, insisting on getting up every day and feeding her dogs. She died on 19 December 1848.

Anne also died of tuberculosis, though she is the only member of the family to die away from home. She died at Scarborough on 28 May 1849.

Soon after her marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte died in the early stages of pregnancy on 31 March 1855. The exact cause of her death is unknown.

The Bronté Parsonage Museum

Since 1928, the Parsonage has housed the collection of Brontëana held by the Brontë Society. The Museum and gift shop are open year round.

References

  1. The Brontë Parsonage Museum and Society, "Family Tree" http://www.bronte.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&amp;amp;task=view&amp;amp;id=13&amp;amp;Itemid=36
  2. The Brontë Parsonage Museum and Society, "Haworth" http://www.bronte.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&amp;amp;task=view&amp;amp;id=45&amp;amp;Itemid=33

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