Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visiting the Brontës

Welcome to Haworth
Most of my visit to the UK was spent in the north of  England as I was visiting my daughter who is finishing her Masters Degree at the University of Leeds.  As I was checking out things to see and do in and around Leeds, West Yorkshire I came upon some information about the town of Haworth -- where lo and behold, the Brontë sisters lived and wrote! Apparently it is England's most visited literary shrine. Well, the librarian in me, could not pass that one up! Plus, there was the added attraction of taking a steam locomotive to get there!
From Keighley to Haworth by Steam Train
We took a regular train from Leeds to Skipton and got off at Keighley (which I discovered is pronounced Keef-Lee not Kay-Lee as I thought). Keighley is where we got on the steam train to Haworth. This train runs almost daily in the summer months, but otherwise only on the weekends.
If you read the comments you might notice that JaneGS has corrected me on the pronounciation of Keighley which I not only got wrong because of the spelling but even misheard from the ticket seller's pronounciation!  Jane has a lovely post about this same topic at her blog called Reading, Writing, Working, Playing.
Just to be sure I remember how to pronounce Keighley properly -- "KeiTHley" here is an audio file made for me by RAFrenzy (thanks Frenz!) of Richard Armitage speaking this word.

 Here is a Youtube video that was very similar to my trip 
and shows the town of Haworth better than my snapshots. The video also has a fairly complete recount of the of the Bronte family history. So please forgive me for not reiterating it here. I will just say that their lives were short, but glorious --  and their fame survives to nourish their much-loved village.

Haworth is such a beautiful village, that I wished I had booked at a B&B for an overnight so I could have had more time to explore the town. We had a drink at a lovely pub after our tour but as usual, had to rush off to catch the bus back to Keighley and the train back to Leeds.
The surrounding countryside
Luckily, I was able to take pictures (without a flash) inside the  
Brontë Parsonage Museum.

The study

The kitchen

Check out this webpage for 360 degree views of all the rooms. Be careful! If you click too fast you might get dizzy!

A view of the back garden with the statue of the three sisters.


 Charlotte's wedding bonnet and veil
Both Charlotte and Ann were governesses (and both wrote about governesses). There were extremely few acceptable options for educated women to support themselves in those days.  When Charlotte's aunt Bramwell died in 1842, Charlotte returned home and taught at this little school very near the parsonage.

Charlotte was the only one of her sisters to be married. Although she was cautioned against it, Charlotte seems to have had a very happy (although tragically short) marriage to Arthur Nicholls.

Charlotte's husband Arthur Bell Nicholls

One of Charlotte's dresses

Charlotte's writing desk

Copies of the Brontë sisters' famous literary accomplishments
Here is a list of books written by this talented family of authors, poets and artists. Some of their works can be read online.

Now this book was quite exciting for me to see, as I am more of a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell than any of the Bronte sisters. (Sorry, Traxy@The Squeee!)  Elizabeth Gaskell, (author of North and South) became a good friend to Charlotte Brontë, so much so, that Charlotte's father requested that Mrs. Gaskell should write Charlotte's biography after her untimely death shortly after her marriage in 1855.
The biography of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell

Here is one of those things that make you go hmmm....(?)

Charlotte Brontë was born in the village of Thornton.  In Elizabeth Gaskell's novel 
North and South, her main male character's name is John Thornton. (co-incidence?)

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South (2004)


Avalon said...

Very interesting! The village looked so quaint and cozy.
I am glad you had such a great adventure.

Unknown said...

Wonderful post and GREAT pictures, thank you so much for sharing. I especially loved seeing the pics of Charlotte's bonnet and dress - everything is so wonderfully preserved. And I think you may be on to something with the Thornton connection... :)

JaneGS said...

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Haworth last year, and look forward to returning someday soon. I did get stay the night in a great B&B, and the walk up to Bronte Falls is well worth it, just to get up on the moors and out of the still-smokey town.

I was amazed by how tiny Charlotte was--just seeing her clothes drove that point home for me. Loved all your pictures from the museum.

I really enjoyed Gaskell's bio of Charlotte, btw. And the mini-series The Brontes of Haworth was based on it, and appears to have been filmed in the house and Haworth--it seemed very true to the actual scenes, anyway.

I had the same revelation regarding the pronunciation of Keighley...and posted this about it: http://janegs.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-on-keighley-or-cyhhas-clearing.html

Glad to hear you had such a fun time. It's nice to have a daughter in such a visitable place :)

Phylly3 said...

Thanks Avalon! It was an adventure!
@Ruth -- Yes. The clothes really seem to bring alive the humanity of the person. As for the name Thornton -- I saw lots of Thornton place names all over northern England (and even Scotland). It seems fairly common, but I like to think E.G. used it as a bit of a homage to her friend.
@JaneGS--I have looked at your Haworth post! I wish I could have stayed overnight there like you did. We didn't get up to the moors as we were too rushed. We had a drink in one of the lovely pubs (the White Lion, I think). Your post about the spelling/pronounciation of Keighley was very interesting indeed. You must be correct that they pronounced it Keithley, but I misheard it as Keefley probably because I was thinking that the "gh" could be pronounced as an "f" like in the word "laugh" or "draught".

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! I did not go to Haworth on my recent trip to England--good reason to go back. So many writing desks, so little time. I've never read Elizabeth Gaskell so I will do that ASAP. Thanks for the idea!

Phylly3 said...

Thanks for visiting here Cindy. I feel sure you will enjoy reading Gaskell. Hope you will post about it!

Traxy said...

There’s more to Gaskell/Brontë than that. There’s a character called Helstone in Shirley (and an Armitage as well, funnily enough!) ... hm, I’m sure there was more that I thought of when I was reading that book but I can’t remember it now. Aside from Thornton, that is. :) Maybe there was a Milton as well? Not sure.

Isn’t it interesting how Charlotte on the picture with the red neckerchief reminds a lot of Jane ’06? She too has a red neckerchief and a grey dress. Will be interesting to see how small CB actually was. When we went to Dublin in ’05, we saw Michael Collins’s uniform in the history museum, and the man was called “Big Fellow” ... but he didn’t look particularly big to me! So knowing that CB was small even for her time – she must’ve been TINY by our standards!

Thank you so much for this post, Phylly – it’s great to see the pictures and to read about your visit! It shows some of the things we can expect to see when we manage to go there, and makes me even more interested! (Didn’t think that was possible, right? Neither did I!) Have to remember to stay the night in Haworth. Didn’t know about Keighley either. Thought maybe “Kee-lee”, but now I know to add an F! Thanks! :)

Traxy said...

Oh, I remember what it was now. The mill in Shirley is called Stilborough or something like that (*lborough anyway), so not miles off "Marlborough" - and of course yes, there is a mill there and there is a riot and there is romance brewing with the master. So a few similarities. Shirley is set a lot earlier, though, so the reasons for the riot is different. In N&S, they want more money for their work, in S, they don't want the mill because it's taken the jobs of the cottagers who are out of work. Ach, now I fancy re-reading N&S and I only just finished it earlier this year!