Τετάρτη, 8 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Visiting Brontes' Haworth

Two weeks ago a dream of mine came unexpectedly true. Not that it requires superhuman power to get to Haworth from Greece, but after several times that I had postponed the trip, I found myself arranging with my boyfriend (within only a week) to travel there before continuing our trip to London. We slept two nights in the village (unfortunately the most part of the first day was spent getting there from the airport), but I was thankful enough to get there anyway and with mild weather too.

The next morning we visited the "Bronte Waterfalls" and had all the good intention of keep walking to "Top Withins" but as I was worried lest I miss the chance to see "The Parsonage Museum" in good light, we decided to go back. Anyway we had walked enough and we could see the building from afar and with me being mostly a devoted "Jane Eyre" person, than a "Wuthering Heights" one, it didn't matter much (not that I don't like your book Emily, but I have a most tender regard for your sister Charlotte). What I frankly didn't expect was how much I enjoyed that walk. Without knowing it I chose to come to the moors a time of the year that more colors than green or yellow or brown were present. There were many reddish weeds and during the previous days it had rained enough for the waterfalls to have plenty of water. Anyway I have many photos of the moors but I put only those where we or our faces do not show and those are not plenty. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned this blog or text then to know better.






On our way back we tried to get the attention of the English sheep, but they were either too dignified to bother with us or too tired after playing paintball (as their backs showed) to even bleat, no matter how much bleating we did to encourage them. Clearly the Greek sheep are a lot more noisy and lively and they surely don't look alike (they are either all white or brown and not white with black faces and feet).

Coming back to Haworth we visited the church photographing every single plaque devoted to the family (I have many friends that are fans of the Brontes and I had to please them as well) and we also offered some little money for the restoration of its roof. We wandered in the graveyard searching their servants' graves and playing "find Tabby's grave" (for those that haven't found it, it's because the first name on the stone is George and then follows Tabitha Ackroyd). My boyfriend found it first and also took a great shot of a huge black cat that looked quite eerie and spooky and perhaps a little annoyed (and now you may think that we did our best to annoy every animal in Haworth but this time we did nothing at all, I swear).



 We passed the Sunday school where Charlotte taught and got inside their house, The Bronte Parsonage Museum. No photos were allowed there and I became anxious lest I forget to take a mental note of everything in there. I stayed long enough in every room and to tell you the truth I expected it to look smaller on the inside (it was by no means huge but after the alterations that Charlotte did most rooms would have been spacious enough, especially after the death of her siblings). For those interested to see 360o pictures of the inside, here is a useful link. The floor was covered in stone and I really think it would be cold during the winter so auntie Branwell was not so very eccentric after all for wearing clogs. A great surprise was that there were three exhibitions going on: Sue Blackwell's "Remnants" (which was great, especially the paper soldiers and cannons in the children's room and the sheet of words flying of Emily's book in the kitchen) and another one devoted to Branwell named if I remember correctly "Sex, drugs and literature" and a third one made of glass that showed some little tiles with various drawings of Bronte dresses in them. In the second aforementioned exhibition there was a paper of Branwell's were he had sketched a couple embracing and three men sitting down: the first two smoking and the third possibly masturbating (way to go Branwell, Lol!). In Charlotte's room I saw her wedding bonnet and the dress she wore before leaving for her honeymoon. It was very puffy in the sleeves and skirt and did actually not made me feel how very tiny she was as everyone that knew her said. I imagine she would look way tinier in today's clothes. Her shoes were very slim though. I enjoyed also the fact that there were some clothes of the era available to dress with (probably for younger ages, but I chose to get in contact with the child in me and tried to balance a tiny bonnet on my head anyway). My boyfriend had better luck with a top.

The only thing that disappointed me was that a certain exhibit that I wanted to see, namely the collection of locks of hair of the family, was not available at the moment. Thankfully there was a lock of hair of Charlotte's but I could not compare it with her sisters and with those lights on, it seemed so fair, I could have sworn she was either blonder than I imagined or that it belonged to Anne. A parenthesis: has any one else thought that with so much hair we could make clones of the Bronte family to see how they were really like or I am the only one with a morbid imagination? No need to answer that, it was rather rhetorical.

Leaving by the gift shop I bought three books and a post card and did not lose the chance to take a photo of the sprig that was Emily's favorite flower. The streets in Haworth were lit for Christmas and we took a shot of the drugstore and the pub that Branwell helped to keep by depositing his and his family money for some years. The next day we had to leave for London and I did a very stupid thing omitting to take a picture of what must have been Charlotte's lane where she met with her husband to be, Arthur Bell Nicholls. If only I had one more day to visit Top Withins, I would be perfectly satisfied. In fact it was weird that I came longing to see their house mostly, but in a way felt more near them in the moors. I can't explain why that is. Maybe because nature remains in its greater part unchanged as they knew it, while a museum, even if it is hosted in their own house, feels relatively cold and reminds you more vividly the fact that they are dead.




On the train to London, I informed my boyfriend that there is a written competition for a Bronte-related short story, essay or poem and I was wondering whether I should try my hand on the first. He announced to me that in that case he offered to write a poem about the woes of being in love with a Bronte fan and the things one needs to tolerate. Lol! It is not that he doesn't appreciate literature, but he came to Haworth mostly to indulge my wish and because he likes countryside and good food. I am grateful to him anyway but I wonder how the committee that judges those entries would react if he really did what he threatens. Would they find it amusing or disrespectful to the Bronte heritage?

P.S: I forgot to mention that in London I saw Charlotte's original portrait by Richmont and Emily's by Branwell, as well as his famous portrait of the three sisters (all of which are located in the National Portrait Gallery) and of course Jane Eyre's original manuscript (in the British Library - it was open in the "Reader I married him" chapter) so my Bronte tour was nearly complete :)

22 σχόλια:

  1. Kaloriziko, kalotaxido kai panta neraidenio, Xotikoula !!!!

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  2. Thank you for sharing! Great description of your trip. I would very much like to go to Haworth one day.
    Greetings from France !
    PS : not easy to write a comment when you don't understand or read a word in greek !! ;-)

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  3. @ margo
    Ευχαριστώ Μαργαρίτα μου, Καλά Χριστούγεννα να έχουμε!

    @Aude
    Thank you for your kind words! I really hope you will make it some day to Haworth. I think it is worth the trouble.
    I am myself trying to convince my boyfriend to pass again from there to see what we didn't have time to explore on the first time. We may do it on our way Scotland, another destination we would like to visit on our future travels.
    About the Greek buttons I will search the options in case I can change them to English. In fact I thought that only people being in Greece could see it, like in youtube. I am still trying to decide whether I will continue writing only in English or sometimes in Greek too. We will see...
    France looked covered in snow when we returned to Greece from London. We are to expect snow pretty soon in Greece too. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours :)

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and pictures! :) I didn't know JE was on display at British Library! If I'd known that, I would've stopped to look at it last time I was in London! The Richmont portrait I didn't find, but I saw Branwell's paintings at the National Portrait Gallery last March. :) I really want to go to Haworth too, so maybe some time next year.

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  5. Hi Traxy!
    I think you will like Haworth and you should definitely go there since you love the Brontes so much :). The Richmont portrait is at the same museum as Branwell's, side by side with Mrs Gaskell's (also by Richmont). Jane Eyre has been there for a long time as far as I know but some people say that it is open in different pages each time. A girl said it was opened in the preposition of marriage when she visited the library, but I have seen pictures on the internet with the opening page and the disruption of the wedding (the last two I have saved in my computer and I could send them to you if I knew your e-mail). Anyway now you know and you can visit it the next time :)

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  6. ΤΩΡΑ το αξιώθηκα η απερίγραπτη...

    Έσκισες!

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  7. The cat is called Oscar. He crept out of the graveyard on my wife and last June as we also searched for Tabby's resting place. We were told this by the man who looks after the flowers around the church-yard (which you must visit as the sun is setting - very Gothic!)


    We are planning a return in June 2011.

    Paul, Trish and Kermit the frog (www.kermit-hops-the-world.blogspot.com)

    Emily, not Charlotte...!

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  8. Hello, I'm glad to find another Bronte fan! I have a couple of things I'd like to talk about.
    1) Charlotte's relationship with George Smith
    2) What happened to the Heger Letters?
    Looking forward to talking with you! :)

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    1. Hello there! I'm glad you stepped by. It's been ages since I have written here.
      In the meanwhile I did write a short story for the competition, but I didn't won. LOL!
      And do you know what the subject of my story was? George Smith conversed in his dream with Heger about Charlotte. Maybe I should post it here now that all this is finished. (If I can still remember how to post LOL!)
      So about subject 1 I think what you want to discuss is whether Charlotte was in love with him, right? My opinion is she liked him a lot, but distrusted him (and rightfully in my opinion too). She had the notion he was treating her well because she was a successful writer, but even if he didn't do it because of it, she must have felt his feelings about her were not strong enough.
      About the Heger letters I believe as he himself did that she could not have destroyed them. Maybe she did what Lucy did in Villette? She was good enough to imagine it why not enact it?

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  9. I just read your story (and commented on it) and though that was funny - I read it before I read your comment here. I know you said that you don't think of Charlotte as Jane Eyre -but do you think something like what Syrie James wrote in The Secret Diaries happened? About the scene in the garden with Monsier Heger. Have you read "In the Footsteps of the Brontes"? In it it says Ellen Nussey said George did actually propose to Charlotte. But then there is the letter he wrote to someone where he said he was never in love with Charlotte. More later.

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    1. I forgot to answer this one. I haven't read "In the footsteps of the Brontes" but I generally don't think Ellen Nussey as being very reliable. I don't think that George Smith proposed to Charlotte although she mentions in a letter written in Edinburgh that it was one of the happier days of her life. I believe that Ellen, like Papa Bronte thought that for Charlotte to follow Smith in Scotland that meant something like a proposal was in the air. There was certainly some flirting but I believe things never came to a peak and maybe that was what made Charlotte present Smith like she did in Villette.

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  10. What do you mean by saying Charlotte distrusted George Smith?

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  11. He showed her much attention whenever she went to London and he kept a correspondence with her, but she sometimes seems to have distrusted the motivation behind it. Like he was doing it simply in order to keep happy his successful writer and not for herself.

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  12. Do you have ny thoughts about what might have happened between Charlotte and Monsieur Heger? I mean, something has to have happened for such a shy person to be able to write letters like that. And to provoke his wife to seperate them after being so fond of Charlotte as she seemed to be.

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    1. I'm sorry I am late in responding but I have to prepare for my honeymoon trip in Wednesday (so I will be away this week and the next too). Back in to your question I don't think anything out of place happened between Heger and Charlotte. He may perhaps have touched or even kissed her on the cheek in a cordial manner, but was more important for her was the fact that finally a man whom she admired could appreciate her talent and her value and also that she felt akin to him. Charlotte always felt different and tried to suppress her imagination and bend to reality, but now after a life of social and spiritual privation in her period as a governess, someone was interested in her and encouraged her to be herself. So when she returned to England she must have felt that this light, which was his presence to her, was dwindling. About madame Heger I believe Charlotte was right in the fact that she only pretended to like her. Being polite or recognizing someone's talent doesn't mean you are fond of someone. From the moment Claire realized that Charlotte had feelings for Monsieur Heger, she was seen as an usurper, a threat, an ungrateful and dangerous being. And the mask was consequently dropped.

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  13. How long have you been reading Bronte?

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    1. If you mean the novels I read Jane Eyre when I was 15 (and then I realized I had started the book once before when I was 11 but couldn't understand it and had to return it to the library so I had never finished it). So its been 15 years more or less. I started to read biographies and reviews when I was 18 and had access to the library of the English Department in my university.
      What is your username and have we talked before? Because the Greek option you have chosen is "anonymous".

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  14. It was 2 years to the day yesterday (August 5th) since I started reading Jane Eyre for the first time. I started reading about the Brontes in December 2010 and read all the books besides Jane Eyre after that. I've read or listened to Jane Eyre 9 times and Villette 8 times. I've read the 3 volumes of Letters too.

    We talked a little on Youtube (my youtube name is LuvCritters) My name is Luv Lubker. What's your name?

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    1. When you first read Villette, what did you think of the ending? And about what the NUN was? ;)

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  15. You said Charlotte said the time in Scotland was one of the happier days of her life - she said it was the _happiest_ days of her life. She said to William Smith Williams "Yielded some hours as happy almost as any I ever spent" and to Mrs. Smith about the time in London before they went to Scotland "I never remember to have enjoyed myself more in the same length of time" and to Laetitia Wheelwright "though the time was brief, the view of objects limited, I found such a charm of situation, association and circumstance that I think the enjoyment experienced in that little space equalled in degree and excelled in kind all which London yielded during a month's sojourn."

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  16. Πόσο τυχερή είσαι στ'αλήθεια!Είμαι φαν των Μπροντέ έδω και πολλά χρόνια με μια ιδιαίτερη αδυναμία στην Σαρλότ και την Τζέην Έυρ της.Οι φωτογραφίες σου είναι φανταστικές και το μπλογκ σου υπέροχο.Έπιτελους και καποιός άλλος στην Έλλαδα,έκτος απο εμένα ενδιαφέρεται για τις Μπροντέ.Μπορείς αν θέλεις να με βρεις στο κανάλι μου στο youtube με το ψευδώνυμο annetekoul.Έχω κάνει κάτι κλιπάκια για την αγαπημένη μου Τζέην Έυρ του 1983 με τον ανυπέρβλητο Τίμοθυ Ντάλτον,για ανεμοδαρμένα ύψη,Φράνκενσταιν.Επίσης έχω και βίντεο στα οποια διαβάζω τα αγαπημένα μου αποσπάσματα της Τζέην Έυρ.Ρίξε μια ματιά και επίζω να τα πούμε σύντομα.

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