The Anne Brontë Blog

Friday, 18 June 2010

Early Life

The work of Anne Bronte is unfortunately and I fear indelibly cast into shadow by the toil of three sisters’ whose relationship has, understandably to certain degree, meant they are eternally entwined upon the moors, caught together in pathos. The distinction between them has become, I believe, in the passage of time ever more resonant. I chose to emphasise therefore Anne, though I do believe, with certainty, it would be resoluble, and disparaging not to reference the Bronte family, the parsonage or Anne’s relationships within.

The daughter of a poor Church of England curate, he himself a writer of not inconsiderable ability, she was born on 17 January 1820, at number 74 Market Street in the village of Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England. At the time of Anne’s birth her father was the curate of Thornton, she was baptised there on the twenty-fifth of March 1820. Shortly thereafter, Anne’s father earned the post of perpetual curate of Howarth a secure though perhaps not intellectually stimulating post.

Patrick Bronte was born at Emdale, Drumballyrony, County Down, Patrick survived childhood the elder of ten children. A period of apprenticeship as a blacksmith terminated because of aptitude toward learning, this being principally self taught, encouraged him into a university education, this should be revered especially as the modest family of “Brunty” were financial paupers. Patrick’s own father, Hugh, was an agricultural labourer.

In April 1820, the Bronte family relocated to the Howarth parsonage. The five-roomed home, which is now an integral piece of the Bronte parsonage, cannot have appeared welcoming to such a family, indeed one would suppose, the essence of foreboding which remains today. Would have been sensed by all the young Bronte’s.

Maria Branwell died on the fifteenth of September 1821 the cause of her prolonged illness and subsequent death is conjectured to be uterine cancer. Concerned with the welfare of his young children, Patrick endeavoured to re-marry, but despite what can only be conjectured upon as considerable effort, remained without a wife, and mother to five daughters.

Maria’s sister, Elizabeth Branwell had resided at the parsonage throughout her sister’s illness, and subsequently and steadfastly remained until her death. Her resolve to care for the children was borne of a sense of Christian duty, love nor affection is discernable in the temperament of aunt Branwell her strict devoutly religious manner was a prominent characteristic of the children’s childhood and education. Despite the truth that the elder children were respectful but not loving, as was expected and I feel cultivated in there behaviour, but to Anne, her favoured rationally she is said to have had a bond. Anne shared a room with her aunt, they were close and this may have influenced Anne’s personality traits and religious belief’s beyond any further human relationship Anne shared.

"Anne, dear gentle Anne was quite different in appearance from the others, and she was her aunt's favourite. Her hair was a very pretty light brown, and fell on her neck in graceful curls. She had lovely violet-blue eyes; fine pencilled eyebrows and a clear almost transparent complexion. She still pursued her studies and especially her sewing, under the surveillance of her aunt."

Education and Imagination

Anne’s studies at the parsonage evidently encompassed music and drawing, she was also instructed by the Keighley parish organist in piano play, her studies also included Art which she was taught by John Bradley of Keighley. Her aunt wished that all of her nieces were educated as to the practical and serviceable methods of running a household. But their intelligence toward literature prevailed, their father and his academically powerful library was a main source of knowledge. They are believed to have read, The Bible, Shakespeare, Virgil, Milton and Byron etcetera. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Fraser's Magazine, and The Edinburgh Review. In addition, they read history, geography and biographies.

Those readings evidently allied the Bronte’s imagination, in 1826. Patrick presented his young son with a set of toy soldiers. They each chose a soldier, named this solider, and gave them each character. These soldiers were named “The twelve’s” This subsequently evolved into the children’s imaginary African kingdom “Angria” There were map illustrations and watercolour interpretations, the children eventually devised plots and situations for the inhabitants of “Angria”, and indeed it’s capital city “Glass Town” renamed the perhaps less ingenious Verreopolis, and lastly , Verdopolis.

These illusionary creations, the worlds and kingdoms, acquired the characteristics of the world outside of their parsonage.

“—sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. For these peoples and lands the children created newspapers, magazines and chronicles, all of which were written out in extremely tiny books, with writing that was so small it was difficult to read without the aid of a magnifying glass. These juvenile creations and writings served as the apprenticeship of their later, literary talents."

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Anne’s Signature

This signature was taken from one of Anne’s educational textbooks, which she used while employed at Thorp Green in the position of governess, dated 19th. September 1843, in her twenty-third year.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Realism in the work of Anne Brontë

Anne’s writing method is often described as realism “Literary realism most often refers to the trend, beginning with certain works of nineteenth-century French literature and extending to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century authors in various countries, towards depictions of contemporary life and society "as they were." In the spirit of general "realism," Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday and banal activities and experiences, instead of a romanticized or similarly stylized presentation.” It is perhaps a little more defined with this quote "the faithful representation of reality" The author than must seek not to write of dramatized events and circumstance. Anne Brontë wrote, I believe, with vast observational skill, emotional intelligence and a belief that human nature was more enthralling and intricate even in its most repellent and malicious form, as for example Arthur Huntingdon, that dramatization simply was not found wanting nor sought after:

Doubter's Prayer

The eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound.
If e'er thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:

Then hear me now, while, kneeling here,
I lift to thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,
Oh, give me -¬ give me Faith! I cry.

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! A stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.

While Faith is with me, I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away.

Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart;
And every fiend of Hell, methinks,
Enjoys the anguish of my heart.

What shall I do, if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above,
To hear and bless me when I pray?

If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep!

Oh, help me, God! For thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not: it is thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.

Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know, that Thou art God!
A faith, that shines by night and day,
Will lighten every earthly load.

If I believe that Jesus died,
And, waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely Sorrow, Sin, and Pride,
Must yield to Peace, and Hope, and Love.

And all the blessed words He said
Will strength and holy joy impart:
A shield of safety o'er my head,
a spring of comfort in my heart.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey is a novel written by Anne Brontë and first published in 1847. The novel is said to have been inspired by Anne’s personal experience as a governess. It was her first novel. It addresses the values, knowledge and situation of a governess and the emotional and physical effects upon the young women in that difficult and precarious situation. The Irish novelist George Moore described Agnes Grey as

"The most perfect prose narrative in English letters."

Agnes Grey is the daughter of a minister, whose family comes to financial ruin. Desperate to earn money to support her self independently, she engages one of the few occupations allowed to respectable and educated women in the early Victorian era, as a governess to the children of the prosperous. In working with two different families, the Bloomfield’s and the Murray’s, she comes to learn about the troubles that face a young woman who must try to be in command of and educate young unruly, spoiled children for a living, and about the ability of wealth and status to destroy social values.

"I was sorry for her; I was amazed, disgusted at her heartless vanity; I wondered why so much beauty should be given to those who made so bad a use of it, and denied to some who would make it a benefit to both themselves and others.

But, God knows best, I concluded. There are, I suppose, some men as vain, as selfish, and as heartless as she is, and, perhaps, such women may be useful to punish them.

— Anne Brontë (Agnes Grey)

After her father's death Agnes opens a small school with her mother and finds happiness with a man who loves her for herself. By the end of the novel they have three children, Edward, Agnes and Mary.

A Concise Overview of Reverend Patrick Brontë

Life and Character

Patrick was the eldest of the ten children of Hugh Brunty, an agricultural labourer, and Eleanor (Alice) McClory, of Drumballyroney, County Down, Northern Ireland. He was apprenticed to a blacksmith and then to a linen weaver, by sixteen, he showed an aptitude for scholarly pursuits, being self taught in many subjects, he was Master of the village school. At first self-educated, he was later helped by local clergymen, Revs. Andrew Harshaw, and Thomas Tighe. He entered St. John's College, Cambridge in 1802, where he adopted the name Brontë (which is translated from Greek to thunder). It is speculated that Patrick was inspired by the assumed title of one of his heroes the Duke of Bronte. The accompanying photograph was taken during the later years of his life. Nelly Nussey apparently regarded him as a hypochondriac; he wore a large white silk cravat to protect him from bronchial illnesses. Patrick had a phobia of ill health, remaining to a certain extent healthier than most of the period, surviving until the age of eighty-four he died in 1861, having served the Howarth religious community for forty-one years.

He was ordained into the Church of England in 1807 and held curacies at: Wethersfield, Essex (1807), Wellington, Shropshire (1808), Dewsbury, Yorkshire (1809), Hartshead, Yorkshire (1810) and Thornton, Yorkshire (1815). In 1820 he was appointed Perpetual Curate of the villages of Haworth, Stanbury and Oxenhope, within the Parish of Bradford. He was an Evangelical and a popular preacher, and he held the living in Haworth for 41 years, assisted by a succession of his own curates including Arthur Bell Nicholls.

Winter Evening Thoughts, (1810). Cottage Poems, (1810), The Rural Minstrel: A Miscellany of Descriptive Poems, (1813). The Cottage in the Wood, (1816), The Maid of Killarney, (1818), The Signs of the Times, (1835).

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Concise Overview of Maria Brontë (née Branwell)

Maria Brontë (née Branwell)
(1785 - 1821)
She was born, and spent her early life, in Penzance, Cornwall; but met Patrick in Hartshead, Yorkshire; while she was in the region assisting her aunt with the domestic side of organisation in a school. Maria was 29 when she married Patrick; the wedding taking place on 29 December 1812 at Guise ley’s parish church. Between the years 1814 and 1820 she gave birth to their six children, their last born being Anne; and died, of suspected cancer of the uterus, on 15 September 1821 aged 38. Anne was only 20 months old at this time. Maria Brontë, the first born child of the Brontë Branwell family, was named after her mother and according to her father, writing when she was nine years old; she had 'a powerful intellectual mind.' The union of reverend Patrick and Maria Brontë was, it is believed, a joyous, happy one.


Unfortunately relatively little is known about the life of Anne Brontë. Official records indicate and propose some details of where she resided and occupation; these records however do not allow us to witness the sentiment and temperament of the authoress. Her novels do allow us to view a remarkable young women; calm and religious with a strong sense of humanity. But this too should be carefully undertaken in the words of the critic Barbara Everett, who argues, “If [Shakespeare’s] biography is to be found it has to be here, in the plays and poems, but never literally and never provably.” Anne Bronte’s life, can, I believe be likened to Shakespeare’s, his life is open to interpretation, the records and documentations are frustratingly scarce. The few records that do hold a testament to Anne’s life, thoughts and behaviour are those of others, these testimony’s are perhaps based upon each persons personal interpretation of the youngest Brontë, and cannot be considered at all times factual.


'It is impossible to stand by the tomb of the authoress of "Agnes Grey" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" without becoming possessed of a great yearning to know more about her' said a journalist. It is perhaps this yearning to gain a further knowledge of Anne Brontë that has enticed the hundreds that visit the tomb with the simple inscription “Here lie the remains of Anne Brontë, daughter of the Revd. P. Brontë, Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire. She died, Aged 28, May 28th, 1849". Anne Brontë died in actuality at the age of twenty-nine. “My footsteps were the first to press the firm, unbroken sands; nothing before had trampled them since last night’s flowing tide had obliterated the deepest marks of yesterday, and left it fair and even, except where the subsiding water had left behind it the traces of dimpled pools, and little running streams” her accomplishment in literature cannot be stated as undeserving of merit her footsteps were the first to press the firm, unbroken sands, Anne Brontë described by Ellen Nussey ‘Anne, dear gentle Anne was quite different in appearance from the others, and she was her aunt's favourite. Her hair was a very pretty light brown, and fell on her neck in graceful curls. She had lovely violet-blue eyes, fine pencilled eyebrows and a clear almost transparent complexion.' The small in stature girl with graceful curls, one may simply imagine those “violet-blue eyes”, which are painted into being, within the cherished portraits of the authoress. It is simple. This element of simplifying further the life of Anne however becomes more intricate. Together with her sisters, Charlotte and Emily, she has compounded into the single entity “The Brontë Sisters” I fear this can solely be attributed to her detriment. This blog is a place for admirers of her work, to understand further the governess, novelist, poet and sister removed from the shadows.