The Brontës, A Destination for the World

As I research ways to reach out with news of my upcoming novel Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, it has become evident there are an impressive number of Brontë aficionados worldwide.

Of course, the Brontë Society and Parsonage Museum have long been the pride of West Yorkshire and its natives. But, as it was for me since the threshold of puberty when I first became aware of Haworth‘s famous literary siblings, their home for most of their lives has long been a dream destination for countless visitors from hundreds and thousands of miles, oceans, continents and centuries away.

Brontë Parsonage, Haworth, llustration by DM Denton Copyright 2017

Once the identity of the author of Jane Eyre was no longer masked by a pseudonym, fans of the book started turning up in Haworth. A few years after Charlotte’s death, spurred on by the publication of Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of her, even more came, many from America where Jane Eyre was very popular. The local shops looked to benefit, for example, by selling photographs of the family that probably weren’t. Patriarch Patrick Brontë even began cutting up Charlotte’s letters in order to fulfill requests for samples of her handwriting.

The narrative of the Brontë sisters’ lives and the place they passed from childhood to adulthood in became as important to their legacy as the stories they penned. Not everyone agreed it should be so and others were skeptical but open to being convinced. Henry James (1843—1916) thought it unfortunate that the “beguiled fascination” with the Brontës’ “tragic history, their loneliness and poverty of life” got more attention than critical reaction to their writings. In 1904 Virginia Woolf  (1882—1941) wrote an extensive account of and reflection on her “expedition to Haworth” to discover if, as Mrs. Gaskell implied, “Haworth and the Brontës (were) somehow inextricably mixed. The curiosity (is) only legitimate when the house of a great writer or the country in which it is set adds something to our understanding of his books. This justification you have for a pilgrimage to the home and country of Charlotte Brontë and her sisters.”

I don’t believe searching for Charlotte, Emily and Anne through the rooms they lived in, church they worshipped in, pathways they walked, objects they used, books they read, clothes they wore, music they collected, pets they had, or weather they enjoyed and endured conflicts with discovering them as writers or detracts from what they wrote. If anything, their outer and inner worlds: the “poverty” (as Mr. James called it), constraints and remoteness of their lives, the struggles of their passions and intellect, the tragedies that took young loved ones from them (not unusual in families of the time), the persistence and fearlessness of their imaginations and efforts all constructed the foundation and framework that rose into the building of their poetry and prose to stand the test of time and with the best.

Crowd at opening of Parsonage Museum in1895

“The museum is certainly rather a pallid and inanimate collection of objects. An effort ought to be made to keep things out of these mausoleums, but the choice often lies between them and destruction, so that we must be grateful for the care which has preserved much that is, under any circumstances, of deep interest. Here are many autograph letters, pencil drawings, and other documents. But the most touching case – so touching that one hardly feels reverent in one’s gaze – is that which contains the little personal relics of the dead woman. The natural fate of such things is to die before the body that wore them, and because these, trifling and transient though they are, have survived, Charlotte Brontë the woman comes to life, and one forgets the chiefly memorable fact that she was a great writer. Her shoes and her thin muslin dress have outlived her. One other object gives a thrill; the little oak stool which Emily carried with her on her solitary moorland tramps, and on which she sat, if not to write, as they say, to think what was probably better than her writing.”
~ Virginia Woolf, Haworth, November 1904

The original Brontë Society was founded in 1893. Two years later a small museum opened above the Yorkshire Penny Bank on Main Street in Haworth. Brontë treasures began to be donated and also obtained by the Society at auction, monetary bequests allowing the Society to purchase them. The museum soon saw around 10,000 visitors. It wasn’t until 1928 that the deed for the Parsonage was put into the Society’s hands by Haworth native wool merchant and Society member Sir James Roberts, who had purchased it for £3,000 from the Church. A lot of Brontë memorabilia had found its way to the US and in 1926 a large collection that included Bronte manuscripts, letters, first editions and personal effects was willed to the Society by Henry Houston, a Philadelphia publisher.

Brontë possessions are still being found and coming to the museum from far and wide. In 2011 Charlotte’s mahogany desk was donated anonymously (it was known to have been owned by William Law, who collected rare Bronte material subsequently inherited by his nephew, its whereabouts a mystery after Sir Alfred Law’s death in 1939 until the desk and a few other precious items turned up). In 2015 the Society obtained the mahogany drop-leaf table, complete with ink blots, a large candle burn and a letter E carved into it, the sisters wrote on.

A table at which the Brontë sisters wrote has been brought back to the family home in Yorkshire after being purchased with a grant of £580,000.

No, there’s nothing new about the international interest in the Brontës. Less than a year after Charlotte’s death a German version of Jane Eyre—Die Waise vin Lowood (The Orphan of Lowood) was staged in New York. According to a biographer of Chekhov, the Russian writer was likely influenced by Olga Peterson’s biography of the Brontës when he wrote his play The Three Sisters. This link takes you to a Wikipedia page that lists adaptations of Jane Eyre, including, in the 1950s, a Hindi, Hong Kong, and, in the 1960s and 70s a couple of Mexican and Indian movie versions.

In the 1970s, the French produced a film, the aesthetic and atmospheric Les Soeurs Brontë, which takes a lot of liberties but I couldn’t help but be hypnotized by.

Still from Les Soeurs Brontë
Isabelle Adjani as Emily, Isabelle Huppert as Anne and Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte

The French also did an adaptation of Wuthering Heights: Hurlevent (Howling Wind) in 1985, and so did director Yoshishige Yoshida in 1988: Arashi ga Oka, neither of which I have seen (the former saved to my yet-to-be-released Netflix list). In 2009 a Japanese musical adaptation of Jane Eyre was released and I have to admit I was really drawn in by the video clips on YouTube:

 

Exhibit notes and footpaths signs in Japanese reflect the thousands from Japan who visit Haworth and the Parsonage and make the walks to the Brontë waterfall and Top Withens yearly, the largest group from a specific foreign (to the UK) country. There is a great article from The Japan Times titled Why are Japanese Women still Bewitched by the Brontës. Here’s the article’s opening:

Some years ago a sassy Osaka lady asked me to introduce her to the pleasures of Western literature. I duly handed her a variety of classic books, including “The Turn of the Screw,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Lolita” and “A Study in Scarlet.” They were all methodically if unenthusiastically read, but when I presented her with a copy of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” she devoured the book, raved about it, rereading it again and again.

Japan seem to be besotted with the three Bronte sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne. It’s a fascination that goes beyond reading and imagining. A disproportionately high number of Japanese women visit the Bronte’s home village of Haworth in the north of England each year, a pilgrimage …

The article explores possible reasons why Japanese women love the Brontës’ novels. I particularly liked, and, dare to admit, related to one:

The extravagance of the heroine Catherine’s passionate behavior and her ardor for the enigmatic Heathcliff is one aspect of the novel’s appeal to Japanese female readers, according to Pascoe.

“An older Japanese woman told me that the novel filled her with longing,” she says, “both for the foreign English locale and for the possibility of being a different, less subdued kind of person.”
Read full article …

The Bronte Society of Japan has its own Facebook page, website and blog. On the latter the administrators recently and very kindly added a post, in Japanese and English, about my upcoming novel Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, which you can view by clicking here.

There is also a very active Australian Brontë Association that gave my new novel promotion on its Facebook Page. The ABA is independent of the (UK) Brontë Society but it grew out of a group of Australian members of the Brontë Society and … still maintain(s) strong links with the parent body.

And, of course, there is a US chapter. Because of the number of American Chapter members and their wide dispersion regions were created. Each region includes several states under a Brontë Society regional representative who acts as a liaison between their members and the American Chapter Representative.

On of my favorite foreign Brontë groups, which I discovered some time ago, is The Sisters’ Room, A Bronte Inspired Blog, Italian with a mirror English version that is administrated by two lovely young women, Selene Chilla and Serena Di Battista, who travel with others from Italy to Haworth on a regular basis. They met at university, where (they) developed a true and deep passion for the English language, literature and culture. Moreover, (they) have always been interested in the Brontë sisters’ lives, works and places, and over time this passion grew and grew … They also have a Facebook Page where they have kindly shared news of my upcoming Anne novel.

The Sisters’ Room works in conjunction with the Italian chapter of the The Brontë Society,  La Sezione Italiana della Bronte Society, which was born in 1997 when its two founders, Maddalena De Leo and Franca Musi, met at a conference called The Legacy of the Brontës organized by the British Council in Bologna. Maddalena De Leo is the representative of La Sezione Italiana della Bronte Society and on the Brontë Studies editorial board, who has worked very hard for many years to have the Brontë sisters known in Italy and worldwide. As well as writing various articles for the Brontë Studies literary journal, she has translated unpublished Brontë works. Here is a fascinating interview with Prof. De Leo The Sisters’ Room posted with her in 2015: Today’s Guest: Prof. De Leo, Representative of the Brontë Society in Italy. The Sisters’ Room has a page dedicated to the Brontë Society in Italy where you can read a number of fascinating articles by Prof. De Leo.

Maddalena de Leo’s fictional account of Maria Branwell’s life

There is also a Brussels Brontë Group. Thanks to its administrators for listing Without the Veil Between on its Recent and Upcoming Books page.

I’m sure there are more international groups/organizations/fans to discover. Knowing there is so much interest in the subject of Without the Veil Between is a new experience on the publishing journey for me, my first two novels focusing on more obscure figures in music and history. Hopefully, the global interest in the Brontës will translate into a larger readership than I have experienced before.

Readers are often fans of Authors, but I, myself, am a fan of readers. They are the ones who breathe life into the pages that we give birth to, after all.
~ Janae Mitchell

Visit the novel’s new book launch page.

Add your name to my email list to be notified of its release and enter a drawing to receive a free signed copy.

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

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Illustrating Words

An illustration that does not complement a story, in the end, will become but a false idol. Since we cannot possibly believe in an absent story, we will naturally begin believing in the picture itself.
~ Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature

The origin of the word “illustration” is late Middle English (in the sense ‘illumination; spiritual or intellectual enlightenment’): via Old French from Latin illustratio(n- ), from the verb illustrate. Wikipedia.

Illustrators create visual representations, of their own work or that of others, in many mediums and industries: books, magazines, newspapers, poster art, advertisement, greeting cards, film, fashion, medicine and other sciences, manufacturing and technical design. Woodcutting, engraving, lithography, pen-and-ink, charcoal, metalpoint, pastels, colored ink, pens and pencils, watercolor and acrylic paints have all served them well. Today a trip to any art supply store is overwhelming—but exciting!—because of the wide-range of materials available for drawing and painting. Currently, digital options for making and adjusting images are constantly developing and increasing.

I “became” an illustrator, or at least got to the point of consciously being one, by accident rather than intent. I had done art most of my life, but never to be an artist as such. In the early 1980s, for my own pleasure and, frankly, sanity, inspired by a series about Edith Holden (1871-1920) and her nature notes, which, in book form and film, would become The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, I embarked on a couple of nature journals. Tiny and private, wrapped in plastic for protection, worried over in case they were damaged or lost, eventually they found a public life because of the miracle of all-in-one (scanning) printers and, in 2011, my decision to begin blogging. I used my journal illustrations to accompany the poetry and prose I shared. When All Things That Matter Press took on my first novel, A House Near Luccoli, it seemed natural to use my own artwork for its cover. I’m so grateful they allowed me to. Now three more covers later (two my own and one done for Dancing in the Rain, a poetry anthology by Christine Moran published by Bennison Books), my accidental artist has ventured into the pages of my third novel.

Section of one of the illustrations from “Without the Veil Between” Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

 

Having just finished a number of black and white (and shades of grey) illustrations for my upcoming Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, while delving into research for my next fiction work about Christina Rossetti, Victorian poetess and sister of Pre-Raphaelite illustrator (painter and poet) Dante Gabriel Rossetti, it seemed a perfect time to explore the collaboration of artists and authors and the history of illustration production.

 

 

Expression through the combination of words and pictures has ancient roots, art clarifying and embellishing text bringing to mind the painstakingly illuminated monastic manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

 

 

 

 

The invention of mechanical printing by Johannes Gutenberg in 1452 took book production out of sacred seclusion. Initially, block books were the way forward, text and illustrations cut into the same wooden block. By the mid-16th century, copper-plating engraving and etching offered better definition and more detail.

Book illustration was established as an art in the 18th century and, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, took hold by the 19th, printing processes improving rapidly with more publications seen by more of the public.

In the early 1800s, lithography, the process of printing from a flat surface treated to repel the ink except where it is required for printing, offered increased texture and accuracy because the artist could draw directly onto the printing plate.

Chromolithography, color lithography, was widely used for postcards and other printed products requiring color, such as playing cards.

Many names and nationalities were associated with the ever-growing popularity of illustrated newspapers, books and magazines. I mention only a few.

Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), best known for his A History of British Birds, helped to popularize the printing of illustrations using wood, adapting metal engraving tools to cut hard boxwood to produce printing blocks for metal typeset that were more durable than traditional woodcuts and lowered the cost for higher quality illustrations.

 

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), who depicted children as miniature adults, did the plates for all twenty-four illustrations in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist originally published in installments between February 1837 and April 1839. Dickens worked closely with many other illustrators (i.e. Hablot Knight Browne – Phiz, 1815-1882, John Leech, 1817-1864, and George Cattermole, 1800 – 1868 ) and was very involved in the characters, settings and scenes depicted, even offering his thoughts on the colors of what he envisioned, although the drawings were in black and white. Only Hard Times and Great Expectations were originally published without illustrations.

John Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), and Lindley Sambourne’s for Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1863) are some of the loveliest woodblock contributions of the mid-19th century, a time when wood engraving dominated.

Lithography (including color lithography) remained popular until the end of the 19th century, while a decade before the advent of the 20th century the photomechanical process—artwork transferred to printing plates through photographic means—found its footing in the book illustrating industry, moving image printing towards its future digital course.

 

In the 19th and 20th centuries there were a number of artistic movements that affected the design and illustration of books. Aubrey Beardsley  was a proponent of Aestheticism and Art Nouveau, influenced by Japanese woodcuts and often portraying grotesque and erotic subject matter.

 

 

Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti photographed by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll)

Many of the Pre-Raphaelites painters were also illustrators, most notably John Everett Millais, Holman Hunt, Arthur Hughes, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the latter, as above-mentioned, the brother of the subject of my next novel, Christina Rossetti. They brought the vivid lines, vibrancy, naturalness, emotionality and even mysticism of their paintings to  black and white wood engraved book illustrations.

Awaiting her brother’s creations, Christina required much patience. But patient she was, devoted to him and his talent, and he eventually completed drawings for her Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862) and the title page for her The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems (1866).

Even when there wasn’t any literary reference for a picture he was doing, Dante Gabriel Rossetti would often create a text to inspire him.

At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the ‘what if – what then’ approach to writing and illustration.
~ Chris Van Allsburg, American illustrator and writer of children’s books

Of course, of special interest to me are those authors who did illustrations for their own work, including, in the case of children’s books: Beatrix Potter, Kate Greenaway, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Maurice Sendak.

 

 

 

I’m particularly fond of the flower fairies, paintings and poems, of Cicely Mary Barker.

 

 

 

Other writers who did their own illustrations included William Makepeace Thackeray, William Blake, TS Elliot, Evelyn Waugh, Rudyard Kipling, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

It was an irresistible development of modern illustration (so largely photographic) that borders should be abandoned and the “picture” end only with the paper. This method may be suitable for photographs; but it is altogether inappropriate for the pictures that illustrate or are inspired by fairy-stories. An enchanted forest requires a margin, even an elaborate border.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

There are those who feel illustrations in novels or accompanying poetry are a distraction, dictate the meaning, give away the narrative or define the look of a setting or character and, therefore, risk cheating the reader’s imagination. I believe illustration can actually expand it. That’s what happened when at the age of eleven I picked up my mom’s 1943 edition of Wuthering Heights with evocative woodcuts by Fritz Eichenberg. My imagination was rewarded not cheated, my involvement with the writing, story, setting and characters deepened by the drawings. Even if I skipped ahead to see them, I became more curious and committed to finding out what they depicted.

Perhaps writing that makes illustrations unnecessary sets the stage for them to be all the more illuminating.

Children love illustrated books. Creative images pull them into the words and often encourage them to read more and can increase what I saw one article call “visual intelligence“.  For me, a book is already a visual product, not only in terms of reading its words but, also, in its presentation, whether I hold it in print or on my Kindle device.

Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike, it’s a good binding, you see, and I thought they’d be all good books. There’s Jeremy Taylor’s ‘Holy Living and Dying’ among ’em ; I read in it often of a Sunday.” (Mr. Tulliver felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer because his name was Jeremy); “and there ‘s a lot more of ’em, sermons mostly, I think ; but they ‘ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzlin’ world.
~ The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot, 1900

My own approach to adding illustrations to Without the Veil Between was to offer hints and stir curiosity—set up and anticipation, while creating a distinct visual to enrich the reading experience. I’m new at this, so I can only hope I have succeeded as I set out to do.

I close with another teaser clip of an illustration from Without the Veil Between:

Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Portrait of Mischief and Love: International Cat Day August 8, 2017

Why not see

Through the eyes of a cat

With jeweled vision

In topaz and green and sapphire

And the preciousness

Of each moment

 

Where was my heart when
my hand captured time in a portrait
of mischief and love?

Work in progress of my new kittens, Yoshi and Kenji, Copyright 2017 by DM Denton

Cats Between the Lines

Cats must be there. Even as I wander long ago and faraway, they follow me, rub my legs, curl on my bed and beg my attention without disturbing it. Their purring is my mantra too, so natural and deliberate at the same time, encouraging the perfect rhythm of my heart. They are soft to the touch yet strong enough in their will. One swipes at my pen to remind me not to take it all so seriously; another paws my arm, pleading, eyes green with envy for the obsession that seems to leave him out. Oh, no. How can I tell him? With a turn and a bow and a stroke he’s reassured; with an Eskimo kiss he’s a distraction but—as one of my favorite writers, Colette, once noted—never a waste of time. Yet another stretches, slithers and yawns like a serpent enticing me to a nap. And then I realize I’m being watched, by that scamp who only sleeps to run and jump and wrestle when he’s awake, small and smart and certain I can’t grab him before he runs away again.

Cats know more than they ever say, probably for the best if progress is ever to be made. A leonine length with legs neatly crossed and head shaped for stillness sets me wondering if any activity could be better than none. Oh, I know. I must make a living, eat and drink and pretend to hunt. So I do so with their goal in mind, eyes squeezed closed and whiskers and paws and tail twitching, to savor sleep as much as success—for the dream of the mouse even more than its taste. 

Cats can be characters, as many as I’ve had there’s no end to the possibilities. I can dress them up and use them in stories that otherwise might not welcome them. I suspect they would be flattered if they knew, that they expect me to take them everywhere I go and include them in everything I do. Saying that, they realize being ignored is freedom from expectation, especially if turned into a choice. And vanishing is just another way of being found.

In memory of my beloved fur-babies Gabriel and Darcy
who in 2017 left this world but not our hearts

 

 

The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.
~ Colette (French Novelist, 1873 – 1954)

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Reflections on the 199th Anniversary of Emily Brontë’s Birth

When my mother was fourteen a book was given to her appetite for reading and need to escape her own complicated narrative. Published by Random House, New York, it was wider and “taller” than it was thick, bound in dark blue-green with a slightly gullied joint and gold lettering on a strong spine, front and back boards illustrated by the work of Fritz Eichenberg, more of his moodily magnificent wood engravings within. Monotype Bodoni with long descenders and double-columns presented its text, chapters running on without pause, like the brave and breathless mind and spirit that filled it with one of the most mercilessly compelling, passionate, earthy unearthly stories ever told.

Over twenty years later this classic hardcover edition of Wuthering Heights was re-gifted to me and my reading the Brontës began with Emily. She immediately and irrevocably enticed me out of 1960s suburban America, away from fenced-in yards, narrow sidewalks, and managed nature, into the wilderness of her West Yorkshire world, inexhaustible imagination and uncompromising soul. I had never before read a novel as descriptive and dramatic, bold and mesmerizing, as validating of my own mystic inclinations. Of course, I hadn’t. I was twelve.

Fritz Eichenberg Illustration for 1943 Edition of Wuthering Heights

It was never easy to tell what was stirring in Emily’s heart. That afternoon her touch and words felt like pleading, as much as she could ever be suppliant. It might change Anne’s view of her nearest and dearest sibling. Even walking physically tall and strong across the moors, Emily seemed smaller, as if her influence was shrinking.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

Today, July 30, 2017 marks the 199th anniversary of the birth of Emily Brontë.

As many of you are already aware, my novel about her youngest sister, Anne – Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit – is finished and awaiting publication by All Things That Matter Press later this year.

Emily was an important presence in Anne’s life as Anne was in hers. In 1833, when Emily was fifteen and Anne thirteen, friend of the family Ellen Nussey noted, on a visit to Haworth, they were “like twins – inseparable companions … in the very closest sympathy, which never had any interruption.” A few years earlier, in the interval between Charlotte going away to school and Emily joining her, Anne and Emily had liberated themselves from their older sister and brother Branwell, especially in their writings, to create their own fantasy world.  Set in the North Pacific, it consisted of at least four kingdoms: Gondal (how their juvenilia is usually referenced), Angora, Exina and Alcona.  (“None of the prose fiction now survives but poetry still exists, mostly in the form of a manuscript donated to the British Museum in 1933; as do diary entries and scraps of lists” – Wikipedia).

“I must have your opinion, Anne.” Emily abruptly moved Tiger from her lap, swung her feet off the sofa and slipped them into her shoes before she began to recite, “‘In the dungeon-crypts idly did I stray, reckless of the lives wasting there away; Draw the ponderous bars! open, Warder stern!’” She stood and stamped. “‘He dared not say me nay—the hinges harshly turn.’”
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

The first known reference to the Gondal Saga is in their also joint diary paper of 1834 (below as originally written):

Anne and I have been peeling apples for Charlotte to make an apple pudding . . .  Taby said just now come Anne pillopuate a potato  Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said where are you feet Anne  Anne answered on the on the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour Door and said B gave Branwell a Letter saying here Branwell read this and show it to your Aunt and Charlotte – The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine. Sally mosley is washing in the back kitchin.

In her biography of Anne, Winifred Gerin writes “Unlike Charlotte’s and Branwell’s Angria … the permanence of Gondal lay in the fact that it was not a world at several removes from reality but only a slightly blurred print of the landscape of home.”

It was the Haworth moors that inspired the poetry of Gondal. Gerin writes: “To Emily, nature became an end in itself; to Anne, a pathway to God; to both of them a necessity.”

Anne, in one of her Gondal poems (Z ———‘s Dream), surely expressed the experience and essence of both their spirits:

I loved free air and open sky
Better than books and tutors grim,
And we had wandered far that day
O’er that forbidden ground away –
Ground, to our rebel feet how dear;
Danger and freedom both were there! —
Had climbed the steep and coursed the dale …

Ellen Nussey was not altogether correct when she claimed Emily and Anne’s closeness “never had any interruption”. Physical separations, caused by periods away at school and governess stints, especially Anne’s briefly at Blake Hall and then for five years at Thorpe Green forty miles from Haworth, were bound to test their unity. As they left their childhood behind and stumbled into womanhood, Anne’s maturing sense of duty, hope for self-sufficiency, not always pleasant experience of “the world” and literary insistence for speaking truth over indulging in fantasy left less time and inclination for the Gondal prose and poetry Emily continued to feel enthusiastic about.

Why should Anne be guided by Emily, differences in temperament, experiences, and responsibilities challenging their cohesion? How could she not? Even when her closest sister was miles away she was present in spirit. The phantom bliss, as Emily called her imagination, had once cast a spell on Anne, but the clingy little sister had become self-reliant and more rooted in reality. If Anne was truthful, she did envy Emily settled at Haworth, never having to apologize for withdrawing from the world and into her writing.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

In 1842, returning home from Brussels for the Christmas holiday, Emily exerted her independence in the opposite way Anne did and was more adamant than ever to stay humbly domestic and wildly imaginative in her own isolated piece of the planet at and around Haworth. She remained there for the rest of her life, never going further away than nearby Keighley, Bradford or Manchester or for longer than a few days as in early summer 1845.

Anne and I went our first long journey by ourselves together–leaving Home on the 30th of June-monday sleeping at York–returning to Keighley Tuesday evening sleeping there and walking home on Wednesday morning–though the weather was broken, we enjoyed ourselves very much except during a few hours at Bradford and during our excursion we were Ronald Macelgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Augusteena, Rosobelle Esualdar, Ella and Julian Egramont Catherine Navarre and Cordelia Fitzaphnold escaping from the palaces of Instruction to join the Royalists who are hard driven at present by the victorious Republicans–The Gondals still flourish bright as ever I am at present writing a work on the First Wars–Anne has been writing some articles on this and a book by Henry Sophona–We intend sticking firm by the rascals as long as they delight us which I am glad to say they do at present.
~from Emily’s diary paper, written on her birthday, July 30, 1845.

Anne drifted in and out of obliging Emily’s desire to spend most of the journey pretending to be Gondal princes and princesses fleeing the palaces of instructions to join the Royalists.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

In her paper written on the same date, Anne didn’t mention the York trip and her reflection on Gondal hints, I think, of her trying to hold onto the past mostly for Emily’s sake.

How will it be when we open this paper and the one Emily has written? I wonder whether the Gondalian will still be flourishing, and what will be their condition. I am now engaged in writing the fourth volume of Solala Vernon’s Life.

Emily might argue imaginative escapes were a good defense. One day Anne might return to being as Emily wished her to be, in part if not entirely. For now, Anne needed to concentrate on the practicalities of duty and endurance, and the long-term benefits of maintaining her integrity.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

When, in September 1845, Charlotte, whether by accident or design, happened upon the magnificent poems Emily had written and, up until then, kept from her sisters, it was Anne who understood Emily’s anger at having her sacred privacy broken into.

“You robbed me!”

Emily took her tirade to the kitchen, slamming doors, yelling at the dogs, and rattling pots. It was fortunate their father was out and Tabby was almost deaf and knew how to soothe her. Martha was prudent enough not to try.

Anne was exhausted, in part due to the long blustery walk she shared with Emily before they discovered Charlotte’s discovery, not least because she felt the pain of every verbal blow her sisters thrust at each other.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

It was also Anne who mediated the battle that ensued between her sisters, a task not made easier by Charlotte’s insistence that Emily’s poetry be published. Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell – and, subsequently, Wuthering Heights – might never have made it into print if Anne hadn’t offered Charlotte a look at her own verses and somehow softened Emily’s resistance to sharing herself, even under a pseudonym, so publically.

“If you must, publish the poems. But I’ll not be revealed.”

“You mean, your name?” Charlotte took off her glasses, unmasking the strain in her eyes.

“Not any part of me.”

“Noms de plume,” Anne realized with a mixture of relief and regret.

“Hmm.” Charlotte nodded. “As much for hiding our sex as our Emily’s obsession with being invisible.”

“All Gondal references must be removed.” Emily knocked off her shoes. “Yours, too, Annie.”

“Yes, I realize that.”

Emily put her feet on the sofa and her head back. “You need something to do. Both of you. I’m sick of seeing you mope around, one wondering whether she’s loved and the other what God wants her to do.”

“You might try, Em, but you won’t irritate me.” Charlotte returned her poetry to her. “Not while I’m so glad we’re finally all in agreement.”

“I’m submitting, not agreeing, Lotte dear.”
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

Emily Brontë, from a painting by Branwell Brontë

Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree —
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
~ from Mild the Mist Upon the Hill by Emily Brontë

For a few moments a full reconciliation between them seemed viable. They stood arm in arm looking into the shrubby, mossy gully washed by winter’s thaw and spring rain streaming off the moors, blue light casting it as fantastical as their imaginations had once been. If they were to continue on, there wasn’t any choice but to follow each other precariously down an uneven and slippery path, water rushing, splashing, and, eventually, falling steeply and musically towards the beck it was destined to join, song birds adding their voices and the rhythm of their wings.
Without the Veil Between © 2017 DM Denton

Portrait of the Brontë Sisters, c.1834 (oil on canvas) by Patrick Branwell Brontë, National Portrait Gallery, London,

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

Indra’s Net: all profits to The Book Bus charity

“Love reading poetry? Want to support a fantastic charity? All profits from this international anthology of poetry published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus.”

I’m so honored to have two poems included in this anthology, to be in the company of such excellent poets, and to be able to contribute to such a wonderful charity.

 

Bennison Books always offers the highest quality publications: “spearheading a new and exciting approach to publishing that puts authors and their work at the heart of everything (they) do. (Their) philosophy is simple: we publish great writing by authors (they) believe in.”

The title of this anthology, Indra’s Net, was suggested by one of its poets, the late Cynthia Jobin. She explained: “Indra’s net is a metaphor for universal interconnectedness. It’s as old as ancient Sanskrit and as ‘today’ as speculative scientific cosmology. It’s what came to mind when thinking about nets and webs and interconnectedness … and jewels and poems.”
~ from the forward by Carol Rumens, Poetry Editor for The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s most important newspapers

I invite you to purchase this anthology for the excellent poetry it offers and charity it supports.

The Book Bus  aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.
Available from Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2tP9a77 (UK)
http://amzn.to/2tPnDzQ (US)

 

Indra’s Net: all profits to The Book Bus charity

Source: Indra’s Net: all profits to The Book Bus charity

Thank you for your support!

As a Lotus Flower

My previous post was a reflection on a birth day – Branwell Brontë’s.

So is this one – mine. From one year to the next, I change and remain the same … and so I repost this poem, these thoughts, anew.

 

Hardheads

I was told I must

celebrate

in some kind of obvious way,

because I prefer to hide in the wonder

of my life,

to stay quiet and even rather

still,

To drink the nectar

of solitude

instead of more company

than is good for me,

Cuckoo Flower Page 18

Cuckoo Flower

like too much wine

that would make me unrecognizable

to myself.

 

My thirst is for

the clarity of my thoughts,

the true rhythm of my heart,

and the wakefulness of my soul.

Although, in a way, I do seek

drunkenness, by

Heartease

Heartease

overindulging in the softness

of my cats and their doggedness, too –

the same to be said about nature

as it intoxicates my life with meaning

and escape from meaning,

and the passions that make me teeter

on the edge of becoming unrecognizable

to everyone but myself.

 

 

“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world”
~ Buddha

 

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton (I know that this painting depicts water lilies not lotus flowers, but it was born of a very special birthday memory and, I believe, reflects the sentiments of my poem and the Buddha quote).

On my birthday I make a toast of

Blessings

Peace and Love

For All

 

Snow White Cat

Copyright 2016 by DM Denton

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Branwell Brontë Birth Bicentennial

June 26, 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Branwell Brontë in Thornton, Bradford, Yorkshire.

Branwell was sullenly histrionic. To Anne he was a quivering fledgling bird: humped over, swaying, biting his lips, adjusting his glasses or picking at his chin when he wasn’t rubbing his hands. To his own satisfaction, he looked every bit the doomed artistic type. With Mr. Robinson there he became more nervous with any attention Mrs. Robinson showed him, and struggled to contain his anger when her husband was less than civil to her. More than once Anne hooked her brother’s arm and held him back from acting as wasn’t his place to. © 2017 by DM Denton

Of course, he makes many appearances and is an integral character in my upcoming novel focusing on and from the viewpoint of his youngest sister, Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit.

(As) Anne … weaves her gentle spirit into dealing with the dissolution of her brother, her father’s loving distraction, and her two sisters’ determination to overcome the limitations of their sex in Victorian society, the reader gets a sense of how genius rose out of the tensions, love, and straining within the family itself.  ~ from pre-publication review by Thomas Davis, Four Window Press, author of The Weirding Storm, an epic poem

Here’s another Branwell-related excerpt from Without the Veil Between (yet to go through its final edits):

“I thought you would have gone to the Greenhows,” Branwell called out.
He caught Anne turning away from Monk’s lodge, changing her mind about calling on him. “No. It never came up.”
“Did the beast stay behind?”
“Flossy? I didn’t want to deal with him running off, constantly tugging if I kept him on a lead, or having to clean him of mud and, worse, burrs.”
“I didn’t mean Flossy.”
“Then I don’t know whom you’re referring to.”
“Yes, you do. You don’t like the lord of this manor any more than I do.”
“You mustn’t be uncharitable, Branny. Mr. Robinson hasn’t been well.”
Branwell laughed. “Glad to hear it. Will you come in for tea?” He stepped out of the doorway to give her access to it. “Of course, you’ll have to do the honors.”
Anne felt her moralizing rising to the surface while the summer-like mildness and autumn colors begged her to see the calmer, brighter side of the day. “Why don’t you come for a walk? If just around the grounds.” She wasn’t prepared for his agreement, but wasn’t displeased by it either.
“I don’t even need a coat.”
“I’m too warm in this lightweight one. It’s like early September.” Anne involuntarily regressed, small and vulnerable walking beside him, waiting for him to take her hand as he had when she was the youngest of six. Of course, he didn’t.
“Look at all of this—the rolled lawns, trim borders, flourishing trees, picturesque approach to a mansion high and all its comforts inside—that might be mine”
Another kind of hold on Anne allowed her brother to lead her through his misguided expectations: the hope she might yet prevent his thorough downfall.
“It’s not home for us, Branny. It never can be.”
“So what ails the mister now? Perhaps the complimentary letter I received from Macaulay has sickened him again.”
“Anne Marshall said he blames it on last Sunday’s dinner.”
Branwell clapped his hands. “Twasn’t me. Although, I have good reason.”
Anne trembled in silence, because of what she should say.
“Miss Marshall is an annoying fly buzzing around my dear Lydia.”
“She’s doing her job.”
“And some. She sees enough to hang me.”
Anne could no longer refrain from preaching, stopping and forcing herself to grab his arm to prevent him from moving on. “Only because you provide the rope.”
Branwell patted her hand before he pushed it away. “You can do better than such a cliché, my little nothing. Don’t pout. You know I only chide you with affection.”
Anne tried to ignore his condescendence. “I know Miss Marshall. She’s discreet and loyal to her mistress.”
“A mistress so deserving of loyalty as well as more return in kind of her unselfish sincerity, sweet temper, and unwearied care for others.”
Was Anne really almost to the point of giving her brother up to his emotional weakness and ultimate moral decline? “I’ll leave you here. I’m feeling tired. Also, I’d be wise to prepare a German lesson for Misses Mary and Elizabeth in case I’m expected to teach them later, as you might be with Edmund. I don’t like to go in through the front door.”
“Well, you should like it. You will like it when—” Branwell sounded determined until he saw Anne was more so, standing straighter and folding her arms. He raised his voice to ignore her resistance and further his delusion, “—when I’m the master here.”
© 2017 by DM Denton

More about Without the Veil Between here on my blog and/ my website

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Read about Branwell and his bicentennial on the Bronte Parsonage Museum Page

Fortune, how fickle and how vain thou art
~ Patrick Branwell Brontë

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.