The Phantom Bliss: A Storyboard for Emily Brontë’s 200th Birthday

To celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of the poet and novelist Emily Brontë (July 30,1818 – December 19, 1848), I have created a storyboard that portrays Emily through excerpts from my novel Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit.

I hope you enjoy it!

A Storyboard for Emily Brontës 200th Birthday from Diane M Denton on Vimeo.

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).

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, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit © 2017 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.


8 thoughts on “The Phantom Bliss: A Storyboard for Emily Brontë’s 200th Birthday

  1. Please forgive me and I have no doubt you know much more about her. What I meant, was that the parsonage itself was so depressing. Every window looks out into the church yard and like all those old church yards, it was a graveyard. The skies dark day in and day out due to the emissions of the local textile mills… Her life would have been ever so dark if she had not had a vivid imagination to escape to. That continues to be true for many of us. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Léa. No need for you to apologize. Certainly, I didn’t mean to sound so didactic, if I did. You expressed it perfectly in “Her life would have been ever so dark if she had not had a vivid imagination to escape to. That continues to be true for many of us” I know my imagination has saved me over and over, and I don’t doubt it will again. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment here. Hope you’re having a lovely summer. All the best! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • As you say, imagination has saved many of us. The parsonage itself set off many of my “red” flags. That huge, heavy, wooden single bed which the brother shared with his father the last three years of his life… The painting where Branwell painted himself and his sisters then took himself out leaving a phantom in his place. My degrees are all in psychology and my work in both Child Protection and Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence were my filter as I toured the parsonage and Haworth. Kind regards. xo

        Liked by 1 person

        • Everyone experiences these things differently, according to our filter, as you put it. Mine is obviously quite different from yours. I never felt that kind of negativity about the parsonage. Put it this way (and how I felt writing about Anne and her family), for me deep bonds were strained, but love remained. I know there are theories of sexual assault in the family, but I don’t believe it was so. From an early age Branwell was coddled and spoiled and yet much was expected of him compared to his sisters (certainly not unusual in Victorian days). He just didn’t have the strength of character to make the best of himself and his emotions were like quicksand he got stuck in and sank deeper and deeper in. From what I’ve read Patrick Bronte slept in his son’s room for some time before Branwell’s death to prevent him, often drugged and/drunk, doing something that put the family and himself in danger, like when he set his bedroom on fire. Thanks for your thoughts. All the best. XO

          Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Lea, And thanks for your visit and comment. I have to respectfully disagree that Emily’s life was depressing. Once she was able to settle at living at home (she hated going to school and working away – did, at times, get physically ill being away from Haworth), I think she was quite content in the parsonage, doing domestic things (she was said to be one of the best bakers in the district), being with her pets, playing the piano, doing a little artwork, walking the moors, and, thank goodness, delving into her imagination and intensity of soul for writing. I think she was well-suited for the life she had. Was she never upset – especially by Branwell’s dissolution, but, also, by her dearest sister Anne being away? Of course, she was. Was she intense and prone to dark moods? Yes, I think so. Certainly, she didn’t suffer fools gladly, so being a loner was how she was probably happiest. And being ill and knowing she would die so young was devastating to her. But, I don’t see her life shrouded by depression.


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