It was November 24, 1834. Emily Brontë was sixteen, her youngest sister Anne fourteen, when they wrote the first of their diary papers (this one jointly, although it is thought the majority of it was Emily’s doing, noting the use of the pronoun “I”, the references to Anne, the run-on sentences and spelling errors, and the sudden slip from reality into fantasy: Gondal).
These are the kind of tidbits from the past that inspire my writing the most, coming, as they do, out of everyday, intimate moments in time, very ordinary and uneventful, but, also, extraordinary, revealing, and, certainly in this case, poignant considering these two adolescent girls living in the moment with such innocent hopes for the future … that never came.
I fed Rainbow, Diamond, Snowflake Jasper pheasent alias this morning Branwell went down to Mr Drivers and brought news that Sir Robert peel was going to be invited to stand for Leeds Anne and I have been peeling Apples for Charlotte to make an apple pudding and for Aunts [illegible] and apple Charlotte said she made puddings perfectly and she was of a quick but lim[i]ted Intellect Taby said just now come Anne pillopatate (i.e. pill a potato) Aunt has come into the Kitchen just now and said where are your feet Anne Anne answered on the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour Door and 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
It is past Twelve o’clock Anne and I have not tidied ourselves, done our bed work or done our lessons and we want to go out to play We are going to have for Dinner Boiled Beef, Turnips, potato’s and applepudding the Kitchin is in a very untidy state Anne and I have not Done our music exercise which consists of b majer Taby said on my putting a pen in her face Ya pitter pottering there instead of pilling a potate I answered O Dear, O Dear, O Dear I will derictly with that I get up, take a Knife and begin pilling (finished pilling the potatos papa going to walk Mr Sunderland expected
Anne and I say I wonder what we shall be like and what we shall be and where we shall be if all goes well in the year 1874 – in which year I shall be in my 57th year Anne will be going in her 55th year Branwell will be going in his 58th year And Charlotte in her 59th year hoping we shall all be well at that time we close our paper
Emily and Anne November the 24 1834
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Diane Denton has narrated, through Anne’s sensibility, the cruelest yet most beautiful part of this remarkable family’s story.
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A journal-like piece of writing, stream of consciousness before that was talked about. Very touching they are looking forward to a long life “if all goes well.” Emily didn’t miss a thing that was going on about her, but within her own mind as well. Thankfully she and her sisters put pen to paper.
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Apologies for taking so long to acknowledge your interesting comment, Mary. Yes, with so few letters found written by Emily and Anne, these diary papers are treasures. As you say, very touching with their expectancy of life and ordinary and extraordinary details, this one offering a light on Emily’s external and internal life.
Hi, Diane – love this post. Isn’t it amazing how closely interwoven Emily’s imaginative life was with everyday life in the parsonage – doing household chores etc. A wonderful insight.
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Hi, Deborah, and my apologies for taking so long to acknowledge your comment. Yes, it is amazing how Emily’s ordinary and extraordinarily creative life easily existed side by side, even overlapped. I read that she wrote down ideas for her writing on little slips of paper she kept in her apron pocket. Oh, I must email you soon. Hope all is well with you. xo