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 Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit?

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The holidays are coming! Have some Brontë aficionados on your gift list?

Just a reminder that there are prints, notecards, and other items created from the artwork from Without the Veil Between
that are available for purchase.

For more information, click here.

Without The Veil Between, An Interview With DM Denton — Anne Brontë

Thank you to Brontë scholar and biographer Nick Holland for interviewing me on his blog.

Loved Nick’s questions! Please go over to annebronte.org for my answers to:
♦“You’ve become noted for your historical fiction, but what made you pick Anne Brontë for a subject?”
♦The book’s title is ‘Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit’. What was the inspiration for the title?
♦The book features your own illustrations. Did Anne Brontë’s drawing skills inspire you, as well as her writing skills?
♦Your book looks at Anne Brontë’s time at Thorp Green Hall and at her relationship with William Weightman. Do you think she loved Weightman and did he love her?
♦What is your favourite Anne Brontë poem and why?
♦What message does Anne have for people today?
♦Your book has, quite rightly, had some great reviews – do you think you’ll return to the Brontë family for future books?
♦What do you think Anne and her sisters would have thought of the worldwide fame they’ve achieved two hundred years after their births?
♦What are you working on at the moment?

 

Without The Veil Between, An Interview With DM Denton — Anne Brontë

Earlier in the week I marked World Sight Day by looking at Patrick Brontë’s sight saving operation, and the impact it had on the Brontës, but today’s post is something different – an interview with DM Denton, the American author of acclaimed novel ‘Without The Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine And Subtle Spirit’.

There have been several attempts down the years to portray members of the Brontë family in a fictional form, and it can be a dangerous undertaking as I feel you really have to have a love of the family to be able to pull it off. Thankfully, Diane Denton certainly has that…

Read entire interview
via Without The Veil Between, An Interview With DM Denton — Anne Brontë

She will be the most spirited of all

As some of you may know, Christina Rossetti, Victorian poetess, sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painter and poet and founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, is the subject of my next novel WIP.

Christina Rossetti by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I relate to much about Christina, being myself of an Italian and English background, experiencing the contradictions of the combination in almost every aspect of my life, sometimes frustrated but mostly grateful for how I am affected by them. Also, because of Christina’s own childhood and adolescence, which have occupied the early days of my research and writing, I have been reminded of something my mother had heard and shared with me: that we are most ourselves at the threshold of puberty. Having lost her own mother at the age of ten, my mom knows how deeply that tragic event affected and shaped her.

If I look back to myself around that time, I do find my essence, my dreams, my goals, my core beliefs—all on the verge of what will happen to nourish or disparage them.

Christina Rossetti as a child, by William Bell Scott

Christina’s maternal grandfather, Gaetano Polidori, said of her as a child: “Avra piu spiritu di tutti” (she will be the most spirited of all).

Based on her second brother William’s reflections, I wrote this in my budding manuscript: He was looking for the little sister who was vivacious, couldn’t help opening her heart or saying what was on her mind, and was only ever upset for childish reasons. The one who filled the house with sudden impulses and notions, questions and expectations, who never thought about growing up and yet promised to be self-confident and engaging, a bright star in society when she did. 

As William realized: “… what came to pass was, of course, quite the contrary.”

Gabriel and Christina by Max Beerbohm

“Well, Christina, your heart may be like a singing bird,
but why do you dress like a pew-opener?”

Christina Rossetti, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

There is a gap in Christina’s story. Just before she turned 13, “towards the end of 1842”, as one of her biographers, Georgina Battiscombe writes, “darkness falls upon this attractive, open-hearted child. For years she vanishes from view, to emerge again in 1847 changed almost beyond recognition.”

There are supposed reasons for this transformation of Christina: including a change in family circumstances (that affected its optimism and finances) when her father became ill, the normal physical and psychological alterations of an adolescent female, and a religious crisis nor unlike the one Anne Brontë (the focus of my novel Without the Veil Between) had at a similar age.

There is proof that during this time Christina began to seriously develop her poetic voice and to realize writing, especially poetry, as her true calling.  By sixteen she was considered the poet of the family, even her sometimes jealous sister Maria pronouncing her so and diligently and—although she might not outright admit it—proudly copying Christina’s poetry into a journal.

Illustration for the original publication of Goblin Market by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

 

For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.

~ from Goblin Market
by Christina Rossetti

 

 

 

Another thing for certain occurred during the dark tunnel Christina traveled between the ages of 13 and 17 to emerge so altered: melancholic reflection, observation and appreciation of nature, religious devotion, a gift for lyricism and a deceptively simple use of language was seeded, germinated, and burgeoned into an ever-increasingly beautiful field of poetry and other writings very evocative of the indomitable spirit her grandfather had early on recognized in her.

Not, after all …

Gone Forever

O happy rosebud blooming
Upon thy parent tree,
Nay, thou art too presuming
For soon the earth entombing
Thy faded charms shall be,
And the chill damp consuming.

O happy skylark springing
Up to the broad blue sky,
Too fearless in thy winging,
Too gladsome in thy singing,
Thou also soon shalt lie
Where no sweet notes are ringing.

And through life’s shine and shower
We shall have joy and pain;
But in the summer bower,
And at the morning hour,
We still shall look in vain
For the same bird and flower.

~ Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti, age 18, by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti

 

©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: as Broken as all Their Hearts Were

This is a repost from last year, with a few changes.

Patrick Branwell Brontë, brother to Charlotte, Emily and Anne, died on September 24, 1848 around 9am, most likely from tuberculosis aggravated by delirium tremens, alcoholism, and addiction to laudanum and opium. It was a Sunday. He was thirty-one.

 

Branwell Brontë, Self-Portrait

How could any of them know the extent of his weaknesses before they manifested in such a way as to irreversibly ruin him and torture them all, and, in Anne’s case, prove she had done more harm than good by trying to help him?

Anne pushed her thoughts in a higher direction. “There might be joy and fulfillment for him yet, if he’ll try to receive it.”

“Even our father seems to have given up on his eternal salvation.”

“I don’t think so.”

Anne wanted to feel as sympathetically close to Charlotte as they were in the flesh while they sat on the bed they shared, both in their nightgowns and caps but neither making a motion to get under the covers.

Emily walked up and down the hallway, it seemed for hours, to the drone of her father praying, which was a little comfort to Anne. Even covered with blankets Charlotte complained she felt cold. She said she was going to throw up, but never needed the chamber pot for that purpose and finally fell asleep. Anne couldn’t and, needing something to do, assumed her father hadn’t interrupted his vigil at Branwell’s bedside to wind the long-cased clock.

Emily was leaning against the door frame of the room where, Anne hoped, father and son might bond in dying as they hadn’t in living. Emily’s eyes were closed, her mouth moving, her words muffled, Anne making them out in their repetition.

“You’ve killed yourself … you’ve killed yourself … you’ve killed yourself …”

“Oh, Emily,” Anne reacted softly, walking towards her sister, knowing she wouldn’t be able to comfort her. She had to try. “He may yet recover.”

“You don’t believe such nonsense.”

The expectation of another skeptical reaction sent Anne to the clock, the action she could take to keep it going, and the struggle with her own faith she didn’t want anyone, especially not Emily, to witness.

“Oh, luv.” Tabby startled her into dropping the winding key, but immediately relieved her of holding back her tears.

They hugged. Tabby was grown more bosomy in a frill-less, high-necked nightgown, her face becoming redder. The old woman wiped a billowing sleeve across her face, allowed herself a few more sniffles, and walked up to Branwell’s room, stroking Emily’s arm before she went in.

“He sleeps quiet,” she reported, touching Emily’s shoulder this time, reaching out to take Anne’s hand. “Rev’r’end be restin’, too. Y’uns shuld get sum sleep.”

Emily shook her head and went downstairs.

Tabby noticed Martha was in the hallway and waved her back to their little room. “Need tha up early, Missy.”

Charlotte was also awake, sitting in bed with the covers pulled to her chin, questioning Anne, panic in her eyes.

“No change.” Anne slid in alongside her, lying on her back, which wasn’t comfortable. She needed to listen for what she hoped she wouldn’t hear.

It was the unexpected Charlotte responded to first. “What’s that? It’s not—”

“It is.”

Emily usually performed the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata nimbly with soft dynamics and reflective expression, letting it rise and fall like a singer’s perfect breathing and articulation.

That night, just past the new moon, too far from old joys, too close to last wishes, one of the darkest nights of the month and their lives, her playing was labored, hesitant, even harsh, as broken as all their hearts were.

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit

Branwell Brontë’s caricature (1847) of himself lying in bed and being summoned by death.

I sit, this evening, far away,
From all I used to know,
And nought reminds my soul to-day
Of happy long ago.

Unwelcome cares, unthought-of fears,
Around my room arise;
I seek for suns of former years
But clouds o’ercast my skies.

Yes-Memory, wherefore does thy voice
Bring old times back to view,
As thou wouldst bid me not rejoice
In thoughts and prospects new?

I’ll thank thee, Memory, in the hour
When troubled thoughts are mine-
For thou, like suns in April’s shower,
On shadowy scenes wilt shine.

I’ll thank thee when approaching death
Would quench life’s feeble ember,
For thou wouldst even renew my breath
With thy sweet word ‘Remember’!

~ Patrick Branwell Brontë

“In the next world I could not be worse than I am in this.”
~ 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.

Saturday Short: The Words One Writes …

 

Sometimes the words one writes about another are also about oneself …

If Anne was truthful, she did envy Emily settled at Haworth never having to apologize for withdrawing from the world and into her writing.

Anne didn’t expect to ever make peace with her conscience, to stop strengthening her nerve or moderating her sensitivity. Much of the time she hid the ambitious side of her nature, but in neglect it seemed to grow larger and harder to control, a dangerous thing if ever it had more sway over her than responsibility and faith.
~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit, by DM Denton
(Read newest review!)

 

 

Saturday Short is a new regular posting on this blog, briefly consisting of a quote, excerpt, reflection, or something similar every Saturday.

Just a reminder: If you would be interested in guest posting on my blog, please contact me.

Wishing everyone a joyous and safe weekend!

©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

 

William Weightman Barely Breathed and was Gone September 6, 1842

In 1839, a young curate breezed into the lives of the Brontë family. This young man was like a breath of fresh air, quite unlike any curate that the Brontë girls had previously encountered. For three short years, as well as being a diligent worker in his parish duties, he brought gaiety, romance, and humour into their lives, and an almost brotherly friendship with Branwell.
~ from The Brontë Studies, Volume 29, 2004 – Issue 1

. . . He sits opposite Anne at church sighing softly and looking out of the corners of his eyes to win her attention – and Anne is so quiet, her look so downcast – they are a picture . . .
~ Charlotte Brontë

William Weight by Charlotte Brontë

Anne could hear William’s lively chatter just outside the church, reminding he was gregarious, generous with his time and joyousness, and happiest when he was lifting others out of sighing and sadness. She chided herself for minding he didn’t observe her passing by, his occupation requiring him to be available to everyone, even silly young ladies who shouldn’t be denied a little of his sparkling company.

Anne wasn’t prepared for him walking beside her before she caught up with her aunt and brother.

“What will you do with the rest of your day?” he asked, sliding his hands down his long white cravat and folding them around its ends against the front of his heavily-buttoned frock coat.

She looked up for the sunshine that might yet peek through the dark and light clouds, a skylark singing frantically and flying as if looking for a way through them in the opposite direction the sun was. William was patient while she considered what to say, one answer in her heart and another in her head, someone else calling his name with an urgency she doubted she could ever express. The perfect afternoon activity would be a walk beyond Penistone Hill, across the high-ground, gray-green heath where curlews, golden plover peregrines, and merlins nested and by now would have some young. Even unintentional intruders might flush a few grouse out of the bracken and delight at them taking off to glide over the hair grass, cotton sedge, fern, and heather. There was always time to dally for such sights and talk to curly-horned sheep crowding for scraps of bread before continuing to the top of a steep slope, catching a glimmer here and there of the stream in the gully below. As the journey neared its end, hands would clasp to carefully descend the uneven stone steps to the waterfall weakened but its appeal not diminished by early summer. Emily’s chair would offer rest; other large stones also shaped, if not quite so perfectly, for sitting. What a pleasant diversion if the rain held off, invigorating if the wind was brisk, and respectable if Branwell came along, leaving little doubt how, as avowed in Psalm 104:24, the Lord had given them an earth full of riches.

“I hope you will excuse me.” William barely breathed and was gone.

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit

 

One of the interior illustrations by DM Denton in Without the Veil Between

William died within three weeks of contracting cholera on his visits to the sick in the parish. Anne was informed of his death by a letter from her brother Branwell, which arrived after his burial had taken place.

Was William Weightman the love of Anne’s life? Who better than Anne herself to answer … in the way that beautiful poetry tells without saying.

That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.

That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; —
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.

~ from Farewell by Anne 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.

Review of “Without the Veil Between” by Maddalena De Leo, Italian Representative of the Brontë Society

I am so honored, grateful, and inspired to have received this review by Maddalena De Leo, who is the Italian Representative of the Brontë Society (La Sezione Italiana della Brontë Society).

Professor De Leo understands, appreciates, and encapsulates the novel with such sensitivity and eloquence. Thank you, Maddalena!

 

The novel by DM Denton, Without the Veil Between – Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, puts the accent on the lesser known of the three Brontë sisters, the British authors who have become famous throughout the world in the last century. I remember that forty years ago their name appeared little in the European encyclopedias, and Anne, the third sister, was mentioned only by name, without even knowing that she had written two novels instead.

Today, however, Anne Brontë has been greatly re-evaluated and in the last twenty years, thanks to translations of her works in various languages and a BBC production of her second and longer novel, she is considered, in some respects, even the most modern of the three. With grace and discretion, DM Denton, through this novel, wants to start an unaware reader [on] the path of endurance carried forward with determination and modesty by the “smallest” of the sisters, tracing the developments during the last seven years of [her] life. It highlights those that were characteristics in her, already common to the other two, namely the determination and courage to assert their ideas often deviating from the conventions of the time.

Through the succession of chapters in the book, where the historical-biographical information is dutifully mixed with the imagination, we discover wonderful family pictures in which we are almost in contact with the daily life of the Brontë family; we see discussions and small skirmishes between the sisters; we live and share the constant concerns of all of them with regard to their brother Branwell, who is on the wrong path and with no return.

Above all, through the well-measured words of Denton, a young Anne emerges more and more, especially in the final chapters. She frees from the web of religiosity with which she traditionally is painted, [and] tries to leave something good in the world through her measured but deliberately targeted writing. A different Anne at the beginning of the book, timidly in love, and then resigned to accept her own death with dignity and fortitude without moving the reader piteously, as often happens in various modern biographies or film biopic transpositions. All this is to give credit to Diane M. Denton who, with her delightful pencil drawings on the inside but also on the cover of the book, has contributed to make a meaningful homage to the memory of Anne Brontë.

Illustration from “Without the Veil Between” Available with others from artspan.com

Adieu, but let me cherish, still,
The hope with which I cannot part.
~ from Farewell by Anne Brontë

More About Maddalena de Leo

Besides being the Italian representative for The Brontë Society and on The Brontë Studies editorial board, Maddalena has worked very hard for many years to have the Brontë sisters known in Italy and worldwide. She has translated Brontë works and written fascinating articles about the Brontës, which you can read on the Bronte Society in Italy Section of The Sisters Room: A Bronte-Inspired Blog.

Maddalena’s most recent translation into Italian is Emily Brontë (1883) by Agnes Mary Robinson (1857–1944).

Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
is available in print and for Kindle devices and app

US: amazon.com

UK: amazon.uk

Italy: (in English; in Inglese) amazon.it

and through amazon in many other countries

 

©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.