Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bronte Country

The house where the extraordinary Bronte sisters grew up is a little over an hour by bus and train from Manchester. The village of Haworth is in Yorkshire, just east over the Pennine Hills from the big city.

Hundreds of volumes have been written about this remarkable family. Charlotte and Emily wrote two of the finest novels of the 19th century ("Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights" respectively), and these books still enjoy tremendous popularity. Younger sister Anne was also a fine novelist, though less read today. The name Bronte is an attempt to mask the family's Irish roots and ancestral name, Brunty.

Briefly, the family moved into the parsonage in 1820. There were six children. The oldest two daughters became ill at a boarding school and died (providing fodder for "Jane Eyre"), and their mother died of cancer. The four remaining children, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell, were home-schooled by their aunt and created their own mythic stories and books.

You can really get a feel for how the place may have inspired the young women. Haworth is on the edge of the moor. The day I visited, it was blustery, wet and cold, a perfect day for Heathcliffe to go brooding about with his cloak pulled tight about him.

If the deaths in their family weren't enough, the front yard of their home was the church cemetery.

This is the school where Charlotte taught, adjacent to the parsonage. The town is arranged along a road that winds up to the top of the hill. There are a number of public walking trails that lead out from the village.

In the village you can visit the pub where the Brontes' brother Branwell destroyed himself with drink and laudanum, a medical form of opium that was popular and easily obtainable.


  1. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Beautiful photos! A note, though--Plath isn't buried in Haworth, but in nearby Heptonstall. I've been to her grave, as well as the Bronte Parsonage.

  2. How interesting! Your pics are great, too. It was so kind of your Aunt Sally to direct me to your blog. Now I'll go to your sidebar and read some more.

  3. Amy is so right. Thank you.

  4. Sue, I´m glad you liked the pics. The novels of the Bronte sisters are so remarkable in themselves, but their works are sometimes overshadowed by their fascinating family history. It was definitely worth going to their home. It helped round out the literary experience.
    It´s a reminder that talent thrives everywhere and anywhere.