bronte-sisters

“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.

“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”

“A pit full of fire.”

“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”

“No, sir.”

“What must you do to avoid it?”

I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”

—  Charlotte Brönte.

Charlotte Brontë’s tiny poem - 1829


- The Brontë sisters often wrote their works in a minuscule handwriting on whatever scraps of paper they could find. A magnifying glass is often required to read the texts. This early poem from a 13-year-old Charlotte was scrawled on a three-inch square paper. Scholars believe the miniature handwriting was a way for the sisters to hide their work from prying eyes and due to the expense of paper at that time. Others suggest it’s the scale that the sisters’ beloved toy soldiers would have written in, since the playthings were an integral part of their childhood fantasy world that inspired their earliest works. -

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Great little manuscript from Charlotte Bronte

A few years ago this super charming manuscript written by one of the Bronte sisters was auctioned off. Before the talented sisters became known for their now classical novels, they made little handwritten magazines with stories for their own pleasure. Miraculously, this one from 1830 survived. It contains three short stories by Charlotte Bronte (d. 1855), who is best known as the author of Jane Eyre. The manuscript measures only 61x35 mm (half a credit card), but its nineteen pages contain a combined 4000 words. Now that’s a lot of scribbling! The tiny pages contain the seeds of big scenes her later novels would be famous for. One of the stories, for example, alludes to Jane Eyre through a scene where someone locks up his enemy in the attic, after which he starts to imagine how the prisoner sets the place on fire by burning the curtains. All in all this little art project shows that small books matter too - as do, admittedly, non-medieval manuscripts, the usual focus of this Tumblr.

Pic: Sotheby’s, where this “Young Men’s Magazine nr. 2” sold (in 2011) for $1.07 million, after a bidding frenzy (read it here). More information in this article.

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Favorite Books:
JANE EYRE
by Charlotte Brontë

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!”  

The Bronte Museum at the Haworth Parsonage, as seen from the graveyard

The back of the card says: “The old parsonage, which was the home of the Bronte family from 1820, is now a museum containing many relics of the famous sisters. It was buit in 1779 of the local gray stone, a typical late-Georgian house.”

The BBC reports that “30,000 people are believed to have been interred in Haworth churchyard. Today this may be a romantic place but, in the Bronte’s time, methods of burial here contributed to a death rate which was estimated to be over 40% higher than in neighboring villages. The village water supply passed through the graveyard.”

No wonder those girls were morbid.