Archive for the BRONTE Category

The Bronte, Pooh, Poe, Briggs birthday party!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, BRONTE, Inspiring poetry, period drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by echostains

No sooner do I begin writing about one author whose birthday it is, –  another pops up!   Over the past three days Anne Bronte, A.A. Milne, Raymond Briggs and Edgar Allen Poe have all celebrated  birthdays, or to be exact, they have had their birthdays celebrated for them – apart from Raymond Briggs who at 78, is still with us.

Anne Bronte

January 17th was  the birthday of writer and poet Anne Bronte (1820 –  1849 Thornton Yorkshire)   Anne, was the youngest of 6 children born to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell. She was barely one year old when her mother died. Anne wrote 2 books in her short lifetime (Agnes Grey which was published in 1847 and The Tenent of Wildfell Hall published 1848) and a  lot of poetry.  Much has been written about the Bronte family, their story is well-known.  This website is dedicated to Anne and includes all her poems and a biography.  But this beautiful poem, a tribute to the simple flower, the bluebell  could almost be a metaphor for the author’s life,  made poignant by her sad death at the age of 29.  She is buried in Scarborough – her favorite place.

Read my review about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall here

18th January saw the birthday of British children’s author Alan Alexander Milne  (1882 –  1956) the author best known for his books about Winnie the Pooh and children’s poems.

A.A. Milne

Born in Kilburn,  London, Milne  grew up at Henley House school,  a small public school ran by his father.  One of his teachers was H. G. Wells (who taught there 1889 – 1890).  The young Milne attended Westminsterschool and Trinity College Cambridge, where he studied mathematics.  Whilst at Cambridge, he edited and wrote for the student magazine Granta.  His collaborated on articles with his brother Kenneth  and caught the attention of Punch magazine.  Milne went on to be a contributor and later, assistant editor.

He married Dorothy “Daphne” de Sélincourt in 1913 and in 1920 Christopher Robin Milne was born.  Milne bought Cotchford farm in East Sussex in 1925. He joined the army in World War 1, serving as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later, after a debilitating illness, the Royal Corps of Signals. He was discharged on February 14, 1919 .  During World War 11 Milne was Captain of the Home Guard in Hartfield Forest Row.  In 1952 he had a stroke and had to undergo brain surgery.  He retired to his farm an invalid.

Milne published 18 plays and 3 novels and in 1924 produced a collection of children’s poetry called When We Were Very Young, this was illustrated by Punch illustrator E. H. Shepherd.  Milne was also a screen writer for the British film industry (founded in 1920).  But it is the two Pooh books which Milne is most famous for.

The books feature a boy named Christopher Robin (after Milnes’ son).  The characters in the book were inspired by Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys – the most noteworthy being the bear named ‘Winnie the Pooh’.  The bear was originally called ‘Edward’ but was renamed ‘Winnie the Pooh’ after a Canadian black bear called ‘Winnie’ (after Winnipeg) used as a military mascot in World War 1 and was left to London Zoo during the war.  The ‘Pooh’ comes from a swan of the same name.’

Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926. A second collection of nursery rhymes Now we are Six was published in 1927 and was followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928 and were all illustrated by E. H. Shepherd.  For a more in-depth look at this author please look here and this website and there are lots of Pooh related information to be found here

The author Raymond Briggs also shares his birthday with A.A. Milne.  Briggs was born in 1934 Wimbledon London.  He is a graphic artist, novelist and illustrator.  though he is best known for his story The Snowman, shown every Christmas in cartoon form on television, he has illustrated many children’s books.

Briggs liked to cartoon at an early age, even though his father tried to dissuade him from what he saw as an unprofitable pursuit.  He attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 – 1953 studying painting, then the Central School of Art to study typography.

In 1953 he became a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals, based at Catterick, where he was made a draughtsman.  He returned to study painting at Slade School fo Fine Art after 2 years of National Service where he graduated in 1957.

He briefly painted before becoming a professional illustrator, and soon began working on children’s books.  He taught illustration part-time at Brighton College of Art between 1961 and 1986

His famous works include Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas goes on Holiday (1975) which both featured a rather grumpy Father Christmas and Fungus the Bogeyman (1977).  These were in the form of comics, rather than the typical children’s book format where the text is separate to the illustrations.

Briggs has said that The Snowman (1978) was inspired by Fungus the Bogeyman;-

For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so… I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick.

This work was entirely wordless and illustrated only with pencil crayons, which I feel lends it charm and spontaneity. In 1982 The Snowman was made into a Oscar nominated animated cartoon, becoming Briggs best known work and much-loved by all who see it.  It is shown every year on British television  and Christmas would not be the same without it!  For a more in-depth look at the author and his life try this and the charming Snowman website here

19th January saw the birthday of celebrated Amercian author, editor, poet and literary critic  Edgar Allan Poe (b. Boston Massachusetts) USA 1809 – 1849)  Poe is famous for his tales of the macabre and mystery.  He is considered an early pioneer of the short story and  the inventor of the detective fiction genre and a contributor to the emerging genre Science fiction.

Orphaned young, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond Virginia.  He attended the University of Virgina for only one semester as he was short of money.  He enlisted in the army but failed as an officers cadet at West Point.  He started his literary career with a collection of poems in 1827 (Tamerlane and Other Poems).  The poems were credited anonymously to ‘A Bostonian’

Poe spent worked for literary journals and periodicals for the next several years, becoming known for his literary criticism.  He lived in several cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City and it was in Baltimore 1835  he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm.

In 1945, his poem The Raven was published too much acclaim and was an instant success.  Poe died in  1849 at the age of only 40, the cause is still unknown.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short life is a very interesting one, full of adventures, triumphs and some sadness.  His fiction work is considered Gothic and of dark Romanticism.  His particular theme include death, decomposition and premature burial.  But he also wrote humourous tales, satire and hoaxes, using themes that catered to the public taste of the time.  Much more can be read about Poe’s life here and short stories and poems can be read on this excellent site.

Read my post about his poem Annabel Lee

Anne Bronte portrait from here

Read about  Anne here

Thanks to JustAudio2008 for The Bluebell video

A.A. Milne image from here  Pooh illustration  from here

Raymond Briggs image from here and Father Christmas illustration here

Edgar Allan Poe image from here

Thanks to KajiCarson for the video

Original birthday invite image from here

UPDATE:  There’s a video featuring Scottish Artists over on Echostains to celebrate Burns Night

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLES DICKENS!

Did the Real Charlotte Bronte Just Stand Up? The Debate

Posted in BRONTE with tags , , , on March 16, 2011 by echostains

Quite a while ago I wrote a post about the portraits of Charlotte Bronte, speculating on how she may have looked.  The discussion was furthered by Mr James Grozny, owner of a mysterious painting he aquired at auction.  He speculated that his painting (which can be seen below) was by the artist Edwin Landseer and features the sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.  The research has been a slow, painstaking –  yet fascinating process and Mr Grozny believes he has nearly solved the mystery.  All can be explained in the comments and corrospondence over at Echostains (sister site).  Anticipating that a debate is ahead, I have decided to dedicate a page to this interesting subject and wish for all further comments to be posted here.  It’s a shame I can’t repost the comments here, but here are the last two to whet your appetite!  To keep up with the story from the beginning – please read the comments over on Echostains  from the original post;-

 Did the Real Charlotte Bronte Just Stand up?

The Bronte sisters by Branwell  
The Bronte sisters by Branwell Bronte

This is a follow up to my post called ‘Will the Real Charlotte Bronte Please Stand up? ‘ This was written a while ago.  I tried to establish what Charlotte Bronte really looked like (and didn’t get anywhere lol!)  This subject still fascinates me though, so I was intrigued to read recently that James Gorin Von Grosny from Devon had bought a painting whom he believes are the Bronte sisters, painted by Edwin Lanseer.  The connection with Lanseer and the Bronte’s comes about through Ellen Nussey’s brother being a friend of his.

could this be a fresh portrait of the Bronte sisters? could this be a fresh portrait of the Bronte sisters?
Now, before you dismiss this claim as outlandish and unlikely, Mr Von Grosny puts up a formidable arguement  defending his claim and a lively debate is going  on the Bronte blog HERE.  It makes fascinating reading and  Mr Von Grosny addresses many issues regarding the work.  It is obvious that he has done a lot of research into the Bronte’s and has a genuine interest in them.
closer up
closer up

 Even the way that the owner aquired this portrait is unusual in itself (read it HERE).  The whole story is intriguing and I am keeping a very open mind.  After all, we have so many portraits, each differing of Charlotte: so many conflicting descriptions of her appearence.  For example, even the samples of her hair differ.  I was at the Bronte Parsonage yesterday and saw three different examples, purported to be Charlottes hair.  There was a necklace made of fair hair, a mourning card with red blonde hair and a very dark lock of hair which is confusing. So why SHOULDN’T this portrait be of the Bronte’s? We don’t know for a fact it isn’t so far.

the knee sketch
the knee sketch 

The reverse of the painting contains a sketch of a knee.  Mr Von Grosny asserts that this ties in with a painting that Charlotte did of a shepherdess with the same scar below the knee.  It is thought to be a self portrait.  There is so much to the story of this painting – the suspense is killing me lol!  But just because I WANT it to be the Bronte’s, won’t make it so, but evidence will.  I can assure you that Mr Von Grosny is busy collecting it!  This portrait has a tale to tell I feel, and I want to hear it!

Constructive comments are invited

Poll ‘Which Bronte are you?’

Posted in BRONTE, Poll with tags , , , , on March 12, 2011 by echostains

Cast yourself back into the 1830’s.  Out on the winding windy moors…sorry coming over all Kate Bush here.  You live in an old draughty parsonage overlooking a muddy overcrowded graveyard which frequently floods.  You live on a diet of mainly potatoes, your drinking water isn’t all it should be and your under 5 ft tall. You share the draughty house with your clergyman Father, who’s getting on in years, your equally old Aunt Branwell, monied but quite tight fisted with it.   You have one servant, Martha Brown who is more like one of the family and she frightens the living daylights out of you with her  ghost stories as you and the other children sit around the fire in the evening  with the wind wuthering around the house. We’ve all been there.  But – which Bronte are you?  which Bronte do you think you are most like – and why?

I’ll go first.  I can’t claim to be the Full Bronte so I suppose I would be most like a hybrid of Branwell (I won’t be told, highly strung and always getting into hot water and the pub :-))  The other half would be Charlotte (small, stroppy, bossy and likes writing 🙂

Video by  thanks!

Dear Reader I Read it Book Review ‘Branwell Bronte’s Barber’s tale’ by Chris Firth’

Posted in BRONTE, Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews with tags , , , on February 23, 2011 by echostains

Well I have just finished Branwell Bronte”s Barbers Tale by Chris Firth.  It has taken me ages too.  It’s not a particularly thick book but I have been reading it before I go to sleep and eking it out.  I really enjoyed this tale of intrigue, mystery and supposition.  The authors description of the barbers habitat and the area sets the period in context.  This was of particular interest to me because of an ancestor who was a Master barber. He born in that time period (but not in the place, which was abroad though he worked in Liverpool).  The detailed descriptions of the shop, the neighbourhood and the public houses are delightful – you can almost smell the place!

 

The story itself is very well researched and the character of MacCraw, well rounded –    pathetic and brave by turn.  Crippled by the sudden death (murder) of his young wife the fellow ‘Rhymer’ can not come to terms with his loss which  ages him rapidly as he spiralls downwards onto the slippery slope of the drinking dens of his youth.  Reliving his love and the comradeship of the Rhymers (which of course include Branwell), the barber becomes intent in proving to the world that Branwell was the true author of Wuthering Heights‘.

In this book Branwell comes across as loud, garrulous and extremely talented (as he was, so it’s probably a good sketch of him).  He is a very boisterous character, highly strung and imaginative.  He is scared stiff of his sisters though – particularly Charlotte.  Whether this was true in real life we will never know – but it is indeed fun speculating.  And this is what this book does very well – speculates.  I have often speculated myself about the possibility of Branwell being the real author of ‘Wuthering Heights’.   I think that it would have to be chisseled into stone before it would be accepted even if true,  plus where would this leave Emily?  The lone mysterious mystic who roamed the moors….   Well, we would still have her beautiful poetry.

Perhaps inadvertently, Gaskell gave this theory strength by her condemnation of Branwell by his sisters.  By painting Branwell black to show, this served to show just how much his poor sisters had to put up with. Coupled with Charlotte’s impatience with her brother it may well have been advisable to leave him out of things.  But on the other hand – wouldn’t the sisters be pleased if Branwell was saved by success? wouldn’t it be just the thing he needed to drag him out of his apathy?  They obviously weren’t pleased to see his talents dissapated, so why not give him a lift?. Then again, perhaps they may have thought that fame may have gone to his head and made his vices worse….  So many questions and no easy answers. 

I recommend this well written book, authentic in style as a rip roaring tale of intrigue, speculation and detail of the world the Bronte’s inhabited.  A lovely extra is MacCraw’s recipes or remedies from his journal – which I found very interesting indeed and which again brought the story into it’s period context.

Please note: – This book was read last year, this review has only just been found amongst my drafts.