One of the reasons I first fell in love with language learning was the ability it gave me to read even more widely. Suddenly a whole new world of novels was opened up to me, and I marvelled at the ability of the mystical, far-off beings who could take a novel in one language and transform it into another. Therefore, it was natural that when I decided to become a translator, I knew I wanted to work in literary translation as one of my specialisms.
As a literary translator, I still read widely in translated, English and French literature to keep on top of what’s out there and just for its sheer enjoyment. This might be a bit of a cliché, but my favourite book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I fell in love with Heathcliff and Cathy’s story as a teenager, revelled in the depictions of the moors and admired the in-depth analysis of human nature. I also read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and was equally delighted by her fantastic prose.
So, when I went on a recent trip to the North of England with my husband, and we were looking for things to do on the way back, he suggested we stop in at the Brontë Parsonage. I, naturally, jumped at the chance and couldn’t have been more impressed with this fantastic little museum. So, without much further ado, I’d love to share a little bit about what I found out about the Brontë sisters and take you inside the Brontë parsonage!
A potted history of the Brontë sisters
The Brontë sisters, comprising Charlotte, the eldest, Emily and Anne, were three women who lived in the early 19th century in England. They were brought up by their priest father, Patrick Brontë, who had changed his name from the unfashionable, Irish ‘Brunty’ on arrival in England. They are known nowadays for their excellent prose, but their publishing story started when they collated an anthology of their poetry for publication. Despite this being something of a flop (it only sold two copies!), they each went on to write a novel and submit it for publication. Publishing under gender-neutral pseudonyms (Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell) to hide that they were women, the books (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, respectively) generally garnered positive reviews. However, some critics believed that the works were too ‘vulgar’. Sadly, Emily died before she could finish a second novel, but Charlotte and Anne went on to publish several more novels before they too died at a tragically young age. After death, their true identities were discovered. These women are heralded as some of the most talented Victorian Era writers. Their books are still enjoyed, with many adaptations having been made of their more famous novels.
Going inside the Brontë parsonage
The Brontë Parsonage is in Haworth, North Yorkshire and is where the Brontë sisters (and their less successful, alcoholic brother, Branwell) spent most of their lives, save for when they were at boarding school or working as governesses. As it belonged to the Church, it was passed on to the priest who replaced Patrick upon his death. In 1923, the parsonage was put up for sale by the Church, and the Bronte Society bought it to house the extensive collection of manuscripts, letters, first editions and personal items they had collected. Now open to the public, the rooms are set up as the Brontës would have had them during their lives, with the later-built extension serving as an exhibition room to provide more insight into their fascinating lives. I didn’t take many photos while I was there, but please find below the few snaps I did take, including one of the sofa where Emily is believed to have died (creepy!).