Our Brontë tour begins in Haworth

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 11:52 am

Haworth Parsonage, Brontë, West YorkshireWho was the third Brontë sister?  It’s a good question for quiz night down at the Olde Rupturede Ducke.  There was Charlotte and Emily, of course – the authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights respectively.  But who wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?  Tracy Brontë, perhaps?  Or Chelsea?  No – if you’re a literary ignoramus like what I am, let me put you out of your misery; it was Anne – who also wrote the lesser-known novel, Agnes Grey. My reader, an erudite soul, of course not only knew the answer but was also inwardly screaming that there were five Brontë sisters – plus a brother – who all had tragically short lives.  And probably the best place to start to get a sense of them is in the West Yorkshire town of Haworth, where they lived – and mostly died.

Haworth, Brontë, West YorkshireHaworth - the hillHaworth is one of those preserved fragments of the past nudging alongside what is, in parts, a bit of a post-industrial mess.  It does make you wonder, not for the first time, about government spending priorities over recent decades.  Haworth village itself is a sanitised late Georgian-Victorian kind of place, with a picturesque steep, cobbled, main street – a northern version of Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill.  It has some alluring little shops, with a touch of kitsch here and there, and plenty of options for coffee and a bun; or maybe something a little stronger.  My aforementioned reader knows that somewhere selling decent coffee and buns is a welcome ingredient when having a Good Day Out; and that a decent pint of ale when staying overnight is pretty much essential.  So Haworth ticks a lot of boxes and is fun to briefly meander around.  Contrary to the impression you get from the hype, however, it wasn’t created especially for the Brontës in expectation of becoming a destination for the literary tourist.  Haworth’s growth was due mainly to the textile industry and the many hundreds that worked in it.  By the early 19th century, when the Brontës lived there, it is estimated that it had some 1200 working handlooms – to be replaced by factories soon after.  Now, it boasts its credentials as the World’s First Fair Trade Village (whatever that means) and a Mecca for Brontë pilgrims, a village virtually defined by that one association.  Various events are held there through the year, though the intriguingly named ‘Scroggling the Holly’, which used to take place just before Christmas and featured Victorian costumes, Morris dancing and, naturally, Santa Claus, is sadly no more.  Amongst the emporia you will find a traditional sweet shop, Mrs Beightons’, selling lots of sticky filling-removers from glass jars.  Then there’s the Cabinet of Curiosities, once the apothecary which still has wonderful original shop fittings in it.  When I visited Haworth for the first time, it used to flog all manner of fascinating stuff, like carbolic soap, patent rat-dissolving fluid and sadistic looking scrubbing brushes; now it seems to specialise in delightfully fragrant bath preparations, many cunningly disguised as tasty-looking cupcakes etc, as well as somewhat unusual, and sometimes a little macabre, ornaments and knick-knacks.

Haworth, Cabinet of Curiosities, Rose & Co, ApothecaryHaworth, Cabinet of Curiosities, ApothecaryCharlotte, Brontë, school, HaworthTurn right out of the Apothecary and you’ll see the Old White Lion Hotel, one of several tempting hostelries, where I once had a breakfast carelessly described on the menu as “Heart Attack on a Plate.”  Opposite the Apothecary is the church of St Michael and All Angels, which has a stunning west window and several other notable features – including the Brontë burial chamber.  Next to the church is the school, where Charlotte taught, and which is sometimes open; it hadn’t changed much, last time I saw it.  The church is relatively new, the previous one being pulled down in 1879 having been judged structurally unsafe and insanitary because water from the adjacent graveyard seeped in.  The graveyard, sloping up toward the moors, has a lot to answer for and has to be seen to be believed.  It holds an estimated 42,000 graves, their grim slabs and monuments crowding in on each other as if huddling together for security in the after-life.  Rooks caw incessantly from the tall trees whose roots must surely disturb the dead. Walking through is like being thrust into the set of an old Hammer Horror movie – you half expect to see Vincent Price or Peter Cushing to come looming out of the mist in cape and top hat.

St Michael and All Angels, HaworthBrontë, parsonage, HaworthThen, just behind the church is the Parsonage, where the Brontës lived.  This should be an elegant, Georgian, house; and, in some ways, it is.  But there’s an omnipresent sense of darkness and death about the place, not only because of the tragically short lives of the Brontë siblings who lived there, but also because of the dominance of the neighbouring cemetery.  It gets worse when you learn that it was the shocking living conditions of 19th century Haworth that resulted in the graveyard being so packed.  An investigation in 1850 by engineer Benjamin Hershel Babbage – at the instigation of the Brontës’ father, Patrick – revealed a real-life horror story.  Haworth’s’ residents lived in overcrowded, poorly ventilated, housing with wholly inadequate toilets and water supplies.  The lack of sewers resulted in human and other waste, including offal from the slaughterhouse, being retained for months; excrement ran down the street.  In fact, appallingly, the water supply was contaminated with decomposing matter leaching in from the graveyard.  The average life expectancy in the Haworth that the Brontës knew was a mere 25.8 years; 41.6% of infants died before they reached the age of six.

Brontë, Haworth, parsonageIt is less obviously morbid Inside the Parsonage, now a museum run by the Brontë Society, which, I was astonished to discover, was founded as long ago as 1893.  It also introduced me to a hideously ugly term, ‘Brontëana’, which I suppose demonstrates the flexibility of the English language as much as it does the near-fanaticism of some Brontë worshippers.  Nevertheless, the Parsonage is extremely well-presented (though I can’t show you that, because they don’t allow interior photography), and it is absolutely fascinating.  Even an old cynic like me was impressed to stand in the room where great works were written.  The story of the Brontës is a contrasting one of achievement and heartbreak.  Patrick, father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne etc, became perpetual curate (priest in charge) to Haworth in 1820 and the Parsonage was the Brontë family home until Patrick’s death in 1861, aged 84.  Despite very modest origins in Emdale, County Down, Patrick became a Cambridge scholar at St John’s College, where he studied theology, and changed his name from Brunty to the more affected and pretentious Brontë along the way.  He was by all accounts an accomplished writer himself, as well as a dedicated curate who worked hard for his parishioners – as we have seen.  But he outlived his wife, Maria, who died aged 38, probably from cancer, the year after the move to Haworth, as well as all six of his children.  The oldest two, Maria and Elizabeth, died aged 10 and 11 in 1825, seemingly of tuberculosis contracted whilst attending Cowan Bridge School for clergymen’s daughters, 40-odd miles away in Lancashire.  Charlotte (b 1816) and Emily (b 1818) were both withdrawn from the school, which appears to have been a horrendously cruel place; Charlotte drew on her experiences there to create Lowood School in Jane Eyre.  Anne, born in 1820, never attended. Their brother Patrick, known by his second name, Branwell, and born in 1817, was an aspiring painter, but also an alcoholic and drug addict who died in Haworth aged 31 in 1848. He bought his laudanum (opium) in the same apothecary that will now sell you luxury bath bombs, and drank himself silly at the Black Bull (not my personal choice of beers, but where would we be if everyone had good taste?).  Bad Branwell was followed to his grave a few months later by Emily, in her 30th year, and in 1849 by Anne who was just 29.  The sofa on which Emily is said to have died, maintaining to the end that she wasn’t really ill, is in the Parsonage – though she probably passed away in bed.  Anne, the Brontë sister people often forget, expired just 8 months after her brother and a mere 5 months after Emily.  Anne is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Scarborough, the only one of her immediate family not to be interred in the Brontë vault at Haworth.  Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls in 1854, but she too died the following year, aged 39.  Tuberculosis (consumption) was instrumental in the deaths of all six Brontë siblings – though drink and drugs played their part in Branwell’s demise and some believe that Charlotte’s death was caused by acute dehydration resulting from excessive morning sickness; her unborn child died with her.

Brontë, sisters, Anne, Emily, Charlotte, BranwellWhat strikes me most about these talented people is how much they achieved in the pitifully short time they had.  Charlotte, Emily and Anne were prolific writers from an early age, and Branwell certainly churned out the pictures.  Granted, they did not suffer exactly the same stresses experienced by the working classes around them, but they were by no means wealthy enough to enjoy a life of leisure and certainly shared the same general health risks.  By heck, though, did they cram a lot in; it is humbling.

Haworth, winterGiven their limited lifespan, there seems to be a surprisingly large number of places associated with the Brontës for the true pilgrim to visit.  For example, there’s Norton Conyers House near Ripon, said to be the inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre.  Six or seven miles to the south east of Haworth, near Bradford, is the village of Thornton, where Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell were born.  In fact, the family has its very own long-distance footpath, the 42 mile (67 kilometre) Brontë Way between Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire and Oakwell Hall in West Yorkshire.  Really keen fans stand outside the house where Maria Branwell lived, before she became Mrs Brontë, 400-odd miles away in Penzance,  For visitors to Haworth, though, there’s the lure of the rugged moorland on the doorstep, said to have been favourite walking country for the Brontës, as well as providing them with inspiration for their work.  Most famously, you can pace across the rugged hills (or dance, like Kate Bush) to Top Withens, the farmhouse – now completely ruined – alleged to have been the model for Wuthering Heights itself, the Earnshaw home (except it probably wasn’t).  Further afield is Ponden Kirk (Penistone Crags in Wuthering Heights) with Ponden Hall (Thruscross Grange) on the way.

Brontë BridgeYou can of course start these walks from different places.  I set off from Haworth church with Daughter of Britain and her boyfriend one bleak January afternoon, getting as far as the so-called Brontë waterfall, chair and bridge before giving up in bad light.  Near the waterfall is a plaque, on which are the words:

O Lord
How manifold
are Thy works!
In wisdom hast
Thou made them all:
the earth is full
of Thy riches.

Psalm 104:24

And underneath:

Father Almighty, wonderful Lord
Wondrous Creator be ever adored
Wonders of nature
sing praises to You,
Wonder of wonders –
I may praise too!”


– which is nice, if somewhat over the top, particularly as there’s apparently a similar plaque at the Grand Canyon  The waterfall, chair and bridge are all supposed to have been  Brontë family favourites, but – and I don’t wish to appear ungrateful – none of them is particularly remarkable.  Alas, neither the stick that Charlotte swished through the air and playfully beat Arthur with, nor the stone she stubbed her toe on, could be found…if they had, you can be sure they’d be in the guidebook

Lower Laithe Reservoir, StanburyThe distance to Top Withens from Haworth is actually not great – 3 to 4 miles, depending which route you take, but the terrain and weather can make progress slow.  The walk does take you past one of the alleged tangible outcomes of the 1850 Babbage Report, Lower Laithe Reservoir, built to provide a better water supply to Haworth and its neighbours.  If so, it was shameful that it wasn’t completed until 75 years later, in 1925 – though I also read elsewhere that Haworth did get a clean water supply in 1856.

Brontë CountryTop Withen, Brontë CountryTime and energy may be saved getting to Top Withens by starting from the village of Stanbury.  Mrs Britain and I did this on a breezy autumn day of mixed skies; at times it was so windy that it was hard to keep the camera steady.  The signposts from Stanbury claimed a distance of just 1½ miles to our destination, though successive signs announced the same figure, which was rather  disconcerting; maybe the Sign Master bought a job lot.  Incidentally, you may notice that some signs directing you to Brontë locations in the area are in Japanese (as well as English), due to the girls’ immense popularity with Japanese tourists.  I hope our visitors are advised that they need to be reasonably fit to do these walks, and to dress appropriately; in poor weather, I imagine it can be pretty grim on those moors.

Brontë Country, Top WithenOriginally known as “Top of the Withens”, Top Withens (or Withins) is thought to date from the second half of the 16th century.  A William Bentley divided his estate between his three sons in 1591, probably creating three farms – top, middle and lower Withens.  The Bentleys would have derived their income from weaving as well as dairy and sheep farming.  It must have been an incredibly tough existence; even now, it would be a challenge.  So – this is Brontë Country.  Whilst the views are undeniably dramatic and impressive, and it was probably healthier than 19th century Haworth, it struck me as a desperately isolated, unlovely, place, with little to recommend it.  Indeed, it crossed my mind to wonder why on earth the Bentleys and their successors didn’t move somewhere nicer – like the Isle of Wight.  I’m guessing Top Withens eventually became unviable; it was last inhabited in the 1920s, has been disused since the 1930s and is now completely ruined.  In fact, ruined structures pepper the landscape.  Moreover, those in the know say that the building Emily Brontë described in Wuthering Heights bore no resemblance to Top Withens whatsoever; but, as a plaque placed on the wall by the Brontë Society says, “the situation may have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of the heights.”  So there you go; but unless you’re a complete Brontë fruitcake, or Japanese with walking attire, you may conclude that a visit is probably not worth the effort anyway.

Brontë Country, Top WithenFurther afield (because we can), the buildings of the Cowan Bridge School for clergymen’s daughters that killed the two older Brontë sisters are still there.  They sit on the western edge of the small village of Cowan Bridge next to the old Kendal-Leeds turnpike, now the busy A65, and there’s a small plaque to mark the association.  The old bridge is still there over the bubbling Leck Beck and there are some interesting looking, probably 18th century, farm buildings on its east bank.  These days, the school buildings are private dwellings known as Brontë Cottages, maybe a little tired round the edges except for No 2, Brontë School House, which has been lovingly restored as a holiday cottage.  The school moved to nearby Casterton in 1833 and survived in a new form as part of Casterton School until that was absorbed by Sedbergh School in 2013.  Brontë fans and trivia lovers, like me, will tell you that the girls used to walk 3½ miles across the fields to the beautiful church of St John the Baptist at Tunstall.

Cowan Bridge School , Brontë sistersFinally, in our brief exploration of the Brontës, we journey far east, to the seaside town of Scarborough, and Anne’s grave in St Mary’s churchyard.  She had grown to love Scarborough whilst working as a governess and, when she fell ill, hoped the sea air would revive her.  She journeyed the 70 miles from Haworth with Charlotte and a friend, Ellen, stopping en route in York, and arriving on Saturday 25 May 1849.  By this time, she was very frail and asked Charlotte whether it would be better if she returned to die at home.  The doctor’s advice on Sunday was that the end was very near; and the following day she was gone.  Charlotte made the decision to bury her in the town and the funeral apparently took place two days later.  It seems that only Charlotte, an old school teacher who happened to be in town and, presumably, friend Ellen, attended.  Charlotte commissioned a headstone, but returning 3 years afterwards found a number of errors on it.  The errors, whatever they were, were seemingly corrected – but the inscription still has Anne’s age wrong.

Anne Brontë', grave, ScarboroughA new plaque rests on the ground in front of the heavily weathered headstone.  It says:

Anne Brontë
novelist and poet

The original headstone reads

Here Lie the remains of Anne Brontë
Daughter of the Revd P Brontë
Incumbent of Haworth Yorkshire
She died Aged 28 May 28th 1849

The text contains one error
Anne Brontë was aged 29 when she died
This plaque was placed here in 2011
By the Brontë Society

So there she is, overlooking the colourful houses, busy harbour and slot machines of Scarborough.  The house she died in was on the site now occupied by the Grand Hotel – which has itself also seen better days.

Some mysteries… there must be a reasonable explanation as to why Charlotte decided that her sister should lay at rest remote from everyone else in the family, and then be interred so swiftly without even allowing time for her father to attend the funeral.  Perhaps it was a matter of expense.  Shortage of cash may also explain why Charlotte did not discover that the text on her sister’s tombstone was incorrect for 3 years.  Finally, it appears that Charlotte prevented further publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – possibly because she considered it unsuitable; or was she jealous?  The novel was published in 1848 under the pseudonym ‘Acton Bell’ (was this inspired by Arthur Bell Nicholls, the man Charlotte married?) and quickly sold out.  But it was widely considered to be revolutionary in its treatment of issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence, sex and vice in general: sounds like a ‘must read’ to me. And a good reason to remember the third Brontë sister at the next quiz night.

Haworth is just off the A6033, about 4 miles south of Keighley (pronounced ‘Keithgley’, not as in ‘Minogue’).  And spot the Keighley and Worth Valley (steam) railway while you’re there. Parking can be a pain: I always find myself in a grotty, badly maintained, car park above the church, with inadequate ticket machines; maybe some of the money brought in by the thousands of visitors Haworth receives each year could be used to improve village facilities.

There are several links in this article, to various websites of interest.  For information about the Brontës, probably the best place to start is the Brontë Society.


61 thoughts on “Our Brontë tour begins in Haworth”

  1. Wow. Another fascinating post — with beautiful stone work in the streets and buildings of Haworth. Such drama in that family — and talent! Also great talent/knowledge in your readers. I love the comments your blog posts inspire. Much to learn about the Bronte family dynamics…

  2. Thanks for the tour, I have never made it to Haworth, but have visited Anne’s grave several times. the last time we were in Scarborough we had an hillarious stay at the Grand Hotel, pity I wasn’t blogging at the time; school dinners and in house entertainment, we were the only ones not in a coach party.

  3. This was a fascinating post. The landscape around the town is so pretty it makes it difficult for my mind to associate it with so many tragedies. And, wait? You can actually rent the school house for holidays? I went on the site and it’s really nice and cottagey…

  4. This is a fascinating excursion and yes, as you and others said, very bleak. I didn’t know much about the Bronte’s personal lives till watching “The Walk Invisible” (which was equally bleak.) You’re right — they did a lot in a very short time.

    The territory itself looks interesting (albeit cold in January!). A wonderful excursion. I am beginning my list for my return…

    1. Haworth is a village isn’t it? As for sanitary conditions, even some of the conditions that the rich of those days lived with would be considered substandard to us today. And in many places standards are not up to what most of us would consider livable today and even in the midst of developed countries like the U.S. and U.K. People did their best with what knowledge they had and availability of sources to maintain good conditions. I think often of the enormous struggles that people had just to survive from one day to the next. Couldn’t call it making a living..just survival.

  5. Very informative post, Mike with beautiful photos to illustrate it. I visited Haworth in 1990 and took my elder daughter with me as we were visiting her great-aunt and uncle who lived there. I drove to Yorkshire from Suffolk in my 2CV and we camped on Ilkley Moor for a couple of nights. We were taken to the Parsonage and for a trip on the steam train. A wonderful weekend!
    I have read that the publisher Anne had chosen for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, T C Newby, had defrauded her of her dues on the sales of her book. This publisher also tried to sell the American Rights of Wildfell Hall as written by the author of Jane Eyre, Currer Bell. This forced both women to reveal their identities which they had hoped to conceal. After Anne’s death Charlotte’s publisher, George Smith (probably under pressure from Charlotte) managed to obtain the copyrights of both of Anne’s books and also Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Charlotte disliked the book probably because she had seen the terrible strain writing it had put on Anne, who had included in the book many of her personal experiences while teaching. She (Anne) and Branwell worked for the same family (she had recommended her brother to them as a tutor for their son) and Branwell soon found favour with the lady of the house. He believed she loved him and fell deeply in love with her. When their affair was discovered by Mr Robinson the owner of the house (who was the last to discover the intrigue, even the children knew of it before he did) Branwell was dismissed immediately. He took to drink and drugs and died an awful death – which is also depicted in Anne’s novel. Charlotte associated the book with the death of a much loved brother and knew the death of her sister was also probably indirectly caused by the writing of the book and also the struggles to extricate it from T C Newby. The delayed republishing is understandable, I think.

  6. Fabulous photos and as always great descriptions and history shared. Happy October to you. I’m finally getting some time away from unpacking to visit my favorite blogs.

  7. Of course, I can’t recall the name of the newer book about this family, nor who wrote it, but the main point is that Charlotte was a hard-hearted creature who murdered most, if not all of her siblings. It is well-written and kept my interest into the wee hours on more than one evening.
    The details seem authentic and the writer comes across as smart and something of a detective.
    Charlotte was bossy, self-important, controlling. Now I’d say narcissistic/sociopathic.

    My librarian should have the title. Will see her tomorrow.

    The pictures of the town remind me of the time back in 70s, when i rented a car and arrived at Haworth in the dark of night.
    Stopped in the village center, so dark, miserably lit, and of little interest, that I turned around and headed out. Tried for a nap in a lay-by– listening to the sound of running water nearby and admiring the stars in the black sky–until a trucker came along and shoo-d me off his turf. Very interesting /memorable experience. Brontes were not a passion, but a passing interest and I never returned. But I really got into the hypothesis that all was not love and kisses in that family.

    Got to find the title for you.

  8. Hi Mike – what a bleak place – well your photos make it look that way … though no doubt on a bright sunny day it’d cheer up. Fascinating post you’ve written for us. I’ve been up and down Branwell Lane often – never have I linked it to the Bronte’s mother … and the Cornish descriptions … very possibly true. So interesting to read up … cheers Hilary

  9. St. Mary’s in Scarborough has been a favourite visiting place every time my husband and I came to Scarborough, usually on our way to the castle. Some mornings they offered refreshments in the church, something I absolutely loved – home-made cakes and tea or coffee, then a brief stop at Anne’s grave, and up to the castle.
    I’ve not yet been to Haworth and not sure I want to go. Places so entirely dominated by one subject are fascinating, but I can’t help wondering how people who are simply not interested do live in such places. An example are the wine-dominated villages around where OK lives, you can not esacpe the topic “wine” there; every house has something to do with its making, selling or drinking. How would one live in such a place if one didn’t like wine, or was forbidden to drink alcohol for some reason or other?
    Great photos, by the way. I particularly love the one with the sign post, snowy moorland and dramatic skyscape.

    1. Thanks, Meike – so many places made famous by a single thing. I guess you’d either embrace it, knowing it was helping the community in some way, or move away if you could; or spend your life being grumpy?

  10. Looking at the area…and your explanation of conditions of the times….it seems a desolate and hopeless background from which to draw inspiration.
    Interesting that Charlotte delayed the publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall….I wonder what lay behind that?

    1. Cynthia H Anderson

      I have read that it was the fear of backlash due to the books main character leaving her husband. That was something that a woman was not supposed to do.

        1. Cynthia H Anderson

          The sisters initially published under male pseudonyms because women authors were few and were not taken seriously. Charlotte refused to republish the novel after Anne’s death because of feared social repercussions.

  11. We took the steam train to Haworth on a family holiday several years ago, and I was also struck by the bleak beauty of the location. I love the town, however, although I was unable to visit the Bronte house due to having a dog and toddler in tow (if I recall they were both a little grumpy and needed to keep moving). My father-in-law still found time for a pint in the pub, of course! 😉

  12. I visited Haworth a number of years ago and loved it. I had a lovely tea in what used to be the post office the Bronte sisters mailed their correspondence and manuscripts from. I also found the graveyard creepy. I walked a bit on the moors, the heather was blooming and it was very windy. It certainly made me think of their stories. When I visited Scarborough I was unaware that Ann was buried there so failed to visit her grave. Must go again. An excellent post. Thanks!

  13. artandarchitecturemainly

    Haworth village is indeed a fine 19th century town with a picturesque steep, cobbled, main street. And because I loved the Bronte books in high school, I even loved the parsonage. But I don’t think even middle class families had a wonderful life back then.

  14. I agree about the atmosphere around the parsonage. As you climb the hill the feeling of doom increases and I don’t think it’s all because we know the story. Not so much bad vibes as sad vibes. Excellent post.

  15. This was so informative and so much fun to read aloud to Mr. C as we were traveling out on the rainy moors of Wisconsin. The erudition of your readers could also be partially attributed to Masterpiece running a presumably BBC or ITV show, The Brontes, here in the States within the past couple years. I suppose if the moors had been beautiful and sunny every day without hard physical labor, the writing wouldn’t have been the same. Some people seem to do their best, most compelling and provocative writing during suffering. (with the exception of yourself, I hope!) And, I would have called in DCI Barnaby or DCI George Gently to determine whether Father Patrick was drinking bottled water while letting his kids drink from the town trough. 😉 What a dreary existence! Loved this post!

    1. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for that programme – there was a fairly recent (ie within the last few years) drama, ‘To Walk Invisible’ – which I missed! I’m wondering whether father Patrick’s relative longevity was anything to do with a healthier environment as a child? But you KNOW how I suffer for my art… I don’t know where to begin…

  16. Gael E Phillips

    Thank you very much for this very interesting account of the Bronte family and Haworth. I have read that Maria Branwell’s memories and tales of Cornwall, including those of the Cornish moors, may have influenced the creative imaginations of her children. At one time when I was researching some members of my family, who also lived in Penzance and the adjacent villages, I found a record of Maria Branwell in the Parish records. The events portrayed in ‘Wuthering Heights’ also lend themselves to Cornish locations, such as Bodmin Moor. The ‘Cornishness’ of the children of Maria Branwell should be remembered.

  17. It looks pretty grim. It’s over 30 years since I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but I remember liking it more than Wuthering Heights. I should probably read it again soon.

  18. Serendipidous! Missus P brought home from the library yesterday a copy of “I am Heathcliffe”, an anthology of stories inspired by EB’s character, curated by Kate Mosse. I read her introduction just a few hours ago. It’s the bi-centenary of EB’s birth this year.
    As for the conditions of life in the 1840s, Howarth was not alone in that regard. Life expectancy in Liverpool was around 15 – not that everyone died at 15 but that so many died before they were out of nappies. The East end of London was not much better.

    1. Serendipidous indeed! Of course Haworth wasn’t alone – and I know you’re familiar with the views of Friedrich Engels writing about Manchester; but the conditions in Haworth help explain the crowded, movie-set-like, graveyard in that relatively small place.

  19. It is bleak isn’t it. I remember the sweet shop and the bitter cold when I visited. I had forgotten just how young they all were when they died.

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