23 July 2013

"A strange uncivilised little place" ~ Charlotte Bronte

Today I went to Haworth again.

A windswept land of moors and heather surrounds the space where Haworth is nestled. Crooked rows of grey brick shops and homes line the steep cobbled street running through Haworth's heart. Front doors open onto the street and worn down stone doorsteps reflect the years of men, women and children who have come and gone about their daily business. 
The Bronte association is why I, like so many others, am drawn to this place, to Haworth, to Yorkshire. Without the Bronte association Haworth would be just another small Yorkshire village. As it is the literary pilgrimage has changed the fortune of this village which just about clings on to its original charm (if you ignore Ye Olde Bronte Tearooms and the dated Bronte Hotel and other slightly lame tourist attractions hanging their hats on the Bronte connection).
Haworth, to me, is one big warm home surrounded by cold, foreboding, bleak and harsh moorland. A fireplace in a lounge through a window at night in winter is what I see when I come into Haworth. It may sound as though I am taking its picturesque charm on a sunny day and romanticising it but I'm truly not. Well aware of its past blighted by poverty, workhouses, child labour, illness and premature death I see its resilience and dogged determination to carry on in the face of such hardship as a beautiful and real tribute to its character.
This place was the home to three of my favourite writers all taken too young by the darker side of the village and the time in which they lived. Before it took them it inspired them. It inspired them to write some of the greatest novels ever written in which they all use the natural beauty and hardships around them to examine the states of their own lives, relationships and psyches. 

Their tragic stories of lives cut short are overshadowed by their incredible talents  and by the fact that they fought against society's barriers to gain recognition as women in the literary world whilst remaining firmly rooted in this unassuming little village in Yorkshire. 

"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it." ~ Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights, 1845-1846)

"I would always rather be happy than dignified" ~ Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre, 1847)

“It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.” ~ Anne Bronte (Agnes Grey, 1847)

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