Yesterday we drove up to visit Steve's brother, Rich, who lives in the midst of Bronte Country. Steve and Rich took the kids to a park while I toured the parsonage where Charlotte and Emily wrote their famous novels, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I saw the dining table where they did their writing, and each night after dinner the three Bronte sisters walked around and around it--talking about the writing they had done that day.
Photography wasn't exactly allowed inside the home, but I couldn't help sneaking one photo of the kitchen. In this room young Charlotte, Emily, and their sister Anne often gathered to listen to stories made up by one of their servants.
The Bronte story isn't exactly a happy one--the village they lived in, Haworth, was one of the most unsanitary at the time. Almost half of children died before the age of six, and the average life expectancy was only 26 years old. Anne, Emily, and Charlotte all died before the age of 40.
Yet I was fascinated to learn that for much of their young lives, the girls were in fact homeschooled. Their father believed strongly in education and gave them lessons in literature, music, and the arts. Once he gave a set of wooden toy soldiers to the children. They spent years developing imaginative stories around these toy soldiers, and wrote them down in teeny, tiny books for the soldiers to "read." Is it any wonder, then, that their minds were able to nurture books that have been studied for centuries?
Before leaving Haworth and the Yorkshire moors, we had lunch at a traditional English pub. After telling the kids the Bronte story, I gave each of them a wooden toy soldier I bought at the museum shop--to hopefully inspire a little imagination of their own.
"Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us."
~ Charlotte Bronte
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