William and Jane's marriage was tested by infidelity, and the chronic illness of their daughter Jenny. There were times of sadness and dislocation. Still, these sufferings were resolved kindly. In their London home, poets and political firebrands often sat side by side at supper. We can hear the fierce discussions, the explosive tempers. And yet, under Jane's roof, there was always space for careful, quiet designing, for embroidery and calligraphy.William himself was constantly trying out new ideas, writing, drawing, weaving, talking. Sometimes it was hard for Jane to keep pace with him when he was ablaze with enthusiasm about a new project. It was then that all her resourcefulness, all her patience was most keenly valued by her family and friends.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Emma Lavinia Gifford, aged 30, 1870
Reproduced with the kind permission of the Dorset County Museum.
Monday, May 2, 2022
Sunday, April 3, 2022
The story of two families over three generations. A novel about resilience, forgiveness and the true meaning of family, about finding one's place in the world and discovering how we all belong somewhere and to someone.
Had her mother navigated the ankle twisting trudge along the tracks which clung, almost desperately, to the coastline? Had Florence stood, as Nell stood now, looking down on the swell of seaweed choke heaving in the inlets, gazing over the sea to Skye? Did her mother automatically sing 'Speed Bonny Boat' to herself, just as Nell was doing? Was this where I was born? In a brave little cottage like that - in this stone-hard lunar landscape?
To purchase the hardcover in the United States, Book Depository
To purchase on kindle or hardcover in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, Amazon UK
Monday, March 14, 2022
He is not a prophet, but an artist; yet an artist who, by the very intensity of his artistic vision, and by some inborn bent toward symbol and mysticism, stands on the side of those who see in material things a spiritual significance, and utters words of universal meaning from the fullness of his own heart. (William Morris, Arts & Crafts Movement, describing Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
As Dante Gabriel Rossetti's health was declining, his brother William wanted a death mask made, so he asked a man from Brucciari's to come to Gabriel's bungalow in Birchington-On-Sea. When William saw such a peaceful expression on his brother's face, he then asked Frederick Shields if he would draw Gabriel's face. He made one for William and one for their sister, Christina Rossetti - the poetess. It was then time for William's daughter, Lucy, himself, and Christina to visit the Rectory to meet Mr. Alcock. They all walked to the churchyard to choose a spot for the grave. Mr. Martin then made the funeral arrangements.
Dear Mr. Scott - I think you will like to hear your dear friend Gabriel Rossetti was buried, so I will tell you- The church at Birchington stands back about three quarters of a mile from the sea on slightly rising ground which looks over the open land and the sea. I thought simply; it is nicely kept, and to-day was full of Easter flowers. Close to Gabriel's grave there was a laurestinus and a lilac.
The church in Birchington was a clifftop setting overlooking the sea. It was the opposite to what you find at Highgate Cemetery in London which is exactly what Dante Gabriel Rossetti wanted. Separating his burial location from that of his family allowed Rossetti's achievements as a poet, translator, and artist to be commemorated by his dearest friends. Colleague, Ford Maddox Brown, was asked by William Michael Rossetti if he would design a monument for his brother's grave and the cross was added. Walter Caine and Theodore Watts were the last to leave Birchington. Walter Caine describes his farewell visit to his friends grave,
At the gravesite, wonderful to say, was the old mother supported by William on one side and Christina on the other - a most pathetic sight. She was very calm, extraordinarily calm, but whether from self-command, or the passivity of age, I do not know - probably from both; but she followed all the proceedings with close interest. Then around was a company of about fifteen or twenty, many of them friends of yours, and several of them whom I did not know. The service was well read by the vicar. Then we all looked into the resting place of our friend, and thought and felt our last farewells - many flowers, azealas, and primrose, were thrown in. I saw William throw in his Lily of the Valley.
This is all I have to tell you. Sad it was, very sad but simple and full of feeling and the fresh beauty of the day made itself felt with all the rest. I shook hands with William and came home with Mr. Graham. Dear Gabriel, I shall not forget him. (Vernon Lushington letter to William Bell Scott, 14 April, 1882)
We walked one morning to the churchyard and found Gabriel's grave strewn with flowers. It was a quiet spring day, the birds were singing, and the yellow flowers were beginning to show. As we stood by the grave under the shadow of the quaint old church, with the broad sweep of landscape in front, so flat that the great dome of the sea appeared to lie on it, and with the sleepy rumble of the rolling waters borne to us from the shore, we could not but feel that little as we had thought to leave Rossetti there, no other place could be quite so fit.
Three of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's closest friends wrote In Memoriam poems in his honor : one on the day of his death April 9 1882 and two poems on the day of his funeral April 14, 1882.
At the Grave of Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Mackenzie Bell
|HERE of a truth the world’s extremes are met:|
|Amid the gray, the moss-grown tombs of those|
|Who led long lives obscure till came the close|
|When, their calm days being done, their suns were set—|
|Here stands a grave, all monumentless yet,||5|
|Wrapped like the others in a deep repose;|
|But while yon wakeful ocean ebbs and flows|
|It is a grave the world shall not forget,|
|This grave on which meek violets grow and thyme,|
|Summer’s fair heralds; and a stranger now||10|
|Pauses to see a poet’s resting-place,|
|But one of those who will in many a clime|
|On each return of this sad day avow|
|Fond love’s regret that ne’er they saw his face.|
April 9th, 1882
A GRAVE BY THE SEA
Yon sightless poet  whom thou leav’st behind,
Free from the day, and piercing Life’s disguise
I stand like her who on the glittering Rhine
I stand like her, for she, and only she,
Last night Death whispered: ‘Death is but the name
With Nature dumb, save for the billows’ moan,
Last night Death whispered: ‘Life’s purblind procession,
p. 159I answered thus: ‘If Friendship’s isle of palm
Yea, thus I boldly answered Death—even I
Yet while I spoke I sighed in loneliness,
Friday, February 25, 2022
The Brontë sisters' first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry's life.
In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.
I have to humbly and profusely thank the author, Bella Ellis aka Rowan Coleman for making sure I received an arc of The Red Monarch; especially, since it is not published in the United States.
The Bronte sisters with brother have one week to solve a mystery within a mystery. I am telling you, The Red Monarch is the most exciting in this Bronte mystery detective series. It is a stand alone but the other previous ones are wonderfully enchanting as well. If these famous sisters running around the bad parts of London meeting all sorts of terrible people getting into mischief isn't exciting for that alone then this book isn't for you. I mean come on Charlotte Bronte even meets Charles Dickens!! That's right...
The Red Monarch has all the elements to keep you reading (hopefully). In my case, there's the siblings themselves where the humor and dialogue scenes are enough. There is the city of London in addition to beautiful Haworth and Yorkshire but nothing beats a good criminal gang in dirty old London town with a race against time where people's lives are at stake.
This book is difficult to review because there are so many surprises that I can't fully explain the way I usually do. I want the readers to have that gobsmacked jaw opening breath intake moment that I had several times. I hope you will give The Red Monarch a try.
To purchase worldwide, Book Depository
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
DEFYING EXPECTATIONS: INSIDE CHARLOTTE BRONTE'S WARDROBE
BRONTE PARSONAGE MUSEUM
Wednesday 02 February 2022
February 02nd 2022 10:00am - January 01st 2023 05:00pm
This brand new exhibition, co-curated with historical consultant Dr Eleanor Houghton, places focus on some of the remarkable garments and accessories worn by Charlotte Brontë. These brightly coloured, fashionable, even exotic items boldly challenge the preconception that Brontë and her famous protagonist Jane Eyre were, at least in terms of dress, one and the same. The clothes draw attention to both Charlotte’s ordinary and extraordinary lives but also remind us that she was an active participant of the fast-changing mid-nineteenth century.
At the heart of ‘Defying Expectations’ is a striped evening dress, which has never been exhibited before. The dress was proved to be Charlotte’s during an extensive period of research conducted over the last six years by Dr Eleanor Houghton, the first scholar ever to have studied the clothing in the Brontë Society collection in detail.
The exhibition features more than twenty pieces of Charlotte’s clothing and accessories, and offers an intimate insight into both her domestic and literary lives.
Admission to the exhibition is free with entry to the Museum.
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