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text 2020-09-22 21:07
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review 2019-11-04 15:35
Highly recommended to Brontës fans and to early XIX century historians
The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick - Sharon Wright

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

Despite being a fan of the Brontës, having visited Haworth, and read about them (although I’m no expert), on seeing this book I realised I didn’t know much about their mother, other than she had died when they were very young. The author explains quite well why that is the case, as there seems to be very little trace of her, other than some letters she wrote to her then husband-to-be, Patrick, and a religious tract she wrote. There are also comments and memories collected by others, mostly by those writing the biographies of her famous daughters, but little dedicated solely to her. I am grateful to the author for putting that to rights. She has done a great job, digging factual information about Maria Branwell, compiling written records (be it newspaper cuttings, diaries written by neighbours or social connections, correspondence and accounts by others), introducing and interpreting the few writings we have by Maria herself, and pulling together information about the era and the places where the family lived to help readers place the family as actors and social beings in the period and the locations where they lived.  The level of detail is just right, as well. Wright explains how dangerous and dreary the trip from Penzance to Yorkshire would have been in the early XIX century, the unrest in Yorkshire due to the Industrial Revolution and the machines replacing workers (the Luddites had much to say about that, although their actions didn’t have any long-term impact), and the differences in the social settings of Penzance and Thornton, for example, but these explanations never detract from the story. Rather the opposite; they make it all the more compelling.

I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the enjoyment of the many interested readers, but I thought I’d share some of the things I noted as I went along. I’ve already mentioned that Maria was from Penzance, but it seems that her father and the rest of the family were likely involved in smuggling (that, to be fair, seems to have been an almost universal occupation in the area). Hers was a large family, and to illustrate just how hard life was at the time, although they were fairly well off, five of her siblings died before they got to adulthood. Religion played an important part in her life, and it’s only fitting that she would end up marrying a priest. She knew Humphry Davy (later Sir Humphry Davy) when she was young, her life was quite full and she was well-connected in Penzance, so we get a sense of how much she must have loved her husband to sacrifice all that to follow him in his career moves, and also what a change in her circumstances she must have experienced. She was a keen reader, and their love of books was one of the things likely to bring her and Patrick together, and it is clear from her letters that she was a good (and even passionate at times) writer, with a sense of humour. She was a woman of her time, and although she had the confidence of those around her, she wished for a life-long companion to support her and guide her in accordance to the norms of the time and as we can see from her own religious tract, her ideas (or at least those she expressed in writing for the public) were pretty conventional. I was gripped by the difficulties Patrick had to face to get the post as priest in Haworth. It seems they were not fond of being told what to do or who to choose there, and he renounced twice to his position before everybody was finally in agreement with his nomination.

I was fascinated by the comments of the author about women’s diarists and their importance to get to understand what everyday life was like at the time. Men of the period wrote the official history, but they hardly ever took the time to note the little details, those we are truly interested in, that help us bring to life a particular era. I am particularly fond of the entries from the diary of Elizabeth Firth, one of the Brontës’ neighbours. My favourite must be: “We sat up expecting the Radicals.” For your peace of mind I’ll let you know that it seems they never came. Wright also defends the importance of the local press, as again they are the ones that keep records of those things that are not considered notice-worthy by big publications, but help make a community what it is. She laments the demise of many of those papers, and I could not agree more.

The book includes two appendixes with the full text of Maria’s letters and also her religious article titled “The Advantages of Poverty in Religious Concerns.” There is also an index with all the texts the author has consulted when writing this book, and I am sure people interested in learning more about the Brontës will find plenty of material there. There are also a number of illustrations, mostly photographs from the houses and locations mentioned in the book, some portraits and illustration, and also a recreation of what Patrick and Maria might have looked like on their wedding day (that I loved).

I recommend this book to anybody interested in the Brontës, in the history of Haworth and Thornton, and in the history of the early XIX century England, especially those who, like me, enjoy getting transported to the era and having a sense of what life was really like then. A deserved homage to a woman whose heritage was so important and so little acknowledged.

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text 2019-10-02 08:41
What Are The Characteristics Of Superb Holiday Cottages Yorkshire Coast Based?

The Yorkshire Coast is among the loveliest spots in the United Kingdom to go to for a holiday. Featuring its cosy villages, beautiful parks, gorgeous beaches, and other fun attractions, travellers will have no lack of things to try. For individuals who would like to immerse themselves in the community of this incredible location, renting holiday cottages Yorkshire Coast based is going to be a great idea.

Staying at holiday cottages can be a first-class experience compared to staying at the hotel. Vacation houses can offer a more unique getaway by letting individuals go through the life of a local with no limitations of hotel service. But then again, not all holiday cottages Yorkshire Coast based are the same. Every location is unique, and each owner has their regulations and ways of dealing with guests. People who like to get the most out of their trip should research extensively about where to stay and make certain the location meets their standards. Here are some points to consider when selecting a vacation house:

1. Are pets allowed?

Not all holiday homes are taking pets. But many acknowledge the great demand for pet-friendly rentals, so several of them allow animals into their building. For an additional fee that covers extra cleaning, these cottages will permit guests to bring their pets along to see the beauty of the Yorkshire Coast too. A number of vacation homes have the appropriate amenities for pets, ensuring that they'll have a pleasant stay during the whole trip.

2. Does the owner make sure guests enjoy their vacation?

An owner of a holiday cottage who is friendly and responsive to customer needs can help make any holiday a much better experience. Owners who ensure smooth and stress-free services help their guests to focus on relaxing and having fun with the activities at the Yorkshire Coast. Moreover, find a homeowner with professional knowledge about the area in order to make recommendations on the ideal things to do during your vacation to help you maximise your holiday.

3. Does the cottage have all of the essentials?

Compared to a hotel, a holiday cottage can offer a number of amenities without extra costs. Be certain that the one you choose has everything you need. Although the destinations of the Yorkshire Coast is the main attraction, fast Wi-Fi, TVs, books, or games are still appealing so guests can entertain themselves while resting. Additionally, see if the cottage is supplied with clean toiletries so you don’t have to bring any yourself. Moreover, ask the cottage owner if there's a kitchen available, so you can have the opportunity to cook tasty homemade meals using local produce.

4. Does it have a good location?

A holiday cottage that has a convenient location enables individuals to take advantage of the amazing attributes of Yorkshire Coast without hassle. Go with a cottage that is nearby the activities you want to take part in, whether it be sightseeing, appreciating art, fine dining, or others. To make your stay a lot more special, think about acquiring a cottage that provides a fantastic view of Yorkshire Coast’s natural beauty.

Do not allow a badly chosen holiday cottage to spoil your getaway. Keep these things in mind when choosing among holiday cottages Yorkshire Coast based to completely enjoy your stay at one of the United Kingdom’s finest holiday destinations.

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text 2019-09-03 04:07
Vacation Ideas: Four Activities To Try While Staying At Holiday Cottages Yorkshire Coast


Unquestionably, Yorkshire is one of the coolest vacation spots in the United Kingdom. Acknowledged as England’s biggest historical area, this location is continuously visited by sightseers enjoying their time off while staying in holiday cottages Yorkshire coast based.

If you are interested in going on a Yorkshire holiday, looking for accommodations should be one of your top concerns. Fortunately, reserving holiday cottages is now less complicated because of numerous accommodation providers you can find online. Check out getaway homes near or within your destination, select the schedules of your stay, and present other details like your contact information. You will have a catalogue of potential cottage businesses to consider. And, after careful inspection of all criteria, you finally have a residence to stay at for your journey.

Although vacation cottages include a range of features and amenities that anyone can take pleasure in, there are also other lively outdoor activities you can check out. Here are some great ideas:

1. Take a journey by wheels or by foot

Booking a holiday home that has a good view can make you want to get in touch with nature. You can decide to stroll in the lakeside or flowery gardens, or take the trouble-free paved walkway and rough tracks. For those who would rather not walk for miles but still wish to enjoy the great outdoors, it is possible to choose to rent a bike and travel across the multiple cycling passages. Through this, you can surround yourself with great sights.

2. Ride the waves

Spending time in holiday cottages Yorkshire coast has its advantages. For one, you can get an excellent view of the beach. You can also run along the beach and try water sports once you’re bored with just lounging around. This type of activity can be carried out within the coast of Yorkshire. Do you think you’re fearless? Then why not consider surfing? Yorkshire coast features an ideal location with marvellous waves suitable for surfers. If you are not up for the sport, then there are many more activities for you to check out like paddle boarding, kayaking, or canoeing in the stream. Regardless of what it may be, do not miss out on soaking your feet in the water!

3. Taste unique dishes

Many holiday cottages allow you to take advantage of their kitchen during your stay. You may choose to cook your own meals while on vacation, but make sure you also consider trying Yorkshire’s famous fish and chips. Restaurants close to the bay typically serve this kind of dish because they are near the sea. And since every one of them boasts unique recipes, be sure to choose wisely and enjoy this great meal.

4. Discover art, history, and tradition

If you’re a creative person, booking a cottage furnished with souvenirs and works of art is definitely a fantastic idea. But if you want to make your journey more special, you may try exploring some of Yorkshire’s prominent museums and galleries that are accessible to everyone. In case still images cannot please you, you can just enjoy shows or events on your trip. Just make sure that you double-check their schedules to avoid missing out on them.

Setting up your trip should not be hard by any means. Staying in holiday cottages Yorkshire coast enables you to chill out while enjoying the entire place. You can choose from what appeals to you and stay cosy in the house, or you can prefer to dare yourself and discover different things to do.

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review 2019-06-09 12:40
A wonderful gift for lovers of the Brontës, walking and history
Literary Trails: Haworth and the Brontës - Catherine Rayner,David F. Walford

Thanks to Rosie Croft of Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I love walking. Perhaps because I was a clumsy child (and I can’t say I’m the most graceful of adults, either), overweight, and lacking a good sense of balance, many sports didn’t like me (it was mutual!), but walking I could do, and I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity it gives us to contemplate life at a slow pace and to discover things, people, and places that might pass us by if we use other means of transport.

I love the Brontës as well. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have long been among my favourite novels (I must read some of Anne’s novels in English, I know), and I’ve lived and worked in Yorkshire, quite close to the area where they lived for lengthy periods, and loved the landscape as well. So, of course I had to have this book.

Wherever I visit, if I can fit in, I try to join a literary walk. It’s a great way to combine two of my favourite activities: reading and walking. (I also listen to audiobook while going for walks sometimes). If the guide is skilled and knowledgeable, you can learn fascinating information about the city or area, about the author or authors, and feel as if you were going back in time and experiencing what the place might have been like when the author lived there. This book offers us the same kind of experience. Although it is written as a companion for people planning a visit to Haworth and its vicinity, it is so packed with information, photographs, maps, literary references, and advice, that it will be indispensable to anybody who wants to learn more about the sisters and submerge herself or himself in the landscape the authors loved so much.

The book is divided into 20 chapters, it contains 19 walks of varied difficulty (some are short walks within the town of Haworth itself, and the first one, in fact, is a walk around the Parsonage where the Brontës lived, now a museum), and a few introductory chapters. There is the introduction proper, explaining the reasons behind the writing of the book, chapter 2 talks about West Yorkshire and the Haworth area, chapter 3 offers a guide to safe and responsible walking, chapter 4 summarises the history of the Brontë family and chapter 5 talks specifically about the Brontës in Haworth and what happened to them there. Then follow the chapters about the walks (some containing one walk in detail, while some of the later ones, which are longer and stray farther away from Haworth, sometimes include a couple of walks that might be combined, always offering options to reduce their length. There are even some that include the option of jumping on a train). The final chapter talks about the art of walking and what effects it had (positive and negative) on the Brontës. There is also a bibliography that will be of interest to anybody keen on increasing their knowledge on the sisters.

All the chapters are structured in a similar way, first offering a narrative, a fact file of the walk (including the Ordnance Survey Map, general information as to the terrain, level of difficulty, length, likely duration, facilities, and also any relevant warnings), followed by maps or graphics (depending on the topic), and then a collection of photographs, all in black and white, which can aid people going for the walks to find their location easily, but will help readers imagine what the place is like as well. (I must confess I would have liked to see colour photographs, but I can see how the black & white pictures recreate the nostalgic air of the area and help us imagine the old times, as they combine more seamlessly with the archival old photographs. It is also true that the moors change colours so dramatically with the seasons that it would be difficult to give readers an accurate idea of what the place is like in different times of the year).

What did I enjoy the most? Having visited Haworth, the surrounding area, the Parsonage, and having walked around (in town, but also some of the longer walks that include landscapes and buildings said to have inspired the sisters’ writing), I enjoyed the pictures, which reminded me of many familiar places and others that had passed me by (I must visit Thornton, where the family lived before they moved to Haworth, if I can). I also enjoyed the titbits of information about buildings, how those had changed over time, and how the authors managed to make readers imagine what the sisters and their family would have experienced and seen at the time, including also poems, and references to their work.

These are the moors above and beyond Haworth spreading for miles to the west and containing old farmsteads and ruined houses dating back to the Elizabethan era and where people have lived and worked for centuries. They can be covered in swirling mist or blazing sunshine, snow and piercing gales, or have an eerie calm. They can be loud with the cries of animals and birds or silent as a tomb in their deep holes and clefts. They are harsh and they are beautiful. (Walford & Rayner, 2018, p. 5).

While most of the book centres on the beauty and the wonders one can see and experience when visiting the place, the authors excel also at explaining what the living conditions were like at the time. Although today Haworth might feel quaint, charming, and romantic (yes, it is all that and lovely to visit, believe me), this is quite different to what it had been like at the time, when the living conditions were quite terrible, the industrial revolution was steamrolling everything, mills were popping up all around, filling the atmosphere with smoke and soot, transport was difficult, sanitation ranged from bad to inexistent… It is not surprising that the six Brontë children died young, as did their mother, and they were not the only ones.

“Through hard and dangerous work, squalid living conditions, polluted water supplies, poor sanitation and disease, the town of Haworth was killing its own community in the nineteenth century” (Walford & Rayner, 2018, p. 8).

The chapter of the walk around the graveyard attached to the Parsonage, chapter 8, reads at times like a gothic horror novel, with graves piled up 10 to 12 high, and rainwater running from the moors down the graveyard filtering into the drinking water, and likely being the cause of cholera, typhoid fever, and some of the other illnesses common at the time. (Life expectancy was 25 at the time). On the other hand, this same chapter also includes information on the symbolism of the carvings on the graves (for instance, a Celtic cross would mean eternity, and an angel with open wings, the flight of the soul to Heaven).

One of my favourite chapters (and yes, if I go back to the area I’ll be sure to take the book and follow as many of the walks as I can) is the last one, on the art of walking. It is a fascinating reminder of a time when people mostly walked everywhere, and they didn’t have appropriate clothing or shoes in most cases (the authors remind us that the father of the Brontës never owned a horse, and tells us of a visit of Branwell [their brother] to Charlotte that would have meant a 65 km (40 miles) round trip, walking, in one day. If you didn’t have a lot of money, there weren’t many options then, and your health could suffer if the weather was bad. But nowadays, we are lucky, and walking is a healthy option with many benefits, for our bodies and minds.

In summary, this is a fantastic book for people planning a visit to Haworth and the surrounding area, but also for anybody who loves the Brontës and wants to learn more about their time and lives in a visual and tangible way. It will inspire readers to visit (even if it is only with their imagination) the landscapes and the streets the sister walked, and will help them understand better what makes their voices so haunting and distinct. This book is also a beautiful gift to walkers and historians who want to learn more about this time and area in an engaging and enjoyable way.

As the authors say:

It is important to remember the old ways and the people of the past and the efforts they made to improve and enhance society, so that in the 21st century people in this country, and many others, can live healthier, easier and more entertaining lives. There is still much evidence of the past remaining which can help modern society to recall and appreciate its heritage. (Walford & Rayner, 2018, pp. 273-4)

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