Emily Brontes lost novel ,or the Birth of Zechariah Barraclough

While co writing the Bronte Christmas Carol it soon became clear that as the focus of the play was the destruction of Emilys second Novel ,we needed an idea of what the novel contained  to write dialogue about it and possible reasons for its destruction .So I did research into Emilys poetry post dating Wuthering heights probable conception date and also checked  Charlottes writings about the novel and Emily to see what in its content might have compelled here to destroy it.While writing a long novel is probably beyond me and defiantly not something I could manage in a week I thought a plot outline wouldn’t be too hard and might be fun as it’s a long time since I wrote a complicated plot

The result was a  very detailed plot outline for a three Generation novel with elements of the gothic novel /romance ,Byronic themes ,nature themes and local names.I focused the action on two main places

Cunliffe Hall in Wycoller (as my family name is Cunliffe and as the novel was just for fun I decided to use Wycoller for a location  and Cunliffe for names ,I also felt it a fair choice as Emily may well have used Cunliffe Ellis lister for the inspiration for her pen name Ellis Bell.

Moor Lodge ,,the play was to be performed at Moor Lodge a possible site for Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre and of course the rival location to Wycoller  Hall for the Jane Eyre connection. ,hence I quite liked the idea of posting two rival families in two rival locations ,the later family  becoming more important to the story .

I then looked for a family,servants,wider circle characters ,for this I did as Charlotte ,Emily and Anne had all done and played with local names .

It was while playing with local names Zechariah Barraclough appeared ,Zerubbabel Barraclough was the clockmaker  in Haworth so I used Zechariah as Zerubbabel features heavily in the biblical book of Zechariah .

Zechariah is born on a stormy night and disappears on an stormy night,,of all the characters I created for the imaginary second novel he has stayed with me I saw him in the shadows of my imagination every time I did work on the novel .It’s very odd ,that something fashioned in your own imagination can Golem like acquire a presence.

For the plot outline I did a quick tick list of Wuthering Heights themes or inspirations


2/Poetry Gondal and other ,

3/The local areas stories and folklore

4/the Gothic Novel


6/The local countryside ,houses and weather

7,Branwells input via drunken tales,drunken ravings,possibly his letters.

8/English family Law


I then closely read Emily poetry especially any that probably post dated Wuthering Heights and looked for re occurring themes

1/the love of Home and  its association with light and warmth

2/Byron and Byronic men

3/ the heartbreak of exile

4/strong powerful women,dark Gondals queens

5/separation and loss



8/the natural world

9/violent almost elemental emotion.

10/Patient gentle fair haired women .


12 imprisonment

Emily had a compex imaginary world Gondal had prose as well as poetic narratives  spanning generations and Wuthering heights is an extremely complex novel so I decided on a complex plot spanning classes and generations .

I created two families, one wealthy and one initially wealthy but which later becomes less so while remaining respectable.I also created a second “cast” of servants with their own family histories,enter Zechariah Barraclough

these remain constant elements in each generation and their lives intertwine

Finaly added outside characters to act as agents which would move the plot forward or enable the main characters to show a different side of their make up ,,or occasionally just to provide me with a way to give a main character money or make them miserable .

Finaly I added storms which move the narrative forward,the Greek war of independence ,a David and Jonathan type friendship for two male characters and a Bathsheba Everdene/Gabriel Oak type relationship for two others.However unlike Thomas Hardy I sent my Gabriel away rather than let him marry his love..a bit mean and I now regret it but oh well .

I then wrote two MSS copies of the plot outline in a bound old fashioned notebook,one we kept and the other was heavily rubbed down with candle wax brushed along its spin  front and back with olive oil and used as our plays “second novel” to end its life in the flames at the end of the play.

heres the poetry used for plot elements

eath which struck when most confiding

She dried her tears and they did smile…

His land may burst the galling chain; his people may be free again,

All hushed and still the house

Now trust a heart that trusts in thee,

Far away is the land of rest

In the dungeon crypts, the prisoner,

Hope was but a timid friend

On sunny brae I lay alone

So hopeless is the world without,

I think of deep glens blocked with snow,

I do not weep; our mother needs no tears,

I will forward the plot summary and character outlines to the Blog presently


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
This entry was posted in brontes, Hathaways of Haworth, work. Bookmark the permalink.

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