Artifacts,privacy and Morality ponderings on King Richard III ,the Brontes and Eva Peron

I  always feel that historians ,anthropologists and archeologists can have a slightly schizophrenic attitude to the dead ,wanting to study their lives in detail yet mindful these were real people.They are also  forced to make decisions of what is and isn’t morally acceptable to share with the online community or display in museum.Posting images online of human bones such as the ancient  child below is essential so that other researchers can use the images to compare with similar finds,but on the other hand this was once a loved child of some long dead mother who must have grieved its loss.It doesnt therefore seem right to put it on display in a public space.Should it be buried ? if it was a modern child there would be no debate it would of course get a “decent burial” but its possible if it was buried we would lose the chance to learn more of the age it lived in and for this era in particular there are religious and historical debates ,technology constantly advances and just as we now feel exasperated at lost chances to examine bones such as those of the possible lost princes or Anne Boleyn other future historians might well curse us.

(The skull of “Lucys Child” an ancient skull of a child from the same era as the early hominid skeleton fragments named by its finders Lucy.The skeleton and that of the child is the subject of a massive debate about evolution )

I have been considering for some time what is and isn’t appropriate for historians and archaeologists to study and display and how far researchers can legitimately pry into the private lives of the dead ,Partly because of the Bronte clothing I examined  and the suggestion that their vault might be madecopen to visitors .But also because of past work on Digs or work submitted on the ancient past. But mostly because  of my research on Eva Peron and the recent controversy on where King Richard III should be buried.(I will include images so that readers of this post can come to their own opinions so I would like to warn readers they will be images that they may find morally upsetting .)

I came to a few conclusions I thought I would share for feedback.

I am always thrilled to know that human remains such as “Lucy”and “Lucys child”have been found on a dig ,,they can tell us so much about the past ,,the  life lived ,the diet  and diseases of a population .The interest and excitement felt by archaeologists and anthropologists when remains are found is not ghoulish but because they realise the wealth of information now available before them .While documents and artifacts are extremely useful especially grave goods they have limitations too .Writings have usually been written with a function in mind rather than for historical accuracy and can lie.Grave goods are more informative but their usefulness limited to the quantity found ,,whereas ,bones can’t lie and even tiny fragments can tell us of a long lost past .The dead can talk and tell us movingly of the times they lived through ,their lives ,their hardships and often their deaths.For example it’s almost certain the individual below was considered to be a possible “revenant” or vampire and buried with the stone to prevent their return from the grave .The posting online of such photos helps other people who may stumble across such deviant burials to understand what they may have discovered and how widespread such beliefs where across time and countries (A case of a supposed “vampire” occurred in modern-day Romania a few years back ).

However images of Richard the thirds body havong tests performed seems unnecessary, images of disinterred Bronte remains would seem very inappropriate.

I should not care too much what happened to my own body and considered donating it to be used by medical students ,but I feel that anyone who while living had expressed or expected a certain treatment for their remains ought to have their remains treated that way and that the passing of time should not be relevant.

I feel very strongly  that human remains for the documented past should be treated with the respect that would have been expected of the people when alive .I also personally feel  any  human remains however distant in time should be kept off public display.

I have never had problems with graves and grave sites as they are just stone memorials and anyone who wants to is welcome to sit lie ,have a picnic or drink on mine ,though I know for many in Whitby or who attend the goth weekend this has become a big issue recently.

However I think we owe the actual bones of the dead more sensitivty. I was somewhat disgusted to find Leicester was given permission to bury the bones of Richard III in their cathedral ,I can see logically he has  been there for this long and they  (in theory ) ran the dig that found him .However the decision seems to be based mostly on profit and the interests of the city .York was barely even given space to put its case  and  yet the north and especially the area of Yorkshire surrounding  York  has always been fiercely loyal to the memory of Good King Richard,it has campaigned  to promote respect for his memory and to defend his character.

It seems likely he planned to be buried in the North

The choice of the Anglican cathedral in Leicester also highlight another issue with regard to human bones ,the method of interment. Richard was a Roman Catholic and even today Roman Catholics do not take communion with Anglicans or vice versa so burying a Catholic in an Anglican Church with Anglican rites is plainly wrong ,we would not consider it appropriate to  bury a muslim in a church with an Anglican  funeral service

While I think examining the bones of the dead when they have been exhumed for legitimate  reasons or discovered on digs is valid and extremely useful tool for understanding the past and warrants extensive study and publication of findings.I also feel it should be done quickly and the remains then be stored carefully and out of sight if they are not reburied.Exhuming disputed bones such as the children said to be the “princes in the Tower is another moral problem

In such cases exhumation  seems valid as it bears directly on historical reputations and also on whether we still need to find bodies or whether the search can be ended .I do however find it disturbing that the Medici graves have been excavated purely to gain information on the Individuals and while on one level I find the information gained invaluable ,the striping of the Medici bodies of their clothing  and the extensive invasive tests seem very wrong .Yet if Branwell Bronte were exhumed and tests revealed that despite his poor press by Mrs Gaskell and subsequent biographers, he had not infact indulged in excessive alcohol consumption or drug use but rather it was only a feature of his last year or so ,then his reputation might be improved.

I personally  cant find any valid reason for publicly displaying any human remains however old but most especially when the identity of the person is known  .I felt the idea of opening and leaving open the Bronte vault in Haworth  church goulish amd disrespectful.The plan  in the case of the Brontes was fairly quickly dropped I suppose because  of adverse reactions when the story ran in local press.

I  am always slightly puzzled that Egypt with its passion for the honour of its Pharaohs should display their bodies in glass cases for the masses to gawk at rather than keeping them somewhere safe but out of sight .

I also find it ghoulish the amount of attention devoted to the  relics of saints or on a secular level the mummy of Eva Peron and extremely sad how much the body suffered .Though the need to violate the corpse shows in itself that for many the bodies of the dead are deeply important.

I have been posting on Eva perons life and legacy and having reached the end I am  unsure how much of the bodies travels to cover and what images to post ,I think it’s historically valid to cover her death and show the glass coffin as that was public and she had agreed to it prior to her death .Likewise though I admit with some typically modern reservations.  I feel it legitimate to show the lying in state or the photographs taken at Perons request of Evas body.

It’s difficult as someone living in any particular place to know what images of the dead are appropriate to people living in other places and how much they should be public.

Likewise it’s not uncommon  in many part of the world today for post-mortem photographs of the recent dead to be taken and certainly these were a common feature of  Victorian life and designed to be publically seen

This is usualy from affection and a wish to have some way to remember a dead loved one,Posting images of the dead for news or for profit seems to me essentaily much less acceptable.

Theres been suggestions that the so called new Bronte portrait might be a post mortem image of one sister.Though I doubt the image is a genuine Bronte photograph ,a post mortem one raises interesting moral issues


I also think it valid to cover findings discovered by study of the body thats been found or disinterred for valid reasons.I am not sure how I or Bronte lovers might feel about having Charlotte or Emilys body photographed and pieces bored or sawed offcto use for tests.Nor can I imagine it appropriate to publish photos of their bones, grave goods or clothing fragments.

The parsonage is extreemly respectful of  the Bronte legacy and which artifacts it feel appropriate to display.It would be interesting to see what the response would have been to the extensive data on diet,disease etc gained from the exhumation.

.In the case of Eva Peron that means the notes made when it was rediscovered as it bears directly on her legacy and emotions evoked by her even so many years after her death  .The body was displayed publicly  when rediscovered which I think was probably necessary to show it was actually Eva about to be buried .(I am not entirely sure it was wise of the USA not to show photos if the dead Osama Bin Laden for this reason) but I cant find any  real justification for showing later close up images of her corpse  being repaired or of the damage done to it by anti Peronists

I lastly  I considered our attitude to those relatives of the famous dead,I always feel sorry that Princess Diana’s death can still be turned over in the news without any consideration for the feelings of her ex husband and more especially her children.I also can never understand the fury directed at relatives of the dead for destroying their letters. In many cases it blackens their names to future biographers ,consider the negative coverage of Mr Arthur Bell Nichols, Charlotte Bronte’s husband or Cassandra Austen Jane Austen’s sister and closest friend.

It is surely entirely within their rights to want to keep private ,their loved ones private lives.Its nice for historians when they dont of course.I also find it very odd that it’s often those who are most indiscrete about their past friends or loved ones past lives who we most approve of and like and who gain the best reputations,I again think of the Brontes and the contrasting “press” given to people such as Ellen Nussey and Arthur Bell Nicholls.It seems to be an appalling lack of fidelity to a friend’s memory to hand over their private correspondence.

.Its  almost understandable if you were only a close acquaintance such as Charlotte publishers or her later famous friends as she was probably more guarded in what information or views she expressed but it is entirely different when you have known someone since their youth and know that their views and the information relayed would not have been publically shared and often contains information about still living people who can be hurt or at the very least have their own private lives raked over (I know Ellen Nusey removed some names and some lines but there was still adequate  information to recognise individuals and a lot of very private details ,,such as Charlotte’s marriage proposals) It’s doubly unpleasant to think Ellen Nussey knew that Mr Nicholls had been worried enough about the letters becoming public to discuss it with Charlotte and also that she only had them because she broke her promise to Charlotte  burn them .I can entirely sympathise with Mr Nichols decision to destroy some items especially to ask the wedding dress be destroyed ,it shows again an insight into the likely fate of private items that survived.Many very personal items exist in the Parsonage collection ,stockings, night caps,dresses ,corsets while tastefully displayed at the Parsonage ,lovingly preserved  and an invaluable resource for Bronte students ,it cannot have been something he would have liked.

His decision to save other items such as the portrait,the tiny diary papers etc shows he was sensitive to the Bronte legacy but equally sensitive to his wife and her family’s right to privacy.

Which is the more intrusive?to examine and display clothes which will mostly likely have been waving on washing lines or sent to the laundry maid in the big houses or schools  where the Brontes worked as students Governesses and teachers or publically display private correspondence .Does it matter so long after someones death and that of everyone concerned.I personaly  wouldn’t care if my undies were in a glass case but I would care about any private correspondence that might hurt others being public.

However I can never feel it’s morally right for loved ones to destroy the work of the deceased if it was written for publication or public performance.I think mostly of the fate of Emily Brontes lost second novel which was most likely burned by Charlotte ,probably because she felt it inappropriate and likely to be misunderstood.But there are numerous other cases, the many lost MSS of composers or poets ,it seems to me wrong to destroy the outpourings of the human soul and also to deny history work that had been prepared for it.

(previously;y lost Mss of Beethoven

I am curious on the views of others on this issues.


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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20 Responses to Artifacts,privacy and Morality ponderings on King Richard III ,the Brontes and Eva Peron

  1. paper doll says:

    It’s actually sad to read of how Ellen Nussey conducted herself after Charlotte’s passing . The contrast to Mr. Nicholls is stark. Taking her stash of letters to one “collaborator” after another, and always after a time suffering an acrimonious fallout. Ellen got on well with Mrs. G until Mrs G’s own untimely passing because Ellen so respected her. But it never ended well with whoever Ellen hooked up with in later years.

    I don’t think Mr. N ever said a negative word about her in all that time( at least that has come down to us ). Even though Ellen certainly said damning things about him to anyone who would listen for decades! But he could not be drawn out just because someone else was saying foolish things . Arthur had an innate dignity. Even while letting all of Haworth see his love sickness, he kept his own counsel. The Martha/John Brown news agency found he said nothing about the perposal situation to others .This impressed Charlotte.

    But as you say, to be an enthusiast is to be a bit schizophrenic. I love’s CB letters…but I would have more respect for Ellen if they were kept back until at least her own death etc. As it was, she used them to make almost a career for herself. She of course got better press because she would bend to and even run after the press, as Arthur would not .

    …,there’s been substantial reported talk on how much money the city will be able to “”pull in from publicity and from visitors if they can create a “Richard themed visitor attraction”


    It could be Emily herself destroyed her 2nd novel when she became deathly ill ….but all of her and Anne’s youthful, Gondal writing is gone too. Someone destroyed it. If Charlotte, it shows she was far more ruthless than Mr. Nicholls when it came to destroying items

    • I didnt know much about Ellen Nussey but I did find her indiscrete and thought she proably hadnt been very pleasant but I am shocked to see how unpleasant she could be.
      I know people assume Emily may I have burned it but she seems to have still been working on it when she began to be ill and it seems as though she died much sooner than expected so I dont think she would have burned it or had the time alone to do it ,,it takes a fair while to burn a mss it would need ripping into pages then burning in bits and bobs …,(we were working out staging for our short play and Emilys lost second novel had to be burned in a victorian grate and it took a fair bit of experimenting with oil and wax brushed onto the pages to get it to burn properly and not leave too much burned paper to clog up the grate.I think it was Charlotte she seems to have had a very cavailer attitude to “editing” their poetry and though it could have been Anne and I think perhaps Anne might have burned some of the Gondal writings ,,but the novel I think Charlotte burned

      • paper doll says:

        Oh yes Ellen called Arthur,” the man who killed our Charlotte”…among other things. Lovely. Well CB being happily married certainly killed off Ellen’s idea of Charlotte lol. I believe Ellen was expecting to be the main mourner after CB’s father…but ABN took “her” place. And while she had the letters, he had their copyright. Her fury over that just grew.

        We put alot at Arthur’s feet. But the more I think about it, the more I see CB in charge and deciding herself to step back from her Currer Bell life, at least for a time, by becoming Mrs Nicholls . All this , ” would Arthur let her write or not”? …as if it was up to him. Much was up to him after the wedding of course. But CB had to be the one who got herself to the alter. …and went on sick strike until Tabby gave her father the famous dressing down and he finally agreed to the wedding.

        CB says some where women who gained fame under one name , tend to go into the background when they change thier name. She seems to have been looking to do just that . The name ” Currer Bell ” was void as a nom de plume at that point…she sought another.

        Emily could have burned the 2nd novel…but it’s the fact that the Gondal writings are gone too that tips the scale to the CB side in my mind. I don’t think Anne would have burned a thing…just my opinion. She felt so strongly she had not done enough in life, I can’t see her destroying what she had accomplished …unless she was charge to do so by Emily? Then it would become a” duty ” and she felt strongly about duty … Impossible to know what went on

        However you have a good point in that it takes some doing to burn a manuscript and at the very least this act would have been seen and at least commented on ( But I can’t see people stopping EJB . They couldn’t make her go to a doctor! ) But there’s no mention from CB about it …which is telling. If Emily was too weak to pick up a comb that fell into the fire, the work of burning a manuscript would seem to be beyond her powers. If CB did burn Emily’s 2nd novel, then it was folly of her to leave the letter from Emily’s publisher Newby speaking about the 2nd novel…which is the only proof there was one

        I’m sure CB thought she was “protecting ” them from further hurt. I believe losing them in such short order wreaked havoc on her psyche, it’s a wonder she didn’t go mad. But yes , Charlotte was the boss and that can lead to cavalierism. She didn’t value Anne’s work too much it seems….but again this is her sister and I believe finding out just how hard Anne found life when reading her poems later was a shock to CB…Anne was always ” so calm”. CB hadn’t realized how hard won that calmness was .

        Charlotte had an emotional volume that was higher than most people and is little dynamo didn’t seem to register fully emotions that were on a lower scale from her’s, like Anne’s . Charlotte only noticed Arthur once he proved he could be as emotionally worked up as herself! Very rare, I don’t think she ever ran into that elsewhere .

      • Hi
        I like Miss Nussey less and less ! ,,I could never understand why anyone would think Mr Bell Nicholls would have stopped Charlotte writing or as you say actualy could have even had he wanted too ,,I know she mentions not having written because there are other demands on her time ,,but thats something any new bride would have said even now and I am sure I remember reading somewhere about her reading Arthur Bell Nichols the start of a new novel and discussing it with him .I think Charlotte was just too happy to settle down and write which is quite nice.
        I think your probably right about Anne not burning the novel as I think she valued Emilys work too much ,,my money is entirely on Charlotte having a major clear out,Gondal and the novel included ,leaving the newspaper article was remiss of her but perhaps she didnt go through Emilys writing slope that carefuly as it had a lot of bits and bobs in it such as broken pens and scraps of lace that Charlotte would surely have thrown away if she had been very through .My favourite Bronte is Anne I have to admit .shes underrated ,she reminds me a bit of Jane Austens Anne Elliot in Perusuasion
        bye for now

  2. paper doll says:

    Indeed…people seem to forget Charlotte had stopped writing before. She didn’t put pen to paper except for letters for months at a time during the writing of ” Villette” . It was quite tortuous . Her publisher and her father would press her about it and she couldn’t tell them when she would begin again. She had a history of stopping writing for a time…only to take it up again

    I agree. She was enjoying normal happiness for the first time in her life, and had just enjoyed Christmas for the first time in 5-6 years when sadly the illness over took her. With every month of married life, Charlotte’s happiness with Arthur grew. It was tragically short, but at least Charlotte knew such happiness, an enormous accomplishment for a Bronte it seems to me.

    Charlotte was indeed busy doing the things that a clergyman’s wife would be doing. But again people forget Charlotte had been doing such things ( giving teas, visiting etc. ) all her life already as the parson’s daughter…the only new part was her happiness.

    It would have sorted out given time. Perhaps people lashed out at Arthur out of thier grief , quite brushing aside his vastly greater one. One way to claim a greater grief would be to claim he would not let her write. But by this point, just try stopping Charlotte Bronte Nicholls from doing what she wanted. She was living the life she wanted to when death came.

    Yes, Arthur related the story of her reading the beginning of ” Emma” to him in 1854 in a letter written in 1899 I believe. ( he was once again answering the charge he would not let her write) But Charlotte’s immediacy to him was such, that even after all that time , it has a sense of being about an event from the week before.

    In old age, Arthur use to wonder aloud how thier reunion would be and looked towards it eagerly. ( Bless the 2nd Mrs Nicholls!) Among Charlotte ‘s dying words was the phrase ” He will not seperate us” . Read one way, it was a vain hope… but read another, it was a prophecy.

    Because you love history, you’ll understand when I say that sometimes it seems these people from the past choose oneself, instead of the other way around! Charlotte and Arthur have my heart. I’m always drawn to them and thier story. But I love Anne too. As it’s been said, in another family her genius would be clearly seen ( her poetry is wonderful )…in some ways Anne was the bravest of them all…none lasted nearly as long as she did working outside the home ( another triumph for a Bronte) and her dying words! ” Take courage Charlotte, take courage! ” Showing amazing courage herself. Anne is marvelous. How much richer would the world be if she had more time as well ?

    My feeling is Anne would not have burned Gondal and so the fact that that is gone too makes me think CB swept though generally, however I can’t say so 100% . There could have never been a 2nd Emily novel written, but only spoken of with Newby and the letter kept for a remembrance of what could have been …Lord knows. But it’s touching how tidy Charlotte couldn’t part with Emily’s inky pen nips and such. She deeply loved her sisters even if she didn’t quite understand thier work….and without her tremendous drive, we wouldn’t have the work of thiers we enjoy today

    When Charlotte said Anne’s ” The Tenant of Winfield Hall ” was a “mistake” ,she’s not just speaking about the seeming mismatch between its topic and its author and her dislike for the book… but what the writing of the book cost a beloved sister in terms of her health. Some say Anne was already ill when Emily became so. Of course now we are glad Anne spent that time writing her 2nd novel. But Charlotte couldn’t see it the way we do, so it’s difficult to fully judge her imo.

    • I do seem to remember several letters from Charlootte publishers about how the book was coming along ,polite but obviously in the “can you get on with i vein ”
      Re the busy ,I think Charlotte would have had all the newly wed visiting rounds and calls to make and host which was really time consuming ,people always assume the Brontes were recluses which as you say wasnt the case and I can never get over how time consuming the whole afternoon tea, visiting,charity and church work is for victorians and especially clergy and their wives and daughters.Its still a problem for modern clergymen and probably more so as most of their wives work and have to effectivly do two jobs.their day Job and clergmans wife job.
      I always think as you say that Bronte scholars underestimate the strength and influence of the Brontes religoius belifes unless they are pondering Emilys “mysticism” and much of the speculation about Emily is done by people who dont “get” the breadth of christian belifes ,orthodox and otherwise the Brontes held ….
      I wondered if you knew which sales of Bronte items had which items included and where I migth be able to pick up the lists of items if there is one online as I have nver managed to find anything in the public domain .

      • paper doll says:

        Its still a problem for modern clergymen and probably more so as most of their wives work and have to effectively do two jobs. their day Job and clergyman’s wife job.

        Indeed! And very likely without a Tabby or Martha to help! lol

        I always think as you say that Bronte scholars underestimate the strength and influence of the Brontes religious beliefs unless they are pondering Emily’s “mysticism” and much of the speculation about Emily is done by people who don’t “get” the breadth of christian beliefs ,orthodox and otherwise the Brontes held ….
        Exactly… and they miss much Bronte history accordingly. One of the reasons, perhaps the main one Charlotte and Miss Wooler were so close in later life was the shared christian beliefs, important to both women. In her letters, Charlotte often says “Providence is over all “, it was not an idle saying.

        The Bronte girls taught Sunday school, visited and sewed for the poor, gave teas, constantly received other clergy …thier father was active in clergy social circles and when at home the girls were expected to assist him in this. They were private people, that is very diffrent from being reclusive. Lord knows Branwell was known in the village

        But Mrs Gaskill herself speaks about how Charlotte was instantly recognized when they stopped at a cottage during a rain storm on the moors . It wasn’t Charlotte’s first visit there, I’m thinking . They had home village lives which often get ignored. But Charlotte knew exactly what would be asked of her as Arthur’s wife and was undaunted at least by that part of a future life as Mrs. Nicholls.

        In the biography of Arthur Bell Nicholls by Margaret and Robert Cochrane, called, ” My Dear Boy”, Highgate 1999, starting on page 107, there are over two pages devoted to the sale and how things were given to locals, ( the Browns naturally getting the lion share it seems ) …’s too long for me to type here sadly…but it could give you some good information , like the fact that sale had 483 lots!

      • Thats really helpful thank you very much ! I had never heard of that book ,I will have a look for it now and get back to you ,,,Its very hard to find independent work about Mr Bell Nichols
        I really really would love a Martha too!

      • paper doll says:

        I believe that book is for sale at the Parsonage. The authors gave a talk at Haworth when it was published

        There are two books about Arthur that I know of: “My Dear Boy” and another called

        ” Mr Charlotte Bronte:
        The Life of Arthur Bell Nicholls

        by Alan H. Adamson

        I think I’ve made it obvious in my posts I think well of Mr. Nicholls. Whether by craft, luck or instinct, the timing of his proposal was perfect. CB had just finished writing her book, “Villette”. In this book she expressed and then laid to rest the dreams of Angria and Brussels . As author, Winifred Gerin, wrote, Charlotte was now finally ready to “…accept the decrees of common existence”…On some level Arthur knew that .

        lol we’d all love a Martha! Even without her famous sponge cake recipe!

      • Hi
        Thanks ,,
        I have seen the Mr Charlotte Bronte and one with his letters to Martha but not the other I will have to have a look next time I am at the Parsonage .

      • paper doll says:

        I can’t find the letters to Martha on the Parsonage site. !

        A couple of gems from the book about the sale, local auctioneer, John Cragg of Keighley ran the sale , held on Tue Oct 1 1861 ….lasting two days. Most items were bought by locals.

        CB’s and Emily’s wood traveling trunk from thier travels in Brussels was given to Tabitha Brown because she liked the blue flower paper lining.

        She was also given Anne’s writing desk and a dress of CB’s that she altered to fit her daughter! One can see this close to Bronte times, items of use would be used by others …so that is why I wondered if CB’s corset had been worn by others after her passing…very likely.

        Really the Browns got the lion share of the clothes it seems …which makes sense. I believe ABN would rather they have what clothing he did not keep himself rather than put them out for sale

      • Hi
        Thanks thats really helpful,I will run through the dresses at the Parsonage to see if any fit the bill,,I am more or less certain the Brown velvet at the bottom of the Bronw dress was to make it longer as theres no real reason for adding it otherwise,it doesnt match any other trim at the cuff or neck and it doesnt fit in the the style of the dress at all ,,I am thinking it may have been Anne then passed to Emily when Anne bought a new dress as I cant think a servant would have a huge peice of velvelt or want to add it to a hem if they did as its a pricey fabric .Ithink it may well have been the greeny blue floral dress currently on display as its very definatly been altered to a later style ,its very flat fronted and no 1840s /50s dress would have been ,the sleeves and neck look a bit “off too”,I doubt the corset was altered as corsets at this time were fitted and made specially and also they tend to mould themselves to you after a while so other people find them uncomfortable unless they are more or less an identical build.I think its likely now I have had a chance to go over the dress data that the corset is from when Charlotte was a younger woman and she had later ones made in her 30s possibly on one of her London trips so she could get a “state of the art” style to go with the new dress styles ,,,,More letters might be added to the parsonage site in the future as I know they are updating their site at the moment.

  3. paper doll says:

    Well her publisher, George Smith, said in later years he thought Charlotte was too tightly corseted. Being a proper Victorian gentleman, he of course mentioned it in regards to her heath. He felt that tight corseting undermined it!

    Perhaps no clothes were put out for sale….but were kept or given away.
    Back then , they may of felt clothes were too intimate . It was tough enough for Arthur that people were pawing the pots and pans! lol

    Is it known which dresses are from Mr. Nicholls’s collection ? CB could have altered dresses herself before her death…fascinating topic! How we have these items and their history

    It’s exciting news to learn the parsonage is updating their site! Thanks!

    • I am pretty certain Charlotte wore her corsets too tight at least at some points in her life and I personaly think the headaches etc she got may well have been from tight lacing ,people are often a bit unkind about Charlotte ailments as they can seem to come and go but tight lacing would explain them ,when as a governess or in town ,visiting the upper classes she proably wore her corset more fashionaly laced than at home where appearances wouldnt be as important and therfore was more likely to feel unwell at those times.She could also wear a wrapper dress for part of the day at home and thus avoid corset wearing while working and eating breakfast but this obiously wasnt an option for a governess or visitor in some one elses home .I honestly dont know about the clothing I very much doubt anything other than accesories (parasoles ,fans etc) was sold and perhaps not even those.Its likely they were passed to family friends who then sold them on,though I seem to remember reading somewhere people were requesting scraps of Charlottes dresses in Patricks life time .I am going to ask the parsonage about all the gowns in Jan once I have exhausted all the availible resources(a freind has papers from a past museum curator I am hoping might have some ideas) and Jans a good time for requesting detail information as the parsonage is closed for cleaning and reorganisng the exhibitions as they will have more time then.

    • Hi again ,
      I forgot I am going to use some of your information on Ellen Nussey and Mr Bell Nicholls in a Bronte day talk and a display which I have been planning for a while which is along the lines of this post,the competing claims of privacy for individuals and the needs /rights? of the historian and looking at who was really the Brontes closest freinds ,who should we really admire, the ones who are most indiscrete such as Ellen Nuseey or the people who honoured Charlttoes and esp Emily love of Privacy such as Bell Nichols or the Taylors ,I would very much like to credite you as my source on several pieces of information and quotes ,,would that be ok and if so do you have a nom de plume I can use ?

  4. paper doll says:

    It’s a good point remember Charlotte’s life as governess when looking at her later public life because part of her never stopped feeling like a governess in society even as the most famous author in England. She most likely did start the tight lacing then and felt it was a required part of any appearance in public. She was perhaps, “suiting” up in armor as it were.

    I’m no expert,but I would be honored to be quoted in your talk. I mention your talk on the blog, ” The Brontës Sisters” , where I learned of your blog and where I post as ” Anne”. And one thing I said on one of the posts about your talk was,I hope you can record it in some manner for at least an upload to You Tube.

    But really a documentary about the Brontës clothes and your investigation of them would be wonderful. Big anniversaries are on the horizon…CB’s 200th is in just 3 years. I have to believe sponsors would be out there. It’s a fascinating topic. I don’t think people realize how much there is etc.

    But for your talk , you may use my name, Anne Lloyd and I’m a painter.

    You may like to see my art blog.

    and you tube channel

    Do you have one? I think everyone can use one!

    I was just blogging about the Brontë privacy
    issue on my art blog when I wrote:

    We have a staggering amount of Brontës items today and it is thanks to Mr. Nicholls for keeping them.It was said he viewed these items as being simply personal mementos…but I believe Charlotte loved that fame blindness he had. Most of us are like putty before it. And if we now have these Brontë manuscripts , art works and even clothing for all time, I don’t think we can begrudge Arthur Bell Nicholls the first 50 years.

    I’ve loved the Romanovs and the Brontës for 45-50 years. The last three years I have painted Romanovs…but the Brontes now want some art as well! I’ll be starting a portait pair of Charlotte and Arthur within a couple of months…really looking forward to that. I’ve started the accompanying video for it already!

    I do like having the letters…but one can see how the Heger family handled thier CB letters…they waited til everyone had passed long ago before they became public. They did not seek self importance though a relentless public connection to Charlotte .

    I can see having diffrent approaches to it all…but I find Ellen’s saying awful things about Arthur hard to forgive. It frankly speaks of a consciousness of wrong doing. If you believe in what you are doing, such personal attacks are not necessary.

    Arthur would not dignify the accusations made by Ellen and others over the years by a respose…his life and quite guardianship of Charlotte’s legacy for half a century was his answer.

    • Hello
      Your artwork is beautiful ,really lovely,I have been interested in the Romanvos in the past and still watch any documentarys but theres just too much heartache in their story and so many “if onlys” My main historical interest is Tudor History and classical era / pre classical Archeaology.I study the Brontes a fair amount as being local I have been asked to do a lot of Bronte based work and while initialy I studied their clothing to make an accurate costume for the work ,I soon realised that their clothing actualy gives a lot of information about them and shows a lot of the “Bronte myths” are based on misinterpetations.I have a lot of Bronte posts to add in the next few weeks as I have been getting the Bronte event organised.
      I will def add your name as a credite on the evening and put blog credite in too.I am not sure about videoing the evening ,the local press are coming but I havent heard from the local tv people I doubt they will bother as Christmas is a fast news time so they wont need any fillers ..I freind may get some video footage perhaps

  5. paper doll says:

    Thank you for your compliments. You are most kind.

    Certainly there is tremendous heartache in the Romanov story. But there is also a great deal in the Brontë story as well! I guess I’m attracted to heartache lol

    I didn’t express myself clearly. I was speaking of a documentary as a long term project. As you say the pros are all busy this time of year and that would take careful planning etc.

    But for your upcoming talk, a friend to film it ( or at least a segment) would be great. Then later you can cut in clear photos of the items you are speaking about as you come up to them in the footage….so how they appear in the footage wouldn’t matter…really, your voice over is the important part. Such a video would stimulate interest in a film I think.

    Most computers have a movie maker soft wear already installed. One drags photos from the desk top into the program and the softwear makes a video…that how I do mine. Everyone who has a creative out let, should, imo, have a You Tube accout.

    You see in my videos how I show the progress of my paintings over time? You could shoot photos of a dress as you make it ( unless it would divulge secrets! lol)put the photos together in a time line and have a fine video.

    A Hathaways of Haworth You Tube channel would be lovely.

    while initially I studied their clothing to make an accurate costume for the work ,I soon realised that their clothing actually gives a lot of information about them and shows a lot of the “Bronte myths” are based on misinterpretations

    Exactly so, they are a gold mine of information which I think many would find fascinating. Really only a MAKER like yourself can see what’s what with the clothes and tell the rest of us.

    I look forward to the Brontë posts and best of luck on your Brontë Day!

    • Thank you ,I hadnt thought of doing that ,I already do how to make your own stuff blog posts so it wouldnt actualy be much more work ,I will def have a try..I
      guess the Brontes do have some hearthache but they were happy for most of their lives and lived a reasonable amount of time (the average in Haworth was around 25 at the time) .Where as so many of the princesses were so young and had not really lived and they had no control over their lives or the events that ended them .
      I posted a few Bronte shots today but mostly to help promote Haworths christmas events,,though theres a really great graveyard shot .I have a lot more Bronte images to post from today but I want to add the right bits of poetry .The dress in the shots is one of my “everyone knows what the Brontes wore ” gowns,taken from portaits etc rather than a replica gown as victoria is my Emily for the Bronte evening and people need to be able to guess which of the girls is which sister so I used the gun group portrait for Emilys dress.

  6. paper doll says:

    Thank you ,I hadnt thought of doing that ,I already do how to make your own stuff blog posts so it wouldn’t actualy be much more work ,I will def have a try.

    Exactly the elements are all there. I’m pressing this because of the wonderful day you have lined up that is fast approaching. Raw footage taken then could be used to make videos for some time later

    Since I last posted, I saw your Flicker account, which I had not seen before. You have amazing photos there and material for several fine videos already .Which would be a simple matter of showing one photo and then having it fade into another like photo in a theme ( of Tudor, ’40’s Bronte etc that’s 3 vids off the top of my head already lol) with some music! Simple! Music can be found on You Tube itself. I use movie music mostly for my videos.

    Video making is fun!

    I’m no fashion bug. As an artist, I’m thrilled when there are no paint strains on what I’m wearing! lol. But there is something about the dresses that informs one in a visceral manner as well as delight the eye .I’m sure you are aware of the power of these creations have on people’s hearts and minds. They are drawn to the dresses, I’m sure, even if like me, they are not usual interested in fashion. These garments are time machines imo and so beautiful! They are dazzling.

    I guess I’m aware of the at least happy childhood the Romanov children had but then aware of the difficulties the Brontes faced of poverty and limited opportunity though thier longer lives. By the time Charlotte could afford curtains for the parsonage, the rest were dead and poor Anne toiling away at Thorp Green for years to make a living , bless her!

    Certainly the Brontes did fairly well considering the life span at the time …but there was much heartache during those longer lives…( expect for Emily when she could stay at home! lol)

    Charlotte’s happy marriage of 8 months is tragically, indeed, shockingly short. But to Anne and the Romanov girls, even 8 months of a happy marriage would seem a dream of heaven. I say Anne particularly because of that poem where she dreams of a child and a husband…so sad!

    which says in part

    …And glances then may meet my eyes
    That daylight never showed to me;
    What raptures in my bosom rise,
    Those earnest looks of love to see,

    To feel my hand so kindly prest,
    To know myself beloved at last,
    To think my heart has found a rest,
    My life of solitude is past!

    But then to wake and find it flown,
    The dream of happiness destroyed,
    To find myself unloved, alone,
    What tongue can speak the dreary void?

    ouch, bless her

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