Goodness! If you want heart-wrenching drama, you need look no further than the North York moors. Last night I watched To Walk Invisible, a BBC dramatisation of the life of the Bronte sisters.
To my shame, although both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are two of my most-loved ‘classic’ novels, I must confess I knew little of the struggles of their respective authors’ domestic lives.
I was introduced to these classic novels partly by my mother, but also due to reading lists for English Literature classes at school. I read Jane Austen many years ago (during my school days, in fact) and her novels enjoy legendary status across the world, even today. But she produced stories that examine the quest for a suitable matrimonial match among the genteel English society into which she was born. They are hardly life or death situations, per se.
Austen couldn’t possibly have imagined the frustration of three sisters, united only in their despair for their wayward brother as he succumbed to his demons doing his level best to tear the family apart as he did so.
Few women back then published novels. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), writing around the same time, wrote under a pseudonym in order to be taken seriously. The Brontes were a well-educated family for their position, being daughters of the widowed Reverend Bronte, but their education appears to have been somewhat haphazard, starting off at a school, but then being removed by their father and taught a little at home after their two older sisters (Maria and Elizabeth) had contracted tuberculosis.
It occurs to me that perhaps it is only in enduring the seemingly bottomless pit of such torment that we, as writers, find tales of such extraordinary passion. They do say that it is only by knowing sadness that we can identify happiness when we find such a thing.
I shall ponder on this thought as I begin compiling my Must Do list for 2017.
Item #1 – a visit to Haworth!