The Bronte’s and the Yorkshire Coast
If you love reading, films or both, the chances are you’ve read or seen a movie version of a Bronte novel.
Two of them had close connections with our lovely coast.
And there’s a number of double centenary celebrations taking place throughout Yorkshire about this famous literary family.
The Bronte 200 series of events started in 2016 with Charlotte.
Charlotte was born in West Yorkshire in 1816 and visited the Yorkshire Coast on several occasions.
In 2020, the youngest of the Bronte siblings, Anne, was celebrated. She was born in early 1820 and a number of events took place to the mark the special occasion.
What is even more poignant with Anne is that she is buried at Scarborough, just a few miles down the coast from the Riviera.
So, what’s all the fuss about this woman who lived two centuries ago?
The female members Bronte family, who lived in Haworth, near Bradford for most of their lives, penned some world-famous novels including ‘Jane Eyre’ (Charlotte), ‘Wuthering Heights’ (Emily) and ‘Agnes Grey’ (Anne).
The sisters travelled extensively throughout the north of England, and the Yorkshire Coast held a particular fascination for Charlotte and Anne.
Anne was born on 17th January 1820 and she was the last of six children to Reverend Patrick and Maria Bronte.
Following a childhood spent mainly in remote Haworth, Anne eventually became a governess at Blake Hall, Mirfield in April 1839, leaving her post in December of the same year.
In 1840, Anne becomes a governess at Thorp Green Hall, Little Ouseburn, near York. In July of that year travelled to Scarborough with her employers for the first time.
The party stayed at Wood’s Lodgings, St Nicholas Cliff, a site now occupied by The Grand Hotel, Scarborough.
In June 1841, Anne returned to Scarborough and spent five weeks with her employers at the same location. She returned again in July 1842 for six weeks.
Publication for the Sisters
All three sisters had also been hard at work with their writings, and in 1846, ‘Poems by Acton, Ellis and Currer Bell’ (all pseudonyms for the sisters) was published.
The following year, Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’ were accepted for publication and later that same year, Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ was published.
Around May 1848, Anne started her second novel, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.’
Sadly, the following year, Anne’s health declined. In May 1849, Anne with sister Charlotte both undertook the journey to Scarborough, stopping off at York Minster on the way.
Anne’s Final Days
Anne’s final days in the resort were filled with enjoyment of what the town had to offer. A donkey and cart ride; a walk along the Cliff Bridge (now the Spa Bridge built in 1827); they also treated themselves to some delicious dandelion coffee.
Anne passed away on 28th May at Wood’s Lodgings aged just 29. Two days later, her funeral service took place at nearby Christ Church (now occupied by a fish and chip restaurant and supermarket) in Vernon Road, and she was laid to rest at St Mary’s Church, beneath the town’s historic castle.
Her grave is there to visit, overlooking the South Bay of Scarborough.
Charlotte, then the last remaining member of the six siblings, later visited Anne’s grave in 1852.
Today, Anne’s grave is visited by thousands each year. The inscription is gradually fading due to the elements, her novels are still in print and are regarded as classics of Victorian literature.