Literary Tourism: Jordison Visits Haworth

Haworth Parsonage

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Like many other lovers of English literature before him, Sam Jordison recently made the pilgrimage to West Yorkshire, England, to experience the ambiance of Haworth Parsonage, home of the incomparable Brontë sisters. Unlike many others, though, he has written about the experience for The Guardian‘s Books Blog.

In what Jordison calls “a curious form of literary tourism that seeks to find a concrete source for imaginary locations,” Jordison pokes around in not only the house itself, but the whole surrounding area, looking for traces of the landscape that helped Emily Bronte conjure up her unforgettable characters. He says,

Every other street and building bears their stamp: Heathcliff Mews, The Brontë Bridge, Brontë Cottage B&B…the apothecary where bad brother Branwell bought his laudanum. The Black Bull where he drank away his best years. The school where Charlotte taught. The church where their father preached. And, of course, The Parsonage where they all lived.

The Brontë kids, three girls and a boy, grew up next door to a graveyard, and not some picturesque abandoned one, but a cemetery in everyday use, complete with gaping freshly dug graves, funeral processions, weeping villagers, and polluted ground water. The Parsonage still contains, Jordison reports, such artifacts as paintings made by the doomed genius brother, the tiny little books the sisters crafted as children, and the sofa where Emily died.

Charlotte and Anne wrote some books, sure, but it was Emily who wrote Wuthering Heights, the greatest of all Gothic novels. This tale of demented and deathless love is all the more remarkable for the absence of explicit sex. Its power comes from the psychological nakedness of the characters. Compared to the evocative magic of Emily Brontë’s over-the-top romance, the current bodice-rippers are but a pale shadow.

Wuthering Heights has been filmed several times, with at least two of those movies shot in Haworth, as well as a TV series and a couple of movies about the Brontë family. Strangely, a version of Wuthering Heights, titled Abysmos de Pasion and with the ending changed, was even made by one of the world’s most esteemed directors, Luis Bunuel, during a period he spent in Mexico making B movies under an assumed name.

SOURCE: ” The Brontës are alive and unwell in Haworth ” 06/10/09
photo courtesy of jim.middleton123, used under this Creative Commons license

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2 responses to “Literary Tourism: Jordison Visits Haworth

  1. The first stop of my next trip to England will include Haworth and the moors–home of the Heathcliff I fell for in high school. He inspired my first shirt and first blogpost at
    http://classiccoup.blogspot.com/2009/08/wonder-why-good-girls-love-bad-boys.html

  2. Cindy – I so look forward to hearing about your impressions if you do visit Haworth.

    It was my mom who turned me on to Wuthering Heights – one of the only two or possibly three books she ever recommended. It was the worst thing to let an already out-of-synch adolescent know about! Yes, a girl can be ruined by a book.

    For some reason your link didn’t work – I think because there was a period at the end, as is correct in a sentence! It’s fixed.

    I love the piece the link goes to.

    And I still love bad boys.

    Pat