The Three Brontë Sisters
Diane Lawrenson is a Royal Cambrian Academician and a Member of the Society of Women Artists. She has been twice winner of the sculpture prize at the Mall Galleries, London. She has work in both public and private collections.
She lives in Cumbria with her husband Kevin Howley, but for many years lived in the Haworth area.
The life-size sculpture is aimed to capture the spirit of each of the Brontë sisters from Haworth in West Yorkshire, who shared the same location and vocation, yet had individual characters and vision.
Charlotte: portrayed as the driving force and visionary, turning a flight of fancy into reality;
Ann: gentle, caring and duty-bound, the childless mother.
Emily: introverted powerful and passionate, a part of the landscape.
All the girls eventually found enduring fame as writers. Charlotte was the author of Jane Eyre, Vilette, Shirley, The Professor; Ann wrote Agnes Gray, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Emily was the author of Wuthering Heights.
The Brontë sisters were also poets and in fact this is how they began their literary careers. In 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne published a volume of poetry together, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, their first work to be published. Because of the general prejudice against female writers during their lifetimes, the Brontë sisters adopted androgynous pen names. Charlotte became Currer Bell, Anne became Acton Bell, and Emily became Ellis Bell.
The first edition of their poetry collection, printed in London was an enormous disappointment, failing to attract any real interest, and a mere two copies were sold. However, the Brontë sisters decided to continue writing and began work on their novels, which were published and quite successful from an early date.
The poetry of these sisters has been used by composer Philip Wilby as his text for his new oratorio “A Brontë Mass” in which their poetry is juxtaposed with the words of the Christian Mass. Within the music of A Brontë Mass the Brontë siblings’ poetry is used as follows:
Charlotte: The Autumn Day
Ann: A Prayer
Emily: No coward soul is mine
And finally the girls’ creative and artistic brother Branwell, perhaps the most talented but the most misunderstood and overlooked of the family. He died an alcoholic and depressive, suffering from tuberculosis. His poetry too features in the music of A Brontë Mass as Memory, a fragment.
Charlotte Brontë: The Autumn day its course has run
The Autumn day its course has run,
The Autumn evening falls.
Already risen the Autumn moon
Gleams quiet on these walls.
And Twilight to my lonely house
A silent guest is come.
In mask of gloom through every room
She passes dusk and dumb.
Her veil is spread, her shadow shed
O’er stair and chamber void,
And now I feel her presence steal
Even to my lone fireside,
Sit silent Nun – sit there and be
Comrade and Confidant to me.
Ann Brontë: A Prayer
My God (oh, let me call Thee mine,
Weak, wretched sinner though I be),
My trembling soul would fain be Thine;
My feeble faith still clings to Thee.
Not only for the Past I grieve,
The Future fills me with dismay;
Unless Thou hasten to relieve,
Thy suppliant is a castaway.
I cannot say my faith is strong,
I dare not hope my love is great;
But strength and love to Thee belong;
Oh, do not leave me desolate!
I know I owe my all to Thee;
Oh, TAKE the heart I cannot give!
Do Thou my strength–my Saviour be,
And MAKE me to Thy glory live
Emily Brontë: No Coward Soul is mine
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.
O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life—that in me has rest,
As I—Undying Life—have power in Thee!
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou—Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
Branwell Brontë: Memory – a fragment
Memory! How thy magic fingers,
With a wild and passing thrill
Wake the chord, whose spirit lingers,
Sleeping silently and still.
Winds have blown, but all unknown
Nothing could arouse a tone
In that heart, which like a stone
Senselessly has lain.
Memory! Memory comes at last,
Memory of feelings past,
And with an Aeolian blast
Strikes the strings resistlessly.