Literary Vacation - The Bronte Sisters
What Is A Literary Vacation?
A literary vacation is a great way to take a beloved tale and bring it to life through travel. Literary vacations can be a great grown up getaway or a fun educational experience for children.
The Book: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey
By: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte
The Location: Yorkshire Moors, England
Age Group: Adults
As female writers in the first half of the nineteenth century the sisters published their individual novels as well as a joint book of poetry under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The poetry only sold two copies but it was Jane Eyre, written by Charlotte that put their work as well as the setting that inspired their stories on the map. Following the new best sellers instant success the publisher was convinced to publish Anne’s Agnes Grey and Emily’s Wuthering Heights as well.
The lives of the Bronte sisters were short and tragic and where an erie reflection of the tales they told. As children the sisters lost their mother as well as their two older sisters. The family moved to a parsonage in 1820 that is now the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Soon after their success with their novels the brother as well as Emily (30) and Anne (29) contracted tuberculosis and died within months of each other. Charlotte lived a few more years and got married but passed away in the early months of her pregnancy. As their father worked as a clergyman the girls and their painter brother spent their days wandering the Moors that became the setting for their classic novels and reading books inspired them and still sit inside the home for visitors to see.
This vacation is filled with museums that aren’t really geared for children and the fact that they haven’t read the novels written by the Bronte’s but if they are along I recommend reading The Secret Garden with them before hand as the setting is similar and as the walk throughout the moors they can imagine Mary, Dickon, and Collin doing the same.
The central destination for a Bronte inspired vacation is the Bronte Parsonage Museum on Church Street in Haworth on the Yorkshire Moors. The museum was once the home of the Bronte sisters and their family, this was the place where they lived, wrote and died. The portrait their brother panted still hang on the walls and the sofa where Emily took her last breaths still its where it did when she died. At the museum you can learn about the family and the town around the home. In the museum there are handwritten drafts and manuscripts of poems and parts of the novels the women wrote, in the room where Charlotte died you can see her clothing hanging. The museum as a whole pulls you into a mindset of the past and launches you on your Bronte vacation.
As you leave the home wander on over to Haworth Parish Church. This 15th century church and clock tower were once the workplace of Patrick Bronte, the sisters father. Here you can see the graves of all except for Anne who died while by the sea tying to recover. The entire family is buried here, Charlotte, Emily, both of their parents, the two sisters who died as children and the brother, in a vault under the church with a plaque marking the spot beside where their family pew once sat.
Once you have seen the home and church make your way over to Black Bull Pub for lunch. This was the place where the Bronte sisters’ brother Branwell spent much of his time and you can now see his favorite chair that has been put on display. After you have eaten at the centuries old restaurant it’s time for a hike through the English Moors. A two and a half mile walk will bring you to a waterfall that was the favorite place of the Bronte’s and a large slab of stone where Emily especially like to spent time, it has locally become known as the Bronte chair. if you continue a mile further past the waterfall you will find an isolated farm house know as Top Withens that is thought to be the setting of Heathcliff’s home in Wuthering Heights.
Once you have returned from your hike and are ready for a nice soft bed the only place to head is Ashmont Guest House. This quaint bread and breakfast was once the home of the town doctor and it’s now the perfect place to rest after a day traipsing through literature and history.