A Brontë a Day – Day 28: The Lost Brontës

I remember driving home from a day out at Kirkby Lonsdale about 15 years ago and seeing with a start a sign announcing that we were passing through Cowan Bridge. We stopped the car and realised we were just beside the old site of the infamous school, later immortalised as Lowood in Jane Eyre. It wasn’t what I’d imagined. I’d thought it would be bigger. Grimmer. But still, it’s where the two eldest Brontë sisters caught the illness which claimed their lives.

I’ve always been kind of intrigued by the eldest sister Maria Brontë. She was supposedly the family prodigy, the clever one. I imagine in an Alt-U telling of the Brontë story, Maria wrote a whole host of iconic novels while her sisters were widely seen as trailing in her wake. Somehow though I still think Branwell would have ended up crumbling under the pressure of being the only boy.

I read Kathleen Flynn’s The Austen Project which describes a time-travelling venture to extend the life of Jane Austen. At the end of the novel, a similar expedition sets out to save the Brontës but no matter what they do, the family still keeps on dying. There’s something about the family which seems defined by loss. Helen Burns’ saintliness may irritate some readers but for Charlotte, she is a memorial to a beloved sister.

For further musings on Brontës lost, see my 2018 post

I agreed to participate in the #ABrontëADay Challenge during May for the A Walk Around the Brontë Table Facebook group. I will also be sharing posts on my Instagram feed.
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