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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

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Harriet

It's all so terribly tragic, isn't it. I wonder why Patrick B never sent Branwell to school?

Helen

It is indeed tragic, poor children. The stories Juliet Barker finds about other schools at the time are truly horrifying.

I don't know, and I'm wondering whether I missed something now. I suspect that Patrick felt he could educate Branwell himself, but he couldn't teach the girls what was considered suitable for them to know at the time (including watercolour painting and needlework) and he was pretty busy with work. He did engage a tutor to teach Branwell art, but the tutor helpfully didn't teach him to mix his paints properly and they weren't stable (which is why his ghostly face is appearing in the pillar portrait of the siblings).

Bas Voorhoeve

This is not about Bronte, sorry. I was trying to find out who the author of this blog is and how to get in touch with him/her. I read with interest the 2012 post about reading literature in a foreign language, sth. I also devote a lot of time to. He/she seems to have missed Theo Thijssen's delightful coming of age novel Kees de jongen, one of the greatest of Dutch classics, which is now being made available - in first ever English translation and entirely free of cost - as a serial running on the internet.
Please check
www.keestheboy.nl

Kind regards,
Bas

Jenny @ Reading the End

The moral of all this is that all Victorian schools were horrible? I am not surprised. It seems like England has a really weird sort of culture of Suffering around kids in schools even today -- or maybe it's better now? I have never met a non-rich English kid of my age who had an okay school experience, which I get is probably sort of selection bias, but shitdamn, it sounds awful. One of my flatmates in England got beaten so badly when he was ten that he had to have SURGERY. I was horrified by this news, but all my other flatmates were like "ah yeah, school, yep, that's how it goes."

Helen

Hello Bas, thank you so much for your comment and kindly sharing the information about Kees de Jongen - I shall definitely I have a look at that. (To my shame I'd never heard of Theo Thijssen.) I'm currently making more of an effort to read literature in Dutch/Flemish, but am confining myself to thrillers and children's books! The vocabulary is a little simpler.

Jenny - blimey! I am shocked by your flatmates' experience - and also a bit surprised that the others were so blase. I do/did know quite a few people who went to boarding school and some enjoyed it and some didn't, but nobody experienced anything like that (still, you can always tell someone who went to a boarding school because they eat REALLY fast).

Ha, that is indeed the moral of the story. (And perhaps you should write a thesis about the English and schools, your idea is persuasive.) I've been reading another biography and it seems that in the 1850s at St Paul's - considered 'mild' - every boy had to be beaten every day, and as late as the 1890s in Rugby prefects sometimes broke other boys' ribs through their preferred method of 'punishment'. And these were some of the most exclusive schools in the land...

Stefanie

Citing your previous post about "the family" sent my imagination whirling off on the Brontes as a mob family :) The male Brontes are pretty disappointing. I think Patrick tries to send Branwell off to college later, to his alma mater, and you know it doesn't go well.

Helen

Imagine the Brontes as mafiosi! How long would they last?

I'm still inclined to cut the men a bit of slack. I suspect that there's a lot of stuff going on that we'll never know about. Patrick so far seems OK. Branwell does have a sense of humour and perhaps he is desperate when he's writing these demanding letters. I probably was a bit of a git when I was 19 too. :)

Bellezza

Every time I see something from this era on Masterpiece theater, or even read a book by Bronte, I tend to romanticize it all...forgetting about dirt, and wet, and life being uncomfortable in general.

But, that little book! How charming is that?!

Helen

Heh, maybe it wasn't that bad - as long as you weren't poor, or ill, or female, or gay, or black...

But isn't it? And some of the stories were funny, Charlotte and Branwell were really funny, somehow not what I had expected.

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