Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Monday, February 11, 2019

Update and New videos . Hello, 2019

Arthur in old age

A friend of mine said this blog as been quite and they kindly asked for a book  update. I assured them; silence means I'm at work and it is going well. This is one of the most fulfilling times during this project

It's fascinating that things often do not  turn out as we expect. I expected to put together my scenes and thus form the book in a straight forward manner ...yet even as I do so, more material is coming in to be included. I also expected to dread this time of pulling the many scenes into one coherent piece, but I love it. 

What has also been interesting lately is that as I isolate myself in order to have more time for the book , Emily has come to the fore more. While this is Arthur and Charlotte's story , I had some scenes with Emily of course. But as I have somewhat duplicate her chosen life of , at least mental, solitude, in order to steep myself into a creative endeavor, her emotional voice resonates more and a few more scenes with her were created.

It's said Emily Jane Brontë is a mystery....but it's no mystery to me why she wanted to be left mostly alone, even by her nearest and dearest. It was in order to dwell as undisturbed  as possible within her own world....to not feel the yank  of " the chain" , as she described the sensation of being wholly in her body and sensible only to the outer world we all inhabit.

 Household chores, moor walks, music and certainly writing , do not intrude upon that world like every day human discourse does. The types of attention these two conscious states call for are very different . ..and remember; Emily was expected to follow Victorian social modes while interacting ...not use our far more casual ways. I can see her  fostering  a cantankerous reputation with a purpose....besides likely being cantankerous!  We cannot imagine Emily would find us bores to avoid too...well, likely she would have. lol.

 Whatever mental distress is in the news, Emily seems gets saddled with it. I seem to recall over the years she has been described  as being" Bi-polar", " Bulimic,"  having "Asperger," "Autism,"  "Turrets Syndrome " etc. I may be  forgetting one or two. Anything; but she was a mystic,  a woman of genius, who wanted to be left alone!  If you want to know this young woman on her terms, read her novel and her poems. Much is right before us.

                                                              THE OLD STOIC.

                                                   Riches I hold in light esteem,
                                                      And Love I laugh to scorn;
                                                  And Lust of Fame was but a dream,
                                                    That vanished with the morn.

                                                And if I pray, the only prayer
                                                    That moves my lips for me
                                                Is '' Leave the heart that now I bear,
                                                     And give me liberty!"

                                               Yes, as my swift days near their goal,
                                                  'Tis all that I implore:
                                                In life and death a changeless soul
                                                   With courage to endure.



When I think of the great material we have to know the Brontës ; their books, I'm a little overawed. The Brontë mind is open to all who read their books. For example, when was the last time you read "  Wildfell Hall "?  Good Lord, its like being invited to the Parsonage sitting room itself. ..particularly the early parts when village life goes under the Brontë magnifying glass.  I have found it very helpful to periodically look again and again where one has looked before. Far more often than not, one sees something "new" .

 And Charlotte's letters! How many have read only the passages that are quoted in biographies ? If one cannot afford the Oxford  three volume edition of CB's letters, Clement K. Shorter's book of Charlotte's letters is available, free, online..

 Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle, by Clement K. Shorter

While there are omissions and mistakes in a publication over a hundred years old, you will still find Charlotte's voice there, in her own words.

Video Round Up

I recently upload some videos on my You Tube channel

Mr Nicholls in Banagher 1904

This is a video I made using photos I had taken on our trip to Banagher, and two of the three photos we have of him in old age. It also features my painting of The Rev Nicholls. About the picture of ABN and the little girl, she  was Helen Sharrard,  the Rector's daughter, she coincided Arthur  her extra "grandfather ."

The Brontes. Where You Are 

This next one was made when I heard a great Josh Groban song," To where you are"  and it seemed perfect for the Arthur's story. It's a tribute to his ever lasting love for and the Richmond portrait of , his wife, Charlotte.The prints of this portrait, which everyone has seen many times,  bares little resemblance to the original.The original is stunning. Charlotte is not frowning at all as she appears to be doing in the prints...and I have a  2016 photo I took of it at the end. I can see why Arthur loved it.

Here are a group of Romanov videos

One of the  interesting thing about being an enthusiast for both  The Brontës and Romanovs is the vast difference of valuable images  between them. With  the Brontës, it's very  limited.
I have to reused a good number of them already posted  in my video " The Brontës. To the Marriage of True Minds"

Then there is  the tens of thousands photos of the Romanovs! Every month there seems to be more " new " ones posted. The family all had cameras and they loved recording everything. The only photo we have of a Bronte, is Papa. I wish Branwell had taken up  the  then fledgling art of photography instead of painting. Then we would have Brontës photos. He got even Emily to pose for him !
The Romanovs. What was and will never be again.

The Romanovs. Their faces

The Romanovs children. Remember the beauty


I was surprised to see recently this blog listed as a" Brontë  blog" on the web. I'm flattered, but here I thought I  was toiling away in obscurity ...but no!  Also  my pics files have  appeared elsewhere,  from now on they will have a watermark. I have long said one should not leave their insights in the comments of other blogs...now it seems I should muzzle discoveries and working methods on this blog as well. I'm sitting on a lot and will continue to do so, and keep it for the book . Last December was 6 years I have been working on my Brontë novel. I have to say I'm enjoying the work as never before. I use to bemoan how long it is taking, now I just enjoy the ride.

Back to work! See you next time!

Tatiana and Alix  1905


Monday, September 24, 2018

Brontë Novel Update : And now the typing

Patrick Brontë's birthplace

  So, as planned,I spent the summer amassing together what sections of my Brontë novel I have typed into the computer, order to produce a draft.Grand! But then I saw a difficulty; I have dozens and dozens of filled notebooks and untold number of notes yet to be typed into the computer. 
 Opps... How did I forget that reality??

laundry basket full 

An over stuffed bin
These are but the main deposits.
Every time I move something, or clean, I find more notebooks! 

Over the door storage
But wait, there's more!

I also have innumerable notes made on scraps of paper as the inspiration struck. Much as Emily would stop her house work in order to write a note with her pencil. One can't be so foolish as to say," I'll remember ". You won't. I always have a paper and pen with me. Besides the words itch to be written and you'll have no rest until they are! 

Just some of the notes
So much work is still ahead.

There is a lot reading I have deferred to the end. Well it's time to gather what I have to read and read it. How easy it is to say along the way, " Oh I'll do that later." Then later arrives!

I have also run into a substantial amount of new to me source material in my research that needs assessing and incorporation. The Brontë  fields  may have been mowed and  thoroughly gleaned again and again over the years, but the Nicholls, Bell and Adamson ones have not....and what is found there, sheds light on Arthur and consequently, the Brontës...at least the part of their story that I am portraying.

And new scenes are still coming in. Besides the main figures, others from the story are coming forth. People whose importance have been over looked imo, are having their say. It will be awhile yet until there is a completed draft....particularly since I type with one finger! lol However I figure if the author, Christy Brown, could  type with only his left foot, I can type with one finger.

 So I plug on.

One of the most interesting aspects of this gathering together of material has been to see , how often, over the years, I wrote the same scene,but used different words. However the most important words ( often, the dialogue) are the same. It's fun to take scenes written years apart and fit them together in their proper sequence. Many have expanded over time, to included their prequel or a sequel.

It will be 6 years in December since I started this novel . At this point, time is no longer worrying me. The writing is nearly done. What is left is the shaping...and that can take a good deal of time too. But I think time worries us most when we are unsure of a project's out come. Now I know if I just keep working, I'll get there. I already have.

Enjoy your Autumn!

Okay, back to work

Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna
Великая Княжна Татьяна Николаевна

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

There's someting to be said for deadlines

For one technical  reason or another, the computer I have been using doesn't have long to go. I had a good number of tribute videos for both Romanov and Brontës that have been " in production" some, for years, waiting for art work  I had planned  to do for them. I know how to make and upload from this current system....( that's another thing. My internet server wants me to "upgrade". 

Whenever I see the word, " upgrade" my veins " run ice" as Charlotte would say . Along with the order to upgrade, they always enthuse " you will be able to do more!" after the upgrade.

Indeed one does more! Because " upgrade " invariably means  tasks are now more complicated to perform lol ) anyway, rather than my original  and grander plans,  I decided to put in a few watercolors and or moor photos , finish and  upload the videos . There was plenty in the videos already to warrant a  go ahead 

The Romanovs are front and center in this post as we are very near to  the 100th anniversary of their deaths 

Romanov video

 A remarkable milestone; when I became interested in the family, the children would have been in their 60's!  This video is about the time Marie went off with her parents in April 1918. Many people do not realize the Romanovs were separated for a brief time during their captivity . 

In April of 1918, officials arrived, supposedly to take the Tsar to Moscow for trial . Alexis was simply too ill to travel; so Olga , Tatiana and Anastasia stayed with him.  This was why the executioners  did not find a corset of jewels on  Marie's body, like they did with her sisters. The corsets were fashioned after Marie left with her parents and Alexandra  sent a coded message back to the other daughters.  It has been speculated Marie did not have hidden jewels because she was not trusted...hardly!
Ural Soviet claim the Romanovs

 There is also  good deal of speculation as to just where the Romanovs were  going. Her parents sent Marie to the guard's train car to find out. The guards themselves must not have known, because Marie didn't learn anything!  Eventually, after a good bit of traveling, the train was blocked, there  was a stand off and the family was handed over the Ural Soviet. They were then taken to Yekaterinburg. In May, Alexis and his sisters joined their parents and Marie, so the family was together again; only to be murdered on July 18, 1918.  

Just in time for this milestone, Helen Azar's  new book

In the Steps of the Romanovs: : Final two years of the last Russian imperial family (1916-1918) (In their own words)

I find the last part of the Romanov history among its most interesting. It has long been shrouded in mystery, particularly for the English reader ...but no more ! Thanks, Helen!

Brontë video

Here is Brontë video  long in production. The Brontës. To the Marriage of True Minds

Many hold the vision of the Brontë sisters, forever unfulfilled, pining on the moors; unhappy.That is not my vision. One of them at least knew the full measure of love and really if any of them were destined to do so, it would be Charlotte, the author of " Jane Eyre ". 

It's astonishing what Charlotte did in order to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls. She met Arthur secretly on the moor, behind her father's back.  Then Charlotte took on Papa in two, epic Parsonage shaking battles. Please don't tell me she was dragged to the alter! lol  Adding immeasurable to the her drive, imo, was the desire to  know physical love. Charlotte was not to be denied that.  For her, it had to be achieved within a marriage and so marriage became Charlotte's  aim. I believe her marriage to Arthur  was all she dreamed of in that regard .

The summer of a first draft 

I found this definition bought on by completion,( be it video or whatever)  effected my work on the  Brontë novel as well . I can see its shape at last and committed to a first draft in the fall . Up to now I could not apply  a  time resistant on it, not having a clue of what I am doing. 

But I feel now I can and my husband plans to take vacation time then to edit the manuscript. I have dyslexia ...believe me, I need an editor more than most! In fact I could not  read properly until I was 12.

 What is interesting about that is,  I can clearly remember the moment I understood these markings, words , were meant to create a picture in one's mind. Then  the realization crashed in " like lighting". It was a Random House, Landmark biography of  Annie Oakley.If you are of a certain age, you'll remember them. It was a series of biographies  written for children, but by pronate authors. Remarkable idea. Back in the day ,what displeased  me when I opened it was, there were very few illustrations . It was mostly all text and  I was use to pictures helping me to figure out what was going on.

However then came the moment after slogging along, when the words themselves created a picture in my brain. It actually had a physical sensation. So by the time I closed the book for the day, the world had altered forever  and I became a constant reader...indeed, besides during the day, I would read with a flashlight under the bed sheets. I had  a lot of catching up to do

 So I'm committing to a draft in the fall...Still, new scenes are coming in ALL the time, often prequels to scenes I wrote years ago, which is fun. And just the other day I decided to make a point  to incorporate  the character's dreams that have popped up along the way . Having characters speak of  their dreams is interesting. It's fiction within fiction and events are even more free .....and heaven knows the Bronte's fiction  itself is full of dreams! Fewer people appreciated an altered state more than the Brontës!

What it takes to write 

What it takes to write something this involved, vast and complex, is just about all one has ; particularly if one is more than middle age like myself .  I had an interesting conversation with someone. We were speaking of my book and writing. Turns out they would like to do that themselves. I was encouraging of course. They asked me if I belonged to a writer's group. I said "No". Then they said , " Well maybe you should start one." I said "  I can't , I'm writing."

Writing, folks, is writing. It's not talking, blogging or tweeting about writing. 

I will go on to say, the more one speaks/ reads  about writing ,the further away one gets from it. It's actually helpful to cut things out so one must turn to the writing itself.  

I'm also not allowing new friendships to develop, as there's no spare wherewithal for them and it would not be fair. I can barely retain old ones, and in some cases, I haven't. I'm hard driving a streaking  chariot that will not stop for anything as it may not start again. There have been points in my life where I did stop my life for others. I can't at the moment. Things will be different once the book is done. But this is how it is now. People will understand better when  they are elderly themselves or they won't and that's fine.

Another things needful to write is to be able to say, " I approve of me and that's enough" and mean it . Old age is great in this way . If enlightenment hasn't happened in the course of life, the lack of energy that occurs  in old age's wake,  brings it on lol. One is too tried to care about the little stuff  =  Zen Master.

The difference in energy is, I believe , a main cause for the "generation gap" . Doing anything costs the older person far more of their energy budget than it does for a young one....so we may disapprove of what  seems, no, what would be for us, a wasteful side track ... because we haven't as full an energy bank account to draw upon lol. We know from experience there isn't all the time in the world!

 Another thing that drives me on, is I so want to share this with other Brontë fans. I believe they will love it and really, it is other Brontë fans who  will mostly see how I weaved in  the history...and much history not found in a Wikipedia post.

Brontë shopping bag / 1990s / artist ; Mark Summer

It's a small Arthur World  

Last May when my husband and I were in Haworth, we had an interesting meeting, though we didn't know it at the time how interesting it was! Driving from the airport, we had seen yellow berries on the moor and saw a small bush with the same in the Parsonage's garden. A lady was tending the front garden and we asked her about it . She could not have been nicer and more helpful!

We were taken with her little dog who , so faithfully stood guard over her as she worked and I took several photos of him to send to her later via the Parsonage. We did not exchange names. I was going to send the photos addressed to " The garden lady c/o the Brontë Parsonage."

On patrol at the Parsonage

But  months later I learned who she was and the name of the little dog in an amazing manner. Well after our Haworth visit , a  friend told me there was a new novel told from Arthur's view point!  Naturally I went looking to learn about it. It is called, " The last Brontë "  and when I read about it, and saw the author's facebook page, I found the garden lady at the Parsonage was the wife of the author! Wow.

It would have been something if when we spoke to her, I had mentioned we were in Haworth because I'm writing a Bronte novel based on Arthur Bell Nicholls!  I think she might have dropped her trowel lol!  How many people are doing that? Not many I would think.  Most authors seem to concentrate on the Professor it seems to me .  I have to marvel when I think how we met her! It's a small Arthur world after all lol! 

"  The Last Brontë " is about Arthur Bell Nicholls and is written by S. R. Whitehead. I can't read it myself while I'm writing my own. I want to keep my own vision of Arthur, clear.  However Mr. Whitehead offers the first chapter online and I read that to experience the Arthur " voice" the book has. I was relived to see its " voice" was different from mine.

It's interesting  that Mr. Whitehead and I both choose to have Arthur believe CB was a child when he first sees her. However in my version, ABN merely sees her on the lane and as she comes closer, realizes his mistake . I have to say Mr. Whiteheads scene is much better and far more amusing! I look forward to reading how he handles their letters etc. because what I have read in the first chapter is very well written . The book has rightly been met with acclaim. Bravo!

There was another Arthur based Brontë novel published last year as well " Mr. Nicholls ; A Brontë Story " by Juliet Heslewood. But the story is told  from another person's perspective  and an interesting one too ; Johnny Robinson. Johnny was  pupil of Arthur's and he certainly  appears in my book since he was a real person and  spoke of Arthur in his own old age. He was a witness to the wedding and more besides!  I look forward to reading this book down the road as well when my own is finished!

Cézanne Portraits at the National Gallery of Art,      Washington D.C,

 My husband and I recently traveled to Washington to see the Cézanne Portraits at the National Gallery of Art. The show is a mind blower. When one thinks of Cézanne, one think of Province landscapes and apples still life ! Being a portrait painter myself, this was a particularly noteworthy show for me...and I suggest people do not miss it . Not only are the portraits  great, but I can see his other works better after attending this show. Cézanne is indeed the father of Modern Art . 

Our Lily  2001-2017  

Lily in the studio

Late last year we lost our beloved cat, Lily. In fact she passed the same day Emily Bronte did, Dec 19. Lily was ...well words fail me.  We are so blessed to have these beings in our lives and really; who cares for who? They are looking out for us. If you have had and lost a dearly loved pet, you'll understand.

Love 'em while you have them .

Okay, back to work! Have a great summer!

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Finding peace with one's pace

It's five years since I began writing what has since  become my Brontë novel. If I knew that statement was in my future when this journey started, I would have been shocked. It would seem fantastic.  Back then being but a reader, I some how believed books were written much  like we read them. Well as it turns out  they don't just roll out before one. Even so I'm still amaze that how long this has taken, and how much more work appears to be ahead ...just this week , three new major scenes came though and were added. As I have said, my method ( or rather how it happens ) is I "see"  a scene in my mind , or hear a line of dialogue,  I then write it down.

I use to be in a twist over how long it was taking, but no more. The book is taking  what time  it needs to take and I'm enjoying every bit of the ride. I've been deeply  drawn into Brontë history, Church history, Irish history , English history ; each one of those topics take time can swallow up a researcher whole.

 It's like putting together a vast puzzle and each new piece ( scene) snapped in effects the whole. It's great fun to also link scenes together and  it's wise too because by the time a topic's resolution  happens , each scene  that alluded to that topic along the way adds to the final impact.

This is a novel, so I make some assertions that are not 100% provable. However everything in my novel is 100 % plausible . It could have happened the way I've portrayed it.They could have said what I have them say. I don't outrage the  known facts , indeed there are usually at least one or two facts that support my notion. The fun is making the known history and the timing work.

For example, when  did Arthur Bell Nicholls learned his Parson's daughter,  Charlotte Brontë was in fact a world famous author? Very late 1849 or early 1850 according to  CB's letters. Originally I had Arthur learn of it at the Brown's, when Martha herself heard of it from her father and  then she  came "puffing and blowing " to say so to Charlotte.

Oh that scene at the Browns was lovely; but it had to go. Because I learned Arthur knew of Charlotte's authorship before that and indeed had already  read CB's books by the time John Brown  heard of CB's fame in Halifax and  Martha came gasping into the parsonage  parlor with her news.

If one follows history's  time line, there are gems to be found. Nothing works like the real history, because it throws off sparks that lead to more gems.The actual history is in 3-D, while our own pondering often are not.I had Arthur find out a different way, and its better than the scene I had to omit....more logical.

Another interesting aspect of my book imo is, it's about human beings . Human beings who are sometimes noble, sometime not, however, at bottom , essentially good and usually in an emotional uproar. Characters found in books and movies today seem to be made up of super  heroes or super villains and to add some novelty; flawed super heroes or misunderstood super villains, but heroes and villains none the less...I guess it's to prepare us for the upcoming robotic age ( only slightly a joke) But I maintain humans beings, with their fuss, goodness, failings   and mess,  are more interesting than super heroes, super villains , and certainly , robots.

A few things I've learned along the way.

Don't leave your gems of insights in the comments section of blogs

They crease to be yours then. Before I realized I was writing a book, I could be found on the blogs posting away. I'll never forget the time I felt almost physically stopped from doing so by a feeling inside... so do yourself a favor and save  what you have to say for your book.

Stop talking about your book unless asked

After 5 years I really must thank the intrepid folks who keep asking how my book is going!  Bless them! People are always free to ask! My answer has always been, " Great! " and it's true. But my point is, otherwise one gives time and energy to speaking about the topic , rather than writing the book. I've stopped going to the blogs so much and next to no  social media. I just haven't the time . Things will be different once this book is done.

Realize a book requires just about all you have 

 I wrote  the following  to someone who said they wanted to write a book,but were not sure they were " good enough" of a writer.

 I said :

 Start your book right now

One doesn’t look at cake ingredients and wonder if they can make a cake. One  starts mixing and baking. Writing is ditch digging…get your shovel and start . What writing I have seen here is more than good enough…the real question is; do you want it enough?

That is the question  one must keep asking oneself...how much do you want it? It has to be a great deal.

It's curious  that when she was young, CB asked a good many people if she should write...most said no! lol. But as a successful author when Charlotte herself was asked by young people if they should write, she told them no as well. She said every discouraging thing Papa might have said if he knew what was going on in the Parsonage parlor after evening prayers.  I have Charlotte  explain that  if one has to ask such a question, the answer should be no. That is,  if one can be deterred by another person's opinion,  then the writing life is not for you. CB was slowed, but not stopped by those opinions.You have to want it ...a lot. But I must also add...it's the greatest fun.

 1913  Romanov Diary

 My friend, Helen Azar has just published her latest book of Romanov translations in her series called " In their own words". This new volume is the 1913 Tercentennial Diary of  Tsar Nicholls II third daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna Romanov 1913
                                  Available from Amazon Here 

                           I made a short video to celebrate the event   Video

  The music is by  the excellent Russian composer, Kai Engel and  the piece is  called  "When the Lights Came On "

1913 was an important year. The Romanovs were celebrating 300 years of rule and it was the last full year of peace before  WW1. I have looked at Romanov photos for 50 years. Thanks to Helen Azar's work, I can now read their thoughts. Thank you Helen!

Okay, back to work!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back to Haworth

The Parsonage

My husband and I decided to make a return visit to Haworth this May because frankly, we missed it, but also I learned there was Brontë material in near by Leeds University....material  pertaining to Arthur Bell Nicholls, the hero of my Brontë novel . They also have some letters of Charlotte's.

It was great to see these items in person. I had tried to get photo copies made of the items, but that would be difficult as they are bound in books. Since we traveled there,  I was able to photograph the material myself.

Haworth Moor

We wanted to return to Haworth anyway, so a quick trip was planned. We had marvelous weather,  lots of moor walking, wonderful people, the village, our fabulous Haworth B and B, Wilsons  and of course the one and only, Haworth Parsonage.  It was a grand trip.

This time we learned it is now permissible to take photos inside the Parsonage. That was very exciting. Plus on display, were  costumes from the BBC production of " To Walk Invisible" They look even better in real life; beautifully made and very evocative  etc.

Sitting room 2017

I also took part in the Wuthering Heights manuscript project . Everyone is given the chance  to write a line of Emily's book and so the missing MS is made again. It was something to copy a line from Emily's book while sitting at the Parsonage!

 2017 is Branwell's year and the Parsonage made his  room/ studio  look as if he just left it for a ramble to Halifax to meet friends...or down to  the Bull. 

Branwell's Room

The job the Parsonage does in presenting the Brontë story  is remarkable. We went though the museum each day we were in Haworth and  each time we saw something we had missed before.

Brontë Novel

 My husband is now reading Barker's "The Brontës" in order to ready himself to edit the novel. Thank goodness I have an in-house editor! lol He is also helping with the typing from the many notebooks with my handwriting. Thank you, Hon!

I'm sure I have said for many posts,"  I am  now pulling the book together from the scatted scenes" ...but now I really am...and I'm sure I will say in future posts ...oh now I really , really am! Because as  one goes into this, one sees things differently. The work redoubles and one sees earlier efforts as not quite the thing...but every step is necessary, one just keeps at it as it evolves. 

Also I am currently taking the dozens and dozens of word processor documents filled with novel  scenes and putting all the ones occurring in 1845 into a document called 1845...and I do that for each year. So scatted 1850 scenes  go into the 1850 document , the 1853 scenes goes into the 1853 doc... etc and so on for each year. Once that's done, I will pull it together year by year, like pearls on a sting  .That is how it's to be done . Use the time line that  history has given you.

 I say to people it takes so long because I'm not simply writing it, I'm living it.  I'm not a professional writer. It has to come from  my emotions and frankly, the gut; that takes awhile.

On top of that is the research....the grist for the mill!It's amazing how a piece of information can alters things. Plus new  scenes continue to come in, voices within the Brontë world, but  rarely heard, speak up

 My aim is to illustrate the known history with dialog etc. Now, I do purpose certain  interpretations of the facts at times, but that's different than changing history. Anything I go on a limb about is supported  by at least  a fact or two, if not more. The fun is to  fit the Brontë facts as I write, rather than make the facts fit my ideas. The book is for Brontë fans by a Brontë fan. What fun is it if its made up Brontë history? Believe me, in generally  history is better than our fiction  lol. 


An abundant shower of Arthurs .... 

Since posting last I learned there will be two Arthur Bell Nicholls centered novels upcoming  this fall ...eeekkk! One from ABN's  view point, (as mine is ) the other from another person's view. That put me in a sweat. Here I have been writing my ABN  novel since late 2012, and  with more time needed!

 Well, it was too good an aspect of Brontë history to remain unnoticed forever. Most Brontë authors concentrate on M. Héger, like bees to honey. Yes, there is " Romancing Miss Brontë"  from 2010. A well written book, particularly the difficult part of CBN's illness and death. But the it seemed really about Charlotte to me.

 I read on line the first chapter of one of the upcoming publications and was quite revealed to see  the treatment and voice is different than my Arthur novel. 

So now  I say,  the more the merrier! ... as I work on

I've always loved Arthur and taken his part all these years. I think Rev. Nicholls  much maligned and undervalued by history....but it seems, no more! 

Other wise I will  be working on two videos , long in production , plus working daily
on the novel of course.

The writing wasn't / isn't hard...the organizing is.

Okay! Back to work!

Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Morgan Brontë banner

 When my husband and I visited NYC to see the Morgan Library's wonderful Charlotte Brontë exhibit ,( which we did a number of times)  I would always look up  longingly at the show's beautiful street banners hung up and down Madison Ave.

Now I have one!

My husband remembered that after a show closes, the Morgan offers its street banners for sale and  he got me one! It looked smaller while hanging high above the pavement! It's 7 feet of fabulousness , now hanging in my home. It makes saying goodbye to this once in a life time exhibit  a bit easier.  I feel I grasped a few feathers from the fire bird so to speak. The show is not entirely gone

Yup, I'm a lifetime member....since 1978 

Other interesting news, I found my Brontë Society life time member card! I thought it had long ago disappeared ...but a bit of cleaning  and there it was, tucked away into that " some place safe " we put important items... A place  so safe, we often forget where it is ourselves!  It says I was a life time member since Jan 1978, however I was a fan long before that.

Though they kindly looked a couple of years ago as my request, The Brontë Society couldn't find a record of my membership ...really glad I found the proof on this end. It's great to have it back. At that time, the card  was made up as a little book, such as the young Brontës would make. Adorable

Brontë Society Transactions

BST over the years

While writing  and  researching my novel, I love to collect  old Brontë Society Transactions...the booklet the Society publishes ever year with news, new historical findings and focus pieces . It's remarkable what you find. The old ones aren't that costly and are available on eBay or Amazon. Often the articles from BST will be referenced in a book. It's great to see the original article. 

 Contemporary reviews

Lately I have been reading the original reviews of the Brontë sisters books as published in contemporary periodicals . Reviews were very different then. They were long, think pieces and not every book got one. Indeed, instead of bringing  a book to success, a review would come about after the book found favor on its own. Getting one review would be an achievement. This is why when Charlotte told her father, Patrick, her book was printed and had a number of reviews, he was impressed. 

Because reviews were often penned after a book made its own way, the whole plot is often shown. They didn't know the meaning of "spoiler  alert!"  A review was a comment on what you have likely read already.

They are eye openers...particularly those found in  "The Christian Remembrancer" by Ann MozleyHer anonymous reviews seemed to be the ones that stung Charlotte the most.  She actually wrote a letter in response to one.  She had tried to do that before, but her  publisher advised against it. This time Charlotte didn't ask them, she just let fly. Her letter  was written  in July 1853; a low time for Charlotte. Mr. Nicholls had finally left Haworth, and while the situation between Arthur Bell Nicholls and her father was stressful and irksome , having a love sick, would be suitor was  at least some support....now " he's  gone-gone..." as she wrote to Ellen.   

Charlotte's answer to Miss Mozley's  harsh review of " Villette " in a way  trail blazes  the  path  Mrs. Gaskell would later take. In that CB paints herself as a piteous figure( the sole survivor of a family of six). This was how a romantic writer, more suited to the early 19th century,  tries  to make herself understood by mid century Victorians and Mrs. Gaskell would expand upon it

Okay! Back to work!

Tatiana Romanov

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Charlotte Brontë exhibit at the Morgan

In honor of Charlotte Brontë 's 200th birthday , The Morgan Library in New York is having, what can only be called an historic exhibit.  On display , for the first time in American, are both the George Richmond 1850 portrait of Charlotte and the famous" column"  portrait of the three  sister by their brother Branwell.

I  never expected they would leave the UK. Branwell's  portrait of his  three sisters is usually always on display at the National Portrait Galley in London. But because it is subject to fading, the 1850  chalk  portrait of CB  Richmond is not normally on display even in the UK...but here it is in New York!  

Charlotte Brontë by George Richmond 1850

This is the actual picture that hung in the Parsonage from 1850- 61 and then spent 40 years in the Irish  home of Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls. This is the portrait  he asked to have brought up to his bedroom as he laid dying in 1906. It was there as he spoke his last words." Charlotte, Charlotte" over fifty years after her own passing

Arthur Bell Nicholls bequeathed this precious portrait  to the nation  and it has been at the National Portrait Galley since...now until Jan 2nd 2017, it hangs  in New York 

Also in Arthur's home, but unbeknownst to anyone until years after his passing, was the column portrait. Today we have seen these images so many times, it's hard to imagine at time when they were unknown or not housed in museums.

Branwell's column painting of his sisters

The column (so nicknamed because Branwell's ghostly , painted out figure makes a column) was  found folded up on top of a wardrobe. ABN's 2nd wife, Mary Anna , who resided in the home for 40 years as well. She  had never seen it before and did not know of it. It's interesting to ponder on the very  different treatment these two pictures received. I rather think Arthur found the painting of the three teenage Brontë girls painful, knowing their fates, and this is why it was folded away and nearly  forgotten.

The Richmond however shows CB with a happy expression ...it is amazing to see in person. It's unlike any of the dozens of its prints  I have seen in books, postcards  and such. I can understand Arthur's love for it . Charlotte's lovableness is there 

But these two pictures are just the beginning of this marvelous exhibit. Also on display is the manuscript of " Jane Eyre" , from the British Museum,  one of Charlotte's dresses from Haworth Parsonage...actually I simply should just post a list, because it's rather stunning  how much  there is for the Brontë   fan to feast upon.  I was asked to give my impressions of the show, but really it was too overwhelming for me to do so in a sensible manner! 

The Morgan has  its own  impressive collection of Brontë documents ....well let me just post the list. It is not complete  

Branwell's column painting of his sisters

The CB 1850  Richmond portrait

Both in the USA for the first time 

CB 's 1850 London dress/ little blue flower print
close up of CB's dress
CB's boots
a 1856 copy of CB's birth registry

Patrick's copy of of the certificate of registry for CB's marriage
( these are church copies of the documents in their records)

CB and ABN's Marriage license

CBN's will

Letters from CB to William S. William about the passing
of Branwell and Anne's decline

An copy book from Charlotte's Brussels school days

The famous water color portrait of Anne in profile done by CB

The Misses Brontë 's Establishment handout

Funeral cards for Branwell, Emily and Charlotte

A copy Partick Brontë 's cottage poems

A copy of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell  book of  poems
Father and daughter publications

CB's handwritten manuscript of " Jane Eyre"

CB's handwritten manuscript of " The Professor"

CB's earliest known production...1829 " book for Ann"

A manuscript of Anne's poetry

A manuscript of Emily poetry

A story in Branwell's hand

Oldest photo of the Parsonage

CB's Roe Head diary

CB's 1829  list of " what I written so far" "
Tales of the Islanders" etc.

CB's Writing desk
Charlotte Brontë 's writing desk

CB's Paint box

Mary Taylor's personal copy of Jane Eyre, CB sent
to New Zealand and Mary's letter to CB about it

Contemporary published editions of all the sister's books

sermon notes of PB from 1811 based on Mathew 3:11

A good many drawings

little men magazines

CB's Atlas

Photo of Arthur Bell Nicholls

Photo of Rev Brontë

Rev Brontë 's copy of the book of Common Prayer

One of Patrick 's letters where he sent snippets of CB 's
hand writing upon request

We will not see such a collection in one place  perhaps until Charlotte's 300th birthday!

 The exhibit is open until Jan 2nd 2017.  Don't miss it !

Brontë Novel Update

This Dec will be four years since I felt the call to begin my Brontë novel. I have been writing it continually since. I believe my hope was eventually the scenes  would eventually  meet up to create the book! But that's not how it goes. You have to create a whole from the parts and they are different entities altogether. I'm learning all this on the job. Right now I am putting everything I have written in chronological order.

 Scenes still  come in almost daily  and I write them down. I always put a year and a title to whatever thought comes though...otherwise even I would have a difficult time always  placing the scene in its proper  place within the Bronte story!

When I take the " just plunge in "  approach to such an endeavor I tend  to not think too much about the process . It seems like trying to capture a butterfly by chasing it . Wiser to stay still and observe as it lands on one's sleeve. Eventually, however,  you must deal with  the process , but by then one has something to work with. Now I can sense the book is ready to be shaped and I'm looking forward to pulling these scenes together into one piece.

 In my  exploration of both painting and writing, projects advance when the task becomes  fun, and not a job I should do. When it's fun, you have an energy that is absent from a chore . Every chick must leave its shell, but only when ready

I periodically reread Charlotte' s major letters and I find the practice  invaluable. They haven't changed over time , but one's perceptive does...and I have learned to really read again items I have read many times over the years ...we tend to think we know the contents and glace them over it.  In this way gems are missed. Some of CB's letters one must study word for word. She says everything, but often it's hidden in an understament.   


I'm not painting at the moment since I want to get this book in shape. However I did paint a pretend  transom for over our front door( the original was covered over! ) and will post a photo when it is installed. I decided to make it as real as possible. I hope it will fool the eye for at least a few  moments !

I do plan to paint other Romanov pictures in the future , but it's full stream Bronte novel right  now 

Okay, back to work!