Alexei: Painting Update
|Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia
He was happy and laughing for years...now he looks more thoughtful and somber as if he could see the future. I wanted the laughing Alexei , but the art gods have decreed otherwise. Even this photo is a bit happier than the portrait currently emerging .
It's hard to explain being excited about a picture one has painting for over two years . There has been moments of disrepair of course, but if one keeps going, another shore is reached.
One is asked to go deep to solve the problems , to thoroughly investigate. If you care about your subject that is not a difficulty, it's an opportunity. One learns things one would not if all went smoothly.
What is interesting is my breakthroughs often happen right after I say " I'll never get it" It's almost as if giving up the idea I know what I'm doing, frees me up to find another way .
Bronte Novel Update
There were two major rows over Mr. Nicholls between father and daughter. In Jan of 1854 Charlotte told her father she had been writing to and meeting with Arthur Bell Nicholls . This news was not greeted with joy. She now wanted Papa's permission to gain " a better acquaintance" . After a time, Patrick grudgingly agreed.
Weeks later Charlotte went to her father and told him she was marrying Mr. Nicholls , he was returning as Haworth's curate and they would be living at the Parsonage with him. This caused an uproar. Neither Bronte gave an inch. Only Tabby's intervention broke the impasse.
This week I spent four days writing about that last battle and what fun it has been . It's the greatest fun to bring 45 + years of Bronte reading and pondering to bear on such a scene.
The historic threads and patterns run deep, my novel is written by a Bronte fan and it's for the Bronte fan, in that they will see how I constantly bring in the history . Happily my writer/ editor husband, assures me it will appeal to a wider audience.
I had a disappointment in my research. Last year I was informed Arthur first officiated at Haworth in 1844 . This was news! All the books say it was May of 1845!
I am very interested in how Arthur even got to Haworth . No one seems to know. We are told he most likely read an ad for the position, but that is conjecture
I wrote back to my source to double check. It took them some months to answer. During that time I wrote a scene where Rev Bronte's curate in 1844, James Smith, invites Arthur to Haworth to see the place in hopes he will take over for him and I wrote a scene were they discuss Haworth and the Parson's family .
I based the idea of a connection between these Irishmen on more than the 1844 date , which would include a large part of Smith's curacy. But also because Arthur Bell Nicholls told Clement K. Shorter antidotes about Smith in the 1890's ( such as Smith would also fire pistols into the church yard ) Arthur somehow knew Smith ...so why would Smith not be a link that got Arthur to Haworth ?
Then I heard back : A mistake had been made. The May 1845 date was correct. ... and when one thinks about it, it's hardly likelly 140 + years of Bronte research would miss an earlier year! lol
But now I had this lively scene that seemed without a foundation ...what to do?
I did more research and it turns out both Arthur and James Smith got their decrees from Trinity in Dublin. They were alumni. It seems impossible to me they were unknown to each other and Smith did not have at least a hand in Arthur Bell Nicholls arriving in Haworth.
Luckily I'm writing a novel, I have some leeway .. so the scene stays
Smith left Haworth under a cloud of debt and it was even thought he took off with money meant for a charity. I can see in that case Arthur would not want to underscore Smith's role in his coming to Haworth, But again that is speculation...yet the silence on just how Nicholls got there is strange
|The Parsonage in winter
I could not be upset with being given this misinformation because it got me thinking along these lines and writing about a connection between these two Irishmen. Eventually I found other reasons for the possibility . So it actually helped me to be misinformed! But always double check and check again!
Since writing the scene between Charlotte and Partick, Rev Patrick Bronte has stepped forward like never before. The more I learn of this man, the most I like him. One comes to love him really. His letters after Charlotte's death are remarkable documents and they show a great closeness between Rev. Bronte and his son in law existed from this time
This book is about their relationship as well as Charlotte and Arthur's . When CBN dies ,Arthur becomes an apprentice in grief and learns how to survive it from a great Master in the art. Who but Patrick would understand Arthur's level of grief? Bronte , who had lost all his family , called Arthur's grief "very great" . He should know.
The echo of Arthur's grief over the loss of Charlotte is something that helps fuel this novel.I have always felt it keenly. Now I am telling its story
|Patrick Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls.
Two Irish farm lads who made good
Arthur is often praised for staying with Patrick after Charlotte's death . In my book that amazes him. First, he had promised Charlotte he would care for Patrick, and fought hard for the right . Her tragically early death did not void that vow.
Secondly imo Arthur could have gone mad without Rev. Bronte to care for and guide him. Indeed when Patrick himself dies 6 years after Charlotte , we know Arthur was inconsolable. I'm sure this was in part because his last task for Charlotte was finished , she was truly gone. But it was for Partick's sake as well . Arthur later called Patrick " My greatest friend "
So this is a novel about Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls and others in the Bronte circle But it is also has as very important characters , Patrick Bronte and the 2nd Mrs Nicholls, Mary Anna Bell Nicholls ...all have great love stories to tell
Okay! Back to work!