The Brontë Sisters
As Four Silences Broken, the final book in my Secrets of Hartwell Trilogy is released, I thought I would take some time to tell you about the Brontë sisters and how they have influenced me over the years.
I was about ten years old when I first read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. It was probably my first ‘grown-up’ book (i.e. not written by Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl). It had a huge affect on me, although I think I was more struck by Jane’s miserable childhood and the death of her best friend Helen Burns, than her relationship with the brooding Mr. Rochester (although I do remember being very happy that he had a Newfoundland dog because we did too).
At about the same time, I went on a school visit to the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, West Yorkshire. By then, I had also read Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I couldn’t wait to learn more about Charlotte and her two sisters, Emily and Anne.
Haworth is a village half-way between the old mill towns of Bradford and Keighley. As you wander along the cobbled streets, you can see the untamed moors rising up and stretching out into the distance. The rooms of the Parsonage have been recreated to show how they would have looked when the famous family lived there and contain many personal items belonging to the three sisters and their brother Branwell. I remember seeing the beautiful miniature books they had created for their imaginary world when they weren’t much older than me. (The last of these miniature books still in private hands was recently bought by the Brontë Society and returned to the Parsonage for the staggering sum of $1.25m!) I also remember being outraged, on their behalf, to learn that they had needed to assume male names, Currar, Ellis and Acton Bell, in order to be published.
However, what struck me most, and what I think stayed with me, is the way these three young women, living a fairly sheltered life, in a remote village on the edge of the moors, were able to create stories that so powerfully captured their readers’ imaginations. It is something I have been trying my best to emulate ever since.
The Secrets of Hartwell books are set in fictional Hartwell; another remote village, with cobbled streets on the edge of the moors. Meera, one of my main characters, is a huge fan of English literature and particularly the Brontë sisters. At the beginning of each book, I decided to include a quote from Charlotte to say thank you for inspiring me so many years ago. This one seemed to fit perfectly.
‘The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.’
About the Author.
H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.