Thursday, 29 March 2012

A Two Woman Invasion

I have lost count of the number of people who have said I am brave to have chucked everything up and moved countries. Each time I say that I'm not, and truly I do not feel brave.

There is a story I'd almost forgotten until I moved here. In 1842, Charlotte and Emily Brontë left the parsonage at Haworth for Brussels. For two respectable young women to leave the family home, trek across England (in February), to take the packet steamer to Oostende (like a ferry, but with more sick), and then the stagecoach to Brussels, to take up secular work with foreigners in a foreign country, that must have taken some considerable balls. Brussels would not have been like it is today where English is in some places the default language. It was proper foreign.

They returned to Yorkshire in October of that year because their aunt was dying, and then Charlotte returned alone to Brussels. There followed a passionate but sad attachment to the married Principal of the school where she worked, and then Charlotte returned home.

Her time in Brussels was in all just two years, but given that Charlotte was born in 1816, it was an adventure of audaciousness and incredible bravery. I just got on a Eurostar.


  1. Sure enough, those Bronte gals were tough, but they were Yorkshire lasses so what else would be expected? We all have demons / challenges / fears / quests and the bravery lies in confronting them in whatever way we can; don't detract from your own courage.

  2. I just hope Haworth had a fish and chip shop back then. It does great chips.

  3. It's not really bravery is it? I think we had this conversation before. It's sheer determination to change the course of your life. We only have one after all, and it's short, so we have to take risks or what's the point?

  4. Indeed. And maybe that's what spurred on the Bronte girls. Life was very fragile in those days.