Back in April I wrote a post about the haunting relevance of Charlotte Brontë’s poem “Parting” in 2020. Back then the entire UK had been placed under a lockdown and it’s fair to say nobody had ever known anything quite like it. When I wrote that post, I was lucky enough to be living with family members and still able to see them every day. I was also lucky enough to live in an area that hadn’t, up to that point, been too badly affected by COVID-19. I was also incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to work from home on a full time basis when so many were still facing frightening trips into workplaces, offices, shops, schools etc, whilst others were sadly losing their jobs. Additionally, I managed to get my food shopping delivered to my house so didn’t have to risk a trip to the supermarket. I went for walks every day with my boyfriend so that we didn’t go stir crazy, but all in all, I think I coped slightly better than most with the lockdown restrictions.
I won’t deny that many aspects of lockdown have been hard, even for myself, and I have been very lucky indeed. Reading has always been a favourite pastime of mine, and 2020 has provided a lot more opportunities for squeezing in more reading time. As always, in good times, and in bad, I turn to the Brontës to get me through. Charlotte’s “Parting” helped me a great deal in the early stages of the pandemic, and more of her words have continued to guide and inspire me this year. The most obvious quote of hers? ““I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” This is of course taken from her 1847 novel Jane Eyre but almost 200 years after its publication, these words have never been more relevant. With the loss of some of my freedoms, I have been trying to find new ones, and there is still so much I am still able to do. That doesn’t mean I miss doing other things like catch ups with friends, cinema trips, meals out with the boyfriend, and trips to my favourite places in the UK (Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage Museum being at the top of the list).
Fast forward a few months after the national lockdown and the area I live in has now been placed under the most severe restrictions in the whole of the UK. This truly is a terrible time for people and not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I’m thinking of people working in industries such as the arts, hospitality, gyms, and retail whose lives and livelihoods will be severely affected by these new restrictions in the Liverpool City Region. I hope they can find something or someone to turn to to help when they are struggling whether it be financially, emotionally, or physically. There has been a lot of support for Liverpool during all of this, but the new restrictions actually affect the whole of what is known as the Liverpool City Region, and I sincerely hope the other areas which make up this region also receive the same kind of support – financially, emotionally, or physically. I’m not political so this post is about sparing a thought for others less fortunate who may be badly affected by either COVID or the restrictions put in place because of its presence. This is going to be an extremely tough time for us and sadly, I’m not sure everyone is going to get through it in one piece. So please, spare a thought for everyone in the region affected by these restrictions, and those in other areas who may be affected in the near future.
For me personally, like Charlotte, “I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.” I have lots of books to read and review, and lots more to learn and say about Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal. In a combination of the two, I will be reading a new anthology of spooky Brontë-inspired tales, I Know That Ghosts Have Wandered the Earth which has been released just in time for Halloween. If you fancy a break from the scary world we live in, lose yourself in these scary tales instead. I’m lucky enough to have a story in there myself, inspired by the Brontë juvenilia (what else?).
Reader, stay safe, and think of those less fortunate than yourself in these hard times.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019)
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
By Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you stopped by The Journal of Juvenilia Studies where you can read my essay, “Autobiography, Wish-Fulfilment, and Juvenilia. The ‘Fractured Self’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Paracosmic Counterworld”.
Please do not copy, share, or use the images from this post without seeking permission first.
“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it” is from Charlotte’s Roe Head Diary (Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal – Oxford University Press, 2010- , edited by Christine Alexander.