Anne / Emily Diaries - 1841
Throughout July of 1841, Anne was at Scarborough with the Robinsons - the family with whom she had then been a governess for just over a year. The family were taking their annual holidays at the resort, staying at the prestigious Wood's Lodgings on St. Nicholas Cliff; and it was here, on 30 July, where Anne wrote her first individual diary paper. It seems she wrote it late at night - 'My pupils are gone to bed and I am hastening to finish this before I follow them.'  It is believed that her reference to the 'fourth volume of Solala Vernon's Life', which she claimed to be then writing, was a collection of auto-biographical material - and this may well have been the early drafts of what were later to become the concluding chapters of her first novel, Agnes Grey,149n  though the manuscripts have not survived. Anne was 21 years old at this time.

In contrast, Emily, who was celebrating her 23rd. birthday, wrote her corresponding diary paper on the same evening at home - in the Parsonage dining room. Her notes make it clear that she was still deeply immersed in her fantasy world of Gondal.

(N.B: a number of spelling and punctuation errors present in the original manuscripts have been corrected in the copies below.)

Anne's diary paper:

July the 30th, A.D. 1841.

This is Emily's birthday. She has now completed her 23rd year, and is, I believe, at home. Charlotte is a governess in the family of Mr. White. Branwell is a clerk in the railroad station at Luddenden Foot, and I am a governess in the family of Mr Robinson. I dislike the situation and wish to change it for another. I am now at Scarborough. My pupils are gone to bed and I am hastening to finish this before I follow them.

We are thinking of setting up a school of our own, but nothing definite is settled about it yet, and we do not know whether we shall be able to or not. I hope we shall. And I wonder what will be our condition and how or where we shall all be on this day four years hence; at which time, if all be well, I shall be 25 years and 6 months old, Emily will be 27 years old, Branwell 28 years and 1 month, and Charlotte 29 years and a quarter. We are now all separate and not likely to meet again for many a weary week, but we are none of us ill that I know of, and all are doing something for our own livelihood except Emily, who, however, is as busy as any of us, and in reality earns her food and raiment as much as we do.

How little know we what we are
How less what we may be!

Four years ago I was at school. Since then I have been a governess at Blake Hall, left it, come to Thorp Green, and seen the sea and York Minster. Emily has been a teacher at Miss Patchett's school, and left it. Charlotte has left Miss Wooler's, been a governess at Mrs Sidgwick's, left her, and gone to Mrs White's. Branwell has given up painting, been a tutor in Cumberland, left it, and became a clerk on the railroad. Tabby has left us, Martha Brown has come in her place. We have got Keeper, got a sweet little cat and lost it, and also got a hawk. Got a wild goose which has flown away, and three tame ones, one of which has been killed. All these diversities, with many others, are things we did not expect or foresee in the July of 1837. What will the next four years bring forth? Providence only knows. But we ourselves have sustained very little alteration since that time. I have the same faults that I had then, only I have more wisdom and experience, and a little more self-possession than I then enjoyed. How will it be when we open this paper and the one Emily has written? I wonder whether the Gondalians will still be flourishing, and what will be their condition. I am now engaged in writing the fourth volume of Solala Vernon's Life.

For some time I have looked upon 25 as a sort of era in my existence. It may prove a true presentiment, or it may be only a superstitious fancy; the latter seems most likely, but time will show.

Anne Brontë.

Emily's diary paper:

A Paper to be opened
when Anne is
25 years old
or my next birthday after -
- all be well -

Emily Jane Brontë July the 30th. 1841

It is Friday evening - near 9 o'clock - wild rainy weather. I am seated in the dining room alone having just concluded tidying our desk-boxes - writing this document. Papa is in the parlour. Aunt upstairs in her room. She has been reading Blackwood's Magazine to papa. Victoria and Adelaide are ensconced in the peat-house. Keeper is in the Kitchen. Hero in his cage. We are all stout and hearty as I hope is the case with Charlotte, Branwell, and Anne, of whom the first is at Mr White Esqre., Upperwood House, Rawden; the second is at Luddenden foot; and the third is, I believe, at Scarborough - inditing perhaps a paper corresponding to this.

A Scheme is at present in agitation for setting us up in a school of our own; as yet nothing is determined, but I hope and trust it may go on and prosper and answer our highest expectations. This day 4 - years I wonder whether we shall still be dragging on in our present condition or established to our hearts' content. Time will show -

I guess that at the time appointed for the opening of this paper - we, (ie) Charlotte, Anne and I - shall be all merrily seated in our own sitting-room in some pleasant and flourishing seminary, having just gathered in for the midsummer holidays. Our debts will be paid off and we shall have cash in hand to a considerable amount. Papa, Aunt and Branwell will either have been, or be coming to visit us. It will be a fine warm summer evening, very different from this bleak look-out. Anne and I will perchance slip out into the garden [for a] few minutes to peruse our papers. I hope either this, [or] something better will be the case -

The Gondalians are at present in a threatening state but there is no open rupture as yet - all the princes and princesses of the royalty are at the palace of Instruction. I have a good many books on hand, but I am sorry to say that - as usual I make small progress with any - however, I have just made a new regularity paper! and I mean - verb sap - to do great things - and now I close, sending from far an ex[hortation] of courage to exiled and harassed Anne, wishing she was here.

(Sources of diary-papers contents)

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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