Anne / Emily Diaries - 1845
In 1845, the two sisters opened their 1841 diary papers. The ceremony was performed on the 31st. July - a day later than planned - as they both note in their 'new' diaries (below). At this time, all four siblings were unemployed and were at home. Anne had recently left her post as governess at Thorp Green, and Branwell had been fired shortly afterwards, when his affair with Mrs. Robinson had been discovered by her husband (Branwell and Anne's employer). This incident must have been foremost on the family's minds at this time, but almost nothing is mentioned of it in the diaries: the two exceptions being a slight hint from Anne: 'I was then at Thorp Green . . . but during my stay I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt of experience of human nature.'; and another hint by Emily: 'Anne left her situation at Thorp Green of her own accord, June 1845. Branwell left - July 1845.' 151n   - the words 'of her own accord' seem to imply that Branwell's leaving was to the contrary!

Emily gives a short account of her recent, several-day visit to York with Anne, and it is clear that she is still heavily engrossed in her imaginary world of Gondal, as the two sisters 'roll-play' a number of the characters while on their journey. All though it is clear Anne joined in this 'roll-play', she did not now have the same enthusiasm for Gondal as Emily did, declaring in her own paper: 'The Gondals in general are not in first rate playing condition - will they improve?'; and she presents no account of the York journey. Anne was feeling very despondent at this time, largely on account of Branwell's affair with Mrs. Robinson and his subsequent dismissal. She may well have felt responsible to some degree - having herself obtained Branwell the post two and a half years earlier.

Anne also notes that she has just 'begun the third volume of Passages In the Life of an Individual.'  This is now generally accepted as being the foundation of her first novel, Agnes Grey. She was 25 years old at the time of writing this paper.

(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:

Thursday, July the 31st, 1845. Yesterday was Emily's birthday, and the time when we should have opened our 1841 paper, but by mistake we opened it today instead. How many things have happened since it was written - some pleasant, some far otherwise. Yet I was then at Thorp Green, and now I am only just escaped from it. I was wishing to leave it then and if I had known that I had four years longer to stay how wretched I should have been; but during my stay I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt of experience of human nature. Others have seen more changes. Charlotte has left Mr White's and been twice to Brussels, where she stayed each time nearly a year. Emily has been there too, and stayed nearly a year. Branwell has left Luddenden Foot, and been a tutor at Thorp Green, and had much tribulation and ill health. He was very ill on Thursday, but he went with John Brown to Liverpool, where he is now, I suppose; and we hope he will be better and do better in future. This is a dismal, cloudy wet evening. We have had so far a very cold, wet summer. Charlotte has lately been to Hathersage, in Derbyshire, on a visit of three weeks to Ellen Nussey. She is now sitting sewing in the dining-room. Emily is ironing upstairs. I am sitting in the dining-room in the rocking-chair before the fire with my feet on the fender. Papa is in the parlour. Tabby and Martha are, I think, in the kitchen. Keeper and Flossy are, I do not know where. Little Dick is hopping in his cage. When the last paper was written we were thinking of setting up a school. The scheme has been dropt, and long after taken up again, and dropt again, because we could not get pupils. Charlotte is thinking about getting another situation. She wishes to go to Paris. Will she go? She has let Flossy in, by-the-by, and he is now lying on the sofa. Emily is engaged in writing the Emperor Julius's life. She has read some of it, and I very much want to hear the rest. She is writing some poetry, too. I wonder what it is about. I have begun the third volume of Passages in the Life of an Individual, I wish I had finished it. This afternoon I began to set about making my grey figured silk frock that was dyed at Keighley. What sort of a hand shall I make of it? E. and I have a great deal of work to do. When shall we sensibly diminish it? I want to get a habit of early rising. Shall I succeed? We have not yet finished our Gondal Chronicles that we began three years and a half ago. When will they be done? - The Gondals are at present in a sad state. The Republicans are uppermost, but the Royalists are not quite overcome. The young sovereigns with their brothers and sisters are still at the Palace of Instruction. The Unique Society, about half a year ago, were wrecked on a desert island as they were returning from Gaaldine. They are still there, but we have not played at them much yet. The Gondals in general are not in first rate playing condition - will they improve?

I wonder how we shall all be, and where and how situated, on the thirtieth of July 1848, when, if we are all alive, Emily will be just 30. I shall be in my 29th year, Charlotte in her 33rd, and Branwell in his 32nd; and what changes shall we have seen and known; and shall we be much changed ourselves? I hope not, for the worse at least. I for my part cannot well be flatter or older in mind than I am now. Hoping for the best, I conclude.

Emily's Diary Paper:

My birthday - showery, breezy, cool. I am twenty-seven years old to-day. This morning Anne and I opened the papers we wrote four years since, on my twenty-third birthday. This paper we intend, if all be well, to open on my thirtieth - three years hence, in 1848. Since the 1841 paper the following events have taken place. Our school scheme has been abandoned, and instead Charlotte and I went to Brussels on the 8th of February, 1842.
Branwell left his place at Luddenden Foot. C. and I returned from Brussels, November 8th, 1842 in consequence of aunt's death.

Branwell went to Thorp Green as a tutor, where Anne still continued, January, 1843. Charlotte returned to Brussels the same month, and after staying a year, came back again on New Year's Day 1844.
Anne left her situation at Thorp Green of her own accord, June 1845.
Branwell left - July 1845.

Anne and I went our first long journey by ourselves together, leaving home on the 30th of June, Monday, sleeping at York, returning to Keighley Tuesday evening, sleeping there and walking home on Wednesday morning. Though the weather was broken we enjoyed ourselves very much, except during a few hours at Bradford. And during our excursion we were, Ronald Macalgin, Henry Angora, Juliet Angusteena, Rosabella Esmalden, Ella and Julian Egremont, Catherine Navarre, and Cordelia Fitzaphnold, escaping from the palaces of instruction to join the Royalists who are hard driven at present by the victorious Republicans. The Gondals still flourish bright as ever. I am at present writing a work on the First Wars - Anne has been writing some articles on this, and a book by Henry Sophona - We intend sticking firm by the rascals as long as they delight us, which I am glad to say they do at present. I should have mentioned that last summer the school scheme was revived in full vigour - we had prospectuses printed, despatched letters to all acquaintances imparting our plans, and did our little all - but it was found no go - now I don't desire a school at all and none of us have any great longing for it. We have cash enough for our present wants, with a prospect of accumulation - We are all in decent health, only that papa has a complaint in his eyes and with the exception of B[ranwell] who I hope will be better and do better, hereafter. I am quite contented for myself - not as idle as formerly, altogether as hearty and having learnt to make the most of the present and hope for the future with less fidgetiness that I cannot do all I wish - seldom or ever troubled with nothing to do, and merely desiring that every body could be as comfortable as myself and as undesponding, and then we should have a very tolerable world of it.

By mistake I find we have opened the paper on the 31st. instead of the 30th. Yesterday was much such a day as this, but the morning was divine -

Tabby who was gone in our last paper is come back and has lived with us two years and a half and is in good health - Martha, who also departed, is here too - We have got Flossy, got and lost Tiger - lost the hawk Hero, which with the geese was given away, and is doubtless dead, for when I came back from Brussels I inquired on all hands and could hear nothing of him. Tiger died early last year - Keeper and Flossy are well, also the canary acquired four years since. We are now all at home, and likely to be there some time. Branwell went to Liverpool on Tuesday to stay a week. Tabby has just been teasing me to turn as formerly to 'pilloputate'. Anne and I should have picked the black currants if it had been fine and sunshiny. I must hurry off now to my turning and ironing. I have plenty of work on hands, and writing, and am altogether full of business. With best wishes for the whole house till 1848 - July 30th, and as much longer as may be. I conclude.

E J Brontë

(Sources of diary-papers contents)

It is interesting to note that the girls had decided on a change in custom - these two diary papers were to be opened on Emily's 30th. birthday - 30th July, 1848 - after just three years, rather than the usual four. It is not known whether this was undertaken - with new diaries being written. Certainly no diaries for 1848 are known to exist, though there seems no reason why the girls should have neglected this arrangement. At that time things were looking very rosy for the sisters; all three had enjoyed a phenomenal success with the publication of their novels over the previous two years; and a highly successful literary career was looking a certainty for them all. Anne had recently written her preface to the second edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. There was no hint of the impending tragedy that was to befall the family: within the next ten months, three of the siblings, including Anne, would be dead.

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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