Each time I visit Yorkshire I find I love it more. Every corner of it is beautiful, from its wild grassy moors punctuated with blasted trees and lonely ruins, to the cute stone villages tucked cosily in the creases of rolling green hills, striped with ancient stone walls and dotted with sheep. All of it seems pretty and interesting. Last week I went up to Haworth – the home of the Brontë sisters. It’s almost surreal walking around in the everyday world which inspired the romantic, dramatic, Gothic landscape they wrote about. The town sits on a steep hill, and right at the top, next to the old church and an overcrowded graveyard still sits the parsonage where they lived. This graveyard was everything a Gothic fangirl could possibly desire: a forest of tall, crooked headstones, mossy stone slabs cracked by tree roots, gloomy misty weather and a murder of squawking crows!
The guide described how Charlotte, Emily and Anne used to sit in the dining room all writing together, throwing around ideas, reading each others’ work and critiquing each other. Charlotte would pace the room and Anne would sit with her feet on the fender, arguing over their dark anti-heroes and whether the Tenant of Wildfell Hall wasn’t an ‘entire mistake’ (Charlotte’s words, not mine!). The old farm house that inspired Wuthering Heights still stands as well, about 4 miles away on a hilly moorland path (how the hell Emily Brontë managed to climb over the rocks and hills in a long skirt and a corset I have no idea!) It’s amazing how isolated it feels out there: moors can be pretty but they are desolate places, and Top Withens sits on a hill in the middle of one – I can certainly see where Emily was coming from by describing her characters as completely cut off from the rest of the world.