Looking at secular books: the Brontes
It is not surprising really. William Grimshaw, the hugely passionate and effective curate of Haworth only died in 1763 (do read Faith Cook’s brilliant biography), and Patrick Bronte, father of Emily, Anne and Charlotte, took up the job in 1820. Patrick has been called an evangelical and their aunt, who looked after the family when their mother died, was known for her ‘Wesleyan tendencies’. This influence, combined with the romanticism of the period, the wild beauty of the moors and repeated bereavement in the family go a long way to explaining the tensions found within the Brontes’ works.
The Brontes are never far away from our screens. Alongside Dickens, George Eliot and Austen, the works of these extraordinary three sisters are English Classics with a capital C. Directors tend to concentrate on the petticoats and passion, unrequited love and madwomen in attics, but on rereading a few of these stories, I’ve been struck by how central Christianity is to each of them.