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Charlotte Brontë

Elsemarie Maletzke, author of "Das Leben der Brontës", editor of "Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, Anne Brontë – Angria & Gondal" and other Brontëana

    “Although I live in Frankfurt, Germany, places like London and Haworth always looked so much closer than Brussels. When I conducted my research in the steps of the Brontës I travelled several times to Yorkshire and I tramped the London Strand to take pictures of Smith & Elders’ front door, but I have to admit I’ve never been to Brussels. Shame! The fact that the Pensionat Heger and the Rue d’Isabelle had not survived modern building activities was not very encouraging. Still, I should very much like to visit St. Gudule if only to see the place where a desperate and very lonely Protestant soul stepped into a confession box.”

Marina Saegerman, Flemish Brontë Society member

     “My name is Marina Saegerman. I live in the Flemish part of Belgium and work in Brussels. I have been a Brontë fan since my childhood days. When I was about 11 years old I won a prize at school. It was a book in Dutch that contained three Brontë novels (Jane Eyre – Wuthering Heights – Agnes Grey). From then on I was hooked and wanted to read more. In the local library , in one of the books I had borrowed, there was a little handwritten note mentioning Haworth and the Parsonage. It was my dream to go to Haworth and I realised this dream in 1990 when I first visited the village and the parsonage. I returned with my husband in 1992 on our return from Ireland, and since then Haworth is a regular stop on our return from our annual holidays in Ireland. I’ve been a Brontë Society member since then.
Over the years I have read all the books more than once, and my favourite is still
Wuthering Heights. Over the years I have also grown to love Emily’s poetry, and of course Charlotte’s and Anne’s poetry as well. I sometimes use their texts for my calligraphy work.
The books of Eric about
Brussels and the Brontës have made me see the area where I work (Rue Royale, The Park and the old Quartier Isabelle) from a different perspective.
So when Helen contacted me to have a first discussion on her idea to start a Brontë group in
Brussels I was easily won over. I hope that we can meet regularly and share our interest.”

Sheila Richardson, a British resident living in Brussels

     “My mother gave me her copy of Jane Eyre to read when I was about ten, followed by Wuthering Heights which became my favourite story of all time. It roused passionate feelings, however many times I read it. Villette had a special place in the family as my parents had first met in Brussels. When I moved here, I was very busy with young children and only had the Bronte connection in the back of my mind until I became fascinated by the re-discovery of the Rue Isabelle and the re-building of that quarter. When I bought Eric Ruijssenaars’ books, Waterstones told me that someone was trying to get a Bronte Group together so I then made contact with it.”

View of Parc

Jenny Hofman, Dutch Brontë Society member

      “I have been a member of the Brontë Society for a long time and when I got a letter from Helen MacEwan with the question if I was interested in joining the Brussels Brontë Group, I did not hesitate for a moment. I have always been fascinated by the influence of the landscape on the Brontës and this also includes their Brussels environment. I remember wandering around in Brussels looking for the site of the Pensionnat Heger even before the Brontë Society plaque was there.”


Mara Mauermann, a member in
Essen, Germany.

    “My first introduction to the Brontës was visual rather than literary. When I first visited the National Portrait Gallery as a teenager, I was deeply moved by the portrait of the sisters, and by and by got round to reading their works. However, though I am positive I read Jane Eyre before Wuthering Heights, it is only the first reading of the latter that I can date precisely, perhaps not surprisingly, seeing that it was the day when my husband (then boyfriend) stumbled into a manhole in Soho ... well he didn't vanish completely, being able to throw himself on the pavement: but directly afterwards, even before he had time to find out that nothing had happened to him except for a grazed shin, there was a tremendous clap of thunder, and an almighty deluge of hail and rain, and he was forced to seek shelter in a passage that turned out to lead into a bizarre striptease club ... well but that is quite a different story, the main point is that while all these exciting things happened, I had remained at our self-catering place and in a kind of trance-like absorption read Wuthering Heights, with the violent storm outside providing a most appropriate background...”

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