Brontë's years at the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels
(1842-43) were two of the most formative of her life. Her experiences
pupil and subsequently a teacher there and her feelings for Monsieur
(Monsieur Paul in Villette) influenced her
powerfully and culminated ten
years later in her masterpiece Villette. For anyone
who has read this novel or her earlier work The Professor, it is fascinating to learn more about the Brussels
which has on the whole been less researched than the Yorkshire
one. For expatriates living in Brussels
(some of our members come into this category) there is the added
account of how it felt to be a foreigner in the city over a century and
enthusiasts have of course always been
interested in the places connected with Charlotte and Emily's stay in
Pensionnat, ever since the first "pilgrims" started turning up there
unannounced while the Hegers were still in residence, and over the
Brontë Society has from time to time organised trips to Brussels.
However, the city itself - perhaps understandably in view of some of
Charlotte's less than flattering comments on Belgium - has not done a
deal to commemorate her stay in it, and passers-by may not always spot
plaque placed on the site of the Pensionnat by the Brontë
of our aims is to redress this by promoting
interest in and events relating to the Brontë places in Brussels,
as well as to the Brontës in general, and we feel that it is
fitting that our group should be actually based in Brussels.
Group was founded by members of the
Brontë Society living in the Netherlands
- a Dutch researcher who has written books on the Pensionnat Heger and
Brontë places in Brussels,
the artist who illustrated them and a British Brontë
enthusiast who had
recently moved to the city.
It soon grew to include people living in other neighbouring
countries. On our Members page you can read accounts by some of our
of what led them to the Brussels Brontë Group.
A Brussels view, with on the far right, the Pensionnat.