Sunday, 15 June 2014


Non-fiction ~ review
Published in The Spectator, 19th November 1937
800 words
(First read 15/06/2014)

A review of The Miracle of Haworth: A Brontë Study by W. Bertram White.  EFB is alternately laudatory and condemning of White's work: he pours deserved scorn on the unoriginal idea that Emily Brontë and one of her father's curates William Weightman were lovers:
[White] ought to have acknowledged that years ago Miss Isabel Clarke, in her charming book Haworth Parsonage, had already selected this young man for the post, but he produces him apparently as a candidate of his own with a further wealth of want of evidence on the matter.
But ~ obviously ~ Benson is in full agreement with White that Emily's novel and poems are 'the supreme achievement in literature of all her sex'.  Then again, he's scathing (again deservedly, I reckon) about White's complete lack of understanding ~ or apparent knowledge ~ of what made Charlotte Brontë tick.  Etc.
You can read this review online here(Other reviews of the same book are available here.)


  1. I'm intrigued why Benson became so interested in the Brontes
    That he wrote a whole book about them. .. a well researched one too. Does he say anywhere what was the draw?

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  3. Hullo Anne. Well, I think there were various factors at work here. Firstly there's the family connexion: both the Bensons and EFB's mother's family the Sidgwicks originated in that part of Yorkshire ~ indeed some relatives* of 'Minnie' were tutored by Charlotte Brontë herself for a spell. Archbishop Benson (EFB's dad) was an early tourist at Haworth Parsonage: he went there in 1858 and spoke to the Reverend Patrick Brontë, then in his early eighties and the sole survivor of his family. I feel sure that these facts would have constituted a part of the 'lore' of the Benson family, despite the fact that EFB himself (so far as I'm aware) barely mentioned them in anything he wrote**, and that the five little Bensons would have been introduced to the Brontës' works at an early age. And ~ and I think this was the most important factor of all ~ EFB developed a lifelong passion (not too strong a word for it!) for Wuthering Heights. No doubt if Emily's life had been more well-documented, he would've written HER biography rather than one of Charlotte, for whom his enthusiasm was always a good deal more dilute ~ to put it diplomatically!

    *Unfortunately I've forgotten the exact relationship, and can't find it anywhere.
    **He didn't mention them AT ALL in his book about Charlotte ~ presumably he didn't want to be thought a name-dropper. His brother Arthur, however, mentioned the Sidgwick-Brontë connexion in his biography of the archbishop.