Monica Kendall, author of ‘Lies and the Brontës: The Quest for the Jenkins Family,’ was a welcome speaker today at the Brussels Brontë Group for two reasons: this was the first occasion for two years that members of the group was able to meet face to face; and Kendall was introducing us to an area of Brontë research which has been hardly touched.
She is one of an increasing number of researchers who have succeeded in finding original documents relating to the time Charlotte and Emily Brontë spent in Brussels.
Monica Kendall is the great-great-granddaughter of the Reverend Evan and Eliza Jenkins, who were instrumental in finding a suitable school where Charlotte and Emily could improve their French.
The Jenkins family offered hospitality to the Brontë sisters while they were in Brussels, and we know that Charlotte heard the Rev. Jenkins preach at the Chapel Royal. A further connection was that Helen Jenkins, one of the daughters, attended the same Brussels school as Mary Taylor, Charlotte’s friend and correspondent.
In researching her ancestors, Kendall has turned up a wealth of original sources, which have enabled her to critique biographers of the Brontës, such as Mrs Chadwick, Winifred Gérin and Claire Harman, for sloppy or inadequate research, details of which are enumerated in her book ‘Lies and the Brontës.'
|Monica Kendall talk at Université Saint-Louis.