Wednesday 28 December 2016

The translations – Wuthering Heights on 61 languages, Jane Eyre on 59

The amount of languages in which Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have been translated has continued to expand. In the last updated version of the second translations analysis article of 24 November the score was 51-49. Emily Jane is still in the lead, still two ahead. Wuthering Heights is now on 61 languages, Jane Eyre on 59. (It’s a combined total of 67 languages.) In the revised article the new lists of languages can be seen.

There may be more languages in Asia and Africa for both that have not yet been discovered. And there will be new languages in upcoming years.

Cover of Wuthering Heights
in Bengali

The Professor in French, part three

It took until 1971 before a new Le Professeur was published, a new translation by Janine Rebersat et Jacques Papy. It was described earlier in the Switzerland article.

The second edition of the Tissier de Mallerais translation was published in 1982, again by Nouvelles Ėditions Latines. The cover is almost the same as the original one from 1946, the amount of pages is the same.

Cover of the 1982 French
The Professor

Monday 26 December 2016

The Professor in French, part two

Apart from the Swiss-French translation (of 1971) there are three other French translations of The Professor. By far the most successful one was done by Henriette Loreau. It is well possible that she began translating the novel in 1857, the year in which it was first published, posthumously. Loreau's Le Professeur was first published in 1858, by Hachette et Cie, from Paris (299 pp.). The last new edition so far of her translation dates from 2016! It brings her score to 158 years in the longest running translations competition, 64 years ahead of number 2. Henriette Loreau (1815-after 1883) also translated several Dickens novels and Mrs. Gaskell's Ruth, among other works.

Title page of the 1858 French
The Professor

This first edition has in recent years had two facsimile reprints, as print-on-demand books published by Reink Books (2014) and by Chapitre.com (year unknown).

The second edition was published in 1864, also by Hachette (and 299 pp.). It was like the first edition a copyrighted translation. "Traduit avec l'autorisation de l'éditeur" it says on the title pages. The 'editeur' is Smith, Elder & Co surely. It shows how much progress was made in a dozen years in international copyright matters, in a then very successful fight against pirate editions. Even though this 1864 edition especially may still have been an example of voluntary copyright. It's doubtful if the novel could have enjoyed an international copyright of more than 5 years in 1857.
A picture of the title page could not be found,

The third edition was published in 1867.

Cover of the 1867 French The Professor

Title page of the 1867 French The Professor
This 1867 edition was republished in facsimile this year, 2016, by Reink Books again (whom we also saw in the German The Professor article).

Friday 9 December 2016

Christmas Lunch and Entertainment 2016

The annual Brontë Group Christmas Lunch took place last Saturday, 3 December. Around 40 members turned up to enjoy a three-course meal, drinks and entertainment. As usual, master of ceremonies Jones Hayden had planned a varied menu of entertainment.

Paul in his Christmas outfit!

Paul started by giving us a little bit of literary history. He read us Robert Southey's The Old Man's Comforts – and How He Gained Them, beginning 'You are old, Father William, the young man cried/The few locks which are left you are grey', followed by Lewis Carroll's much better-known parody of this worthy poem. Paul provided a hand-out in which we could compare John Tenniel's illustrations for the verses with Carroll's own. He also provided a Brontë link by reminding us of Southey's often-quoted words to the young Charlotte Brontë: 'Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be'.

Introduction by Helen

Fortified by the restaurant's starter as well as by Paul's entrée, we launched into the quiz prepared by Jones. Already the atmosphere was almost lifting the roof. It rose even further when we embarked on the main course and were given a rendering of Jane Eyre Abbreviated by John Crace, author of the Guardian's 'Digested Reads' column. Stella, Kate and Ola shared the reading of this irreverent version of Charlotte Brontë's best-seller. Much appreciated.

Jones guiding us along!

In between the main course and the dessert Jones guided us through the quiz answers. If we think that by now we know everything there is to know about the Brontës, we soon become aware that we don't!


After the dessert it was time for the raffles. There were wonderful book prizes: the Brontë Society's Celebrating Charlotte: Transforming Life into Literature in Jane Eyre (published this year), a lavishly illustrated book that links elements of the novel to Charlotte's real-life experience; The Brontës: a Life in Letters, Juliet Barker's selection of letters of the whole family, and John Sutherland's newly-published Brontë miscellany The Brontesaurus: An A-Z of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë (and Branwell). Also among the prizes was a framed print of one of Selena Busch's wonderful drawings recreating the Pensionnat. The lucky winners went home very happy.

Happy Brontë fans!
We ended the lunch by singing the traditional Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.
After three and a half hours we ventured happily home through the darkening streets of Brussels. Yet another memorable Christmas lunch, giving us time to wish our Brontë friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Looking forward to new events in 2017. The 200th anniversary of Branwell's birth will be on the programme. Hope to see you next year!

From All of Us to All of You!
Merry Christmas

and a

Happy New Year


Thursday 24 November 2016

The Translations, a Statistical Analysis - Part Two, the Lists

All the Brontë novels
It’s an exciting race for the top scorer competition of the amount of languages. Wuthering Heights has taken the lead, with 51 languages. Jane Eyre has 49. But there must be more. As a comparison Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland can be given. It has 174 languages. Jane Eyre especially, who is almost as iconic as Alice, should be able to come considerably closer. It is interesting to note that Jane Eyre took a 11-1 lead in the 19th century, against Wuthering Heights.

Villette is a very good third, with 31 languages.  On fourth place come The Professor  and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, with 28. Shirley has 27. Agnes Grey is last, with 25. There will be more for them too.
One would think that the amount of translated editions of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Shirley and Agnes Grey come close to the amount of The Professor (150). I would guess that there are at least about 2500 translated editions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, each. Of both braille versions have also been found, but, especially because they are in English braille, these cannot be regarded as translations.

Update 29 December 2016. The latest scores are: Wuthering Heights 61, Jane Eyre 59, Villette 31, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall 30, Shirley 29, The Professor 28 and Agnes Grey 26.

In tables 8a-e you can see all the languages that have been found. The first two tables have the year in which the first translations of Villette and The Professor in a certain language was published.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Villette in French – Part Three

The first translation of Villette in French after (the abridged) La Maitresse d'Anglais was published in 1932 by Gallimard from Paris. It got to a remarkable seven editions that year, and a very good total of 23 editions altogether in 47 years. The 1932 and later editions, up to the fifteenth in 1949, probably all had (almost) the same cover.

Cover of the first 1949 French
Gallimard Villette

The translation was done by Albine Loisy and Brian Telford. Loisy-Léger (1909-?) also translated George Eliot's Middlemarch, Adam Bede and Silas Marner, and wrote two novels herself. Very little could be found about Telford.

The next editions that can be traced are the fifteenth and sixteenth from 1949. We don't know when exactly the eight to fourteenth editions were published. Gallimard introduced a new cover for the sixteenth edition.

Cover of the second 1949 French
Gallimard Villette

Nor can the 17th to 21st editions be found. The 22nd and 23rd were published in 1979. These covers couldn't be found too. The last one is said to be a facsimile reprint of the first 1932 edition. All these Gallimard editions seem to have had 630 pages. It may well be of course that there were only two different Gallimard covers, although there will have been more small variations. It is very remarkable and disappointing that so many editions are missing. In no other country has a Villette gone missing, let alone a dozen.

Thursday 3 November 2016

The Translations, a Statistical Analysis - Part one

Having found nearly all translations we can get a good picture of how Villette and The Professor in time spread around the world. About half of the translated Villette and The Professor editions were published in the last 30 years. Some of these years have been very productive, although there have been remarkably good years earlier too. These best years, and decades, will be revealed below. Among other aspects there is also a review of the total amount of languages for all of the Brontë novels.

Winning years
We’ll begin with giving the winning years. For both Villette and The Professor it was 2013, with 9 and 11 translated editions respectively. For Villette the years 1932 (thanks to one French translation) and 2011 come second with 7, while 1975 and 2008 come next with 6. In the The Professor competition 2016 is on second place with 10 translated editions, while 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2015 come joint third with 8. When the figures for both books are combined 2013 comes out as the clear winner, with 20. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are on third place with 13, followed by 2005 with 12. In tables 1, 2 and 3 more good years are shown for the novels in these competitions.

Update, 6 January 2017: The year 2016 has taken the lead in the The Professor competition, it is now on 12 editions. The year has also moved to sole second place for the two novels combined, with 16 editions. 

Click to enlarge

The years show a clear trend. It started quite slowly, but the amount of translated editions first really started to grow in the 1940s. It has been a quite regular growth since then, as this graph shows, as well as the accumulated total of translations of both novels. At present it is 218 for Villette and 170 for The Professor.

By 1920 The Professor had taken a 18-9 lead, but from then on till the end of the century Villette won every decade: 1920s, 4-0; 1930s, 13-2; 1940s, 16-12; 1950s, 15-7; 1960s, 15-3; 1970s, 29-10; 1980s, 16-5 and 1990s, 26-17 (Note: the year of publishing of 12 French Villettes is not known, 7 are from between 1933 and 1948, 5 between 1950 and 1978, these have been divided here over these 5 decades in this count. Three unknown editions of The Professor have been given to the 1940s, the 2000s and 2010s). In this century The Professor won the first decade, 43-35, and is in the lead in this present decade, 53-37. It is remarkable that this present decade is already the best scoring one, with more than 4 years to go.

In table 4 the full figures for the decades are given, and they're also shown in the second graph.

The 1970s
In the 1970s the score of translated editions more than doubled in comparison to the previous decade. It was the great leap forward for Villette. It is an interesting phenomenon that the novel owes much here to Eastern European, then communist countries. Out of 27 editions, 19 were published there, divided over 7 countries. Serbia was a clear winner with 7 Villettes. Croatia came second with 4. Germany is third with 3, with two from East Germany.

The following decades
The communists continued to show more interest in the 1980s. They had a majority in languages and editions. But Germany was the winning country, West-Germany, with 4. Remarkably, two years had no translation of Villette or The Professor at all, 1981 and 1988. The only other year to do that since 1943 was 1954.

Although communism fell in eastern Europe in 1989 the countries continued to dominate the statistics, with Villette majorities in the amount of languages (9 out of 15) and editions (16 out of 26) in the 1990s. It was helped by a Chinese edition, still a communist country. Russian was the individual winner, with 5 editions. German is second with 4. Russia scores a resounding victory in the 2000s, with 15 Villettes! The Netherlands come second with 3. The decade has 11 languages, and 34 editions. The 2010s have already got 17 languages for Villette, and 37 editions as well. Russian has taken a lead. It’s on 6 (editions). Italian is on 5 and Brazilian-Portuguese have 4.

Table 5 gives the winning decades for both novels together, tables 6 and 7 give the Villette and The Professor results.

Villette: Countries and translators
The Dutch language scores a resounding victory in the competition of the most different translations of Villette. It includes one translation that is probably Flemish. It has 7. Germany and France have 5, Italy has 4.

French is the winner in the race of languages with most editions, with 39, followed by Russian with 30. Germany has 20, Dutch has 12 and Hungarian is fifth with 11. Russia appears to have the best running single translation. It got to 27 editions!

Henriette Loreau is easily the winner in the longest running category. Her French translation of The Professor was first published in 1858, and last in 2016. That's a near-perfect score of 158 years! Tyyni Haapanen-Tallgren is on second place with a splendid 96 years with her Finnish Villette (1921-2017). Róża Centnerszwerowa comes third with 74 years, with her Polish Villette  (1939-2013). The first man is on fourth place. Gaston Baccara is on 68 years with his French Villette  (1945-2013). It will be very interesting of course to see what the score will look like in 40 years time.

Women easily win the translator competitions, as could be expected. They have most translations and editions. One translation was done by two men, the Arab Villette. Its cover drawing, joint nr. 1 in the cover top 6, was made by a woman, Safwa Farid, I recently learnt.

Eric Ruijssenaars
(with thanks to René van Oers for the tables and graphs, and for earlier efforts to make documents publishable on the blog.)

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Yorkshire and Irish roots explored: talks by Blake Morrison and Monica Wallace on Saturday 22 October 2016

Ireland and Yorkshire were both featured in our day of talks on 22 October. The Yorkshire writer Blake Morrison, who is half Irish, spoke about growing up near Haworth and his play We Are Three Sisters. Monica Wallace, who recently returned to her native Dublin after five years working in Brussels, returned to Belgium to give us a talk on Charlotte Brontë’s Irish honeymoon.

Blake Morrison and the Brontës

Blake Morrison began his talk by drawing out parallels between his own childhood and the Brontës’. He told us about growing up near Skipton close to the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, in an old rectory at the top of the village, not far from Pendle Hill where the ‘Pendle Witches’ famous in local legend were hanged in 1612. His mother was Irish and his father, as a doctor (in fact both parents were doctors) was an important man in the village just as Patrick Brontë the parson was in Haworth. He told us about reading Jane Eyre in secret as a teenager – in secret because it was not considered boys’ reading in the laddish Yorkshire culture of the time; it was not on the curriculum at the boys’ grammar school he attended – and about the affinity he felt with the young Jane and the novel’s power as a book for young adults. Blake told us how he found out that his mother was hiding her copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in her bedside table around the same time that he was hiding his of Jane Eyre (a novel that when it first came out was also regarded as a ‘naughty’ book!).

Blake Morrison

Blake went on to tell us how he came to write his play about the Brontës, We are three sisters. First he recounted how an earlier Brontë-inspired stage production, a musical version of Wuthering Heights he wrote in 1986, was never performed; four other musical versions of the novel were doing the rounds at the time and in the end Heathcliff with lyrics by Tim Rice, starring Cliff Richard, was the only one to be staged. To give us a taste of his own version of Wuthering Heights, Blake read us the ballad Isabella’s Song, which starts:

As I stepped out one summer night

to feed my white ring-dove

a shadow fell across the gate

and swore undying love.

The shadow stretched out tall and slim,

its face was black as night.

It spoke to me of wedding-rings

and bridesmaids bathed in light ….

The full poem can be read in his book of verse A discoverie of Witches (2012) prompted by the Pennine landscape in which he grew up. In a very different mood, the collection also includes the Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper, an exploration - in dialect - of the deeds and motives of Peter Sutcliffe, convicted of killing 13 women in 1981. Morrison has never shrunk from tackling such subjects, and has written a book on the James Bulger murder case.

Blake Morrison chatting to a
Brussels Brontë Group member

Turning to the genesis of his play We Are Three Sisters, in which he took up the challenge of re-writing Chekhov’s play with Charlotte, Emily and Anne as the sisters, Blake told us that when a theatre critic friend first suggested the idea to him, he dismissed it as ‘bonkers’. He was however persuaded to go ahead with the project by the artistic director of the theatre company Northern Broadsides, which staged the play in 2011.

In Blake’s play, Moscow, to which Chekhov’s three sisters long to go, has become London, and, similarly, various characters in the Chekhov play are replaced by equivalent characters from the Brontës’ circle (their doctor, Patrick’s curate). Blake explained that although he used the Brontës own words in his text where possible, the use of Chekhov’s play as a basis meant he had to take some liberties with the Brontës’ life story, with sometimes amusing results. For example, in his play the woman with whom Branwell is believed to have had an affair, his employer’s wife Lydia Robinson, turns up at the Parsonage, which she never visited in real life. Members of our group read out extracts from two scenes in the play: Charlotte and Anne telling Emily about their trip to reveal their identity to the publisher George Smith in London, and Charlotte telling her father about the publication of Jane Eyre.

Contrary to the common perception of the Brontës’ lives as eventless, Blake found them full of interest and drama and wanted to show Haworth as less bleak than it is generally portrayed. His play has many touches of humour and he describes it as a ‘tragi-comedy’, much like the original Chekhov.

In the course of the talk, in addition to some of his poems, Blake read us extracts from his memoir And when did you last see your father? Made into a film in 2007 starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth, it contains many memories of his childhood. By the end of his time with us we had gained many insights into his personal background and the wide range of his literary output as well as becoming acquainted with his Brontë play.

Charlotte Brontë in Ireland

It was good to welcome back Monica Wallace, who has spoken to our group before and was an active member of it when working in Brussels as transport attaché for Ireland in 2009-14. She is now back in Dublin, working for the Irish transport department. For this presentation she researched the family of Charlotte Brontë’s husband, the Anglican clergyman Arthur Bell Nicholls, and the route taken by the couple on their honeymoon in the summer of 1854 at the start of their brief marriage (Charlotte died 9 months later in March 1855).

The Brussels Brontë Group
Monica Wallace

Monica began by filling us in on Nicholls’ family – born in County Antrim as one of a large family that was struggling financially, he was adopted at a young age by a more affluent uncle, his mother’s brother Alan Bell, who ran a school in Banagher. Arthur never saw his own parents again; his mother died 5 years later. Like Charlotte, he had a stint as a badly-paid teacher when he helped out at his uncle’s school. His biographer Alan Adamson (whose widow Monica met on a trip to Canada) speculates that despite Arthur’s happiness in his new family, he probably suffered from insecurity as a result of these upheavals and financial problems in his early days.

Monica also filled us in on some of the developments in Irish history in Nicholls’ and Patrick Brontë’s lifetimes, for example Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for Catholic Emancipation, which was followed with interest by the Brontës; the Anglican Patrick Brontë initially opposed it but changed his position. She sketched conditions in Ireland at the time of Charlotte’s visit and the often condescending attitudes of English visitors to the country, such as Thackeray.

The Brussels Brontë Group
Monica Wallace fills us in on Arthur Nicholls' family

She then took us on a richly-illustrated tour of the honeymoon route, starting in Dún Laoghaire (where Monica herself lives) and thence to Cuba House, the family home in Banagher, via Dublin. From there, Charlotte and Arthur went on to visit Kilkee, Tarbert in Co. Limerick and Tralee, the Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe (where Charlotte escaped unharmed when thrown from her horse) in Co. Kerry. We saw some of the hotels where they stayed and learned that at that period hotels were strictly segregated into Protestant and Catholic.

We gleaned fascinating snippets about Arthur’s family, such as that one of his brothers had a daughter named Charlotte Brontë Nicholls, and Banagher: Anthony Trollope lived there in the 1840s in the first years of his marriage and is sure to have met the Bells.

Arthur Bell Nicholls

Charlotte may have had some misapprehensions about the Bell family. For example, she appears to have believed that Cuba House was owned by the family (in fact it came courtesy of the school of which Alan Bell was headmaster) and that Nicholls’ aunt Bell was educated in England (actually she spent just one week at an English boarding school before being brought back to Ireland as her family missed her). What is certain is that where the Bell family was concerned Charlotte was forced to abandon her prejudices against Ireland, and had nothing but praise for her in-laws’ ‘gentility’ and kindness. She also gave positive reports of her new husband as she began to really get to know him for the first time, in his native country and his family circle.

Helen MacEwan

Monday 24 October 2016

The Professor in Germany

The first German translation of The Professor was published in 1858 in Stuttgart, translated "Aus dem Englischen von Dr. Büchele", as it says on the title page.

Title page of the 1858 German The Professor

This edition was republished in facsimile form in 2015 by Reink Books, as a print on demand book. A 2016 copy has also been spotted (but we have not included it in the statistical analysis article for that year).

The second and only other translation was published for the first time in 1990, by Ars Vivendi from Cadolzburg (302 pp.). It was done by Gottfried Röckelein, who also translated Jane Eyre.

Cover of the 1990 German The Professor

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Villette in Germany – Part two

After the two translations of Villette published in Berlin and Stuttgart in 1853, described earlier, it took until 1971 before a new translation, by Christiane Agricola, was published in Germany. So far it has reached 14 editions, the last one having been published in 2015. The two other translations in German were Swiss. Agricola (1927-2009), was from Leipzig, in (the former state of) East Germany. She also translated Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and Welsh and Scottish folk tales (even from Welsh apparently!).  

The first edition (686 pp.) was published by List from Leipzig. It had an afterword by Helmut Findeisen (from Dresden probably). One suspects that was a marxist interpretation of the novel. No doubt it is a good translation. It is nr. 8 on the list of longest running translations, with a fine 44 years between the first and (so far) last edition, making her the top scorer for the German language.

Cover of the 1971 Leipzig Villette

It was republished the next year by the same publisher, List, but this time in Munich, in West Germany. As it had only 657 pages, with no mention of an afterword, it must be that it was dropped.

Cover of the 1972 Munich Villette

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Villette and The Professor in German and French. Part two - Switzerland


The story of Villette in Switzerland begins in April 1856, with an ad for La Maitresse d'Anglais, the Belgian-French (abridged) translation published in 1855. It’s just an internet find but it helps to give an idea about how the novel spread around Europe. In this case to the French speaking part of Switzerland.

Head of the Feuille d’avis de Neuchatel
 of 19 April 1856

Part of page 2 of the Feuille d’avis
de Neuchatel of 19 April 1856

The German speaking part of the country will have learnt about the novel earlier, in view of the 1853 German translations. The first new German translation of Villette came in 1947. It was published in
Zürich, Switzerland, by Manesse (584 pp.). As far as is known this is the oldest illustrated Villette cover of a translation. It took until 1971 before Germany had its first new translation. Switzerland also has French translations, and it’s even got a Swiss-Italian Jane Eyre.

Monday 19 September 2016

'The Professor' in Russian and Ukrainian

The first Russian translation of The Professor was published in 1857, in the journal Otechestvennye zapisky (Notes of the Fatherland) nr. 115, pp. 107-202 and 621-730. The second translation was first published in 1997 by Mir I Semya (382 pp.).  There have been more translators but the title is always the same: Учитель (Utchitel, The teacher). This translation was done by Natalia Fleishman, who also did the annotations. An afterword was written by Yekaterina Teplova. The book has illustrations by Ljudmila Sergeeva.

Cover of the 1997 Russian
The Professor

The second and third editions of the Fleishman translation were published in 2006 by Tekst from Moscow (284 pp.).

Cover of the first 2006 Russian
The Professor

Cover of the second 2006 Russian
The Professor

Sunday 18 September 2016

Looking for Jane Eyre’s mad woman in the attic: A visit to Norton Conyers in North Yorkshire - Part II

Lady Graham showed us pictures of the staircase and of Mad Mary’s Room (as the attic room is called), which is situated in a remote corner of the attic. The attic is not open to the public because of the fragility of the structure, and the staircase (which is sadly too dangerous for the public to use) can only be seen from the landing on the first floor. Lady Graham told us that they  plan to restore the staircase and attic rooms in time, but at the same time respecting and keeping the specific atmosphere of the Mad Woman’s room (supposedly quite a depressing  and sad room): “this room is in a cul-de sac in the attic, very awkward to reach, the room is north-facing with a small gable window, it has a tragic feel about it”.

After this introduction we were allowed to wander around in the house and visit the rooms opened to the public. Sir James and Lady Graham stuck around and were very willing to answer any questions. I told Lady Graham of my interest in the link of Norton Conyers with Charlotte Brontë and she showed me the library which had been restored and re-furnished with items that Charlotte would have seen when visiting. She pointed out a few of these items (such as a pair of globes, a cabinet piano in the window-bay, painting equipment, the bookcases – most of which are locked apart from one triangular bookcase in a corner which contains “everything that could be needed in the way of elementary works” as described in Jane Eyre). The room was re-furnished in accordance with the description of Mr. Rochester’s study, which was used in the novel by Jane Eyre as a classroom for Mr. Rochester’s ward Adele Varens.
The Library

Apart from the Library the rooms open to the public are: the Dining Room, the Hall (where we started the tour), the Parlour (all on the ground floor), the main oak staircase, and on the first floor: the landing (with the “secret” door), the Passage, the Best Bedroom (with a reproduction of a unique wallpaper design found in an attic cupboard) and King James’s Room (where King James II and his wife stayed during their visit in 1679- still displaying the traditional bed they are supposed to have used). Throughout the house, in all rooms open to the public, you can see a beautiful collection of family portraits and other paintings related to the house and its inhabitants, magnificent old furniture, beautiful 18th century plaster ceilings and many other valuable treasures and fine art work.

Friday 16 September 2016

Looking for Jane Eyre’s mad woman in the attic: A visit to Norton Conyers in North Yorkshire - Part I

On our way back from the holidays in Ireland we always spend a few days in the UK, usually in Yorkshire, as this is a region we really love. This year the destination was the area around Ripon, and we had a very specific goal set from the start: a visit to Norton Conyers.

Photo © Norton Conyers 
We were staying in The Old Coach House in North Stainley (near Ripon), a lovely B&B and  a real oasis of peace and tranquility (and a pub and restaurant nearby!).

I had done my research in advance and I knew the house was only open to the public on select days and times, but we were lucky: the house was open for visitors in the period that we were staying in the area (27 to 31 July 2016), only in the afternoon with guided tours at 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm.
The estate is well hidden amidst trees and parkland, and it took us a while to find the entrance. We had to park the car near the stables and the walled garden, and then a short walk  towards the House. We had to register for the group visit in a little “shed” next to the house and await the guide’s arrival. We received a brochure about the house and its history, written by the present owner, the 11th baronet, Sir James Graham, which made a very interesting read. This was a good introduction to the guided tour we were about to receive.

The side and front of the house

Detail above the front door

The front door

 Norton Conyers is a late medieval stately manor house, a pleasing mix of historic styles,  with Stuart and Georgian additions.  It has been owned by the Graham family (originally from Scottish origin) since 1624 (except for a period of 20 years between 1862 and 1882).  The house is steeped in history and has welcomed a number of noteworthy  guests such as King James II, King Charles I and of course Charlotte Brontë.