Tuesday 23 June 2020

In Memoriam: Maureen Peeck O’Toole

With the death of Maureen Peeck O’Toole (28 August 1935-13 June 2020), the Brussels Brontë Group has lost a leading light of the group, who gave us much support over the years since we started up in 2006.

Maureen speaking to Brussels Brontë Group in 2011.

Maureen was one of a number of members from the Netherlands who were involved in setting up the group (others were Eric Ruijssenaars, author of Charlotte Brontë’s Promised Land: the Pensionnat Heger and other Brontë Places in Brussels; Selina Busch, who designed our first website; and Marcia Zaaijer, another founding member who still attends our meetings, all the way from Rotterdam).
Of Irish ancestry, she was born Maureen O’Toole in Bradford in 1935, and often explored the Brontës’ moors as a child. After marrying Joan Peeck and moving to Utrecht she taught English language and literature at the university there, where her husband was a psychology professor. She often taught the Brontës, had a particular interest in Emily Brontë and was the author of the book Aspects of Lyric in the Poetry of Emily Brontë. In the summer she would take groups of her students from Utrecht to stay with her in a cottage near Haworth, to teach them about the Brontës in situ.
Maureen, on left, reading passages from 'Villette' in 2007.
Maureen was young in spirit, down-to-earth and good company. She gave her time, ideas and knowledge to the Brussels Brontë Group and was one of our first speakers. In 2009, she spoke to us on the character of Lucy Snowe in Villette in a talk entitled Are you anybody, Miss Snowe? and in 2011 she gave a talk on Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
Many of us have good memories of meeting up with Maureen both at events here in Brussels and at Brontë Society annual weekends in Haworth. We will miss her.
Helen MacEwan

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