The Brussels Brontë Group organises meetings and events in Brussels throughout the year, including an annual weekend of events around the date of Charlotte Brontë’s birthday (21 April). We organise occasional Guided walks around Brontë places in Brussels. Our Reading group specialises in 19th century literature (not just the Brontës!).

Provisional Programme 2022-23

NB. If the COVID-19 situation changes, events and dates may be cancelled or changed.

Registration essential for all events. To register, contact Helen MacEwan.

Talks

Saturday 15 October 2022 (morning)

Université Saint-Louis, Rue du Marais 119, Brussels

Talk by Edwin Marr: ‘The New Lazarus: Shirley and Villette as two very different tales of grief’

‘If a magic mirror were now held before you, and if therein were shown you your two daughters as they will be twenty years from this night, what would you think?’

Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley is a novel of revelations. A novel in which grief and death are exposed for all to see. In contrast, Charlotte’s last novel Villette is entirely different in its handling of grief with letters buried under trees and death denied and obfuscated. In this talk, Edwin will explore the key differences between Charlotte Brontë’s late novels in their handling of death, grief, and mourning to understand how and why these two books, written just four years apart, demonstrate such fundamental differences in their approach to loss.

Edwin is a self-confessed Brontëphile, having been taken on regular pilgrimages to Haworth as a child. Much of his research has focused on the Brontë siblings, including the subjects of Universal Salvation in the works of Anne Brontë and grief and death in the works of Branwell Brontë. His thesis was on the production of railway space in nineteenth-century literature from 1860-1880. He is associate tutor at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Talk by Leen Huet: ‘A Belgian writer reads foreign writers on Belgium’

Leen Huet, art historian and novelist, talks about foreign writers writing on Belgium and how their efforts strike her. Can Sir Walter Scott, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Baudelaire and Joseph Addison give her new insights into the workings and status of her beloved country?

Leen Huet was born in the Campine, near the Dutch border. She studied Art History and Philosophy at the K.U. Leuven and in Florence. She writes short stories and novels (Almanak, Eenoog). She translated Rubens’ letters into Dutch and has written biographies of Nicolaas Rockox and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  She is currently working on the biography of the Brussels athlete Martial Van Schelle (1899-1943), born in the Campine like herself.

Guided walk

Sunday 16 October 2022

10.00. Guided walk around Brontë places in Brussels in the Place Royale area. The walk takes about 2 hours.

Christmas lunch and entertainment

Saturday 10 December 2022 (date to be confirmed)

Talks

Saturday 11 February 2023

Talk by Roel Jacobs: ‘Charlotte and Brussels: not an easy relationship’

Charlotte Brontë isn’t always kind to Brussels in The Professor and Villette. No doubt her personal disappointments and frustrations during her time in Brussels explain the fact that she didn’t always perceive the political and economic dynamism of the Belgian capital in her period (1840s). Distinguished Brussels historian Roel Jacobs sets the record straight in this talk on Brussels in the Brontës’ time.

A lawyer by profession, Roel Jacobs’ passion has always been delving into Brussels’ past and that passion became his job. For over three decades he has given talks and written numerous books on history, above all the history of Brussels.

Member presentation. Presentation by Dawn Robey: Interior Design in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Belgian Novels’

Homes and the objects in them are said to speak volumes about their occupants. Based on extracts from the texts of The Professor and Villette, Dawn will assess to what extent Charlotte Bronte used setting to provide insights into character.

Dawn is a keen member of the Brussels Bronte Group and the reading group. Her favourite authors (after the Bronte sisters) are Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy. When she’s not reading fiction, she teaches international accounting standards to students at NEOMA Business School in France, and edits a professional accounting journal called the World Accounting Report.

Talks

Saturday 22 April 2023 (morning)

Université Saint-Louis, Rue du Marais 119, Brussels

Robert Logan: ‘Ireland and the Moulding of Patrick’

Robert Logan, Chair of the Irish section of the Brontë Society, will talk about Patrick Brontë, father of the Brontë siblings, and the Brontës’ Irish heritage. He will explore the influences and forces that impacted on the young Patrick and how this in turn is reflected in the lives of his children.

Robert Logan, a recently-retired GP, has been closely involved with the Brontë Society’s Irish Section for over 20 years. The group promotes interest in the Brontë Homeland in County Down, Northern Ireland, where Patrick was born and grew up.

Monica Wallace: ‘Meanwhile in Ireland … The Irish Relations of the Brontë family and of Arthur Bell Nichols’

Monica Wallace writes: ‘Returning to my home in Dublin after a five-year term working for the Irish government in Brussels, I mentioned in passing to my elderly neighbour, Jenny, how much I had enjoyed being a part of the Brussels Brontë Group. “Oh, that’s very interesting”, she said, “did you know I’m a descendant of William Brontë, Reverend Patrick Brontë’s brother?” I was astonished!  Jenny fetched a box of “silly old family stuff” down from the attic, and so began my amazing journey of research and discovery about the Irish Brontë cousins—contemporaries, and surely the object of some curiousity, of the Haworth sisters.  Focussed on the County Down homeland, my research soon led me to their relatively near neighbours, Arthur Bell Nichol’s birth family of Killead, County Antrim and, in turn, to Arthur’s adoptive family, the Bells of Banagher.

We will never know exactly how much Charlotte, Emily and Anne knew of their Irish relatives or those of Arthur Bell Nichols, but those lives form a very interesting backdrop to the wider experiences of the Haworth family.  I wrote about Jenny’s great-grandfather, John Brontë, for Brontë Studies (Vol. 47 No. 3 July 2022), but I am delighted to be asked to present my wider findings about the ‘Irish Relations’ to the Brussels Brontë Group in April 2023.’

Monica Wallace worked as a civil servant in Irish central government, including a period as EU Transport Attaché in Brussels, until 2017.  She now works in public sector recruitment and training, and is also a director of The Dublin City Volunteer Centre, and a director of The Maritime Institute of Ireland.  As well as her research on the Bronte’s Irish connections, she is involved in a number of local history and literary research projects.

Guided walk

Sunday 23 April 2023 at 10.00.

10.00. Guided walk around Brontë places in Brussels in the Place Royale area. The walk takes about 2 hours.

Guided walk (in French)

Saturday 10 June 2023, 14.00-16.00

In a walk specially devised for our Group, Dr Christophe Loir will talk about the Isabelle quarter and the Royal Quarter in 1842-1843 using street plans of the period, travel guides, engravings, early photographs and press articles of the time. He’ll also talk about Victor Horta’s Bozar, the Art Deco building constructed on the site of the Pensionnat Heger, and the redevelopment of the surrounding area in the first half of the twentieth century. A swathe of the city close to the Pensionnat was razed for urban planning projects, including the construction of Horta’s Central Station and the underground rail link linking the North and South train stations.

Christophe Loir teaches at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in the department of History, Arts and Archeology. He is a researcher for the FNRS (Fonds de la Recherche scientifique) and a Member of the CRMS (Commission royale des Monuments et des Sites).

Summer Lunch

Saturday 17 June 2023 (to be confirmed)

 

Other events of interest

Past events