Haworth parsonage and village will forever be linked inextricably with one nineteenth-century literary family. For it was here, in 1821, that Patrick Bront, an Irish Anglican clergyman, came from Thornton to be curate. He brought his three young daughters and son to Haworth, and it was here that the sisters grew up to become quite the most remarkable literary phenomenon of the century. As children, they knew the streets and the houses, the moors and the people. And, as Michael Baumber shows, many of the characters in the Bront novels were based upon real Haworth folk - some of whom recognised themselves in the women's novels and were not at all happy with how they had been portrayed - while the moors above the village figure prominently and famously as the haunt of the brooding Heathcliff in Emily's greatest work "Wuthering Heights". Patrick Bront the curate was himself a notable character in the history of the village, and his role in the social, public and religious life of the village is explored at several points. Surprisingly, the Bront novels mention little about the textile industry which by that time had become such a dominant force in the district's economy.
Indeed, the industrial development of the region was such an important and all-consuming fact of life in early Victorian Haworth that it forms a major subject of this new book. The Bront's did, however, describe life in the district's rural homes, schools and communities at a time of particularly harsh living conditions and appalling death rates in the new industrial community of Haworth. The village's public health record was poor well into the twentieth century, and Patrick Bront endured the deaths from tuberculosis (or other illnesses aggravated by it) of all four of his children between 1848 and 1855. Yet, as Michael Baumber's highly readable new book shows, the history of Haworth actually stretches back millennia: his book tells the whole story of the Haworth district from the early Mesolithic right up to the popular tourist magnet that the village now becomes during the summer months. The book also features the hamlets of Near and Far Oxenhope and Stanbury, providing a clear and illuminating account of how Haworth developed in the particular way that it did.
Fully illustrated, with many rare old photographs, this book offers many new insights into the village and also its occasionally ambivalent relationship with its most famous literary residents.