Published in April 2010 by the Brontë Society, Katrina Naomi’s pamphlet, Charlotte Brontë’s Corset, is available from Katrina directly or from the Brontë Society on 01535 640188 or at www.bronte.info.
“Charlotte Brontë’s Corset is sensitive, sometimes provocative, its non-reverential tone wry and refreshing. Katrina’s almost ‘forensic’ examination of the Brontë relics explores them through new eyes, challenging our over-familiarity with the Brontë myths. Yet she is also drawn to the present life of the Parsonage, and her poems vividly re-imagine life behind the scenes of a museum dedicated to literary genius.”
Jenna Holmes, Brontë Parsonage Museum
Anne’s Last Letter
(dated 5 April 1849 to Miss [Ellen] Nussey)
Such clear handwriting, as though etched
with a fine Berol in brown ink. To save paper,
she wrote across the page, turned it 90 degrees,
I hold Anne’s letter (last valued at £180,000)
in its folder of thick plastic. I daren’t touch
the original for fear I’d start to cough, my lungs
in revolt. I have no horror of death she writes,
God’s will be done. I have no religion and want
to live. Though Anne is my favourite, I won’t bring
her letter to my face, lick this pricey envelope.
Overnighter at the Brontë Parsonage Museum
I’m not stupid,
I’ve danced with the sensors,
know who takes a break
from the tedium of security.
Once the last of the chatter
has broken away, I burrow
behind the Victorian frills
of Reverend Brontë’s bed.
I wait for the metal concertina
of shutter to wince its way
to the boards, for the clatter
of court heels on the setts,
for their exhausts to breathe.
I can relax, saunter to the kitchen,
make that kettle angry for tea.
I take my steaming meal through
to the Reverend’s room, stab
my sausages with his two-
pronged fork, sup my beer
from two dainty glasses. I write
for as long as my candle permits,
take myself to the only decent bed,
put on that stained white nightgown,
place his cap upon my head.
There’s no Cathy at the window
and I dream of bad-boy Branwell.
from Charlotte Brontë’s Corset