'Once upon a time four gifted children built themselves a dream world, magnificently wrought and marvellously beautiful.' So begins the first serious study of the Brontë s' juvenile writings, Fannie Ratchford's The Brontë s' Web of Childhood, published in 1941. Ratchford's description of the juvenilia as 'a dream world' where the children 'found escape from the discipline and restraints of ordinary life' seems apt when one reads the journal Charlotte kept as a young teacher at Roe Head School. After one particularly tedious day in October 1836, she complained:
I am just going to write because I cannot help it.[Branwell] might indeed talk of scribblemania if he were to see me just now, encompassed by [students] ... all wondering why I write with my eyes shut – staring, gaping – hang their astonishment! ... Stupidity the atmosphere, school-books the employment, asses the society! What in all this is there to remind me of the divine silent unseen land of thought, dim now, and indefinite as a dream of a dream, the shadow of a shade? ... Now I should be agonized if I had not the dream to repose on.
The dream Charlotte refers to is, of course, the romantic saga of love, war, passion, and revenge that she and her siblings had been writing together for nearly a decade.
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