Strolling along Haworth’s main street, I stop every few metres for a photograph of the quaint stone shopfronts and postcard-worthy views over the Yorkshire moors. I find it hard to imagine the village was once a crowded industrial town and a cesspool of death and disease during the early 19th century, when English literature’s great Bronte sisters lived here. At that time, the average age of death was 24.
The girls’ father, Patrick, helped clean up the village’s water supply, the main cause of high infant mortality rates, disease and other deaths. But his own children failed to benefit, as they passed away before he was buried in 1861.
His valiant efforts are documented at the Bronte Parsonage, the Bronte’s former family home which is now a museum. I visit to find out more about the tragedy-tinged lives of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell.
The Parsonage illustrates a picture of three women who resisted social convention and...