Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 13 – the Art of the Brontes

A new arrival from the local library …

Advent Day 13 – post number 300 or 301 – finishing a draft Bronte Gamer Blogpost at  last.

The Art of The Brontes is a thick Thames and Hudson by Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars, an expensive illustrated book which I thankfully managed to borrow  through  my local lending library.

It covers every known sketch, painting and doodle by each of the four Bronte children from their youngest childhood drawings to their adult drawings and paintings.

I won’t infringe copyright of paintings or drawings from private or museum collections by featuring them here.

Steel engraving lowered the cost of prints making them more affordable for the likes of the young Bronte sisters. IMG_2368


Tropical Yorkshire in the Pacific?

I thought this might give me a clue to the possible backgrounds, terrain and landscapes for their fictional works of Gondal, Angria and Glasstown, upon which I have based some of my Imagi-Nations game scenarios recently.

Many of their fictional countries in the North and South Pacific or tropical West Africa are a bizarre blend of Yorkshire moors, the fashionable gothic or romantic art of their day with an element of the exotic gleaned from prints and journal illustrations of foreign countries.

I couldn’t quite get this blend of British or Yorkshire Tropical right in my head until I visited some of the sheltered and temperate gardens of Southwest England. Here you can see Victorian houses set in parkland with exotic planting brought back from many foreign countries giving that jungle or Himalayan valley and mountain pass impression.   No doubt there must have been such bizarre juxtapositions in Yorkshire big houses that the Bronte family might have known about or visited, being on the edge of gentry as a vicar’s family. These would be big early Victorian houses with their greenhouses, botanic gardens, plant introductions  and sheltered walled gardens.

I know this makes this Yorkshire Bronte Tropical fusion  sound almost as authentic as filming Carry on Up The Khyber Pass in Britain, with North Wales  standing in for the foothills of  The Himalayas.

Some of the sketches of landscape appear to be copies of prints, illustrations and drawing exercises as they learnt how to draw in the  style of their day.

Bronte Gaming Scenarios 

Some of the PECO Landscapes seem very suited to Bronte country and fictional terrain – the mountain scenes or  the seaside with ruined castle, for example.

Branwell Bronte, owner of the original twelve soldiers that gave rise to many of the children’s  fictional countries and campaigns, wrote and illustrated some interesting early “Battle” books as well with ancient or Napoleonic ‘toy’ soldier drawings.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 12, 12th December 2018

5 thoughts on “Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 13 – the Art of the Brontes”

  1. Another really interesting post ( really enjoying the Advent calendar) with scenic suggestions for us. I will look out for the book.


    1. This book like many niche subject big art books is very expensive but is probably available locally through the public library service.

      Glad you are enjoying the Advent Calendar format. However chaotically wargames magpie or butterfly it is, 25 daily blogposts has been a great way to finish off some minor ideas posts and odd blogpost drafts that have sat around for a while.


  2. Wow! So they illustrated their characters too? I’ve been struggling to read the short history of Angria from the British Library, which comes with a map. Still can’t find the entire book of their juvenilia that I had from my university library, and having been transcribed and typeset was much easier to read. Just now bought the Tales of Glasstown, Angria and Gondal for Kindle and will try to read it soon, thanks for the suggestion of that one.

    I’d love to see a post reviewing The Twelve and the Genii/Return of the Twelves. I read The Glass Town Game, but while I think the whimsy and imagination is right up a child’s alley (the weird literalness of the characters and descriptions reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth), I still prefer Return of the Twelves. It was one of the more seminal books of my childhood, and its depictions of the characters are what I see as definitive and have colored my view of toy soldiers and imagination ever since.


    1. Jennifer, This review is one of the blog post drafts still unfinished – almost made it into the Advent Calendar posts. I found the Great Glasstown Game quite hard work, shades of Alice and Tollbooth, the Twelves far easier and shorter and more enjoyable to read.
      The tales of Glasstown, Angria and Gondal takes some work but worth it for some choice moments amid the jumble.


      1. Good to hear! I look forward to your thoughts. I agree with you about the Glasstown Game; it’s good in its own way, but its wacky and fantastic where Clarke’s novel is much more grounded in reality (if that makes sense given the power of imagination in the story). I hadn’t thought of Alice as a comparison for the other, but it feels right.


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