Bronte Imagi-nations Maps

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Branwell Bronte’s Map of Glass Town (British Library / Museum)

I am still slowly piecing together the complex history of four sibling’s imaginary lands and islands.

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Glass Town Federation with Angria added by Christine Alexander – really a map of West Africa. Map from

Christine Alexander the Bronte scholar has imaginatively sketched in where the kingdom of Angria should be, seen here in close up:IMG_3226

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Informative Key to Christine Alexander’s enhanced map of Angria and Glass Town from her Oxford University Press edition of the The Brontes: Tales of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal (OUP 2010)

There is no map by the Bronte family for the  Gondal sagas, set partly  on Gondal, a fictional island in the North Pacific which seems to be based largely on Yorkshire. So I drew a rough outline one.more detail will be required for when I set some skirmish gaming scenarios there.

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My Map of Gondal. Rough sketch from my notebook of a map of the Four Kingdoms of Gondal, using a Yorkshire map and the colonial habit of adding ‘New’ to familiar place names back home.

So that is where the map is roughly based on the four North, East,  South and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

The Bronte sagas are rather lush and overblown, a bit Gothic and tediously muddled in parts. After all it is their Juvenilia. Some of their adult novels have survived better (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre etc) with their Byronic brooding charcters, mad wives from slave islands in the attic, gothic houses, etc. All quite difficult to take seriously though. At least Jane Austen took the mickey in Northanger Abbey out of the fashion for Gothic novels and the products of a fevered girlish or literary imagination.

I have changed my view of Jane Austen and the Brontes since reading more about the historic events and Georgian / Regency social background in Jenny Uglow’s In These Times that I mentioned in a recent blogpost https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/in-these-times/

I like the fact that it was a box of wooden soldiers that kick started the Bronte sagas.

Often seen as early science fiction or RPG material, a paracosm or alternate world, if the Bronte family had been born at the end of 19th Century and played with tin or lead soldiers then I’m sure it would have been more Floor Games and Little Wars … like another famous science fiction author, H.G. Wells.

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Arise Angria! The Rising Sun banner of Angria.

There is a charm in the Mad Geography of inventing tropical pacific or African coastlines and islands but making them all moodily, ruggedly, mistily like the wild Yorkshire landscape that the girls knew.

In the next week or so I hope to post a potted history of each of the Bronte’s Imagi-nations. 

I find the Bronte juvenile sagas and poems hard going because they were never published in their lifetimes,  never edited and probably never meant to be read outside the family. Lots of events and character detail is implied, not stated or written down. The tiny books were split up and sold off by dealers. Usually scholars look at them for clues to the origin of their published novels and characters.

For the Gondal and  Gaaldine sagas, the prose stories by Emily and Anne seem to have vanished and only really Emily’s poems to and from different characters remain. I think the longest surviving sister Charlotte may have destroyed the most Gothic / romantic sections with multiple partners, affairs and children out of wedlock parts of them.

Gondal is set on a North Pacific island of four kingdoms. The other island Created by Emily and Anne Bronte is Gaaldine. Gaaldine is a South Pacific island or islands of six kingdoms, settled and interfered with by the ruling families, royalists and revolutionaries of Gondal, and presumably the original natives. I have not yet drawn the Gaaldine map.

For the GlassTown and Angria saga more prose remains, based loosely on a map of West Africa but with European offshore islands and Regency / Naplenoic era heroes.  I have been skim reading some of the prose surviving sections for geographical clues to places to enrich the map, jumble of characters etc.

Troubled brother Branwell Bronte had more violent revolutionary and military storylines, often ones that had to be altered or revised by his sister Charlotte when he killed off characters whilst the sisters were away at work or school. Emily and Anne got fed up and invented Gondal and Gaaldine as their own kingdoms.

I like the Prisoner of Zenda type Ruritanian or even Fredonian aspects of the sagas.

Confused?

If it all gets too complex I will fast forward the nations through to the mid to late Nineteenth century when the established characters have largely died off or been deposed.

Lots of Royalists and revolutionaries abound, as befits the Bronte family growing up in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and new European nations forming and being fractured by revolutionary times throughout their lifetime. These  were the times the Bronte family were born into and wrote through and into the late 1840s.

Previous Bronte inspired Gaming blog posts  https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/brontes-waterloo-soldiers/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, March 2017.

Imagi-Seven Nation Army

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Off in his own worlds, Donald Featherstone, visionary …

I am always surprised by how rich in ideas Donald Featherstone’s original 1962 War Games book proves to be.

Reading through it as I often do, as its my ‘Desert Island Discs’ sort of book, I came across this interesting paragraph on page 46:

On the other hand, a completely mythical campaign is often conducted, using fancifully uniformed troops of imaginary countries and with highly coloured reasons for fighting the war. 

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What If? British Redcoats with flame throwers for Imagi-nation Victorian Sci Fi / Steampunk scenarios (work in progress paint conversions from Airfix WW1 Germans)

It’s what we would now call Imagi-Nations gaming:

This can be fascinating, as ruling houses, petty dukedoms, jealous heirs and dashing princes provide excuses for one state declaring war on another adjacent dukedom, or fir those gaily coloured Hussars to be sent to the distant frontier where they will due gallantly fighting off the hordes of savage tribesmen threatening their country. 

This seems almost Game of Thrones stuff!

Whatever the type of campaign, the first essential is a master map … (Page 46)

The only thing Donald Featherstone doesn’t quite describe in War Games is the 1970s  rise in science fiction / space / fantasy style gaming. Or does he? Arguably his Ancients rules  demonstration game the “Battle of Trimsos” based on Tony Bath’s Hyboria campaign is kind of fantasy wargaming there in embryo also.

Minus the orcs, of course …

This battle was fought in an undefined period of the chequered history of the mythical continent of Hyboria – a vast land mass dreamed up by Tony Bath of Southampton, which contains nations of almost every type of known warrior of our own world from its earliest times.

These countries fight each other on the slightest provocation, make pacts, break pacts, invade, repel and generally carry on much as did our own ancestors in the earliest recorded days of history… (Page 75)

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Somebody else’s ‘found in a jumble bag’ blue coated paint jobs on British WW1 Airfix soldiers? Which nation are they? Why are they fighting?

And as Donald says in his opening chapter:

For the player who finds nothing of interest in this list [of wargames periods] there are imaginary campaigns that he may fight without limit. He can form his own imaginary world, with continents and countries each of which will make war on its neighbour on the slightest pretext.

The French find themselves involved in wars with America,the British take on the Russians in period 1900, and great wars take place between countries who, at the actual period in time when the campaign is deemed to be taking place, were the very best of friends in real life! 

Therein lies one of  the fascinations of war gaming – one can remake history to suit one’s ideas, can alter the complete trend of events by re fighting a major battle such as Waterloo and making the French win it …

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Sketches for Imagi-native redesign of pound store figures …

Donald Featherstone’s books are always so enthusiastically written with assured knowledge that you will receive genuine pleasure and fulfilment in this solitary or shared hobby:

There is a great deal of satisfaction in making one’s own armies, either in entirety or by conversions …

It’s true what Don Featherstone says. Who could resist such conviction?

Who could resist that ‘Avuncular’ tone of a knowledgeable ‘Uncle’ Donald ?

My copy of War Games is the sold-off ex-library stock hardback copy that I used to borrow and read as a child. Thankfully War Games has been reprinted recently in paperback by John Curry.

I hope you have your own ‘desert island wargames book‘, the one you keep going back to and finding fresh ideas (despite the familiarity) for your own real world or imagi-nations gaming.

War Games is my ‘go (back) to’ book for ideas or just comfort reading. What’s yours?

Happy gaming! Leave comments, explore past blogposts or follow my blog.

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Another work in progress: Some of my enemy troops from my Cakes of Death polymer clay Fimo forces from silicon cake decoration moulds.

More about Imagi-Nations on a previous ‘Tintin’ blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/tintin-and-imagi-nations-games/

And the Brontes got their first  …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

I’m preparing a series of solo skirmish games this winter once I’ve worked out  the (confusing) imaginary kingdoms or Bronte 1820s/30s  Imagi-nations of Gondal, Gaaldine, Angria and Glass Town, for which a Bronte sketch map exists!

This along with my ‘Generic-an forces’, from my fictional country of Generica, should prove to be an interesting winter’s gaming.

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The Coast of West Africa 1820s reimagined by the Bronte family as The Glass Town Federation and Angria (Wikipedia source).

And the Title of the blog post? Imagi – Seven Nation Army?

Check out the fabulous and irresistible sultry ’30s New Orleans sleaze’ / Jazz rendition by singer Haley Reinhart and the U.S. band Postmodern Jukebox of this modern White Stripes number, available on I-Tunes but to view free on YouTube! Just type in Postmodern Jukebox on YouTube and enjoy the many musical styles they play with in their ‘musical time machine’  … Or visit http://postmodernjukebox.com

Happy Listening! Happy Gaming!

Blog posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, September 2016.

 

Tintin and Imagi-Nations Games

 

imageOne of the things I like about Tintin are the interesting ‘Euro’ nations and enemies that Belgian author and illustrator Herge created as foils for his intrepid young reporter detective Tintin.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin

Great uniforms amongst enemy troops, but as a child I couldn’t work out why the Police in Tintin for example of what I took to be a supposedly British / English setting for Captain Haddock of Marlinspike Hall looked so odd.

Had Herge (I wondered as a child) never been to Britain? Slowly as I got older I realised that Herge was drawing mostly European / Belgian settings and that the books are translated all over the world.

This  ‘Glocal’ World (both Global and Local) of Herge in translation has strange villains and fake euro Imagi-Nations such as Borduria in the Calculus Affair and the realign of the villainous Kurvi-Tasch with his strangely fascist moustache logo on his very Nazi looking generals, troops and 1950s looking tanks.

Even though Tintin goes back to the 1940s, to me his books are the ‘Funny Little Cold Wars’ of the 1950s and 1960s in graphic novel / comic strip version,  akin in style and feel to the early 1960s James Bond movies with the suave and stylish Sean Connery and his menacing enemies.

A range of plastic Tintin figures / key ring figures is available online in various sizes.

Great inspiration for some enemy troops as shown with generic enemy  “red troops” or “red guards” in my Back to Basics DIY figure making blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/back-to-basics-toy-soldiers/

 

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Unfinished faceless hordes of red guards based on a 1950s US Barclay podfoot dime store lead figure representing ‘enemy troops’, defending the secret base of whatever enemy regime or Imagi-Nations you choose (photo/ figures: Man of TIN)

Tintin should prove equally good inspiration  for some paint conversions of Pound Store Warriors from modern / WW2 green / toy army men.

So why not make up your own Imagi-Nations, uniforms and all?

If Tintin is not your gaming thing, then there is of course Asterix and this fabulous wargaming Asterix and the Romans website http://romansgohome.blogspot.co.uk

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Fictional Enemy, Threat or Aggressor Troops  

Making up your own enemies, uniforms and all isn’t that far from the truth.

The Milihistriot Website (c/o Sheil family USA website) has an interesting section with coloured plates of threat, enemy or “aggressor” troops with adapted uniforms from military exercises:

 

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Green crested helmet enemy troops as just one example of some colourful training enemies from a 1964 MIlihistriot article soldiers of Never-Never Land by James Glazer,  based on US troop manuals. These are archived at: http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggressor1.htm

Examples of 30-101 / these US troop manuals can be seen at:

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/FM30-101/FM30-101.pdf

http://www.alternatewars.com/WW3/Trigons/FM30_101_1959.pdf

The fictional (Esperanto speaking!) aggressor troops had a white ensign or badge with black triangle.

http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggvehicles1.htm

These manuals have obviously inspired many of the imaginative paint finishes and uniforms on the Sheil range of vintage home cast Toy Soldier Art figures. More have been created on the same principle at their Spy Troops page: http://www.thortrains.com/online/spytroopies.htm

Herald infantry (like those from my family collection above) had ready made plastic ‘enemy’ troops made briefly in what the Sheils call ‘Berlin Gray’, http://www.thortrains.com/online/berlinggray.htm

http://www.thortrains.com/online/Berlin%20Grays%20%20and%20Spies.htm

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Atlantic 54mm plastic soldiers, a junk shop find. (Figures / photos: Man of TIN)

Back to Tintin and Imagi-Nations

The Tintin / Calculus Affair  Kurvi-Tasch troops also have a look of the strange Atlantic modern troop figures that occasionally and erratically  appeared in shops in the 1980s, featuring an odd sort of  Euro army appearance. They looked strangely foreign, even futuristic on occasion (not quite American, not British and not German). Only later did I discover that they are meant to be Italian / Euro troop types. Atlantic figures and their strange box art are well covered in the Airfix’s Competitors chapter of my much-thumbed copy of  Airfix’s Little Soldiers by Jean Christophe Carbonel (Histoire & Collections publishers, 2009). Some of the Atlantic figures were recently reissued by NEXUS.

Happy Imagi-Nations Gaming!

Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.