Annie Norman at her Bad Squiddo official Facebook Group Baggy’s Cave is running an interesting poll about which historical female figures that gamers, mini painters and collectors would like to pledge towards or see produced in future by Bad Squiddo.
I thought of the Bronte Sisters (and brother Branwell) who were pioneering Role Playing Gamers in the 1830s through their juvenile fictions or ImagiNations of Glass Town, Gondal and Angria, inspired by a gift of some wooden toy soldiers.
These have been a great stimulus for my gaming to continuing or exploring these sketched out but sketchy Bronte ImagiNations
The fragments that have survived of these ImagiNations as we have mentioned before in Bronte posts are somewhat confusing but I found that Isabel Greenberg’s charming graphic novel version Glass Town straightens or smoothed many of these story and character fragments out.
I loved Isabel Greenberg’s drawings of these four Brontes in the same Regency / early Victorian costumes as their ImagiNations characters. You can see an example of such pages of Isabel’s work here on the interesting US based Solrad comics website:
Annie Norman’s Bad Squiddo figures are usually 28mm. I think that Bronte figures would be excellent figures – and even better if there was a set in ImagiNations uniforms and a shadow set as they were in real life portraits, always useful as Early Victorian Civilians.
Dual Use figures – saves costs, extends their play value and their potential market of buyers, as well as the Haworth Yorkshire tourism, the Bronte Fan and literary market worldwide.
Adding Bronte ImagiNations command or character personality figures means that with some simple dual flagging, a Napoleonic or Colonial 19th Century unit instantly becomes an ImagiNations one.
The Bronte sisters and Branwell grew up in an age of conflict in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, during a young Queen Victoria’s expanding Empire and Charlotte living up to the Crimean War. Their tragic deaths at a relatively young age meant they were all dead ten years before the American Civil War.
The same dual flagging works at 15mm with the addition of an Angrian flag bearer to my Peter Laing mixed ACW and ECW unit figures seen here seeing off Ashantee Warriors and rogue Highlanders in the ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ forest of the Brontes’ fevered Imaginations:
After a mad few minutes “Bronte Fan Bombing” the comments section of Baggy’s Cave on Facebook a little, I wondered what if Annie Norman and the Bad Squiddo Facebook folk don’t choose the Brontes as special figures?
I might have to scratch around in 20mm Airfix for Waggon Train women, both bare headed or in bonnets, and the Robin Hood / Sherwood Forest sets (Maid Marian on horseback!) to find suitable Bronte Sisters figures in uniform. I would have to do the same for my few Peter Laing 15mm civilian females.
I discovered that E.Nesbit, in parallel to Wells writing Floor Games (1911), wrote her own book on how to make miniature worlds and magical cities, published in 1913, the year Little Wars was published.
Wings and the Child can be read here in text form with illustrations:
The book reminds me of Edwardian “gardening with children” manuals. The relatively new idea of “Childhood” for some, especially middle class Edwardian childhood, suddenly needed its Parenting manuals. Arguably these are an improvement on the stereotypical Victorian parenting of “Children should be seen and not heard” – especially in Sunday’s – and preferably not seen either.
“Now send them off to the Nursery with the Nurse or Governess or Boarding School …”
Around the time in 2019 that Charlotte Bronte’s last surviving little book was saved by fundraising to be returned home to Haworth, I was lucky enough to spot this charming little handwritten book online. I bought it and asked its origins but the seller knew little about it, other than his father had picked it up somewhere.
Now The Warrior and Pacific August 1901 issue will be shared with the world to boost its tiny circulation and family readership.
The Bronte family wrote tiny book parodies of magazines and adverts of their early Nineteenth Century and Victorian times as part of their ImagiNations of Glasstown, Gondal, Angria and Gaaldine. These are housed at the Bronte Parsonage and have inspired my ImagiNations Games for many years.
Jump forward to the end of the Victorian era in 1901.
Entitled the Warrior and Pacific magazine, this tiny postcard sized ‘magazine’ appears to have been hand written and hand drawn around Maidstone in August 1901, possibly by a group of young boys or girls on summer holiday.
Some of the pen names are suitably grand – Montagu Fontenoy, John Fitzgerald, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso …
Queen Victoria had died months earlier, this was written in the first Edwardian summer, August 1901.
Why was it written? It mimics and maybe mocks the thrilling, moralistic, mawkish and dull magazines of the day, based on the small sample that I have read. I have a few such random bound volumes of the Strand, Boys Own Paper and Girls Own Paper, Windsor Magazine etc. which make great Wellsian Little Wars hills.
Page 1 – Maidstone News Cs and B’s
“As the inhabitants of Maidstone seem to have left their native town to its solitary fate, Maidstone news is not flourishing. In fact about the newest thing about Maidstone is its emptiness.
The Creepers have joined the Boswells at Felixstowe where we hope the united forces will spend happy times.
This month saw two little Creepers born. Princess Winifred celebrates her eighth birthday on the twenty ninth and Princess Cecily her fifth on the nineteenth.
We congratulate them and wish them many happy returns on their respective birthdays.
We may expect in the near future to hear something definite about a certain Princess Eloise and a certain Earl Haynaught.”
Portraits of Cecily and Winifred appear on page Seven, alongside ‘Mary’ and a dog Maurice Bernard. The C’s and B’s are presumably the Creeper and Boswell families.
Are these real people?
A quick check on Ancestry and Find My Past on 1901 Census and elsewhere reveals no Winifred or Cecily Creeper born on those dates or at all anywhere, not just in Maidstone, although the Creeper surname does really exist. Similarly there is no R. Springfield in Maidstone but there were several Boswell families living in Maidstone in 1901 and 1911.
The main editor or illustrator appears to be one R. Springfield, ‘Warrior and Pacific, Maidstone.’
Page Ten and Eleven – A ‘Brothers Revenge’ and remedies for sunburn in the August issue 1901
Memories – “In the heart are many spots / sacred to Forget-Me-Nots”
Montagu Fontenoy? This may be an unconscious echo of “Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Montagu KB (died 1 August 1777) who was a British Army officer. He was the son of Brigadier-General Edward Montagu, colonel of the 11th Foot and Governor of Hull, nephew of George Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, and great-nephew to the celebrated minister Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax. He had an elder brother, Edward, who was killed at the Battle of Fontenoy, being lieutenant-colonel of the 31st Foot.” Or maybe just a good made up name?
Some of the portraits look as if they have sketched from magazines and may or may not be based on real people. Captain Earl Haynaught appears to be a made up name (the Earl of Hainault appears in medieval times in Froissart) but his portrait does look like Victorian army officer’s hat.
Other contributors include the grandly named Montagu Fontenoy, Major Pearl, Dick Iberville, Lady Sagasso and illustrator R. Springfield.
Page 2 – Editors Notes
“This is our grand August double seaside number and is generally considered the best paper of the month. We do not think that this year it will fall far below its usual high standard. We have many articles of interest this month that we have not had before and it bids fair to be a good success.”
“There is very extra special superfine, pluperfect competition specially designed for the pupils of Ronde College belonging to the Lower School and we hope to have a great many competitions for it. The prizes offered will be very handsome ones. There will only be two prizes for the two sets which are nearest right.”
Page 3 – ‘Model Mothers to Be – An Improvement on Home Chat Model Mothers’ by Lady Sagasso. An amusing little mock article about a warring celebrity couple and their darling only child that could have been written today …
Home Chat was obviously a style model to follow or mock – to make “an improvement on”. Alfred Harmsworth founded Home Chat which he published through his Amalgamated Press in 1895. The magazine ran until 1959. It was published as a small format magazine which came out weekly. As was usual for such women’s weeklies the formulation was to cover society gossip and domestic tips along with short stories, dress patterns, recipes and competitions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Chat
Illustrators D. Iberville, H. Vaughan, C.U. Boswell, K. Selagein, S. Howard …
“It is an insoluble Chinese puzzle to Maidstone why they ever did it” is a good closing line to ‘Model Mothers to Be’.
Page Six and Seven – Dog breeds, royal portraits of Princess Winifred and Cecily (the Creeper sisters, with Cecily’s Fifth Birthday on the nineteenth, see page 1 Cs and B’s?) ,
Scene or art competitions ‘you have to sketch a scene in pencil or crayon. It may be a landscape, seascape, fire escape or any other scape. Size half this page. Paper provided’. R. Springfield.
Page Seven – Hints on Etiquette …
“When introduced to a complete stranger, there is no need, as a general rule, to shake hands, but to bow.”
“It is now fashionable for a bridegroom to wear lavender suede gloves”
“A gentleman should precede a lady in a crowded street, in order to clear a way for her.”
Page Twelve – ‘My First Attempt at Novel Writing’ a comic article by ‘John Fitzgerald’ – ‘extracts from JF’s novel next month’ – were there more issues of Warrior and Pacific?
Page Thirteen – Nature Competition’ – for the best pressed flower leaf or seaweed “sent to us before September 1st.” 
A Brother’s Revenge by Montagu Fontenoy
Stretched on the ground her lover lies,
With dagger drawn, her brother stands
“My brother, go” she sadly cries
“Oh Philip, hasten from these lands.”
He turns, then mutely kneeling down,
Beside that prostrate form,
With lips compressed, and beating heart,
She ———– his lifeblood warm.
She see the face she dearly loves
Now stamped with death’s grey hue
Grow fainter, fainter as she looks
With loving eyes and true.
One glance, one kiss, one gasp, one tear and all is o’er
She knows that brave heroic heart
Will beat on earth no more.
Then rising quickly from her knees
With a steadfast upward glance
She stoops beside the fallen man
And holds his fatal lance.
“I will not live my life” she cries,
With the passion of despair
Then with one sharp homeward thrust
She lies beside him there.
A variety of article styles are parodied or pastiches from dramatic poems, romantic gothic melodrama stories to nature notes and etiquette observations.
Page Fourteen – a portrait of Dick Iberville by R. Springfield ‘An Eminent Member of our Staff’
Page Fifteen – ‘By The Old Style’ [Styal?] story by Major Pearl: the heroine’s face “beautiful it is beyond doubt. Beautiful in the full beauty of womanhood and yet there is a winning girlish charm about it. She raises expressive blue grey eyes to the man’s face …”Etc, etc.
‘To be continued in our next’ issue – by Major Pearl – do any other issues of Warrior and Pacific exist?
Hold the Back Page! For the next 120 years …
I shall type out a few more of these strange little mock articles in the coming weeks.
Warrior and Pacific Magazine – Excellent for the ImagiNations?
I feel the Warrior and Pacific should have a travel writer or war correspondent. Maybe we can send an eminent member of our staff Dick Iberville or hope that Captain the Earl of Haynuaght is not too busy with Princess Eloise to provide some Churchill style dispatches from the front?
Warrior and Pacific – It ought to have a railway company named after it.
I feel sure that we should ‘find’ a few more back issues of the Warrior and Pacific, (c/o The Editor Maidstone) in future.
Why do I like this tiny very fragile magazine?
I really like the mixture of tones in the article, faithfully recreating or mocking the magazines of their day.
As a comic book writer and cartoonist at school, I was part of an underground 1980s fanzine / samizdat culture of small comics and magazines satirising events and caricaturing school and national personalities. These were often in small runs of a couple of hand stapled photocopies or hand-drawn originals circulated to avoid unwanted attention from “the authorities”. A scurrilous rival comic in the sixth form got busted, snitched or grassed to teachers (not by me, I hasten to add), shortly before we left school and expulsions were threatened.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Interesting comment from Rosemary Hall on the handmade little books, worth sharing:
A delightful find! It reminded me of a handwritten (but full-size) Edwardian magazine, written by members of a family, at least one of whom was awarded a military award – as featured in episode 3 of History Hunters, originally shown on Yesterday, and still, I think, available on catch-up (UKTV).
The writing of such magazines was not unusual, in the days before the availability of commercial entertainment – think of the Hyde Park Gate News, the magazine that Virginia and Vanessa Stephen (to become Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell) and their siblings produced during their childhood. &, while not a magazine, there was the Journal that Beatrix Potter kept for several years, a journal that was not just in tiny writing (like the Brontes’ little magazines) but in code.
Another example of the kind of writing produced for amusement by young people in the past is the collection of handwritten little books produced by the Nelson brothers in 19th century America. The collection was discovered by Pamela Russell when she was at an auction house in southern New Hampshire, and came across a ‘flimsy, old shoebox filled with tiny carefully handwritten books’ – a collection consisting of over 60 volumes!
They are described as comprising ‘an astounding, one-of-a-kind trove of stories and drawings [revealing]…what life was like for …[youngsters] growing up in rural 19th century America.’ The books are now in the collections of Amherst College. To find websites describing the collection, go to a search engine, and type in ‘Amherst Nelson brothers’- and on one website there are digital images of pages from some of the booklets (which always made me think of the Brontes.) You see how the brothers combined accounts of their ordinary daily life with imaginative embellishments.
North Gondal 1870s – A trip to the forest to gather herbs accidentally interrupted by a Forest Indian Hunting Party.
Young Captain Snortt and Miss MacGuffin square up to four startled Forest Indians.
First card of the Duelling draw …
That just leaves the plucky Major’s Daughter Kate MacGuffin with only a concealed pistol and a hiking staff (unless she can get to the Captain’s sword) and her dog Patch pursued by three hostile Forest Indians intent on taking her hostage.
“Reading fed the children’s imagination. Their creativity soared after their father presented Branwell with a set of toy soldiers in June 1826. They gave the soldiers names and developed their characters, which they called the “Twelves”. This led to the creation of an imaginary world: the African kingdom of “Angria” which was illustrated with maps and watercolour renderings. The children devised plots about the inhabitants of Angria and its capital city, “Glass Town”, later called Verdopolis.”
“The fantasy worlds and kingdoms gradually, acquired the characteristics of the real world — sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. The characters and lands created by the children had newspapers, magazines and chronicles which were written in extremely tiny books, with writing so small it was difficult to read without a magnifying glass. These creations and writings were an apprenticeship for their later, literary talents.”
“Around 1831, when Anne was eleven, she and Emily broke away from Charlotte and Branwell to create and develop their own fantasy world, “Gondal“. Anne was particularly close to Emily especially after Charlotte’s departure for Roe Head School, in January 1831.”
It has been interesting chatting by email to other gamers like John Patriquin or Alan the Tradgardmastre about Imagi-Nations campaigns as I delve deeper into the involved worlds of the Bronte family’s young fictional countries and characters.
What to keep and what to invent or extrapolate?
In some ways I am finding working inside or through the Bronte fictions are hard work because there is so much detail to them but also much is missing or that only made sense inside their four different imaginations / heads.
I want to steal their fictional geography and fill in the gaps as best I could. Here is my sketch map of a Bronte island country of Gondal, based on Yorkshire:
There are lots of scenario ideas here.
However I think another solution that I will explore further is to jump forward a decade or generation or two, past all the mess of complicated political and personal relationships of the Bronte characters to the Mid and Late Victorians. The Bronte tales are written in the decade before Queen Victoria was on the throne and into the early years of her reign, roughly 1830s / 1840s.
What would the Bronte countries have made of the expanding British, French and Other European Powers throughout the Victorian era?
Jump forward to the Palmerston forts scares of Napoleon 3rd and the French in the 1850s, along with European Colonial expansion throughout the mid to later nineteenth century.
The Oxford Companion to the Brontes has entries on some of the conflicts before they were born (the Napoleonic Wars) and during their 1830s -1850s lifetime such as the Ashanti Wars, the Crimea and First and Second Afghan War, First Opium War, Russo Turkish War 1828 and Greek war of Independence 1821 – 1828. They would have read about these in the newspapers and journals that their father allowed them to read from a young age.
There were many Wars in the few years after their deaths which give the pattern for what was happening in their late Regency / early Victorian world. The Second Opium War, the Indian Mutiny, American Civil War, Franco-Austrian War are all mentioned in the Oxford Companion to the Bronte chronology and timeline.
There are many other historical events to take into account of the ‘real’ world that formed the backdrop to the Bronte Imagi-Nations or Paracosms of GlassTown, Angria, Gondal and Gaaldine.
There are other world events such as the Irish famine and emigration, the Bronte’s father being Irish, the California Goldrush, along with more Britain based situations 1840s Chartist movement and riots (following on from the 1830s Luddite riots) whilst the late 1840s saw revolution in many European countries. Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley covers this industrial revolution and Luddite period.
The Battles of Saxby
Even the railway boom led to conflict with landowners and aristocrats who did not wish to have the populace on the move and intrusion on their land such as the Battle of Saxby Bridge around Stapleford Park. I’m sure that some of the Glasstown and Angrian aristocracy would have some of the same concerns.
What of the Angria, Gondal and GlassTown involvement with the First and Second World Wars? Who did they side with?
I’m pretty sure that, being set in fictional Central West Africa and the fictional tropical Pacific islands Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific), they would continue to be at risk of being Invaded by or invading “real” countries into the 20th Century such as Britain, German East Africa and Japan. Had the Brontes been alive they would have reflected these real events transformed into their imaginary worlds.
There is also the throwing off the Colonial leash and independence from Empire in the 1950s and 1960s.
I wonder how the Angrian Defence Forces dealt with WW1 colonial campaigns in Africa? Problems with the WW2 Vichy French rulers of Frenchysland off the coast of Angria?
I wonder how the rival provinces and rulers in Gondal or Gaaldine dealt with the Spanish / American colonial conflicts in the 1890s or the Japanese Pacific campaign after 1941?
I can see it now, the Bronte fictional countries but armed with early light tanks, bicycles, biplanes and Machine guns skirmishing in the tropical grassland jungles moors and rivers (fused / mixed with their familiar Yorkshire moors).
Being Imagi-nations, there are no restrictive uniform charts, and there is little or no guidance from the text to such things. This gives lots of freedom to experiment or invent with colour schemes but this is frustrating also. No comfort zone of uniform books or Osprey titles, but lots of period inspiration from them!
I’m trying to loosen my paint schemes on existing 15mm and 54mm figures and ones on the painting tray to make them flexible for real or fictional campaigns. Rebrand them with officers and flags and then campaign away, much as James is doing on the Quantrill’s Toy Soldiers blog.
Some of the Bronte books such as Branwell Bronte’s books edited by Victor Neufeldt are £30+ academic reprints each – in a trilogy – ouch! I have one. The others out of stock / print. Maybe another time.
So I am “making do” with the digest of these stories in the extensive footnotes in cheaper paperback reprints secondhand, including Charlotte Brontes Tales of Angria edited by Heather Glen (Oxford) and the Oxford Companion by Christine Alexander, a useful A to Z of the Brontes lives and works. Helping me puzzle out and fill in my fictional Maps more …
I think if the Brontes had been born a generation or two later, the Bronte sisters and brother would have been part of the H.G.Wells science fiction generation, contemporary with H.G. Wells, Floor Games, Little Wars, matchstick firing guns, Gardens and lead soldiers.
100 plus years later, would the Brontes have been writing fantasy / dungeon / Victorian Science Fiction / Steampunk games and scenarios?
All inspired by Branwell’s original box of toy soldiers …
Me and the tiny men at the Man of TIN blog did have a small whip-round and made a suitably tiny donation alongside hundreds of others to secure this tiny matchbox sized magazine back to its home, where it was handmade small enough for the Bronte toy soldiers to read.
2020 will feature more Bronte inspired war games and gaming scenarios. It is also the 200th bicentenary of the birth of the youngest Bronte sister Anne, the final act in the Bronte 200 celebrations. https://www.bronte.org.uk
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 December 2019 – only five sleeps till Christmas.
As a big fan of the Bronte Imagi-Nations for my games table, I was interested to read about a campaign to save one of the Bronte tiny books designed in matchbox size for the toy soldiers that inspired their juvenile fictions: