Lies and the Brontës

The Quest for the Jenkins Family

  • Published April 2021
  • Publisher SilverWood Books
  • ISBN 9781800420052
  • Hardback 234 x 156mm (622 pages)
  • Illustrations 26 black and white images, 4 maps, 3 family trees
  • RRP £25.00

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Reference has been made in [Charlotte’s] letters to Mrs. Jenkins, the wife of the chaplain of the British Embassy. At the request of his brother – a clergyman, living not many miles from Haworth, and an acquaintance of Mr. Brontë’s – she made much inquiry, and at length, after some discouragement in her search, heard of a school.
– Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857)

And yet after Mrs Gaskell, no biographer made inquiry about this Jenkins family – until now. Through many unpublished letters in archives from Australia to Cumbria to Aberystwyth, an extraordinary family has been revealed. Evan Jenkins went from a poor tenant farm in the middle of Wales to Cambridge University and ended as chaplain to the first King of the Belgians – Victoria and Albert’s ‘dearest uncle’. His wife Eliza was the largely Scottish granddaughter of a Provost of Aberdeen, but born in Rotterdam with Huguenot ancestry. She probably met John Keats when they were both teenagers, and the family would have known Walter Scott in Edinburgh. The Jenkins family also links Wordsworth, Thackeray, Trollope, the Liberator of South America, the father of Australian geology, and the man Jane Austen ‘doated on’.

Bradford Literature Festival podcast explore words discover worlds – EP1: No Net Ensnares Me – Charlotte Brontë Abroad |

Lies and the Brontës

Monica Kendall