It has been a labour of love, a quest for the man behind Charlotte Brontë’s description of him: 'a faded Tom Dixon.' (He could hardly have been less so).
I was helped in my search by the genealogical work carried out by Mr Norman Penty and written up in his booklet, The Discovery of Charlotte Brontë William Smith Williams 1800-1875 – a Genealogical Quest. In 2006 Mr Penty contacted me and told me of the family tree that he had painstakingly researched. He contacted me because my name appears in the tree as the great grand son of WSW’s brother. The other huge source of help was from the late Margaret Smith’s edition of the letters of Charlotte Brontë. I visited the Brontë archive at Haworth, the Ruskin archive at Lancaster and the Smith Elder archive in Edinburgh, discovering in each place true gems. I researched extensively on line and in libraries. WSW's descendants in New Zealand and Australia provided a much need family perspective.
The draft is divided into twelve chapters:
3 The Hullmandel Years
4 The House of Smith, Elder & Co
5 The Bronte Years – Jane Eyre
6 The Bronte Years – Friendship
7 The Bronte Years – Art and Tragedy
8 The Bronte Years – Shirley, The Cornhill Parcels and Education
9 The Bronte Years – Villette, A Cooling Relationship
10 The Cornhill and Other Authors
11 The Ruskin Years
12 Home Life and Legacy
I now begin my search for a suitable publisher.