Queer Places:
West Villa, Wyke, Bradford, West Yorks

Amelia Ringrose Taylor (December 28, 1818 - June 5, 1867) was an intimate friend of Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey. The relationship between Brontë and Nussey was no teenager’s crush. It continued into adulthood, maturing into a relationship all too familiar to many with its expressions of affection and devotion, agonising separations, and rocky paths, at one point caused by the deep friendship Ellen developed with Amelia Ringrose in the 1840s. It seems that Charlotte was uncomfortable to the point of jealousy over this relationship, and the situation only eased when Amelia got married.

Amelia Ringrose was born in Rotterdam, South Holland, The Netherlands, to Christopher Leake Ringrose and Mary Ann Boyes. Amelia's father Christopher Leake Ringrose, was a trader in hides, corn, and other agricultural products, with strong commercial links with the Netherlands, where the family had lived before returning to the Hull area. His wife was Mary Ann Boyes. Christopher seems to have been authoritarian and selfishly unwilling to part from his eldest daughter, who no doubt took over many of the duties of her invalid mother (she died in 1850). Neither parent seems to have felt much affection for their children, and self-absorption seems a family trait. Charlotte Brontë’s trajectory of interest in Amelia’s sister Rosy (Margaret Rosita) follows a similar pattern to her interest in Amelia. She is predisposed to her by her style of writing to Ellen Nussey, and after apparently meeting her she speaks of her “face – so pretty – modest – sensitive – that was the peculiar charm in my eyes” . Her enthusiasm for the young woman recalls her occasional special interest in certain small children: “I should be tempted to make a pet of that Rosy – to spoil her”. But it is a pattern in Charlotte’s encounters with people that she is often misled by first impressions. After Rosy's marriage to John Dugdale, she sees a hardness behind the charm, and refers to one of her letters as a "wretched heartless, filmsy, unsisterly scrawl". By then, Charlotte seems to have a confirmed distaste for the whole family.

Amelia seems to have become engaged to George Nussey in the first part of 1845, but quite soon the onset of his mental illness put the engagement in doubt. Charlotte's early descriptions of Amelia's letters first to Ellen, later to herself as well, are approving, using words like "affectionate and sincere", "sensible", and "goodness and candour". She is conscious, however, of a "touch of phlegm" in her make-up, and a lack of any out-of-the-ordinary mental attainments. More irritation enters the letters as Amelia, despairing of George ever regaining his sanity, began to accept the advances of Joe Taylor, who repelled Charlotte by his coldness and self-regard. Joseph Taylor (1815-1857), a clever practical and theoretical chemist, was known to both Charlotte and Ellen through his sister Mary Taylor, whom they met at Roe Head School in 1831. Joe Taylor inspired the character of Martin Yorke and Hunsden Yorke Hunsden in Shirley.

When the pair married, Charlotte was surprised by the closeness and affection of the union, but soon irritated by their overwhelming absorption in their delicate daughter Emily Martha "Tim" (1851-1858) — the constant watchfulness for alarming symptoms, the hypochondria on her behalf that caused them to break off their Scottish excursion with Charlotte in August 1853, almost before it had begun. Even Amelia's expressions of happiness are described as "a vacillating unsteady rapture", and Charlotte claims seldom to have seen anyone "more unconsciously thoroughly and often weakly egotistic". In this Charlotte seems to share her disgust and lack of sympathy with other of Amelia's acquaintances: when Amelia claimed to Margaret Wooler that little Tim had a forgiving disposition the former schoolteacher exploded in irritation: "Children don't forgive, they forget". Joe became ill in 1854, and the self-absorption of the little trio became complete. It was decimated soon after Charlotte's death, Joe dying in 1857, little Tim in 1858, and Amelia in 1867 in Wyke Banks, Wyke, Bradford, West Yorks.


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