Violin crafted to mark 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte’s birth

Violin craftsman Steve Burnett poses on the moors above Haworth with his handcrafted Emily Bronte violin (Danny Lawson/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A renowned violin maker has crafted a new instrument to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte, using wood from a tree which grew close to where she wrote.

Steve Burnett said he thinks the sycamore, which was felled close to the Bronte Parsonage, in Haworth, West Yorkshire, may have been old enough to have been there during Bronte’s life.

The Edinburgh-based craftsman spent around three months making the “Emily Bronte Violin” and said in Haworth that “in an artistic sense, it has come back to the moors”.

He said a musical instrument can be seen as an extension of the literary world.

“As Goethe said, ‘music begins where words end’,” Mr Burnett said.

“What I do is give voice to the environment.”

Although Bronte did not play the violin herself, Mr Burnett pointed to the connection in her novel Wuthering Heights – when Mr Earnshaw brings a fiddle back over the moors with Heathcliff but finds it in pieces after his arduous journey.

Mr Burnett said he is reviving the lost art of violin-making from the Italian golden age of the craft when Stradivarius worked.

He has made a number of instruments from trees with connections to historical figures or events.

In 2009, he made the “Sherlock Violin“ in tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s 150th anniversary from the wood of an old sycamore that stood in his Edinburgh childhood garden.

In 2014, Mr Burnett made the “Wilfred Owen Violin”, honouring the famous First World War poet and to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war.

He followed this up in 2017 with the Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves Violins, created from the same tree.

Mr Burnett said a musical instrument can be seen as an extension of the literary world Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Also last year he made the “Jacobite Fiddle“ from a sycamore that stood in the town of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh, where Bonnie Prince Charlie began his campaign to regain the British throne.

Like his other violins, Mr Burnett plans to have the Emily Bronte Violin travel around schools and communities and it will be played in Edinburgh’s City Art Centre on August 24 as part of Edinburgh Festival.

“Hopefully it will be played in the Parsonage itself as time goes on, hopefully sooner rather than later,” he said.

The Bronte Parsonage is holding a series of events this weekend to mark the bicentenary, culminating in Emily Bronte’s 200th birthday on Monday.

The anniversary is also being marked in nearby Thornton, Bradford, where a special post box has been unveiled featuring quotations from her work.