She was so sad that she wept silent tears. The sort that just roll down your face and leak off your chin without you making a noise.  Tears of sheer sadness. I hope none of you ever have to weep this way.’

Juliet’s reaction to the desperate news that her beloved was dead, as described by my English teacher Mrs Burke.  A startling image that has stuck with me throughout the past 25 years.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have an instrumental tutor in our lives hold them dear.

Long auburn hair, translucent pallor, she should have been imposing at nearly six feet in height but instead, she swished passed me in long flowing skirts, hippyish yet suave, wafting an intoxicating hyacinth smell that hinted at her life by the river.

Gentle and encouraging, she believed in me at a time when I was having difficulties at home and struggling to make sense of who I was in the world.

Falling deeply into the love tryst of Jane and Rochester and Cathy and Heathcliff was now I see a wonderful but ironic escapism from my life in a small market town on the North Yorkshire Moors.

I received the school’s English prize in my final year, in no small part thanks to Mrs Burke.

I don’t know where she is now but if I meet her again I’d like to tell her that I continue to read ferociously like a woman possessed.  I devour books overnight, staying up into the small hours despite the church bells donging to tell me I should be asleep.

As I approach 40, I have now wept silent tears for loves lost.  But to understand pleasure, you must feel pain and thanks to the teacher who swept me into those fictitious passions in my youth, reading is my solace and my comfort for both.

This article was first published on Inspiring Yorkshire Women.

Categories: Women


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