Thursday, February 11, 2016

Margaret Forster. In Memoriam

On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 12:40 am by M. in    No comments
As we informed before, the writer Margaret Forster (1938-2016) has died. Her prolific body of work never crossed paths with the Brontés except for a couple of biographies and several mentions here and there in her novels. Let's take a brief survey of the Brontës appearing in Margaret Forster's books.

Her biography of Daphne du Maurier (1993) contains a lengthy discussion of Du Maurier's biography of Branwell Brontë (in the chapter Breaking Point):
The project she decided to embark on was the kind of book she had never attempted before — a straightforward, properly researched biography of Branwell Brontë. She had always loved the Brontës ever since at the age of twelve she read Wuthering Heights — 'it's the most extraordinary book, miserable and very highly strung ... it left me sleepless' — and in 1955 had been pleased to be asked by Macdonald to write the introduction to a reissue of the novel in their classics series. She had taken the task very seriously, using it as an opportunity to go to Haworth and visit the parsonage and the Brontë Museum with Flavia and Oriel Malet. The three of them stayed at the Brontë Guest House ('main meal at 6.3o pm and no alcohol!') and had long walks across the moors, thinking themselves into the lives of the three sisters and becoming quite swept away by the atmosphere of the parsonage, especially the nursery, which Daphne found 'very happy ... why do people pretend it is gloomy?' When she got back, she read all the juvenilia of the Brontës, published in the Shakespeare Head edition, and was struck by the amount of work done by the ill-fated Branwell. (...)
Another biographical book (although narrated in first person) where Charlotte Brontë features is in Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman: William Makepeace Thackeray (1978):
Miss Charlote Brontë, for example, was forever taking me to ask over and urging me to live to the image I had (...) (p 167-170).
And several Jane Eyre mentions:
What I was actually reading was mostly still children's stuff, Arthur Ransome and such like, though I'd read Jane Eyre and had attempted Virginia Woolf (Orlando, of which I made nothing whatsoever). It was always annoying when the rest of the family began arriving home and the house once more became more like a busy meeting place than a library.  (My Life in Houses (2014) p.27)
'About what, ma'am?'
Jane Eye, the sensation of London last summer, or so everyone writes to me. I see no reason why you may not read it, Wilson. it is about a poor governess, of good family but in reduced circumstances, as so many are.' Mrs Browning looking at her curiously, then said, 'Wilson, do you remember first coming to Wimpole Street? And were you very afraid of us all? Did we make you suffer, like poor Jane Eyre, and were you very lonely?'
Wilson smiled. It was typical that one question should follow another without pause for reply. 'I remember it very well and thought everyone kind but I was lonely and lost, as you might expect.' (Lady's Maid (1990) p. 265)
A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn .down, were shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour, with a blush of pink in it . . .He read on, but Gwen heard no more, only the rise and fall of his voice. She was in the room with Jane Eyre, oppressed by the mahogany and stifled by the red drapes. She fought for breath and there was a hissing in her head. It was the room of her nightmares. Her father noticed nothing. He loved to read to them and paid little attention to the effect of the words he read out. Should he look up from the book, he had Winifred to be gratified by. She sat, rapt, her mouth slightly open and her expres-sion one of utter concentration. (Keeping the World Away (2006), p 19)
I had to say I had no idea, that he had said he would make all the arrangements. I feel naive not to have checked such details, which are not so very minor. But I have some money. I am not Jane Eyre, and if anything unpleasant transpires, I can simply come home. Mr Russo is to pick me up at Tilda's address, tomorrow. (Diary of an Ordinray Woman (2013), p. 102)
Uncle Tom's Cabin she dismissed as sentimental and dull, and it annoyed her to be told how I had cried and cried over it, but she liked Jane Eyre. It was a bond I never had with my other children. Whatever happened later to us, it is an undeniable fact that there existed between Rosemary and me a wonderful closeness —  (...)
What did I care what colour the kitchen was, and, anyway, it always ended up the colour she wanted and had decided on before she ever opened her mouth. What she tried to do was persuade me that I actually wanted what she wanted. And as for the reading, I hated the books she gave me, even Jane Eyre. She liked melodramatic, sad stories. I like funny books, or comics. It was the same with the wireless, upon which we were heavily dependent.  (Private Papers (1996), p.61-62)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 12:02 pm by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
Nottingham Post reviews Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre at Nottingham's Theatre Royal.
The cast certainly didn't disappoint. Felix Hayes was not the typical love interest, but then neither was his character Rochester. He was everything the part called for; rude, uncouth and demanding, with a huge presence whenever his strode onto the stage.
And with just ten cast members there were several other stand-out performances. Simone Saunders slipped effortlessly between her parts as Bessie, Blanche Ingram and Diana Rivers, while Melanie Marshall was a captivatingly unusual (and tuneful!) Bertha. And it would be impossible not to mention Craig Edwards, who provided some much-needed light relief as Rochester's dog Pilot, launching himself about the stage, throwing himself to the ground, and using what looked like a short riding crop as a wagging tail to great comedic effect.
Unfortunately I couldn't warm to Madeleine Worrall's Jane. The Jane Eyre in my mind's eye has a calm poise and dignity. Madeleine rather scurried and hunkered about the stage, often appearing to cower up to Rochester and frequently losing control of her emotions.
And speaking of hunkering, a certain respect is due to all the cast for the amount of climbing they did. The set was a bizarre and somewhat ugly contraption made up of wooden ramps, platforms and numerous metal ladders, surrounded by white drapes. It looked a lot like we'd caught the Theatre Royal during a spot of decorating. The cast clambered around like monkeys for over three hours, travelling in endless circles up and down the steps. In fact, I rather feel like when I close my eyes to go to bed this evening I'll be seeing people climbing ladders in my dreams!
The music was something else, with an on-stage band serving up everything from Mad About the Boy when Jane first feels a twitch of feeling for Rochester (also a nod to his first wife Bertha's mental state) to Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. This was stunningly performed by Melanie Marshall, but to me still seemed to jar.[...]
All in all it was a thought-provoking performance, but as a die-hard Brontë fan I would have done a few things differently. (Jade Beecroft)
While The Sydney Morning Herald gives 4 stars out of 5 to the cinema-screened production.
Cookson's Jane is played by Madeleine Worrall and her performance in idiomatic Yorkshire is full of detail and a broad spectrum of dramatic intensities. And Felix Hayes as Rochester has a masculine swagger and growling darkness mitigated by a roughness and freshness which suggests the young man behind the ogre-ish mask.
But this is very much an ensemble production and Cookson turns it into a rich and strange coming together of fringe-inflected theatre and a resonant projection of a classic.
The stage has a few high, wooden benches and long ladders from which a world of magic and realism (but with the latter predominating) are summoned up.
The movements of dogs and horses are abstractly but graphically delineated. Snatches of rock music and hymns are sung. There's plenty of chanting and swooping and improvisational group work but the overall effect is one of discipline and dramatic coherence.
Cookson creates a powerful simulacrum of Charlotte Brontë's world with a strong emphasis on the exotic torments of childhood. And her actors led by Worrall as Jane are convincingly childlike.
This Bristol Old Vic Jane Eyre is clearly the fruit of a passionate collective inner journey. Cookson and her cast have gone deep into the subtextual grandeurs and desolations of this extraordinary family romance but then come back to the rhythms and understatements of Brontë's very powerful dialogue. The effect is a bit of a revelation, like removing the varnish and dirt of an old painting. Jane Eyre seems new minted. (Peter Craven)
A couple more of reviews can be read on Theatre Girl Blog and Impact.

Still on the stage, as the Post-Chronicle reviews the play The Moors.
Emily Brontë gets a severe make-over in “The Moors,” a grimly funny new play by Jen Silverman that is currently enjoying its world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theatre. This is one of those typical love-it-or-loathe productions of which the New Haven Theatre is famous (infamous?). It is here that I found myself once again asking, “If not at Yale Rep, then where?” [...]
The period recalls and simultaneously sends-up the novels of the Bronte sisters with wicked glee. In essence, Jen Silverman has produced her own warped version of “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” with a dash of “Carrie”, a dollop of “Rebecca” and a spoonful of “American Idol” tossed in for good measure. So what’s it all about? Silverman has several ideas percolating here including the rise of female empowerment and the ugly temptation of fame. But it also seems to be about an embittered working class and their attempt to subvert and destroy their superiors. “The Moors” is obviously a play that could benefit from more than one viewing. (Tom Holehan)
The Telegraph features the new season of TV series Happy Valley, created and directed by Sally Wainwright. Her next project is mentioned in passing:
Wainwright is now in pre-production for To Walk Invisible, a BBC film about the Brontë sisters and their relationship with their brother, which she wrote and will direct. Haworth, the Brontës’ home, is near where she grew up. (Jessamy Calkin)
Fangoria has a Q&A with Mia Wasikowska about Crimson Peak.
Fngoria: Having done a few films based on period literature, was that something you’d been enthusiastic about before you took those roles?
Mia Wasikowsk: Yeah, I really like those Gothic novels. You know, Guillermo puts everybody to shame when he starts talking about that literature, but I did like the Brontë sisters, and then I read Frankenstein and The Turn of the Screw on this film, and gained a wider appreciation of the genre. (Michael Gingold)
The Mary Sue reviews the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:
The oddest thing about P&P&Z, however, might be the visual approach to the material. Austen’s material always has a summery, pastoral quality, even when the narrative has tragic elements. Considering the best Austen films, there’s a vibrancy to the sad Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion that just works with her language, and there are moments when the film plays into that, but those moments are brief before clouds roll by and things look more like the Brontë sisters’ world than Austen’s. Why not tell a zombie story that comes to its climax in the daylight with flowers and sunshine? That would have at least been visually interesting for a zombie movie. (Lesley Coffin)
The Independent reports on the latest goings-on in the 'world of books':
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Royal Society of Literature has asked some of its fellows to name their scariest literary moments.
Hilary Mantel chooses the moment in Jane Eyre after Rochester asks her, “You don’t turn sick at the sight of blood?”
This columnist from The Hindu tells about his ideal vacation.
There’s so much to do. Maybe I’ll people-watch (definitely some form of communion). Or, when in a less sociable mood, maybe I’ll do Brontë-ish things like walk the moors with Bill Sikes’ bull terrier racing ahead. Ahead lies a cliff, a sheer drop, and when I look down, I’ll see an umbrella bouncing on the waves. The outside is black, the inside has a plaid pattern. I don’t know whose it is, but somebody must have had a black-and-plaid umbrella snatched away by these wild winds. And oh, a Cornish sunset. I don’t know what that’s like, but I imagine that will go well with this scenario. Think about it, this is a museum too. It’s Heathcliff’s museum. This is where he walked, that is where he spied on Cathy. What do you mean he’s not real? I first met him when I was in school, when no one knew what it meant to wuther. (Baradwaj Rangan)
Not your regular vacation either - the possibility of staying in the real-life room with the window through which Lockwood saw Cathy's ghost. Recommended by Express among other Brontë-related things to do in Brontë country. Spinning a corn-free yarn posts about Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. Gloria's Blog reviews very positibely, All Hallows at Eyre Hall: The Breathtaking.

We are terribly saddened by the news of the death of writer Margaret Forster last Monday. The Evening Standard quotes her on being a writer.
Goodbye, Margaret, the reluctant ‘legend’
Farewell to Margaret Forster, novelist, Evening Standard book reviewer — and all-round “legendary girl”, according to fellow Cumbrian Melvyn Bragg.
Paying tribute to Forster on Radio 4’s Front Row last night, Bragg recalled hearing of her first as a “legend. I lived 10 miles away and there was this legendary girl in Carlisle called Margaret Forster, there really was!”
Forster, though, who died yesterday aged 77, would have had no time for eulogies. Uninterested in publicity, she told Desert Island Discs in 1994 that, growing up,  “I didn’t know such things as writers existed … I never thought of a writer as being a job or indeed of writers being alive. In some way,  I thought all writers were dead — you know, your Dickens, your Austens, your Brontës.”
Several Brontë alerts for today, February 10:
The Huddersfield Literature Festival and Kirklees Libraries present
Wednesday, 10 February
Mirfield Library, 7pm

Patrick: Father of the Brontës, by Colin Pinney

Colin Pinney, takes on the guise of the Reverend Patrick Brontë to reveal the story of Branwell Brontë and his famous sisters: Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Anne (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall). The performance includes the Brontës' comments on each others works and springs a few surprises. 
In Indooroopilly, Australia:
Wednesday, 10 February | 10:30 – 11:30am
Indooroopilly Library
Charlotte Brontë: Her 200th birthday year

Enjoy the wonderful world of literature through a series of talks with Susannah Fullerton, one of Australia’s best-known literary lecturers. Susannah brings to life the lives and writing of great novelists and poets in her fascinating lectures. Susannah is President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, the largest literary society in the country and Patron of the Kipling Society of Australia. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tuesday, February 09, 2016 11:42 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    No comments
The most romantic line in film and television has been voted and it is from Emma Thompson's wonderful - and Oscar-winning - adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. However, a line from Wuthering Heights got some votes, too. From The Telegraph and Argus:
The words “My heart is, and always will be, yours” from Sense And Sensibility have been voted the most romantic line from romantic literature, film and TV drama.
They are uttered by Edward Ferrars to Elinor Dashwood in director Ang Lee’s 1995 screen version of Jane Austen’s classic novel.
The line, which is from Emma Thompson’s Oscar-winning screenplay, was the top choice of 2,000 British women who were polled for the TV channel Drama.
It gained 16% of the vote, placing it ahead of heart-melting moments from Dirty Dancing, Titanic, Wuthering Heights, When Harry Met Sally, Notting Hill, Ghost, Far From The Madding Crowd, Love Actually and Pride And Prejudice. [...]
Emily Brontë’s line “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” from Wuthering Heights took fifth place and received 10% of the votes.
The list was created as the Drama channel launches its Leading Man Weekend for Valentine’s Day.
The press release with the release has been published by many other websites.

More romance (and more references to both Austen and Brontë) as Jezebel discusses the craft of their love stories.
This is the way adaptation plays out: Person A comprehends some information about person B’s nature from what B says or does, and that changes how A approaches her afterward. It sounds simple, but I think it’s very difficult to write and nearly impossible to write well. Almost no one tries. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte each did this over and over. [...]
Charlotte Bronte takes us a step deeper. Jane Eyre uses almost every potential complexity of the adaptability technique and uses it to paint characters not only vividly but even luridly. Both Jane and Mr. Rochester are moving targets: neither of them settles into a single set of characteristics. They always have a restless connection. In other words, the attraction Waldman describes as based in character doesn’t always lead to respect or an ideal marriage, it can also lead to big, off-kilter, bizarre and thrilling love—it has no less of the dirty force of love based in other, male-valorized qualities. Where Austen might be making a pattern for all love, the way marriage ought to be, Bronte uses the adaptation technique to make her characters and their connection idiosyncratic. [...]
It’s not everywhere in the canon. It isn’t in the work of George Eliot, Woolf, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, or Dickens; however romantic and psychological they are, those authors use other methods. Where the free indirect discourse of Flaubert, the minimalism of Hemingway and maximalism of Nabokov are often credited with marking the great countries on the map of modern literary fiction, I think the geniuses of the adaptable character are under-praised. Brontë and Austen are often lauded, of course, but for irony, psychology and free indirect discourse: rarely for the scale of this achievement. (Catherine Nichols) (Read the full article)
Norra Skåne (Sweden) features the Malmö stage production of Jane Eyre and interviews cowriter Anna Azcárate.
Anna har vänt och vridit på verket och tycker det finns många saker hon skulle kunna säga om det. Som att det är det perfekta verket att spegla sig i ur ett feministiskt perspektiv för att se den blinda fläcken i vår samtid. Eller att behovet av klassiker inte är svårare än att ett barn vill höra favoritsagan om och om och när barnet blir större får sagan olika prismor.
– Men jag ska inte sticka under stol med att det också är en förbaskat spännande berättelse, tung och maffig, med sagans alla stora element. Och jag är mycket en berättare.
Och den som älskar sin Jane Eyre kommer att känna igen sig.
– Absolut. Jag ser ingen mening med att återskapa Jane Eyre som en ny berättelse.
Några av kvinnorollerna spelas av män. Finns det någon speciell mening i det?
– Inte mer än att skådespelarna är väldigt duktiga och bra på att vara gränsöverskridande. Och det handlar om resurser när många karaktärer ska bakas ner till sju skådespelare, säger Anna Azácarate. (Yvonne Erlandsson) (Translation)
Sveriges Radio (Sweden) has interviewed actress Natalie Sundelin, who plays Jane.
Jane Eyre befinner sig i en värld full av konventioner och oskrivna uppförandekoder. Men hon är befriande fri från koketteri, sarkasm och självutplånande humor, menar regissören Anna Ascarate.
Hon är på något vis en tidig feminist, innan begreppet riktigt fanns. Hennes starka röst, självaktning och självrespekt gör henne angelägen idag.
- Det finns ett ögonblick när Jane säger "men är det inte märkligt att vi kvinnor skulle förväntas vara mer stillsamma än män?". Det där embryot, den lilla spröda starten till en feministisk teoribildning, just ögonblicket när den unga Jane reflekterar över att vi förväntas vara olika, det är så vackert - ett av de ögonblicken under repetitionerna när jag fått kontakt med ett riktigt feministiskt tilltal. (David Richter) (Translation)
More articles on the play The Moors mentioning the Brontës:
[Playwright Jen] Silverman first read Gothic classics Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights when she was young, and she revisited the titles while studying comparative literature at Brown University. While those novels—with their trappings of mystery, melodrama, murder, and longing—may have influenced The Moors, Silverman did not want her play to seem like a literary or historical adaptation. “That’s the reason we have the actors speaking in an American accent,” she explains. “This is a very contemporary and American play, and to those ends the moors represent something more than what they are.”
Silverman was inspired by the letters Charlotte Brontë wrote about daily household life on the Yorkshire moors. “The sense of location permeated the letters [and] emerged as a character,” says Silverman. “It mesmerized me and it made me think about how people condition themselves against such a bleak and unworldly landscape, and how that relative inhospitality offers a kind of permission—particularly for women—to let them dream in a way they might not otherwise." (Frank Rizzo on American Theatre)
La región de Inglaterra, conocida como Moors o Mooreland  [sic]está ubicada en North York y compuesta por vegetación mas bien de altas hierbas y pequeños arbustos, en la que hay frío y mucho viento. Esta área del país ha inspirado numerosas obras novelísticas famosas que se desarrollan en esta región, entre ellas están Wuthering Heights de Emily Bronte, y Arthur Conan Doyle, el famoso creador de Sherlock Holmes, en su popular obra The Hound of the Baskervilles, ambas llevadas al cine. (Bessy Reyna on Identidad latina) (Translation)
SBS (Australia) reviews the film The Choice.
When it’s charting Gabby and Travis’s steadily growing attraction, The Choice is light and lovely. A laid-back vet with a lake house and a grill isn’t exactly Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, but Walker brings a slight, pursed edge to Travis’s languid drawl – not so much as to make him brood, but just enough to draw us in. (Bilge Ebiri)
And it's back to Brontë mentions connected to Crimson Peak now that it's coming out on DVD. From Slant Magazine:
So precisely defined is every aspect of Allerdale Hall's physical decay that even the people who dwell within it feel more like conduits for the manse's soul than independent agents. If Wasikowska's surprisingly fortitudinous naïf is meant to recall Jane Eyre, Hiddleston's version of Rochester comes not from Charlotte Brontë's classic tome, but the revisionist version found in Wide Sargasso Sea, a feckless brute who maintains a veneer of respectability just long enough to nab a wife he can exploit to boost his own faded status. Hiddleston's best performances always hint at a bit of sleaze beneath a show of welcoming charm, and the hunger that fills Thomas's eyes whenever talk of money arises lays bare the sham of his romance from the start. (Jake Cole)
Inspired by the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Independent thinks of more literary mash-ups 'we need to see' (do we really?).
Whatever happened to Baby Jane Eyre?
Charlotte Brontë’s novel is one of our favourites, but this dark masterpiece comes unstuck with its ersatz happy ending “Reader, I Married Him” business. But reader, what if, it were to make good on its gothic potential by taking a leaf out of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s 1962 camp classic?
To wit: Jane didn’t marry that lying bully Rochester but instead she and the attic-bound Mrs Rochester together started a fire to dispose of him.
However when we catch up with the pair a few decades later, their relationship has soured; with Jane having locked Bertha in the attic once more for thwarting her marriage hopes all those years ago, this increasingly deranged recluse stalks the house in her ragged governess’s uniform. But what’s Bertha plotting? Cue a battle of divas like nothing the 19th century has ever seen. (Hugh Montgomery)
The News section of the Illinois State University brings back an article from 2012 wondering whether you can actually die of a broken heart.
A broken heart: The very idea has graced the arts for centuries – from Romeo and Juliet to Wuthering Heights and Downton Abbey. Yet can someone actually perish from the sadness of a lost love? Can a heart break? [...]
“There is a famous scene in Wuthering Heights where Catherine tells Nelly, ‘I am Heathcliff,’” quotes Professor of English Cynthia Huff, who is the Department of English expert on Victorian literature. “There is this idea that Catherine and Heathcliff are conjoined, and they literally cannot exist without each other.”
According to Huff, the idea of oneness is celebrated in the Victorian “Cult of Sensibility,” that uplifts emotions (or sensibility) over sense. “The original notion was to keep sense and sensibility in balance,” said Huff, “but with the ‘Cult of Sensibility,’ strong emotions held sway.”
Though Catherine dies wasting away after giving birth to a child, Huff said her students are rarely forgiving of the Heights’ heroine. “They usually call her a drama queen,” said Huff with a laugh. “She refuses to eat. She refuses to sleep. When she dies, is it a broken heart? Is it Catherine making herself ill? Is she an early anorexic? Clearly, Brönte [sic] wants us to know she is suffering.”
Huff noted another character in Wuthering Heights, Hindley, could be said to die of a broken heart. “Hindley becomes increasingly self-destructive. He is an alcoholic, who drives himself further into his vices of drinking and gambling.” (Rachel Hatch)
The Week lists '10 endearingly weird snow words', one of which is by Charlotte Brontë.
5. onding
"It was a very grey day; a most opaque sky, 'onding on snaw,' canopied all; thence flakes fell at intervals, which settled on the hard path and on the hoary lea without melting."
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, 1869 [sic]
The Scots gifted us with onding, a heavy and continuous rain or snow. Onding also refers to breathing or smelling as well as a figurative onslaught or noisy outburst. (Angela Tung)
An alert from Garden City, NY:
 I will say that everyone in town is reading these days and the ladies who belong to the American Association of University Women's reading group will tackle Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” on Tuesday, February 9th 1 p.m. The book ws published in 1847 and probably read by most people as I know I read it in High School. You just might want to read it again as we look at things in a different light as we progress through the years. Its really amazing how we remember or do not remember things from years ago. (Garden City News)
Plymouth Herald has selected the five best love stories in fiction, including Wuthering Heights. According to Librópatas (Spain), Catherine Lowell's The Madwoman upstairs is the perfect novel to read in the 'Brontë year' (we wonder why not an actual Brontë novel though). Abby King discusses love in Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations. Medusa Was Framed posts about the Red Room scene in Jane Eyre.
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
After its stay in Bristol, the Jane Eyre production first seen (as a one-part production) at the National Theatre in London comes to Nottingham:
Tue 9th February- Sat 13th February
A Bristol Old Vic and National Theatre Co-Production
Jane Eyre

Devised by the company
Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me..."
Almost 170 years on, Charlotte Brontë's story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman's fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms.
From her beginnings as a destitute orphan, Jane Eyre's spirited heroine faces life's obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.
This acclaimed re-imagining of Brontë's masterpiece was first staged by Bristol Old Vic in 2014. Director Sally Cookson brings her celebrated production back to life for a national and international tour that begins with a two month run at the National Theatre.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Monday, February 08, 2016 8:42 am by Cristina in , , ,    No comments
The South China Morning Post features Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre as the production is one of the highlights of this year's Hong Kong Arts Festival (18-21 February).
Soon after Charlotte Brontë saw her first book, Jane Eyre, published to great acclaim in 1847, she wrote to a friend about something that was troubling her.
She had not, she confessed, served the character of Bertha, the mad woman in the attic, very well. She had made her a monster, instead of a real person with real concerns and feelings.
“It made me certain that I wanted to make up for that,” says Sally Cookson, whose thrilling new version of Jane Eyre for the Bristol Old Vic theatre in the UK will be performed here next week as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival.
“Charlotte Brontë felt she hadn’t given Bertha a voice … And I realised that just the word ‘voice’ had triggered an idea. Why not give her a beautiful voice, I thought …”
So she cast jazz and musical singer Melanie Marshall in an extraordinary role that makes the mad woman in the attic one of the voices in Jane Eyre’s own head, as well as letting her express her own pain and relationship with the story.
“I saw the [1943] Orson Welles film before I read the book,” Cookson says. “I remember being stunned by it: the music in particular was so extraordinary.”
Then she read the original book, recalls the director: “And he got it so wrong.” He had, she says, somehow missed out the voice of Jane altogether.
The tempting thing for any adaptation – and even a three-and-a-quarter hour play has to lose much more than it keeps – is to concentrate on the complicated love story between Rochester and Jane and the mystery of the attic.
But Cookson felt strongly that this book was more than a Gothic love story, and that the heart of the piece, “was Jane’s striving to find fulfilment in her life,” says Cookson. “It’s about an aspiration to be happy, and a feeling that you have to fight against injustice, whether that unfairness is against yourself or against other people.”
Cookson’s process as a director is unusual and painstaking, and remarkably challenging and exciting for the cast.
She rarely starts directing a play by using an actual script, for example. And she is renowned for changing things round at the last moment, keeping everyone on their toes.
“The dramaturge Mike Akers and I worked for about eight months with the book in front of us,” she says. “We were filleting the text, deciding which characters were in and which were out, what scenes we would include and which ones we would scrap, and what each scene achieved.
“And finally we got the actors in.”
At that point, she says, there was no actual script.
That would come from the actors improvising the scenes, and exploring the characters, and finding humour and pathos in small moments.
There was also no decision about stage design at the beginning, although after inviting the actors at a very early stage to play with ladders and a bit of scaffolding Cookson realised that she wanted Rochester’s house, Thornfield, to be almost a character in its own right. She would do that through a set that other people have called an “adventure playground”. (Victoria Finlay)
Stage Whispers and Performing ArtsHub reviews the production:
The tale is full of such vivacious and imposing characters, especially the cryptic and commanding, Rochester. Hayes makes Rochester a very handsome figure but does not neglect the tortured mannerisms and the intensely preoccupied gaze that give him his aura of charm and mystery. Overall, the play is extremely faithful to the text and very careful to preserve Brontë’s extraordinary writing, especially the moments that display Jane’s quiet determination and the sensitivity and humanity with which she asserts her morality. Bertha Mason is made a continual presence throughout the play with the haunting singing provided by Melanie Marshall. She is rendered incredibly spectral and yet undeniably present. This is a brilliant example of just one of the many ways in which music is used in an inventive and novel manner in this production. Fans of Brontë, and her protagonist Jane Eyre, will not want to miss this vibrant and fresh theatrical look at this legendary literary masterpiece. (Patricia Di Risio)
What a wonderful and original production! Director Sally Cookson’s theatrical interpretation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre for National Theatre Live, co-devised with her cast of ten and co-produced with Bristol’s Old Vic, is intensely passionate, witty, touching and strongly feminist. (Liza Dezfouli)
New Haven Register reviews the play The Moors.
In dressing “The Moors” in an 1840s setting ripped from the pages of, say, “Wuthering Heights,” Silverman pokes the corseted ribs of any or all of the Brontës’ female characters while paralleling them to today’s narcissistic millennials so hungry to be noticed that every thought, emotion and meal requires documentation on social media. Nobody, it seems, wants to be invisible. (E. Kyle Minor)
The essay Remembering Slavery, Again by Susan Gillman in the Los Angeles Review of Books discusses, among other things, whether Heathcliff could have been black or not.
British novelist Caryl Phillips published The Lost Child, partly a prequel to Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in which he draws on the long critical speculation that Heathcliff, brought from the slave port of Liverpool to the Yorkshire moors, is black. [...]
The hymn “Amazing Grace” plays as the signature music in both the BBC’s Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners and an earlier documentary, the 2009 independent film A Regular Black: The Hidden History of Wuthering Heights, which speculates on Heathcliff’s racial identity in the context of Yorkshire’s historical connections with slavery. Amazing Grace is the title of both the aforementioned musical about the moral awakening of Captain (later Reverend) John Newton and a 2006 film about William Wilberforce, who led the successful fight in Parliament in 1807 to abolish the slave trade throughout the British Empire (but not slavery itself, which happened much later, in 1834). Yet, despite the circulation of these four productions across the Atlantic, it is safe to say that most Americans would not recognize the British roots of this black spiritual — and that few readers anywhere would recognize a “black” Wuthering Heights. [...]
To track degrees of social visibility requires that we do more than answer “yes” or “no” to the questions of whether Britain’s slave owners are forgotten or Heathcliff is black; it requires trying to determine when and why these particular hot-button issues become visible. The question “Is Heathcliff black?” has been asked more than once and the “hidden history of Wuthering Heights” shown well and repeatedly, by the 2009 documentary A Regular Black, for instance, and all the prior scholarship on which it draws. [...]
Wuthering Heights is the perfect example of how the traces of slavery are not new news and can be found in seemingly unusual sources. Wuthering Heights has, for years, been read as a literary classic, and yet, although arguably a historical novel of slavery, it has been overlooked as a historical source. Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 but set earlier (it opens in 1801, and the story extends back to the 1770s), that is, before the 1834 abolition of slavery in Britain. A historical novel under the mask of the Gothic, it is notoriously veiled in its representations of slavery in Yorkshire. Scholars have periodically debated whether and how the footprints of slavery can be tracked in Brontë’s classic, sometimes by relying on the same few enigmatic lines as textual evidence of Heathcliff’s blackness. (Most often quoted: Mr. Earnshaw uses the pronoun “it” when he arrives from Liverpool with Heathcliff, “as dark almost as if it came from the devil.”) The contextual evidence was first laid out in the 1980s by scholar Christopher Heywood’s “Yorkshire Slavery in Wuthering Heights” (1987), a landmark essay frequently cited, the standard-setter documenting the evidence for slavery around Dent, the region of Yorkshire that provides the key geographic context for Emily Brontë’s knowledge of slavery in Britain. Heywood’s research points to all the black afterlives of Wuthering Heights, including Phillips’s novel and two films, the 2009 A Regular Black, with commentary by Phillips, and Andrea Arnold’s 2011 Wuthering Heights, with a black actor as Heathcliff. All of this harks back to the original text, Wuthering Heights, and prompts the question: why would Brontë in 1847 have set her novel in late 18th- to early 19th-century England, when slavery had not yet been abolished, and then veil its presence? [Read more]
This Huffington Post humorous column on book clubs also mentions Wuthering Heights. In an altogether different light, of course.
Okay, the snacks were great, and so was the wine.
But the books were awful. I wanted to have fun, but everyone kept voting for books that were depressing. They called them "classics." I guess that's code for boring books where nothing really happens to people you don't care about, and books that leave you feeling there's no point being alive.
Like Wuthering Heights. What a mess those people were! They really needed serious chocolate or therapy or a week at an all-inclusive resort or even just a hot yoga class. Everything was so grim and confusing, and even that word "wuthering," plus the book cover made me feel like I was on the verge of a migraine. (Lev Raphael)
A.V. Club discusses the film adaptation of Bridget Jones's Diary.
[Author Helen] Fielding helpfully calls out the Austen reference straightaway, kicking off the book with Bridget and Mark’s first meeting at the infamous turkey curry buffet. This Mr. Darcy also is curt and rude and a bit dismissive of our Bridget: “It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking aloof at a party. It’s like being called ‘Heathcliff’’ and insisting on spending your evening in the garden, calling ‘Cathy’ and banging your head against a tree.” (Gwen Ihnat)
Fife Today features Travelzoo's online literary game.
From Emily Brontë to Dylan Thomas, the interactive map, beautifully designed, features some of the most well-known entries in the globally popular canon that is English literature. Users have 30 seconds to match the book to its location.
AnneBrontë.org discusses the mask anecdote from when the Brontës were little.
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments

The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds
Editors: Qi, S., Padgett, J. (Eds.)
Palgrave MacMillan
ISBN 978-1-137-40514-2
It is said at the very beginning of the introduction to The Brontë sisters in Other Worl(l)ds:
Ever since their first publications in the late 1840s, the works of the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) have inspired countless literary adaptations (novels, dramas, short stories), musical works (settings of songs and poems, musicals, libretti, operas), films, ballets, art works, literary criticism, translations, and even comic books. The reception of the works of the Brontë sisters in Europe and the United States has drawn extensive scholarly attention. However, much needed scholarship on their position in other wor(l)ds—languages and cultures—remains to be done. 
This book, edited by Shouhua Qi and Jacqueline Pidgett, tries to fill this gap with a selection of several unrelated articles exploring this fascinating and largely unexplored territory. Their work, nevertheless, is not totally in the dark. In 1989, Donna Marie Nudd began to clear the field with Jane Eyre and what adaptors have done to her. But, arguably the book which put adaptations and derivatives in the Brontë scholar landscape was Patsy Stoneman's seminal work on Brontë derivatives in Brontë Transformations: The Cultural Dissemination of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Some years ago another (more ambitious) selection of papers was published in A Breath of Fresh Eyre. Intertextual and Intermedial Reworkings of Jane Eyre and more recently Hila Shachar focused on Wuthering Heights film adaptations in Cultural Afterlives and Screen Adaptations of Classic Literature.Wuthering Heights and Company.

Nevertheless, the primary intentions of The Brontë Sisters in Other Worl(d)s are more precise than these books. As we quoted before, Qi and Pidgett's aim is to engage in an approach which displays the negotiation and eventual appropriation of the Brontës' works by other languages and cultures. As in any compilation book, the different chapters and topics are not equally interesting and the final result is somewhat uneven.

The introduction firmly frames the intentions of the book (which largely exceed the final results of the book) which is to cover the cultural assimilation (in terms not only of translation per se) of the Brontës in different geographies. Regrettably many of the most promising and interesting venues hinted at the introductory framework like the different responses on the Brontës in Germany, France or in the Mediterranean countries are not discussed in the book which centers on more travelled scholar routes like the Caribbean or Mexico.

One of the most interesting chapters is the first one devoted to the Brontës' works in China. The popularity of Jane Eyre in China is well-known and was sparked by, of all possibles sources, the Jane Eyre 1970 film adaptation with George C. Scott and Susannah York. Shouha Qi documents this curiosity and traces the background to the evolution of the Brontës' reception in China from the very beginning until today. A fascinating account which nevertheless has to be read more as a summary digest of a much more detailed yet-to-be-written critical history of the Brontës in China.

An article about Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea in a book like this one seems almost unavoidable. One wonders, nevertheless, if it was really necessary. The book by Jean Rhys has been extensively discussed in many contexts and critical approaches before and we expected that this collection of papers could assume its groundbreaking status and could run away from its comfort zone. Nevertheless, Suzanne Roszak's discussion is not centered on the critically overcrowded postcolonial perspectives but in highlighting the generally ignored Gothic qualities of the Rhys text by itself and not only because of its Brontë predecessor.

The Caribbean continues to be the background of the following chapter. An a priori highly interesting discussion of both the transportation of Wuthering Heights to the Caribbean and its retelling in French in Maryse Condé's La Migration des Coeurs and its subsequent English translation as Windward Heights. The topic discussed by Jacqueline Padgett is a fantastic playground where adaptation, cultural assimilation and (re)translation work together as in very few other occasions in the history of literature (some Shakespeare plays are probably the only other cases we can recall). Nevertheless, the author of the article tends to overuse the critical literary tools when applied to simple interviews for newspapers or promotional texts and damages the overall (sometimes a bit twisted) vision of the author.

One of the best articles of the collection in our opinion is the one devoted to Luis Buñuel's Mexican film Wuthering Heights adaptation Abismos de Pasión 1954. Here we cross the boundary between literary adaptations and go into the more diverse intermedia studies, in this case film studies. Kevin Jack Hagopian does an excellent job discussing the film in several overlapping frameworks in which we can study it: as a Buñuel film, and particularly a film of his Mexican highly idiosyncratic period, as a Wuthering Heights post-colonial (but in a very special Hacienda-like way) adaptation or as a piece of (pseudo)melodrama with Wagnerian echoes.The angles are multiple and not necessarily exclusive. A good example of critical approach that only enlarges the subject of study and not encapsulates it in a particular framebox.

One cannot say the same about Saviour Catania's discussion of Yoshishige Yoshida's 1988 Japanese film Onimaru, also based on Wuthering Heights. Not because we think that his approach to the film using Georges Bataille's hypermorality, the framework of Noh theatre or his detailed study of the soundtrack of the film are wrong. No, they are not. They are fitting and thought-provoking. The problem is that what could become a very interesting discussion is obscured by the overuse of an impenetrable jargon that renders casual reading difficult and only seems to be addressed to an already converted audience.

The last chapter is not exactly disappointing but a bit arbitrary. Why a study about Michael Berkeley's Jane Eyre opera in a book like this? Of course it can be justified, you can almost justify anything using the right redefinitions, as a sort of  translation to another language/media, the operatic language. But it is forced and frankly not convincing.

The Brontës in other wor(l)ds, though a bit disappointing towards the end, opens a new window of study exploring the critical landscapes that are just merely glimpsed across the book. It is no small achievement, to be a pioneer.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Tracy Chevalier presents the new Parsonage exhibition in The Guardian:
Somehow it is fitting that Charlotte Brontë’s 200th anniversary is in danger of being swamped by two other giants: the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April, and the Queen’s 90th, a birthday she shares with Charlotte on 21 April.
I don’t think Charlotte would have minded. She held her own among the greats of her day, making a point of sitting back and talking only to the governess at a dinner party Thackeray held for her. I think she enjoyed playing the role she gave to her most famous heroine, Jane Eyre, of being “poor, obscure, plain and little”.
In reality she was bright, sharp and ambitious. At the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth this year we are celebrating with the exhibition “Charlotte Great and Small”. Works by contemporary artists responding to the theme are on display throughout the Parsonage. In an exhibition space, I have chosen to showcase tiny things in Charlotte’s life – shoes, a scrap of dress, the miniature books the Brontës famously constructed – alongside quotes voicing her big desires. On hearing of a friend’s travels to the Continent, for instance, Charlotte wrote: “I hardly know what swelled to my throat … such a strong wish for wings – such an urgent thirst to see – to know – to learn – something internal seemed to expand boldly for a minute.” That is not the response of a timid woman sitting in the corner.
Indeed, she herself went to Brussels to study for two years, where she had the misfortune of falling for her teacher. Later she wrote him passionate letters he tore up but which his wife saved and sewed back together. They are now at the British Library, which has lent one for the Haworth show. It is bizarre, heartbreaking, voyeuristic, and it’s also exhilarating to see Charlotte’s words destroyed and then resurrected in this way.
The Brontë Parsonage Blog posts several pictures of the official launch of the exhibition.

A new biography of the newspaper publisher David Astor is presented by its author in the The Guardian:
He was also a brilliant talent spotter. He employed Patrick O’Donovan, a journalist he particularly admired, “on the basis of an essay he’d written on one of the Brontë sisters”, and replaced Ivor Brown as theatre critic with the peacock figure of Kenneth Tynan. (Jeremy Lewis)
More The Guardian. A review of the new Wellcome Collection exhibition in London: States of Mind. Traces the Edges of Consciousness:
Nightmare and the gothic make inevitable bedfellows. Hearing some of the contemporary accounts of hypnogogia collected by the artist Carla Mackinnon, and soundtracked in the gallery on a whispering loop, is like listening to the opening chapter of Wuthering Heights. (Tim Adams)
The Guardian also publishes an interview with Sally Wainwright, but no mention to her upcoming Brontë BBC film To Walk Invisible is made.

Two new reviews of Mick Jackson's Yuki Chan in Brontë country:
 Yukiko has travelled all the way from Japan to England, ostensibly to see her sister Kumiko in London, but ultimately to visit Haworth, fabled home of the Brontës. While the older Japanese women on Yukiko’s tour are overcome to be in the Parsonage where the Brontës penned their famed novels and to walk the same atmospheric moors that the sisters walked before them, Yukiko has no interest in some long-dead authors. She is in Haworth to follow the footsteps of her mother. Mick Jackson’s novel is a subtly haunting and strangely affecting read. And whilst the plot, like Yukiko herself, is somewhat curious, the sentiment of the novel is utterly authentic. (Yorkshire Post)
The titular Yuki-chan is the only youngster in a tour group of elderly Brontë fangirls making their pilgrimage to the village of Haworth, where the sisters once resided.
But while her companions are there to commune with the Gothic moors that inspired Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Yuki is chasing her ghosts.
Ten years ago, her mother made a mysterious visit to Haworth. On her return to Japan, she was found dead in the snow.
Yuki, who considers herself something of a psychic detective, hopes that retracing her mother's footsteps will tell her why. (...)
She heads an ensemble cast of women in a landscape that, in a significant departure from the Brontë mould, is almost devoid of men.
No Byronic hero hijacks her quest; rather, she forms a bond with a teenage girl called Denny, who rides a stolen motorbike and has no qualms about shooting strangers in the butt if they annoy her.(...)
If you like this, read: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Penguin, 1966, $17.82, Books Kinokuniya), another novel ostensibly related to the Brontës. In Rhys' spin on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, the madwoman in the attic comes to life as Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway, who is torn away from her native Jamaica after her marriage to a certain Englishman falls apart. (Olivia Ho in The Straits Times)
CBC News reviews the novel Heap House by Edward Carey:
Lucy and Clod join forces to get the bottom of his family's deep dark secret and their bond with the ever-growing piles of objects growing outside their home. The heaps of detritus take on a life of their own in this world, much like the wild moors of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. (Joanne Kelly)
Vulture reviews the film The Choice:
When it’s charting Gabby and Travis’s steadily growing attraction, The Choice is light and lovely. A laid-back vet with a lake house and a grill isn’t exactly Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, but Walker brings a slight, pursed edge to Travis’s languid drawl — not so much as to make him brood, but just enough to draw us in. (Bilge Ebiri)
Abigail Deutsch discusses why having your email hacked feels so personal in The Atlantic:
Perhaps the juiciest part of any email account is the drafts folder, that electronic id brimming with unfunny quips, unaskable questions, and (in my case, at least) unstated declarations of love. All lie forgotten until a search for some mundane term calls them up again. And at such moments, I recognize that my email knows me better than I do, that it is—as Wuthering Heights’s Catherine says of Heathcliff—“more myself than I am.”
Daily Mail looks into the (in)famous little history of the monster mashup genre:
Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters came next, which saw the Dashwood sisters evicted from their home and forced to live on an island plagued by a rampaging octopus and giant lobsters.
This was followed by Jane Slayre, a fusion of Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre – but with vampires. It begins, ‘Reader, I buried him’. (Amy Oliver and Caroline Graham)
Wicked Local Raynham inserts Jane Austen and the Brontës in the romantic novels genre. We cannot disagree more:
Jane Austen was followed by the Brontë sisters with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and in the twentieth century Georgette Heyer was one of several novelists inspired by Austen’s works to write romantic novels and to firmly establish the genre. (Eden Fergusson)
The Boar thinks that Rochester is a jerk:
 A 2009 poll by Mills and Boon voted him literature’s most romantic character. But think about it: if your best friend was dating someone who behaved the way Edward Rochester does in Jane Eyre, you’d think they were, at best, a bit of a jerk; at worst, downright abusive.
He’s sarcastic and manipulative. He feigns betrothal to Blanche Ingram to make Jane jealous, and tries to marry her while he’s got his first wife locked in the attic. Then, when Jane tries to leave, he threatens rape. Surely that’d be enough red flags for any woman…(Rachel Sayers)
La Semaine (France) interviews Adeline Karcher, author of a recent thesis:
Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë, un de mes personnages préférés, doté d’une grande force de caractère. (Aurélia Salinas) (Translation)
The Telegraph & Argus talks about the recent shooting of Charlotte, The Movie! at the Parsonage by the comic duo LipService. Octobersky briefly posts about Jane Eyre. The Book Carousel reviews Wuthering Heights.
12:22 am by M. in , ,    No comments
The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2016) is already available. We provide you with the table of contents:
pp. 1-2 Author: Adams, Amber M.

Charlotte’s Letter, Heger and the Shoemaker
pp. 3-10   Author:    Bracken, Brian

On 18 November 1845 Charlotte Brontë wrote the last of her four surviving letters to Constantin Heger. The letter’s margins contain some pencil notes mentioning a Brussels shoemaker, most probably written by the Belgian professor. Over the years, several Brontë critics have contrasted the desperate fire of Charlotte’s words in this letter, to which Heger never replied, and the seeming banality of his jotted notes. Was this really all he had to add to his former pupil’s impassioned pleas? Charlotte’s letter to Heger has been commented on by a multitude of critics, while its marginal notes have never been subjected to any close analysis. This article attempts to establish, firstly, what is written in the notes and, secondly, to give a plausible reason why Heger might have written them – a reason which may show that the notes are, ultimately, not banal.

Joseph Henry Dixon’s Oatlands Museum, Harrogate
pp. 11-28  Author:  Wood, Steven

J. H. Dixon’s Wuthering Heights Collection at Oatlands in Harrogate was an outstanding private museum which was devoted to the Brontës, J. M. Barrie, domestic furnishings and textile machinery. Despite its very considerable importance it has been almost totally forgotten since it was broken up a century ago. This, the first study of Dixon, his collections and his museum, should go some way to correcting that neglect.

Lockwood the Liar: a Call to Reconsider Wuthering Heights as a Metafictional Work on the Limits of Narrative
pp. 29-38      Author: Frangipane, Nicholas

Wuthering Heights is full of hints that Lockwood could not possibly know everything that he narrates: he stretches our belief in the abilities of human memory and his rendering of outside sources reminds us that he is doing more creative writing than recording. I think this reveals that Wuthering Heights is a novel about writing, a metafiction, and that there is a secondary aim of the book: by showing that the process of narrating must lead to fabricating, the novel calls into question the mimetic abilities of fiction and, ultimately, the usefulness of narrative as a mode to transmit knowledge.

Weather in Wuthering Heights
pp. 39-47     Author: Tytler, Graeme

References to weather in Wuthering Heights deserve critical attention for the ways in which they are incorporated in the text. Noteworthy, among other things, is the extent to which such references underpin the realism of the narrative, doing so through mention of all manner of weather conditions, including extremes of heat and cold, to say nothing of the contradictions now and again shown to exist between weather and seasons. But as well as being of structural or thematic interest, Emily’s weather references are especially important for throwing light on some of the characters, Lockwood and Nelly Dean in particular, both of whom are conspicuous for their concern with weather, though not always with good reason. How far weather also serves a symbolic function in the novel is a question which, though given due consideration here, admits of only tentative answers.

‘The toad in the block of marble’: Charlotte Brontë’s Figures in Stone
pp. 48-59     Author: Taylor, Susan B.

Building upon scholarship about the Brontës and the visual arts, this article connects Charlotte Brontë’s writings to the art of sculpture through her figures in stone. Beginning with an analysis of the strik-ing image of a living toad imprisoned in a block of marble found in Shirley and in a letter by Charlotte Brontë, this article examines her sculptural portrayals of characters and, ultimately, her depiction of the writer-as-sculptor in her portrait of Emily Brontë in the 1850 ‘Editor’s Preface to the New Edition of Wuthering Heights’, to demonstrate how sculpture informs her understanding of women’s vitality and creativity.

Appearing Before the Public: Charlotte Brontë and the Author Portrait in the 1830s
pp. 60-74     Author: North, Julian

This essay reassesses Charlotte Brontë’s attitude to the pub-lic visibility of the author by looking at her early art work and writings. The fo-cus is on two pencil drawings she made of characters from the juvenilia: Alexander Soult, a poet, and one of Branwell’s pseudonyms, and Zenobia Marchioness Ellrington, known as ‘the Madame De Staël of Verdopolis’. The essay situates Charlotte’s visual and verbal portraits of Soult and Zenobia within a broader culture of the author portrait in the literary albums and magazines of the 1830s. It identifies, for the first time, her sources for the image of Zenobia, and links her fantasy author portraits to Branwell’s ‘Pillar’ portrait.

‘Roland’ or ‘Rowland’?
pp. 75-82    Author: Gamble, Bob

In February 1840 the Brontë sisters gave the Reverend William Weightman a Rowland for his Oliver, in playful response to the valentines he had sent. Their use of the anglicised variant of the name ‘Rowland’ may have greater significance than previously thought. This article looks more deeply into William Weightman’s relationship with the Walton family of Crackenthorpe and other Westmorland figures of the time.

pp. 83-93

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Independent lists some of the literary pilgrimages of the year:
Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in Thornton, West Yorkshire, though bicentenary celebrations are centred on the Brontë Parsonage Museum (01535 642323;; £7.50) in nearby Haworth, where the sisters spent most of their lives. Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) has curated its exhibition, Charlotte Great and Small.
The real star of the Brontës' stories is the haunting moorland, evoked in Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights. Guided Brontë walks (01274 532425; helensheritage; from £7.50pp) take in Haworth, Top Withens – possible inspiration for Wuthering Heights – and more.
In London, Celebrating Charlotte Brontë: 1816–1855 is a free exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (020 7306 0055;; 22 February to 14 August). (Paul Bloomfield)
Tracy Chevalier takes the #MyBradford project on a walk around the exhibition on the right. On BBC Look North there is also another brief sneak peek.

The Yorkshire Evening Post informs of the Heritage Lottery Fund received by St Peter's Church in Rawdon:
A church thought to have been attended by Charlotte Brontë has received £104,800 to secure its immediate future.
St Peter’s Church, Rawdon, was given the Heritage Lottery Fund grant to conserve the Grade II listed building.
Repairs to its tower, roof and gable ends will take place to stop rain water leaking in and further destroying stonework.
The project will also include a visual educational programme in the adjoining St Peter’s Room, with teachers from local schools for children aged five to 11 year olds.
Visitors to the church itself will be able to learn about the history of the village through an audio resource focusing on people who lived in or are associated with Rawdon.
These include Charlotte Brontë who is thought to have attended services when she served as governess to John White, a wealthy cloth manufacturer. Others include Frances Layton, Master of the Jewel House for King Charles I and King Charles II, and benefactor for the building of St Peter’s Church.
Grough is also concerned about the Lancashire Council's plans to stop looking after Wycoller Hall:
“Wycoller and Beacon Fell country parks are the council’s flagships, and there are numerous other sites, close to urban areas, which provide health and happiness to thousands of people.
“We believe that if these cease to be available and maintained it will have a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the population.”
Wycoller was regularly visited by the Brontë sisters, who made the journey over the moors on foot from Haworth in neighbouring Yorkshire.
Wycoller Hall, part of the council-maintained country park, was the model for Charlotte Brontë’s Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.
Lancashire County Council has begun a consultation on its plans for the countryside sites it manages. (Bob Smith)
This is an extract from a recent speech given by the UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb:
And due to a long process of examination reform which is only just coming to fruition, the examinations that children are taking are becoming more academically ambitious, not less. Since September, pupils have been studying the reformed English literature GCSE for the first time, including the study of both a 19th-century novel and a modern text. Instead of a strict diet of Steinbeck, pupils can read George Orwell and Jane Austen, Kazuo Ishiguro and Charlotte Brontë - and they will be reading the whole novel, not just extracts.
Sydsvenskan (Sweden) discusses the upcoming Malmö production of Jane Eyre:
Maria G. Francke: Är du också kär i Mr Rochester?
Kristin Nord: Nä. Alltså…nä! Du och dessa 1800-talsmän i trikåer. [Till läsarna, i förtroende: Maria är besatt av Mr Darcy, men bara när Colin Firth spelar honom]. Fattar inte grejen. Förklara!
Francke: Jag är besatt av Mr Darcy även när Jane Austen skriver om honom. Vill bara få det sagt. Men alltså kär och kär…men Rochester är ju urtypen för trulig och troubled karl med en massa kärlek inom sig som bara vill förlösas. Det är liksom helt oemotståndligt, med eller utan trikåer. Och hela Jane Eyre är en underbar historia, jag tröttnar aldrig på den.
Nord: För mig är Mr Rochester en språngbräda, något som Jane kan studsa emot i sin utveckling framåt och vidare. Det är ju kvinnorna som är de intressanta karaktärerna i detta kärleksdrama. Särskilt kvinnan som aldrig syns. Om en vecka har Jane Eyre premiär på Malmö stadsteater, du och jag fick se ett litet smakprov på föreställningen nu i veckan. (...) (Translation)
The Yale Herald reviews The Moors by Jen Silverman:
The Moors, directed by Jackson Gay, at the Yale Repertory Theater, which I attended in previews last Fri., Jan. 29. The anachronistic plot, mapping women with American accents and 21st century concerns onto a setting lifted out of Wuthering Heights, privileges quirkiness over emotional honesty. While most of the acting in The Moors was admirable, the production strains itself in an unremitting quest for laughs, making for a night of improbably boring theater.  (...)
Wistful for the England of the Brontë sisters (while making parallel commentary about the treatment of women by 19th century social convention), the script dips in and out of English character conventions. Agatha, for example, longs for fame and a world beyond her ancestral mansion. She wishes for attention as a famous author. But she also, late in the play, leaps ahead to the 20th century when she sings an absurd “power ballad,” abruptly tearing us from the carefully constructed setting. It’s a cheap gag: the anachronism tries too hard to make us laugh. In working so hard to be fun, the actors become campy. The script sucks out much that is central to the characters in the Brontë sisters’ novels earnestness, atmosphere, and a clear struggle within their oppressive cultural context—and replaces it with empty conceits. (Lora Kelley)
CBC asks the writer Anita Rau Badami about her favourite novels:
I've always been an intense reader, so thoroughly involved with the characters and incidents in a book that the rest of the world falls away from me. So it was with Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, which I read when I was 11 or 12. I was Jane Eyre, the sturdy, independent-minded orphan. I was willing to be orphaned and penniless and lovelorn just to be her. I loathed her nasty relatives, sobbed over the death of her poor consumptive friend Helen, hated and then fell violently in love with the dour Mr. Rochester. I felt a guilty satisfaction when poor, mad, imprisoned Mrs. Rochester died in the fire. I confess I changed my mind about Rochester and his tragic wife when I read, many years later, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane Eyre, though, I still feel for her.
London Loves Business says that
London has a proud literary history. Everyone from William Wordsworth to Dylan Thomas, Charlotte Brontë to Karl Marx has enjoyed Soho and the West End, whilst centres of the written word, such as the legendary Fleet Street, have become synonymous with printing and publishing on a global scale.
Charlotte Brontë was indeed in London but enjoying the West End is not really a good description of her visits there.

The Guardian asks historians and biographers why history books are still mainly written by men:
I did my PhD and first book on the Victorian governess because I wanted to use the figure of these excluded citizens as a way of unpicking the social, economic and political forces at play in the construction of bourgeois Victorian Britain. In fact, what I mostly get asked about is how likely it was that Mr Rochester would fancy Jane Eyre. (Kathryn Hughes)
Publishers Weekly discusses the life and work of Peter Straub:
Straub was born in Milwaukee in 1943 and lived there until he was 18. After college and grad school, he returned to teach English at his high school alma mater. He then enrolled in University College, Dublin, to earn a doctorate. But instead of writing his Ph.D. dissertation (“It was supposed to be about D.H. Lawrence, then mutated into being about the Brontës and Trollope, and after that it was given a merciful execution,” he recalls), he wrote his first novel, Marriages(1973), over a summer, and was lucky to have it accepted by the first publisher he sent it to, Andre Deutsch. After his agent suggested a change to horror, he produced Julia in 1975, followed by 1977’s If You Can See Me Now, both published in the U.S. by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan. (Lenny Picker)
The Daily Beast carries an article about Orson Welles:
His Rochester in Jane Eyre (1943) opposite Joan Fontaine is still the gold standard. (Jack Schwartz)
Go386 describes a Valentine event taking place in Daytona Beach:
Cinematique invites you to go all in for Valentine’s Day with a screening of PBS Masterpiece Classic “Wuthering Heights,” adapted from Emily Brontë’s only novel. Dress up in period attire of the late 1700s and head to the cinema for a pre-movie cooking demonstration that includes door prizes, a recipe card, food samples and a themed drink.
The movie details the angsty love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, whose separation in social status forever keeps them apart. Heathcliff is but a servant, and by the time he acquires wealth of his own, Catherine has married another. This sets Heathcliff on a path of vengeance and pining misery, and the effects of both parties’ actions carry over to their descendants.
It’s not the most heartwarming tale, but it does invite plenty of discussion afterward, led by City Island librarian Deborah Shafer.
The event kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at Cinematique, 242 S. Beach St. in Daytona Beach. Admission is $10. Advance ticket purchase is suggested by calling 386-252-3118 or at (Suzanne Hirt)
The San Jose Mercury Superquiz includes a Brontë question:
 9. Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar (novel/film).
Is this really Ph.D. level?

More Valentine's day tips: (Peru) recommends Wuthering Heights:
Es una historia de amor y tragedia escrita por Emily Brontë, la cual trata de darle otro ángulo al romance. Es un clásico de la literatura inglesa. (Translation)
Penguin Clothbound Classics War and Peace,
For anyone hooked on the BBC’s adaptation who hasn’t quite got round to reading Tolstoy's epic, this is a tome that will look good on the shelf. If Russian shenanigans aren’t their thing, other titles in Penguin’s decorative range include Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby and Frankenstein, all with striking cover designs.  (Rebecca Reid in The Independent)
Kidzworld and The Philadelphia Enquirer review Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the film:
The movie is set up for sequels but, after zombie themes are exhausted, what? Something like “Jane Eyre Vs. Sharknado”…or the like?
The result is effective if hardly subtle: The ironic contrast between the decorum and repressed sexuality of the world of Austen or Brontë makes for a ticklish contrast with the blood-spurting, sexually explicit, screaming goings-on of the typical horror story. (Tirdad Derakhshani)
The Fandom Post reviews the manga comic Victorian Romance Emma Vol. #02 by Kaoro Mori:
Kaoru Mori does a fabulous job of crafting a new story that keeps the spirit of the works of Jane Austen and the Brontes. (Josh Begley)
The Belfast Telegraph finds Heathcliff in the Milk Tray man:
So far, so thrilling for those of us who've been inspired by the announcement to check out old Milk Tray ads on YouTube and discovered that Eighties' Milk Tray man James Coombes - who looked a bit like a young Laurence Olivier in Heathcliff mode - might actually have provided an early template for our ideal physical specimen. (Jane Graham)
Scadconnector tries to improve the Twilight saga:
Twilight” is almost unanimously considered one of the blandest love stories ever told. Bella, the lip-biting klutz with an affinity for Brontë novels is an uninspiring protagonist whose insufferable narrative voice carries the four-book series to its anticlimactic end, but under the underwhelming tale of a boring girl falling in love with an equally boring vampire is material for a much more interesting story. (Tonesa Jones)
Emily Brontë mentioned as a famous Yorkshire daughter in The Midlands Express & Star. In the same newspaper:
Should the Great British weather deign to grace you with some sunshine, or at least not rain, the nearby North York Moors or Yorkshire Dales are within driving distance, perfect for a proper escape to the country, or to channel your inner Cathy à la Wuthering Heights. (Alex Binley)
Eurasia Hoy interviews the poet and writer Marta Ortiz:
[T]ambién “Rebecca” (Daphne du Maurier), que sí leí, y varias veces, una historia inquietante publicada en 1938, llevada magistralmente al cine en 1940 por Alfred Hitchcock; “Cumbres borrascosas” (Emily Brönte (sic)), leído y releído en diversas etapas de mi vida. (Rolando Revagliatti) (Translation)
A Valentine's tea for 'fans of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë' in Fort Collins, CO via Times-Call Entertainment.
12:12 am by M. in ,    No comments
Today, February 6, at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
Charlotte Great and Small
Exhibition talk by Tracy Chevalier
February 06th 2016 02:00pm - 04:00pm

To celebrate the launch of "Charlotte Great and Small", novelist and curator Tracy Chevalier will talk about her long-held interest in Charlotte Brontë and the process behind pulling together such a unique exhibition to celebrate Charlotte in her bicentenary year.

“I have always loved Charlotte’s work, and it has been a wonderful luxury while planning this show to get to know her life better. The place where she lived and worked, the clothes she wore, the objects surrounding her, all have a special magic that makes me feel as if Charlotte is just in the next room, nodding.” - Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Runaway, and the forthcoming At the Edge of the Orchard. Born in Washington, DC, she now lives in London with her husband and son.
And in Sydney, Australia:
Australian Brontë Association
6 February, Castlereagh Boutique Hotel (near Town Hall Station) at 10:30am

AGM; Friends of Charlotte Brontë
An introduction to some of those who knew and loved Charlotte Brontë and the contribution they made to the enduring legacy of their friend’s life and works.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday, February 05, 2016 11:43 am by Cristina in , , ,    No comments
A Younger Theatre reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre.
It is the meticulous attention to detail in the direction (Bryony J. Thompson) that makes the Rosemary Branch Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre so special. Each moment is carefully crafted, and it is clear that thought has been put into every gesture, movement, line, pathway and interaction. [...]
The warm and inviting atmosphere in the Rosemary Branch Theatre feels very celebratory as the show celebrates the two hundredth birthday of Charlotte Brontë.
The performance space is bare with just six wooden chairs used for set and the actors wear cream period clothing throughout. This perfectly complements the piece and I did not once feel it needed anything else. Its simplicity is counteracted by the intricate and complex detail of the words and movements. All actors remain on stage for the entire piece, which allows for great smoothness of transitions; it is clear the cast are well rehearsed and are very comfortable with both the text and each other. All six actors – Alice Coles, Jack Collard, Madeline Gould, Alice Osmanski, Ben Warwick and Emilia Williams – are extremely versatile as they switch frequently between different roles. The speed of dialogue and plot progression means there is barely a moment to even catch a breath, but this captivates the audience members.
The well-loved line, “Reader, I married him”, is delivered with such delight it moved me to tears and the feeling of joy from the audience on leaving the theatre is palpable.
A wonderful adaptation. (Lily Hayes)
Felix Hayes, who plays Mr Rochester in Sally Cookson's adaptation of Jane Eyre, speaks to Nottingham Post.
"Rochester's darkness and wit were the things that most attracted me to him and I found him laugh-out-loud funny, especially at how cutting and to the point he can be.
"He has a dark sense of humour and is an enigmatic character; it is an incredibly complicated role to play.
"He's a bit broken dark and brooding, not your classic good looking hero."
People who may not have read the book might assume that the production's main focus is on Jane Eyre's romantic relationship with Rochester but Hayes is quick to remind us that this is not the case.
"People forget that a lot of the novel is not made up of the relationship story between Rochester and Jane," he says. "When their relationship develops she questions him in a way no one ever has, he finds Jane fascinating and he hits the nail on the head with her every time they talk as she does with him.
"What people must remember is that this is not a typical love story and the relationship that starts is a very real one. [...]
Audiences who expect a traditional adaptation of the classic tale will be pleasantly surprised as Jane's story will be told by a company of seven performers and three musicians who all devised the production.
He adds: "As show it's a massively ensemble piece, there isn't a moment when anyone is off the stage and the music plays as an integral part of the show as do any of the characters, Benji Bower [music director] is a bit of a genius.
"We all take great pride in the play and there is a real sense of the company telling the life story – not love story – of Jane. As a company we devised it and wrote it ourselves and we have a kind ownership of it and that's a lovely feeling. (Charlotte McIntyre)
Yale Daily News reviews the play The Moors.
Most people with a secondary school education didn’t get past 12th grade without being exposed to Victorian literature and the immense vocabulary of the Brontë sisters. Don’t get me wrong — I love Charlotte, Emily and Anne like any other pseudo-intellectual feminist, but taking turns reading “Wuthering Heights” aloud line by line in a monotonous voice is a more effective soporific than Ambien.
I wonder if I would’ve expressed more interest in Jane Eyre’s woes had I previously had the pleasure of watching “The Moors,” a play that enjoyed its world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater this week. (Agnes Enkhtamir)
Hereford Times features writer and performer Rebecca Vaughan.
In April Austen's Women will be put away again, and Dalloway, an adaptation of Virginia Woolf will go on tour, and in May Rebecca is taking Jane Austen to Sydney. All this while working on an adaptation of Jane Eyre, which Dyad [Productions] will take to Edinburgh this year. (Philippa May)
In the Oxford Mail, actress Phoebe Thomas describes her role in a production of Hetty Feather
like a young Jane Eyre, so it is a very emotional story, but also very theatrical. (Katherine MacAlister)
While Contra Costa Times describes Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddygore as
the world of Jane Austen with an old-fashioned English ghost story, with just a dash of "Wuthering Heights" romance, in a tale of upright Regency youths and maidens kept apart by propriety, social convention, and a witch's curse.
RTVE (Spain) tells about the films that inspired the Spanish Goya film awards nominees. Both Jane Eyre 2011 and Wuthering Heights 2011 seem to have inspired the film La novia.
La novia: Adaptaciones de la literatura inglesa del XIX
Las adaptaciones de clásicos de la literatura española no abundan en el cine. Así que no es extraño que para su preciosista adaptación lorquiana, Paula Ortiz apuntará como referentes a los anglosajones, más acostumbrado a revistar sus glorias.
“Conscientemente, con el director de fotografía, revisamos Jane Eyre (2011), de Cary Fukunaga. Tiene un toque entre lo irreal y real del ciertos autores del romanticismo inglés: Roza con códigos del terror sin serlo”.
“Y, sobre todo, Cumbres borrascosas (2012), de Andrea Arnold. Es apabullante. Un clásico romántico con ese tinte trágico más dramático, traducido a un lenguaje más intenso estéticamente, muy atmosférica”. (Esteban Ramón) (Translation)
This reviewer from is crystal clear in his opinion of the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Really feel like some scary romance? Go stream last year's criminally underrated "Crimson Peak," or read "Jane Eyre" by candlelight. And let this zombie comedy shuffle back to the graveyard it dug itself out of. (Stephen Whitty)
While this columnist from Memphis Flyer is self-admittedly confused about period films.
I get Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and Jane Eyre confused. I always remember that Heathcliff and Catherine are in Wuthering Heights because of that Monty Python sketch where they act it out in semaphore. Obviously, as problems go, this isn't a bad one. There are just all those wailing women and wives in attics and silent, deeply disturbed men; who can keep up? I tried to watch a movie adaptation of one of these not too long ago. I don't remember which because they're all the same, but this had Tom Hardy in it. I couldn't pay attention to the story because of Tom Hardy's lips. Have you seen them? (Susan Wilson)
The film - or miniseries, rather - was obviously Wuthering Heights 2009.

A Super Quiz in Times Union has a Brontë-related question. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page announced that the museum could be seen on yesterday's Holiday of My Lifetime.
Holiday of My Lifetime with Len Goodman
Series 2: Episode 4
Len travels with TV presenter and actress Lisa Riley to Haworth, West Yorkshire, which Lisa used to visit with her mother. They visit the Brontë museum and take high tea in a café.
  AnneBrontë.org posts about the exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum: Charlotte Brontë--Great and Small.