Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 7:07 pm by Cristina   7 comments
Shocking, huh? Triggered by this post over at Austenblog and by our recent post where it was mentioned we were intrigued to see if Bloomsbury's new edition of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights also included the primary colours / primary drawings approach. And so it does. Both books will be released on August 7 (ooh, how exciting...). The 'why you should read this' is painful to see. You have to wonder what Charlotte - who had a hard time not wearing dark colours - would think of her book now. Emily would be closer to liking it since she is known to have bought a 'white stuff patterned with lilac thunder and lightning'.

Don't complain too much - see what they did to Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

And yes, we know it's the inside that counts, but still. And we maintain what we said about teenagers not being stupid. Or colour blind for the matter.

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4:14 pm by Cristina   2 comments
Tattycoram has kindly sent us a couple of delightful links. The first one is to a short video of Haworth which briefly tells of its inseparable connection to the Brontës while showing the Parsonage, church and churchyard in the most beautiful light. The length is a little over one minute (not enough, is it?).

The second one - which we're still watching since our connection is sooo slow - is about Heald's Hall Hotel (where The Father of the Brontës was recently launched). This one is a little bit longer with over 3 minutes and talks about its origins, its Brontë connection and its current use as a seemingly very cosy hotel.

So a big thank you to Tattycoram for providing us with the means of travelling around Brontë Country for a while without even leaving our desk!

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4:02 pm by Cristina   No comments
How funny it is that after talking about Wuthering Heights - the song by Kate Bush - yesterday we find it also mentioned in an interview with Irish singer Albert Niland, who has recently covered it as well.

Tell us about how you came to cover Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights.

There are two songs from that era that leap out at me and bring it all back. One is I don't like Mondays' and the other is Wuthering Heights. To tell the truth, even when I first played Wuthering Heights in my kitchen, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I knew I was onto something. When I played the song on Tom Dunne's show it was the first time I'd ever performed it live. Later he called me and said that the phone lines were bombarded with people asking where they could get it.

So one more version joins the ranks.

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3:51 pm by Cristina in ,    4 comments
Some time ago we debated on the right age to read Jane Eyre. What about the right age to read Wuthering Heights? This article suggests quite an early read of the book:

When choosing books, it's a good idea to create a mix of "easy reads" that your child can enjoy without a great deal of effort in comprehension and some more challenging books.
These challenging books may be classics such as "The Call of the Wild" "Wuthering Heights," "Treasure Island" and "Little Women" -- all of which have dense and more complicated prose but are still entertaining.

No doubt it is a challenging book but perhaps a little too much. We suggest you start with Jane Eyre or Agnes Grey but leave Wuthering Heights for when your child is at least 15-16. Don't you think so too?

There's another article in the news today about a woman who tells about her love for children's stories and how it all started.

Eventually I moved on to "The Secret Garden," "Little Women," "Jane Eyre," and Nancy Drew in all of her escapades.

Now that's more like it! (Notice how both of them suggest Little Women :) ).

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12:21 am by M.   No comments
Tomorrow, June 1, the Discovery HD Theatre channel (a cable high definition network from Discovery Communications Inc. ) broadcasts Great Books: Wuthering Heights.

DHD — Great Books (Discovery School)
Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë lived like a recluse in a fantasy world that she and her siblings started when she was six. Her novel Wuthering Heights, a tale of thwarted passion and cruelty, was considered immoral when first published. The central character, Heathcliff, became an archetype for the modern anti-hero. This program compares Heathcliff’s character to Bronte’s life of isolation and rejection. (26 Minutes )

JUN 01 2006@ 09:00 AM (ET/PT)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 11:25 pm by M.   No comments
Just a couple of things related with music inspired by Wuthering Heights:

1) Some arias of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights opera have been performed this weekend at the Grand Salon of the Renwick Museum as we can read on the Ionarts blog. The concert was the presentation of the new singers of the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.

2) Last year we posted about the different covers of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights song. We mentioned that The Decemberists cover the song in their concerts. Now you have a chance to listen to this version on

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4:14 pm by Cristina   2 comments
Sarah has just written to confirm that today at 3:30 pm UK time (that's in about 15 minutes!) Charlotte's little book will be featured on The People's Museum on BBC2.

Don't miss it - and vote for it!

EDIT: Sarah wrote to tell us how she liked the programme:

I just watched it, its now finished and the Bronte book came on last. Jules Hudson the presenter went round the museum, looking at the rooms in particular the study with Emily's piano, the dining room and Charlotte's writing desk, he interviewed Polly Salter on how Charlotte thought of her appearance, and the dress and letters were discussed. Then he got to the little book, with the words, 'This is for my sister Ane' at the beginning of it. Ann Dinsdale showed it to the viewers and they talked about how important it was, and how it was written, what it was made of etc.

The phone number is 09015 22 52 04 if anyone wants to vote, costs no more that 15 pence.

You can also read tattycoram's thoughts on the programme by looking at this post's comments.

Thank you both of you for sharing your views for those of us not in the UK! :)

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4:02 pm by Cristina   No comments
These silly mentions amuse us so much that we're unable to stop posting them :P Here's one more for our collection:

It was unfortunate that many of the Bank Holiday crowd needed hats, gloves and blankets on a day when the wind whistling round the media centre conjured images of Wuthering Heights.

At least this one is sort of appropriate.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006 5:15 pm by Cristina   7 comments
Quite accidentally, we have stumbled across this Polish forum on North & South where Monika has generously uploaded the scans of the latest issue of magazine Peak District Life.

Apart from the gorgeous new pictures, what has grabbed our attention is the fact that we now know who plays Adèle: Cosima Littlewood (see picture, where she appears with Ruth Wilson, who plays Jane Eyre).

We read Toby Stephens wasn't able to attend the interview since he had been shooting until 2am a famous scene which 'involves one character throwing herself off the ramparts and into the courtyard of the hall'. (Hmmmm... who could that be? :P). We already talked about this scene a few months ago when we first discovered Haddon Hall was to be Thornfield.

They chose Haddon Hall partly based on its previous appearance on Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre, according to Diederick Santer, producer. 'What the film showed us was that it worked well as a location because it looked fantastic'. Apparently, Haddon Hall is one of the few things he liked from the previous film. Diederick Santer also describes the approach they are using, 'It's extremely passionate and full-blooded. It starts and ends in Jane's head and is about a young woman's physical journey, her sexual journey. It's passionate and beautiful. We're trying to get away from too clichéd a story about the Mills and Boon thing of the governess falling in love with the Lord of the Manor'.

Further down we read, 'Another 'star of the show' was one of the finest examples of a Tudor kitchen, which was laden with vegetables and meat for a scene during which Jane is taught to make a soufflé'. So from that we gather they truly are going into great detail, since a similar scene takes place in the book previous to Mr Rochester's arrival with his party. There follows a funny anecdote of the local butcher taking place in the film too.

Read the whole article by clicking on the following images (Text by Janet Reeder; Pictures by Linda Bussey).

What do you think of our new Adèle then?

Article and pictures courtesy of the Peak District Life magazine. Scans by Monika from the Polish North & South forum.

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4:32 pm by Cristina   2 comments
So yes, we have learned to teach Wuthering Heights, so now it's time to look at the news related to it. Despite what most news sites might say, not everything has to do with Charlotte and those (in)famous letters, now does it?

The Chicago Sun-Times reviews a novel by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack called Literacy and Longing in L.A. and its main character is like this:

Dora's reading list -- featured in the back of the novel -- functions as a road map to her mood. Sometimes, this device works well, as when she reads Raymond Chandler while she struggles to understand the character of the very bad boyfriend -- a guy who "doesn't like the sound of the surf ... doesn't like Eudora Welty" and doesn't like Dora's friends, either. But, at other moments, like when she picks up Anna Karenina, The End of the Affair, Wuthering Heights and A Farewell to Arms, it's just overkill.

The Texarkana Gazette has a bio on a woman called Bethany Hanna, Texarkana’s Main Street director, who, when asked about her hobbies replies:

“I’m more of a visual kind of person, though I enjoy a good story,” she noted, adding that what she likes to read is something that tells her how to do something. (“Wuthering Heights,” though, is a favorite book.)

And finally, if you want a good laugh, head to this blog we have come across and read what she has to say about some reviews on Wuthering Heights at Here's an appetizer:

"I was so touched by the way Austen gave life to every single character.
I'm looking forward to read more of this writer. "

I can forgive someone not knowing that Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte's only novel, or forgive someone who hasn't read it of mistakenly saying it was by Jane Austen. But that goes too far.

Read the rest - it's seriously worth it.

10:29 am by M.   No comments
Well, there are no new names or further information on Brontë, the film written and directed by Angela Workman (besides what we have already published) but we thought that maybe our readers can be interested in reading the press release that Becker Entertainment (the sales agent of the the production) has issued recently. We know that the producers were present in Cannes recently, maybe closing some deals about Brontë?

Becker International’s Iain Canning said ‘We are incredibly excited to be working with Angela and the Producer team behind Bronte. Angela has a passionate understanding of the material and a powerful directorial vision. We look forward to introducing the film to international distributors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival’

"Charlotte Bronte and her sisters were the most unlikely of heroes. They became immortal almost in spite of themselves, and in spite of the remote and inconsequential world from which they rose. The Brontes were surrounded by death on every side and yet they lived and created with an extraordinarily brilliant life spirit. It's that epic spirit, that counterpoint to darkness, that makes their story so unique and so transcendent of the typical biopic genre" said Angela Workman (Writer/Director).

‘We are delighted to be working with Becker International as sales agents on this project. Having developed this project with Angela for the past three years we were very keen to work with a sales company that shared our passion for the project and Iain and the team at Becker have that passion and that vision’ said Alistair Maclean-Clark (Producer).

We can add that on the imdb webpage of Brontë, now appears that the filming has been slated to the next fall and according to this blog the shooting will begin in Dublin.

12:04 am by M.   No comments
A very interesting book has been published by the Modern Language Association (MLA) in its Approaches to Teaching World Literature Series.
Approaches to Teaching Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
Editor(s): Sue Lonoff, Terri A. Hasseler

Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights has long held a high position in the academy and in popular culture. It is taught at levels from high school English to doctoral studies and has been adapted in enough film and television versions that many students who know nothing about the book know who Heathcliff is. Nevertheless it is not an easy novel to teach. Thus in addition to surveying experienced teachers of Wuthering Heights, the editors sought to learn directly from students what in the novel was difficult for them and what worked best in engaging their interest. As a result, the approaches suggested in this volume reflect practices that have proved successful for both students and teachers.

Part 1 of this Approaches volume, "Materials," surveys and assesses the available editions of Wuthering Heights, identifies editions of other works by Emily Brontë, reviews biographies and other background materials, notes the critical studies most frequently mentioned as useful by instructors, and provides an annotated list of resources on the Internet.

PART 1: MATERIALS by Sue Lonoff
Courses and Course Designs
The Instructor's Library
Other Works by Emily Brontë
Biographies and Background Studies
Critical and Theoretical Studies
Additional Contextual Materials
Wuthering Heights: A Family Tree
What Students Say about Approaching Wuthering Heights

Part 2 is devoted to classroom approaches to the novel:

Introduction by Terri A. Hasseler
Historical and Social Contexts

Wuthering Heights in Its Context(s) by Beth Newman
Geometries of Race, Class, and Gender: Identity Crossing in Wuthering Heights by Carine M. Mardorossian
Victorian Border Crossings: Thinking about Gender in Wuthering Heights by Barry V. Qualls
Teaching the Language of Domestic Violence in Wuthering Heights by Catherine R. Hancock
Literary and Disciplinary Contexts
Haunted Bodies: The Female Gothic of Wuthering Heights by Tamar Heller
Biographical Keys to the Heights by Frances Beer
Wuthering Heights in the Culture of the English Department by Paula M. Krebs
Theories of Interpretation
"The Writing on the Wall": Interpreting Wuthering Heights in a Class on Theories of Interpretations by Suzy Anger
Teaching Wuthering Heights as Fantasy, Trauma, and Dream Work by Diane Long Hoeveler
The Narrative Design of Wuthering Heights: Interpreting the Telling of the Tale by Leilani D. Riehle
Wuthering Heights, Women, and the Law: A Historical Approach by Lisa Surridge
Evading "the Secret Truth" in Wuthering Heights: Film and Visual Illustration in Teaching Critical Theory by Patsy Stoneman

Imagining and Reimagining Wuthering Heights
Teaching Wuthering Heights through Its Film and Television Adaptations by Kamilla Elliott
Hearing Class in Class: Using Audio Excerpts to Teach Wuthering Heights by Dean de la Motte
Teaching Wuthering Heights Intertextually: The Example of Alice Hoffman's Here on Earth by Maureen T. Reddy
Building Skills through Teaching Wuthering Heights
Teaching Emily Brontë's Poetry and Wuthering Heights in a First-Year Composition Course by Tricia Lootens
Teaching Wuthering Heights through Close Reading / Teaching Close Reading through Wuthering Heights by Paul Vita
Using Collaborative Learning to Teach the Themes of Education, Ignorance, and Dispossession in Wuthering Heights by Laraine Fergenson

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:52 am by M.   1 comment
The Independent publishes an article about Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca with the occasion of the reissue of the Hitchcock movie by the British Film Institute.

The comparisons between Rebecca, more precisely with the nameless second Mrs de Winter, and Jane Eyre are numerous and there are lots of articles written about the subject. We have to remember that both girls are young (21 and 19, respectively), both serving in strange and secluded houses (one as companion to an old woman, the other as governess), both work for a mysterious forty year old men, Maxim de Winter and Mr Rochester, who both hide a dreadful secret. And both houses, Manderley and Thornfield Hall, are finally burnt to the ground. But as Liz Hoggard writes there is more:

"Rebecca, like Jane Eyre, taps into that favourite piece of feminine mythology that the love of a good woman will reform a man," says the psychologist Dorothy Rowe. "And although it's been disproved many times, women still believe it." (...)

"It's such a brilliant book," says the writer Justine Picardie. "You can read it at different stages of your life and pick up on quite different things." Picardie is currently writing a novel inspired by an event in du Maurier's life. And in her latest book, My Mother's Wedding Dress, the essay, "Ghost Dresses", is devoted to clothes in Rebecca. "At literary festivals, that's the chapter women rush up and want to talk to me about it.' (...)

Most remarkably, Rebecca remains the most powerful character in the novel. "The mad woman in the attic or the dead woman at the bottom of the sea is a very old archetype," says Picardie.

We remind our readers that Picardie's book has appeared profusely on this blog, and that Justine Picardie involving with Daphne du Maurier goes beyond this new novel quoted by the article as she is the editor of the most recent edition of Du Maurier's The infernal world of Branwell Brontë and other works by du Maurier. Because du Maurier was also a Brontëite:

[Rebecca] is billed as a romance, but du Maurier insisted she wanted to write about the balance of power of marriage, and not about love. She always said she wanted to retell the story of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and faced accusation of plagiarism when Rebecca was first published.

By the way, did you ever notice that Joan Fontaine played both Jane Eyre and the second Mrs de Winter? and that Laurence Olivier was both Maxim de Winter and Heathcliff? In which other film (or whatever) can you see Jane Eyre kissing Heathcliff?

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11:41 am by M.   No comments
Our Sunday newsround comes with a lot of mentions connected with Brontë novels adapted to the big screen:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reminds the US cable viewers that this week on the Encore channel you can see Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 Jane Eyre: Jun 01, 06:15 AM (Eastern Time). Precisely about this film Anna Paquin, who was young Jane Eyre in the Zeffirelli film before being Rogue in the X-Men saga, talks in an interview in The Telegraph:
Paquin cites her second film, Franco Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre (1996), in which she played the young heroine, as the sort of fare of which they approved. 'He hasn't made that many more films because he's not, you know, a spring chicken any more,' Paquin says of Zeffirelli. 'I feel really privileged to work with someone like him before he stops making movies.'

In a funny article published on L.A. Daily News, Glenn Whipp makes a list of bad books/good movies and good books/bad movies. The entry devoted to The Scarlet Letter gives an unexpected, and disturbing, Brontë mention:

"The Scarlet Letter" (1995): Plays like the first — and last — entry in the "Classic Literature as Imagined by Hugh Hefner" film series. Sadly, the abject failure of this movie meant we never got to see Demi Moore take off her clothes in "Wuthering Heights," "Madame Bovary" or "Jane Eyre."

Sadly? Demi Moore as Jane Eyre? And Antonio Banderas as Heatchliff? I will have nightmares.

12:34 am by Cristina   2 comments
Everything we wrote on the occasion of Anne's birthday still applies. If we stop to look at her as most people see her, then she is nothing but a shadowy, blurry figure trailing at her famous sisters' feet. She remains 'the other one'. But if we look at her after having read her novels and knowing a little bit of her life, we see this tremendous writer, brave enough to write about an uncomfortable, controversial subject just because she feels it is her duty without any regard whatsoever to public opinion. We see the youngest sibling who, although looked down on as weak by her own family, she proved she was strong enough to be the Brontë sibling who managed to keep her post the longest.

But we don't despair. We are sure step by step the world will realise that there are *three* Brontë sisters: all of them equally good in their own particular ways. It's just a matter of time.

In the meantime, Anne will patiently wait in her quiet grave which commands a stunning view over the sea at Scarborough, watching the sunrises and sunsets she so much enjoyed looking at.

(Picture courtesy of that fabulous website owned by Mick Armitage. If you want to know basically all there is to know about Anne Brontë, then that is the place to go to.)

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006 11:37 am by Cristina   No comments
In 1997, Susan Geason edited a book called Regarding Jane Eyre, which was a collection of essays on Jane Eyre by well-known scholars such as Juliet Barker, Lyndall Gordon and Susan Geason herself.

So imagine our surprise when we recently came across a passing reference to a new book on the Brontës by Susan Geason. Our curiosity needed to be satisfied and so we got in touch with Susan Geason, who is kindness itself. She promptly replied with further info on the book and promised she would put an excerpt from her new book on her website. As you can imagine, she was as good as her word and yesterday she wrote to let us know she had updated her website.

This is how she herself describes her book Under the Canopy of Heaven:

It's about Mary Taylor, who was one of Charlotte's best friends. She emigrated to New Zealand and opened a shop & made lots of money. Thirteen years later, having survived two earthquakes and the Maori wars, she returned to England, where she lived in fine style and wrote essays for a feminist journal which were collected in a book called The First Duty of Women (which was to become economically independent). I wrote the novel and an exegesis called What Mary Knew for a PhD in creative writing at Queensland University in Australia. It charts Mary's relationship with Charlotte Bronte while also telling Mary's life story and concludes that Mary was in Charlotte's confidence about everything from Branwell's drunkenness to her infatuation with M. Heger. When I've finished writing thebook I'm working on, I shall either rewrite the novel or turn the exegesis into a creative non-fiction book. To read a chapter of the novel, go to then to The Brontes page.

We wholeheartedly agree with Ms Geason's theory. Mary Taylor was sent a copy of Jane Eyre way before other people were let into the secret of Charlotte Brontë's authorship.

We encourage you to go to Susan Geason's website and read this chapter. It's really, really good. Don't hesitate to make your opinion known by leaving us a comment!

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11:24 am by Cristina   No comments
The official gazette for Michael Berkeley's Jane Eyre opera Saint Louis Today has a lengthy article on Michael Berkeley's Jane Eyre opera with lots of info on what's behind it.

Why "Jane Eyre"?
"It was David Malouf's suggestion," Berkeley said in an e-mail exchange, "and at first I was a bit wary, since it is such a famous book. David, an experienced hand at opera, believes passionately that in a new opera, you really need as much going for you as possible and that if the audience already knows the story, then that is a huge advantage for them and for you."
To make it more dramatically immediate, Opera Theatre's artistic director Colin Graham asked Berkeley to turn the original two brief acts into one, adding some transitional music. That puts the total running time at a short, but intense, 80 minutes.
Berkeley agreed to the change.
"We did not set out to do a Hollywood extravaganza using the whole of 'Jane Eyre,' but rather a concentrated and intense take on the central domestic kernel of the drama at Thornfield," he said.
It's also a modern take.
"We have walked round the piece and viewed it very much from the terrible predicament of the first Mrs. Rochester up in the attic. Jean Rhys' 'Wide Sargasso Sea,' feminism and the developments in psychology in recent years mean that we necessarily see the scenario with a contemporary eye," Berkeley said. "Jane is a very single-minded girl. Ultimately, it is a timeless story of 'three into two won't go,' and in the effort to make it go, a terrible price is paid. It's not just, 'Reader, I married him,' because we have, at the end, the corpse of the original Mrs. Rochester and Rochester himself burnt and blinded."[...]
His godfather's impact is also present, not surprisingly. Graham said he finds "strong overtones of 'The Turn of the Screw,'" Britten's setting of Henry James' supernatural tale. Like it, "Jane Eyre" has "a strong spirit of haunting," in this case by Mrs. Rochester. Also like "Turn of the Screw," "Jane Eyre" was written for a small group of musicians - five singers and 13 instrumentalists. The string parts have been doubled for this production.
Graham has a knack for bringing out the dramatic possibilities of new works. This one will "be strictly in its own period." The set is dominated by high mirrors and a staircase that winds upward - toward the attic.
He has a strong cast, headed by Kelly Kaduce in the title role. Kaduce, who made a strong impression as Sister Angelica here in 2004, is a fine singer and intense actress. Mr. Rochester is baritone Scott Hendricks, whom Graham calls "a dark, brooding actor." Mrs. Rochester will be sung by mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Batton.
The cast is completed by mezzo-soprano Robynne Redmon as the housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax, and a Gerdine Young Artist, soprano Elizabeth Reiter, as Adele.
"There's a marvelous quote from Charlotte Bronte: 'Goodness must be passionate to be worth anything,'" Graham said.
"Jane Eyre" promises to provide a passionate evening of music theater.

Where: Loretto-Hilton Center, Webster University
When: 7 p.m. June 4 and 8 p.m. June 8, 10, 14 and 16.
More info: 314-961-0171 or

(Picture: (Left to right) Soprano Kelly Kaduce, with famed costume designer Jane Greenwood and draper Rick Tuckett. (Ken Howard))

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11:09 am by Cristina   No comments
As usual, there are new editions of Brontë novels in the works. This is the approach this time around:

Jane Austen's new look has just hit bookshops. You may recall the storm that blew up after I revealed how publisher Headline was giving Austen a swirly "romantic" cover style; I'm pleased to see the new editions are alluring. Let's hope they reach people who haven't picked up an Austen novel since school but loved Keira Knightley's turn as Lizzie Bennet. Bloomsbury is also getting in on the act, rejacketing some classics for the teenage market. Six novels - Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, David Copperfield and Treasure Island - will be given newspaper-style end sections with social and historical contexts, including fashion columns and "breaking news" of contemporary wars. Introductions will be replaced by chatty "Why you should read this ..." recommendations from teen authors.

This is not the first time something like this happens, and it makes us cringe every time. We'd like to suggest editors and publishing houses that they treat teenagers as normal people. The huge hormonal levels have nothing to do with idiocy. All they need is to be introduced properly (and that doesn't include "chatty" lines in our books, no pun intended) to the stories. Many teenagers have fallen in love with these novels over time without such things, you know.

10:53 am by Cristina   No comments
Via AustenBlog we have found out about an amazing dinner. Now, if only it could possibly take place. Who wouldn't want to be there?

Next up on my reading list (I feel like Oprah): Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.

They are related by era, of course.

Interestingly, if we were alive in 1840, we would be able to invite Gaskell, Bronte and all these other British authors to dinner: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851), Edward "It was a dark and stormy night" Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), Gaskell (1810-1865), William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1868), Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Charles Reade (1814-1884), Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), Emily Bronte (1818-1848), George Eliot (1819-1880) and Anne Bronte (1820-1849).

What's more we could add a seat at the table for Queen Victoria (1819-1901), and we could put these poets at the card table: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) and Robert Browning (1812-1889).

And by rights these four should have been living in 1840, all dying young: Jane Austen (1775-1817), Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), John Keats (1795-1821).

Now every dinner we attend will look ordinary and boring.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006 4:43 pm by Cristina   2 comments
Right after we were done posting our previous post, we took a look at our inbox and - surprise! - we had an e-mail from Mr Westwood-Brookes, Head of Historical Documents at Mullock Madeley. He was kindly forwarding a photograph of one of the letters (see picture) and the press release they have issued. Here it is:


A group of fascinating letters have come to light which reveal that Charlotte Bronte so angered the real life Headmaster of the school she portrayed in her novel Jane Eyre that he considered suing her for libel.

The three letters were written in 1912 by a school teacher named Carus-Wilson, whose grandfather , the Rev William Carus-Wilson had been Charlotte’s Headmaster at the Clergy Daughter’s School at Casterton, Westmoreland, which he had founded, and they reveal how close Charlotte came to being in trouble with the law.

‘Carus-Wilson wrote the letters because he was wanting to sell a manuscript of Charlotte Bronte which was in his possession. He needed the money in order to pay for medical treatment for his son,’ commented Richard Westwood-Brookes, Documents Expert for auctioneers Mullock Madeley who will sell the letters in their next sale of historical documents at Ludlow Racecourse, Shropshire on June 7th*.

‘In one of the letters, Carus-Wilson reports : ‘Charlotte Bronte …wrote some of her experiences in connection with the school in her tale of Jayne Eyre. She did not write favourably of the school & my grandfather was advised to take up the matter publicly if not legally, but he refrained from doing so. He however wrote to Charlotte Bronte to remonstrate with her & the result was that she wrote the sketch that I have in my possession retracting a good deal of what she had formally written about the school…’

‘According to another of the letters, she even gave his grandfather permission to publish the manuscript in order to put the record straight about the school, but he refrained to do so, and the matter never came to light

‘It is fascinating to think that even in the early part of the 19th c even such a sensationally successful book as Jane Eyre could bring its author an unwelcome brush with the law – and clearly Charlotte must have been rattled by the reaction she got from the Rev Carus-Wilson.

‘Knowing the vast sums which are paid for Bronte manuscripts today it is also interesting to reflect on the fact that Carus-Wilson had decided to sell his precious manuscript after seeing an advert in the Exchange and Mart magazine – and was willing to sell for ‘10 guineas or near offer’’

‘What is now a most fascinating aspect of this matter is that the manuscript might still exist. Although a great deal of history has taken place since 1912 – not least two world wars – there is always the possibility that somewhere in a library, attic, basement or an autograph collection there is lying a completely unknown and unattributed manuscript of Charlotte Bronte effectively re-writing an important section of her book.

‘Unless you are well acquainted with her hand, it is quite possible that whoever now has this manuscript in their possession might not even realise that it is so important – merely thinking that it is an interesting 19th c piece of prose.

‘Perhaps now is the time for Bronte enthusiasts throughout the world to get searching.’


That's what we have been saying all along, even before this came up: take a good look at your attics and cellars, people!

This press release says the auction will take place on June 7 while we have mostly read it was scheduled for June 21. We will try and confirm the actual date.

On a more serious note: a BIG thank you to Mr Westwood-Brookes for his kindness.

EDIT: We asked a couple of questions to Mr Westwood-Brookes and he has kindly replied.

*Firstly, we enquired about the actual date and he confirmed that the date of the auction is definitely June 21.

And secondly we asked where these letters came from. Mr Westwood-Brookes's says the letters come from someone he frequently works with and that "the folder that they are in is marked on the cover in pencil £5 5s. indicating that the folder was sold by some dealer in the dim distant past for that price - this could well be a dealer who operated out of Dover Street in London. The price certainly indicates a date which is pre decimal coinage and therefore pre 1971.".

He also tells us something interesting about one of the letters where "Carus-Wilson indicates that the ms was unsigned and 'obstensibly written to one of her school fellows by "An old friend & Schoolfellow". It originally came with a signed covering letter by Charlotte which Edward Carus-Wilson says he remembers being shown when he was a boy by his grandfather, but by 1912 the covering letter has long gone."

Also, he confirms that the original letter from William Carus-Wilson to Charlotte Brontë is definitely not extant (that we know of) and that she probably didn't keep it (if she received it).

Finally, Mr Westwood-Brookes encourages one and all to raid your attics, cellars, basements, anything you can think of. Brontë-related or not, you might always come across something valuable!

Once more: our most sincere thanks to Mr Westwood-Brookes for his attention.

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4:17 pm by Cristina   No comments
The Washington Times and many others write this:

An apology letter from Charlotte Bronte to avoid a possible libel suit over her portrayal of a school in her novel "Jane Eyre" has just come to light.

Waaaait a minute! No such letter has come to light - there are a few letters that claim that such a thing existed but no one can either confirm it or deny it at this point. Totally different things.

The Scotsman, however, does comment further on the matter:

[This first bit is for the guys at the Washington Times, etc.] But the newly found letters, written by Carus-Wilson's grandson Edward in 1912, show Bronte dissuaded him from pursuing his case by sending him a 1,400 word sketch, expurgated of the offending passages.[...]The letters are expected to fetch 70 to 100 pounds but Westwood-Brookes said the manuscript, if found, could go for a lot more. "If it (the manuscript) was to be found, the value at auction could well be 100,000 pounds. It's of incalculable importance," he told Reuters. "Jane Eyre, after all, is known all over the world as one of the most important books of the 19th century."

If the manuscript hasn't come to light yet it is highly unlikely that it will do so now. Consider it stored - if it ever existed, that is - with Emily's second novel and the Gondal prose. But do take a look around your attic anyway - just in case :P

Alan Bentley, director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, the former Bronte home, said the sweeping sagas and mythical tragedy surrounding the Brontes' short lives carried their popularity far beyond the borders of their village.
"There's a touch of the James Dean or Marilyn Monroe -- people who die before their time," he said. "You always have a feeling they never fulfilled their potential."

Totally different circumstances, but we get the point :)

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3:54 pm by Cristina   No comments
Among the abundance of media covering the news of Carus-Wilson's letters we have found a few that might be of interest.

First, thanks to this article, we have discovered a book that has been published this month in India. It might be a good intro for your children to all those 19th century novels we love so well: The Puffin Book of Classic School Stories, edited by Ruskin Bond.

A collection of all-time favourite school stories
Meet the world’s naughtiest boys and girls, the best and the worst students and some really famous children in this book as they make their way through school. Read about David Copperfield and his friendship with Steerforth, Tom Brown trying to find his feet in Rugby school, and Jane Eyre fighting poverty and disease in a school for orphans. Not to forget those other irrepressible and immortal boys, Richmal Crompton’s William Brown, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, RK Nararyan’s Swami and Ruskin Bond’s Rusty. Also included are stories from such classics as Anne of Avonlea, Little Men, Stalky and Co., and To Sir, With Love.
By turns hilarious and heartwarming, these classic tales are about growing up and the time spent in that one place which is so beloved to some and so hated by others—school.

The Chicago Tribune reviews play Funeral Wedding and briefly compare it to Jane Eyre:

In "Funeral Wedding (The Alvin Play)," bits of Charlotte Bronte (particularly the recluse-in-the attic from "Jane Eyre") mingle with Poelike dreams of bloody crimes.

And finally we find a mention of Heathcliff in a review of - try and guess before you read on! - X-Men: The Last Stand:

Mr. Jackman's Wolverine is one of the great action heroes of film, and while "X-Men: The Last Stand" is billed as the final movie in the series, expect to see a Wolverine spin-off. But a note to any future screenwriters that might be cooking up such a movie: Wolverine is not Heathcliff. In "X-Men: The Last Stand" we're shown a softer side to Wolverine, no doubt to please female viewers. Here's a free tip from the friendly press: Female viewers like crazy, unleashed fury Wolverine just as much as the guys who might still live in their mother's basement.

If the softer side is the Heathcliff side then you got your reference all wrong, we are sorry to say. And how come female viewers are always to be blamed?

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12:20 am by M.   No comments
Now that seems that Michelle Williams will be our new Charlotte Brontë is a good moment to remember another actress that played Charlotte in the fifties in a quite forgotten episode for a TV-show. We are talking about Loretta Young and her Loretta Young Show (aka Letter to Loretta).

The recent appearance on DVD (March 2006, for US and Canada) of the first season of the Loretta Young Show (originally broadcasted in 1953-1954) includes "The Brontë Story", the episode where Loretta Young played Charlotte Brontë's role. Here are the details:

THE BRONTË STORY Originally aired - 11-15-53 (Season 1- Episode 9)

Directed by Robert Florey; screenplay by Dewitt Bodeen and Hugh Beaumont.

This drama takes place in Yorkshire, England in the 1850’s. The story is based on an incident in the life of the famous novelist, Charlotte Brontë. Charlotte’s father is rigid and domineering and seems to thwart his daughter’s wishes at whim; Charlotte struggles to assert her independence. Mr. Brontë withholds his blessing of Charlotte's marriage and Charlotte must make a decision that will affect her and her father's future happiness.

Charlotte Brontë…………………………………………………......….…Loretta Young

Arthur Nicholls……………………………………………………….…..Hugh Beaumont
Mr. Brontë………………………………………………………….……..…..Alan Napier
Mary………………………………………………………………….…...Natalie Schafer


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006 4:25 pm by Cristina   4 comments
A lot of newspapers and news sites echo the story of the correspondence that went on between Charlotte Brontë and Reverend William Carus-Wilson which will be auctioned on June 21. It nearly looks as if it all was going on now to see the way the matter is treated!

The Independent offers a little more background on the history of these letters:

"Charlotte Brontë sent it to my grandfather as a kind of apology for what she had written against the Clergy Daughters' school in Jane Eyre and gave him permission to publish it and state, if he wished, that she was the writer of it. My grandfather never published this, but kept it by him and as I told you in my last letter, it passed to my father in 1883 and then to myself." [...]
Now the hunt is on for Brontë's revised manuscript. "It really is the most tantalising mystery" said Richard Westwood-Brookes, a documents expert at auctioneers Mullock Madeley, who expects the letters to sell for up to £100 at auction in Ludlow, Shropshire, next month.
"We don't know who the collector [of Carus-Wilson's letters] was. I would imagine the collector kept the letters as provenance of the genuineness of the manuscript, but at some stage it went to someone else who didn't want the letters.

"This folder has probably passed from one dealer to another and changed hands many times. I doubt whether whoever sent it to me has read the letters and nobody has made the connection."

This newspaper also relays what Alan Bentley - director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum - has commented on the matter:

... since Jane Eyre was originally published under a pseudonym, it was difficult to ascertain whether Carus-Wilson knew whether Charlotte Brontë, his former pupil, was the author.

The Telegraph quotes more of what Richard Westwood-Brookes said:

"It is the most tantalising mystery. Somewhere, in somebody's attic, there may well be a manuscript of Charlotte Bronte's retracting an essential passage of Jane Eyre."

There we go back to the ever-raided attics. If it was in our hands we would get every attic and cellar in the UK searched for Brontë material. However, reading all this we have some doubts whether this "manuscript" would be found - or if it ever existed. Still, it makes for entertaining news and brings Charlotte to the spotlight, which is always nice, isn't it?

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4:14 pm by Cristina   2 comments
Here's a controversial article:

Former home of the Bronte Sisters, as well as many other famous individuals, Bradford continues to thrive in terms of business and also continues to draw thousands of tourists each and every year.

Is it or is it not a mistake? The Brontës never had a home in Bradford in their time though they were born in Thornton (the famous ones, anyway), which we think has now been absorbed by Bradford and is no longer a little village separated from it. Thornton is certainly on the outskirts of Bradford anyway, and out of any suggested route in this article, and that is never mentioned.

They try to make ammends - if ammends are needed - by suggesting Mary Taylor's Red House:

RED HOUSE: The former home of Mary Taylor, now known as the Red House is located on Oxford Road. Mary Taylor was the former friend of Charlotte Bronte and the house was erected in the 17th century.

The place is in Gomersal, an out-of-the-way place too.

And they end up by recommending a Restaurant typically called Heathcliff's. That's Brontë Country for you :D

So - thumbs up or thumbs down to this article?

12:37 am by M.   3 comments
The BBC is not the only one making radio adaptations of the Brontë novels (check these posts about the on-going broadcasts of WH and the recent ones of Shirley). English is not even the only language in which these adaptations can be made. We read at La Voz how WH has been adapted as a radionovela (you know, soap-opera latino style) and broadcasted in Venezuela this month.

Cathy was played by the well-known, in the latino soap-opera world, Gigi Zanchetta (in the picture). Heathcliff was Jean-Carlo Simancas. Three generations of actors of the same family are also on the production: Julio Capote was the narrator, Tatiana Capote was Katty (Catherine Linton ??) and her daughter Taniusha Capote plays Elizabeth (Isabella???). Other actors in the production were: Ana Casstell, Henry Soto, Nury Flores, Eliseo Perera, Vicente Tepedino, Henry Salvat, Luís Bascarán, Manuel Martínez and Lucía Sanoja. Produced and directed by Alberto Cimino.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:15 pm by Cristina   No comments
One of those newsrounds full of unrelated news today. The most interesting news item today has already been posted anyway.

First of all we read about an exhibition by Sriwhana Spong, an artist whose art is made with ordinary objects:

Sriwhana Spong, already an award-winning young artist, has a show called Candlestick Park at the Anna Miles Gallery until May 27. She, too, concentrates on objects but uses them in a variety of media. The objects evoke her past and also convert her present reality into art. [...]
Sticks from Spong's garden are polished and delicately painted to transform them into something with a history, although we would have difficulty associating them with Wuthering Heights, to which we are told they refer.

We hope the delicacy doesn't get into their look or it won't feel like Wuthering Heights.

We can't get hold of the article since it can only be viewed by subscription but we get a glimpse of famous actress Famke Janssen confessing to being a true Brontëite - nothing she has never said before: her favourite writers are Charlotte and Emily Brontë and Jean Rhys.

In an article that California inhabitants will understand better, the author ends up by rhetorically asking - as in who cares if - this highly disturbing question:

What if Emily Bronte was heavily into bondage?

And finally there are people out there who really don't know what they are saying:

A lot of the righteous condemnation aimed at movie-musicals conceals an unfortunate snobbery. Why does no one make a fuss when an adaptation of a book like Jane Eyre or Little Women opens?

Well, they don't if the musical is up to scratch. But - believe us - they most certainly will if it isn't!

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1:02 pm by M.   1 comment
The Yorkshire Today publishes an article about the forthcoming auction of some Brontë-related material.
A BATCH of 94-year-old letters which show how close Charlotte Brontë came to being sued for the content of Jane Eyre are to go on sale. (by David Hogg)

The letters show the thoughts of the Reverend William Carus-Wilson, the young writer's real-life headmaster at the Clergy Daughter's School at Cowan Bridge, later at Casterton, in Cumbria. He was angry at what he saw as her unfair depiction of the institution in her novel.
The letters were written by his grandson, Edward Carus-Wilson, who wanted to sell them with a revised Jane Eyre manuscript as part of deal to raise funds in 1912 to pay for medical treatment for his son.The headmaster was so angered by Charlotte Brontë's portrayal of the school he had founded – recognisable in Jane Eyre as Lowood School, 'the school for clergymen's daughters' – that he considered suing her for libel.
He was also the inspiration behind the terrifyingly strict Mr Brocklehurst character, head of Lowood.
Edward Carus-Wilson believed the young novelist had been sufficiently scared by his grandfather's objections and changed her original manuscript for the book.
In one of his letters he said: "She did not write favourably of the school and my grandfather was advised to take up the matter publicly if not legally, but he refrained from doing so."
He however wrote to Charlotte Brontë to remonstrate with her and the result was that she wrote the sketch that I have in my possession retracting a good deal of what she had formally written about the school."
The letters, which are to be sold by Shropshire auction house Mullock Madeley, also claim Charlotte Brontë gave her old headmaster permission to publish the manuscript in order to set the record straight about the school but he refrained to do so and the matter never came to light.
Richard Westwood-Brookes, documents expert for Mullock Madeley, said: "It is fascinating to think that, even in the early part of the 19th Century, such a sensationally successful book as Jane Eyre could bring its author an unwelcome brush with the law – and clearly Charlotte must have been rattled by the reaction she got from Carus-Wilson."
Knowing the vast sums which are paid for Brontë manuscripts today, it is also interesting to reflect on the fact that Edward Carus-Wilson had decided to sell his precious manuscript after seeing an advert in the Exchange and Mart magazine – and was willing to sell for '10 guineas or near offer."
It is possible Edward Carus-Wilson could have invented the content of the letters in order to bump up the value of his collection.But this seems unlikely, according to Mr Westwood-Brookes, as an historical precedent had already been set. Celebrated Victorian biographer Elizabeth Gaskell blamed the school's harsh regime and inadequate food for the deaths of the elder Brontë sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, and for the ruin of Charlotte's own health.
She described its clergyman founder as "willing to sacrifice everything but power" but she had to revise her biography of Charlotte Brontë in 1857 after another lawsuit was threatened.

Although the paper says that the auction will take place at Ludlow Racecourse in Shropshire on June 7, checking on the Mullock Madeley website we can read the following:

"[Bronte (Charlotte)] author of ‘Jayne Eyre’ (sic) three autograph letters signed by E Carus-Wilson , dated May 11th-15th 1912, concerning the sale of a manuscript by Charlotte Bronte in his possession which he was willing to sell to his correspondent, but rev"
Guide Price: 70-100
Venue: Ludlow Racecourse, Ludlow, Shropshire Wednesday 21 June 2006, at 1.00pm
Viewing: 9.30am-12.45pm on day of sale.

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12:18 am by M.   No comments
Sarah Hemmings from The Financial Times reviews the London's performances of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre (previous reviews here and here).

Polly Teale appears to have a bit of thing about the Brontës. Since Shared Experience first staged her adaptation of Jane Eyre nine years ago, she has directed After Mrs Rochester and Brontë (a piece exploring the creative impulses of the Yorkshire sisters). Of the three, I think it is this wild, rich and unexpectedly funny staging of Charlotte Brontë’s great novel that I like best (revived here by Teale for Shared Experience). I thought that after Brontë I had seen enough corseted passion for a while but the story itself pulled me in, as did Teale’s vivid production. (...)

So the piece opens with the drably clad Jane sitting on a staircase reading about the West Indies, while Bertha Mason, in scarlet silk, entwines around her. When the young Jane is locked in the Red Room for biting her odious cousin, it is not she but the dishevelled scarlet woman locked away with her who bellows abuse at her callous aunt. And, as Jane is bashed into submission by the school, this wild, rebellious female remains imprisoned on stage, occasionally breaking out to rail at injustice. Only when Jane is finally united with Mr Rochester on her own terms does the crazed woman subside.

Meanwhile the story itself is told briskly and wittily, as Jane falls for the moody and perverse Mr Rochester (James Clyde, all boots and hair). Monica Dolan gives an excellent performance as Jane: intense, odd and fascinating. Her angular little face and fierce eccentricity contrast well with Myriam Acharki’s sultry, sensual Bertha. The production has longueurs and it gallops through some sections of the story, such as Jane’s sojourn with the odious Rivers. But this is a bold adaptation that both tells the tale and rummages in the subtext. And it features a splendid performance from John Lightbody as Rochester’s faithful hound.

A splendid dog impersonator and an odious St. John Rivers, that's a good summary.

Note - In the picture, Harriette Ashcroft and Penny Layden in the last year's Dublin Festival performances. In the Lodon performances the roles are played by Monica Dolan and Myriam Acharki.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 6:23 pm by Cristina   No comments
We still gape at people's ability to slip the Brontës into any kind of article or report. Here's one more.

I wonder what Charlotte Bronte and her characters would have thought about downloading weather reports from circling satellites and reading them on electronic handheld devices. Weather was certainly an important aspect in the setting of her 1847 novel, Wuthering Heights, and weather is still an important element in our daily lives. Accordingly, it is not just a matter of convenience but also sometimes a matter of vital importance to have access to accurate weather information.

And if you're so intent on alluding to the Brontës, then make sure you get your facts right. Lately we are seeing a new wave of "Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Brontë", which always makes us feel like banging our head against a wall.

And also the Brontës (not just Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre), like most country people back then, could read signs that go unnoticed for us today so perhaps they would wonder at such devices being used for something so simple. So, see, you could have saved your mention after all.

4:11 pm by Cristina   3 comments
Remember we recently discovered the real name of the girl playing Helen Burns in the new BBC production of Jane Eyre? Her name is Hester Odgers, and she's only young and doesn't have much of a CV, but we thought you might be interested in seeing a picture of her. Is she the Helen Burns you had in mind?

As a reminder, in case you have been on an expedition to Mount Everest or lost in outer space, here's the almost complete cast, here's Dr Carter, here's St John Rivers, here's Bertha Mason and here's one unidentified character.

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4:05 pm by Cristina   No comments
So you thought there were only reviews of recently published books? Well, here it is today, a review of Wuthering Heights. Yes, that's right: not a sequel, not a prequel, not a spin-off, not a retelling. Nope. The real thing penned by Emily Brontë herself. Isn't that nice?

To me, in many ways, Wuthering Heights was an anti-romance, exactly the opposite of what I had been expecting.

Good to see people noticing that Wuthering Heights is not such a lovey-dovey novel as they would have people believe.

ProQuest Information and Learning continues publishing thesis, in a digital format, and here we present another one to be added to those that we posted before (here and here)

Select, order, shape: Women's authority and the generic conventions of life-writing in the novels of Anne Brontë

Author: Schroeder, Bendta
Advisor: Jenkins, Ruth
Degree: MA (year: 2005)
Publish Date: Apr 2006

This study of Anne Brontë novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, examines how narrative codes for writing the self and identity underwrite the gendered division of the public and the private spheres in the Victorian era. This thesis focuses on the interrelated genres of the autobiography, diary, Bildungsroman , and confessional to interrogate women's ability to manipulate genre and gender dichotomies to resist their containment in the private sphere and exclusion from discursive authority. Though the heroines of Brontë's novels conform to certain conservative aspects of gender construction and related narrative conventions, they are able to situate themselves within the competing models of masculine and feminine subjectivity so that they are able to offer authoritative critiques of the ideologies that disempower them, and destabilize the naturalized divisions between public and private, and male and female through their performances of gender and genre on both sides of the binary.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006 4:37 pm by Cristina   No comments
Since there are practically no news today so far, we have decided to take you for one of our walks around the blogosphere. Since our last one we have come a cross a few noticeable blogs and/or mentions.

Perhaps most interestingly we have seen that Bertha Mason keeps a blog and that she keeps us posted on her life and efforts to catch Mr Rochester's attention. Unfortunately since she said she was about to attempt to burn his house we haven't heard from her. Hmmmm... we hope nothing has happened to her ;)

Lucy Snowe too, but she leads a somewhat different life, though - literary conundrum as that is - she posts her favourite quotes and poems by her own creator Charlotte Brontë from time to time.

There's also fan fiction to be found. Imagine how surprising it is to find a few characters from Jane Eyre mingled in a story involving Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom.

Remember that Polly Teale's Jane Eyre review where they said "you feel like you are looking into the heart of Brontë herself"? Well, someone didn't quite relish the expression and created the corresponding hilarious image.

The Culture Vulture blog from The Guardian posts on marginalia and relays a funny story:

It seems, in fact, that mad scribblings are more common than sane ones. I was once shown a copy of Jane Eyre that was thick with the bile of a woman scorned. Every instance of a male character being brought to book or receiving any kind of comeuppance was heavily annotated, sometimes with "Ha!" added as an afterthought.

Don't you love the 'ha!'? :D

There's also people looking into 'fam-ilees' (famous families) and - you guessed it, of course - the Brontës sprang to mind.

So, as you can see, the Brontë buzz doesn't die down a bit on the blogosphere. Don't miss on our next walk - we are sure there will be lots of curious things!

12:04 am by M.   No comments
It seems that finally, and after several delays, Hesperus Press publishes Charlotte Brontë's The Secret as we explained several months ago.

Although the title doesn't yet appear in the Hesperus Press Catalogue, it can be found on the amazon website:

Book Description

A rollicking adventure from the Brontës’ imagined kingdom of Verdopolis, The Secret is a novel of intrigue, duplicity, and all-conquering love.

Arthur, the Marquis of Douro, his beautiful wife, Marion, and their infant son lead a happy and carefree existence in the city of Verdopolis—until a chance encounter brings the youthful Marchioness’ childhood governess back into their lives. The meeting proves to be the catalyst for an increasingly tortuous series of events involving blackmail, imposture, and shocking revelations regarding the birth of the young Marchioness. Will the Marquis ever forgive his wife her secret?

Product Details
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Hesperus Press (April 2006)
ISBN: 1843911256

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006 11:58 am by M.   No comments
The Telegraph (in its Calcutta edition) publishes an interesting article written by Indian writer Githa Hariharan about, in the writer's words, How do I use my writing — and my reading, which takes up more of my life than writing — to resist the various essentialisms that besiege our lives?

She uses her own experience as reader of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea to provide an answer to the question:

For instance, I think of myself as a ten-year-old girl in Bombay (or what was then Bombay), picking up my elder sister’s “English” textbook, and being seduced into entering Jane Eyre’s life. Here I was, a middle-class child in an unselfconscious South Indian Brahmin family, speaking a hodgepodge of Tamil and Malayalam at home, and a recent, reluctant speaker of English — since my parents had moved from one part of the city to another and I had been dispatched to an “English-medium” school.

I was a product of middle-class aspirations and dominant caste mobility, early post-colonial education, to say nothing of the spectacular cultural kicchdi of the Indian metropolis. The distance between this somewhat hybrid creature and Jane Eyre (or Mr Rochester) is nothing short of staggering. Obviously, I had no articulated awareness of this distance. What I do recall is the almost secretive pleasure of the discovery of the far-away, the Other. And the secret of the pleasure was that while I got an inside view of other people in other places, other times, I also got — again, without being aware of it, obviously — a closer view of myself. Getting to know Jane and Mr Rochester opened, as it were, one little window. But at that time, as reader, what use that open window, that view of the Other, if it didn’t also mean that a window — behind me in childhood, a window I would learn to turn to in time — did not also open to provide a view of myself?

Many years later, I read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette’s home was as foreign to me as Jane’s England. Perhaps, in terms of “general knowledge”, more foreign, since our official literary education was so firmly trained on England and its views. But already I knew that Antoinette was closer to me than Jane — if Jane was a relation by a marriage (or a forced marriage), Antoinette was a second cousin. With this awareness, the two windows I have referred to opened a little more. The views of the Other, of myself, grew just that much more detailed, complex. It was as if the screen, in response to improved technology, grew wider.
Suppose I write a story about this girl and Jane and Antoinette; a girl in Bombay with baggage of her own, Jane’s and Rochester’s England with the offstage India of missionaries and the lush uncivilized islands of Rochester’s first wife; and Antoinette’s world, again with its layers of race, gender, power. What is the window, the vantage point, I should set my writing table at? My suspicion is that I would do best to keep all the windows wide open. That if I pretend it’s all a question of exploring the colonial experience, I will lose out; and so would I, for instance, if I made it an exclusively “women’s” story.

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12:31 am by M.   No comments
Today, May 21, BBC7 begins the broadcasts of the WH radio version with Amanda Root and John Duttine that recently appeared in the US market. You can listen to the broadcast live or through the Listen Again option (but only for a week).

Wuthering Heights
10:00am - 11:00am
John Duttine and Amanda Root play Heathcliff and Cathy in Emily Bronte's novel, dramatised in five parts by Bryony Lavery.

1: Mr Lockwood meets the strange haunted household at Wuthering Heights.
Episode 1 of 5. [Rptd today 7.00pm]

And also today BBC4 broadcasts again (the original broadcast was in 2004) Tea with Mr. Rochester, the story by Frances Tower that gives title to the whole program (and the book that is published with all of them)

Stories by Frances Towers. 2/5. Tea with Mr Rochester. A schoolgirl comes face to face with her literary idol. Read by Romola Garai

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006 11:45 pm by M.   No comments
As we had been anticipating, the Brontë sisters have been to Kirklees today as Leeds Today reports:

Actors in period costume helped launch a new campaign to grab a slice of the millions of pounds generated each year by Brontë fans who visit Yorkshire.
Shirley Country is a concerted effort by tourism bosses in Kirklees to wrestle the Brontë crown away from Haworth.They have come up with a map, listing more than a dozen houses and other locations, all of which are steeped in Brontë history.Yesterday actress Tania Gillmartin (playing Charlotte Brontë), Brigid Harbour (as childhood friend Ellen Nussey) and Julie O'Connell (as friend Mary Taylor) arrived by horse-drawn carriage at Oakwell Hall, Birstall, which was the inspiration for Fieldhead in Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley. Helen Rowe, tourism officer in Kirklees, said: "By using the map and the information in the guide, visitors can create their own literary trail."Some 20,000 copies of the guide have been produced for distribution across Yorkshire. Locations featured include Red House, Gomersal; Gomersal Park Hotel; St Peter's Church, Birstall; and Dewsbury Minster.

Richard Wilcocks, editor of the Brontë Society Gazette and the Brontë Parsonage Blog, was there and has posted several pictures of this event as well as a lengthy description of it all.

Picture courtesy of Richard Wilcocks himself.

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11:33 pm by M.   No comments
As it frequently happens we get one of those mentions where Brontë is nothing but a catchy word :

Our house came with an English garden, the kind the Brontë sisters might have enjoyed, with winding brick walkways, a center rose bed, wishing well and wisteria arbor. The kind of garden, in short, that calls for statuary.

The other mention belongs to ...erm... this peculiar article:

In the Bay Area, in fact, book sale mania has been reaching Wuthering Heights, with most major libraries holding semi-annual or even monthly sales -- and tens of thousands of books being snatched up at bargain-basement prices every weekend.

12:49 am by M.   No comments
Today, May 20, The Kingston Readers' Festival, organized by the Kingston University (London, UK), presents a talk given by Dr. Meg Jensen with the following title:

This strange and compelling story by the youngest Brontë sister is brimming with contradictory aims and ambitions and its structure is itself a kind of mysterious puzzle. Dr Meg Jensen of Kingston University will be discussing and analysing these contradictions in this often overlooked novel.

Dr Meg Jensen comes from New York and is a lecturer in 19th and 20th Century British and American Literature at Kingston University. Jensen has many specialisms including the works of Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf.

Saturday 20th May, 1.30pm
Venue: Rm 102, Town House, Penrhyn Road campus, Kingston University
Tickets: £5 (£3 under 18s)

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12:36 am by M.   No comments
Today, May 20, and tomorrow, May 21, the Händel Society of Darthmouth College presents a concert in the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Dartmouth, UK with the following program:
Mass in C Minor (Beethoven) and The Company of Heaven (Britten).

Dr. Robert Duff, conductor
Beethoven & Britten
with special guest vocalists and the Hanover Chamber Orchestra
Saturday, MAY 20 • 8 pm
Sunday, MAY 21 • 2 pm

The company of Heaven is a one of Britten's lesser known pieces but contains an interesting Brontë connection as some of the poetry used in the text is from Emily Brontë. One of the best 19th century poets with music of the arguably best british composer of the 20th century.

This half of BrontëBlog is particularly interested in Britten's music and we would like to add some more information about this particular piece:

Britten composed The Company of Heaven during August and September of 1937, as a result of a BBC commission. The piece was commissioned for the celebration of Michaelmas Day, September 29, on which day the first performance was given via radio broadcast. Robert Ellis Roberts, who collaborated with Britten in compiling the text, wrote in Radio Times prior to the performance " composer has written all the music especially for the programme. He and I have discussed the plan together, and he has, by his music, given to it precisely that unity of thought and feeling which is so desirable. The composer is Benjamin Britten, who is known as one of the most brillinat of our young musicians." With the idea of a radio broadcast in mind, Britten and Roberts created a full scale cantata, with spoken texts interpolated. The Company of Heaven was only one of twenty-five commissions on behalf of the BBC for incidental radio music between 1937 and 1947. (A similar commission inspired William Walton to compose Balshazzar's Feast.) After the first performance in 1937, the manuscript of the full score remained with Trevor Harvey, the conductor, and was virtually forgotten until the 1950s, when he rediscovered the score and revived the work in abbreviated form in 1956. The Company of Heaven was not performed again until the 1989 Aldeburgh Festival, where it was given a complete performance, including all of the spoken text.

The work is constructed in three parts. Part I begins with Britten's representation of Chaos followed by the creation of the angel spirits. (...) Part II, entitled "Angels in Scripture,"sets Biblical encounters with angels from both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. (...)Part III, "Angles in Common Life and at Our Death, " offers an entirely new perspective. A dramatic shift from the Biblical myths, the Part III texts are a compilation of modern poetry and folk legend. The atmosphere rises out of the beginning soprano solo "Heaven is Here, " (...) The following solo for tenor is almost certainly the first solo Britten ever composed for Peter Pears, with whom he had just become acquainted. The tenor sings of a dreamlike encounter with "little glittering Spirits."

This piece is known as A Thousand, Thousand Gleaming Fires and if you are familiar with Emily Brontë's poetry you will recognize these verses from A Day Dream:

A thousand thousand gleaming fires
Seemed kindling in the air;
A thousand thousand silvery lyres
Resounded far and near:

Methought, the very breath I breathed
Was full of sparks divine,
And all my heather-couch was wreathed
By that celestial shine!

(read the complete poem)

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