Sunday, August 17, 2008

Come to Brontë Country

Now this from The Telegraph and Argus (and Keighley News) is both interesting and unexpected:

Tourism chiefs have travelled to the Beijing Olympics to encourage Chinese holidaymakers to visit the Bradford district.
They will be promoting Yorkshire attractions, including the sweeping beauty of the Aire and Wharfe Valleys, historic Saltaire and picturesque Haworth – home of the Bronte sisters. [..]
Spokesman Elliott Frisby said many of the people living in the emerging markets of the Far East had their first experiences of Britain through reading novels such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre or Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. He said the officials hoped to tap into the Chinese love of literature and the countryside.
He said: “It is not just about the Chinese. The big thing about our presence in Beijing is that the world media is going to be there. It will give us an opportunity to paint areas like Haworth in a positive light to all nationalities. Often their familiarity with the country comes from the books they have read and the films they have seen. To be able to say ‘come to Bronte Country’ is an absolutely key way to promote this country.” (Marc Meneaud)
Well, we hope it works.

A couple of newspapers talk to Francis Wyndham, who recalls for them his correspondence with Jean Rhys. From The Independent:
[Suzi Feay]:What was it like working with Jean Rhys?
FW: She used to write to me and send me bits [of Wide Sargasso Sea] and that was an exciting feeling of being in on something I knew was good. I just gave encouragement.
And from the Guardian:
'Well, in the case of Jean [Rhys], I thought she was dead. I'd shown her books to Diana, who had loved them, but said we couldn't reprint. Why did I think she was dead? Julian Maclaren-Ross [Soho diarist and dandy] had told me she was dead - she'd died in an asylum or sanitorium or something - and stupidly, I believed him. Then she was discovered! [By Athill, in the Radio Times, improbable as this may sound.] So I wrote to her and she wrote back and said she was writing something, and this was Wide Sargasso Sea. She would send it to me as she was writing it, bit by bit. It was so exciting. I know that she was difficult, that she had her rages, but I only ever witnessed one rage and that was about being old. I was very moved by it. She knew I was a great fan of her writing. I think she knew, too, that she was good and that quite a lot of people couldn't see that she was good. So we had all that unspoken between us. She was a bit frail, like an actress. Sonia Orwell and I used to stay in a hotel near where she lived in Devon and take her out. She lived in a prefab kind of house. She didn't want a biography but, in the end, I betrayed her and allowed one.' He sighs. 'I know why she didn't. She didn't come out of it well.' (Rachel Cooke)
And The Times joins the Twilight-series-by-Stephenie-Meyer-meets-Wuthering-Heights/Jane-Eyre bandwaggon:
Also: being childless, and tempted for a while to drink the blood of old friends and family, not at first feeling sexual desire (a bad one) and, worst of all, forgoing the relationship many fans were hoping for with Edward's rival Jake, a swarthy werewolf, Heathcliff to Bella's Cathy. (Nicolette Jones)
As for the blogs: the sound of butterflies revisits Jane Eyre, and During the novel discusses the madwoman in the attic.

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