Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Catalogue of Charlotte Brontë's books, 1830

Here's something to watch out for. Little White Lies interviews cinematographer John de Borman:

Which cinematographers or filmmakers have influenced you?
[...]There are of course many new cinematographers establishing themselves now and it is part of my duty as the President of the BSC to promote the young and talented cinematographers as they are coming up. There is Robbie Ryan, for example, who the BSC [British Society of Cinematographers] are holding a Q&A with regarding the new adaptation of Wuthering Heights he has photographed. (Nathan Francis)
The BSC website doesn't seem to have any info on it just yet but that should be interesting when it happens.

A rather more modest production of Wuthering Heights was carried out last year by Liz Worsley, who has received an award for it, according to the Boston Standard:
Liz Worsley has recently picked up an award for her success with Wuthering Heights at the recent NODA awards.
If it was up to this columnist from the Augusta Gazette, we are not sure the novel would be so alive and well, though.
Also, don’t make the story creepy. I’m talking to you, Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights is disturbing. (Erin Fox)
This other columnist from TG Daily wasn't disappointed either to find no traces of Wuthering Heights in Fatal Attraction:
When I was younger, my father would open the paper, and if a movie had good reviews all over the ads, we'd go check it out.


We went into Fatal Attraction like this, and from the ads I figured it would be some Wuthering Heights kind of romance, and deep into the movie we realized we were in for much more than we bargained for. (David Konow)
An article from the Fortean Times on the British Library exhibition Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it doesn't show much enthusiasm when it comes to seeing the young Brontës' writings there:
The imaginary worlds of the Brontës, interesting enough to Brontë fans but hardly central to SF development, are given more space than William Gibson. (Jen Ogilvie)
However, in The Huffington Post Carolyn Vega, Manuscripts cataloger at The Morgan Library & Museum, is much more appreciative of a piece of paper written by 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë.
Charlotte Brontë was only 10 years old when she penned her earliest known work, and she was barely a teenager when she began writing in earnest -- at her own count she had written over 20 complete works by the time she was 14.
One list, which she has headed Catalogue of my Books with the periods of their completion up to August 3, 1830, gives 22 titles, including A Book of Rhymes, which, now lost, apparently contained 10 poems. She has made a few errors and omitted the titles of at least eight manuscripts, though -- so the actual count of what this young, prolific writer had composed by 1830 is closer to thirty works. Penned in a tiny but still legible hand, Brontë has written the list on a sheet of paper that measures just over four inches -- about the length of a golf pencil. [...]
Her miniscule handwriting is very precise, and she has confidently dated the third title, Leisure Hours, a Tale; and two fragments, to July 6, 1829. But Brontë was working from memory when she compiled the Catalogue, and the manuscript of Leisure Hours actually dates to June 29, 1830, nearly a year after her remembered date and only a few months before she wrote this list. Perhaps she merely recalled writing it in the summer, or simply misprinted the year. And how could this 14-year-old girl have known that we would be pouring over her Catalogue, which at the time she could only have imagined would be seen by her family, or which she perhaps wrote out only for her own use, over 180 years later?
The thought of some future scholars scrutinizing her juvenilia might have seemed even more unimaginable after she received a letter in 1837 from poet laureate Robert Southey (the twenty-one year old had written to him for advice about her poems), where he tells her that:
Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life: & it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it, even as an accomplishment & a recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, & when you are you will be less eager for celebrity.
Brontë later explained that she and her sisters "had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice" -- an unsurprising view for the age, and one which must have been particularly driven home by the poet laureate's letter. But in 1837 Southey did not expressly tell her to stop writing, and she was still as prolific (maybe even compulsive?) a writer as she had been as a teen. Her writing became her means of support, but she clearly wrote for more than that and the volume of her work from such a young age suggests to me that she was driven by that inexplicable itch to put pen to paper. In any case, we are lucky that she did not take heed to Southey's hints, and ten years later the ever-determined Brontë published Jane Eyre, albeit under the ambiguously gendered pen name Currer Bell.
Click here to see the actual piece of paper.

We are quite sure that picturing her juvenile writings scrutinised in the 21st century was as imaginable to Charlotte Brontë as having her Jane Eyre story referenced in an article about a royal wedding:
One wonders if she [Kate Middleton] is as innocent and noble as other English heroines at the beginning of their romantic relationships like Jane Eyre who believes completely in her own and her lover's ability to stay true if you are honestly in love. (Sari Eckler Cooper in The Huffington Post)
Or even harder to imagine - in a recap of The Bachelorette:
So, it’s time for Ashley’s exciting group date with the winners, which would be more exciting if she made time for each one of them but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Hot lawyer West pulls her aside to tell her about his dead wife. He feels she responded well, but I get the feeling Ashley’s thinking, hmm, following in those footsteps is not so appealing, especially if she’s read “Jane Eyre” or “Rebecca.” Not that she has, but it tends to be a rough road for novel heroines, at least. (Liane Bonin Starr on HitFix)
Miss Mollie's Musings posts about Jane Eyre 2011 and Leituras Brontëanas (in Portuguese) wonders what Charlotte Brontë would think if she saw that she's on the cover of a Portuguese edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. We wonder too.

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1 Comment
Cindy Swanson said...
on  

Great stuff! I've got to tell you, you do such an amazing job with this site. It's like a one-stop shop for all things Bronte.

I was doing some Googling about Daphne du Maurier, and found out that she was a huge Bronte fan. Of course, she wrote The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte, which is utterly fascinating.

Apparently she was deeply influenced by Jane Eyre when she wrote Rebecca.

I finally got to see the Jane Eyre movie when I visited Texas in April (it was showing nowhere near me). I really loved it. I think Mia W was an excellent choice for Jane...although she was undeniably plain in the movie, there was a luminous beauty that shown out from her, that made it plausible that Mr Rochester would fall for her.

And Michael Fassbender as Mr R? Have to agree with the critic who said he's the sexiest Rochester ever.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I love your blog!

Cindy @Cindy's Book Club

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