10 Fascinating Facts About Charlotte Brontë - On Wednesday 7th December, I’m very honoured to be returning to my old University, the University of Huddersfield, to give a public lecture on Charlotte Br...
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Many will know how the tale proceeds, but through Arnold’s eyes the story feels immediate and visceral. Once again displaying her skill with non-professional actors, Arnold’s version of Wuthering Heights is palpably, powerfully emotive. (Alice Tynan)Television Without Pity:
Finally arriving on U.S. screens a full year after its international debut, Andrea Arnold's new version of Emily Brontë's oft-filmed 19th-century tale of romantic obsession is a stunner -- one of the most vividly realized and boldly original adaptations of an established literary classic to come along in recent memory. (...)Blu-ray.com:
At a time when so many page-to-screen adaptations are content to be overly literal books on film, Arnold has made a full-blooded cinematic experience out of her source material, one that makes you feel like you're discovering the novel for the first time. (Ethan Alter)
Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” is a sensorial experience, with documentary-style cinematography emphasizing the immediacy of the moment, while the sound design preserves the tempestuous weather of the land. Violence is also constant, from the emotional kind that cripples Heathcliff in the second half, to more visceral sequences of animal slaughter (fair warning for those sensitive to such matters). There’s not a single rosy moment or loving embrace in the entire picture, creating an ambiance of dread and death that’s fascinating to see unfold, even in an absurdly overlong feature as this. However, it’s difficult to fault Arnold for her habitual need to linger. With such spellbinding landscapes to photograph and a story in need of a fresh approach, her blistering version of “Wuthering Heights” earns its right to stay past its welcome. (Brian Orndorf)Boxoffice.com:
This Wuthering Heights trades the costumes and customs of a conventional period piece for fleeting sensory experiences. Arnold is less interested in the anthropology of teacups and collars than in the wonder and magnetism Emily Brontë's book. (Sara Maria Vizcarrondo)Time Out Los Angeles:
This weird, yearning movie could become beloved to many, just as the novel has been. (Joshua Rothkopf)Just Press Play:
The moodiness of the film is further illustrated by the lack of musical score. Sound designer Nicholas Becker uses the diegetic—or natural—sounds as the film’s “soundtrack.” The howling of the wind, the creaking of the trees, the yelping of the dogs, even the wetness of the kisses—all of these increase the intensity and tone of the film. This, combined with images of the barren and cruel—and often striking—landscape, truly pulls the audience into the story and world of Wuthering Heights.3 1/2 stars from Awards Circuit:
This adaptation brings new insight into the story of Wuthering Heights and will urge viewers to pick up the book and read it again, searching for this intense and dark world that they missed when they read it in high school. Arnold set out to create a new take on this beloved classic, and that’s exactly what she has done. The film has a slow pace that emphasizes that this is about more than just plot; this film is a character study of the classic figure of Heathcliff. Fans of Emily Brontë’s novel—or fans of period pieces in general—should enjoy this nuanced exploration of the novel and its themes. (John Keith)
Between the awe-inspiring cinematography, Andrea Arnold’s authorial consistency as a filmmaker following her two feature films, and the precision of the screenplay to only use the most appropriate parts of Brontë’s novel to create this masterful revision makes Wuthering Heights not just the best classic film adaptation since Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, but also one of the best films of 2012 thus far. If Andrea Arnold keeps accelerating at the pace she’s going, she’ll one day stand toe-to-toe with great visual auteurs like Béla Tarr and Terence Malick. (Joseph Braverman)
Arnold’s decision to use only doc-style handheld footage adds a sense of urgency, bringing to life the emotional reality of the characters. The approach is fresh and cinematographer Robbie Ryan pays meticulous attention to detail, beautifully capturing extreme closeups most notably during the emotional and physical violence the ensues. Through close attention he captures the beauty of the remote corner of Yorkshire while working with the same aspect ratio he used on Arnold’s Fish Tank. The film is shot on high-definition video and a palette of abundant browns, lifeless greens and various shades of blues. Frequent close ups of birds and insects bring to mind the films of Terrence Malick, and apart from a non-source song by indie group Mumford & Sons (that plays over the last minute and end credits), the pic is scored only by the constant wind, thunder, rain and other natural sounds. Arnold regular Nicolas Chaudeurge’s editing is impeccable, with the second half of the film cutting back and forth between images of Heathcliff and Cathy in the past and present. The matching shots throughout constantly enforce themes of birth, death and rebirth, ultimately showing how closely linked together love and death are in the novel. More importantly the editing manages to condense enough material for a mini series into the film’s two hour running time.Film Monthly:
Wuthering Heights has been adapted numerous times, with both Luis Buñuel and Jacques Rivette filtering the story through their own individual personalities and surroundings. Arnold’s work can be placed on the same level as it is her most mature yet, making Cary Fukunaga’s Charlotte Brontë adaptation, Jane Eyre, pale in comparison. Like it or not, give credit to Arnold for adapting the original source material to her very own distinct vision, a visual poem that almost doesn’t feel like a period film at all. (Ricky D)
Wuthering Heights is a beautifully filmed interpretation of Ms. Brontë’s classic story, strongly acted by a cast of relative unknowns and supporting actors, but the most standout of them all is Kaya Scodelario of the BBC version of Skins and the recent film Clash of the Titans. (Del Harvey)The Perpetual Present gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
Some people will be thrilled by Andrea Arnold’s raw and daring reimagining of “Wuthering Heights” – and you can count me among them – and other people will be irritated or massively bored. But whatever you make of it, this movie isn’t like any British costume drama you’ve ever seen before. Arnold, the Scottish filmmaker whose previous work includes the gritty urban thriller “Red Road” and the intense sexual melodrama “Fish Tank,” isn’t going after Emily Brontë’s classic romance in some spirit of avant-gardism or postmodernism or anything like that. If anything, this is a pre-modern, stripped-down “Wuthering Heights,” an attempt to dig through the pages and pages of florid melodrama back to the elemental truths of life and love on the damp and frigid Yorkshire moors.Newark Star-Ledger:
Considerable attention has been paid to the fact that Arnold has cast two actors of Afro-Caribbean heritage to play Heathcliff, the archetypal tortured romantic hero of Brontë’s novel. (Solomon Glave plays the foundling Heathcliff, in the early portion of the story, and the supremely handsome James Howson plays the adult gentleman who returns to reclaim his lost love.) But that only seems like a bizarre contemporary twist if you go by the film and TV versions, in which we’ve only seen white actors like Laurence Olivier, Ralph Fiennes or Tom Hardy take on the role. I mean, maybe Arnold has some political or cultural agenda about how Britain has always been a polyglot society, long before the era of immigration, but also maybe not. Fact is, in Brontë’s book, Heathcliff is pretty clearly not white, and what’s more he’s a character who befuddles the racial distinctions of the day. (Andrew O'Hehir) (Read more)
This is what the movies do -- they think in pictures.Boston Phoenix:
Arnold's "Wuthering Heights" is very much a picture-driven movie, although I suspect it may disappoint some fans of the book -- or, at least, fans of the feverishly romantic 1939 movie with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. (Stephen Whitty)
Grim natural beauty abounds, but so does natural cruelty, like the casual slaughter of animals, including puppies hung from a fence. Arnold is equally ruthless with Brontë's prose; little survives her reduction of this epic of doomed love to stark images and fragmented dialogue. Only in casting does her version falter; James Howson as the older Heathcliff and Kaya Scodelario as Cathy fade in the overwhelming moors. (Peter Keough)
With an elaborate plot that naturally lends itself to melodrama, Arnold’s version downplays some of the difficult confrontational scenes, and instead relies more on the forlorn glance of the actors, a visual catalog of the weather (the grassy nature shots are reminiscent of a Terrence Malick film), and most disturbingly, voyeuristic scenes from Heathcliff’s perspective that undercut the action with a violent tension. As he lurks around, a palpable sense of hatred builds up inside of him, and that hatred seems to transfer itself onto everything around him.Film Journal:
There is very little dialogue throughout the film, but through detailed atmospheric shots and subtle psychological gestures, a number of complex emotions are conveyed. Although some of the scenes lack a conventionally fulfilling sense of drama, and the evocations of nature seem a bit excessive at times, Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights” roughly and often beautifully captures the atmosphere of the novel and sometimes the inner lives of its characters. Her film reproduces the erotic and violent tension that Bataille celebrated in the novel, and also what Charlotte Brontë wrote in the 1850 preface of her sister’s novel, that it was “hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials.” (Tynan Kogane)
Soon enough we get used to the visually compelling, instant metaphor for being downtrodden, and it hardly matters. Less topical and sensationalistic is the director’s surprisingly faithful, even extended use of the novel’s window motif: being both shut in and out, showing Cathy’s need to get back home to the Heights, the yearning for nature, the soul escaping the body, and of course the set-piece when outsiders Cathy and Heathcliff first watch the civilized Lintons through a glass plane. Even the redoubtable adult Heathcliff gets stuck under a window as a waiting suitor.Blouin Artinfo's Movie Journal:
Yet the film’s most breathtakingly original contribution shows characters looking through peepholes as they probably existed in 19th-century farmhouses and estates, and members of the underclass watching their “betters” from afar. The child Heathcliff peers nonplussed at a sexual coupling in the muck; from the same spot he later watches the result of that mating: Hareton’s birth. The pale eye of the formerly saccharine Isabella (the effective Nichola Burley) glints spitefully through a wall crack, spying on Heathcliff’s torment at Cathy’s death. Whether the director or DP Robby Ryan came up with this “peeking" motif is hard to say; Ryan did win an award at the Venice Film Festival.
A few unfortunate bits break the film’s one-note intensity. Cathy and Heathcliff’s initials on the Heights’ wall look kindergarten-ish, not nostalgic. A curse spat out at the landed gentry by the child Heathcliff is both anachronistic and awkward. Nevertheless, our view of Wuthering Heights is now permanently changed, as Cathy says, like wine coloring water. (Marsha McCreadie)
Things are somewhat normalized when, signaled by a burst of white light, some years pass and the runaway Heathcliff returns as a gentleman (James Howson). Cathy, who has married the rich, milquetoast neighbor Edgar Linton (James Northcote), has been similarly transformed into a lady (Kaya Scodelario). A sense of semi-civilization and conventional story-telling settles over the proceedings which, elliptical no longer, are, at this point, far closer to Goldwyn movie than Brontë novel. Arnold keeps some gas in the tank for a full-throttle closer but it’s an unavoidable observation that her “Wuthering Heights”, no less than Brontë’s, is a work that falls off drastically in its second act.The New York Post gives it 2 1/2 stars out of 4:
Still, the characters are prone to an unlikely but programmatic lack of propriety and Arnold is able to maintain the novel’s essential violence and cruelty. A great admirer of “Wuthering Heights,” Camille Paglia described it as “a catalog of chthonian horrors,” while characterizing the ill-fated lovers, Catherine and Heathcliff, as “self-maiming priests of a pagan cult of unmaternal stormy nature.” The French surrealists admired Wuthering Heights for its unflinching evocation of l’amour fou, along with a cruelty that reminded them of the “divine” Marquis de Sade. This too is a movie with a bite. (J. Hoberman)
But if you can handle the glacial pacing and lack of dialogue, there is a certain squirmy satisfaction to watching this well-worn story of love, cruelty and madness play out minus the long-winded speeches and romantic catharsis. There are no heroes, and discomfort reigns: Heathcliff is an angry time bomb, Cathy is a capricious bitch and everyone seems like they could use a good pair of mittens and a warm hat. (Sara Stewart)Next Projection:
83/100 ~ Great. This Wuthering Heights is an imperfect telling, but one so well-suited to the screen, so slavishly dedicated to its characters and their love, so striking in the stark depth of its images and the pronounced passion of its feelings, that its failings are quick to recede into the all-encompassing fog. (Ronan Doyle)Women's e-news:
Andrea Arnold's cinematic version of Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" presents the classic novel's bleak landscape and cruel human interactions in great and uncompromising detail. By casting a black actor (James Howson) as Heathcliff, Arnold highlights the class (and, now, racial) prejudice inherent to the well-known story. With brilliant performances and starkly beautiful cinematography, the film is likely to become a classic in its own right. (Jennifer Merin)Reeling Reviews:
The adapted screenplay, which relies far more heavily on visuals than words to tell this classic tale, is also a bold original.Reel Talk:
"Wuthering Heights" is a dark tale of class and passion and unrequited love fairly curdled into anguished hatred. It pulsates with life as it descends into madness and death. Somehow, I think Kate Bush would approve. (Laura Clifford)
The film focusing on Heathcliff, and through and with him on Cathy, the novel’s ironic framing in conventional snooper Lockwood’s diary around housekeeper Ellen “Nelly” Dean’s (Simone Jackson) tale-bearing, is sacrificed. The vision remains the dark hero’s as interpreted by the filmmaker. The doomed amour is beyond words or images, best left to the imagination of each reader of the printed pages. Taciturn, brooding and using nature to suggest what is inexpressible, this brave take is an interesting look at a classic for the few, but may be too “inner” concentrated for the many. (Donald Levit)MSN Movies
Arnold's measured approach to the narrative, which sometimes seems to privilege conveying environment over actually moving the story forward, results in a film that is always interesting but never entirely compelling. To the extent that Heathcliff's climactic acts of desperation seem indicative more of pathology than immortal passion. Which maybe they "really" were/are, but that kind of defeats the purpose of why "Wuthering Heights" was written in the first place, I dare say. (Glenn Kenny)Mostly negative
Brontë purists might find it difficult to accept this pared-down,shaky-cam interpretation, different as it is from the novel and the 1939 film classic starring Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Arnold has a fresh idea in examining the outsider status of Heathcliff and in casting actors who were closer to the ages of young Heathcliff and Catherine.New York Times:
But the problem arises in the jarring juxtaposition of farm animals (which are often brutally slaughtered or otherwise cruelly treated) and humans. The needless repetition of key scenes amid the intrusive handheld camerawork of cinematographer Robbie Ryan are more distracting than illuminating. Equally troublesome is the lack of chemistry between the two leads. A scene meant to convey their budding passion, in which Cathy licks blood from Heathcliff's scarred and beaten back, seems more off-putting then erotic.
As they age, more mature actors bearing little resemblance to their younger counterparts step in to play them. As adults, Heathcliff (James Howson) and Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) must wrestle with their powerful affection. But neither their time apart, while Heathcliff goes off to make his fortune, nor her marriage to the wealthy Edgar Linton (Jonny Powell), diminish their mutual obsession.
Although meant to be naturalistic and emotionally resonant, this latest Wuthering Heights comes off tedious, soggy and passionless. (Claudia Puig)
[A]n admirable, frustrating attempt to strip away the novel’s inherited “classic” status and restore its raw and earthy passion. (...)Vulture:
The jump cuts, off-kilter angles and hurtling hand-held camerawork; the guttural stammerings of the actors; and the ambient muck of the production design are signs of what has become a familiar aesthetic agenda. These techniques are meant to create a sense of immediacy, a supremely powerful naturalism.
But in this case, curiously enough, the effect is the opposite. The grunts and howls seem every bit as mannered as the florid diction of Olivier and Oberon, perhaps even more so. Their artifice, like Brontë’s own, was overt, whereas Ms. Arnold strives to disguise hers in the trappings of authenticity. And as a result, the impact — the grandeur, the art — of “Wuthering Heights” is diminished. (A.O. Scott)
I shouldn’t blame the actress when it’s hard even to focus on her. Emily Brontë’s prose is more rough-hewn than her sister’s, but Arnold’s attempt at a similar sort of emotional rawness ends up, ironically, distancing the audience. The cameraman is so into their scenes — he must have taken Method acting classes — that it’s as if Heathcliff and Cathy only see each other in motion. Claire Denis can bring off this sort of expressionist style, and Paul Thomas Anderson gets it more than halfway in The Master. But Arnold’s other films were essentially realistic, nudged into a subtle expressionism by her female protagonists’ gradual loss of self-control. Here, she comes off as a flounderer. The random physical detail — a shot of a moth or the back of Cathy’s puffy dress as Heathcliff rides behind her on horseback — just looks odd. Thinking back a week after seeing Wuthering Heights, I remember the moth and those windy moors and Cathy’s brother hurling the N-word. I remember a branch tapping on the window (Cathy’s ghost?) and the agony of the lovers’ separation — their writhing and head-banging. I just never got the part where they fell in love. (David Edelstein)Edge on the Net:
At two hours and eight minutes, "Wuthering Heights" is a bit of a struggle to get through. While I can appreciate the cinematography by Robbie Ryan BSC and how Arnold handled the actors - many of whom had never even acted before (Beer and Glave are both terrific), ultimately it’s a story for which I lost any feeling. The entire affair is dirty, wet and cold so in many ways, it’s just unpleasant. If I had felt for these characters, it wouldn’t have mattered. But ultimately I didn’t and thus, I wouldn’t recommend spending time getting to know them only to have them turn out to be jerks. (Kevin Taft)Negative
This “Heights,” with its lovely but bratty lovers, lack of depth and trendy aesthetic, seems geared exclusively towards adolescents. (Miriam Bale)New York Film Critics Online, ShowBiz Forum:
While some critics will find much to praise in Arnold’s version of the English classic, doubtless finding a breakthrough version that might better appeal to a modern audience and a forceful depiction of wild, but doomed passion, several factors work against the film. One is the 4:3 aspect ratio, turning the story into a near-square rather than the rectangular shape that TV viewers are accustomed to. This leads to impressions that are even more claustrophobic than previous incarnations have been. Another is the dialect, which is barely understandable (only the Scottish such as in “Trainspotting” would be more muddled). Given the nature of the heavily accented dialogue, it’s a blessing that Arnold chose to let the visuals tell most of the story, inserting the spoken word only for incomplete sentences and exclamations and what amounts more or less to throat clearing.Spirituality and Practice:
Yet a third flaw, multiple problems, in fact, is Robbie Ryan’s cinematography coupled with Nicolas Chaudeurge’s editing, which relegate most of the scenes to near darkness and the fights depicted with the stereotypical moving camera likely to cause audience members to wonder who is dealing what cuts and bruises to whom. (Harvey Karten)
You've heard of sports events called off on account of darkness? Well that should have happened to this irritating and wrong-headed approach to a literary classic. (Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat)SBS (Australia):
Most of the interminable 129 minutes consists of an unrelenting saga of misery, pain and suffering, interspersed with tediously repetitive close-ups of birds, insects, animals, cobwebs, nettles and mud. (Don GrovesThe Sydney Morning Herald has a non-committal article on it (the film opens in Australia next Thursday) and Yahoo!'s Movietalk interviews Andrea Arnold:
JC: What was the hardest scene you had to shoot?Filmmaker Magazine interviews her as well:
AA: The stuff out on the crag was really hard because it was in the middle of nowhere and we had to walk miles with the equipment through really thick heather. There were holes in the ground and people kept falling down. Those days were hard. The weather was hard, too. It snowed. Actually, I'm glad it snowed. It was the last day at the heights and Robbie Ryan, the cinematographer, said he was going to have a mud fight with me. I knew I was going to lose because he's stronger than me. I was going to end up with my face in the mud, which I wouldn't mind but it was full of sheep poo, which would not have been nice. I was really dreading it. I knew he was going to do it. And then it snowed and it all iced over and it was too dangerous, so I got away with it. [Laughs] I was really happy it snowed.
JC: So are you ever going to do another period film?
AA: No. I don't want to do that anymore. Thank you very much. (Jonathan Crow) (Read more)
Filmmaker: But like most of those adaptations, you choose to focus almost solely on the first half of the book. Why was that?The Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer today says:
Arnold: A few reasons. It was an instinctive decision. I joined this film when it already had some momentum; it was already in development. That was a strange thing for me because normally I start my films from scratch. So I joined something that had a bit of a life already, there had been various actors attached, directors, there was a script. So when I first joined, it already had this life and I didn’t feel like I could just disregard those things, but in the end what I did do was start again on the script from scratch. By the time I started again, there was this momentum to make the film fast. I partly believe in working fast because I think when you work fast you make instinctive decisions and I find that those decisions are often better than the ones you think about too much. I try to retain an instinctive element to what I do as a filmmaker, even though it’s one of the least instinctive mediums that there is because everything takes so long and…
Filmmaker: It’s so collaborative.
Arnold: Yes, there’s collaboration, there’s a lot of money involved, people want to be cared for, people want to be safe, so there’s a lot of thought, a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion involved and sometimes I think that can take away from something being alive, so I partly believe in doing things fast, so I went for it thinking, “This is a very famous book to be adapting in a hurry, but I’m going to go for it and see what happens.”
It was just an instinctive choice to end it where I did. I reread it a couple of times. I love the second half of the book, I think it’s great, I love that it comes full circle and concludes with Heathcliff’s death. It makes it feel complete. Watching my film, it may feel less complete. But I knew in terms of the type of filmmaking I like to do, looking at details and so on, it was just too much for a film. I haven’t seen any of the TV series versions, except for the Laurence Olivier one. If you’re doing TV, you have lots of hours and you can maybe get involved in doing the whole book, but for a film I wasn’t trying to do the whole book, I was trying to capture the essence of it.
When I first started writing it, I wrote it as a contemporary story. I had Earnshaw come across the moors in a car with a foster boy. (Brandon Harris) (Read more)
"Mildred had been working in our household for five years and all of a sudden we were alone in the guest house. When Mildred gave birth the following August, she named the baby Joseph." As narrative ellipses go, it's not quite up there with "Reader, I married him", but it nips at Charlotte Brontë's heels. (Hadley Freeman)The Brooklyn Rail interviews writer Tabish Khair who states,
I am not a political writer in the sense of writing protest literature or any kind of programmatic text. I think one can only talk of good writing and bad writing, but I also believe that good writing is always political in the larger sense. After all, to be political in the larger sense is to be aware of how human beings respond to each other and socio-political organisms, like states or established religion, in their daily lives, and how can one write good literature without this awareness? Politics in that sense is part of the way we deal with each other and all that exists around us, including nature. Such supposedly apolitical novels as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights or Mark Twain’s or Stendhal’s novels are deeply political in that sense, and perhaps more so than some obviously “political” literature. (Seb Doubinsky)Above a Wuthering Heights review mentioned the fact that the novel was widely praised and liked by the surrealists, Cuarto Poder's Detrás del sol mentions it too:
Hay dos libros del siglo XIX que se disputan el honor de incidir como pocos en la sutil perversión de las relaciones humanas. Ni que decir tiene que los dos están relacionados con el amor. Uno de ellos, Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brontë, publicada bajo el pseudónimo de Ellis Bell, es un producto extraordinario del Romanticismo donde una solitaria mujer que parecía conocer nada de la vida, imaginó en un páramo cubierto de lluvia y viento, no podía ser de otra manera, una bárbara, espléndida e intensa historia de pasión con el demonio dibujado en la sombra: la pasión entre Cathy Eamshaw y Heathcliff , su hermano adoptivo, ha seducido de tal manera el imaginario del siglo XX que gentes como Luis Buñuel llegaron a profesar un culto extremado por esa historia que anunció los arrebatos del surrealismo. (Juan Ángel Juristo) (Translation)The Telegraph has an obituary on children's literature writer Helen Nicoll.
When her mother became ill, she bought her an early Sony Walkman and an audio version of Jane Eyre. Appalled to discover it had been radically abridged, her mother refused to listen to it. So in 1983, with £15,000 of Meg and Mog royalties, Helen founded Cover to Cover, determined to produce unabridged classics. It became a ground-breaking audiobook company.The Camden New Journal shares Howard Jacobson's thoughts on books, bookshops and libraries.
She invited the actress Patricia Routledge to stay and they recorded the whole of Wuthering Heights in 10 days. With her insight into what pleased the young she concentrated on the A-level curriculum: “Teenagers don’t want the bother of reading Mansfield Park,” she noted, “they would rather lie in bed and have it read to them.”
In Zoo Time he explores confrontations with reading groups telling authors they can’t identify with their characters.
“I have had this said to me,” recalled Jacobson.”Every writer living has had it said to them.
“And when anybody says that you want to kill them. You want to kill them because it is irrelevant whether you want to identify with someone in a novel. It can be wonderful. There are wonderful reading experiences when you think I am Jane Eyre.
“But you can’t demand that because books do something else. You can’t demand that the characters in a novel be likeable. That’s the other thing you get – I didn’t like the characters in your novels. So bloody what! (Gerald Isaaman)
Alice Walker: I want very much for you to feel for whoever I’m talking about, or whatever I’m talking about. Because it is only by empathy being aroused that we change. That is the power of writing. I’ve experienced exactly what you’re saying, reading other writers. I remember the book I first had that experience with was Jane Eyre, being right there with Jane, and understanding, yes, we have to change these horrible institutions where they abuse children. Today, I’m the supporter of an orphanage in Kenya. And one of the reasons comes from having been so moved by reading about Jane at Lowood. (Valerie Schloredt)
I wonder too how we’ll ever share these classics after? I might mention Jane Eyre to someone in passing.
“My favourite part is when they’re in the garden walking when he’s just arrived back.”
“Oh, just after he’s had his tongue down her throat in the library?” they’ll say.
“That’s not in the book Charlotte Brontë wrote!”
There’s Charlotte Brontë recommending the moors above Hathersage (“calm prospect and pleasant fresh air”). (Colin Drury)This is Somerset's Council_Spoke says something similar:
The area's pre-historic stone circles, Roman garrisons and wild beauty have produced strong literary echoes – from inspiring Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and romantic or gothic fiction from Charlotte Brontë and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, right up to present-day novelists like Hilary Mantel.The issue of the Brontë birthplace is reaching the newspapers. The Yorkshire Post reports that,
A campaign has been launched to buy the birthplace of the Brontës and restore it to its former glory.The Telegraph and Argus also covers the story:
The house in Market Street in the village of Thornton, Bradford, was the birthplace of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell before the family moved to Haworth.
Once run as a museum, the house is now unoccupied and thought to have suffered from flooding – but villagers are keen to see its place in the lives of the famous literary family secured for future generations.
Thornton and Allerton councillor, Valerie Binney, who is among those spearheading the campaign, said: “It’s our heritage. Patrick Brontë and his wife lived in that house – he was the vicar of Thornton. We think if we can bring it back to how it was it will regenerate Market Street. If we could get someone to back us and buy it we could then find someone to be the curator and maybe live there – you could get someone who is really interested in the Brontës.”
In the late 1990s the house was bought and restored by the novelist Barbara Whitehead who opened it up as a museum before having to sell the property in 2007.
Councillor Binney said: “When Barbara Whitehead had it we had volunteer guides and opened it up two or three times a week and we had lots of tourists coming to see the Brontës’ birthplace. We want to bring it back to how it was because it is very good for the village.
“I would say it would not cost more than £150,000 to buy. It’s not a fortune by today’s standards.”
The newly-formed Brontë Birthplace Trust (2012) hopes to attract enough funding to buy the property.
Christine Went, heritage and conservation officer for the Brontë Society, said: “We are very much in support of any viable attempt to buy and restore the building.
“As a charity, we cannot involve ourselves with other charities other than moral support but we certainly wish the group well.”
Coun Binney said last night’s meeting was to discuss ways of getting people interested in buying the property.The same journal also remembers that
She said: “We want to raise the money to buy it and bring it back as it should be, the Bronte birthplace for tourists.
“It would be marvellous if we could raise enough money to buy it. It is such a shame it was sold to someone who then rented it out. We are in the early stages of trying to get funding. It’s quite something to have a house where the Brontës were born in the village, and is something worth preserving.”
Michael Stewart, a writer, who lives close to the museum, said: “When Barbara Whitehead ran it as a museum we had coachloads of Japanese, American and European tourists coming to have lunch in the village and the place was booming.
“She restored the house to how it was when the Brontës lived there in 1815.”
Anyone interested in the property can contact Coun Binney on 07730 304349. (Steve Wright)
Tonight, Michae Morpurgol talks about his work at Haworth’s West Lane Baptist Centre, from 7pm, as part of the Bronte Parsonage’s contemporary arts programme. (Emma Clayton)