Sunday, March 10, 2013

People are really into the Brontës

The Observer has a curious (and wicked) initiative:

Eva Wiseman and Emma John have very different ideas of what makes for a good break – one wants culture, the other wants sun. So we asked them to imagine their dream getaway and, in an act of cruelty, sent them on each other's
Eva Wiseman writes:
My Kindle is dense with unread Brontë. All the sisters, all their clever books, all their 20-quid words and descriptions of moors, all there, making me feel guilty for reading a magazine. I'm on the train toYorkshire and I'm filled with a certain kind of dread. It's the dread of the classroom. The dread of 8.45am, of entering an exam with a blunt pencil and nothing in your head but three seasons of Friends and a yearning for a Twix. I have tried (a bit) and failed (a lot) to love the Brontës, to learn about their history and work, yet I am on a pilgrimage to their last home like a Lady Gaga groupie on a long bus ride to Manhattan.Chris Sutcliffe and his wife, Yorkshire TV presenter Christa Ackroyd, run a boutique bed and breakfast on the moors – they pick us up from the station and, driving down the narrow roads, the dales to our left, the moors to our right, they point out local landmarks of Brontë significance. Tonight we'll take part in one of their popular Brontë evenings – a talk from an expert, some history from Christa, a meal, drinks. People come from America to see where Charlotte and Emily (and Anne) walked and wrote. (...)
Before we eat, though, we have to learn a bit. They take us to Haworth, through "Emily's moors", to see "Charlotte's post office", the post office Charlotte Brontë frequented, sending out her stories under pseudonyms. I'm more interested in the sprinkled mentions of Sylvia Plath, whose visit with Ted Hughes to Wuthering Heights (the abandoned farm of Top Withens is believed to be the inspiration) inspired poems from both. While different, hers and his both play on the bleakness of the moors. A bleakness absent in Haworth itself, where the town's stores are all staffed by people in ye olde fancy dress and there are more gift shops than cobbles.
Haworth is a beautiful Brontë theme park. And (we learn at the museum) the sisters have been an industry since they died, when their possessions were already so valuable that one fan shipped a window pane from the parsonage to Baltimore.
The view from the parsonage is a graveyard on a hill. But graveyards shouldn't be built on hills, they learned, after the graveyard started killing people who'd drunk water poisoned by the corpses.
Anyway – long story short, people are really into the Brontës. They encouraged us to stroke the post office counter, which we did. It was soft. And later, at Brook House's Brontë evening, Christa's historian presented us with a bit of stone from the actual Wuthering Heights, which, after a day immersed in the sisters and their work, was oddly moving.
That night, in the huge white bedroom, a bath at the foot of the bed, I tried reading it again, and fell asleep in minutes. This is what I learned: that the story of the Brontës is much more interesting than the Brontës's stories.
The Wakefield Express informs of the unveiling of a new blue plaque by the Wakefield Civic Society with Brontë connections:
Brontë fans could soon be making a detour from Haworth to visit Crofton after a blue plaque was unveiled this week in honour of a lady who links the village to the famous family.
The plaque was unveiled at the Young People’s Centre on High Street, which sits on the site where part of Crofton Hall School once stood – the school where Elizabeth and Maria Brontë were once pupils.
Richmal Mangnall was the school’s headteacher in 1802, and author of one of the country’s best-selling books of the time, called Historical and Miscellaneous Questions for the Use of Young People. Charlotte Brontë’s copy is on display at the Brontë parsonage in Haworth.
Miss Mangnall was born in Manchester in 1769, but came to Crofton in 1780 to attend Crofton Hall School for young ladies. She stayed on as a teacher when she finished her education, before becoming its owner and headteacher.
Her book was used by teachers, tutors, governesses and parents to educate and inspire children.
Maria and Elizabeth attended the school in 1823.

Bristol Books Examiner discusses the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud Competition:
The finalists from the first two rounds of the New Hampshire Poetry Out Loud Competition were announced on Friday, March 8. Five finalists and two alternates from those competitions will go on to the the championship at the State House in Concord on Friday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. (...)
Below is a list of the top two finalists, alternate and the poems they recited at the competition at Southern New Hampshire University on March 5.
Alternate: Alexandra Valliant, Woodsville High School
Dream Song 14, John Berryman
Memory As a Hearing Aid, Tony Hoagland
No Coward Soul is Mine, Emily Brontë (Amy Lyn
The Philadelphia Enquirer talks about Mia Wasikowska in Stoker:
A few years later, and she was in a multiple-Oscar nominee (The Kids Are All Right), had the title role in a new and beautiful Jane Eyre, and starred in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, the second-highest-grossing film of 2010.
República (Nepal) talks about the release of a new book by Amod Bhattarai. The English translator Prawin Adhikari recalls
the times when he had lent young Bhattarai books of the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, Guy de Maupassant and later Kafka. 
More Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights performers. Ken Early in The Independent (Ireland):
Though he is a football man, he is deeply interested in all things, and could immediately fill the void formerly occupied by Gerry Ryan in RTE radio. He can even sing – his version of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights which closed the show one night, has long been revered by his disciples. (Declan Lynch)
And Nolwenn Leroy in the TV programme Taratara:
Dans l'ambiance toute particulière du show musical de Nagui, la jeune femme défend son single Juste pour me souvenir et ose aussi une reprise de Kate Bush, le joli Wuthering Heights. (Marie Frankinet in Moustique) (Translation)
The Ventura County Star lists several famous houses:
Our popular culture is filled with famous homes as well. Scarlett O’Hara struggled to save her beloved Tara in “Gone with the Wind.” Wuthering Heights, the Ponderosa and Southfork Ranch all have fans. (Bill Nash)
xin.msn.lifestyle belatedly lists some readings for Women's Day:
Once upon a time, it was commonplace for those reading a book by a female author not to know it: The Brontë sisters and Mary Ann Evans (better known as George Eliot) were just a few of the canonical writers who used pseudonyms to conceal their gender, so as to avoid the biases commonly faced by female authors of their time. 
A student and Jane Eyre reader in Eastern Wake News; Fiction Examiner reviews Abide With Me by Sabin Willett; Just Breathe (in Portuguese) posts about Angra's cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights.

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