Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yesterday night, on Radio 4, Sheila Hancock talked about her Perspectives programme devoted to the Brontës (to be broadcast tonight on ITV1, 10.00 PM) in Loose Ends. You can listen to it here online.

In RadioTimes, Sheila Hancock insists on the links between Wuthering Heights and her own relationship with her late husband:
When the young Sheila Hancock fell in love with Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff, the backdrop was the Regal cinema in Bexleyheath rather than the Yorkshire moors, and the Heathcliff who stole her heart, little though she knew it, was a pale shadow of the man Emily Brontë had invented a century earlier.
That was Laurence Olivier in a Hollywoodised, 1939 version of the book. “Much later in life I realised that it was a total distortion,” says Hancock. “I’d thought it was a great love story, with Heathcliff as this hugely romantic figure. But the cruelty and the savagery were completely cut out of the film. In fact it’s an appalling story, about a psychopath.”
Still, the Olivier-Merle Oberon version at least kindled her appreciation of the Brontës as storytellers, which has grown and grown until now, at 80, she is able to relate their tempestuous stories directly to her own experiences of life.
“Emily writes extraordinarily about the depth of Cathy and Heathcliff’s desperation, with him actually grabbing her body as she’s dying to try to stop her going, as it were. Well, anyone who’s watched somebody die, that’s just what you want to do. I did. ‘Don’t go, don’t you dare go!’ She puts into words something I totally understand.”
Hancock is referring to the death, in February 2002, of her husband John Thaw. But Wuthering Heights, she feels, also evokes their life together. “If you have ever known that obsessive love, which sometimes makes it difficult to be together but impossible to be apart, you can identify with the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff.
“I read sometimes that long marriages are hard to sustain, that they become sexually boring, that one or both inevitably stray. It just was never like that with John and me. Once you’ve found that person you can’t imagine being with anyone else, and even though she marries another man, that’s what Cathy and Heathcliff have. There are certain people you’re meant to be with, and you feel as though life is not possible without them.”
And yet, I venture, she has found that it is. “Yes. You pick yourself up. Heathcliff doesn’t. He wreaks vengeance on everyone who’s kept them apart. But if you’re sensible, you do.”
Hancock’s fascination with the Brontës has culminated in a film for ITV’s Perspectives, in which she learns how three sisters, living most of their lives in a remote parsonage, could have produced such enduring novels of love and loss.
“There’s this perception of three maiden ladies leading sheltered lives in a vicarage in Haworth, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was the Industrial Revolution, and their father was a vicar in a parish where people were dying like flies from typhoid. They had to cope with an alcoholic brother, Branwell. Charlotte went to Brussels, and fell passionately in love with her tutor there. They were highly educated women having extraordinary lives.
“They all write amazingly about poverty and all sorts of things that Jane Austen doesn’t write about, dare I say.” Hancock smiles, aware that this is tantamount to heresy. “I’ve always been snotty about Jane Austen,” she admits. (...)
He would plainly have made a memorable Heathcliff, and so, says Hancock, would Thaw. “Oh, John would have been a wonderful Heathcliff when he was young. While making this I kept thinking that John would have understood that part so well. All that passion, the sexiness. He’d have been stunning.” (Brian Viner)
The Telegraph & Argus also talks about the programme:
Actress Sheila Hancock travelled to Haworth to make a new documentary about the Brontë sisters, and made an “important new discovery” among the love letters written by Charlotte to her married tutor.
The discovery will be revealed in Perspectives: Sheila Hancock – The Brilliant Brontë Sisters, to be screened on Easter Sunday.
Miss Hancock, the widow of actor John Thaw, said she was passionate about the Brontes’ work.
“I have been a fan of the Brontës since I was a child,” she said. “I think all three sisters are brilliant and I don’t have a favourite.
“All reading their work does is put me off writing my own novel. Their work is wonderful and one couldn’t hope to aspire to be as good as that. (Emma Clayton)
And what about this initiative by @HaworthCalendar?
Do you reckon we can get #Haworth or #Brontes trending (---) (to)night when Sheila Hancock's prog about them is on? #Schedulesometweetstime!
The Oxford University Press Blog carries an article about Charlotte Brontë's death by Brontë scholar Janet Gezari:
 Her actual death followed a debilitating illness and occurred almost exactly nine months after her marriage to her father’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. The death certificate states its cause as “Phthisis” or acute tuberculosis, the same disease that killed Emily and Anne. We know that Charlotte could eat or drink almost nothing until a few weeks before her death and that she was rapidly losing weight. Lyndall Gordon suggests she had a bacterial infection like typhoid, noting that Tabitha Ackroyd, the Brontës’ servant, had died from a digestive infection six weeks earlier and could have communicated it to Charlotte. During Charlotte’s and Tabby’s lifetimes, contaminated water and inadequate sewerage made Haworth one of the unhealthiest places to live in England. Charlotte may have been pregnant (in a letter, she suggests that she was), even though her death certificate omits this information. One conjecture is that she was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness that affects no more than 2% of women in the early stages of their pregnancy and is rarely fatal.  (...)
Since only her father, her husband, and two former servants were at her bedside when she died, we lack an account of her death to match her fiercely truthful accounts of the deaths of Anne and Emily. There was no one watching Charlotte Brontë die who could register the awfulness and the ordinariness of her dying.
Deseret News presents the new Brontë BabyLit book
“Wuthering Heights: A Weather Primer” plays off the “wuthering” description and has simple descriptions of about a dozen different types of weather from sunny to snowy. Artist Alison Oliver shows a view of the house in each different time with the characters outside — with an umbrella in “Rainy” and with laundry out in “Sunny.” (Christine Rappleye)
Jennifer Adams book signing
When: Thursday, April 4, 6-8 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
afamily (Vietnam) talks about Jane Eyre 2011:
Và cũng giống như trong nguyên tác, hình ảnh Jane Eyre kiên cường (vai của Mia Wasikowska) để lại ấn tượng sâu sắc cho khán giả về một cô gái nhỏ bé nhưng cá tính, có nghị lực sắt đá và khát vọng sống mãnh liệt. Đã có tới 18 phim điện ảnh và hàng chục phim truyền hình được chuyển thể từ tiểu thuyết của nhà văn Charlotte Brontë, nhưng nhiều nhà phê bình cho rằng vai của Mia Wasikowska là sự thể hiện nhân vật Jane Eyre hay nhất từ trước đến nay, với sự biểu lộ tuyệt vời tâm hồn dễ bị tổn thương cũng như sự thông thái của Jane. (Thanh Thúy) (Translation)
SugarScope talks about (and puts a soundtrack to) Alex Wenmouth's Addicted To You:
Roxana King lives on Leather Lane and everyone knows what goes on there; well, everyone except Frankie. Enigmatic and fun, she's unlike anyone Frankie has ever known. Then there’s Marcus Ford, the gorgeous, brooding older boy who fuels Frankie's daydreams about meeting her very own Heathcliff on the wild Yorkshire Moors. There’s an instant attraction and Frankie falls hard and fast. (Linds Fole)
The Ashbourne News Telegraph announces the Buxton performances of the Hull Truck Theatre Jane Eyre tour; Keighley News talks about the Tour de France impact on the district's economy (illustrated with pictures of the Brontës cycling); Don't Read That Read This - Roz's Reading Challenge reviews Agnes Grey; Literatura Universal (in Spanish) posts about Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre. The Times interviews Sorcha Cusack, Jane Eyre in the 1973 BBC version.


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