Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Best ever conference

Sarah Fermi and Bonnie Greer
The Brontë Society website reports on this year's Brontë Society Conference on The Condition of England.
Juliet Barker was our superb opening speaker, initiating proceedings at the 2014 Brontë Society conference, which was held this year at the luxurious Scarman Conference Centre, at the University of Warwick.
Our conference theme was 'The Condition of England', and Juliet addressed the Brontë children's precocious absorption with the politics of their day, considering whether that passion really carried through into their adult lives. As ever, Juliet's argument was supported with minute and exhaustive research, on this occasion culled mainly from the juvenilia. It was a bold, thought-provoking and slightly provocative stance, ideal to lead off what was widely agreed to be our 'best ever conference', packed with stimulating, original and exciting research, and introducing some new faces likely to be key Brontë scholars of the future.
Novelist and critic Bonnie Greer, the Society's President, gave a rousing and emotional speech at Saturday's dinner, urging us to remember that 'We're Brontë, and no-one else is!' And Society Chair Sally McDonald was also on hand, as ever, to greet members, presiding over proceedings with customary calm and good humour to set the tone for the whole weekend.
Also attending were, among others: bestselling Belgian novelist Jolien Janzing, whose novel De Meester (The Master), about Charlotte's relationship with M. Heger, comes out in English in 2016, and is set to become an exciting film; influential biographer and TV presenter Rebecca Fraser, who delivered a paper on 'The Woman Question and Charlotte Brontë'; internationally acclaimed Brontë scholar Professor Marianne Thormälen, from the University of Lund, Sweden, who discussed the Brontë novels as historical fiction; and rising young academics Molly Ryder, Erin Johnson, Emma Butcher, and Sara Pearson, whose erudite and carefully judged work proved there to be an exciting, creative new generation of Brontë scholars on their way up.
Most appreciated of all, though, was surely Brontë Society Publications Officer, our conference organiser Sarah Fermi, whose hard work throughout the last three years ensured the conference worked as a crucible for great ideas, a meeting place for great minds, and a platform for the very latest in great Brontë scholarship. This was Sarah's last conference as organiser, and applause from delegates at Saturday night's dinner reflected not only professional appreciation for a job most excellently done, but abiding affection for a much-loved friend and lifelong passionate Brontëphile.
Do check out the website for a few more pictures of the event.

The Yorkshire Post has an article on the latest developments in the Brontë Society inner wars.
A group of Brontë Society members unhappy with the direction of the literary society has gathered 50 members’ signatures in a bid to force an extraordinary general meeting.
Critics are campaigning for the ruling council to step aside “to bring higher levels of professionalism and experience to the society,” according to a letter from two members.
As previously reported in The Yorkshire Post, Brontë Society members John Thirlwell, a TV producer, and Janice Lee, a retired deputy headteacher, have written to some members calling for fresh leadership.
They claim the society’s council has “lost its way” and was guilty of “micro-managing” the running of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which is owned by the Society.
Questions are also being asked about the circumstances surrounding the departure in June of Ann Sumner, the society’s executive director, after 16 months in the role.
Yesterday Mrs Lee said it had gathered the required number of signatures to call for an extraordinary general meeting.
She said that former Museum staff were among those calling for change.
The Brontë Society Council said feedback from members was welcomed and their concerns were taken seriously. (Andrew Robinson)
Still locally, The Telegraph and Argus praises the accessibility of the area.
Today, the Keighley and Worth Valley railway is among the popular tourist attractions God's Own County has to offer, transporting tourists from the industrial town of Keighley into the heart of Brontë country, home to the famous siblings whose legacy lives on in the famous tomes they penned such as Wuthering Heights. (Sally Clifford)
A columnist from The New Indian Express picks 13 books that made an impact on him before he was 13. One of them is
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: It was Jane’s inner life that drew me in, her loneliness and anger. The way the novel brought them alive, it was as if I was thinking her thoughts and feeling her feelings. I used to hide behind the curtain and read as a boy, not to hide from adult tyrants, but just to be alone with my books. (Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy)
Exclamations galore in The Guardian's comment on the Downton Abbey series five trailer:
Someone has a bad secret! Someone makes a scandalous suggestion! Anna Chancellor and Richard E Grant are in it! It’s all gone a bit Jane Eyre! 
Variety reviews Sophie Barthes's take on Madame Bovary and is somewhat reminded of Jane Eyre 2011:
As Emma pursues her lovers and redecorates the Bovary manse with equal vigor (in this time-constricted retelling, she remains childless), viewers may find themselves recalling 2011’s “Jane Eyre,” a similarly unexpected foray into 19th-century costume drama from a Sundance-launched filmmaker (incidentally, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s “Sin nombre” played Park City the same year as “Cold Souls”). What both adaptations have in common, of course, is Wasikowska, whose chronic inability to court the viewer’s affection makes her a fine fit here. Few actresses are so good at projecting a natural air of discontent, and Barthes allows much of the drama to play out in her star’s face — in the hopeful smile she flashes when Charles agrees to perform a potentially career-making operation on a clubfooted young man, Hippolyte (Luke Tittensor), and in the disgust and loathing that overtake her when the surgery goes predictably, horribly awry. (Justin Chang)
The Daily Telegraph (Australia) looks at a property for sale in Clovelly with a tenuous Brontë connection:
Mr Gatenby said his family was also distantly related to the Brontë sisters, famed for their novel writing.
“At some point Dolly became the custodian of a cushion embroidered by one of the Brontë sisters, so this tenuous link with the great 19th century authors actually resided for years at 38 Burnie St,” Mr Gatenby said. (Melissa Kehagias)
What's On Stage recommends catching Peter McMaster's all-male adaptation of Wuthering Heights now that it's back in London (Three Weeks has a rather different opinion, by the way) . Writer Laura Cardozo is a fan of Jane Eyre, as read in an interview on ExcentriKs (in Spanish). Writergurlny reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, both the novel and the 1996 screen adaptation. Leah Farmer reviews Wuthering Heights.

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