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An Oxenhope man is on a mission to track down some of the real life locations which inspired the works of the Brontë sisters.Keighley News also features a Haworth councillor who thinks the Brontë Society's relationship with the villagers should be closer.
Ian Howard, who began his research in earnest 12 months ago, received a major boost when his friend Josh Chapman provided him with the memoirs of his grandmother, Joanna Hutton, who was the first female curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in the 1960s.
Also included amongst the memoirs was an unpublished manuscript by a woman called Dorothy Van Ghent, who died in 1968.
Mr Howard, who works as a landscape gardener, said Dorothy had been trying to locate the same locations he is hunting for.
"It was really nice to find out that there was someone else who wasn't sticking to the better known story of which locations the Brontës had used," he said. "It showed that my own ideas weren't just a wild goose chase!
"She is very specific about the places she thought the Brontës were referring to, and she was definitely onto something."
He said Josh Chapman's brother Oliver, who like Josh and Ian also lives in Oxenhope, would be making a documentary about the project.
Mr Howard said: "Josh has been looking at Google images to spot likely locations on the moors. One of the interesting things about the Brontës was how they were inspired by local legends.
"Their books are very cleverly written with a lot of layers of meaning."
Oliver Chapman said his grandmother, who was the last person to actually live in the parsonage, had a fascinating story to tell.
"She talks about rich Americans turning up at nine or ten o'clock at night wanting a tour of the parsonage," he said.
"The Brontës were her vocation, and it was a subject she spoke very passionately about."
He said his grandmother had talked about souvenir hunters damaging items in the parsonage, because they were so keen to grab and make off with fragments of this historic site.
He said it had been revealing to find out how much opposition there had been in his grandmother's time to the idea of a female curator of the parsonage. He noted that some of this opposition had even come from other women.
"The documentary is only in its initial phases so far," he said. "We'll start with a five-minute film and see how that goes.
"It'll be very interesting, not least because this is about someone whose ideas about the Brontës are so different from the official version." (Miran Rahman)
A Haworth politician has called on the Brontë Society to improve its links with the local community.New Republic interviews Mallory Ortberg about her book Texts from Jane Eyre:
Parish council chairman John Huxley urged the long-established literary society to forge closer ties once it had overcome its current internal problems.
Complaints that the society -- which runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth -- had lost its way culminated in an extraordinary general meeting last month when 53 members called for a change of leadership.
Cllr Huxley suspected this internal strife had affected the society’s communication with the wider community in recent months, but said the situation been “patchy” for many years.
He said: “We’ve been through several directors in the past few years, and initiatives where the Society has wanted to engage with the community, but there have been several false starts.
“We would like a regular communication with the Brontë Society for activities that would sustain jobs and the tourism industry.
“There’s an important legacy which I feel many people in the community would like to take part in. We want to be supportive.”
Cllr Huxley welcomed new moves by the Society to work closely with the community, as part of a £99,178 Arts Council England-funded contemporary arts programme.
He said: “I have met the new operations manager, but we’ll have to wait until management has settled down.
“A well-coordinated Brontë Society is an important and integral part of Haworth. It would have spin-offs for the whole community if they could get themselves together. “
A spokesman for the Brontë Society this week said that discussions about several forthcoming bicentenary celebrations – funded with the Arts Council grant -- had involved society members, museum staff and representatives from Haworth.
She added: “This will assist in developing and delivering an exciting and innovative programme of events and exhibitions around the bicentenaries.
She said: “We are also currently in recruiting a project manager to co-ordinate the bicentenary plans, with a focus on working closely with local people, businesses and community groups as well as with the newly-appointed membership officer and the marketing and communications officer.
“The leadership team at the Parsonage and the trustees are determined to renew and develop relationships with local, national and international partners to ensure that we not only continue to safeguard the legacy of the Brontë family, but add valuable new chapters and interpretations to it over the coming years.” (David Knights)
There’s an affinity that a particular kind of girl who likes to read has for Jane Eyre, the Brontës, Austen, George Eliot. How much of that exists for you, especially for Jane Eyre? I love Jane Eyre and I love the Brontë sisters. I actually didn’t read any of them until I was in college, so I don’t have quite the same connection with them that I think a lot of women do. But I also think this isn’t just a book for childless lady English majors who live with one and a half cats in a two bedroom apartment in one of six different cities. I mean, my dad likes this book and he’s not a childless lady, so I’m hopefully that some dads will read this.Inspired by Alexander McCall Smith's take on Jane Austen's Emma, The Conversation discusses retellings, etc.
But, certainly, there is a culture that I identified with. We are a weird little gang, and when we find each other there’s that moment of “Sister! Let us meet on the moors tonight!” It’s nice to find one another as adults and say “Oh, did you also have weird burial for your dogs based on the Lady of Shallot scene from Anne of Green Gables? Fantastic!” I repeatedly attempted throw myself out of the first story window of my house because I was so into the scene where Rebecca almost does an Ivanhoe. (Hillary Kelly)
So it seems we’ve no problem adapting pre-1900 texts to the modern day. What about the Victorians? Let’s take the Brontë sisters, for example. Jane Eyre has been adapted in numerous ways for stage and screen – and through literary appropriations such as Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898) and Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (1938) – though DuMaurier never declared this was actually her intention. Jean Rhys went back in time rather than forward in her influential prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and Jasper Fforde sped ahead in The Eyre Affair (2001) to an alternative universe in 1985. But, for all that, I’m less sure how we’d respond to a text bringing Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights to our 21st-century reality.Both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have been given the 21st century treatment in recent years.
Imagine a Jane who appears to us as a highly-educated, well-paid live-in tutor, teaching her pupil as they jet between their country home and various exotic locations with her fabulously wealthy employer. So far so good. But then there’s the Jamaican wife locked away on a private psychiatric ward. Or what about Heathcliffe, the socially-mobile rogue devoted to his childhood sweetheart, Catherine? He might be reincarnated as a footballer, but one with a cruel streak who dupes poor Isabella Linton into becoming his WAG to boost his celebrity profile. Neither sit all that comfortably, do they?
Brontë rewrites, like those of even later texts such as Michael Cunningham’s reworking of Mrs Dalloway in The Hours (1998), are more challenging and less likely to reward us with the consoling fantasy of social order, which is what McCall Smith suggests is key to Emma’s continued appeal. We’re fascinated by them nonetheless. Rewriting classic texts for contemporary audiences is about so much more than enticing new readers – it’s about recalibrating the old with the new, taking stock of the ways we’ve changed and the ways in which we don’t want to change. And most of all, it’s fun. (Lisa Regan)
People varied widely in the types of books they liked to read – and this was linked to their level of educational attainment. We were struck by the differences in literary tastes between graduates of the elite Russell Group of UK universities and other universities. When asked which kinds of books they usually liked to read, 43% of graduates of Russell Group universities included classic fiction such as Jane Eyre or Bleak House, compared to 29% of graduates of other universities and 11% of people with no qualifications. (Alice Sullivan)The Albuquerque Journal interviews Kali Hughes, Catherine in the touring Aquila production of Wuthering Heights:
“It’s exhausting and it’s a lot of fun,” Hughes says of the character and play. “Catherine is a complex character and we learn so much.” (...)
Hughes says in the adaptation that Aquila Theatre puts on, the play doesn’t delve into the past dimensions like the book does.
“At the beginning there is a brief bit where I speak some of the diary entry,” she says. “Other than that part, the play is very much in the present tense.”
Hughes enjoys the journey that Catherine is on in the play.
“We get a sense of who she becomes until her death at 27,” she says. “It’s a huge emotional journey for me to portray Catherine. She does a lot of living in her short time.” (Adrian Gomez)
RavenclawThis Buzzfeed columnist discusses books and relationships.
Ravenclaws are either quirky oddballs or intense overachievers — either Luna Lovegood, or Cho Chang. They take pride in their academic prowess, even if this can sometimes be off- putting to others.
House Traits: Witty, eccentric, wise, original
English: Creative but introverted, English majors would be perfectly at home reading Plath and Brontë and Shakespeare in Ravenclaw’s tower common room. (Laura Holshouser)
And so a year ago I revisited Jane Eyre (my copy, as it happens, given to me as a gift by an earnest litigator who desperately wanted to impress me with his appreciation for Brontë) and took my cue from the book’s best line: Reader, I married him. (Helen Rosner)Here's an opinion on the genre debate from The New Yorker:
A book like “Station Eleven” is both a literary novel and a genre novel; the same goes for “Jane Eyre” and “Crime and Punishment.” How can two contrasting categories overlap so much? Genres themselves fall into genres: there are period genres (Victorian literature), subject genres (detective fiction), form genres (the short story), style genres (minimalism), market genres (“chick-lit”), mode genres (satire), and so on. How are different kinds of genres supposed to be compared? (“Literary fiction” and “genre fiction,” one senses, aren’t really comparable categories.) What is it, exactly, about genre that is unliterary—and what is it in “the literary” that resists genre? The debate goes round and round, magnetic and circular—a lovers’ quarrel among literati. (Joshua Rothman)The Guardian looks at the 'Top five most scathing book reviews' and of course this is one of them:
James Lorimer on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Among the baffled praise in contemporary reviews of Wuthering Heights, Lorimer’s piece in the North British Review stands out, attributing to it “all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) ... magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read”. But this scorn is more than matched by the anonymous reviewer in Paterson’s Magazine: “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights ...” (Alison Flood)The Millions is pretty scathing about the month of November too and remembers that
Jane Eyre begins on a “drear November day,” with a “pale blank of mist and cloud” and “ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.” (Tom Nissley)This is how Lightly Buzzed describes Lorde's Yellow Flicker Beat video.
The clip starts with Lorde looking deliberately different, sporting a sleeker, more adult look. But soon the real Lorde appears. The one who looks like a Japanese horror movie version of a heroine from a Brontë novel. (Dan Zinski)The Chicago Tribune reader of the week says he liked Wuthering Heights. Via the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page we have come across this Wuthering Heights-inspired photoshoot by Carolyn Mendelsohn made at Ponden Hall a few weeks ago.