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A wooden staircase with Brontë connections which was sold when the manor from which it came from demolished, has been tracked down to a house in New York.The ghost story has circulated widely and appears in books and newspapers (where the location of the house known as Sanderling in Beach Lane, Quogue, Long Island, is also mentioned) but, apparently, nobody has looked for the exact location of the house until now.
Lifelong Brontë enthusiast Immelda Marsden, described by her peers as the ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’, managed to trace the Queen Anne staircase to a house in Long Island on the other side of the Atlantic.
The find has come at an important time as preparations are being made to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Charlotte Bronte in 1816. A number of events are planned both here and in the US to mark the occasion and now the staircase has been found it is hoped it too could form some part thereof.
Immelda, 68, took up the story: “The staircase was once part of Blake Hall on Church Lane and I can remember going there as a very small child. But the mansion was demolished and today it’s a housing estate. Bits of it were sold to dealers and the staircase went to one in Kensington, London.
“It was sold at auction to a Mr and Mrs Toppings, who had just built themselves a new house on Long Island and were in London looking for things to fill it with. They took the staircase and installed it in their house and there it stayed.”
Indeed, the discovery, which was aided by museum staff in New York, came as a complete surprise to the current owners of the building.
Immelda said: “Anne Brontë was a governess at Blake Hall in 1839, looking after two of the five children of the Ingham family. There was Tom, aged six and Mary-Anne, who was about four or five. The story goes that Tom was a bit of a handful and used to do all sorts of nasty things and Anne Bronte had trouble controlling him. On one occasion, she tied the children to chairs. The family must have found out about this and they dismissed her the same year. She would have worked there for about nine months in all.” (...)
“That house was demolished in 1954 and, although the interior parts were dismantled and auctioned off, their fates were lost in the mists of time. With one exception.
“Due to a short article in the Mirfield Reporter back in the 1960s, the wonderful Queen Anne staircase, hand-carved in burled yew, went to a London dealer. He then sold it to Allen and Gladys Topping, an American couple he met at Kensington Antiques Fair in 1958 and they installed it in their house on Long Island, New York. The story goes that Mrs Topping saw a ghost on the stairs in 1962. Was it Anne? Who knows?”
She went on: “Having checked this much out, our ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’ made inquiries abroad but things did not look promising. People seemed to think that the house had been lost in one of the many hurricanes that occur so commonly there.
“The breakthrough came when a keen local librarian suggested contacting the Quogue Long Island Historical Society and they tracked down the exact location of the house and contacted the current owner. Much to their joy they discovered that not only was the staircase intact but the current owner was unaware of its origins and delighted to invite them over to see it. (...)
“Now Mirfield and Quogue are working together to document this little-known link between them with a view to incorporating it in the bicentenary celebrations.”
She added: “Sometime in 2016 you will be able to see the fruits of their labours for yourselves. All thanks to crucial evidence in local newspapers and business records unearthed by a killer combination of keen locals and bright librarians on both sides of the pond.”
The drawing of a fisherman sheltering from the rain was drawn by the then 13-year-old Charlotte in 1829.Bloomberg asks Jason Furman, chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, about the best books of the year:
Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre, copied the work from a popular guidebook of British birds.
The drawing will be placed on public display in early 2015 and will be available to view in the Parsonage's exhibition in Haworth. (...)
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage, said "We're thrilled to be able to bring this drawing home to Haworth to sit with the rest of the collection of the Brontë family.
"This sketch represents the start of Charlotte's creative genius and is a rare insight into one of Britain's great literary minds."
My favorite diversion was Minae Mizumura’s “A True Novel,” a retelling of “Wuthering Heights” set in postwar Japan. It had compelling characters, a unique mode of storytelling and an epic sweep. (Simon Kennedy)The New York Times talks about the pleasures of reading:
Gayle Forman, the author of numerous books, including “If I Stay,” which was also turned into a film this year, agrees that pressuring kids to read “better books” won’t work. “I’m definitely in the ‘reading is reading is reading’ school,” she said. “I read a lot of terrible stuff when I was young. My dad would take me every week to buy the latest ‘Sweet Dreams’ romance book. Then I read Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon. Boy, did I learn a lot! But by the time I was in 11th grade I was reading Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen and ‘Jane Eyre.’ ” (Bruce Feiler)The Guardian talks about the recent Withins Skyline fell running race:
Despite the time of year, the Yorkshire sun is fighting its way through the morning mist and – dare I say it – it’s definitely vest-only weather. No thermal tops or sweat-wicking rain jackets: today is a day for getting muddied up to the knees. And where better to do it than on the bleak moors of Brontë country in a fell race? (...)Screen Daily reports how the film project The Master based on Julien Janzing's novel Der Maaster has been presented at the Riga Film Festival:
As I finish the Withins race, willing myself up the final climb through bog and heather, I can’t help but smile. It may have been be tough, but I’ve had the privilege of a run out to the skyline, a descent along the trails back to Brontë Bridge and a final, sludge’n’ puddle drag to the finish. (Boff Whalley)
Over 25 of the Riga Meetings participants were also in town with concrete projects which they were able to present to leading international screenwriters and script doctors as part of the European Script Meeting.LiveMint finds Wuthering Heights echoes in Allahabad:
The projects being presented include:
* UK producer David P Kelly’s The Master, based on Jolien Janzing’s bestselling new novel about Charlotte Brontë’s secret love in 19th century Brussels. Kelly, who is one of the co-producers of Vera Glagoleva’s Two Women, starring Ralph Fiennes, acquired the film rights to Janzing’s novel after it was presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market’s Books at Berlinale showcase in February 2013. (Martin Blaney)
A giant uprooted tree resting against an abandoned bungalow in Civil Lines presents a poetic sight. It looks like the set for a film adaptation of some moody romantic novel like Wuthering Heights or Rebecca. In fact, the surroundings of one neglected bungalow were the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s famous Jungle Book short story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. (Mayank Austen Soofi)Dagens Nyheter mentions the use of pseudonyms by the Brontës; the Portsmouth wind remember this journalist from Haber Turk Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights; The Bromsgrove Advertiser thinks that it was her Cathy in Wuthering Heights 2001 the inflection point of Kaya Scolerario's career.