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The Queen Anne staircase was sold off from Blake Hall in Mirfield, West Yorkshire (left)
and in Long Island (right)
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner gives more details of this fascinating (ehem) ghost story:Fellow Brontë enhusiast Hilary Wainwright said: 'The staircase represents a slightly more unusual connection between Mirfield and Anne Brontë.'Some will know she worked as a governess at Blake Hall for nine months in 1839 and she depicts her experiences there in the first half of Agnes Grey, renaming the hall 'Wellwood' and the Ingham family the 'Bloomfields.'
'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?
'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. (Annabel Grossman)
The figure, her hair in a bun, was dressed in a long, full skirt with a tri-cornered shawl. Her demeanour was described as “pensive.”
Mrs Topping’s dog Mr Wyk became agitated and backed away and when she spoke gently to calm the animal the figure disappeared.
Mrs Topping, whose husband founded hardware firm Topping Bros in Manhattan, seemed convinced Anne’s ghost had been exported 3,000 miles with the staircase.
In 1966 she told a newspaper, the Toledo in Ohio, that at the moment the figure vanished she mentally asked who it was and was told “Anne Bronte.”
Mrs Topping, who had visited the moors around Haworth to walk in Bronte footsteps, added: “Since then I have not seen her again. But I often feel her presence.
“I hear footsteps and, occasionally, rappings and other noises. Mr Wyk hears them too and his ears go up and he trots to the stairs.
“But Anne – if, indeed, it is Anne – apparently does not wish to reveal herself anymore. She seems content just going up and down the stairs.” (Martin Shaw)
|Pocket Books 7, 1939.|
Cover by Isador N. Steinberg
For it was one thing to reprint literary classics, like “Wuthering Heights” (a big seller for Pocket Books) or the tragedies of William Shakespeare (which de Graff regarded as a loss leader). Selling classics and critically acclaimed best-sellers for a quarter was a way of democratizing culture, which has been an impulse in American life since the days of the Library of Useful Knowledge and before. (...)The Telegraph & Argus reviews the new edition of Chris Firth's Branwell Brontë's Barber Tale (Electraglade Press):
[Paula] Rabinowitz’s quite valid point is that when we look back on the mass-market-paperback phenomenon it’s hard to keep the Emily Brontës separate from the Mickey Spillanes. In the same year that Signet published “I, the Jury,” it also published reprints of books by James Joyce, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, and Arthur Koestler. Paperback publishers made no effort to distinguish classics from kitsch. On the contrary, they commissioned covers for books like “Brave New World” and “The Catcher in the Rye” from the same artists who did the covers for books like “Strangler’s Serenade” and “The Case of the Careless Kitten.” (Louis Menand)
Irrespective of whether you accept anecdotal evidence supporting Chris Firth's belief that Branwell invented the character of Heathcliff, not his sister Emily, any decently-written mystery thriller involving that strange family in the parsonage on the hill is likely to prove compulsive reading - especially on a cold winter's day at the darkest end of the year.The Stir lists 'lovely' literary baby names:
In Firth's novel Branwell Brontë's Barber Tale, George MacCraw makes the claim which, in real life, was made by schoolmaster William Oakenshaw in two Halifax newspapers. Chris Firth subsequently supplied material to two linquistic experts to compare Branwell Brontë's style of writing and the style of two editions of Wuthering Heights - the original 1847 version and the amended version that was edited by Charlotte Brontë.
The familiar story of Branwell the waster addicted to opiates and drink, the shame of the upwardly aspiring Brontë family, is reversed in Firth's novel. Branwell is the victim, not the culprit. (...)
The revenge he plots is elaborate, slightly far-fetched, but fully in keeping with the Burke and Hare gothic horror element threading the last 60 pages of this largely enjoyable tale.
I was hoping for stories about encounters with the rest of the Brontë family, but the pastor and his daughters remain in the background. Instead MacCraw's wife Caroline, a less interesting character, provides the romance - until her death in suspicious circumstances in Bradford. (Jim Greenhalf)
Jane: Like Charlotte Brontë's beloved heroine, Jane Eyre, this name has a lovely, understated moxie. (Stephanie Booth)Vox is quite mistaken about the 'class privileges' of the Brontës:
Dickens easily empathized with such children living in poverty, coming, as he did, from a poor childhood himself — a fact which set him apart from many other English authors, like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, who enjoyed the social and class privilege of their births. (Brandon Ambrosino)Autostraddle posts a top ten of queer and feminist books of the year:
10. Texts From Jane Eyre is a compilation, including new material, of Mallory Ortberg’s popular texts from series. The point is less that popular canonical literary characters have phones, and more that depicting them through vapid, hilarious text message means they are dismantled, with a dash of misandry. (Carolyn)Meta Wagner makes a confession in The Boston Globe:
While I can resist seeing “The Interview,” I wish I were immune to the addictive charms of video, in general. I’d like to claim that I spent this past year reading the literary classics that have eluded me, like “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights.” But, instead of reading, I spent the year binge-watching “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “Alpha House,” “Breaking Bad,” “Scandal,” “Nashville,” “Girls,” and, so far, seasons one through five of “Grey’s Anatomy.” And so did you.Not the only confession today. Julie Stroebel in The Ottawa Times makes a list of things to do in 2015:
Read more classics. (I've never read "Jane Eyre" or "Little Women.")Texas Homepage lists the recipients of the 2nd Andrew Raymond Duncan Memorial Scholarships:
Lydia White is a 19-year old sophomore at Southwestern University studying Languages and Dance. She has always enjoyed being a student, and before graduating from Rider High School in Wichita Falls, participated in the Rider Marching Band, Applause, productions at Backdoor and Wichita Theaters, and ballet at Dance, Etc. Lydia identifies with how Charlotte Brontë once described Jane Eyre: "[Her] past life seemed floated away to an immeasurable distance, the present was vague and strange, and of the future [she] could form no conjecture." Nevertheless, she watches for the continued blessings of Jesus Christ in her life as well as the potential adventures that may come to pass near and far. (Summer Rascoll)Cobertes incorrectes (in Catalan) mentions the infamous cover of the Penguin 1989 edition of The Professor with the 1853 Wilkie Collins portrait by his brother Charles Allston, in the cover.