Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Samantha Ellis, author of How to Be a Heroine, writes in The Guardian about Bertha Mason:
I don’t know if Jane Eyre’s Bertha Rochester really is a baddie. Charlotte Brontë does give her a classic villainess’s evil laugh – Jane hears it echoing around Thornfield Hall in the dead of night, “demoniac” and “strange” – and her attic is a sort of lair. She does bad things, like setting fire to Mr Rochester’s bed, ripping up Jane’s wedding veil and attacking her brother. “She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart,” he says, haemorrhaging and horrified. She’s certainly villainised – she’s called a “clothed hyena”, a “tigress”, a “figure”, “some strange wild animal”, a “goblin”, a “vampire”, a “demon”, even, simply and inhumanly, “it”.
But this furious woman has a point. Why should her husband lock her in an attic, while he flirts with other women right in her own house? Of course she wrestles him. Of course she breaks into the bedroom of the shameless man-stealing hussy he is planning to marry and tears up her veil. She’s an avenging fury. And she knows she can’t rely on anyone else. Her well-meaning brother visits, and he does stop her husband marrying someone else, but he barely raises an objection to her imprisonment. (Read more)
The Northern Echo interviews Juliet Barker, author of The Brontës among many other things:
 It was her love of research that started her own writing career. Her first and only “proper” job after leaving Oxford, where she studied history, was as librarian and curator at The Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. “I would see writers coming in and researching for their books, but most of them them just looked at what other people had written. They ignored all that mass of original material we had there just waiting to be looked at.”
In the end, she was driven to write her own – much acclaimed – biography of the Brontës, which turned previous accounts pretty much on their head. “We’ve all bought Mrs Gaskell’s version of this isolated family living miles from nowhere, but Haworth is just four miles from Keighley. By the time the Brontës were there, it was a busy industrial area with 15 mills.”
As part of her decade of research Juliet spent read two years reading local newspapers of the time. “Addled my brain, but gave me so much information about the Brontës in the community that no one had ever bothered with before,” she says.
The Brontës ended up as a stonking great book, winning awards and establishing her as a writer who really knew her stuff. Despite its scholarship, it’s wonderfully readable. (Sharon Griffiths)
Peter Bradshaw lists in The Guardian the top 50 films of the demi-decade:
Wuthering Heights (dir. Andrea Arnold)
This visceral and challenging adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel divided opinion at the time, but its sheer audacity is thrilling. It has a pre-literary reality: it looks like the raw series of events on which the book might have been based.
More good news concerning conservation of heritage buildings in The Telegraph & Argus:
An historic Oxenhope church with links to the Bronte family will share in a £550,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust to 30 churches and chapels in the UK The funding from the National Churches Trust includes £15,000 for Oxenhope’s St Mary the Virgin Church.
Custodians of the Grade II-listed building, in Hebden Road, will use the cash to help fund urgently-needed repairs to the church tower as part of a £120,000 project.
St Mary’s Oxenhope priest Reverend Nigel Wright said: “I’m absolutely delighted.”
The Brontë link?
Until the 1840's Oxenhope was part of Haworth parish and Anglicans who wished to attend church had to take the long walk up to Haworth for services. As the population grew it was decided that Oxenhope needed its own church and the then vicar of Haworth, Patrick Brontë, sent his curate Joseph Brett Grant to establish the new parish.
And Rev. Joseph Brett was the inspiration of Shirley's Rev. Joseph Donne.

The writer Clare Furniss discusses labels in literature in The Guardian:
Thing is, that book is The Secret Garden. Sick lit? No, it’s a Classic. Classics don’t have labels, other than ‘Classic’, do they? It’s interesting to think about what those labels might be if we did apply them though. Pride and Prejudice – Chick Lit? To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye and even Henry IV Part I –Young Adult? Macbeth – Fantasy? Wuthering Heights – Paranormal Romance? It’s a fun game, but there’s a deeper point. Why don’t we classify classic literature in this way? Perhaps because it is taken seriously. And I think there is often a subtext to labels that get applied to books. The subtext says: This is just another one of THOSE kind of books. Don’t take it too seriously.
The Blackpool Gazette announces the new season of outdoor theatre at Lytham Hall:
Opening the season – and their own national tour – will be Chapterhouse Theatre Company, on Sunday, June 16, presenting Richard Main’s production of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre, adapted for stage by Laura Turner.
 Screen Rant describes the very anticipated Guillermo Del Toro movie Crimson Peak:
The filmmaker has also spoken in length about the influences for Crimson Peak, which (as he discussed in a recent interview with Empire) includes literary classics such asJane Eyre and the fairy tale Bluebeard - both featuring a protagonist who discovers the new man in her life has a dark (and disturbing) secret – and the collective works of Emily Brontë and Gothic literary genre pioneer Ann Radcliffe.  (Sandy Schaefer)
The Herald of Everett recommends books for 2015:
 Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Synopsis: Hilariously imagined text conversations--the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange--from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O'Hara to Jessica Wakefield
Why I want to read it: A book that fictionalizes electronic communication between some of my most beloved literary characters, from Sherlock Holmes to Nancy Drew. How could I skip this one? (Carol)
Le Figaro's Madame (France) traces a profile of the writer Anna Todd:
Pour noyer son ennui entre ses petits boulots de maquilleuse et serveuse, Anna s'évade par la lecture. Dans le monde de cette jeune femme aux joues rondes et à la chevelure blonde en cascade, Les Hauts du Hurlevent côtoie Hunger Games, et Jane Eyre, Fifty Shades of Grey. (Lucile Quillet) (Translation)
The Starving Artist reviews Shirley;  The Love of a Good Book reviews Jane Stubbs' Thornfield Hall; The Daily Geekette is on the first week of her Jane Eyre readalong.


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