Thursday, April 23, 2015

Several writers tell The Guardian about the places that inspire them in the UK:
William Atkins on Top Withens near Haworth, West Yorkshire
I’m writing this in a farmhouse on the edge of the moors above Haworth, West Yorkshire. In the woodshed a pellet boiler’s being installed – there’s some concern that its droning will put off the swallows that normally nest there (we spotted the year’s first this afternoon). The lambs are blahing and gargling pitilessly from the adjacent field. “Give over,” I just told them. They arrive late up here, and are still rickety as botched stools.
This morning we took a walk I know pretty well, and which I love as much as any: up the taxing hill behind the house, past the gamekeeper’s cottage and onto the moor. The heather-burning season is over, but in patches the ground is still cindered with its aftermath. Walk east a few miles and the crowns of two trees appear over the moor’s brow, the westernmost specimen beginning to bud. As you walk on, the roofless house they attend comes into view.
These ruins are known to hundreds of thousands, despite their isolation. For they are what is left of Top Withens, the house associated with Wuthering Heights. Those twin trees beside them have always moved me: stalwart sycamores, holding out against the Ural winds – since Emily Brontë’s day, I like to think, though they are not that old. A caravan of tourists braves the hike uphill from the Brontë parsonage three miles away. If it’s “peace” you think you want, follow the Pennine Way south for a mile or so.
Abandon the flagstones and soon you’re in a desert realm. All around is flat and silent bog tinged blood-red by the stalks of cotton grass. And then the wind dies, and stillness occurs, like the slowing of a wheel.
At my feet, three hours later, the woodburner is ticking, and its radiance smarts where I’ve caught the sun.
Keighley News comments on a recent event at the Brontë Parsonage:
An enthusiastic audience of Brontë lovers watched the local premiere of an opera based on Wuthering Heights.
Brontë Parsonage Museum worker Charissa Hutchins organised last Saturday’s performance of extracts from the little-known work.
Bernard Hermann, the American composer of classic film soundtracks like Psycho and Citizen Kane, wrote the opera in the 1940s.
arissa said the concert, performed by herself with several other singers, was very well attended.
She said: “The first half, of operatic scenes, was greatly appreciated by the audience.
“Although the cast had very few rehearsals together, the Wuthering Heights extracts came together very well and all the cast members put in strong performances, both well-acted and well-sung.
“A few audience members made the comment after the show that this was the first opera that they had seen and they now look forward to going to another opera in the near future.”
Half of the proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Brontë Society. (David Knights)
The event warrants another article in the same newspaper:
We had a one-off operatic treat at Haworth Parish Church Hall last Saturday, produced and directed by local soprano Charissa Hutchins.
She pulled together a very talented group of five singers: herself, Louise Jacques, Leon Waksberg, Phil Wilcox and Yvonne Dean.
Gordon Balmforth directed the music from the piano and some rather nice violin obligati were played by Pamela Dimbleby.
In the first half of the evening we enjoyed operatic excerpts delivered with great gusto in a superb display of singing, superbly costumed.
The second half was a rare performance of part of the only opera by Bernard Herrmann, Wuthering Heights from 1951.
Although the music was much less familiar to what we heard in the first half it was performed with great passion and intensity.
I have to congratulate the entire cast and accompanists on their very great effort.
Charissa said afterwards that she hoped one day they would perform the entire opera. This was pure Brontë culture in the hall where Emily taught.
The hall was almost full, perhaps 100 people, and it was good to see in the audience many local musicians, particularly a good number from the local Gilbert and Sullivan society. (Jens Hislop)
Still locally, The Telegraph and Argus has an article on the goings-on within the ranks of the Brontë Society.
Campaigners pushing for the modernisation of the Brontë Society are standing for election to the organisation’s ruling council.
The controversial campaign’s two leaders are among those responding to the society’s call for new blood to fill a ‘skills gap’ on the council.
Success for John Thirlwell and Janice Lee could help drive through far-reaching changes to the way that both the literary society and Brontë Parsonage Museum is run.
Also standing for the ruling council is Haworth vicar, the Reverend Peter Mayo-Smith, who hopes the society will do more to attract tourists to the village.
The Haworth-based Brontë Society, which runs the museum, recently relaxed its rules governing council membership to help fill a shortfall in nominations.
It is understood that at least five of the 12 council members are due to stand down on the annual meeting in June.
Mr Thirlwell this week warned that whoever was elected, it was vital the new-look council responded to concerns raised by the modernisers.
He said key to this would be the findings of a review, currently being carried out, into the structure and governance of the Brontë Society.
Mr Thirlwell said: “The agreement was that we would see the report before going to the annual general meeting in June, so we can have some sensible debate about how the Brontë Society should operate.
“The museum should be a separate entity with a trust running it. We’re hoping the review will give us a way to put a new structure in place.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the people of Haworth saying ‘let’s get the society to work with local people, so that Haworth gains from this literary history’.”
Mr Mayo-Smith, priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, hopes to bring his past business experience to the council if he is elected.
He also believes Haworth is failing to the most of its tourism potential, and wants the Brontë Parsonage Museum to pack a “harder punch”.
A spokesman for the Brontë Society said a sufficient number of members had put their names forward by April 11, the deadline for nominations, and the aim was to ensure the council had the “best possible skill set”.
The spokesman said membership numbers had risen since the beginning of the year.
Bonnie Greer, president of the Brontë Society: “It’s great that new members are coming forward to join council and we hope that any new members on the Brontë Society Council will continue the work and dedication of the present one.”
“I’m working to help diversify membership and bring on younger members - local, regional, national and international - who are all crucial to the future of the Brontë Society.” (David Knights)
We are not leaving Haworth yet as The Yorkshire Post mentions it in a short article on The Yorkshire part of the Pennine Way.

io9 has selected the 'Top 10 Most Horribly Mistreated First Wives In Gothic Fiction'. Of course one of them is
3. Bertha Antoinetta Mason Rochester from Jane Eyre
Here’s the star of the list. Thanks to high school English class, almost everyone knows Charlotte Brontë‘s most famous book. But here’s a quick review, from the first wife’s point of view. Bertha is rich. Edward Fairfax Rochester needs money. He marries her. She goes insane, in part, Rochester claims, because she was “unchaste.” He locks her in a single room in his attic with a single alcoholic servant to mind her, and then works off his anguish by slutting his way around Europe in an extremely “unchaste” manner. Finally comes back to England with an illegitimate daughter he barely tolerates and keeps Bertha a secret so he can marry the teenage governess he likes to verbally abuse.
The governess finds out about Bertha, and leaves. Eventually Bertha, who has a habit of being a firebug, sets fire to the entire house. Rochester escapes, and is reunited with Jane Eyre, the governess, but is blinded for many years and scarred for the rest of his life.
Lesson: Arson is usually the answer. (Esther Inglis-Arkell)
The Herald Scotland recommends 10 books to mark the anniversary of the publication of Robinson Crusoe on Saturday and one of them is book much mentioned on here when it was first published:
Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane
Written as a gothic homage to the likes of the Brontë sisters, with many a nod to the same genre of films, Lehane's creepy mystery is set in the 1950s when the disappearance of a patient in a hospital for the criminally insane leads investigating officers to make unsettling discoveries. It was later filmed, as the author could have predicted. (Rosemary Goring)
Emily Brontë as literary one-hit wonder in the CT Post.
"Wuthering Heights," by Emily Brontë
Brontë died just a year after "Wuthering Heights" was published, thus never living to see the success of her only novel. She was only 30 at the time of her death, and she believed the local climate and poor sanitary conditions led to her weakened health. "Heights" was her masterpiece and is considered an English classic. (Siobhan Schugmann)
And as a library treasure for writer Anna Moner in the Catalan section of El País (Spain)
els espectres de Catherine Earshaw i Heathcliff que Emily Brontë condemna a vagar pels ermassos de Yorkshire... Un recull de talismans que, en cada visita, a més de proporcionar-me un immens plaer, m’ajuden a bastir mons paral·lels, paradisos artificials, en els quals perdre’m. (Translation)
Revista GQ (Spain) recommends a book for each year of your life.
19 AÑOS: ‘Cumbres borrascosas’, de Emily Brontë
Tú crees que has conocido el amor en su faceta más huracanada, pero aún no sabes nada. Deja que Catherine y Heathcliff te lo cuenten. [...]
34 AÑOS: ‘Jane Eyre’, de Charlotte Brontë
¿Te acuerdas cuando conociste a su hermana en la postadolescente? Pues a ver que te parece la señorita Eyre. También puedes leer a: Anne, sobre todo su poesía. No hace falta que molestes por: Branwell. Aunque seguro que sus hermanas lo querían mucho. (Noel Ceballos) (Translation)
Readers Lane lists and reviews eight modern retellings of Jane Eyre;.


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