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Managers at the Bronte Society are confident of boosting visitor admissions to the Parsonage Museum after new figures revealed they dipped to under 70,000 last year.Star Tribune reviews The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects, by Deborah Lutz.
The year saw a seven per cent drop in admissions from 73,830 in 2013 to 69,503 during a tumultuous 12 months which saw the departure of several key people including director Ann Sumner.
However, the Society claimed the drop in visitors was caused by the late reopening of the Museum following the relocation of the admissions area.
Russell Watson, honorary treasurer of the Society, who has written to members ahead of the annual meeting on June 6, said: “The operating income of the Society is heavily dependent on the number of visitors to the Parsonage Museum. In 2014 the Museum did not reopen until the third week in February due to the reconfiguration of the admissions area.
“Visitor admissions started slowly after this late opening, although they picked up later in the year.” [...]
Finance manager, Clare Dewhirst, is expecting visitors to increase as important bicentenaries approach.
She said: “Although the 2014 accounts show a small decline in visitor numbers, this is largely attributable to the fact that we opened later than usual in 2014 due to the improvement and relocation of the admissions area.
“Our general admissions income for the year exceeded budget, which was due in part to the increase in visitor participation in the Government Gift Aid scheme.
“We look forward to welcoming more visitors to the Museum in the coming months and years ahead as we prepare for the bicentenaries of each of the Brontë siblings.” (Andrew Robinson)
In “The Brontë Cabinet,” Deborah Lutz reads the lives of the Brontë sisters “through the ‘eyes’ of thread, paper, wood, jet, hair, bone, brass, frond, leather, velvet and ash,” revealing “new corners and even rooms of these Victorian women’s lives.”And The Christian Science Monitor focuses on Patricia Park's Re Jane.
Each of the nine chapters begins with a photograph of a specific object, among them a page in Charlotte’s handwriting from one of the tiny books the Brontës composed as children, a sampler stitched by Anne, a brass dog collar, a portable writing desk, a letter torn up, then carefully stitched back together by another hand. Some, like the letter, are particularly evocative in themselves; others, like the sampler, seem much more mundane. But as Lutz teases out “what the thing might have ‘witnessed,’ ” in the lives of the Brontës and in its larger cultural context, even the most ordinary objects become quite fascinating as emblems of an era. [...]
In most cases, the artifact drives the associations, although in the case of brother Branwell’s walking stick (which Emily may possibly have used, although it was not common for women to carry canes or sticks), Lutz seems to have chosen the topic — walking — first, then hunted for a suitable correlative. This is the one chapter in which the “material culture” focus seems a bit forced, although Lutz’s discussion of walking as a form of defiance for women makes me glad she included this chapter, pretextual or not.
As the virtual world becomes ever more pervasive, paying attention to tangible objects offers a valuable corrective. “The Brontë Cabinet” is an engaging read for fans of the Brontë sisters, of course, but also anyone interested in material culture, the Victorian era and the history of everyday lives — especially women’s lives. And if you want to know more about that torn-up-then-sewn-back-together letter, well, you’ll have to read the book. (Patricia Hagen)
Let’s start with the clever title, Re Jane, with its tri-fold interpretations: 1. An identification of our heroine; 2. A succinct statement that the narrative is “about Jane”; and 3. An homage to literature’s most famous Jane – as in Eyre. [...]The Guardian looks at Everyman, an early-Tudor morality play whose influence really can't be measured. One of the first works to be influenced by it was
Park’s novel is so much more than a mere retelling of "Jane Eyre," that to label the book as such feels like a limiting disservice. Readers should feel free to take this "Jane" as is – an astute, resonating, humorous, discerning, original debut. (Terry Hong)
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)The Huddersfield Daily Examiner features the TV adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, partly filmed at Oakwell Hall, which 'was immortalised in literature by Charlotte Brontë in her novel Shirley'.
Drama becomes allegorical fiction, and Everyman becomes Christian en route to the Celestial City, but Bunyan’s ampler version of the search for salvation is also tale of fruitful or frustrating encounters with characters personifying virtues, vices or temptations. Its influence was enormous in the 19th century, stretching from Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Thackeray and Melville to Shaw – so arguably indirectly Everyman’s was, too, although the play itself went unperformed until 1901. (John Dugdale)