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When Jane Eyre was published in 1847, it quickly took its place as one of literature’s most famous love stories—straight love stories, of course, with the plain governess Jane falling for the mysteriously tormented, butch Rochester. Yet the intimacy between women in some of her lesser-known novels, especially Shirley, gives pause. And then there is the cross-dressing — Rochester as an old gypsy woman, Lucy Snowe in Villette as a young dandy flirting with a pretty woman. Shirley fancies herself an “esquire” because her parents “gave me a man’s name; I hold a man’s position.” “It is enough to inspire me with a touch of manhood... I feel quite gentlemanlike.” Her governess worries about her disdain for needlework and her habit of whistling because people will feel that she “affected masculine manners.”
Evidence mounts in Charlotte Brontë’s letters to her best friend Ellen Nussey. When Vita Sackville-West read them in 1926, she had no doubt as to “what Charlotte’s tendencies really were.” She found them “love letters pure and simple.” Sackville-West (Virginia Woolf’s lover at the time) found Brontë’s courting language, the sort a Victorian man used to woo women, sapphic. In one letter, Brontë proposed to Ellen that they set up house together permanently, admitting in a postscript: “I am afraid of caring too much for you.” Nussey remembered Brontë stroking her head, exclaiming, “If I had but been a man, thou wouldst have been the very ticket for me as a wife.” (Read more)
Speaking at a roundtable discussion with other officials, volunteers and academics in the library of Mulberry School — where biographies and memoirs of extraordinary women like Emily Brontë, Maya Angelou and Emmeline Pankhurst were on display — the First Lady said she tells her teenage daughters, Sasha and Malia, that “instead of tweeting what you had for lunch, why don’t you tweet what you learned at school and share it with girls around the world.”
If Empathy Test’s original is the musical equivalent of Say Anything‘s Lloyd Dobler outside your house with his boombox held aloft, Minuit Machine’s is Wuthering Heights’ ghost at the window, clamouring to come in.” (Brice Ezell)