Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Western Morning News has compiled ​VisitEngland's top 16 highlights for 2016, one of which is of course
200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's birth, Yorkshire (21 April)
2016 marks the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels have become classics of English literature. Visitors to the village of Haworth, where the sisters grew up, can discover more about the authors at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. The 'Brontë' programme will comprise exhibitions, publications, musical performances and more to celebrate the life and work of Charlotte Brontë. Highlights include 'Celebrating Charlotte' – an exhibition of treasures that will go on tour to the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York. Tracy Chevalier, author of The Girl With The Pearl Earring, will be guest curator for 'I Shall Go Off Like A Bombshell: Charlotte Brontë, Great And Small' – an exhibition of artefacts, oddities and specially-commissioned contemporary art. The first ever Victorian Summer Fair will also launch – a free festival of performances, revelry and fun for all. (G Adams)
Get Reading reviews an amateur production of Polly Teale's Brontë at Progress Theatre in Reading.
You would have to be a fan of the works of the Brontë sisters to appreciate the attention to detail in this play.
The small cast of six kept the audience captivated for the entire performance and the intimacy of the small theatre made the production a shared experience for all in attendance.
The crowd was totally engrossed, you could have heard a pin drop.
The play really brought to life the tough times endured by the Brontë family and the cast were totally believable.
A hint of comedy eased away the sadness that did threaten to engulf you at time, but with such amazing scene stealing from the likes of Branwell and Charlotte in the midst of intense emotion, tears were inevitable (and mum finally cracked!).
The siren of the play who represented both Charlotte's sinful thoughts and the sisters' writing was fantastic and she was completely in sync with Emily as she wrote about her innermost feelings.
Overall a well put together, emotional and thought provoking play and performance. (Francesca Perryman)
Still on a biographical note, The New York Times wonders whether we 'Romanticize Writers Who Die Young'.
Writers don’t tend to be the most durable of human specimens. Oscar Wilde lived to be 46, the same age at which ­David Foster Wallace would take his life 108 years later. Jane Austen was 41 when she died of undetermined causes, her writing career at full tilt; Poe was just 40 when he fell, possibly drunk, into his last Baltimore gutter. None of the Brontë sisters survived past their 30s. There are no real conclusions to be drawn from this anecdotal correlation between short lives and long-lived literary influence. The fact of dying young and under tragic conditions is certainly not a cause of great writing (nor could it be said, even in cases of addiction or suicide, to be that writing’s result). It seems intuitively sound to suppose that the inward-looking, depressive types who tend to be drawn to writing might also have weaker constitutions (or a lower resistance to addictive substances) than their sunnier counterparts. But there’s no question that figures who embody this quasi-­sacrificial ideal of literary purity — writers who bloomed early, produced a relatively small quantity of superior work and died young with their record unblemished — retain a lasting cultural power, even sometimes for people who have read little or none of what they wrote. (Dana Stevens)
And speaking about death, Fast Company quotes actress and director Cynthia Nixon on the subject:
"As human beings, really until we draw our last breath, we are trying to do something in every moment. When we're dying, we're not like Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights looking beautiful in her bed. In every moment of our lives—including when we're sick—we're just trying to get through that pain, or make it to the bathroom, or get a drink of water, or say what we're trying to say," says Nixon, whose own mother died before her dream of being a writer could be realized. (Sarah Lawson)
Writer Cheryl Strayed mentions her mother's death too in this article from Austin American-Statesman.
One of Strayed’s own favorite quotes comes from the Charlotte Brontë novel “Jane Eyre”: “It is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear.”
“So much of my own grief over my mother’s young death, and my struggle against it in some ways, was wanting to reject that faith. Charlotte Brontë was speaking to me across many years … I turn to those quotes for strength,” she says. (Pam LeBlanc)
Jane Eyre makes it to to the top of Bustle's list of 'The 10 Most Inspiring Book Characters'.
Independent, self-motivating, and full of wit — Jane Eyre is one of the most inspirational female characters in history, and I don't see that changing. Though she suffered quite a lot, she's not about to give up the love or the life she desires. No matter what happened, Jane always found a way to get back up on her own two feet and keep on moving forward. (Alex Weiss)
Daily Times (Pakistan) includes both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights on the list of  'Five best English-fiction romances: Undying love'.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë/Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (both 1847)
Really, how can you pick one Brontë over the other? Who is more romantic, Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester? Whose moors are mistier, whose foggy English countryside is more moody, whose manor house is more creepy? It's a tie - both timeless romances are not to be missed.
Radio critic Gillian Reynold mentions Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë briefly in The Telegraph after some of it was read on BBC Radio 4.
Charlotte Brontë: a Life by Claire Harman was Book of the Week last week and, next payday, I’m going to buy it. Harman is a fine biographer, scholarly yet empathetic, transforming what I thought I knew about the Brontës into something deeper, more persuasively aligned with their works. Hattie Morahan, the reader, made the text glow. It was cheering to hear an extract of her on Radio 4’s Pick of the Week on Sunday, too.
The Irish Times has asked several writers to take readers through their shelves. Writer Louise Phillips thinks about the books that aren't there.
Looking at this shelf of books, I wonder about all the missing ones, especially those I read in my teens, such as Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Clown by Heinrich Böll and so many more, including my guilty pleasures from adolescence, novels by Virginia Andrews, such as Flowers in the Attic and My Sweet Audrina. Other missing books would include The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly and tons more.
Thinking about it now, my mission for 2016 will be to acquire copies of my favourite books that have mysteriously ended up elsewhere and, of course, to keep finding new ones.
Writer Kamal Al-Solaylee claims in Daily Xtra that,
My formal English education at that point prepared me for reading Charles Dickens or Charlotte Brontë but not a contemporary American novel (Brett Josef Grubisic)
A New Statesman columnist recalls how
Growing up, I remember assuming that, with the exception of Jane Austen, there were no female novelists until the Brontës and George Eliot came along – and even then, the pioneers had to adopt male names to get published. (Helen Lewis)
The Urban Wire reviews the film Miss You Already in which
 You see the besties realising their teenage dream of visiting the moors from Wuthering Heights in a Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants-esque sequence. (Sophia Hyder)
DVD Magazine (Brazil) features Anne Brontë and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The Brontë Parsonage Blog has a post on Robin Walker's bicentenary composition Letter to Brussels. The Spectrum has visited Haworth and Brontë country. The need for 'heroic perseverance' and Jane Eyre in Catholic Strength.


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