Who Were The Real Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell? - When the Bell brothers published their book of poetry ‘Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell‘ in 1846 it seemed to be an act of little significance, report...
12 hours ago
My fascination with the Brontës began the day my father arrived home from Greene's Bookshop with a faded copy of Jane Eyre. Having finally made the leap from Mallory Towers and St Claire's, I was blown away by the exquisite writing, the intensity of emotion and the captivating story of Jane's plight as an orphan at Gateshead and Lowood and her transition to governess at Thornfield. And with every subsequent reading I find something new, an extra layer, a deeper understanding of the pain and heartbreak she experienced. I knew then, that I wanted to find out everything there was to know about the "three weird sisters", as Ted Hughes once called them. The Brontës were on my radar. [...]
Harman's biography starts with a pivotal moment in Charlotte's life. It is September 1843 and the 27-year-old is close to a nervous breakdown, having been left alone during the long summer holidays at the Brussels boarding school where she has been working as a student teacher for the past two years. Charlotte, miserable with longing for Constantin Héger, the charismatic, married 'Master' at the Pensionnat in the Rue d'Isabelle with whom she is desperately in love, finds herself in a Catholic church, confessing her overwhelming desire for a married man to the priest. Harman shows how this and many other real life events were worked on creatively and used in Charlotte's subsequent novels to great effect. In Villette, Lucy Snowe, the heroine of her final novel floats in anguish through the dull city streets before stumbling into "an old solemn church" where she finds herself making a confession to a kind but puzzled priest. [...]
In this assured and engaging biography Harman offers a common-sense insight into how Charlotte's years of sorrow and frustration are vented on the page, and we are left with as clear a picture as possible of this complex creature. (Justine Carbery)
Sally Cookson broke rank with this make-it-long trend in a tumultuous re-creation of Jane Eyre. She trimmed her two-part Bristol Old Vic production to an ardent, free-wheeling evening that was one of the year’s glories. (Susannah Clapp)
Steffi Walker stops the show with a number inspired by Wuthering Heights. (Chris Omaweng)
One of the copies I’d planted under the guise of a birthday gift gave back in a big way. My friend, who lives in Colorado, finished the book and emailed right away. We sent reviews from The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker back and forth. We broke down each one. Was it the great gay novel? Maybe and maybe not, though there was no doubt that Yanagihara wrote across difference in a way that was refreshing and modern. In the next moment we compared the book to Great Expectations and Bleak House. “I keep thinking of Jane Eyre,” she wrote. “It’s the best kind of old-fashioned melodrama.” (Claire Cameron)