Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Yorkshire Post interviews Sally Wainwright, who has penned the script of (and who will also direct) the upcoming BBC series To Walk Invisible:
The life of the Brontës is perfect fodder for Sunday evening television.
There’s the windswept moors, there’s the broken hearts and there’s the winding cobbled streets of Haworth. Except when Sally Wainwright’s retelling of the lives of three literary sisters and their wayward brother comes to the small screen don’t expect bustles and bonnets. This will be period drama with added grit.
“I’m not interested in chocolate box representations, “ says the Halifax-born screenwriter behind Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax. “I want it to be authentic. It’s very easy for these kind of historic dramas to slip into easy cliche, but right from the start I was determined to get past the Brontë myth which has inevitably romanticised and overshadowed the lives and careers of Emily, Charlotte and Ann. I wanted to immerse myself in what life was really like for these three women living in the north of England.”
Wainwright, who describes herself as a lifelong fan of the Brontës, did what she always does when it comes to research and buried her head in books. Lots of books. With just two hours to tell her story, she knew that it would be impossible to tell the full Brontë biopic. Nor did she want to, preferring instead to focus on one particular story arc. In the end she settled on the three years from 1845 to 1848, which for the Brontës were packed with more drama and tragedy than most families see in a lifetime.
“I think there is a perception that the Brontës spent all their lives at the parsonage, living in quiet isolation, but that’s simply not true. Charlotte and Emily went off to Brussels for a while, Ann was a tutor and Branwell had a number of disastrous attempts to forge his own way in life. However, in 1845 they were together again when for various reasons they were all either drawn or forced back to the family home.”
Central to To Walk Invisible, which will hit TV screens later this year, is the sisters’ relationship with Branwell whose life spectacularly unravelled when he returned to the parsonage. A failed portrait painter and writer, the second eldest of the surviving Bront children was a serial under-achiever. Dismissed from a job on the railways for accounting irregularities, he ended up becoming a tutor, but again it was a career which did not last long. (...)
“I think Emily’s writing speaks to me the most and I think Ann’s novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an incredible achievement. In the past it’s probably fair to say that out of the three, Ann has been the most overlooked, but I think more recently she seems to be finally getting the recognition she deserves.”
Routinely praised for the quality of her dialogue - Happy Valley won the Best Drama Bafta earlier this year - Wainwright honed her scriptwriting skills with early spells on The Archers and Coronation Street. While she now lives with her husband and two children in rural Oxfordshire much of her work is inspired by her native Yorkshire and it is likely To Walk Invisible, which Wainwright will also direct, will be filmed on location in the county.
“I know what I want the drama to look like and how I want it to feel, so I was keen to direct, “ she says. “Sadly we can’t film in the parsonage itself as it is far too delicate, but we are hopeful of being able to film with Brontë county as a backdrop.
“The next step is casting and we have been tossing a few names around. The key is getting four actors who are believable as siblings and that’s not easy. I have watched so many dramas and thought, Who are they trying to kid? They don’t come across as a family’. It comes down to that indescribable chemistry which you only know you have when you actually get the actors in a room together.” 
The LipService comedy duo is shooting at the Parsonage their particular comical version of the Brontë story to be screened at the next Brontë Society AGM. Keighley News reports:
Comedy duo LipService have dropped into the Brontë Parsonage Museum to prepare their latest production.
The two women are due to present Charlotte-The Movie! in Haworth during the summer as part of the Charlotte Brontë bicentennial celebrations.
The film will be a comic version of the life story of the writer of classic novel Jane Eyre, at West Lane Baptist Centre on June 10.
“Lights! Cameras! Action!” declared excited museum staff in a tweet to followers today (January 29) after the women toured the house where Charlotte wrote the novels.
LipService, based in Manchester, are no strangers to the Brontë sisters after creating hit spoof Withering Looks in the 1980s.
Now they are returning to the windswept moors with a production specially written to tie in with the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth.
LipService veterans Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding will perform as Audrey and Olivia of the National Institute for Bringing History to Life Society.
These two characters will in turn reform as Charlotte and Emily, while their sister Anne has just popped out for a cup of sugar.
A LipService spokesman said: “Audrey and Olivia have been given exclusive access to the parsonage to make one of the most revelatory films about Charlotte Brontë ever produced.
“In this insightful drama documentary, they reveal that Charlotte liked nothing better than to knock through and brighten up a drab corner with some choice chintz, that Emily had an insatiable penchant for mint humbugs and that Anne was the inspiration behind many of Alan Ayckbourn’s successful stage farces.” (David Knights)
More announcements. The Stage presents a shortlist of the participants at the upcoming Beam festival at the Park Theatre in London (March 2016):
A rock musical about the Brontë family will be showcased as part of a two-day event in March.
Wasted, a rock musical about the Brontës written by Christopher Ash and Carl Miller. (Matthew Hemley)
Apparently it will be a 50-minute presentation which each include two 20-25 minute presentations of excerpts of the musical in development.

Samantha Ellis reviews The Woman Who Ran by Sam Baker in The Guardian:
An enigmatic woman rents a wreck of a house on the edge of a Yorkshire village, sending the local gossips into a frenzy. If this sounds familiar, it is because Sam Baker’s thriller plays with Anne Brontë’s criminally underrated second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Her heroine, Helen (or is it Hélène? Baker keeps you guessing), is an artist, like Brontë’s, but instead of painting landscapes, she is a fearless war photographer, with a reputation for getting the shot. Baker finds many clever updates on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall but you don’t have to have read it to enjoy this arresting novel, because what she really takes from the youngest Brontë sister is her fierce, uncompromising feminism. The clue is in the title: amid a flurry of thrillers about “girls”, on trains and elsewhere, this heroine is very definitely a woman. (...)
It would be a shame if this novel were bundled in with the new wave of domestic thrillers or “chick noir”. Like many of those books, its plot is driven by a toxic marriage, but while other authors have explored the intimate treachery of marriages that seem perfect on the outside, Baker is writing about a relationship in which Helen’s malevolent, resentful husband makes her feel as though she has been “put in a box. (...)
This disquieting, thought-provoking 21st‑century take on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall keeps twisting and turning as it hurtles towards a hair-raising climax.
Also in The Guardian, Richrad Lea asks several writers about her scariest moment in literature:
For Hilary Mantel, it’s the moment in Jane Eyre when Rochester pauses outside a locked door in the dark, low corridor of Thornfield Hall’s fateful third storey and asks: “You don’t turn sick at the sight of blood?” He leaves Jane locked into an attic room – complete with antique tapestry and a cabinet decorated with the 12 apostles, “an ebon Crucifix and a dying Christ” – where she must tend to a wounded man, dipping her hand again and again into a basin that gradually becomes a mixture of blood and water. As a 10-year-old reader, Mantel says she “didn’t know that if your name is in the title, you can’t die part way through the book. I doubted Jane would make it to see ‘streaks of grey light edging the window curtains’. But dawn comes – and we still don’t know who or what is beyond the wall.”
The Darlington & Stockton Times talks about the donation of the artist Sonia Lawson to the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate of her painting, Teatime at Haworth with the Brontës:
Her donation of Teatime at Haworth with the Brontës, painted in 1981, is apt in the bicentenary year of Charlotte Bronte's birth. The picture is one of three in the exhibition inspired by the Brontës and a visit she made to the parsonage at Haworth where they lived.
The high colour reflects her feelings reading Bronte novels and her own childhood recollections of gatherings of artists, poets and academics at her parents' cottage.
Jane Sellars, director, said: “This is a hugely important painting for the Mercer collection. Sonia Lawson is a major Yorkshire artist and also we have a policy of collecting work by outstanding women artists.
“For me personally, the Brontë theme is very special, both for the Yorkshire association and the achievements of women writers. I was for seven years the director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth and I wrote a great deal about the art made by the Brontës themselves.”
The Globe and Mail reviews Samantha Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot:
The back jacket of Samantha Hunt’s third novel includes, among de rigueur PR bumps from figures such as Kelly Link and the ubiquitous Gary Shteyngart, a blurb from Charlotte Brontë, “speaking through a medium.” This metafictional joke operates on a number of levels. First, Brontë’s brand of storm-tossed Gothicism serves as a template for Hunt’s approach in Mr. Splitfoot, which transplants Jane Eyre’s 19th-century England setting to modern-day upstate New York, but retains many of the thematic and narrative trappings of the earlier work. Second, the notion of “speaking through a medium” addresses one of the key concerns of Hunt’s novel, which, among other things, involves an investigation into the intricacies of consorting with the dead. And last, the Brontë blurb is, appropriately for the story it putatively promotes, a brazen con job. (Steven W. Beattie)
The Yorkshire Evening Post relates the terrible story of Katy Morgan-Davis who has, nevertheless, a tiny sign of hope through the Brontës:
She also came to develop a mental picture of Yorkshire from The Secret Garden and the works of the Brontë sisters.
The Secret Garden was one of the books I was allowed to read. It mentioned the Yorkshire accent and I liked that idea.
“I wish my accent sounds like that. I want to sound like a good Yorkshire person. I read the Brontë books, because Bala’s wife liked them and they were wonderful.” (Sam Casey)
National Right to Live misquotes Charlotte Brontë:
Charlotte Brontë, the British novelist, addressed perinatal loss, a common occurrence 175 years ago with chilling intensity:
“There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms.” (Priscilla K. Coleman)
The problem with this quote is that it is not by Charlotte Brontë. It is by Constance Savery who in 1982 wrote a continuation of the unfinished Emma with the pseudonym of Another Lady.

Ara (in Catalan) interviews the writer Víctor García Tur about his novel, Els Ocells:
Hi ha, també, un joc amb les novel·les del Romanticisme. Les autores més conegudes de la zona són les germanes i germà Brugués, basades en la família Brontë, un dels cims de la novel·la anglesa romàntica de la primera meitat del segle XIX.El moment que hi ha consumació sexual, els personatges reelaboren aquesta manera de fer de les novel·les romàntiques en què era molt important saber “quants sous valia”, és a dir, l'herència que havia rebut. El diàleg contrasta amb el funcionament de la història d'amor de la Dafne i en Vador, que serà diferent. (...)
Hi ha el joc entre les Brugués i les Brontë. L'escena està construïda en dos plans. Hi ha els mobles de mentida. La conversa de mentida. Però alhora passarà una cosa de veritat.Sí. Des del primer moment que es coneixen, la Dafne i en Vador mai no s'han parlat seriosament, han estat jugant. Mai no acaben de dir les coses com són ni com pensen.
I ara què? Haurem d'esperar set anys pel proper llibre?(...) Els Brugués, com les Brontë, tenien com a diversió principal voltar per la zona on vivien i escriure històries. Tenen molt de material inèdit... (Jordi Nopca) (Translation)
La Stampa (in Italian) and the wonders of fog:
E cioè, a Milano e in tutta la Pianura Padana, e ovunque, nella brughiera di Cime tempestose, nei non luoghi di Albert Camus, nella Transilvania del principe Vlad, la nebbia c’è anche se non si vede. La nebbia non è fuori, è dentro, è uno stato dell’anima, un sesto senso, una protezione uterina - come scrisse Umberto Eco - e infatti la nebbia c’è in tutti i quadri di Giorgio De Chirico, anche se il sole proietta sulla tela le ombre delle colonne. (Mattia Feltri) (Translation)
Sleaford Standard presents the performances of Publick Transport's We Are Brontë at Harmston Memorial Hall in Harmston. Bookish Whimsy reviews the very hard to see Jane Eyre 1961. Scatterbook posts about Katherine Reay's The Brontë Plot.

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