Study of Noses, pencil drawing. - Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855), Study of Noses, pencil drawing, ca. February 1831. Brontë Parsonage Museum.
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Somehow it is fitting that Charlotte Brontë’s 200th anniversary is in danger of being swamped by two other giants: the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April, and the Queen’s 90th, a birthday she shares with Charlotte on 21 April.The Brontë Parsonage Blog posts several pictures of the official launch of the exhibition.
I don’t think Charlotte would have minded. She held her own among the greats of her day, making a point of sitting back and talking only to the governess at a dinner party Thackeray held for her. I think she enjoyed playing the role she gave to her most famous heroine, Jane Eyre, of being “poor, obscure, plain and little”.
In reality she was bright, sharp and ambitious. At the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth this year we are celebrating with the exhibition “Charlotte Great and Small”. Works by contemporary artists responding to the theme are on display throughout the Parsonage. In an exhibition space, I have chosen to showcase tiny things in Charlotte’s life – shoes, a scrap of dress, the miniature books the Brontës famously constructed – alongside quotes voicing her big desires. On hearing of a friend’s travels to the Continent, for instance, Charlotte wrote: “I hardly know what swelled to my throat … such a strong wish for wings – such an urgent thirst to see – to know – to learn – something internal seemed to expand boldly for a minute.” That is not the response of a timid woman sitting in the corner.
Indeed, she herself went to Brussels to study for two years, where she had the misfortune of falling for her teacher. Later she wrote him passionate letters he tore up but which his wife saved and sewed back together. They are now at the British Library, which has lent one for the Haworth show. It is bizarre, heartbreaking, voyeuristic, and it’s also exhilarating to see Charlotte’s words destroyed and then resurrected in this way.
He was also a brilliant talent spotter. He employed Patrick O’Donovan, a journalist he particularly admired, “on the basis of an essay he’d written on one of the Brontë sisters”, and replaced Ivor Brown as theatre critic with the peacock figure of Kenneth Tynan. (Jeremy Lewis)More The Guardian. A review of the new Wellcome Collection exhibition in London: States of Mind. Traces the Edges of Consciousness:
Nightmare and the gothic make inevitable bedfellows. Hearing some of the contemporary accounts of hypnogogia collected by the artist Carla Mackinnon, and soundtracked in the gallery on a whispering loop, is like listening to the opening chapter of Wuthering Heights. (Tim Adams)The Guardian also publishes an interview with Sally Wainwright, but no mention to her upcoming Brontë BBC film To Walk Invisible is made.
Yukiko has travelled all the way from Japan to England, ostensibly to see her sister Kumiko in London, but ultimately to visit Haworth, fabled home of the Brontës. While the older Japanese women on Yukiko’s tour are overcome to be in the Parsonage where the Brontës penned their famed novels and to walk the same atmospheric moors that the sisters walked before them, Yukiko has no interest in some long-dead authors. She is in Haworth to follow the footsteps of her mother. Mick Jackson’s novel is a subtly haunting and strangely affecting read. And whilst the plot, like Yukiko herself, is somewhat curious, the sentiment of the novel is utterly authentic. (Yorkshire Post)
The titular Yuki-chan is the only youngster in a tour group of elderly Brontë fangirls making their pilgrimage to the village of Haworth, where the sisters once resided.CBC News reviews the novel Heap House by Edward Carey:
But while her companions are there to commune with the Gothic moors that inspired Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Yuki is chasing her ghosts.
Ten years ago, her mother made a mysterious visit to Haworth. On her return to Japan, she was found dead in the snow.
Yuki, who considers herself something of a psychic detective, hopes that retracing her mother's footsteps will tell her why. (...)
She heads an ensemble cast of women in a landscape that, in a significant departure from the Brontë mould, is almost devoid of men.
No Byronic hero hijacks her quest; rather, she forms a bond with a teenage girl called Denny, who rides a stolen motorbike and has no qualms about shooting strangers in the butt if they annoy her.(...)
If you like this, read: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Penguin, 1966, $17.82, Books Kinokuniya), another novel ostensibly related to the Brontës. In Rhys' spin on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, the madwoman in the attic comes to life as Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway, who is torn away from her native Jamaica after her marriage to a certain Englishman falls apart. (Olivia Ho in The Straits Times)
Lucy and Clod join forces to get the bottom of his family's deep dark secret and their bond with the ever-growing piles of objects growing outside their home. The heaps of detritus take on a life of their own in this world, much like the wild moors of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. (Joanne Kelly)Vulture reviews the film The Choice:
When it’s charting Gabby and Travis’s steadily growing attraction, The Choice is light and lovely. A laid-back vet with a lake house and a grill isn’t exactly Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, but Walker brings a slight, pursed edge to Travis’s languid drawl — not so much as to make him brood, but just enough to draw us in. (Bilge Ebiri)Abigail Deutsch discusses why having your email hacked feels so personal in The Atlantic:
Perhaps the juiciest part of any email account is the drafts folder, that electronic id brimming with unfunny quips, unaskable questions, and (in my case, at least) unstated declarations of love. All lie forgotten until a search for some mundane term calls them up again. And at such moments, I recognize that my email knows me better than I do, that it is—as Wuthering Heights’s Catherine says of Heathcliff—“more myself than I am.”Daily Mail looks into the (in)famous little history of the monster mashup genre:
Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters came next, which saw the Dashwood sisters evicted from their home and forced to live on an island plagued by a rampaging octopus and giant lobsters.Wicked Local Raynham inserts Jane Austen and the Brontës in the romantic novels genre. We cannot disagree more:
This was followed by Jane Slayre, a fusion of Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre – but with vampires. It begins, ‘Reader, I buried him’. (Amy Oliver and Caroline Graham)
Jane Austen was followed by the Brontë sisters with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and in the twentieth century Georgette Heyer was one of several novelists inspired by Austen’s works to write romantic novels and to firmly establish the genre. (Eden Fergusson)The Boar thinks that Rochester is a jerk:
A 2009 poll by Mills and Boon voted him literature’s most romantic character. But think about it: if your best friend was dating someone who behaved the way Edward Rochester does in Jane Eyre, you’d think they were, at best, a bit of a jerk; at worst, downright abusive.La Semaine (France) interviews Adeline Karcher, author of a recent thesis:
He’s sarcastic and manipulative. He feigns betrothal to Blanche Ingram to make Jane jealous, and tries to marry her while he’s got his first wife locked in the attic. Then, when Jane tries to leave, he threatens rape. Surely that’d be enough red flags for any woman…(Rachel Sayers)
Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë, un de mes personnages préférés, doté d’une grande force de caractère. (Aurélia Salinas) (Translation)The Telegraph & Argus talks about the recent shooting of Charlotte, The Movie! at the Parsonage by the comic duo LipService. Octobersky briefly posts about Jane Eyre. The Book Carousel reviews Wuthering Heights.