Monday, April 18, 2016

It is the week of Charlotte Brontë's bicentenary and The Telegraph and Argus lists the many local events that will be taking place to celebrate it.
Several events have been organised in Haworth and Thornton to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth on Thursday.
Highlights in Haworth, the village where the Brontë sisters lived for much of their lives, include a birthday party for local residents, performances of scenes from the writer's book Jane Eyre, and an appearance by The Great British Bake Off contestant Sandy Docherty.
In Thornton, the village Charlotte where was born in 1816, there will be a wreath laying service in the Brontë Bell Chapel, where Charlotte's father, Patrick, preached.
The service starts at 11am and a floral tribute will be laid at the chapel. A second floral tribute then be taken to Haworth on a bicycle, accompanied by members of Otley Ladies Cycling Club.
At 2pm Christa Ackroyd, a former presenter of Look North, will host a talk entitled Tea with Charlotte.
An exhibition about the sisters and their links with Thornton has been running since September at St James' Church, near the Bell Chapel.
Items on show include christening certificates for Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne Brontë the font in which they were all baptised, and a washstand and desk used by their minister father.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth will open at 10am on Thursday and throughout the day there will be a series of talks about Charlotte.
Visitors will also be able to to see some of Charlotte’s possessions in the Parsonage Library with a member of the collections team.
Best-selling novelist Tracy Chevalier, the museum’s creative partner during the bicentenary year, will talk to visitors about her exhibition at the museum.
Charlotte Great And Small, an exhibition which runs all year, features a large variety of items either used by Charlotte or inspired by her.
The museum will remain open until 8pm, and people visiting after 6pm will be invited to join staff for a celebratory drink. Normal admission prices apply.
Meanwhile, there will be a birthday party for Charlotte in the Old School Room, just yards from the museum and the location of her wedding reception, from 11am to 4pm.
The event is free and open to all the community, and there will be tea and cake and entertainment throughout the day.
Pupils from Haworth Primary School will perform early scenes from her masterpiece Jane Eyre.
Parsonage Museum spokesman Rebecca Yorke said: “We are inviting members of the local community to bake a cake for Charlotte and bring it along to the School Room on the morning of April 21.
“We will take photographs of some of the most imaginatively decorated.
“During the afternoon Sandy Docherty, a Great British Bake Off contestant and Brontë enthusiast, will present the cake she has baked especially for Charlotte.“
Also at the School Room, artist Julia Ogden will run a drop-in craft activity to commemorate Charlotte’s birthday, and there will be the chance to write in Charlotte’s Birthday Book.
A floral tribute will be laid in the Parsonage Garden accompanied by words from Haworth vicar, the Rev Peter Mayo-Smith, later in the afternoon a rose donated by David Austin Roses will be planted in the grounds in Charlotte’s memory. (Chris Young)
Rebecca Yorke from the Brontë Parsonage Museum speaks on Pulse2 about the celebrations.

The Yorkshire Post lists the three key anniversaries taking place this week: the Queen's birthday, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and of course our Charlotte's 200.
Brontë Bicentenary
The Queen shares her birthday with another female icon, Charlotte Brontë. This week sees the much-anticipated bicentenary of one of the greatest and most influential writers this country has ever produced.
To mark of the occasion leading Northern Ballet dancers Hannah Bateman and Javier Torres, who take the roles of Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester in the ballet’s production of Jane Ayre (sic), will pose at the National Portrait Gallery’s display Celebrating Charlotte’s life in London.
The main focus, though, will be on Haworth and in particular the Brontë Parsonage Museum. The celebrations include a party on Thursday, complete with tea and cake, at the old school room where Charlotte once taught. (Chris Bond)
Morley Observer and Advertiser reports that there will be local celebrations there as well.
The vital part North Kirklees played in the life of a literary heroine is being celebrated across the area over the coming weeks.
The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë on April 21 is being marked with celebration events organised by the Brontë 200 group.
Charlotte and the rest of the Brontë family had many close connections with North Kirklees and some of its landmark buildings became the inspiration for some of the best know fictional homes in literature.
The novel Shirley was centered around Cleckheaton’s Luddite uprising at Rawfolds Mill and the author took particular inspiration from buildings around Birstall and the Spen Valley she came to know well.
Oakwell Hall, Red House Museum, St Peter’s Church in Birstall, Christ Church and Healds Hall in Liversedge and St Peter’s Church at Hartshead all found their place in Charlotte’s book.
Many of the events celebrating the writer’s bi-centenary will take place at those venues as well as others with Brontë connections, including Dewsbury Minster, where Patrick Brontë was curate from 1809-1811.
Events have been organised up until the end of September with the commemorations starting in earnest next weekend and Brontë fans can indulge their passion by taking part in the following activities:
Wednesday, April 20, 10.30am: Hartshead Church. Wreath laying and Brontë Archive display in remembrance of Patrick Brontë who was Minister at the time of the Luddite uprisings. Charlotte’s eldest sister, Maria was baptised at the church.
Wednesday, April 20, 7.30pm: Hartshead Church. the first annual meeting of The Friends of Hartshead Church, including a presentation by the Rev Richard Burge.
Thursday, April 21, 10am-noon: Cleckheaton Library . A Nordic walk to the ‘lost’ Brontë grave of Charlotte’s cousin Rose Ann Heslip in Whitechapel Church and beyond, followed by a Brontë talk.
Thursday, April 21, 1pm-3pm: Cleckheaton Library. Children’s Brontë story-building class with local children’s writer. Young writers will be able to create their own miniature storybook, like the Brontë sisters did as children.
Saturday, April 23, Oakwell Hall. In the steps of Charlotte Brontë is a six-mile circular walk on footpaths and roads visiting places associated with Charlotte. This is for people with good physical ability as it will include some rough terrain and hills.
Saturday, April 23, 2.15pm and 7.15pm: Whitechapel Church, Cleckheaton. A showing of the film Devotion, a 1946 American biopic of the Brontë sisters. There will also be the opportunity to see the grave of Rose Ann Heslip. Tickets £2 at the door.
Sunday, April 24: Red House Museum, Gomersal. Happy Birthday Charlotte, family craft activities, costumed tours of the house and Brontë book sale. Events free but usual museum admission applies.
Tuesday, April 26, 10.30am.Birstall Library: The Real Jane Eyre - a free talk about the woman who shared the moniker of Charlotte’s most famous character.
Banbridge Leader announces a local talk to mark the bicentenary.
A talk on the Brontës’ Irish Connections will be given at Newry City Library by Jason Diamond on Wednesday 20th April at 12:30pm
The talk has been timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of writing’s most famous authors; Charlotte Brontë.
She was born on 21st April 1816 and was the third daughter of the Rev Patrick Brontë and his wife, Maria Branwell.
A spokesperson for the event said: “She and her five siblings were all born in England, but what many people don’t realise is that the origins of the Brontë family were well and truly rooted in Ireland, north and south.
“Their grandfather, Hugh Brunty, hailed from Drogheda, Co Louth. He and his wife, Alice McClory were married in the old Magherally Parish Church, between Banbridge and Dromore and it was in the townland of Lisnacreevy outside Rathfriland that Patrick Brunty, later to become Patrick Brontë, was born on the 17th March 1777.
“Thanks to the writer, J A Erskine Stuart, we have an account of the family’s Irish origins as Stuart came to the area whilst doing research for a book he was writing entitled “The Brontë Country” in 1888. During his researches, he paid a visit to Patrick’s youngest sister, eventually furnishing an article for the local “Banbridge Household Almanac” about his visit to the Brontë Country.
To relate this history of Patrick and his early years, Mr Jason Diamond, Tourist Information Assistant with Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, will be speaking about Patrick and the council owned Brontë Interpretative Centre housed in the old Drumballroney church and schoolhouse where Patrick once taught.
The event is free and open to all. Booking is advisable.
Derby Telegraph celebrates by exploring the local connections to Jane Eyre.
Yet Charlotte's best-known novel, Jane Eyre, owes much to a chance visit to Hathersage, in Derbyshire's Peak District, 170 years ago.
In the summer of 1845, she was invited to visit the village by her best friend, Ellen Nussey, with whom she had been at school.
Ellen's brother, Henry, whose cold offer of marriage Charlotte had turned down some years before, had recently been appointed as local vicar.
That spring, he had also wed a young woman of fortune. While the couple were away on their honeymoon, Ellen had been sent to Hathersage by her mother to prepare the vicarage for their return.
While busy organising the "assembling of furniture, the decoration of rooms and the choosing of servants", she decided she needed Charlotte with her for moral support. [...]
Indeed, in time the rolling Hallam Moors and even the village itself would become part of one of the world's best-loved classic novels. Her visit to Derbyshire that summer would even provide a name for her fictional heroine.
For, during her stay at the vicarage, the clergyman's daughter was surrounded by constant reminders of the ancient Eyre family. There were several of their tombstones in the churchyard next door.
Also, in those days, the north-east chapel of the church was the Eyre chantry. Among the many memorials were the magnificent 15th century brasses of Robert Eyre and his family.
Charlotte had asked that while she was at Hathersage she would not be forced to go out visiting.
However, her friend had other plans in mind. In fact, the two women ended up paying social calls to several houses in the neighbourhood, including the old Eyre family home of North Lees Hall.
Three storeys high, and with battlements around the top, the house made a lasting impression on Charlotte. She used it as her model for Thornfield Hall, Mr Rochester's home in Jane Eyre and even found a place in fiction for a distinctive piece of family furniture there.
In the novel, the writer describes it as, "...a great cabinet...whose front, divided into 12 panels, bore, in grim design, the heads of the 12 apostles".
Almost a century later, the original apostles' cupboard was bought by the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
It was probably while at North Lees that Charlotte also heard about the unfortunate first mistress of the hall. The story goes that Agnes Ashurst went insane and had to be confined in a padded room on the second floor.
This tragic tale almost certainly gave Charlotte the idea for Mr Rochester's mad wife, especially as poor Agnes met her death in a fire, the same fate which befell Mrs Rochester.
Another local family Charlotte was taken to meet were the Cockers. They owned one of the needle mills in Hathersage, and lived at Moorseats, just outside the village.
However, the two women did not spend all their time socialising. Captivated by the superb views from the vicarage of the moorlands, they also went out walking.
They may even have rambled as far afield as Moscar Cross to the north. As the junction of four roads on the old coaching routes, it was marked with a whitewashed signpost. Certainly, the location bore an uncanny resemblance to the place on the moors in Jane Eyre where the heroine is dropped by the coachman, after deserting Rochester.
Charlotte Brontë did not spend her entire visit in the immediate vicinity of Hathersage. On one occasion, she was taken by Ellen to Castleton to see the famous caves.
With them went the Misses Halls, members of a local family, who appear to have spent most of the day giggling. They began by exploring Peak Cavern.
In those days, the roof of the cave at one point dipped low over the surface of an underground stream. The only way to proceed was to lie in the bottom of a boat while a guide pushed it across.
Charlotte and her party watched in amusement as one couple made the crossing holding on tightly to each other. They could not decide if the pair were married or simply brother and sister.
Ellen later wrote to a friend of the excursion: "Charlotte was much pleased with the caverns but the mirth of the Misses Halls' was rather displeasing to her."
Later in the day, they drove along the valley to get a better view of Peveril Castle, which perched high above the village. That it had been the setting for the novel Peveril of the Peak was of particular interest to Charlotte, for she had been a fan of Sir Walter Scott ever since she was a young girl.
Her visit to Hathersage was originally intended to be just for two weeks. But she was enjoying herself so much that Ellen wrote to her family at Haworth to plead for an extension.
An extra week was readily agreed to and Charlotte finally travelled home to Yorkshire on July 26. It was not until just over a year later that she began writing Jane Eyre.
Keighley News features the new children's book The Brontës – Children Of The Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström.
Mick said: “Brita walked to the Brontë Waterfall in a heavy woollen skirt to feel what it was like – primary research!”
Mick and Brita also received support from Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and herself a writer.
The Brontës – Children Of The Moors introduces the three extraordinary sisters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne – and their brother, Branwell.
Through a mix of storytelling and colour pictures, Mick and Brita relate the sisters' short lives in the remote village of Haworth. [...]
Mick grew up in Haworth and went to school in the village where, in 1966, people still used inkwells and dip pens.
He said: “It felt a bit like Jane Eyre’s school – but a little bit friendlier!
“A pride and fascination in those stubborn, wonderful northern women seems to be omnipresent in Haworth; like the wind whistling through the black moorland walls or the sound of curlews and sheep in the heather.
“After all, they did put the little moorland village of Haworth, with it’s wool trade and smoky mill chimneys, on a literary map.”
Mick played a boy shepherd in a BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights in 1967, and this incident introduces the book he wrote with Brita.
He said: “That experience at such an early age was formative and life-changing. I found myself developing a strong affinity with the Brontës’ books.
“I also developed a deep interest in natural history and history, too, surrounded as I was by both wild moorland and tumbledown ruins. I spent many hours roaming up on the moor with the curlews and lapwings.
“When I wrote the intro and ending to our Brontë book, I wanted to inject some of that distinct otherworldly-ness and spirit of place that is Haworth.” (David Knights)
The Daily Mail has Daisy Goodwin suggest books for 'coping with loneliness and feeling alone in a crowd',
I was a student in New York in the Eighties and I can still remember aching with loneliness, despite living in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. I would walk through Central Park and feel jealous of the families I saw, their easy familiarity, their shared jokes.
That feeling of being alone in a crowd is one that is captured perfectly in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë.
Jane, the friendless orphan, is always on the edge of others. In her famous outburst to Mr Rochester, the man she is falling in love with, she says: ‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart!’
We feel her longing for a connection burning from the page. But Jane would rather be alone than be together with a man she does not love, which is the reason she rejects the safety of a passionless marriage with the clergyman Rivers, who offers her security after the disaster of her almost bigamous marriage to Mr Rochester.
Ara (in Catalan) interviews Spanish writer Toni Hill, who also translated Jane Eyre in the past.
Per això entre els referents hi ha Un altre pas de rosca, de Henry James, i Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brönte (sic). “Malgrat l’amor que sent pel senyor Edward Rochester, la institutriu Jane rebutja de contreure-hi matrimoni en assabentar-se que està casat amb una boja que viu tancada a les golfes”, es pot llegir a Els àngels de gel. (Jordi Nopca) (Translation)
Herald Sun (Australia) talks to actor Tim Dashwood who plays Edgar Linton in a the shake & stir touring production of Wuthering Heights:
Dashwood read Brontë’s book and watched movie versions to prepare for the stage production.
He threw himself into rehearsals, putting his “trust in the director and the script”.
Dashwood said the show illustrated the dark themes in Emily Brontë’s novel.
“It’s quite a full on story — domestic violence and blackmail are rife in it,” he said.
Dashwood said the production raised serious issues that resonate today.
“It does call into question how we treat each other in relationships,” he said.
“It’s amazing how a lot of people go ‘how horrible they (the characters)’ are.
“It’s not out of place in our world. It’s interesting a story written so long ago — it’s something that echoes now.
“It could be happening today and next door.” (Christian Tatman)
Yorkshire Post features the book The Real Wuthering Heights by Steven Wood and Peter Brears.
When reporter Harwood Brierley visited Top Withens for an article which appeared in the Leeds Mercury in the winter of 1893, he asked a farmer’s wife whether she ever heard the place being referred to as Wuthering Heights.
That windy moor was after all the very spot that had inspired Emily Brontë’s torrid love story of Cathy and Heathcliff, but the 19th century residents of Top Withens weren’t much taken with their literary fame.
“Naa, it gets cawd all sorts,” said the woman, busy getting on with daily life. “Some reckons it’s t’last place God made, but we call it Top o’ th’ Withens’.” Disappointed perhaps that the farmworkers weren’t bettering themselves with volumes of the sisters’ poetry and prose, Brierley decided to make his own colour.
“Here is an abode I thought, wherein to mould the genius of an Emily Brontë, and at the same time to destroy life if it should not be particularly robust,” he continued. “It is the highest house at the head of the South Dean valley. But here no flowers blow. The early spring time is not graced with golden crocuses, silver snowdrops and embossed daisy-cups. No turnips are grown, no potatoes; there are no cows to milk, no wheat to beat with the flail. The livestock consists of a few black-nosed sheep and roupy fowls.”
It’s true. While Top Withens (or Withins) may have become a symbol for the most brooding of romantic passion, as a place of work it was pretty bleak. Today the thick stone walls of the farmhouse that Brierley visited at Top Withens have crumbled a little. However, while the last of the residents 
left almost 100 years ago, Steven Wood has 
pieced together the history of the area for a book which promises to uncover the true story of Wuthering Heights.
“Every year thousands of visitors to Haworth follow the three-mile moorland track to that ruined farmhouse. It’s become a rite of passage, but seeing nothing more than a few sheep most assume that this has always been an area of bleak, unproductive desolation.
“But nothing could be further from the truth. The entire area was a hugely important production centre for the international textile trade.” (Sarah Freeman) (Read more)
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Vesna Armstrong Photography and Pierogi Pruskie (in Polish) post about to Charlotte Brontë in her bicentenary;  The Dragon's Cache talks about Agnes Grey (the Shirley character) and Anne Brontë's novel; Vorrei Essere un Personaggio Austeniano (in Italian) reviews Shirley.

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