The genesis of genius. The tiny books. - The tiny, hand-lettered, hand-bound books Charlotte and Branwell Brontë made as children surely qualify. Measuring about 2.5 by 5 centimeters, page after...
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The Brontës are also of great significance to us in the county of Yorkshire. The landscape features heavily in all of the sisters’ novels and is famous the world over as a result. ‘Brontë Country’ is used to describe the area in which they lived, in the West Yorkshire Pennines.Diane Fare from the Brontë Parsonage Museum writes in The Telegraph and Argus about the celebrations to come.
Famous for its rolling hills through to the dark moors, the Yorkshire landscape is immortalised in the work of the Brontë sisters. The University of York has a Literary Yorkshires project, which largely features the Brontë sisters, and Dr. Trev Broughton of the University’s department of English and Related Literature explains that the department is “very conscious of Charlotte, Emily and Anne as part of our local heritage”.
In celebrating the bicentenaries of the Brontës, tourists are flocking to the places which inspired these literary women. A visit to Haworth is a must, to visit both their home town and the world-renowned Parsonage museum. Top Withens is often thought to be Emily’s inspiration for the landscape of Wuthering Heights, while the ruins of Wycoller Hall are said to have inspired Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.
Cowan Bridge is said to be the inspiration for Lowood School which Jane attends in her youth, and Roe Head is the school in which Charlotte Brontë took up her first teaching post. Norton Conyers in Wensleydale fits the description of Mr Rochester’s Thornfield Hall, particularly after the discovery in 2004 of a blocked staircase from the ground floor to the attic, similar to that which is described in the novel. Charlotte visited the house herself and it is said she was given the idea for the mad Mrs Rochester from a story by the owner of another ‘mad woman in the attic’. Finally, ‘Brontë Walk’ is a two-and-a-half mile walk from Haworth to Brontë Falls, a waterfall mentioned in Charlotte’s letters. This walk was frequented by the Brontës and there can be no better way to commemorate them and their legacy – apart from curling up with a copy of Jane Eyre. (Becca Challis)
All the preparations and efforts of the museum staff culminated in a wonderful day of celebration that brought visitors from as far afield as South Korea.The Washington Times reviews Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë and based on it concludes that,
Visitors were queuing to get in the museum at 10am in order to take a close look at some of Charlotte’s possessions in the sanctuary of the library, whilst dozens of others queued for tea and cake in the Old School Room.
The wait was worth it, as visitors were treated to a dramatic interpretation of scenes from Jane Eyre by Haworth Primary School children, and performances from our resident opera singer/museum assistant Charissa and the Bard of Saltaire, who performed a unique Brontë rap!
Incredible floral displays were dotted around the museum, and graced every table in the Old School Room, which looked like it was hosting a gorgeous vintage wedding thanks to the very creative Lynne, our group bookings officer.
The Old School Room proved to be the perfect meeting place for visitors and locals alike – stories were shared and new friends made over a cup of tea and cake – all of which were donated by local residents, businesses and museum staff.
As day turned to evening, and many visitors made their journeys home, we were joined in the museum by a number of local businesses, who helped us toast Charlotte with a glass of prosecco.
We finally got to sample the impressive-looking birthday cake baked by 2015 British Bake Off contestant Sandy Docherty - it was definitely worth the wait!
I’m now looking forward to my first experience of the Museums at Night events that we host every year.
The event on Thursday May 12 with Serena Partridge – a textile artist whose beautiful work is part of our Charlotte Great and Small exhibition – has already sold out, but the following night, Friday May 13 (the eve of Haworth’s spectacular 1940s weekend), we are hosting another Museums at Night event, entitled Sharing Stories From Wartime.
If you fancy coming along and hearing tales of childhood courage and wartime adventure, then do join us. And the good news is that this event is free to all visitors providing evidence of living in the BD22, BD21 or BD20 postcode areas.
There’ll be a chance to meet author Nick Holland at our late night Thursday on May 19 and we’ve also managed to programme one more special event before the month is out, on May 27.
Many visitors ask questions about the architecture of the parsonage, and would like to know more, so if that’s you, then come along to our Parsonage Unwrapped event, intriguingly called ‘Playing house detectives’!
Visit the website or call 01535 640188 for more information.
When next I write, hopefully the April snow showers will have ceased, and the weather will have warmed in time for Haworth’s 1940s weekend.
The museum will be exhibiting memorabilia from 1940s Hollywood Brontë adaptations, so do pop in if you’re planning a visit to Haworth that weekend.
It remains to say, on behalf of the museum, a great big thank you to all the people of Haworth who helped make Charlotte’s birthday such a special day. I think we all did Haworth’s most famous resident proud!
There surely was no question that Charlotte had a “fiery heart” as her biographer asserts. Yet the questions raised by the book relate to her humanity. Like her creation, Jane Eyre, Charlotte was angry much of her life. She deeply loved her sisters, but they all existed in their own world of wild winds and storms and Emily especially was unreachable. Which is what makes her characterizations in “Wuthering Heights” so poignant. As her sisters realized, in the ruined romance of Heathcliff and Cathy, Emily was writing about herself. (Muriel Dobbin)Perhaps it will never make it into any biography of Charlotte Brontë, but Halifax Courier features a local historian who thinks he has found a couple of Halifax connections to the Brontë story.
A Halifax historian has unearthed intriguing evidence of author Charlotte Brontë’s links to Calderdale.Nouse also has an article on Jane Eyre.
David Glover has researched the Jane Eyre writer’s connections to the area ahead of a planned talk on the subject at the Square Chapel, and believes Charlotte bought her wedding dress in the town and may even have written her most famous novel on Halifax-bought paper.
Charlotte apparently visited Halifax in June 1854 to purchase fabric for her bridal gown from a local draper. The author had been determined not to wear white to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls, but when shop staff told her that white muslin would suit her, she changed her mind.
“It is recorded that a young Halifax man was involved in the transaction over the wedding dress, for afterwards he was fond of relating to local residents how he had served the author of Jane Eyre. It would be fascinating to know for which local establishment he worked, but even the Brontë Society has no idea,” said Mr Glover.
A letter to Charlotte’s schoolfriend Ellen Nussey revealed that the soon-to-be bride was ‘too busy’ to unpack the dress for several days after it was delivered from Halifax to Haworth.
Another link to Calderdale was established at the wedding when the ceremony was conducted by the vicar of St James’s Church in Hebden Bridge, the Rev Sutcliffe Sowden, a close friend of the groom who was originally from Hipperholme. [...]
When Charlotte tragically died during pregnancy just ten months after her wedding, it was Sowden who was called upon to deliver her funeral, and he also conducted the burial of the sisters’ father Patrick in Haworth five years later, travelling from Hebden Bridge.
Mr Glover even believes that Charlotte’s original drafts and manuscript copy of Jane Eyre, her most famous work, could have been written on Halifax paper. She used supplies from the Haworth village stationer, John Greenwood, who would walk the ten miles to Halifax to purchase extra writing paper to satisfy Charlotte and her sisters’ insatiable demands.
“They used to buy a great deal of writing paper, and I used to wonder whatever they did with so much. When I was out of stock I was always afraid of their coming; they seemed so distressed about it if I had none. I have walked to Halifax many a time for half a ream of paper, for fear of being without it when they came,” he wrote.
An old newspaper which once served the area, the Halifax Guardian, was also dragged into a controversy involving the Brontë sisters when they published a series of letters between Charlotte’s widower and a woman named Sarah Baldwin, a vicar’s wife from Mytholmroyd. [...]
“There are plenty of Brontë connections with Calderdale which should be far better known as the borough could capitalise on them much more,” added Mr Glover, of Baker Fold.
The historian’s presentation about Charlotte Brontë will take place in the autumn and further details will be confirmed by the venue.
Like many book-lovers I am sure, I find that I can look back on my life and recognise certain books which helped to shape the person I am now, and certain characters who remained with me long after reading the final page. Among these, it would be impossible not to include Jane Eyre. What stood out to me at 12 years old, when I first encountered the character Jane, was a certain quality which I shared, but which I had never seen in any great literary figure before.Financial Times also mentions the novel in an article about literary gardens.
She was strong, good, witty, intelligent and brave, and yet she was repeatedly overlooked by the majority of the other characters in Charlotte Brontë’s novel. Why? She was an introvert.
From the reader’s perspective, we bear witness to Jane’s innermost thoughts and are carried by the depth of her passions. But these are emotions which she rarely shows to those around her and as a result, she is a constant victim of prejudice and is brushed aside by all but a select few.
I loved, and still love, that Brontë chose to put a character like Jane at the centre of her novel. All of our emotions, as readers, are pinned onto her – an introvert whose personality we love and get to know so closely. When I first read Jane Eyre, I was not only introverted, but painfully shy in addition, and very much accustomed to the general presumption made by those who didn’t know me well, that I simply lacked personality. (Liz Foster) (Read more)
Katrina Dodson, a literary translator, suggests that: “Characters often seem to get a bit restless in gardens, despite the peace they are supposed to inspire”.Keighley News has an update on the new Wuthering Heights film.
This is certainly true of Mr Rochester’s orchard garden in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Though Jane turns to the garden for respite, it is never fully obtained. During the “sweetest hour” of an “Eden-like” midsummer’s eve, she cannot prevent the scent of Rochester’s cigar smoke polluting the “sweet-briar and southern-wood, jasmine, pink and rose” perfuming the air.
Brontë also uses the orchard to develop her characters. It is “sweet and pure”; a reflection of Jane’s character in the eyes of Rochester and the reader. Rochester’s tainted character is shown when he describes his grand home, in which his maddened wife is imprisoned, as an artifice “where the gilding is slime and the silk draperies cobwebs”.
When romance threatens as the pair converse in an arbour, it is a “half-blown” rose Jane is presented with; ivy “whispers” against her hair — a symbol of her fidelity. Like the ivy, gardens in literature are bound to endure; excellent news for those who prefer to admire horticulture from their armchair. (Caroline Thorpe)
Production company Three Hedgehogs Films has begun filming for this latest adaptation of the renowned tale of wild, passionate and demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, set in sweeping and desolate countryside.Recently, Bocas Festival at Trinidad and Tobago included a Jean Rhys-related event as The Guardian reports.
Director Elisaveta Abrahall said further filming is due to take place on the moors outside Haworth later this year, though scenes have already been shot in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Powys.
Wuthering Heights the film has a £100,000 budget and stars Sha'ori Morris as Catherine Earnshaw and Paul Eryk Atlas as Heathcliff.
The production is expected to hit the film festival circuit in spring next year, ready for a wider release in late 2017 or early 2018, in time for the bi-centenary of Emily Brontë's birth.
Miss Abrahall, who is based in Hereford, said: "I'm a Brontë fan myself and I've longed for a definitive version of Wuthering Heights. I've been a fan of the novel since I was a small child.
"Although a lot of the [previous Wuthering Heights] films are extremely good none of them stick closely to Emily's story, and also none of them really investigate the deeper subtext of the novel, so that's what we really hope to do.
"I first read Wuthering Heights when I was about six-years-old and I've read it probably upwards of 20 or 30 times since.
"But even when I was very young I could sense that there was a dramatic subtext going on that wasn't just the story between Cathy and Heathcliff.
"Wuthering Heights goes off on so many different levels and that's virtually never explored.
"When Emily wrote it this was such a socially shocking novel she was actually concerned it would lead to her social expulsion.
"I would like to re-introduce some of that shock factor which we've lost with our 21st century eyes.
"We simply don't understand how shocking the notion was that a lady of reasonably high social standing could fall in love with a gypsy – someone not from her own race, not from her own social class – and abandon all convention to be with him at least on a soul level.
"I want to explore all those things and I want to put the social pertinence back into the film that's never really been explored. I also want to stick very closely to what Emily intended."
Miss Abrahall added that the Brontë Society has been "tremendously" supportive of the project, but said a fundraising appeal was still ongoing to ensure the film can be completed.
People willing to contribute can visit the crowd funding site indiegogo.com/projects/wuthering-heights-feature-film# to support the film.
The ebullience of such diasporan writers masked a darker local undercurrent, which surfaced in a session celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Like Antoinette, her recreation of the first Mrs Rochester from Jane Eyre, Rhys was regarded with suspicion as a white Creole who had made a life outside her home island of Dominica. The hostility dramatised by Rhys in her portrayal of Antoinette’s childhood was still an issue, said Trinidadian writer Sharon Millar – a runner-up in the fiction section of the prize with her debut collection, The Whale House and Other Stories – “but it’s an issue we don’t talk about”. (Claire Armitstead)In the Yorkshire Evening Post a local mentions that his 'five times great uncle was the church warden to Patrick Brontë'. The Times looks at real estate in 'the land of Charlotte and Emily'. The Brontë Parsoange Facebook page features a generous lady who has donated her father's 1950 pictures of Haworth and the moors. And The Brontë Society Facebook page reminds us of the fact that Maria Brontë died on a day like today in 1825. ultra106five interviews Dave Wood, artistic director of the shake & stir theatre co which is touring Wuthering Heights in Australia.