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Brontë Bicentenary Conference 2016
19 - 21 August 2016 in Manchester
“…the business of a woman’s life…”
Charlotte Brontë and the Woman Question
The Brontë Society is pleased to announce that the conference will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 19 – 21 August 2016 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester
In 1837 Charlotte Brontë wrote to the Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, for advice on a literary career. He replied that ‘literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life: & it ought not to be’.
Our conference in 2016, the first of the three Brontë bicentenaries, takes up the challenge of what might be the ‘proper business of a woman’s life’. The many facets of this subject present a wide range of possible papers both academic and literary, including:
Women’s position in English culture and society in the nineteenth century
Contemporary writing on ‘The Woman Question’
Charlotte Brontë’s own writings on the matter
Her relationship with other women writers
Her literary reputation
Her influence on later feminist movements.
Our keynote speaker is Germaine Greer late of Warwick University, for whom this topic is famously of particular interest. Among the other guest speakers are Professor Sally Shuttleworth of Oxford University, a formidable expert on the medical and mental problems of women in the early Victorian era; Ms Claire Harman, noted author of the new biography, Charlotte Brontë, a Life; and last, but by no means least, Professor Christine Alexander, who is currently working on the first new scholarly edition of Jane Eyre in over 40 years.
We have chosen Manchester for this conference as this city holds a significant place in Charlotte’s life and work. It was here, while nursing her father after his cataract operation, that she began to write Jane Eyre – completing ‘in a fever’ the entire Lowood School section in a matter of weeks. And it was also here that she visited her great friend, Elizabeth Gaskell, at her house in Plymouth Grove. That house is now open to the public.