10 Fascinating Facts About Charlotte Brontë - On Wednesday 7th December, I’m very honoured to be returning to my old University, the University of Huddersfield, to give a public lecture on Charlotte Br...
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Haworth Parish Church’s connection with one of the village’s most famous literary personalities has been revived during roof repair and improvement works.The Guardian Books Podcast talks with Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk. She mentions how Jane Eyre's famous poor, obscure, plain little speech (particularly the word obscure) influenced her writing of the narrator Sofia Papastergiadis:
And the refurbishment has allowed the church's custodians to take possession of a rock-solid link between Charlotte Brontë and another notable British female writer and artist – Elizabeth Gaskell.
Stone from Elizabeth's old home in Manchester has been brought across to Haworth to comprise a section of new flooring for the church.
A spokesman for the parish church explained: "As part of our restoration plan an engraved glass door was installed at the north door leading into Church Street.
"It replaced an old wooden entrance and, as part of the work, it was necessary to lay new stone flooring.
"Stuart Burgess, the contracts manager for the project's contractors Oldham-based firm Maysand, has produced a durable piece of history to 'reunite' Charlotte with her close friend, the writer, painter and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.
"Maysand had previously carried out a project on a house on Plymouth Grove, Manchester where Elizabeth had once lived."
Mr Burgess said: “When we worked on the Gaskell House in Manchester we lifted some stone flags from just inside the front door.
"We were asked to dispose of them and they were still in my van destined for the skip when I came to work Haworth’s parish church roof.
“At the same time my mother-in-law and I were discussing the history of the Brontës and, after I did some research on the family, I made the connection between Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Brontë.
“Given where the stones were laid at the front door of the house in Manchester, Charlotte Brontë must have stood on them so I approached the church to see if they might be interested in using some of the stone at the north door.”
Charlotte Brontë is said to have visited the house in Manchester on at least three occasions, and now visitors to Haworth will have an opportunity to "walk in the footsteps" of not one but two classic British authoresses.
Maysand’s managing director Bryn Lisle said: “It was really pleasing to see the stone being used again in a historic building, and we were delighted that we could help make such a historic literary connection.”
The rector of Haworth, Reverend Peter Mayo-Smith, who is also the honourable treasurer of the Brontë Society, said: “It’s amazing that in the 200th year of Charlotte’s birth that the two friends should be re-united in this way.
“We’d like to thank Stuart and Maysand for enabling us to make this very special connection between two famous authors again.” (Miran Rahman)
Deborah Levy joins us in the studio to talk about sun, sea and Charlotte Brontë in her novel Hot Milk - and whether it feels any different to receive the Booker nomination second time around.The Bookseller announces a new 2018 release. A new YA novel based on the Brontës juvenilia:
Sarah Odedina has acquired her first three titles for Pushkin Children’s Books, buying titles by Celia Rees, Marcella Pixley and Emily Murphy.The monthly account of the Brontë Parsonage Museum events is published in Keighley News:
Celia Rees’ YA novel Glass Town Wars involves the Brontë sisters, a teenage boy and epic battles. Odedina bought world rights from Rachel Calder at the Tessa Sayle Agency and publication is set for 2018. (Charlotte Eyre)
The school holidays have finally drawn to a close, so our wonderful front-of-house team are recovering after one of our busiest Augusts in recent years.The Yorkshire Post on the West Yorkshire Playhouse's Brontë Season in Leeds:
The new children’s trail, written by our Museum Assistant Victoria, was really popular, as were the Wednesday workshops; we’re now planning for October half-term!
I mentioned our collaboration with West Yorkshire Playhouse in my last piece – whereby visitors to the museum can enjoy listening to a short contemporary drama written by Emma Adams, entitled Tiny Shoes. (...)
On the final day of the month, September 30, we have our special Parsonage Unwrapped evening.
This month’s theme is Charlotte and her Travels, and our brilliant young curatorial assistant Amy – who spends all her days ensconced in the museum library – will be talking about Charlotte Brontë’s visits to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Belgium, not to mention her five trips to the Great Exhibition in London in 1851!
The talk will take place in the intimacy of the library, and will feature precious objects from the museum’s collection.
As usual, guests are greeted with a glass of something bubbly when they arrive (or non-bubbly if you prefer!), and there’s an opportunity afterwards to have a look around the museum, which you practically have to yourselves!
On October 4 we have another of our very popular free Tuesday talks; this one is entitled Persons of Significance and focuses on Charlotte’s father Patrick Brontë.
His rags-to-riches story is a fascinating one, and visitors are always keen to learn more about the father of three literary geniuses, so do come along if you fancy learning more.
The talk is free with admission to the museum, but make sure you arrive in plenty of time, as they have become increasingly popular and it can be a squeeze in the cellar!
And speaking of talks, when next I write, I will have delivered my first-ever talk outside of the museum. If people can’t get to the Brontës, we do our best to take the Brontës out to the world – well, West Yorkshire in this case…
And finally, I must say I enjoyed seeing the Parsonage on TV last week – the very lovely Timothy West and Prunella Scales called in during filming of Great Canal Journeys. I hadn’t realised until I watched the programme that the pair are Yorkshire born – and very proud of it too! (David Knights)
“The Brontës, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, it’s a no-brainer,” says Mark Rosenblatt, associate director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. “It’s also possibly a bit of a dangerous thing to tackle.”
He’s right. With 2016 marking the bicentenary of Charlotte’s birth, there are plenty already on the Brontë bandwagon. However, cows don’t come much more sacred than the Brontës in West Yorkshire.
On balance though it would probably be more dangerous not to tackle. So it is that a whole season of work based around the Brontës is heading to the stages of the Playhouse over the next month. However, be warned there won’t be a bonnet in sight.
“We had a moment where we could have done something quite traditional, but we chose not to follow that path,” says Rosenblatt. I think it’s really exciting we chose not to do that.”
What the Playhouse has chosen to do is present an embryonic musical called Wasted, which reimagines the literary sibling powerhouse of the Brontes as a nascent rock band, hold a series of related discussions, stage work that takes the Playhouse literally into the landscape of the Brontës and raise the curtain on a new version of Villette.
Charlotte Brontë’s third novel, it has been not merely adapted, but re-imagined for the stage by Linda Marshall-Griffiths. Rosenblatt is the director of this brand new take on the story of Lucy Snowe who arrives in Villette, a fictionalised version of Brussels, destitute and alone. The narrative is famously internal and as the book charts her various relationships, there is only one voice which is heard. It is not the most obvious story to turn into a stage play.
Rosenblatt says: “Linda has stuck faithfully to the story that Charlotte Brontë told, but has found a really daring way to stage it. The novel is about a shy girl who has been afflicted by a family tragedy which means she’s alone in the world.
“It’s a hard story to stage because it’s about the girl in the corner watching what is going on around her and is alone in the world. The job of putting a shy, private girl on stage isn’t easy.”
The action, such as it is, has been transposed 120 years hence and in the stage version the heroine, Lucy, is looking for a cure to the pandemic which has wiped out much of the human race.
“It’s not Villette with zombies, there are no zombies. But it is quite a sci-fi telling of the story,” says Rosenblatt.
The actor charged with bringing this shy girl to life is Laura Elsworthy.
“It’s so exciting that this is coming to the Playhouse,” says the Hull native. “I’m a Yorkshire lass, but I wouldn’t really think of reading a Brontë novel because their writing feels almost sort of above me. Like it’s not for people like me. “
But the play has made me realise that it really is, it helped me to really enjoy the novel. When I got the audition I read the play and that made me really want to read the book. It also made me really want to get the role.
“If this production gets people reading the Brontës, especially people who think it’s not for them, that it’s all about the bonnets, then that’s great.”
It’s a big responsibility for the actor, but Elsworthy clearly feels she is taking on the role not just of Snowe, but of an advocate of the Brontës. (...)
For those concerned that the Brontë season is chok-full of the purely avant-garde - and there will be many - rest assured there will be pieces to please everyone.
“We do have Wuthering Heights by Northern Ballet for people who might consider themselves purists,” says Rosenblatt. “Jane Eyre had just been done really successfully by the National Theatre, not that that would necessarily stop us doing a production.
“However, our thinking was to do something that other people aren’t expecting and wouldn’t necessarily do. It might be something that people will be surprised at, but that’s the spirit of the Brontës.” (Nick Ahad)
Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights are the heavyweights of depicting rural life and in no way would your reviewer wish to burden Charley Miles with comparisons, but so many plays write of the urban experience instead, when rural existence demands more than the soap double act of Emmerdale and The Archers. (Charles Hutchinson)Bustle lists 12 Classics To Read If You're Obsessed With Fall:
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Guardian celebrates the republishing of The Wind Off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart:
Gothic literature is a must-read in autumn, and Brontë's Wuthering Heights is a staple of the genre. The dark tale of Heathcliff and Catherine will transport you to a world of creaking windows, old diaries, and wild moors. (Julia Seales)
Though her obituary in the Guardian suggested that “in subject matter and treatment she was a natural successor to Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë”, Stewart herself was more reticent about categorising her work. (Alison Flood)Publishers Weekly picks, among others, Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle
Contemplating her subjects’ crimes (having sex, having needs, having opinions) and her subjects’ options (self-destruct, disappear, or risk the continual public fury to which a woman who refuses to be shamed, silenced, or stopped is exposed), Doyle compiles portraits including those of historical figures such as Charlotte Brontë and midcentury icons such as Billie Holiday and Sylvia Plath to such contemporary subjects of spectacle as Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and Britney Spears.Ellen Vanstone describes in The Globe and Mail a script of a TV episode that never came to be:
On the show about cops and the mentally ill, my loss of innocence began when I pitched an episode about an old lady who dies alone in a rundown mansion. In the opening scene or “teaser,” her corpse is carted off in an ambulance while neighbourhood kids dare each other to go into the “haunted” house. Two of them sneak in. Suddenly, the ghost of the old lady appears at the top of the stairs! She descends toward them, uttering gibberish. The children scream and run. One falls. She’s still coming! … Cut to title card and theme song. At the top of Act 1, our cops reveal it’s not a ghost, it’s another old lady who’s insane and secretly living in the attic. Like Rochester’s mad wife in Jane Eyre, the second old lady was stuffed up there years earlier owing to the stigma of mental illness. Our hero cops and mental-health workers must now solve the mystery of who she is and how she ended up there.The Telegraph & Argus informs of a local initiative to restore the Raikes Burial Ground in Skipton:
Raikes burial ground in Raikes Road, Skipton, a time capsule to town's Victorian and literary heritage, is the last resting place of a bunch of characters who have made their mark not just locally but world wide.Le Figaro's Madame (France) talks about the wedding dresses seen at the New York Fashion Week:
The history of these men and women has lain dormant for about 140 years, but over the last couple of years their stories have been brought back to life by a group of enthusiasts who call themselves the Friends of Raikes Burial Ground. (...)
Other literary connections include a family named in one of Robert Burns’ poems, members of the Heelis family, one of whom married Beatrix Potter and Rev. John Cartman, whose uncle presided over the funerals of both Charlotte and Patrick Brontë. (Clive White)
Les mariées Rodarte se prennent pour des héroïnes des sœurs Brontë dans des créations d’inspiration victorienne aux broderies anglaises. (Anthony Vincent) (Translation)Will you enjoy Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights.. ? This Ginger Generation (Italy) tests your inner teen:
Cime tempestosePer te l’amore è tutto. Una passione travolgente, che non si ferma davanti a nulla e a nessuno. Sei disposta per il tuo amore a compiere delle pazzie e sai essere fedele fino alla fine e oltre.Tempi (Italy) captions with irony some of the pictures of the recent trip of Mark Zuckerberg through Africa. For instance, this one, is described like this:
Nonostante il tuo amore assoluto sai anche essere una donna dalla vendetta spietata. Chiunque ti avrà contro dovrà tremare.
Amerai Heathcliff e Catherine. Li shipperai più di qualsiasi altra coppia tu abbia mai shippato. Sono la coppia più tenera e avvincente dei libri inglesi.
Sei una ragazza timida e riservata. Anche se il tuo aspetto e i tuoi modi possono far credere agli altri che sei un topino indifeso, quando invece sei una donna forte e sai batterti per i tuoi ideali.
Soffri in silenzio se il tuo lui non ti guarda. Sei fedele e leale. Sei tanto silenziosa quanto tenace.
Seguirai con passione l’amore tormentato di Jane Eyre e il mistero che circonda il suo padrone. (Claudia Lisa Moeller) (Translation)
Il Manifesto (Italy) interviews the author Edna O'Brien:
Si direbbe che il suo rapporto con la letteratura sia quello di una scrittrice al tempo stesso romantica e pragmatica: per un verso – ha detto in più occasioni – lei sente che le sue storie le arrivano alla mente con una tale forza che si sente obbligata a scriverle; ma allo stesso tempo il suo rapporto con il lavoro implica, giorno per giorno, l’allenamento di un atleta. (Francesca Borrelli)College Fashion now devotes a post to Emily Brontë-inspired fashion; Bookriot renames some novels with titles à la Friends. For instance, Jane Eyre is The one with the secret closet; Books from Basford shares her experience at the Brontë Festival of Women's Writing. Colouring in the Midsts of Madness reviews Wuthering Heights: A Colouring Classic. The Canberra Critics Circle reviews Mel Dodge's Miss Brontë play. Marina Saegerman posts on the Brussels Brontë Blog the first half of a chronicle of her visit to Norton Conyers.
Certamente, la mia è una disposizione romantica, che mi deriva forse dal primo romanzo che ho letto, Cime tempestose, una grandissima storia d’amore al cui interno c’è, tuttavia, anche molta consapevolezza. (Translation)