Thursday, September 01, 2016

Last night we watched as Great Canal Journeys' Tim and Pru visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, with particular attention to Shirley. Today we wake up to bad news from Haworth, as reported by Keighley News.
Furious councillors have hit out at "selfish" thieves who destroyed part of Haworth's heritage by stealing dozens of Yorkshire stone flagstones.
The thick, heavy slabs had formed the surface of a well-used footpath between Weaver's Hill Car Park and the Haworth Parish Church graveyard.
Their removal has left behind many exposed patches of earth for walkers to negotiate.
Visitors and locals regularly use this path to access the main route up to Penistone Hill, the Bronte waterfalls and Top Withens.
Councillor Alan Watts, of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, said about 30 flagstones had been stolen, with those responsible leaving behind other dislodged stones which they were presumably unable to carry away.
He said he was first informed of the damage by a fellow parish councillor last Thursday and assumed the theft must have taken place no more than one or two nights previously.
"It's looks [sic] a right mess," he added. "When we had flagstones stolen from the other end of the path some time back the council had to replace them with concrete ones. So I assume they'll have to do that here as well.
"The thieves left behind some flagstones which must have been too heavy for their van. The police need to get up there, because they'll come back again and take those stones too." [...]
Worth Valley Ward councillor Rebecca Poulsen said the crime was particularly disheartening, as she previously understood that stone theft had reached a peak and was being brought under control.
"It's worrying to see the whole of the path being targeted in this way," she said.
"The gaps between the flagstones will very soon become muddy, which won't leave a good impression for anyone arriving in Bronte Country.
"These criminals might think it is a victimless crime, but it isn't. It affects the whole community and it damages Haworth's historic heritage."
A spokesman for Bradford Council responded: “We are aware of the missing flagstones and are looking into it.”
The theft has been reported to police and a West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed it is currently being investigated. (Miran Rahman)
Laura June has written an interesting article on Emily Brontë in general and her coffin in particular for The Hairpin.
I was reminded of Emily’s coffin again this past spring, while reading a new bio, not of Em but of Char. Claire Harman writes, in Charlotte Brontë: A Life, “The coffin was the narrowest that William Wood ever recalled making for a grown person. It measured five foot seven by only sixteen inches wide.” My eyes sort of glossed over this at first. “Yes, yes,” I nodded, “this fact is known to me.” But something drew me back this time.
What does it signify — what does it mean to us — to read this over and over? Simply that she was emaciated because she was so very ill? Was she deprived of even taking up the normal amount of space for a woman? Did her lack of width speak to her ethereality? It is, at the very least, depressing, right? How wide is an average coffin? Would it be a lot less wide in 1848, owing to like, smaller people and bad nutrition? Is sixteen inches really very narrow? She did have tuberculosis after all, and five-foot-seven, that’s taller than average, right?
On the surface, this coffin “fact” is really well documented. Sixteen inches. William Wood. The coffin maker. (No, actually, the town carpenter — he also made cradles, tables, and chairs, in addition to custom coffins). I became so interested in him I spent half a day constructing his family tree. His surviving family later collected Brontëana and passed down some valuable drawings to various sources. I measured my own shoulders: nineteen inches. So, not that far off, really, but then again, also, way far off. My coffin would have to be at least twenty, twenty-five inches to accommodate me at my widest point. My shoulders. Right?
I emailed the Brontë Society (founded in 1893), which operates in Emily’s old home, the parsonage where she lived and died. “I’m trying to track down the source of the story that the Haworth carpenter William Wood said E’s coffin was just 16 inches wide. As far as I can tell Winifred’s biography might be the first published source of that bit but I am not positive. Any thoughts?”
The current librarian’s [sic] name is Ann, and she was quite helpful. She thinks too, that Gérin is the first published source of the coffin story. The information, she said, was taken from Wood’s account books, which are not in their possession. “I have heard,” she wrote, “that the originals were still in Haworth, possibly at the time Gerin lived in the village. At the Parsonage we have what appear to be copies of some of the Brontë-related entries from the accounts, which I think were produced by Mabel Edgerley, a member of the Brontë Society council. I don’t know if Gérin saw these or the originals.” Gérin was a local; she lived in Haworth for most of her life [sic]. (Read more)
The Canberra Times (Australia) features the play Miss Brontë, written and performed by Mel Dodge, which will be at Bravo Theatre. The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre on September 9 at 8pm and September 10 at 2pm.
"Charlotte Bronte wrote love letters to her married French professor, Monsieur Heger," Dodge says.
Brontë had gone to Brussels for a year when she was 26 to study and teach. Heger worked a lot with her on her writing and she developed strong feelings for him that didn't evaporate when she returned home. She put a lot of him into Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre.
"A lot of the hero in her book is quite similar to him – he was surly and dark and brooding but quite generous." (Ron Cerabona)
The Standard recommends it too.

Still down under, St George and Sutherland Shire Leader features author Jennifer Livett whose novel
Wild Island follows the story of former Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land Sir John Franklin’s exploration and empire and links it with Jane Eyre’s iconic love story.
Ms Livett said the seed for the book was planted when she read that Captain Booth had been stationed in the West Indies when Jane Eyre’s Edward Rochester and Bertha Mason would have been married.
“I began to think about how secrets might travel across the world from colony to colony as the regiments were posted,’’ she said. (Kahlia Beichert)
The Saint Anselm Crier thinks that, 'When students don’t read, we all suffer'.
Secondly, reading helps us define our morals and values. A massive part of college is becoming independent – weaning ourselves off of our parents, finding friends with whom we are alike, and discovering the covert parts of ourselves that generate an identity. We are expected to take stances on religion, politics, war, and determine the morality within each. Whether it’s righteous books such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Jane Eyre, or simply current events from The Boston Globe, reading enables us to decipher our personal viewpoints. By offering such a wide variety of thoughts, ideas, and opinions, reading is a simple step we can take towards defining ourselves. (Madeline Hunt)
And yet Jane Eyre has made it onto the list of '10 Books Every College Student Reads or Uses SparkNotes Trying' compiled by College Magazine.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Everyone loves making a big deal out of Charlotte’s sister, Emily Brontë, and her masterpiece Wuthering Heights. *In Gretchen Wieners’ voice: But Charlotte is just as smart as Emily! People totally like Charlotte as much as Emily. With that said, let’s not ignore the inspiring and optimistic, yet sometimes creepy, novel, Jane Eyre. You know why this book is awesome? Because its protagonist, Jane Eyre, is a determined, intelligent woman—a sort of O.G. version of “Unbreakable” Kimmy Schmidt, minus the kidnapping thing. Still, Charlotte Brontë had to use the gender-neutral pen name “Currer Bell” because the book was published in 1847. Back then, nobody would’ve bothered to read something written by a woman. Or so they thought. They really would’ve crapped their pants to see J.K. Rowling’s rise to success. (Sara Isenberg)
Much as we admire J.K. Rowling, we would like to bring attention to the fact that her publishers made her hide behind her initials so that she had a 'gender-neutral' name, just like Charlotte Brontë.

Michael Fassbender recommends the book. Bookhub quotes his words on it:
Fassbender says: “Jane’s so sure of herself, and her morals are very strong, while Rochester’s all over the place. He appears to have all the answers, but she actually has a better grasp on things than she does. That’s what’s really cool about it.” (Shayna Murphy)
Town Topics discusses the character Eleven from the TV series Stranger Things.
El could be Alice in Wonderland, or Snow White on her way to becoming the Dragon Queen in Game of Thrones, or Jane Eyre or Prospero’s Miranda or Ariel or Puck in the enchanted realm of Midsummer Night’s Dream, or one of the Shakespeare’s mercurial Imogens or Olivias. (Stuart Mitchner)
Seattle Weekly didn't enjoy the film The Light Between Oceans.
If the rest of the film had been as ambiguously staged as an afternoon picnic between Tom and Isabel (here still in the courtship phase), the two surrounded by end-of-the-world ruggedness, the skies slate-gray—a picnic fit for the gloom of Wuthering Heights—it might have found a way to connect these people more voluptuously to the world around them. (Robert Horton)
Furrowed Middlebrow reviews the Rachel Ferguson 1933 play Charlotte Brontë;


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