Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Irish Times reviews Samantha Ellis's Take Courage:
 In Take Courage, Ellis turns her attentions to a real-life heroine, and the result is a perfectly pitched combination of biography, literary criticism and personal memoir. This is not just an enormously readable book about Anne Brontë, it’s a book about writing a book about Anne Brontë, and as Ellis heads off to Haworth to explore Anne’s world, she applies what she’s learned to her own life, which is taking some new and exciting turns.
This personal approach might feel self-indulgent if Ellis weren’t such an engaging, perceptive and sympathetic writer. Luckily she is, and her personal approach is the source of both the book’s immense charm and also its considerable power. All biographers are subjective, whether they admit it or not, and there’s something refreshing about one who freely admits that she’s enraged by Charlotte’s patronising attitude to her sister, finds it hard to forgive Elizabeth Gaskell for the effect she had on Anne’s reputation and feels immense sympathy for the Brontës’ father Patrick, an Irish immigrant who supported his brilliant children’s creativity and, after all six had died, continued to campaign for social justice. (Anna Carey)
On BBC4's Woman's Hour, Samantha Ellis discussed her book too:
 Plus playwright and journalist Samantha Ellison on why she wants to change people's perception of Anne the "forgotten" Brontë sister, with her new biography, Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life.
Palatinate discusses this Anne Brontë revival thanks to the success of To Walk Invisible and Samantha Ellis's book:
There is a statue of the Brontë sisters at the Brontë Family Parsonage Museum, in which Anne is depicted with her head down in a marked contrast to her fellow sisters, who are gazing both outwards and above; up until now the youngest Bronte has, literally, seemed ‘to walk invisible’ alongside the rest of her family. Alongside a growing minority, I hope that Anne will continue to receive the attention that her remarkable writing truly deserves. If Google is anything to go by (a quick search reveals a multitude of articles with titles such as ‘Anne Brontë is seen as piteous and boring – but I’ve discovered she was the most radical sister’), Anne Brontë is set for quite the literary stardom this year – the tragedy is that it has taken nearly two centuries after her birth for popular culture to recognise her genius. (Orlagh Davies)
Keighley News reports some of the highlights of the upcoming new Branwell Brontë exhibition at the Parsonage:
Mansions In The Sky will be unveiled on Wednesday, February 1 as the museum opens its doors to the public again, ready to celebrate the 200th anniversary year of Branwell Brontë’s birth.
Armitage, accompanied by Grant Montgomery, production designer for the recent BBC Brontë biopic To Walk Invisible, checked progress on building the exhibition’s centrepiece.
Branwell’s studio is being recreated at the museum, following its construction by Montgomery for the BBC film, itself in collaboration with the parsonage’s Brontë experts.
Armitage’s exhibition invites visitors into the mind and world of the Brontë brother to discover who he really was.
Mansions in the Sky aims to provoke new insights into the brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, who went on to surpass him with their novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Armitage explores Branwell’s colourful personal history through his writings, drawings and possessions.
Highlights include a series of new poems by Armitage in response to Branwell’s belongings in the museum collection, and a letter and poem he posted to Wordsworth.
Armitage said that amongst the Brontë Society’s planned five years of Brontë anniversaries, 2017 belonged to the “charismatic and complicated” Branwell.
He said the recreated studio, a “chaotic and frenzied” space, would give an insight into Branwell’s own mind.
He said: “We dare you to discover more about the notorious Branwell whose personality and imagination were so integral to the Brontë story as a whole.
“As a poet of this landscape and region I recognise Branwell’s creative impulses and inspirations.
“I also sympathise with his desire to have his voice heard by the wider world, a desire encapsulated in a letter sent to William Wordsworth in 1837, when Branwell was a precocious and determined 19-year-old, seeking the great man’s approval.
“The poem he enclosed describes the dreams and ambitions of a young and hopeful romantic, star-struck by the universe and building ‘mansions in the sky’.
“But those mansions were only ever hopeful fantasies, and Branwell was to die unrecognised and unfulfilled, forever assigned the role of the dark and self-destructive brother, doomed to be eclipsed by the stellar achievements of his sisters.” (David Knights
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research interviews Professor Rebecca Ariel Porte about Jane Eyre:
First published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre immediately drew controversy and debate for its portrayal of passion and sentiment in the rapidly changing world of Victorian England. As we celebrate the 200th year of Brontë’s birth, BISR Associate Director Abby Kluchin and Core Faculty Rebecca Ariel Porte sat down to chat about Jane Eyre, passion, Brontë’s relationship to Jane Austen, the pleasure of reading, and the novel’s continued relevance in advance of Rebecca’s upcoming class Jane Eyre: Gender and Affect.
Abby Kluchin: Why should a person read Jane Eyre? What does Jane Eyre, and Charlotte Brontë more broadly speaking, have to say to us in 2017?
Rebecca Ariel Porte: Given that the number of Jane Eyres and Charlotte Bröntes in existence is equivalent to the accumulated, historical sum of their readers–as is true of any novel, any author–I can only speak in partialities. For me, the question of why one should read Jane Eyre is intimately connected to the question of why people have read Jane Eyre in the past. The novel’s critical endurance lies partly with its potential for symptomatic reading: as a proto-feminist document about the options open (and closed) to women in the early Victorian era, as Bildungsroman, as the Gothic image of the return of the repressed in the forms of both barely bridled feminine rage and the ravages of colonialism (which always threaten to crack the veneer of European civilities), and, too, as a significant text for theories about what novels are and what fiction does. The syllabus for this course explores these pressing questions in some detail (we’ll read Foucault and Gilbert and Gubar and Jenny Sharpe and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Jean Rhys alongside Brontë herself). And, a hair past the bicentennial of Brontë’s birth, these inquires into gendered labor, the nature of personhood, and the myriad shapes of that old chimera power, have never been more pressing. (Read more)
Broadway World announces the March performances in Hillsboro of Polly Teale's Brontë:
Bag&Baggage Productions, Hillsboro's resident professional theatre, is proud to announce the Pacific Northwest premiere of Polly Teale's remarkable exploration of the lives and works of the Brontë sisters, called simply Brontë, at the Hillsboro Public Library Brookwood location over the course of four weekends in March, 2017.
Teale, who is Artistic Director of acclaimed UK-based Shared Experience Theatre Company, first wrote and directed Brontë as a way to both celebrate the work of the three iconic British writers, but also as a way to explore the influences of the lives and family members on that work.
"Not only is this a play that has a stellar reputation for creativity and expressiveness, it is also a play written by a woman about women writers," said Scott Palmer, B&B's Founding Artistic Director. "B&B is committed to making sure that women artists, writers, and literary figures have a central role in our all of our work, and Brontë is a great example of that commitment."
The Times reviews The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The Story of Britain Through Its Census, Since 1801 by Roger Hutchinson:
 The census was fallible about women too. In 1851 Charlotte Brontë, by then the author of Jane Eyre and Shirley, entered her occupation as “none”. (Melanie Reid)
Caitlin Moran's column in The Times mentions Jane Eyre:
What changes societies faster and cheaper than anything else, save wealth, is culture. As a girl who also failed to go on to secondary education, I can tell you that pretty much everything I learnt was through books, music, films, TV and radio. Culture is simply a network for spreading ideas. Give a girl a fish and she will eat for one day. But give her a heroine like Jane Eyre, Patti Smith, Alexis Colby, Madonna or Ripley in Alien and you’ll reboot her whole life. “I cannot be what I cannot see” is the truest thing ever said.
Financial Times reviews the ballet La Sonnambula as performed in New York:
The 30-minute work also foreshadows the decadence and danger of Balanchine’s own La Valse, ballet’s answer to film noir. And yet La Sonnambula is no mere mash-up — not, at least, once the Poet encounters the Sleepwalker, who is both madwoman in the attic à la Jane Eyre and a blind seer. The whole dance depends on this late-arriving, heart-wrenching rendezvous. (Apollinaire Scherr)
Best things come in threes, according to Cabinet Maker:
As Blind Melon once sang: “It takes three legs to make a tripod or to make a table stand, and it takes three wheels to make a vehicle called a tricycle. And every triangle has three corners. Every triangle has three sides.” Profound, I’m sure you’ll agree. But, as the title of the song suggests, three is indeed a magic number.
Think stooges, musketeers, or primary colours. For the literature fans amongst you, think Brontë sisters. Or perhaps remaining Spice Girls (ok, perhaps that’s a stretch too far), but history is peppered with examples of some of the best things coming in threes.
The Hindu talks about Enid Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl:
Since 1940, children across the world have been reading the four-book series and fantasising about going to school here. Not just girls, but boys too! The author had set up the standard for life at boarding school through this series. People who grew up reading Jane Eyre’s time at Lowood or Rebecca’s time at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies in Vanity Fair had a fresh and inspiring take on boarding schools through Enid Blyton’s novels. (Arathi M)
Los Angeles Times reviews History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund:
The author’s deft use of foreshadowing hints at some impending tragedy over the horizon as Linda becomes Paul’s babysitter, or as Patra declares one day, “governess.” The very term evokes repressed feelings and dark mysteries, associations with Gothic romances like Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” or Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” which Patra and many readers will know but Linda does not. (Paula Woods)
The New Zealand Herald on the writer Mindy Mejia:
Hattie's an outsider too; a dreamer in a place wary of them. After school she worked in a photo shop at the local pharmacy.
Conversation topics? The weather (frost advisories) and television. Hattie would smile and small-talk and dream of being an actress on Broadway. Her identity was a muddle of Sex and the City, Charlotte Brontë and whatever pop culture references her magpie eye landed on, however her chief ability was being all things to all people: the good girlfriend, perfect student, dutiful daughter, obliging shop assistant. (Greg Fleming)
A columnist in The Australian mentions Jane Eyre:
My long summer days of languishing luxuriously on sun lounges with Jane Eyre or Middlemarch became history, white walls a relic of the past and clean floors a yellowed, faded memory. Instead, our home bears the scars of every kind of sporting malfunction. (Karina Hepner)
Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish) reviews the TV series Skam:
Här finns den klassiska romantiska hjälten bekant från allt från Jane Eyre (Mr Rochester) till Buffy (Spike); den snygga, spännande bad boyen med sina fascinerande sidor och lager. (Yle Arenan) (Translation)
Story (Serbia) talks about Svetlana Slapšak's latest novel, Ravnoteža:
Ravnoteža“ govori o ženama u Beogradu za vreme rata u bivšoj Jugoslaviji. Ne prihvatajući da im u njihovo ime ubijaju sugrađane, rođake, prijatelje i sinove, one ih skrivaju od mobilizacije. Milica, jedna od njih, prinuđena je da prekucava rukopis velikog nacionalnog pisca kako bi preživela krizu devedesetih. Tražeći način da se mentalno udalji od posla na koji je prisiljena, ona istovremeno piše i roman-pastiš ugledajući se na pripovedni postupak i stvaralaštvo sestara Brontë. (Translation)
e-Cartelera (in Spanish) reviews the film The Light Between the Oceans:
Son sus actores quienes salvan la película, Michael Fassbender y Alicia Vikander desprenden química real, se convirtieron en pareja durante el rodaje, además de entregarse con pasión medida a unos protagonistas dignos de una novela de las Hermanas Brontë. (Miguel Ángel Pizarro) (Translation)
ActuaLitté (in French) talks about the embroidered book covers by Chloe Giordano, including Claire Harman's hardback edition of her Charlotte biography; SoloLibri (in Italian) reviews Sui Passi di Elizabeth Gaskell; Między Stronami (in Polish) reviews Wuthering HeightsPastopresentgenealogy invites you to find your very own Brontë link through searching in the parish registers.

Finally, an alert from Rome, Italy:
Un fratello "invisibile": Branwell Brontë
Saturday, January 21 at 5 PM - 7 PM
Libreria Tra le Righe
Viale Gorizia 29, 00198 Rome, Italy

Cari amici e lettori, nell'anno passato abbiamo ampiamente celebrato Charlotte Brontë, la più ambiziosa delle famose sorelle e scrittrici dello Yorkshire, per il bicentenario della sua nascita. Il 2017 vede come protagonista un membro della famiglia che a livello di fama letteraria è rimasto nell'ombra, ma che ha lasciato un segno profondo nell'animo e nella letteratura di Charlotte, Emily e Anne. Siamo liete e orgogliose di organizzare il primo evento dell'anno dedicato interamente alla figura del fratello "invisibile", "maledetto", "perduto": Branwell Brontë. 


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