Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sophia Tobin, whose novel The Vanishing has been said by reviewers to be reminiscent of the Brontës, writes about Branwell for the Waterstones blog.
If there is a central tragedy in Branwell’s life it is that he was unable to control his passions. His sisters’ works are full of passion, but in their lives they behaved with propriety and restraint. Branwell’s passions were lived out rather than written. Whilst working as a tutor he embarked on an affair with his employer’s wife, causing not only his dismissal but the humiliation of his sister Anne, who was also working for the family. On his return to Haworth, his alcoholism and drug addiction blighted the lives of his relatives and his violent rages terrified them. A small measure of peace came only in the days before his death, on 24 September 1848.
But the impact of this missing Brontë is not entirely lost. It could be argued that the three sisters became great because they were forced to: they knew they could not rely on Branwell for financial support, and focused their efforts on writing professionally. Additionally, Branwell was one of the only men they lived with – and this shaped how they depicted men in their fiction. Thus Anne wrote of the corroding effect of alcoholism in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily depicted, from first-hand experience, the rage and brutality of men such as Heathcliff and Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights. And how much of Jane Eyre’s virtue and self-possession in the face of Rochester’s passion is derived from Charlotte’s observation of what happens when you give in to your desires? Perhaps, after all, Branwell is not really missing. In the portrait, we may find him in the space between the sisters; and in their work, we may find him in the spaces between what is said and unsaid. He is always there, if we look for him.
This Is Lancashire reports that Octagon Theatre in Bolton is looking for a dog to play Sancho and two boys to play little Arthur in their upcoming production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Do you have a performing pooch who is begging for his dream stage role?
Well there’s no longer a need to put that dream on ‘paws’, as the Octagon Theatre is on the hunt for canine companions to audition for its forthcoming production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Director Elizabeth Newman said: “In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Sancho the dog is the loyal and loving companion of Gilbert Markham.
“The dog we are looking to cast as Sancho will be a working farm dog, preferably a border collie.
“As Sancho will spend a lot of time with and near the character of Arthur, who will be played by a small boy, the dog we are looking for needs to be very calm and relaxed around young people.”
The dog being sought will be on stage often with a number of cast members as well as the young boy playing Arthur.
Applicants must be prepared to commit their dog to every performance during the run of the show, including all matinee and evening shows and commit to being available to bring and stay with your dog for every show.
The stage hound must also have a calm and friendly disposition, with the capacity to be comfortable in the presence of audiences of up to 400 people.
On-stage lighting will be used throughout the show and so they will also need to be comfortable with lighting changes that will be taking place.
A loyal pal is also being sought for the doggy star as the theatre is hunting two young boys to take on the part of Arthur in the show.
The performances will be split equally between the two chosen boys, who must have the maximum playing age of seven-years-old, and be able to work alongside the dog on stage. (...)
Deadline for all applications is 3pm on February 3.
The show will run from March 20 to April 22, with rehearsals on various dates from February 25 to March 30.
To apply visit www.octagonbolton.co.uk or call 01204 556501 for more information. (Rosalind Saul)
The Culture Trip reviews Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage.
Much has been made of two of their novels in particular—Emily’s Wuthering Heights, widely hailed as the great love story of its age (though it would be unfair not to add that it’s a lot more than that), and Charlotte’s proto-feminist, proto-modernist classic Jane Eyre. While we can confidently claim not to require further reassurance of their worth, it may be, as Samantha Ellis convincingly argues in her new book, about the third sister’s output that our attentions deserve redress. Anne Brontë published two novels of her own in the last three years of her life: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall—and both ought to be taken with the same awe and seriousness as her sisters’. Far more than just companion pieces to the Brontë canon, they are witty, controversial, dark insights into Victorian life.
Traveling from Brontë vista to Brontë vista—that is, from the family’s Yorkshire home to the native Ireland of their father Patrick, with brief stints by the North Sea and in London—Ellis intersperses snippets of her own life within her biography of Anne. While this makes her book very much in the vein of modern nonfiction (see Olivia Laing, or Ece Temelkuran), Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life‘s author has the tact to keep her presence subdued, appearing solely as if to move the book onward; the focus is on Anne’s life and work, and rightly so. (Simon Leser)
The Spectator, Seattle University's student newspaper, looks into how the campus community is facing Donald Trump's inauguration tomorrow.
Some professors are instead using their educational authority to advance the conversation. Among them is English Professor Molly Clark Hillard, who is helping to combat fake news by partnering up with the campus library. Hillard’s course, “Crisis of Information,” focuses on information literacy and being able to recognize what constitutes fake news. Hillard’s commitment is to tying her position as an educator to the lives and feelings of her students.
“The day after the election, I had to teach ‘Jane Eyre,” she said. “We turned to ‘Jane Eyre’ and found it as a manifesto. My own practice is to say to my students this is how we move forward; literature is how we move forward.” (Paolo Violante)
On Anne's birthday, James Neal wrote about 'Facing the World As It Is - A Lesson in Virtue with Anne Brontë'. Bust has an article on miniature portraits in classic books. It's All About Books posts about Wuthering Heights. Sonia Gensler has Tea with Jane Eyre.

On the Brontë Parsonage Twitter account, there is a sneak peak into Branwell's exhibition Mansions in the Sky as well as a look into how Mr Brontë's bedroom is being 're-displayed'.

Finally, also on Twitter, Ponden Hall shares this gorgeous video by Dorset Cereals, whose award for friendliest host they won recently.

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