Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Yorkshire Post features Mansions in the Sky, the Branwell Brontë bicentenary exhibition curated by Simon Armitage at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
When we meet at the Parsonage Armitage admits that it wasn’t immediately apparent how he should approach the project. “When the museum got in touch I didn’t really know that much about Branwell other than the image of him being a trouble maker and a drunk,” he says. “So it was about trying to think of a way of celebrating him and acknowledging him. When I started, I wondered if he could be restored in some way, whether his writing had been under-rated. But it seemed to me that he burned out – he had very early promise and enthusiasm but that only took him so far. So it was about finding something to connect with.”
His way in was a letter that the ambitious 19-year-old Branwell wrote to William Wordsworth expressing his hopes and dreams, his intention to build ‘mansions in the sky’, and enclosing one of his own poems, for which he sought some kind of validation. He never received a reply.
“When I read about the letter I got excited because I could connect with that – thinking about being a poet and trying to get recognition, having your voice heard,” says Armitage. “The poem itself has some really good lines in it, but overall it is a kind of Romantic pastiche. To me that letter is so full of bravado, but it is desperate as well.”
Armitage’s poem William, It was Really Nothing, displayed alongside the letter, which is on loan from the Wordsworth Trust, is a perfect balance of humour and pathos. After painting a slightly irreverent portrait of the great Lakeland Bard receiving Branwell’s missive ‘mid-breakfast, letter in hand/eyes on stalks… a loaded knife-blade of Dorothy’s damson preserve/stalled between lidded porcelain jam-pot and toast’ he delivers the killer lines ‘what glittered like charmed finches over Haworth Church/drifts as rain across Scafell Pike. No reply’. It’s incredibly poignant.
“Branwell clearly had weaknesses and frailties but I think it was his disappointments that really broke him,” says Armitage. “I did feel sorry for him – everything seemed to end badly for him.” His dreams of becoming a revered poet came to nothing as his writing never matched up to his sisters’ work, his short-lived period of fruitful employment as a railway clerk at Luddenden Foot ended abruptly after a minor accounting error and he was dismissed from a tutoring post after having an affair with Lydia Robinson, the much older wife of his employer. Branwell’s hope was that she would eventually set up home with him, but when this didn’t happen it seems to have triggered his final decline, as was so powerfully depicted in the BBC’s recent Brontë drama To Walk Invisible, written by Sally Wainwright. (Read more) (Yvette Huddleston)
Coincidentally, ITV News reports that, 'Yorkshire pulls in 20% of country's literary holiday makers'.
New research shows 20% of trips with a literary link were to Yorkshire, home of Haworth and Brontë country and Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Figures from VisitEngland show that more than half of British holiday makers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England.
Findings also show that a quarter of Brits visited a literary location in England during a holiday break in the last year. The same amount had read literature relating to a place they had visited in the country.
VisitEngland’s first ever research into literary tourism, which surveyed more than 1200 people, found that 21% of trips with a literary link were to London.
Famous for its connections with Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens, the capital just pipped Yorkshire to pole position.
And PR Web has a press release on a the launch of UK Countryside Tours' 'Telling the Stories of England'.
Landscapes and Literary Connections enables literary buffs to meander through the timeless villages of the New Forest to the rugged uplands of the Lake District and the wild intensity of the Yorkshire moors as they discover the landscapes which inspired such as Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Guests will enjoy distinctive rural heritage, folk customs and celebrated regional foods from Dorset cider to Grasmere gingerbread whilst expert guides share favorite readings bringing each location to life in the words of the author.
Entertainment Weekly interviews Aline Brosh McKenna, who's to release a modern-day Jane Eyre graphic novel.
Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada, will publish a graphic novel, Jane, that reimagines Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre, EW can announce exclusively. Jane will be published by Boom! Studios.
Illustrated by Eisner Award winner Ramón K. Pérez, Jane transposes our heroine to the modern era, where she’s an art student who has finally left her small fishing town for the bright lights of New York City. Soon, she realizes that the city and her talented peers are more intimidating than she expected, so Jane gets a nannying job to earn extra money. But the comfort that job provided grows thin when she starts falling for her young charge’s father, Rochester — a wealthy man with a dark secret. [...]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this project come about? ALINE BROSH MCKENNA: I got very interested in graphic novels after I adapted one called Rust, and I met Ramón at Comic Con when I was working on Rust. Ramón was there with Tale of Sand — it’s the book he wrote that won the Eisner, and it’s the most remarkable, gorgeous book. So I had this idea to do sort of an updated Jane Eyre story, and I was going to do it as a movie, and then when I saw Ramón’s work I became obsessed with doing it with Ramón.
I’ve seen every movie based on Jane Eyre, and I’ve read the book many times. It’s one of those that I just have gone back to a lot in my life, and I wanted to do sort of a contemporary version of that.
But I love the idea that Rochester’s mysterious circumstances kind of take place in a bigger, grander world — almost in a different genre from Jane’s world — because a lot of the obstacles in Jane Eyre, the marriage and romantic obstacles, are specific to that era. They have to do with marrying well, and those sorts of concerns. So the obstacles and barriers in a contemporary setting needed to be a little bit different. When we started talking about Rochester, I started seeing him almost in a Bruce Wayne type of way.
Like strong, dark…Yeah. It’s very much like, Jane Eyre comes to New York, and that’s what intimidates her. She has a sad backstory, as Jane Eyre does in the book. [Brontë’s] book is several sections, of which the Rochester [stuff] is just the middle section, because there’s a whole section about her childhood and then there’s a whole section afterwards when she goes and lives with the family with the priest. [...]
Is the book already finished then?No, he’s still working on some of it. I’ve seen the whole book in rough, and he and I did some revisions. There’s an additional bad guy in the story now, which is very cool. There’s some new relationships, definitely new settings. Jane is an art student in this version — she comes to the city to be an art student. He’s finishing it up and it’ll be out in the fall. [...]
I love that. I’m really interested to see how you’re going to take on the woman in the attic. Is that part of it?That’s an interesting thing — we did something different with that, and it also speaks to the sort of genre, comic book aspects of it. That was really what was cool about the genre comic book stuff: it allowed us to turbo-charge the story in a way. It adds this other element of drive and intrigue and mystery, which is incipient in the [original] book, but in Jane Eyre, it’s really just focused around who’s in the attic.
How do you figure out how much to leave in to keep it as Jane EyreI think it was stuff that had spoken to me since I was a kid. I tried to analyze what had appealed to me. So in the graphic novel, instead of being a big scary castle, in the beginning it’s this very, very intimidating three-story apartment in New York. She’s from a small town, so New York is overwhelming to her to begin with, and then the space that Rochester lives in is something she’s really unfamiliar with.
What was the biggest challenge? I would say that the challenge was really just balancing those genre elements so you had the core of what makes Jane so lovable and attractive. I think the other thing that has always made Jane Eyre attractive to women is that it’s not about being pretty. [Rochester] doesn’t love her because she’s pretty; he loves her because she’s such a moral example for him. That story makes you think that any man, no matter how rich or handsome or high above you in society, if he could see your inner goodness, that would inspire him to love you.
I think that is a very core fantasy of the book. It’s also a bit retro, and I wanted to find a way to say, “What is it in their relationship that inspires him to make changes in his life based on her innate goodness?” But also for her to challenge herself to uncover aspects of herself she would never have if she had not taken this job. (Isabella Biederharn)
Ara (in Catalan) has an article  about the Stage production of Jane Eyre which opens tomorrow in Barcelona, Spain.
La fascinació de Carme Portaceli per Jane Eyre comença precisament per la vida de les germanes Brontë, tres filles d’un pastor anglicà que vivien isolades al ventós West Yorkshire i que, tot i no tenir pràcticament cap contacte amb l’exterior, van crear un món literari propi des de la cuina de casa seva escrivint en trossets de paper. Totes van arribar a publicar novel·les, i ho van fer amb pseudònims d’home. “Feien d’institutrius en escoles i la Charlotte ho odiava perquè deia que criaven les nenes per ser tontes”, afirma Portaceli. Aquest caràcter rebel i independent és el que l’autora va cedir a la protagonista de Jane Eyre, una nena òrfena criada per una tia que “s’enfrontarà al món” sense renunciar a “la puresa” i “dient sempre la veritat”: “Passi el que passi sempre tira endavant i manté el respecte per ella mateixa. No suporta la falta de respecte”, diu la directora. “És un personatge que hauria de caure i no aixecar-se, però ella té una moral i uns principis inamovibles. I lluita per la seva felicitat”, defensa Ariadna Gil, que li dona vida. La noia aspira a la llibertat però, conscient de les seves possibilitats, comença aspirant a canviar la manera de guanyar-se la vida. Per això se’n va. I se’n va per acabar coneixent el senyor Rochester (Abel Folk), un home solitari, brusc i amb un passat esquerdat que troba en la jove Jane una altra ànima solitària però amb una sinceritat, veritat, justícia i manca de malícia irresistibles. “És una història de superació i d’amor amb un happy end fantàstic en què la gent pugui somiar”, sentencia Portaceli. ¿Una revisió feminista de Jane Eyre? “No. És que Charlotte Brontë ja ho és”, respon. (L.S.) (Translation)
Artslant mentions the project Angela Carter was working on when she died.
Carter also died before her time, in 1992, while working on a sequel to Jane Eyre based on her stepdaughter. That she died while reinterpreting Charlotte Brontë’s text adds another layer of irony: the work of artists and writers dialoguing with one another seems to never be complete. (Sola Agustsson)
USA Today's Happy Ever After has romance writer Lisa Marie Perry list her 'Top 5 favorite romance heroes', one of which is
Rochester in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Mr. Rochester is brooding, perceptive and so seductive in his manipulation that plenty of readers can’t tell just how manipulative he is. He’s sexy, too. Sure, the man has a wife hidden in the attic, but we aren’t going to hold that against him, are we? (Joyce Lamb)
We are very fond of Mr Rochester in spite of all his faults but that description of him is just - erm - silly.

The Huffington Post publishes the introduction to Carla Power's book If the Oceans Were Ink.
When I was eleven years old, I bought a tiny book containing a verse from the Quran from a stall outside a Cairo mosque. The amulet was designed to be tucked into a pocket to comfort its owner throughout the day. I was neither Muslim nor literate in Arabic; I bought it not for the words inside but for its dainty proportions. The stall’s proprietress watched me bemusedly as I cooed over the matchbox-sized book. My family and I were living in Egypt at the time, and back at home I taped a bit of paper over the cover and crayoned a woman in a long blue dress, writing on top, “Jane Eyre by C. Brontë.” I then placed the book in the waxy hand of my doll, which sat stiffly on a high shelf in my Cairo bedroom.
The little book outlasted the doll: I found it over a quarter century later, one sticky summer afternoon in St. Louis, wrapped in a jewelry box in my parents’ house. It was a minor miracle that such a flimsy item from a market stall had endured so long. It was a major miracle that I’d found it at all, in a three-story house so crammed with exotic souvenirs that friends called it Aladdin’s Cave. But somehow I did find that booklet, amid the spoils of my father’s avid collecting from the Middle East and Asia: mosque lamps from Cairo, stacks of Indian brocades and embroideries, Bokhara samovars, lapis lazuli boxes, mounds of tribal jewelry, and hundreds of carpets.
Todo Literatura (Spain) reviews Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.
A día de hoy, En Gran Central Station… está considerada como un clásico de la literatura, y uno de los hitos dentro de lo que se ha dado en llamar como literatura feminista, pues se encuentra en ese doloroso Olimpo junto a títulos como: Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë, Ancho Mar de los Sargazos de Jean Rhys, Al despertar de Kate Chopin, o Una habitación propia de Virginia Woolf. (Ángel Silvelo Gabriel) (Translation)
JK Rowling's dog Brontë has made it to many news websites such as Bustle, Mirror and The Scottish Sun. Where A Thousand Words Paint A Picture reviews Wuthering Heights.


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