Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Telegraph and Argus lists what's on at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in the coming weeks.
Spring has sprung in Haworth, and we’ve been welcoming visitors to the museum from all over the world.
We’re still enjoying high visitor numbers thanks to the interest in Sally Wainwright’s To Walk Invisible – the drama has just aired in the USA, so we hope we’ll be welcoming lots of American visitors to Haworth before too long!
For fans of the drama a little closer to home, we’re looking forward to our sold-out joint event with Ilkley Literature Festival, on Wednesday 19 April.
Sally Wainwright, writer and director of To Walk Invisible, Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, will be in conversation with our Principal Curator Ann Dinsdale at the King’s Hall in Ilkley.
Tickets for this event went on sale at the beginning of March, and sold out really quickly, but looking ahead to next month, we’re happy to report that we still have a small number of tickets left to see our creative partner, Simon Armitage, speak about Mansions in the Sky, his exhibition for Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary year.
Call 01535 640192 to book, or go to www.bronte.org.uk/whats-on
Our new exhibition, Wuthering Heights – A Manuscript, opened last week, and artist Clare Twomey spent last Thursday welcoming visitors and inviting them to rewrite the lost manuscript of Wuthering Heights one sentence at a time.
We’re really excited about this project, which will see over 10,000 visitors helping us to copy out each individual sentence from Emily Brontë’s great novel, and will run for the remainder of the year. Come along to the museum and make your mark!
There’s lots going on at the museum next week – our Wild Wednesday workshop on April 19 marks Charlotte Brontë’s friendship and correspondence with Ellen Nussey by creating crafty writing paper and envelopes.
On Thursday April 20, the museum and shop will stay open until 8pm, and we’ll be welcoming local artist Hannah Nunn for a Meet the Maker evening.
Hannah will be discussing her bespoke garden design, inspired by the plants on the Parsonage garden in the springtime, and all items from her range will have 10 per cent off for one night only.
Calling all walkers! We’re partnering with Bradford Fairtrade Zone as part of the International Festival of Fair Trade Walks, which has a theme for 2017 of local literary connections.
We’ll be making our way from Thornton to Haworth, tracing the route that the Brontë family would have followed when they moved to the Parsonage in 1820.
Join us on the walk, departing from St James Church, Thornton, at 10am on Friday 21 April, or come along to the Old School Room in Haworth in the afternoon, for tea and cake, and to find out more about Patrick Brontë and his work towards for social justice.
April 21 is also the 201st anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, and we’ll be running informal talks about Charlotte’s life throughout the day, and a drop-in writing workshop with local author Glynis Charlton on the theme of journeys. Come along and join us! (Richard Parker)
Keighley News features Clare Twomey's Wuthering Heights project:
Brontë expert Ann Dinsdale this week picked up a pencil to begin work on a ‘new’ Brontë manuscript.
Ann, principal curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, copied the first words from Emily Brontë’s famous novel Wuthering Heights in a hand-made book.
She wrote: “1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with”.
Visitors to the museum in Haworth will write the subsequent lines over the next 12 months until a whole new manuscript is created.
This will replace Emily’s original handwritten manuscript, which was lost many years ago, and go on display at the museum in 2018 during the 200th anniversary of Emily’s birth.
The manuscript project is the brainchild of Clare Twomey, artist-in-residence at the museum, who hopes to involve more than 10,000 visitors throughout 2017.
Thousands of pencils, specially commissioned by Twomey, have been produced to write the book, and visitors will be invited to keep these as a memento of their participation in the project. (Richard Parker)
Keighley News also features what the Brontë Parsonage Museum has prepared for the day the Tour de Yorkshire passes through Haworth, April 30th.
It will be rhyme time as the Tour de Yorkshire makes its way through Haworth.
Winston Plowes will be out and about in the village with his Random Poetry Generating Bicycle.
The Hebden Bridge writer will use the bike, named Spoke-n-Word, to inspire residents and visitors to find their hidden poet.
Winston has been invited by the Brontë Parsonage Museum to provide a literary diversion for cycling fans on race day, April 30, from 11am to 4pm.
People are urged to look out for Winston as he potters around the Parsonage and nearby Main Street.
Winston, who lives on a canal boat with his cat Fatty, came up with the idea for Spoke -n-Word in time for the Tour de France Grande Depart to come through Yorkshire in 2014.
He transformed the 1920s New Hudson bicycle into a machine where people could spin the wheels and create their own cycling-themed poem.
Winston wears period dress as he wanders around the bike, displaying the finished poems on a large noticeboard. (David Knights)
The Telegraph and Argus also has an article on the recent visit of members of the National Youth Theatre to the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
The garden of the Brontë Parsonage Museum provided an atmospheric setting as young actors performed scenes from Wuthering Heights.
Members of the National Youth Theatre were in Haworth to present a rehearsed reading of Stephanie Street’s stage adaptation of Emily Brontë’s classic novel.
The visit was part of a special day to celebrate the NYT’s 50th year of commissioning new plays. [...]
In Haworth, Wuthering Heights had been prepared by local girl Beccie Allen.
She said: “This is my first time helping to produce and direct so it has been a massive learning curve, from arranging cast to locations and costume ideas.
“What has been amazing is finding so many like minded young performers from all over Yorkshire who were full of passion and excitement for the reading to go ahead.” [...]
Rebecca Yorke, Head of Communications and Marketing at the Brontë Parsonage Museum said she was delighted to host the National Youth Theatre.
She said: “We are always seeking ways to engage with young people and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to both support an important initiative and promote the legacy of the Brontë family.” (Richard Parker)
More on Brontë theatre as Northern Soul reviews the Octagon Theatre production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, giving it 4 stars.
I arrive at the theatre something of a Brontë virgin, having never read any of the sisters’ books (I know, you’re appalled, but I’m a child of the 60s and I did science at school and university – blame The Two Cultures). As it turns out, this lack of knowledge may have been an advantage. [...]
So Bolton Octagon took my Brontë virginity, and I was delighted to surrender.
Anne Brontë was only 28 when she wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a book about the consequences of women’s unjust legal subjugation to men and the emotional confusion and distress that often went with it. But not all her men are bad men, and not all her women good.
It’s socially complex and a bit of a thriller, triggered by the arrival in the village of a new tenant at the run-down mansion, Wildfell Hall. Soon the tongues are wagging and, by the end of the first act, Brontë first-timers like me are wondering what on earth the mysterious widow Mrs Graham, the eponymous new tenant, has done to deserve the opprobrious gossip of the village? Could it simply be that she has replaced Eliza, daughter of the Reverned Millward, in the affections of our muscular farmer hero Gilbert Markham, or is there more to it
All is revealed in act two, of course, and rather satisfactorily. There is an interesting moment which only a Brontë naïf can appreciate where one of the characters may or may not die. If you’ve read the book – as my partner had done – you’re thinking ‘oh, get on with it’ but if you’re me, you’re on tenterhooks.
The cast of eight give fine, nicely detailed performances, but Phoebe Pryce excels as Mrs Graham, a woman with balls, and Natasha Davidson shades Eliza’s move from girlish-intended to woman-scorned brilliantly. There’s a child and a dog in it too, both of whom acquit themselves admirably but don’t steal the show.
Played in the round on a tiny stage, we feel like we’re in the room with the action. Amanda Stoodley’s design evokes a Yorkshire cottage and a country house very simply, with costumes beautifully realised in considerable detail. But the play is transferring York Theatre Royal, a proscenium arch theatre with 900 seats, so that’ll be interesting.
If I have a gripe about the play, it’s only this: Gilbert Markham was a very clean farmer. (Chris Wallis)
The Guardian recommends this week’s best UK theatre and dance and includes the Jane Eyre tour in its selection.
Jane Eyre
In numerous productions, Sally Cookson has proved that the art of page-to-stage adaptation is alive and well. She captures the fragile heart of Charlotte Brontë’s novel in this tumultuous devised production first seen in two parts at Bristol Old Vic in 2014 and then in a shortened version at the National in 2015. It’s a show that understands the value of storytelling and gives joyous voice to its heroine, a fettered child who turns into a young woman determined to spread her wings. The first dates of a nationwide tour, this is a show to cherish. (Lyn Gardner and Judith Mackrell)
The Business Desk recommends it too.

The Orange County Register reviews the Brethren Christian High School (Huntington Beach, CA), production of the novel:
Abigail Heilman, who plays the strongly principled heroine, crosses her hands at her waist in uneasiness and respect, avoiding conflict. As she blinks away selfish thoughts, her reserved nature falls away in “Sweet Liberty” as she spreads her arms wide while sharing her inner desire for a life outside her confined circumstances. Later, her quaint, hushed persona is transformed in the powerful ballad “Painting Her Pictures.” Her anger is unleashed as Heilman expertly belts out each climbing note with energetic ease.
Joshua Gorrel is charming as Edward Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall and Jane’s employer. The brooding man’s twisted grimace melts away in amazement at Jane’s entire being. Gorrell skillfully times Rochester’s comedic quick wit as he sings to Jane in “The Gypsy.” His tortured soul is revealed in “As Good As You” and his sentimental falsetto is enriched with emotion as he falls to knees.
Ashley Thinnsen plays the classic debutant diva as Blanche, a socialite whom Rochester courts. Thinnsen brings out callous behavior as she brags of her class in “The Finer Things.” To increase Jane’s jealousy, she rings operatic high notes with comedic jest to display her superiority.
An ensemble of voices narrates the show, helping tell Jane’s tale. Opening and closing each act, the singers create rich, haunting tones with blended harmonies, changing the mood with every note.
Makeup designed by Grace Burns is clearly executed to highlight the difference in social statuses and age. The modest women, such as Jane and the orphans, are in natural makeup with minimal earth tones to feature their young beauty. Strong contours and pink rouge showcase the weath of the upper-class women.
With marvelous acting and superb vocals, Brethren Christian tells the breathtaking story of “Jane Eyre.” (Megan Kerrigan)
The British Film Institute reviews the film A Quiet Passion and compares it to To Walk Invisible.
Physical remoteness and effulgent imagination are also the concerns of a recent biopic by another filmmaker from the north of England. (To borrow, anachronistically, the words of Wendy Cope, bloody biopics about women writers are like bloody buses: you wait for years, then two or three appear.) Broadcast on British television at the end of 2016, around the time that Davies’s film was initially to be released, Sally Wainwright’s To Walk Invisible – about Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë – is, as its title indicates, A Quiet Passion’s twin.
More or less contemporaries (Emily Brontë, whose name and novel are mentioned more than once in A Quiet Passion, died when Dickinson was 18), Dickinson and the Brontës had more in common than simply the trials of publication. Wainwright and Davies take like approaches to these writers’ lives, each filmmaker relaying the complexity not only of the subjects’ economic and social situations, but also of their practical and emotional accommodation of them. Most interestingly, both films depict the loss of a relative, and in each the treatment of disease and death is direct, unflinching.
The material losses these women suffer body forth losses of a non-material kind. They gesture towards the dispossession of something that never was theirs to be taken, and is difficult to show on film: cultural opportunity. Its refusal is more painful in A Quiet Passion, Dickinson harder hit. The Brontës had each other at least, though even this had its pitfalls, namely the conventionality that moved Charlotte to demean her sisters’ authorial integrity, blocking the republication of Anne’s second novel and writing a jaundiced foreword to Emily’s Wuthering Heights.
Wainwright’s intimation of the pervasiveness of the dominant culture – the risk of cultural integration, of assimilation by the literary establishment – is among her film’s many merits. That risk came knocking at the Brontë parsonage, just at it called for Dickinson at Amherst. It was the Emilys who denied it entrance and stood their ground, adamant that their writing not be raked or interfered with. Resisting assimilation may not look like much; these films say it is.
That both productions chose to have replica houses built is not incidental. A Quiet Passion has its Dickinson Homestead, To Walk Invisible its Haworth parsonage – places whose comfort and containment formed these women and ministered to their creative and spiritual lives. As Virginia Woolf wrote after visiting the parsonage in 1904: “Haworth expresses the Brontës; the Brontës express Haworth; they fit like a snail to its shell.” (Thirza Wakefield)
Curve mentions Emily Brontë in its review of the film:
Dickinson passionately identified with the English novelist Emily Brontë, and had much in common with her; for both women language and literature were conduits for a desire never physically known. (Merryn Johns)
While Evening Express brings up the actual Brontë reference in the film:
Supported by her doting sister Vinnie (Jennifer Ehle) and frequently visited by their friend Vryling Buffam (Catherine Bailey), Emily settles into an almost hermetic existence at the family home, where she observes the minutiae of society life and passes judgement on the work of the Brontës.
“If they wanted to be wholesome, I imagine they would crochet,” quips Emily. (Damon Smith)
Hometown Life tells about the third annual Canton Book Project in which
Kristina Wilson, owner of the new Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea in Canton, will distribute “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte.
The Daily Star has Joe Treasure speak about his novel The Book of Air:
The Book of Air grew out of an idle speculation. What if there were an isolated rural community with only one novel? Since the inhabitants have no concept of fiction, they take it literally. But it's unique, so they study it closely, searching it for other levels of meaning. It becomes a source of moral guidance. Its moments of heightened conflict are ceremonially re-enacted as rites of passage. They find metaphorically reflected in it theclash of elements in the w
orld of nature. The whole drama of human existence is encapsulated in its narrative.
I decided the novel should be Jane Eyre, precisely because that book seems designed to deliver escapist pleasure more than the kind of high moral seriousness that we might look for in, say, George Eliot. And because Dickens is too rooted in the life of the city and its institutions and Austen's characters too restricted by social convention. And because I like it.
I pictured this community living in the future. Jane Eyre is part of their accidental inheritance, along with a house, some cottages and an area of farmland. And that set me thinking about their ancestors, a handful of survivors from some catastrophe of our own time gathering in this place as though returning reluctantly to a Garden of Eden. Who might they be and what serpents would they bring with them, what sources of human conflict to keep the human drama going? And how would they express the essential human urge to create meaningin the face of damage and disorder?
Entertainment Weekly shares an excerpt from the upcoming novel Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, who sums up her novel as follows:
“I’m so happy to introduce my Jane,” Cashore tells EW. “She’s lived a pretty ordinary life until recently, when the aunt who raised her died. Now, at loose ends, she’s on her way to visit a friend’s lavish island mansion. At this mansion, she’ll face choices, and those choices will change her life. Anyone who has read Jane Eyre or Rebecca might notice echoes of those stories in Jane’s story… But I think readers will also find that Jane’s story is unlike any they’ve ever read. It was certainly a unique and unusual challenge for me to write. I’m thrilled that it’s finally time to pass Jane’s story on to a broader audience.” (Isabella Biedenharn)
On Tennis.com, four tennis players are likened to writers:
Venus William
Her own brand of emphatic elegance. Like the Brontës (“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily), Venus is also a member of a significant sister dynasty. (Joel Drucker)
Blattzirkus reviews Wuthering HeightsRegency Realm discusses Charlotte Brontë's marriage and takes, in our opinion, a sceptical view of it.

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