Saturday, July 01, 2017

Diane Fare publishes the Brontë Parsonage June column in Keighley News:
We've been fully immersed in all things Branwell these past two weeks, as his bicentenary year reached its mid-way point.
I joined a number of guests at Emily’s café in Thornton – the birthplace of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne – for a Branwell birthday breakfast on June 26.
I’m ashamed to confess it was my first visit to Emily’s, but I’ll certainly be back soon – and not just for the delicious pastries!
To stand in the room where the Brontë siblings were born – and see the original fireplace and hearth still intact – was quite something.
After our fill of coffee, and having enjoyed a talk by Principal Curator Ann Dinsdale, we hot-footed it back to the museum in time for an intimate rose-planting ceremony in the museum’s courtyard.
Our wonderful volunteer gardeners Jenny and Geoff have created a new bed for Branwell to mark his bicentenary. They dug up an existing bed and filled it with completely new planting in a theme to reflect his appearance and character.
The rose, planted by our admin assistant Kat, who shares her birthday with Branwell, is called Mardi Gras – chosen for its reds, oranges and yellows, colours that reflect Branwell’s personality and symbolise his own creativity.
The new Branwell bed is next to Charlotte’s rose, which is just breaking out of bud. So we now have two Branwell beds – one inside the museum and one in the courtyard!
Also featured outside is a wooden sculpture of Branwell’s head – recently rescued from the shed in time for his birthday!
The long school holidays will soon be with us, and so this means the return of our popular Wild Wednesday workshops.
The first of these is Wednesday August 2, where you have the opportunity to make beautiful paper boats such as those depicted in the childhood stories of the Brontës. Our website lists all the Wednesday workshops on throughout August.
And just before the schools break up, we have a late night Thursday on July 20.
You may or may not have heard that the Parsonage meadow has recently reopened to the public, so feel free to come along and enjoy it – it’s a lovely picnic spot – and don’t forget that late night Thursdays are free after 5.30pm to all visitors who live in the BD22, BD21 and BD20 postcode areas, and also to all those living in Thornton.
The end of the month sees us marking the 199th birthday of Emily Brontë.
We have a special Parsonage Unwrapped on Friday July 28, focusing on Emily, and we’ll mark her birthday on Sunday July 30, with a walk up to Penistone Hill.
There are a few tickets left for Parsonage Unwrapped, and these cost £25/£22.50 but the walk is free with admission to the museum, so join us at 2pm if you would like to take part. (Richard Parker)
The Herald reviews A Secret Sisterhood, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney:
Midorikawa and Sweeney are particularly interested in the extent to which friendships can weather criticism and withstand markedly different degrees of public acclaim. Brontë and Taylor first met at Roe Head School and spent time together in Belgium before Taylor emigrated to New Zealand and Brontë returned to the parsonage at Haworth. When Brontë sent her friend a copy of Jane Eyre, Taylor's response was not to congratulate her, but to chide her for "not having a greater political purpose". One can only imagine Brontë's disappointment, but she took the criticism on board, going on to write Shirley – a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars – which dealt more explicitly with social issues. (Dani Garavelli)
Open Letters Monthly lists several political fictions, including Jane Eyre (!):
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is a novel many readers love for the power of its personal story. Plain, smart, unloved, rebellious, its heroine endures first physical then emotional privation only to rise triumphant and adored from the ashes of her miserable past. Jane’s story thrills everyone in what Anita Brookner aptly, if somewhat acidly, called “the tortoise market”: “in real life, of course” Brookner observes, “it is the hare who wins,” but in Brontë’s novel, Jane fights for and wins a happy ending worthy of her proud spirit and passionate heart.
That her victory is a political one was recognized immediately by Brontë’s contemporaries. “We do not hesitate to say,” wrote the critic Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake in 1848,
"that the tone of mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine abroad, and fostered Chartism and rebellion at home, is the same which has also written Jane Eyre." (Read more) (Greg Waldmann)
Palatinate's summer reading list:
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Most people automatically associate Charlotte Brontë with Jane Eyre or, if they are familiar with the Brontë sisters, with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. However, I do not agree that Jane Eyre is Charlotte Brontë’s greatest masterpiece, despite its fame within the English literary canon. Villette, a semi-autobiographical work based on Brontë’s own experience in Brussels and her unrequited love towards her married tutor, reflects the difficulty a woman faces when trying to balance both her individual freedom and her desire to be loved. Although this dilemma is also explored in Jane Eyre, in which the readers are rewarded with a conventional happy ending for the lovers, Villette offers something more realistic in its portrayal of the protagonist, Lucy Snowe. Her story concludes ambiguously with the death of her lover – a subtle nod from Brontë towards the incompatibility of marriage and freedom. Happy endings, Brontë suggests, simply do not exist and a woman must learn to survive on her own. This may be the great tragedy of Lucy Snowe, but it is also the crowning achievement of Charlotte Brontë’s writing.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
On the topic of Jane Eyre, feminist criticism of this novel has often focused on Brontë’s portrayal of the Madwoman in the Attic and Jane’s ‘darkest double’ – Bertha Mason. Jean Rhys’ response, written in the 1960s, offers Bertha Mason a chance to tell her own story, articulating the thoughts of a woman with whom she felt a certain connection, both as an outsider and a fellow victim of colonialism. Both Rhys and her heroine are of Creole heritage and similarly encounter racial discrimination in Europe. With its vibrant imagery and unreliable narration, Wide Sargasso Sea records Antoinette’s (Bertha’s) descent into madness, proving that ‘There is always the other side, always” (p.82).  (Helena Chung)

Syima Aslam, the creator of the Bradford Literary Festival, talks about women's sexuality as a British Muslim in The Telegraph:
Literature has always been my route into the world around me, providing an education in walks of life I can’t experience and empathy with people I will never meet. So it was books, ranging from Fanny Hill to the Arabian Nights, that gave me the sex education which my mother didn’t and which my friends mangled. My first ideas of romance came from the brooding heroes of Mills and Boons. I devoured these books in my early teens before finding the ultimate doomed love in Heathcliff. I discovered Jeanette Winterson when I watched the BBC adaptation of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – and to this day, hers are the books I turn to when I want to remember that love and passion are possible.
The Irish Times reviews Together, closer: The Art and Science of Intimacy in Friendship, Love, and Family by Giovanni Frazzetto:
Frazzetto goes one step further in Together, Closer and creates his own art – eight stories that run alongside the latest discoveries of neuroscience, exploring humanity’s complicated relationship with connection. “Only Connect,” said EM Forster, proving that the poets and writers have been here before, as Franzetti acknowledges. And any story worth its salt deals with connections and disconnections whether it is Cinderella or Wuthering Heights. (Martina Evans)
The Huffington Post talks about a very interesting project at Lancaster University:
Can you imagine being able to walk along the actual streets of Fagin’s London or retrace Heathcliff’s journey across the moors? What would it be like to explore Treasure Island alongside Jim Hawkins? A successful grant bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) allows the possibility of experiencing literary space and place in interactive ways that have never existed before.
I am the principal investigator of a research team at Lancaster University working on a project called “Creating a Chronotopic Ground for the Mapping of Literary Texts”. Over the next three years we will try to map literature in terms of both space and time (the chronotope) in a range of ways, including 3D visualisation.
Right at the heart of the project is a core concept that took me a while to work out. For a few years I had been mulling over the problem that literary mapping as it currently exists in academic studies is limited by mapping only onto the real world. It seemed to me far more interesting to map imaginative fictional worlds, but the difficulty was how to do that when there is no “ground” or base map. How can you generate a base map that is authentically linked to the text? What different kinds of map can you have for places that don’t exist in reality? (Sally Bushell)
It has been published several times before but TVOM tells the Graham McTavish claim to (Brontë) fame:
He Named His Axes for Emily Brontë’s Dogs
In The Hobbit movies, McTavish played Dwalin, who was one of the twelve dwarves who accompanied Thorin Oakenshield in his effort to reclaim their treasure from the evil dragon Smaug. It is interesting to note that he named the character’s two axes Grasper and Keeper, which were the names of the English novelist Emily Brontë’s enormous dogs. As a result, the people responsible for costuming had those names engraved on his character’s two axes for all to see. (Nat Berman)
Primark Magazine loves books... but not in the way you are thinking. WARNING: Embarrassing collection of (extremely) silly clichés ahead:
"Wuthering Heights", Emily Bronte
Sigh! This book is just. So. Romantic. I first read it in my teens, and since then, every literary man has failed to match Wuthering Heights’ hero Heathcliff in the swoon-worthy stakes. Except maybe for Christian Gray… (Rachel Spedding)
The Times talks about first editions:
Simon Roberts, a senior valuer in Bonhams’ book and manuscript department, says: “It is hard to say what a copy inscribed by Austen would fetch [the holy grail in terms of Austen — such a thing may not exist], but I am pretty sure it would be a record for a 19th-century book, and it could easily fetch as much as half a million pounds.”
He says that only the Brontë sisters rank alongside Austen in terms of value. (Anna Temkin)
Shout Out UK reviews Fiona Shaw reading Shakespeare's Sister, part of the essay A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf:
My initial reaction to the speech on Shakespeare’s Sister was confusion, specifically as to what topic the speech tackles and the message it means to deliver. Was it women writing fiction, the portrayal of women in fiction or even the parallel of women and fiction?
As the speech continued I began to distance myself from its purpose due to the mention of such writers as Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters — writers from a different century and ethnicity. (Ellise Gordon)
UDN (Hong Kong) has a story mixing Mo Tiancheng, Emily Brontë and a poem by the Classic Chinese poet Li Bai that we have been unable to decipher.

León Noticias (Spain) reviews the novel Ojos ciegos by Virginia Aguilera:
Esta novela tan entretenida como perturbadora (con calidad de página y talento para la investigación histórica, y con influencias formales de Jan Potocki en El manuscrito encontrado en Zaragoza e influencias estilísticas de Arthur Conan Doyle –sus novelas de Sherlock Holmes- y también de Emily Brontë –Cumbres Borrascosas-, sobre todo encierra un potente y vigente mensaje en contra del buenismo de las ideologías y los experimentos sociológicos tipo secta transidos de un utopismo delirante. (Luis Artigue) (Translation)
Il Corriere della Sera (Italy) talks about G.K. Chesterton and quotes some his opinions on Charlotte and Emily Brontë:
Chesterton parla della Austen, delle Brontë e di George Eliot: «Jane Austen era capace di descrivere un uomo con freddezza: cosa di cui né George Eliot né Charlotte Brontë furono capaci».(...) «Cime tempestose di Emily Brontë avrebbe potuto essere scritto da un’aquila». Infine Chesterton critica la fine dell’età vittoriana, quando iniziò a diffondersi la facile e automatica abitudine di considerare le cose come se fossero palesemente indiscutibili, «mentre, in realtà, esse sono palesemente discutibili». (Pietro Citati) (Translation)
Judith Barrow interviews the writer Sara Gethin:
What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
If you’d asked me that question seven years ago, I’d have said ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, which was the first book I truly fell in love with. Or ‘Wuthering Heights’, which we read for our O’Levels, and which taught impressionable girls like me that falling in love with a complete rogue was a wonderfully romantic idea.
Bedforshire on Sunday is awaiting the performances of Jane Eyre at the Milton Keynes Theatre. Bradley's Basement reviews the Cardiff performances. announces The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever in Dublin next July 15th.


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