Friday, March 23, 2018

The Bookseller has great news for Brontëites:
The Brontë Society is marking its debut as a publisher with a title featuring two unpublished manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë, found in a book belonging to her mother.
Written in the Jane Eyre author’s own hand, the 77-line poem and a 74-line story were found in the leaves of a book belonging to her mother and sold to the society in 2015.
The title containing the manuscripts, The Remains of Henry Kirke White, is one of the rare surviving possessions of Maria Brontë, whose box, containing all her property, was shipwrecked off the Devonshire coast shortly before her marriage to Patrick Brontë in 1812. It contains Latin inscriptions in Patrick’s hand which read: “The book of my dearest wife and it was saved from the waves. So then it will always be preserved”.
Facsimiles of the two manuscripts, annotations found in the book and a sketch by Charlotte Brontë's brother, Branwell, will be reproduced in the new title along with contributions from four Brontë specialists. They will explore the significance of the find and will “reveal important new information” relating to her mother, and her place in the Brontë story.
A society spokesperson told The Bookseller the title would have been of “high production value” with a limited edition exclusively for members. Production is underway and the title is slated for release in the autumn in time for the Christmas gifting market.
There is also an account of how the lost manuscripts were found – saved from shipwreck, sold to a private collector in America where it spent most of the last century – before making their way back to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Yorkshire. It was acquired with a £170,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund as well as support from the V&A Museum and the Friends of the National Libraries.
Book publishing rights outside the UK and Commonwealth are being handled by Richard Gay of R & G Media who will be situated at table 17D in the International Rights Centre at the London Book Fair. (Heloise Wood)
Also on ActuaLitté.

The Brontë Society shares an audio of the talk given by Michael Stewart on his book Ill Will.
Author Michael Stewart visits Haworth to discuss the research for his new novel, Ill Will, which recounts Heathcliff's lost years. In Wuthering Heights, Emily deftly creates a close and claustrophobic world with great skill. But what of the world outside? It is 1780 when Heathcliff runs off the in the storm. The north of England is going through radical change - from a rural community, to the industrial revolution, from a wild world where highwaymen and robbers terrorise the coach roads, to one of turnpikes and canals and from one where slavery is acceptable, to the beginnings of abolitionism.
Northern Soul has spoken to him too:
The Brontë Parsonage, nestled on the Yorkshire Moors in Haworth, is a magical place. I first went as a Brontë mad A-level student when they opened up the archives for me and, since that early formative experience, I’ve never left it too long between trips.
However, over the past two years it’s been even more special. In 2016 it was the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth and last year was the turn of the sisters’ brother, Branwell. This year the focus is on Emily. [...]
Ill Will is a novel about Heathcliff’s lost years,” Stewart tells me. “If you know Wuthering Heights, in the summer of 1780 he hears a conversation where Cathy says it would degrade her to marry him and he runs off in the storm and is missing for three years. When he gets back, he is a changed man – he’s wealthy, he’s a gentleman and he’s a psychopath. My book is about those three years and what happens to make him change.” [...]
He has now settled in Yorkshire, living a stone’s throw from the Brontë’s birth place, so it seems written in the stars that he would gravitate towards tackling this story.
“Actually, it was Kate Bush’s song Wuthering Heights,” laughs Stewart. “I was seven in 1978, and I was drawn to this song and this mad woman on the TV waving her arms around. My mum was doing English O-level at night school and was reading Wuthering Heights. She told me about the story and I was captivated by it. I was too young to read the novel but the story had already intrigued me.”
A lifelong fan of the book, Stewart approached the task at hand seriously.
“I was absorbed in the research,” he explains. “I looked into the social history of the 18th century, the working class, the industrial revolution and rural industry at the time because the Earnshaws are farmers. The main thing was looking at the slave trade in Liverpool which was the main slave port for Europe. I went to the International Slavery Museum, and there’s a fantastic resource at the Central Library in Liverpool, and I looked in the archive at log books, captains’ diaries and letters.”
All this is standard writer research, but Stewart went one step further to understand his characters.
“I walked from Top Withens to Liverpool. Top Withens is a derelict farmhouse on the moors just outside Haworth and is widely regarded as the inspiration for the Earnshaw family home, Wuthering Heights. It’s 65 miles and took me three days. When you think it took Mr Earnshaw three days to get there and back, he was going a bit faster than I was.” [...]
“In my book, Heathcliff is 16 or 17 and he’s black, the son of a slave. So, looking at actors now who could play that, it wouldn’t be a big name. What would be nice, if this does come true, is we could champion a new actor in that role.”
It feels as though this new incarnation of Heathcliff will cause a stir and you can’t help but think that the Brontës would approve. They have sat atop suggested reading lists for so long that their texts have become part of the establishment – but it’s easy to forget how revolutionary they were.
“I think Anne certainly, Emily definitely and to a certain extent Charlotte were all politicised,” says Stewart. “They were three female writers, writing at a time there was a certain expectation of what women wrote.”
The Brontës’ writing was produced against a background of isolation and family drama. “It’s a winning formula. You’ve got this parsonage which, at the time, was remote with the moors as a backdrop. The fact that they moved there in 1820 and within a year the mother was dead, and then the two oldest daughters within a year of that. Then the added tragedy 20 years on, Branwell dies first of all, nine months later Emily dies and three months later Anne dies. It’s a tragic and dramatic story.”
It is easy to view the sisters as one, with their novels often being read in conjunction. But scratch the surface and you’ll find three hugely different souls, each looking to have their say from that small house. I wonder which is the Stewart’s favourite?
“It depends. Emily, certainly as a writer, I’m drawn to more. In terms of who I’d be friends with, I don’t think Emily and me would get on. I don’t think she really liked people. I think out of the three sisters, it would be Anne. Anne was the most measured in lots of ways. Charlotte was very ambitious and driven. Emily was very misanthropic, but Anne was more moderate. You’d be able to have a laugh with her.” (Chris Park)
Michael Stewart himself has written a short piece for Indie Thinking.
In January 1978 Kate Bush released her debut single, Wuthering Heights. It quickly rose to number one and stayed there for four weeks. I’d just received a tape recorder for Christmas. I was seven years old. I remember filling a C60 cassette tape with the song, taped off the radio. I filled both sides of the tape and played it constantly. I don’t really know why this song in particular grabbed my attention, but I think it was the words. I wanted to know who Cathy was and why she wanted to climb in via a window. I didn’t know the song was based on a book.
My mum took me to one side and gave me a summary of the story. It was one of her favourites. I wanted to read it but she said that I was too young. ‘Wait till you’re older’, she said. ‘It’ll make more sense’.
Cut to 1995. I’m reading an essay by John Sutherland. The essay is called ‘Is Heathcliff a Murderer?’ and it starts with the following sentence: ‘When he returns to Wuthering Heights after his mysterious three-year period of exile Heathcliff has become someone very cruel. He left an uncouth but essentially humane stable-lad. He returns a gentleman psychopath.’ It gets me thinking. What had happened to him during those three years?
It took me another 26 years to figure it out. During my research I’ve read nearly 40 books and walked hundreds of miles over meadow and moor, including a walk from Top Withens, which is said to be the inspiration for the location of Wuthering Heights, to Liverpool port – as Mr Earnshaw did.
Now, 200 years after the birth of Emily Brontë, forty years after that cassette tape, it feels fitting to be publishing this book.
The Telegraph (India) discusses illnesses in literature.
Perhaps it is handy among diseases, for where would plots or feelings be without sickness? Beth in Little Women fades away after scarlet fever, Tiny Tim, unable to move without his crutches, smiles angelically in A Christmas Carol although we do not know what has happened to him, Rochester is blinded in Jane Eyre, else how would Jane's return be emotionally and poetically viable? But women have some illnesses of their own; (Bhaswati Chakravorty)
USA Today's Happy Ever After shares an excerpt from YA fantasy The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie:
I’m not sure how Nolan and I managed to share that amazing, epic, Jane-Eyre-and-Mr.-Rochester’s-first-kiss kiss on Saturday when we thought it was the end of the world. Maybe fear, adrenalin, and our intense feelings for each other trumped Aidan’s draconian antilove magic?
Nine's Honey (Australia) reviews the novel Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty.
As always, it’s really hard to discuss a book by any of the Moriarty sisters without also mentioning the other two sisters. When one family produces three such talented authors it’s difficult not remark on the fact. It’s like having a conversation about a Brontë novel - inevitably you end up talking about all three Brontë sisters. (Sarah McDuling)
Nachrichten (Austria) reviews the Jane Eyre musical in Gmunden.
Ein berührendes Musical, in dem sich eine starke Frau frei spielt
Die deutschsprachige Erstaufführung des Broadway-Erfolgs "Jane Eyre" überzeugt in Gmunden mit Tiefe, nicht mit Kitsch. (...)
Zwei klare, im richtigen Moment dramatisch starke Stimmen, getragen von fließenden, flötenden Melodien, die nur dann beben, wenn es der Chemie von Edward und Jane dient. Sehr gut so, denn den "Tusch", den man ersehnt, liefern bis zuletzt die großen Gefühle. (Nora Bruckmüller) (Translation)
Carme Portaceli's stage adaptation of Jane Eyre has been nominated to several Max Awards:
Mejor Espectáculo de Teatro
Mejor Adaptación o Versión de obra teatral:  Anna Maria Ricart
Mejor Composición Musical: Clara Peyo
Mejor Dirección de Escena: Carme Portaceli
Mejor Diseño de Espacio Escénico: Anna Alcubierre
Mejor Diseño de Vestuario: Antonio Belart
Mejor Diseño de Iluminación:  lgnasi Camprodon
Mejor Actriz Protagonista:  Ariadna Gil
Mejor Actor Protagonista: Abel Folk
La Vanguardia (Spain) mentions it as well:
La obra Jane Eyre: una autobiografía de Teatre Lliure acapara nueve candidaturas para los próximos Premios Max de las Artes Escénicas, incluyendo los de mejor espectáculo de teatro o mejor dirección de escena, siendo la que más tiene en esta 21ª edición. (Translation)
La Nación (Argentina) features singer Julieta Venegas:
Sentada en un sillón al fondo de la librería Eterna Cadencia, de Palermo, Julieta Venegas lee Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë. El libro tiene páginas dobladas y varios párrafos marcados. La novela publicada en 1847 es uno de los títulos que la cantante mexicana eligió para compartir con el público en la clase magistral que inaugura la temporada 2018 del Ciclo de Letras del Centro Cultural San Martín. El martes, en la charla "Mi vida como lectora", Venegas combinará música y literatura en una lectura performática donde interpretará algunas de sus canciones y leerá fragmentos de los textos que marcaron su experiencia como lectora. "Jane Eyre es un libro muy importante para mí. Como dicen los adultos cuando quieren que un niño lea: 'Algún día vas a encontrar un libro en el que te veas reflejado'. Eso me pasó a mí con Jane Eyre". (Natalia Blanc) (Translation)
Independent (Ireland) describes the film Dark River as
more Brontë than Dostoyevsky, though in a thoroughly modern setting. (Paul Whitington)
Small Things (France) reviews Pascal Laugier's film Ghostland.
Laugier semble donc hanté par la question du point de vue, avec laquelle il joue de manière habile. Son dernier long en date, Ghostland, reprend la même structure que ses prédécesseurs, et poursuit cette réflexion sur le focalisateur à travers le personnage aussi fascinant que troublant qu’est Beth. A l’instar des romans gothiques (on pense à Henry James et Emily Brontë), le spectateur est ici prisonnier de la vision subjective du protagoniste principal et contraint d’accepter sa vision de l’histoire. (Juliette) (Translation)
Another article on artist Celia Paul on Yale News.
Born to missionary parents in Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum), South India, Paul’s family returned to their native England before Paul and her four sisters were adolescents. The artist lived with her parents and siblings in Yorkshire near Haworth, a town made famous by another group of sisters, the Brontës, and which continues to inform Paul’s work.

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