Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:56 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
The Telegraph and Argus features Ill Will by Michael Stewart.
When considering Heathcliff’’s missing years, Michael - novelist, lecturer and Head of Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield, whose work includes novels King Crow and Cafe Assassin and short fiction collection Mr Jolly - focused on Mr Earnshaw’s journey to Liverpool, and his return with a dark-skinned foundling. In Ill Will, the links between Liverpool’s early industrial glory and the slave trade are interwound with Heathcliff’s story.
“Why did Earnshaw walk to Liverpool, when he had horses and could’ve gone by coach? He went to get something and he came straight back. He was on a mission,” says Michael. Without revealing too much, this Earnshaw isn’t the kindly father of Brontë’s novel. You wonder whether, in bringing Heathcliff home, he was seeking redemption; a theme explored in Ill Will through despicable industrialist turned pious “do-gooder” Jonas Bold.
“Liverpool was Europe’s biggest slave port. Slave women were routinely raped, and both male and female slaves were subjected to unimaginable acts of depravity,” says Michael, who read meticulously recorded incidents of abuse in plantation diaries at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum.
In Ill Will, Heathcliff is sickened by Bold’s accounts of “each and every sexual congress during his years on the plantation”. Learning of the brutal treatment of his mother sparks Heathcliff’s fury, simmering through years of Hindley’s abuse. “He’s been beaten, spat on, kept in a shed. All that anger and resentment has to come out,” says Michael. “I once worked in Wakefield Prison, with lifers who seemed like quiet, polite men, and when I heard their stories there was a catalyst which released something in them.” [...]
Ill Will creates a fascinating sense of the 1780s North on the cusp of industrialisation. Manchester and Liverpool were under construction, along with the “Duke’s canal” linking the cities. It was a time of press gangs and unrest. Through Michael’s intricate detail we learn of people at work and leisure, the food they ate, language they used and clothes they wore.
“It was a turning point,” he says. “Through Heathcliff, we see it from the ground - poverty, misery, gin houses, children half-starved and deformed by child labour. Heathcliff leaves agricultural work for the city. Initially he reaches Manchester, and the beauty and cruelty of the Industrial Revolution. The Enclosure Acts were kicking people off their land, rural communities were lured into cities by the promise of better wages and ended up working 14-hour shifts in factories. Farm work was tough but it was in daylight hours - in the cities these vast cathedrals of industry ate up labour.”
Arriving in Manchester, Heathcliff is greeted by "much commotion and mulling about".
"I was taken first by the sights, then the sounds, and finally the smells. The town in front of us was like nothing I had ever seen...Ladies and gentlemen of fine attire. Some wore fancy clothes, silk coats and embroidered waistcoats. Brightly coloured frocks, ribbons and outlandish nosegays. But also there were those in tattered rags, ravelled dugs and barefoot.
"The buildings towering above us, reaching up to the clouds, were fit for giants...Spires that pierced the blue canvas of the sky. My ears were pricked with the clamour of industry. The clanking of metal plates. The clatter of iron-rimmed cartwheels on cobbles. Shouting, laughing wailing...The stench of burning coals, of rotting offal and festering fruits. A beggar sleeping in the gutter. A painted chaise pulled by fine mares. I saw the drive crack his whip and drive over the fingers of the beggar, slicing through two of them as though they were breakfast sausages.
"This was a place where you had to keep your wits about you. The vision before me was one part heaven and one part hell. I could barely decide what to make of it."
Michael was struck by how many social issues of the time are still around today. "With cities came homelessness. Walk through any city today and you’ll see people sleeping on streets. Immigration was a talking point in the 1780s, with resentment about Irish immigrants coming over for work. And slavery, one of the worst crimes in history, is back on the agenda. There are more slaves in the world now than in the 18th century,” he says.
Emily Brontë would have been aware of such social issues. “Patrick Brontë was an abolitionist, he was mentored at Cambridge by William Wilberforce. He championed workers’ rights and women’s rights. He addressed his children as adults, particularly after the death of Maria, their mother, and he made them socially aware. We see that in their writing,” says Michael, who lives in Thornton, where the Brontë siblings were born. “It wasn’t legal to have slaves here but people got round it by calling them servants, there was a well known case of a slave escaping from Colne who went on the run. A massive thing in Yorkshire, I’m sure Emily would’ve heard about it.” (Emma Clayton)
Jane Eyre is one of the '50 Books to Read Before You’re 50' according to Reader's Digest.
Jane Eyre
Considered one of the greatest romance novels of all-time, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is more than a tome about passion. The author provides us with a strong female lead who perseveres despite significant odds. (Kelly Bryant)
The Washington Post reviews Madeline Miller's new novel Circe:
Mocked by her far more majestic family, Circe is a kind of Titanic Jane Eyre, sensitive and miserable, but nursing an iron will. (Ron Charles)
WND reviews the Russian film On-drakon:
He is a Dragon” appeals to youth who are idealistic enough to believe that true love for a satanic 200-foot Pterosaur sort of thing can be transforming (literally), even for an enraged dragon. It’s the old Heathcliff effect. (Marisa Martin)
This columnist from iNews complains about the fact that, 'Jane Austen’s novels have ruined [her] for dating modern men'.
In fact, Jane Austen is not the only English unmarried woman who completely screwed with my head, leading me to trust that one day I would find the soulmate (who does not – of course – exist). The Brontë sisters spun beautiful yarns too. Did I, at any point, as Cathy said of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, find that my love was “more myself than I am”? No… When I muttered to one boyfriend that life with him was so wretched I’d probably have more fun throwing myself off the nearest bridge, did he thunder: “What kind of living will it be when you – oh God! Would you like to live with your soul in the grave?” No he did not. We are often encouraged to read because it is good for us and may help cure whatever ails us. Laura Freeman’s beautifully written memoir on how vivid descriptions of food in books helped her overcome anorexia is the outstanding example in this genre. But all I’ve ever found – as Louisa May Alcott once wrote – is that I’m so fond of books they’ve turned my brain. The friends I love conversing with most exist on my bookshelves. Most of them have been dead for at least 50 years. Or, worse, are characters who never existed at all. I’d take even Jane Eyre’s affair with Mr Rochester over any of my own. (Emily Hill)
BT reports that the 'Publishers Association has devised a Brexit Blueprint to help support the industry'.
Stephen Lotinga, the chief executive of the association, who will chair the panel, said: “Britain has been the world’s publisher for more than 300 years.
“From Jane Eyre to Harry Potter and from On The Origin Of Species to A Brief History Of Time, works published in Britain help to shape our national identity and the way others see us around the world – and they underpin our £92 billion UK creative industries sectors here at home.
“Our sector’s success is supported by certain things which enable it to thrive. These include free access to global talent and ideas, a strong system of intellectual property rights which incentivises new thinking and creativity, freedom of speech and freedom to publish, unrestricted access to global export markets, and fair digital markets.
“These must not be traded away during negotiations in the broader interests of striking new FTAs, either now or after we leave the EU.”
Bookmarks posts about Wide Sargasso Sea. Maddalena De Leo discusses Wuthering Heights 1939 on The Sisters' Room.

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