Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Guardian interviews Lily Cole who talks about her new short film Balls (and its Wuthering Heights references) and her partnership with the Brontë Society. Of course, the interview, begins with the turmoil of her announcement as a creative partner in the Emily 200 celebrations:
Today Cole says she was not shocked by [Nick] Holland’s fury, but by the fact that it became a global story. “It’s not surprising when you get people with negative behaviour and attitudes. I was definitely more surprised by the shit-storm that followed. I just thought it was a nice little project to support. I was surprised by the media’s attention.” (...)
Now – and Holland may not like this – she has had the temerity to make a short film inspired by Heathcliff, the character in Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights. To celebrate the writer’s bicentenary, it will be screened this weekend at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, where the family lived.
After three short documentaries, this is the first fictional film Cole has directed. Called Balls, it’s a moving, elliptical reimagining of Heathcliff’s first few months. His black Liverpudlian single mother takes him to the Foundling Hospital to see if they will accept him because she cannot bring him up by herself. The title refers to the fact that, initially, the hospital accepted children on a lottery basis: mothers who picked white balls from a bag were accepted, those who picked black balls were turned away, and reds meant the reserve list.
 Heathcliff's mother is asked if he is a child of colour. 'Are you kidding?' she replies
In the film, the hospital is governed by a board of stern, moralistic men dedicated to helping the deserving poor. So we see Heathcliff’s mother asked whether she was raped (no), whether she had sex with the man more than once (yes), how she has supported the child (through selling everything she owns), and whether it is a child of colour (“Are you kidding?” she replies). Another character, a white mother, is regarded more sympathetically – because she went to Sunday school, her baby is a product of rape, and she was supported by a family friend. (...)
. It was at school that she first read Wuthering Heights – and it made a huge impact. “I had a really strong reaction to Heathcliff.” In what way? She looks embarrassed. “It was, unfortunately, positive. I fell for the really bad thing, like people do. I found him attractive. But the more I read it, the less I like him, the more I see how violent and awful he is. ”
 At school, I had to pretend I was sick in order to go off and do modelling jobs. It was quite stressful
There’s no need to apologise, I say. “I’m not apologising, but it’s interesting to recognise it, right? It’s interesting how polarising he is. I asked a lot of ordinary people about Heathcliff. Half the women find him a violent domestic abuser and can’t understand why he has been painted as a romantic figure. Others still paint him as a romantic figure.” The genius of the novel, she says, lies in the characters being so flawed. By the time you get to see what a monster Heathcliff is, you already love him for his passion and pity him for the abuse he suffered as a child. (...)
When Cole first reacted to Holland’s onslaught, she said she was considering using a pseudonym for her film as an act of solidarity with the Brontë sisters. Was she being serious?
“I did genuinely consider it,” she says. “It would be nice to see people’s responses disassociated from whatever they might expect from me. But in reality, it wasn’t feasible.” More importantly, she decided it was inappropriate. “My producer said, ‘Own it. Be proud.’” She has done – and she is. (Simon Hattenstone)
Incidentally, she also was interviewed on BBC Radio 4. A short video can be seen here where she defines Heathcliff as a domestic abuser.

The Yorkshire Post has a prolific Brontë day. First, an interview with Kate Mosse:
Best-selling author Kate Mosse is appearing in Haworth tomorrow for the launch of I am Heathcliff, a newly commissioned compilation of short stories, each inspired by the anti-hero of Wuthering Heights.
She is appearing alongside fellow writers Joanna Cannon, Juno Dawson and Louise Doughty, when each will talk about their response to one of the literary world’s most divisive fictional characters.
Mosse has been a fan of the Brontës - sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily - since she was a teenager and believes Emily is one of the main reasons why these literary siblings have remained so popular over the years.
“She was part of this extraordinary family of writers living in Haworth and then there’s the influence Wuthering Heights has had on other writers. For me, as a novelist inspired by landscape, she changed what was possible for a woman to write and that’s why this book is still so important to novelists today.”
She says Emily wrote a novel the like of which hadn’t really been seen before. “It wasn’t domestic and it was not in any way following the attitudes and morality of the time,” explains Mosse.
“It was about nature that was indifferent and just sat there at the heart of the novel. People move through the landscape and it’s significant that if you look at the titles of Anne and Charlotte’s novels they are named after people, whereas with Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights is a place, and right from the beginning of this the key character is the place rather than the people.”
Mosse first read it when she was in her teens, like countless others around the world. “I remember thinking the one thing it wasn’t was a love story. It’s a story of obsession, of passion, of revenge, but it’s also a story of domestic violence and a story of racism and society.
“Since then I’ve read it again and again and it’s a novel I’ve read every decade of my life first as a reader and more recently as a writer and I see something different in it every time. There are very few novels where characters step outside the pages of the book and come to life in their own right. Even people who’ve never read the novel, or seen an adaption, have heard of Cathy and Heathcliff.”
It’s also, Mosse believes, a hugely ambitious novel. “It’s trying to tell this epic story of two generations held together by place, but it’s also about revenge and love, and that makes it such a significant novel for all those writers who come after her.
“What Wuthering Heights says is aim high and think big and don’t worry if not everyone likes it and that’s what always appealed to me about the book, and 40 years on from first reading it I still think it’s the most extraordinary achievement and there’s really not a another novel like it. The whole story can’t happen anywhere else other than where it’s set.” (...)
“The work is utterly of its time so you do have a sense of the values of that era. The power of very human emotions and the idea of railing against religion being a good thing are of their time, but they are also of our time and that’s why a story like this is so interesting because it still has the ability to inspire people.
“It takes great confidence to be able to inspire such disparate writers. Society and expectations may change but the human heart and human emotions don’t really change.”
Even so, not everyone has been swept up by Brontë’s breathless saga, or indeed the writer herself. Writing in the Guardian recently, the writer and journalist Kathryn Hughes was critical of Brontë as a person and not much kinder about her book, which she called a ‘screechy melodrama’ of a novel.
Mosse views it differently. “I like the grand scale [of Wuthering Heights] and I prefer ambition that might fall a bit short than something that is perfect but in the end leaves you feeling underwhelmed and thinking ‘so what?’
“It is a complicated and flawed novel in many ways, particularly the second part which is often left out of films and dramatisations because people want the story of the original Cathy and Heathcliff. But, for me, that’s what makes the novel so exceptional, the fact that Emily was prepared to go all out for it.
“I think it is important to separate the cult of Emily Brontë from the actual work. Emily, I have no doubt, was a very complicated person. She was completely focused on herself and her own work and she was not, as many Victorian women would have been, interested in pleasing anyone else.
“Kathryn’s piece was actually very good because it said would we all want to sit round a table having a laugh with Emily Brontë? Probably not. But, for me, that’s part of what makes her so exceptional because she wasn’t a pleaser, she was just doing her own thing and I think that is astonishingly modern.”
And this most famous of novels, like the sisters themselves, remains as popular as ever. “If you don’t like big, epic stories you won’t enjoy Wuthering Heights.
“But I think it’s wonderful that this far on after her birth and of course Charlotte’s and Anne’s, that these extraordinary creative writers, these three sisters, with all the loss and grief they suffered in their lives, produced works that still have people arguing passionately as if they were published last week - I think that is brilliant.” (Chris Bond)
Next, a piece asking for restoring the Haworth moors landscapes:
 “The moors around Haworth are a source of huge admiration for literary fans across the globe,” said Carol Prenton, surveyor at Yorkshire Water which owns the land.
“It is barren, it is peaceful. These landscapes are quite remote, but that’s what people love about them.
“They visit in their thousands every year to see the places that inspired Emily Brontë’s novel.
“But oer the years they have degraded through air pollution, with a lot of the peat bogs disappearing.
“This is all about conserving them, and making them resilient for the future.”
It has long been acknowledged that Emily Brontë took inspiration from the moors around Haworth for her tale of doomed lovers Heathcliff and Catherine.
These landscapes, said John Thirlwell, chairman of the Brontë Society Board, were the “playgrounds” of the young literary sisters, and the inspiration for their imaginations. (...)
But in the years after Wuthering Heights was penned, these moors faced pollution from nearby quarries and factories, with much of the delicate bog plant life killed.
The Moors for the Future Partnership has been working since 2003 to revive it, carrying out specialist conservation and scientific research with the support of Yorkshire Water.
Miles of dry-stone walls have been built, alongside fences to enable the best grazing management for wading birds. Lime has been spread, along with seed, fertiliser and heather brash, to re-vegetate bare peat and block up eroded channels.
“We, as custodians of this landscape, are trying to put it back,” said Ms Prenton.
“Not to where it was in time, but to a working peatland bog, so that it doesn’t keep wasting away.”
You can read the original Moors for the Future Partnership press release here:
The Moors for the Future Partnership’s Bogtastic Van will be at Moorside Lane in Haworth to celebrate the renowned Brontë sister’s birthday from 11am to 2pm on Monday 30th July. (...)
Visitors will be able to step on board the state-of-the-art mobile exhibition vehicle, to experience the sights, sounds and textures of the local moors that inspired a literary work of genius. No booking is necessary, it’s free to attend; just turn up to enjoy!
And finally a mention:
It was once a piggery owned by a businessman who employed Anne Brontë as a governess for his children, but now the site of a historic mill is being turned into new headquarters for a brand design company.
The Engine Room is in the middle of a Grand Designs-style building project as it converts York Mills, on York Road in Mirfield, into offices. (...)
York Mills once belonged to the Ingham family who lived at nearby Blake Hall in Mirfield.
In 1821, the buildings were part of a larger estate which included textile warehouses used by businessman Joshua Ingham.
Other buildings included a large barn, several stables, a cow shed and cart sheds.
The building being renovated by the Engine Room is believed to have been used as a piggery.
Anne Brontë was the governess to the Ingham children at Blake Hall in Mirfield. She used her experiences there in her novel Agnes Grey. (Lizzie Murphy)
Judith Pascoe celebrates the anniversary of Emily Brontë, 'a very nasty woman', on The Rambling:
What little we know of Emily Brontë’s short life suggests that she valued and exercised her privacy, perhaps to degrees inconsistent with marketplace success and fandom development. She was out of step with powerful cultural forces in her day; she seems especially so in our own moment when a first-time novelist is exhorted to ramp up her social media presence.
Emily Brontë is the Harper Lee of British literature, but probably thanks to Charlotte, it’s unlikely anyone will discover an early draft of Wuthering Heights in which Heathcliff turns out to be a really nice guy. As Brontë fans celebrate Emily’s birthday by composing song cycles, short stories, and films inspired by her work, Wuthering Heights stands alone, in Charlotte’s words, “colossal, dark, and frowning.”
Yorkshire Life is quite taken by the Emily Brontë rose:
 The ‘Emily Brontë’ rose is soft pink with a subtle apricot hue and has a strong tea fragrance, which is complimented by hints of old rose, lemon and grapefruit and made its debut at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Kitty Wright, Brontë Society executive director said: ‘Over many years of piecing together Emily’s short but plenteous life, we know that she was completely at one with nature and the outdoors, so this is a really fitting tribute and celebration. David Austin Roses has created a beautiful bloom with charming colours and delicate details and its free-flowering nature makes it a perfect match for Emily.’
David Austin Jnr, managing director of David Austin Roses and eldest son of founder, David Austin, added: ‘We only introduce a few new roses each year, following a nine-year breeding programme and therefore naming a rose is exceptionally important and personal to my father and me. We always want to choose a name that captures the character of the rose and also to reflect elements of British culture that are close to my father’s heart. Historically, many of our English Roses have been named after literary characters or authors and therefore to name the rose Emily Brontë for the bicentenary year was a fitting tribute.’
The Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nichols honeymoon in Banagher, Ireland is discussed in the RTÉ Radio 1 programme Ireland by Bike:
The next leg of the trip brought Cian to the banks of the Shannon, to Banagher.
Local man Gerard Killilea contacted Cian to highlight how Banagher is connected to Charlotte Brontë. It’s something locals are promoting in a bid to attract more tourists.
On arrival in Banagher, Cian visited St Paul's church to meet local historian James Scully who explained the famous novelist's links to the town.
Bronte honeymooned to the town in 1854 and the town is still benefiting from her visit. Nicola Daly of Charlotte's Way B&B says her house is "steeped in history". Now in her 16th year of business, her guest accommodation continues to go from strength to strength. (Alison Spillane)
The bit on Charlotte Brontë can be found here.

Boing Boing lists books with terrible initial reviews
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Brontës were probably quite used to ruffling feathers, and the reaction Wuthering Heights got says a lot about how revolutionary they were. This isn't your average, delicate story for ladies, and it left the Graham's Lady's Magazine wondering “how a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters.” (Alyssa Favreau)
The Spectator is a bit extreme:
Fiction supposedly represented an escape, however fleeting, from the grimness and despair of many peoples’ lives. Yet the novel had been in crisis and dismissed since Charlotte Brontë’s rejection of Jane Austen, not to mention Le Figaro’s dismissal of Flaubert. Never mind. (Taki)
Authors that have adapted other authors on LitHub:
 Aldous Huxley, most famous for his literature of dystopias and drug trips, wrote the screenplays for the first film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1940) and, with John Houseman and director Robert Stevenson, an early adaptation of Jane Eyre (1943).  (Emily Temple)
El Punt Avui (in Catalan) discusses the meaning and the difficult translation of Wuthering Heights as a title:
“A ‘Wuthering Heights’ (Cims borrascosos) l’adjectiu descriu l’agitació atmosfèrica a l’indret en temps de tempesta
El primer cop que, a l’edició catalana de l’única novel·la d’Emily Brontë, apareix Wuthering Heights s’hi afegeix entre parèntesi Cims Borrascosos, nom amb el qual, a partir d’aleshores, serà referida la “residència del senyor Heathcliff”. “Wuthering”, però, torna a fer-se present tot seguit amb un asterisc, que remet a una nota a peu de pàgina. En el cos de la novel·la es diu que és un adjectiu específic de la regió que, sense ser anomenada, podem suposar que correspon a les altituds bromoses de Yorkshire, el comtat on l’autora hi va viure bona part de la seva vida. L’adjectiu “descriu l’agitació atmosfèrica a què està sotmès l’indret en temps de tempesta”.  (Imma Merino) (Translation)
Die Tagespost (Germany) publishes an article celebrating Emily Brontë's anniversary:
Emily Brontë ist heute besser unter ihrem eigenen Namen als unter jenem Pseudonym bekannt, unter dem sie einst ihre Werke veröffentlichte. Ihre Zeitgenossen hingegen bewunderten die atmosphärisch dichten Werke von Ellis Bell.
Emily, geboren vor 200 Jahren am 30. July 1818 in Thornton, einer kleinen Ortschaft in der Grafschaft Yorkshire, hatte fünf Geschwister. Ihr Vater, ein Ire, wurde kurz nach ihrer Geburt nach Haworth versetzt, wo er als Pfarrer wirkte. Die Kinder wurden, wie zu dieser Zeit weithin üblich und in England ja bis heute möglich, zunächst zuhause unterrichtet, wobei der Vater besonderen Wert auf die literarische Bildung legte. (Read more) (Barbara Stühlmeyer) (Translation)
A Lady in London lists films that make you fall in love with England, including the several Jane Eyre adaptations. All About Romance reviews Alexa Donne's Brightly Burning.


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