Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The Brontë Parsonage Museum reopened yesterday and The Yorkshire Post features the new temporary exhibition, Patrick Brontë: In Sickness and in Health.
Exactly two centuries after the teacher and cleric Patrick Brontë accepted the post of resident curate at Haworth, a new exhibition on his life has unearthed a lost world of home-made medicines and opium, and of life and death in one of the country’s most deprived and unhealthy communities. [...] “Haworth at that time was one of the worst places to live in England. It was considered as bad as the poorest districts of London for its sanitation,” said Sarah Laycock, curator of the year-long anniversary exhibition, Patrick Brontë: In Sickness and In Health. “Life expectancy was only 27 and half the children did not live to see their sixth birthday.” Rev Brontë’s papers, which form part of the display, betray a family whose health was already fragile as they prepared for life in Haworth – then a bleak enclave of industrial mills. His wife, Maria, died the year after they moved into the parsonage, and he and his daughters were plagued by eyesight and other problems. A pair of Charlotte’s spectacles examined by modern opticians reveal her sight to have been “terrible”, Ms Laycock said, adding that Patrick had been forced to undergo an operation without anaesthetic to remove cataracts. Charlotte accompanied him to the clinic in Manchester for the procedure and is said to have begun writing Jane Eyre while he recuperated. The exhibition also includes a blood-spattered handkerchief that had belonged to Anne Brontë after she contracted tuberculosis, a disease that had similarly afflicted her brother, Branwell. “The family shared beds and were quite close physically with each other, which meant the diseases spread,” said Ms Laycock. Patrick’s papers contain a recipe for home-made headache pills similar to those found in Charlotte’s medicine box. But his handling of Branwell’s addiction to alcohol and laudanum, an extract of opium, is less well recorded. A bottle of the potion has survived. The health issues of the Brontës themselves were replicated many times over by those of Patrick’s parishioners. “Because he was a min[i]ster, he had to have some knowledge of how to cure people of common ailments, because they didn’t have the money to see a doctor. “He put all his efforts and energies into trying to make things better for the people of Haworth,” Ms Laycock said. “He was forward thinking in looking at prevention, not just cure. When they realised the cause of the high death rate, he established the Haworth Board of Health and they held meetings on how to stop the spread of cholera. “Unfortunately, his own family didn’t live long enough to see the benefits.” Asked if conditions in the village might have contributed to the early deaths of Patrick’s daughters, Ms Laycock said: “It was pretty grim anyway, living in England at that time.” (David Behrens)
The New Yorker features classic Hollywood screenwriter, Ben Hecht, whose
film résumé is difficult to sort out, in part because he was indifferent to getting screen credit, though not to getting paid. He worked on “Underworld,” “The Front Page” (which yielded the sensationally effective remake “His Girl Friday”), “Scarface,” “Twentieth Century,” “Design for Living,” “Nothing Sacred,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Gunga Din,” “Notorious,” various minor but potent noir movies, and many other things. Some of these were original screenplays, some were adaptations, some were collaborations (with his pals Charles MacArthur or Charles Lederer); a few times he simply provided an indelible story and moved on. (David Denby)
Cultured Vultures reviews the novel The Winter Sister by Megan Collins.
 In a way, Annie’s reading of Wuthering Heights feels very symbolic, seeing as how the way she loves is so madly intense – “like [her] bones are filled with light”. She is not the only one who loves this way; everyone seems to be equally touched by the fervour and desperation of needing to hold on tight to someone, despite the pain and hurt felt in the process. (Natasha Alvar)
According to Los Angeles Review of Books,
Victorians were in many ways obsessed with reimagining domestic spaces and who belonged in them — an obsession that was particularly acute in some of the most beloved literature of the time, from the Brontës to Dickens. (Colin Dickey)
The New Yorker also looks at the life of book-editor-turned-novelist, Dan Mallory, who published his first novel. The Woman in the Window, under the pseudonym A.J. Finn.
His mother, he wrote, urged him “to write to your colleges and tell them your mother has cancer.” Mallory said that he complied, adding, “I hardly feel I capitalized on tragedy—rather, I merely squeezed lemonade from the proverbial lemons.” In college applications, he noted, “I lamented, in the sweeping, tragic prose of a Brontë sister, the unsettling darkness of the master bedroom, where my mother, reeling from bombardments of chemotherapy, lay for days huddled in a fetal position.” (Ian Parker)
Book Riot has listed '50 swoon-worthy love quotes from books', including the typical one from Wuthering Heights. Jane Eyre's Library (in Spanish) looks at a 1928 Spanish edition of Jane Eyre. On The Sisters' Room, Maddalena De Leo discusses 'Ghosts and Brontë Curiosities'.

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