Friday, January 31, 2020

Charlotte Brontë's 'little book' is now back home in Haworth, ready to be seen by visitors from tomorrow onwards when the Brontë Parsonage Museum opens its doors again. Don't miss the video by The Yorkshire Post.
It arrived from the auction house in Paris wrapped up like a Russian doll, and when the curators peeled away the layers to find the jewel beneath, some of them wept.
What they saw in the second of six “little books” handwritten by the 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë’ was nothing less than a matchbox-sized masterpiece.
Within its 20 pages had been etched three entire short stories which not only foreshadowed Jane Eyre but also threw open a window into the soul of a young girl yearning for a world beyond the Yorkshire moors. [...]
Ann Dinsdale, principal curator at the parsonage museum, said she had been there for 30 years and had seen nothing to match the emotion its arrival induced.
“We had a welcome committee of staff who’d made a point of being in the museum to see it arrive. It was like a historic occasion,” she said.
To actually see it here was extraordinary, and incredibly moving. It was the highlight of my career.
“Some of us felt a little tearful. So much effort and passion had gone into bringing it to Haworth and we’d worked so long and so hard to make it happen.
“It seemed extraordinary that there had been this huge interest in such a tiny item.”
The book will be displayed alongside the four others known to exist. Of the remaining volume, the fifth, nothing has been seen since the 1930s.
But the second is potentially the most fascinating, for although the contents of all six were catalogued and transcribed, it has never been published or made available.
“It’s hugely important in academic terms because it adds so much to our knowledge of Charlotte’s development as a writer,” Ms Dinsdale said.
“The three pieces of prose make it absolutely clear that she had an incredible imagination.”
Another is a fantasy about fine dining and aristocratic living, which, said Ms Dinsdale, reads as “almost an antidote to domestic life at Haworth”.
“You get the feeling that she must have found life at the parsonage lacklustre,” said the curator.
At the front is the book is a table of contents and at the back, made-up advertisements betraying wild flights of fancy about a 100-year-old cow being put on show.
The book had been in the hands of collectors for years, and the final layer of protective packaging was an exquisite leather binder made for it by a former owner.
The Brontë Society had coveted it for years but had been outbid by an investor at a previous auction. With an estimate by the Drouot auction house of up to €800,000, its purchase this time was far from assured.
But Ms Dinsdale said it had been placed “back where it belonged” and where it could inspire “generation upon generation, enriching lives far beyond the walls where it was originally created”.
Kitty Wright, executive director of the Brontë Society, added: “We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people from all over the world backing our campaign". (David Behrens)
The Yorkshire Post also has an opinion column about it.
The little books created by the teenage Charlotte Brontë, barely the size of matchboxes yet overflowing with intricate, exquisite prose that belies her tender years, are truly the crown jewels in Yorkshire’s considerable cultural treasure house.
The return of one of them to the parsonage at Haworth where Charlotte wrote it nearly two centuries ago, is as significant an event to the creative world as Brexit is to the political universe.
The Brontë Society had paid €600,000 for it at auction in Paris last November, and few who see it can doubt its worth.
More than 600 back crowdfunder to bring Charlotte Brontë book back to Yorkshire
Indeed, some of those who have already done so have been overwhelmed at the clarity of the window it opens on the soul of one of the world’s great literary figures.
The book, into whose 20 tiny pages Miss Brontë has managed to squeeze more than 4,000 words, is one of six and as the parsonage museum opens after its winter break, it is at last available for everyone to view, alongside the four others known to exist.
Many trusts and funding bodies contributed to its purchase, but it was the £85,000 from individual supporters that speaks most to the enduring popularity of the Brontë sisters.
It is a legacy that time cannot dim.
The Leader gives a 4 out of 5 to the stage production of Wuthering Heights at Chester.
It's as difficult to cram Emily Brontë's sprawling, complex and multi-generational book into a play as it is to bring the moors inside, but director Laura Coard manages it. She and the cast plait the threads of the Earnshaw and Linton clans' love and hate-fuelled interrelationships without tangling them.
The staging makes great use of the available space; ivy climbs up the ravaged walls of Wuthering Heights, while Thrushcross Grange is represented by expensive-looking drapes. The costumes are also extremely good, and the lighting is effective, particularly during an emotionally charged visitation from a ghost.
Actors make full use of the room, using the multi-levelled set to great dramatic effect; particularly at the end where the thwarted lovers ascend together into the afterlife and sit, watching, as the rest of the story unfolds. Sophie Wolenstencroft (as Catherine Earnshaw) and Paul Quinn (as Heathcliff) carry the play on their shoulders as lynchpin characters, but they seem to be acting for a wider space than the actual auditorium allows. There are other standouts. Rachel Sumner as Nelly Dean is the sensible heart and conscience of the story, while Katie Deyes as Emily Brontë is an efficient narrator. The decision to include the author is a clever one; we seem to witness the story unfold as she writes it.
However, one addition to the text is dubious; there is a graphic rape scene. The perpetrator is already clearly deranged - it's unnecessary to hammer the point home in this manner. This moment adds nothing and threatens to undermine the poignancy of the ending. However, if you have the stomach for it, the rest of the production is well worth a look, whether you've read the book or not. 
El País (Spain) discusses the use of pseudonyms by women writers and we sincerely hope that this is a blunder on the part of the journalist and not the professor of comparative literature, which would be rather worrying:
“Las Brontë al principio de sus carreras usaron nombres masculinos y después los abandonaron; en cambio, la extraordinaria George Eliot toda su vida mantuvo su pseudónimo”, remata [Nora Catelli, profesora de Literatura comparada en la Universidad de Barcelona] (Ana Marcos) (Translation)
The Brontës never once published anything under their actual names. We don't understand the reason/source behind this rumour/false belief when it is so easy to check. From their self-published book of poems to Charlotte's last novel Villette, the Brontës were always Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.

The Sisters' Room puts the spotlight on Anne Brontë's drawing of Roe Head.


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