Thursday, January 23, 2020

According to Vox, 'Anne Brontë is the least famous Brontë sister. But she might have been the most radical'. The article, which focuses on the greatness of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is well worth a read (or two).
January 17, 2020, was the 200th anniversary of Anne Brontë’s birth: neglected Anne, forgotten Anne, Anne who is the least famous sister in a family of celebrated geniuses. But her bicentennial came at a transitional moment in Brontë studies, because the consensus on Anne is changing.
Although Anne Brontë has traditionally been considered a much less interesting writer than her sisters Charlotte (Jane Eyre) and Emily (Wuthering Heights), over the past few decades, critics have started to change their minds. Now, they’re wondering if Anne might have been the most radical Brontë of all — and if the second of her two books, 1848’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, might be one of the first truly feminist novels.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, out now in a new edition from the Folio Society, tells the story of Helen Huntingdon and her ill-fated marriage to an abusive alcoholic. As the critic Marianne Thormählen noted in 2018, Tenant is in the odd position of never having been quite right for its time: too shocking in its uncensored treatment of domestic abuse and addiction for the 19th century, and too didactic and moralizing in its condemnation of both for the 20th century.
Victorian critics called Tenant “disgusting,” “revolting,” and “brutal;” too coarse to be truly great art in the way that Jane Eyre was. Meanwhile, the 20th century critic Terry Eagleton argued that the book’s language “is that of morality rather than imagination”: too prim and prudish to be truly great art in the way that Wuthering Heights was.
Despite critical ambivalence, on its first publication, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a bestseller to rival Jane Eyre. But after Anne Brontë’s death in 1849, Charlotte Brontë forbade publishers from reprinting it, on the grounds that the novel was “an entire mistake,” because “nothing less congruous with the writer’s nature could be conceived.” Anne, in other words, was a perfectly respectable young lady from a respectable family, and strangers should stop judging her for writing a novel filled with such unnervingly vivid scenes of drunken abuse.
After Charlotte died in 1854, publishers began reprinting Tenant, but this time in a version riddled with errors and omissions, with entire chapters stripped away to keep the page count down. This new version of the novel — known among Brontë scholars as “the mutilated text” — was widely distributed and republished. It wasn’t until 1992, after decades of determined Anne partisans making the case that her work deserved further scholarship, that a complete scholarly edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published.
In the interim, the low quality of the mutilated text — along with Charlotte’s disavowal of the work and the majority critical consensus that Anne was the least worthy of the Brontë sisters — served to ensure that Tenant remained below the threshold of public knowledge. Today, most people have heard of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and they may even be aware of a few of Charlotte’s other novels, like Villette. But Anne appears most regularly in popular culture as a foil to her more famous sisters: the weird one, the forgotten one.
On the occasion of Anne Brontë’s 200th birthday, it’s time to change that. Because The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a wildly modern, daring, and provocative book. It’s not perfect by any means, but it shows that its author deserves our attention today — not as the odd one out among the Brontë sisters, but on her own merits. (Constance Grady) (Read more)
The Bolton News reviews Polly Teale's Brontë at Farnworth Little Theatre.
Nathalie Haley sustains a passionate performance throughout with an evocative and sensual style. Ben Kilburn delivers his four roles with gusto, with convincing Irish accent. Ben is easy to watch and displays expressive characterisation.
Moving on to the family, Andrew Turton portrays the stoic Father, Patrick well. James Haslam has a trio of roles but comes into his own as Branwell, the family’s only brother who turns to drink and takes a mistress. James never disappoints by his acting ability and this performance was no different.
Taking on such a title and playing roles of such well known characters is not an easy task; however, the Brontë sisters are in the safe hands of three cracking actresses who were all consumed in each role. Ellie Murphy gives Emily Brontë the right amount of independence and determination as this strong willed character made her mark on life.
Rebecca Anderson delights as Ann (sic) Brontë, an innocent and well considered performance that was subtle, enchanting and well timed.
Last but my no means least, Esme Mather turns in a stunning performance as Charlotte. Intense, sincere and positively devoted to her Father, Esme displayed effortless emotion, strength and tenacity as she strived to keep her family together, forgoing her own happiness. The sadness here is that her finding of happiness and eventual love was short lived by her early demise at the age of 39.
Excellent costumes by Susan Howard and Bell costumes, and an impressive set by Phil Brookes, Chris Norris, Dave Eyre and Elaine Gawthorpe enhanced the quality of this production. Lighting by Phil Brookes provides some great mood effects that really enhanced the ambience of the piece
If you have a spare night this week, take yourself along to FLT – you will not be disappointed. (Paul Cohen)
More theatre in Keighley News:
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is among works featured in an initiative aimed at introducing theatre to schoolchildren.
Recordings of 24 National Theatre productions – which also include Macbeth, Frankenstein and Treasure Island – are being made available free to state primary and secondary schools, plus colleges, across the region.
Jane Eyre, Haworth-based Charlotte’s best known novel, was published in 1847.
It depicts the emotional and spiritual development of the heroine.
The National Theatre Collection, produced in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing, has been drawn from a decade of live broadcasts and previously-unreleased archive material.
Recordings are accompanied by learning resources, which include rehearsal insights and short videos.
It is planned to increase the collection to 30 titles by March and add further resources later in the year.
Alice King-Farlow, from the National Theatre, said: “We are thrilled to announce that the collection is now available free for state schools to access.
“We believe all young people should have the opportunity to watch, make and explore theatre as part of a broad and balanced education.
“The collection is an essential part of our commitment to schools.” (Alistair Shand)
Today recommends '13 classic books you'll love if you're a fan of 'Little Women'', such as
3. "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Brontë
This list would not be complete without a mention of Charlotte Brontë. In "Jane Eyre," the reader follows the main character through being orphaned to arriving at Thornfield Hall, the home of the mysterious Edward Rochester. [...]
10. "Wuthering Heights," by Emily Brontë
Another Brontë sister classic, "Wuthering Heights" follows the character of Heathcliff from being a young man to old age. (Kara Quill)
Lancashire Evening Post recommends Tanya Landman's retelling.
Age 9 plus:
Jane Eyre: A Retelling
Tanya Landman
Reading classic novels can seem daunting to youngsters so Barrington Stoke has harnessed the storytelling talents of prize-winning author Tanya Landman for this poignant and powerful retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s eternally popular Jane Eyre.
Landman, who won the Carnegie Medal in 2015 with Buffalo Soldier – a young adult novel featuring an African-American slave from the Deep South at the end of the American Civil War – is renowned for her thought-provoking novels set in nineteenth-century America.
And she brings her observant eye and writing skills to this beautifully realised and accessible retelling of one of the greatest novels in the English language. Whilst honouring Brontë’s classic tale of a spirited heroine’s search for love, independence and belonging, Landman accentuates the key themes and scenes from the original text in a more concise format without compromising on the impact and importance of the original. [...]
Renowned for her own precise, powerful and emotional storytelling focus on strong female characters, Landman proves to be the perfect voice to bring new life to this timeless story and give young readers the impetus to go on and read the original Jane Eyre for themselves. (Pam Norfollk)
Telegraph mentions this retelling too:
This drive to update the classics for young readers is the new rage in publishing. Earlier this month, we had Tanya Landman’s “truly accessible” version of Jane Eyre; which follows recent rewrites of everything from Kipling’s Jungle Book to Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, in which we see the arrival of a girl from India. (“India!” a third former gasps.)
It is easy to dismiss such projects as mere marketing ploys. But Landman’s Jane Eyre, which is printed in a dyslexic-friendly font, is part of a commendable campaign to introduce reluctant readers to the classics. (Emily Bearn)
Palatinate looks at Jean Rhys's works beyond Wide Sargasso Sea.
It would not be an understatement to say that the early writings of Jean Rhys have been partially obscured by the momentous legacy of Wide Sargasso Sea. Abounding with intertextuality and deeply enmeshed within a rich literary tradition, it is difficult to study Wide Sargasso Sea without Jane Eyre as a point of reference, and equally challenging to discuss Jean Rhys in isolation from Charlotte Brontë. (Constance Lam)
Grazia (France) interviews writer Gaëlle Nohant, who claims that Jane Eyre changed her life when she read it when she was 8.
Un livre pour se libérer des complexes ? Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë : en montrant à quel point il est possible de transformer son destin, ce roman a changé ma vie. Il a fait germer ma vocation d'écrivain lorsque j'avais 8 ans. (Translation)
Apparently, people have forgotten about Tom Hardy playing Heathcliff as ScreenRant includes this role on a list of '10 Tom Hardy Roles You Forgot Happened'.
9 Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is the kind of project that will repeated many times across time. It's a novel that has been adapted repeatedly and so it's no surprise that Hardy has take part in one version of this grim and gothic English tale.
Tom Hardy actually took a starring role in the 2009, two part TV mini series. He was one half of the destructive lovers, Heathcliff. The character was portrayed with the same dark charm as you'd imagine, based on the writings of Emily Brontë. (George Chrysostomou)

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