Friday, March 19, 2021

The Telegraph and Argus has an article on writer Michael Stewart's latest initiative:
A Brontë literary expert has urged Thornton residents to "preserve" a piece of heritage once walked on by the internationally acclaimed sisters.
Under the proposed local plan by Bradford Council, a section of the historic Brontë Way public footpath has been proposed as a potential site for 150 homes.
The document, which is currently out to public consultation until March 24, 2021, sets out where homes should and shouldn't be built in Bradford, and will dictate developments until 2038.
Current targets show Bradford needs to create 1,700 new homes a year - over 30,000 during the life of the plan.
But author and University of Huddersfield lecturer Michael Stewart said the decision to build on the fields is "detrimental" to both views across the valley and the area's cultural offer.
From America to Australia, Mr Stewart takes tourists of all nationalities along the historic paths once trodden by Bradford's famous literary sisters each year.
If approved, the plans - referenced under TH/003 - could see homes built within the next six to 10 years.
The lecturer, who has also authored books on famous characters such as Heathcliffe (sic), said: "Instead of walking across beautiful fields with unspoiled views of the valley, you will be walking in the shadow of the backs of houses."
He continued: "I would very much like to preserve this ancient right of way so close to where the Brontë's were born.
"I totally get the need for new housing and I totally get the need for the council to allocate that. But some of these plans are just going to ruin not just the heritage in Thornton and the surrounding area but all the work people have done to capitalise on that heritage.
"I live in Thornton. I live very close to the Brontë birth place. I’ve written about the Brontë sisters. A lot of people don’t realise that Thornton is the birth place of the Brontë’s, they think it’s Haworth.
"A lot of American tourists came over last year and these people were very happy to spend their money.They go stay in hotels in the area, go out to restaurants, going to bars in the area. I can see people doing the walk everyday.
"I also think what we’ve got with the Brontë’s is completely unique in the world. There are no other siblings that are internationally known authors. Three sisters and a brother. There is no other place in the world that you find that.
"It’s such a nice walk from Thornton to Haworth. We’re making that connection they did when they left in 1820.
"The Brontës are our biggest literary export after Shakespeare, Dickens. They’re loved all over the world – Japan, Australia – I don’t think we capitalise enough on this in Bradford, particularly in Thornton where they’re born." (Natasha Meek)
Elizabeth Brooks, author of The Whispering House, has written an essay on 'the Undeniable Lure of the Historic Literary Home' for LitHub.
Whereas I’ve only seen Greenway once, and Menabilly not at all, I have visited the Brontë Parsonage museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, many, many times. Alongside Greenway and Menabilly, which both have pretensions to grandeur, Haworth Parsonage seems relatively small and stolid, and yet of all the literary museums I’ve ever visited, it always seems the most intimately and excitingly alive. Maybe it’s because The Brontë Society is so old (it was founded in 1893, and an affluent benefactor, Sir James Roberts, gifted it the house in 1928), or because such a wealth of artifacts has been preserved and put on display—either way, stepping though that front door always feels like the closest thing I’ll ever get to traveling through time. When I leave—having seen the dining table where the three sisters wrote and read aloud, and their clothes and shoes, and their pens and ink bottles, and the tiny, hand-sewn books that they created in childhood—not only do I feel the need to write, I also feel inspired to follow the sisters into the dark, intense and gothic places where they set their novels.
The house depicted in my own novel owes a great deal to Jane Eyre’s Thornfield Hall, not least because the attic, though rarely visited by the main characters, is the story’s focal point. Charlotte Brontë enjoyed the narrative allure of the attic, featuring it as a ghostly and uneasy setting not only in Jane Eyre, but also in Villette, where Lucy Snowe encounters a spectral nun in the attic of Madame Beck’s school.
In 1839, when Charlotte was in her early twenties, she visited a stately home in North Yorkshire called Norton Conyers. During her stay she was shown up a hidden attic staircase, to a remote, north-facing room with a small gable window, where a mentally ill woman known as “Mad Mary” was said to have been confined during the 1700s. It would be another seven years before Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre, and she no doubt drew her inspiration from many varied sources, but ‘Mad Mary’ surely sowed the seed for the character, and incarceration, of Mr. Rochester’s wife, Bertha.
At Thornfield Hall, as at Norton Conyers or any stately home, the attic is effectively out of bounds, and there’s nothing odd about that. You would not expect the attic rooms of a grand house to be open to guests. Attics are dusty, disused, liminal spaces where junk may be stored, or servants quartered in the cramped rooms.  It’s not the fact that the attic is off-limits that raises the hairs on the back of the reader’s neck, but the sense that there’s something—or someone—up there, that shouldn’t be. Something untoward that is in the house, but not quite of the house.
7:30pm: Glass Town By The Tank. A rock requiem starring the Brontë siblings—Anne, most feminist and most faithful, a neosoul star; Emily, melancholy alt-rock prodigy; Branwell, full of the blues; and Charlotte, fiery frontwoman, desperate for recognition and love. A staged concept album that defies traditional musical theatre, Glass Town explores familial bonds, grief, and isolation, using the literary family as archetypal touchstones.
Glass Town features Miriam Pultro as writer, “Charlotte,” keys and vocals; Katrien Van Riel as music director, “Emily,” bass and vocals; Eddy Marshall as “Branwell,” guitar and vocals; and Emma Claye as “Anne” and vocals. Additional band members include Matt DeMaria (Drums, etc), Anthime Miller (Cello) and Lauren Zawarski (Violin). (Suzanna Bowling)
Business World comments on the fact that
With Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë earned 25 times her salary in the hated job of governess. (Virginia Postrel)
Brontë Babe Blog puts the focus on '5 Overlooked Brontë Women'.

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