Monday, May 10, 2021

Countdown to the reopening of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in The Telegraph and Argus.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth has announced that it is reopening to the public on Wednesday May 19, almost 126 years to the day that the original Brontë Museum opened in 1895.
The Museum will mark the reopening after lockdown with two new exhibitions from celebrated ceramic artist Layla Khoo and Isabel Greenberg, the illustrator and writer behind the Brontë inspired graphic novel ‘Glass Town’.
Contemplating Hope’ by Layla Khoo is the first of two new exhibitions to take place in the Museum and will be in situ from May 2021 to May 2022.
Khoo is a multimedia 3D artist, specialising in ceramics that respond to ideas, events or collections of objects. ‘Contemplating Hope’, which was planned to take place before Covid, will feature a new, carefully crafted ceramic vessel each month into which visitors can put a slip of paper on which they have written their hopes and dreams.
The work has been inspired by ‘diary papers’ written by the Brontë sisters, which they would store in a cash box. After four years, they would revisit the papers and look back on the hopes and aspirations they had written down four years earlier. A selection of these original diary papers will also be on display. The exhibition, which was originally planned for 2020, has taken on a new meaning since the pandemic, with a focus on the future at the forefront of so many minds.
Harry Jelley, Audience Development Officer at the Parsonage Museum comments, “We were really excited to work with Layla Khoo having seen her previous work with the National Trust. Layla has a talent for finding emotional connections to collections and thinking about how to bring audiences closer to the stories museums tell. We first invited Layla to the Parsonage almost two years ago. She explored the collection before taking some time to reflect and develop ideas. Layla was immediately drawn to Anne and Emily’s diary papers. ‘Contemplating Hope’ emerged through a series of conversations, resulting in this installation that brings together Layla’s ceramics practice with a participatory experience that invites the audience to take a step into the Brontës’ shoes. In the turbulent times in which we live, it’s poignant how Layla has connected with the emotional and topical threads that we share with the Brontës' time: disease, political movements, ambition, apprehension, hope. We hope visitors will find some peace and calm to reflect with this installation.”
Also new to the Museum is ‘Gondal Arise!’, an installation by Isabel Greenberg, the author and illustrator of ‘Glass Town’, a graphic-not-quite-biography of the Brontës and their Juvenilia, the stories written by the Brontës in their youth. As well as original works from ‘Glass Town’, ‘Gondal Arise!’ will feature new maps by Isabel that explore Emily and Anne’s imaginary world of Gondal, bringing together the sisters’ fantasy world with the real world. The installation will be in place until December 2021.
The Museum has been closed throughout the winter and early spring and received £119,200 from Arts Council England and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The funding has helped The Brontë Society, the charity responsible for the Museum, to support the Museum through the lockdown and help finance increased digital activity.
Rebecca Yorke of the Brontë Parsonage Museum Executive Team said, “Following a challenging six months we are delighted that we will soon be reopening our doors and able to welcome visitors back to the Museum. We are extremely grateful to both Arts Council England and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the help of the Cultural Recovery Fund, which has been vital to us while we’ve been closed. We would also like to say a huge thank you to our supporters in Yorkshire and around the globe who have helped us in myriad of ways over the last year, and look forward to sharing these two new exhibitions with them.
The Museum is also set to announce further events for the summer in the coming weeks, including the line-up for its annual Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing.
For more information on the reopening of the Brontë Parsonage Museum and to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.bronte.org.uk/visit-us. Please note that social distancing and Covid safety measures will be in place throughout.
Keighley News is also looking forward to the reopening.

StarTribune reviews The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins.
Get ready for a lightning-fast read with familiar characters in an altogether unfamiliar setting.
This suspenseful homage to Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" is a modern retelling of the classic gothic novel. Yes, we have a Jane. We have a Mr. Rochester. And it is set in a gated community that you will recognize from the old English manor of the same name.
Rachel Hawkins has taken great liberties in modernizing this tale of a tragic love triangle, but even if you aren't familiar with the original story, it's believable and irritatingly possible even in modern times. The author issues a warning: This nightmare could still happen.
The brooding Edward Rochester has been replaced by a self-confident Eddie who owns a McMansion where our Jane is a dog walker for the rich. Instead of their meeting in a dank woods and Edward's horse throwing him, this Eddie is driving a muscle car and narrowly avoids hitting her as he speeds out of his driveway.
That's where this retelling starts. With all of its nods to the original work, it's a good nail-biter today and worth sticking with until the end. (Ginny Greene)
The Times is reviewing The Pursuit of Love, BBC version: 
James is excellent as the unhinged hopeless romantic Linda, hopping gratuitously into baths with Fanny and smashing her lines, especially when she says of her dowdy teenage sister marrying a balding old lord: “She looks like the eldest and ugliest of the Brontë sisters.” (Carol Midgley)
Honi Soit wonders whether you can actually trust authors' biographies.
Although biographies are non-fiction, they invent. Lucasta Miller, the author of The Brontë Myth, is mistrustful of biographies in her own account of the Brontë sisters. She considers biographies a form of myth creation: what biographies invent they also reproduce for market consumption. This is another way that we reduce the reputation of particularly famous novelists into cultural objects which are sold as ideas or signifiers of genre or style or identity in a digestible form: read Jane Austen if you’re a woman into classics and romance, read James Baldwin or Toni Morrison if you want to learn about race in America, read Jack Kerouac if you’re cultivating your identity as a softboi. And while this is all true, in doing so we fail to appreciate what books do – how fiction transmutes ideas into people and how those people become us. We instead materialise and thereby minimise what they merely are as products of the people that wrote them. It works, too – personal branding infects a literary legacy. (Genevieve Couvret)
DIYMFA looks at different versions of Jane Eyre throughout the years. AnneBrontë.org has a post on the Tower of London's ravens and the voting to choose their names. Finally, the Brussels Brontë Blog reports on a recent talk to the group by Isabel Greenberg.

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