Sunday, January 22, 2017

Writing about Gaskell's Life

The upcoming activities at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Keighley News:
Simon Armitage has produced a number of evocative poems to accompany objects belonging to Branwell, and we can’t wait to share them with you. All in all, it’s very chaotic and noisy here; the sound of drills is forever in the background, but order will be restored by February 1!
Our new events programme for the first half of the year is now out, and is jam-packed with a variety of events.
Our popular free Tuesday talks (on the first Tuesday of the month) kicked off on Tuesday January 7 with a visiting speaker from the University of Hull, whose expertise was Branwell’s childhood writing.
Our first Parsonage Unwrapped of the year dives into our drama archives to look at Brontë adaptations, and no doubt Ann Dinsdale, our principal curator, will share a few secrets about behind-the-scenes activity on the set of To Walk Invisible.
Alongside these favourites are new Meet the Maker evenings for the spring/summer months and brand new Brontë Treasures sessions, which offer a unique opportunity to go beyond the security cord into the Parsonage Library for a close-up viewing of some of the collection items not on display.
During these special hour-long sessions, a member of our curatorial team will share facts and stories about a number of carefully-selected objects, offering a specialist insight into the lives and works of the Brontës.
Fascinating and moving, Brontë Treasures is a perfect gift for a Brontë fan, so if you’re stuck for a Valentines or Mother’s Day gift, this is one which will make someone very happy.
We are running these new Treasures sessions just once a month throughout the year – on the last Friday of the month – and tickets cost £85. Places are limited to 12, so book quickly if it’s for a special occasion.
On a more frivolous note, we’re marking the arrival of the Tour de Yorkshire at the end of April with our very own Parsonage Poet on a Bike – come up to the museum to see what that’s all about! – and we’re marking the arrival of the Flying Scotsman at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in April with our very own Branwell Off the Rails? talks.
Here’s to a ‘flying’ start to 2017! For details of any events call 01535 640192 or visit (David Knights)
Some of the scheduled activities are Ursula Holden-Gill's walks around Haworth. Also in Keighley News:
[J]oin storyteller Ursula Holden-Gill on Saturday, January 28 as she leads wintry walks around the village.
The singer, who has appeared on TV, promises spellbinding, family-friendly meanderings around the streets of Haworth
Ursula, who will tell tales of Branwell, during the walks, was voted best newcomer at the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence in 2012.
The walks, which begin at noon, 2pm and 4pm, will set off from the Black Bull, one of Branwell’s favourite drinking holes, in Main Street.
The cost will be £10 per adult and £6.50 per child, and includes a bowl of soup and a roll in the Black Bull after the walk.
Places should be booked in advance, by visiting or call 01535 640192. (David Knights)
The Yorkshire Post interviews Juliet Barker:
Do you find yourself ‘selling’ Yorkshire to non-believers? 
I’m not sure about ‘non-believers’ but I make a point of referencing Yorkshire in all my books. Obviously Yorkshire is central to the lives and works of the Brontës, but so much of writing about medieval history is London-centric that I always introduce Yorkshire events, men and women to redress the balance. (...)
Yorkshireman or woman you most admire? It would have to be the Brontë sisters collectively. It’s invidious to separate them out as individuals because they not only lived, but also worked and wrote together, which makes Charlotte’s courage and resilience after her sisters’ deaths so admirable. But if I had to choose one it would be Anne, often overlooked, but just as talented as her sisters. 
How has living in Yorkshire influenced your work? 
It’s absolutely central to it. I understand the way that its landscapes inspired those I write about because they also inspire me. And I share with the Brontës and Wordsworth that sense of what it is like to be a provincial writer, an outsider and different.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m contemplating writing a book about Mrs Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë but I simply haven’t had time to do it because I’ve been travelling up and down the country giving so many talks.
The Sunday Times reviews Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire by Carol Dyhouse:
For a book about desire, Heartthrobs keeps its pulse-rate steady, its careful analysis avoiding unpredictable sexual alchemy or curious imaginative blips. Yet Dyhouse has crushed a lot of rich, entertaining material into this book, a tight jostle of regency rakes and daring sheikhs, boy bands and Brontës, and she ends with something approaching dizzy optimism, casting the internet as a playground where “swirling currents of sexual preferences” are breaking down the old gendered roles. (Victoria Segal)
And Sophia Tobin's The Vanishing:
Sophia Tobin has written two historical thrillers, one set in 18th-century London, the other in Victorian Broadstairs. The shades of the Brontës and their many imitators haunt the pages of The Vanishing (Simon & Schuster £12.99), her clever take on gothic melodrama. In Regency London, Annaleigh, her heroine and narrator, leaves the home of her artist guardian to make her way in the world by taking a post as housekeeper at White Windows, a wutheringly windswept house on the Yorkshire moors. There she encounters its owner, Marcus Twentyman, a suitably brooding antihero with a Byronic taste for drink and despair, who has wicked plans for her future. (Nick Rennison
The New Zealand Herald is right on the spot when it says about Fifty Shades of Grey:
Now Family First, the Christian lobby group (any irony in that the anti-hero of the film is also a Christian?) have got their tighty whities in a twist because TV3 is going screen the movie tonight - this very Sunday.
If Family First is concerned that children younger than 13 will be exposed to filth, any parent who can't control what their child watches has far more to worry about than a very average film. Your child, your home, your television, your rules. Really simple.
And for those who worry that young women will think power and domination is at the root of all sexual relationships - what about the books we read in school that were considered classics?!
Heathcliff was a stalker with a borderline personality disorder. Mr Rochester was cold and gruff and kept the fact he had a wife hidden in the attic from his new young wife, Jane Eyre. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara had a tempestuous, undoubtedly violent, relationship in Gone with the Wind.
Honestly, I'd be more concerned with exposing young women to appalling writing than I would be concerned about the sex scenes. (Kerre McIvor)
Lauren Daley shares her 2016 reads in SouthCoast Today:
This was a big Classics year for me, because it always is. What can I say, I like the old stuff.
I reread - and came away with new appreciation for - "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë[.] 
The Queerness has something to say from the Snowflake generation to Michael Gove (who after his visit to Trump Tower seems to be emulating his Twitter style):
I mean, ouch – I’m sure my self-esteem is plummeting right now. I’m probably only one step away from howling and gnashing my teeth Heathcliff-style in Wuthering Heights now that the great man himself has uttered that word.
What I’m trying to get at, in the roundabout way of a ‘leftard’ sympathiser of ‘identity politics’, is twofold. First, that the whole ‘generation snowflake’ insult itself really has no meaning anymore but second, and more pertinently, it is itself born of an inherent hypocrisy that the so-called ‘alt right’ (or fascists as I prefer to call them because, you know, I’m old-fashioned) will find more difficult to deny in the new post-truth era of Trump. (Jonathan Boniface)
Travel Magazine recommends England for Valentine's Day and discovers a new Brontë sister altogether:
In Emma (sic) Brontë’s infamous tale of love and revenge, Wuthering Heights, Cathy and Heathcliff first discover love on the wild and desolate moors, said to be around the village of Haworth. Recreate famous scenes on a walk around the Brontë waterfalls, described by Charlotte Brontë as “fine indeed; a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful,” then up again to Top Withens, the supposed setting of Wuthering Heights.
Whilst in the area, don’t miss The Brontë Collections at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Once the unique family home, it now contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, early editions of the novels and poetry, and secondary material on the famous family and their work. 
La Depêche (in French) interviews Emily Bécaud, the daughter of the singer and actor Gilbert Bécaud:
Emily avec un «y», en hommage à Brontë («mes parents y tenaient») est la cinquième des six enfants de Gilbert Bécaud. (Sophie Vigroux) (Translation)
La Información (in Spanish) uses Emily Brontë's novel as a political metaphor:
Sirva el título de la célebre novela de Emily Brontë para calificar lo escenificado en la cumbre de presidentes autonómicos celebrada esta semana. (Aránzazu Calzada) (Translation)
Check two more reader comments on To Walk Invisible published in The Times;  Bookishaniket reviews Wuthering Heights; Clothes in Books recommends Samantha Ellis's Take Courage.

12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
A Jane Eyre Manga adaptation just published for English readers:
Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë
SunNeko Lee (Illustrator), Crystal Chan (Contributor)
Udon Entertainment - Manga Classics
ISBN: 978-1-927925-65-2

As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. Though she meets with further abuse, she receives an education, and eventually takes a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester. Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers. Charlotte Brontë’s classic tale of morality and social criticism takes on an entirely new life in this Manga Classic adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Irish Times reviews Samantha Ellis's Take Courage:
 In Take Courage, Ellis turns her attentions to a real-life heroine, and the result is a perfectly pitched combination of biography, literary criticism and personal memoir. This is not just an enormously readable book about Anne Brontë, it’s a book about writing a book about Anne Brontë, and as Ellis heads off to Haworth to explore Anne’s world, she applies what she’s learned to her own life, which is taking some new and exciting turns.
This personal approach might feel self-indulgent if Ellis weren’t such an engaging, perceptive and sympathetic writer. Luckily she is, and her personal approach is the source of both the book’s immense charm and also its considerable power. All biographers are subjective, whether they admit it or not, and there’s something refreshing about one who freely admits that she’s enraged by Charlotte’s patronising attitude to her sister, finds it hard to forgive Elizabeth Gaskell for the effect she had on Anne’s reputation and feels immense sympathy for the Brontës’ father Patrick, an Irish immigrant who supported his brilliant children’s creativity and, after all six had died, continued to campaign for social justice. (Anna Carey)
On BBC4's Woman's Hour, Samantha Ellis discussed her book too:
 Plus playwright and journalist Samantha Ellison on why she wants to change people's perception of Anne the "forgotten" Brontë sister, with her new biography, Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life.
Palatinate discusses this Anne Brontë revival thanks to the success of To Walk Invisible and Samantha Ellis's book:
There is a statue of the Brontë sisters at the Brontë Family Parsonage Museum, in which Anne is depicted with her head down in a marked contrast to her fellow sisters, who are gazing both outwards and above; up until now the youngest Bronte has, literally, seemed ‘to walk invisible’ alongside the rest of her family. Alongside a growing minority, I hope that Anne will continue to receive the attention that her remarkable writing truly deserves. If Google is anything to go by (a quick search reveals a multitude of articles with titles such as ‘Anne Brontë is seen as piteous and boring – but I’ve discovered she was the most radical sister’), Anne Brontë is set for quite the literary stardom this year – the tragedy is that it has taken nearly two centuries after her birth for popular culture to recognise her genius. (Orlagh Davies)
Keighley News reports some of the highlights of the upcoming new Branwell Brontë exhibition at the Parsonage:
Mansions In The Sky will be unveiled on Wednesday, February 1 as the museum opens its doors to the public again, ready to celebrate the 200th anniversary year of Branwell Brontë’s birth.
Armitage, accompanied by Grant Montgomery, production designer for the recent BBC Brontë biopic To Walk Invisible, checked progress on building the exhibition’s centrepiece.
Branwell’s studio is being recreated at the museum, following its construction by Montgomery for the BBC film, itself in collaboration with the parsonage’s Brontë experts.
Armitage’s exhibition invites visitors into the mind and world of the Brontë brother to discover who he really was.
Mansions in the Sky aims to provoke new insights into the brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, who went on to surpass him with their novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Armitage explores Branwell’s colourful personal history through his writings, drawings and possessions.
Highlights include a series of new poems by Armitage in response to Branwell’s belongings in the museum collection, and a letter and poem he posted to Wordsworth.
Armitage said that amongst the Brontë Society’s planned five years of Brontë anniversaries, 2017 belonged to the “charismatic and complicated” Branwell.
He said the recreated studio, a “chaotic and frenzied” space, would give an insight into Branwell’s own mind.
He said: “We dare you to discover more about the notorious Branwell whose personality and imagination were so integral to the Brontë story as a whole.
“As a poet of this landscape and region I recognise Branwell’s creative impulses and inspirations.
“I also sympathise with his desire to have his voice heard by the wider world, a desire encapsulated in a letter sent to William Wordsworth in 1837, when Branwell was a precocious and determined 19-year-old, seeking the great man’s approval.
“The poem he enclosed describes the dreams and ambitions of a young and hopeful romantic, star-struck by the universe and building ‘mansions in the sky’.
“But those mansions were only ever hopeful fantasies, and Branwell was to die unrecognised and unfulfilled, forever assigned the role of the dark and self-destructive brother, doomed to be eclipsed by the stellar achievements of his sisters.” (David Knights
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research interviews Professor Rebecca Ariel Porte about Jane Eyre:
First published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre immediately drew controversy and debate for its portrayal of passion and sentiment in the rapidly changing world of Victorian England. As we celebrate the 200th year of Brontë’s birth, BISR Associate Director Abby Kluchin and Core Faculty Rebecca Ariel Porte sat down to chat about Jane Eyre, passion, Brontë’s relationship to Jane Austen, the pleasure of reading, and the novel’s continued relevance in advance of Rebecca’s upcoming class Jane Eyre: Gender and Affect.
Abby Kluchin: Why should a person read Jane Eyre? What does Jane Eyre, and Charlotte Brontë more broadly speaking, have to say to us in 2017?
Rebecca Ariel Porte: Given that the number of Jane Eyres and Charlotte Bröntes in existence is equivalent to the accumulated, historical sum of their readers–as is true of any novel, any author–I can only speak in partialities. For me, the question of why one should read Jane Eyre is intimately connected to the question of why people have read Jane Eyre in the past. The novel’s critical endurance lies partly with its potential for symptomatic reading: as a proto-feminist document about the options open (and closed) to women in the early Victorian era, as Bildungsroman, as the Gothic image of the return of the repressed in the forms of both barely bridled feminine rage and the ravages of colonialism (which always threaten to crack the veneer of European civilities), and, too, as a significant text for theories about what novels are and what fiction does. The syllabus for this course explores these pressing questions in some detail (we’ll read Foucault and Gilbert and Gubar and Jenny Sharpe and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Jean Rhys alongside Brontë herself). And, a hair past the bicentennial of Brontë’s birth, these inquires into gendered labor, the nature of personhood, and the myriad shapes of that old chimera power, have never been more pressing. (Read more)
Broadway World announces the March performances in Hillsboro of Polly Teale's Brontë:
Bag&Baggage Productions, Hillsboro's resident professional theatre, is proud to announce the Pacific Northwest premiere of Polly Teale's remarkable exploration of the lives and works of the Brontë sisters, called simply Brontë, at the Hillsboro Public Library Brookwood location over the course of four weekends in March, 2017.
Teale, who is Artistic Director of acclaimed UK-based Shared Experience Theatre Company, first wrote and directed Brontë as a way to both celebrate the work of the three iconic British writers, but also as a way to explore the influences of the lives and family members on that work.
"Not only is this a play that has a stellar reputation for creativity and expressiveness, it is also a play written by a woman about women writers," said Scott Palmer, B&B's Founding Artistic Director. "B&B is committed to making sure that women artists, writers, and literary figures have a central role in our all of our work, and Brontë is a great example of that commitment."
The Times reviews The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The Story of Britain Through Its Census, Since 1801 by Roger Hutchinson:
 The census was fallible about women too. In 1851 Charlotte Brontë, by then the author of Jane Eyre and Shirley, entered her occupation as “none”. (Melanie Reid)
Caitlin Moran's column in The Times mentions Jane Eyre:
What changes societies faster and cheaper than anything else, save wealth, is culture. As a girl who also failed to go on to secondary education, I can tell you that pretty much everything I learnt was through books, music, films, TV and radio. Culture is simply a network for spreading ideas. Give a girl a fish and she will eat for one day. But give her a heroine like Jane Eyre, Patti Smith, Alexis Colby, Madonna or Ripley in Alien and you’ll reboot her whole life. “I cannot be what I cannot see” is the truest thing ever said.
Financial Times reviews the ballet La Sonnambula as performed in New York:
The 30-minute work also foreshadows the decadence and danger of Balanchine’s own La Valse, ballet’s answer to film noir. And yet La Sonnambula is no mere mash-up — not, at least, once the Poet encounters the Sleepwalker, who is both madwoman in the attic à la Jane Eyre and a blind seer. The whole dance depends on this late-arriving, heart-wrenching rendezvous. (Apollinaire Scherr)
Best things come in threes, according to Cabinet Maker:
As Blind Melon once sang: “It takes three legs to make a tripod or to make a table stand, and it takes three wheels to make a vehicle called a tricycle. And every triangle has three corners. Every triangle has three sides.” Profound, I’m sure you’ll agree. But, as the title of the song suggests, three is indeed a magic number.
Think stooges, musketeers, or primary colours. For the literature fans amongst you, think Brontë sisters. Or perhaps remaining Spice Girls (ok, perhaps that’s a stretch too far), but history is peppered with examples of some of the best things coming in threes.
The Hindu talks about Enid Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl:
Since 1940, children across the world have been reading the four-book series and fantasising about going to school here. Not just girls, but boys too! The author had set up the standard for life at boarding school through this series. People who grew up reading Jane Eyre’s time at Lowood or Rebecca’s time at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies in Vanity Fair had a fresh and inspiring take on boarding schools through Enid Blyton’s novels. (Arathi M)
Los Angeles Times reviews History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund:
The author’s deft use of foreshadowing hints at some impending tragedy over the horizon as Linda becomes Paul’s babysitter, or as Patra declares one day, “governess.” The very term evokes repressed feelings and dark mysteries, associations with Gothic romances like Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” or Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” which Patra and many readers will know but Linda does not. (Paula Woods)
The New Zealand Herald on the writer Mindy Mejia:
Hattie's an outsider too; a dreamer in a place wary of them. After school she worked in a photo shop at the local pharmacy.
Conversation topics? The weather (frost advisories) and television. Hattie would smile and small-talk and dream of being an actress on Broadway. Her identity was a muddle of Sex and the City, Charlotte Brontë and whatever pop culture references her magpie eye landed on, however her chief ability was being all things to all people: the good girlfriend, perfect student, dutiful daughter, obliging shop assistant. (Greg Fleming)
A columnist in The Australian mentions Jane Eyre:
My long summer days of languishing luxuriously on sun lounges with Jane Eyre or Middlemarch became history, white walls a relic of the past and clean floors a yellowed, faded memory. Instead, our home bears the scars of every kind of sporting malfunction. (Karina Hepner)
Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish) reviews the TV series Skam:
Här finns den klassiska romantiska hjälten bekant från allt från Jane Eyre (Mr Rochester) till Buffy (Spike); den snygga, spännande bad boyen med sina fascinerande sidor och lager. (Yle Arenan) (Translation)
Story (Serbia) talks about Svetlana Slapšak's latest novel, Ravnoteža:
Ravnoteža“ govori o ženama u Beogradu za vreme rata u bivšoj Jugoslaviji. Ne prihvatajući da im u njihovo ime ubijaju sugrađane, rođake, prijatelje i sinove, one ih skrivaju od mobilizacije. Milica, jedna od njih, prinuđena je da prekucava rukopis velikog nacionalnog pisca kako bi preživela krizu devedesetih. Tražeći način da se mentalno udalji od posla na koji je prisiljena, ona istovremeno piše i roman-pastiš ugledajući se na pripovedni postupak i stvaralaštvo sestara Brontë. (Translation)
e-Cartelera (in Spanish) reviews the film The Light Between the Oceans:
Son sus actores quienes salvan la película, Michael Fassbender y Alicia Vikander desprenden química real, se convirtieron en pareja durante el rodaje, además de entregarse con pasión medida a unos protagonistas dignos de una novela de las Hermanas Brontë. (Miguel Ángel Pizarro) (Translation)
ActuaLitté (in French) talks about the embroidered book covers by Chloe Giordano, including Claire Harman's hardback edition of her Charlotte biography; SoloLibri (in Italian) reviews Sui Passi di Elizabeth Gaskell; Między Stronami (in Polish) reviews Wuthering HeightsPastopresentgenealogy invites you to find your very own Brontë link through searching in the parish registers.
Today, January 21, a Brontë Society event in Haworth:
Building the Brontës with Grant Montgomery
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
14.00 h

To celebrate the recent screening of Sally Wainwright's much-heralded biopic of the Brontës, To Walk Invisible, join award-winning production designer Grant Montgomery for this fascinating insight into how he designed and developed the nineteenth-century world of the Brontës.
From the huge undertaking of building a life-size replica of the Parsonage on the moors above Haworth, to the tiniest detail behind the placing of a teacup or manuscript, Grant oversaw the visual 'look' of To Walk Invisible, and carried out a huge amount of research to recreate the Brontës' world. Grant will discuss the development of his work, from early research with the Museum's curatorial team, to building sets and sourcing props, through to recreating a historically accurate Main Street.
Grant has nearly thirty years' experience in production design for film and television and received the 2011 RTS Award for Best Production Design for his work on The Crimson Petal and the White. His credits also include Peaky Blinders, Birdsong and Death Comes to Pemberley

Friday, January 20, 2017

Although we have been unable to find out for sure, we do believe that the new exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York featuring Emily Dickinson is to be found where Charlotte Brontë's used to be, in the Engelhard Gallery. The New York Times, reviewing the exhibition, I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, which opens today. reminds us of the fact that Emily Dickinson was quite a Brontëite.
She was an outsider, and as such a disrupter. Was she a feminist? Not in the modern sense, though an idea of female power as a protean force was central to her thinking, as it was to the writers she loved: Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot. Central, too, was her disdain for the false power of churches, fathers, governments, God, ego. (Holland Cotter)
The Economist's Prospero reviews Woolf Works, a ballet choreography inspired by some of the works by Virginia Woolf. Impossible as that may sound, we are reminded of the fact that,
Choreographers have always looked to the literary canon for stories. Greek myths, Shakespeare, the great Russian novelists, the Brontës: all have been plundered to supply plots for ballets. Certain kinds of writing, though, have been left on the shelf, the works of Virginia Woolf among them. 
The readers' corner of the Sheffield Telegraph features To Walk invisible and the Brontës.
Laurie in Wadsley says: I watched To Walk Invisible, the Brontë sisters’ drama, over Christmas and was inspired by the story of Charlotte, Emily and Anne and the dynamic with their alcoholic brother Branwell. It was a brilliant programme, but I felt chastened that I knew so little about their work beyond Wuthering Heights. As I am raising two small Yorkshire people I know the Brontës’ brilliance will be practically drilled into them as soon as they’ve grasped phonics. But I’m a silly old southerner and don’t know which sister, and which book, I should read to them first. And are there any I should avoid? Any help gratefully received.
Anna says: I think this is the most difficult Reyt As Rain Reads I’ve had so far! I grew up in West Yorkshire not far from Haworth. The writing of these three sisters means so much to me that I struggle to make careful, considered recommendations to anyone else when it comes to their books. So just to warn you, there will be a lot of hyperbole in these recommendations. But I mean every word.
As you’ve already read Wuthering Heights, we’ll go for two others.
It has to be Jane Eyre first. I’m not going to try and be clever and recommend a more obscure one. This is the most dramatic and gothic of Charlotte’s novels, so is therefore my favourite.
People often think of Charlotte as a more civilised writer than Emily, and in some ways she is. But don’t expect anything too civilised here. This is a genuinely terrifying read. Ostensibly the story of an intelligent, spirited woman struggling to make her way in the world as a governess, it has some of the most powerful symbolism and imagery of all time. And for pure, knock-your- socks-off, plot, it is probably top of the Bronte pile.
My favourite Anne Brontë novel is her second, and last, The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall. If you enjoyed the depiction of Branwell’s descent into alcoholism and depravity in To Walk Invisible, you should enjoy these literary fruits of that real experience. We will never know for certain quite how these three sisters came to write some of the most spectacular fiction in the history of the English language, but it’s safe to assume that as well as the rich fantasy life they concocted and inhabited, they also wrung every last drop of inspiration out of their surroundings. And, as ably demonstrated in Sally Wainwright’s impressive programme, Branwell is likely to have provided a template for the difficulties of life with an alcoholic portrayed in this book.
This is an extraordinary book that tells the story of a woman going it alone for the sake of her son and her sanity, at a time when women almost always relied on the patronage and protection of a man.
I hope you enjoy your foray into the wonderful world of the Brontës, and that these two classics whet your appetite to read further. (Anna Caig)
Study Breaks reviews TV series This Is Us:
 I learned in my English class that sometimes good TV can be just as stimulating as reading a book, because it requires us to make cognitive connections between plot lines. I don’t think I’m too far off in saying “This is Us” is the “Wuthering Heights” of TV. (Mattie Winowitch)
Daily Herald Tribune interviews country singer Tenille:
11. Last book you couldn’t put down? Rising Strong - Brene Brown. Oh and I also just finished Jane Eyre.
Swindon Advertiser features comedian Tiff Stevenson, who tells this anecdote:
"I did a show a couple of years ago and I decided to do this Wuthering Heights dance to Kate Bush with a member of the audience. That was quite memorable," she deadpans. "I was bouncing and flicking my head around and we both got concussion. That's one of the dangers of comedy." (Marion Sauvebois)
Life on Stage (Germany) reviews the music album Only In My Mind by Norma Jean Martine. Apparently,
Der Titelsong „Only In My Mind“ ist von dem Roman „Wuthering Heights“ inspiriert und handelt von verbotener Liebe, (Translation)
Cultora (Italy) describes poet Giacomo Leopardi's sister as follows:
Ebbe i connotati della tipica eroina romantica, una specie di Emily Brontë (di cui lesse, invaghendosene, Cime tempestose) e Mary Shelley. (Marco Testa) (Translation)
Abc (Spain) reviews the Spanish translation of Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests.
Waters es una gran narradora de espacios claustrofóbicos donde la presión, que allí se experimenta casi al vacío absoluto, acaba estallando en raptos de convulsionado sexo (por lo general lésbico) y en desenfrenados actos en los que lo carnal suele derivar hacia lo criminal en tramas que parecen urdidas por un Wilkie Collins o unas hermanas Brontë, sin temor a que se los califique con la letra escarlata X y sometiendo la novela histórica y el folletín a las mismas radiaciones que aplicaron gente como John Fowles, A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Kim Newman y Joyce Carol Oates en sus novelones góticos y, más recientemente, la Eleanor Catton de «Las luminarias». (Rodrigo Fresán) (Translation)
This post from The Book Trail is highly recommended and talks about all things Brontë: the Parsonage, To Walk Invisible, Anne and her new biography by Samantha Ellis. Talking Humanities discusses reality and imagination in Wide Sargasso Sea. 'Never-ending' dusting and another sneak peak at Branwell's exhibition on the Brontë Parsonage Twitter account.
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
The UK tour of Publick Transport's We Are Brontë begins today, January 20:
We Are Brontë
Created and performed by Angus Barr and Sarah Corbett.
Directed by Ed Rapley.
Dramaturgy by Susie Donkin
Additional performance and movement direction by Brenda Waite
Set by Dan Addyman
Props by Tomasin Cuthbert.
We Are Brontë is a piece of comic visual theatre inspired by the real and imaginary worlds of Yorkshire's literary siblings, presented in Publick Transport’s playful and irreverent style. Physical theatre collides with stand-up, clowning and improvisation as two performers deconstruct not only gothic themes of love, madness, repression and revenge, but also themselves. Part play, part enquiry into the act of putting on a play, this promises to be no ordinary Brontë adaptation.

20 Jan '17 - Memorial Hall Theatre, Barry
24 Jan '17 - Sundial Theatre, Cirencester
1-5 Feb '17 - Vault Festival, London
24 Feb '17 - The Spring, Havant
27-28 Feb '17 - Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival, Exeter
10 March '17 - Langton Matravers Village Hall, Dorset, BH19 3HA. Box office: 01929 423834 (Artsreach)
11 March '17 - The Portman Hall, Shillingstone, Dorset, DT11 0SF. Box office: 01258 860319 (Artsreach)
18 March '17 - Connaught Studio, Worthing Theatres
23 March '17 - Belper Music and Arts, Derbyshire
24 March '17 - Pailton Village Hall, Warwickshire
25 March '17 - Worcestershire (TBC)
20 April '17 - The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
21 April '17 - Dorchester Arts Centre
22 April '17 - The Lighthouse, Poole
19-20 May '17 - Omnibus, Clapham
8 June '17 - The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury
5 Oct '17 - The Atkinson, Southport
6 Oct '17 - CAST, Doncaster
7 Oct '17 - Square Chapel, Halifax
8 Oct '17 - The Hub, Slung Low, Leeds

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sophia Tobin, whose novel The Vanishing has been said by reviewers to be reminiscent of the Brontës, writes about Branwell for the Waterstones blog.
If there is a central tragedy in Branwell’s life it is that he was unable to control his passions. His sisters’ works are full of passion, but in their lives they behaved with propriety and restraint. Branwell’s passions were lived out rather than written. Whilst working as a tutor he embarked on an affair with his employer’s wife, causing not only his dismissal but the humiliation of his sister Anne, who was also working for the family. On his return to Haworth, his alcoholism and drug addiction blighted the lives of his relatives and his violent rages terrified them. A small measure of peace came only in the days before his death, on 24 September 1848.
But the impact of this missing Brontë is not entirely lost. It could be argued that the three sisters became great because they were forced to: they knew they could not rely on Branwell for financial support, and focused their efforts on writing professionally. Additionally, Branwell was one of the only men they lived with – and this shaped how they depicted men in their fiction. Thus Anne wrote of the corroding effect of alcoholism in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Emily depicted, from first-hand experience, the rage and brutality of men such as Heathcliff and Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights. And how much of Jane Eyre’s virtue and self-possession in the face of Rochester’s passion is derived from Charlotte’s observation of what happens when you give in to your desires? Perhaps, after all, Branwell is not really missing. In the portrait, we may find him in the space between the sisters; and in their work, we may find him in the spaces between what is said and unsaid. He is always there, if we look for him.
This Is Lancashire reports that Octagon Theatre in Bolton is looking for a dog to play Sancho and two boys to play little Arthur in their upcoming production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Do you have a performing pooch who is begging for his dream stage role?
Well there’s no longer a need to put that dream on ‘paws’, as the Octagon Theatre is on the hunt for canine companions to audition for its forthcoming production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Director Elizabeth Newman said: “In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Sancho the dog is the loyal and loving companion of Gilbert Markham.
“The dog we are looking to cast as Sancho will be a working farm dog, preferably a border collie.
“As Sancho will spend a lot of time with and near the character of Arthur, who will be played by a small boy, the dog we are looking for needs to be very calm and relaxed around young people.”
The dog being sought will be on stage often with a number of cast members as well as the young boy playing Arthur.
Applicants must be prepared to commit their dog to every performance during the run of the show, including all matinee and evening shows and commit to being available to bring and stay with your dog for every show.
The stage hound must also have a calm and friendly disposition, with the capacity to be comfortable in the presence of audiences of up to 400 people.
On-stage lighting will be used throughout the show and so they will also need to be comfortable with lighting changes that will be taking place.
A loyal pal is also being sought for the doggy star as the theatre is hunting two young boys to take on the part of Arthur in the show.
The performances will be split equally between the two chosen boys, who must have the maximum playing age of seven-years-old, and be able to work alongside the dog on stage. (...)
Deadline for all applications is 3pm on February 3.
The show will run from March 20 to April 22, with rehearsals on various dates from February 25 to March 30.
To apply visit or call 01204 556501 for more information. (Rosalind Saul)
The Culture Trip reviews Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage.
Much has been made of two of their novels in particular—Emily’s Wuthering Heights, widely hailed as the great love story of its age (though it would be unfair not to add that it’s a lot more than that), and Charlotte’s proto-feminist, proto-modernist classic Jane Eyre. While we can confidently claim not to require further reassurance of their worth, it may be, as Samantha Ellis convincingly argues in her new book, about the third sister’s output that our attentions deserve redress. Anne Brontë published two novels of her own in the last three years of her life: Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall—and both ought to be taken with the same awe and seriousness as her sisters’. Far more than just companion pieces to the Brontë canon, they are witty, controversial, dark insights into Victorian life.
Traveling from Brontë vista to Brontë vista—that is, from the family’s Yorkshire home to the native Ireland of their father Patrick, with brief stints by the North Sea and in London—Ellis intersperses snippets of her own life within her biography of Anne. While this makes her book very much in the vein of modern nonfiction (see Olivia Laing, or Ece Temelkuran), Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life‘s author has the tact to keep her presence subdued, appearing solely as if to move the book onward; the focus is on Anne’s life and work, and rightly so. (Simon Leser)
The Spectator, Seattle University's student newspaper, looks into how the campus community is facing Donald Trump's inauguration tomorrow.
Some professors are instead using their educational authority to advance the conversation. Among them is English Professor Molly Clark Hillard, who is helping to combat fake news by partnering up with the campus library. Hillard’s course, “Crisis of Information,” focuses on information literacy and being able to recognize what constitutes fake news. Hillard’s commitment is to tying her position as an educator to the lives and feelings of her students.
“The day after the election, I had to teach ‘Jane Eyre,” she said. “We turned to ‘Jane Eyre’ and found it as a manifesto. My own practice is to say to my students this is how we move forward; literature is how we move forward.” (Paolo Violante)
On Anne's birthday, James Neal wrote about 'Facing the World As It Is - A Lesson in Virtue with Anne Brontë'. Bust has an article on miniature portraits in classic books. It's All About Books posts about Wuthering Heights. Sonia Gensler has Tea with Jane Eyre.

On the Brontë Parsonage Twitter account, there is a sneak peak into Branwell's exhibition Mansions in the Sky as well as a look into how Mr Brontë's bedroom is being 're-displayed'.

Finally, also on Twitter, Ponden Hall shares this gorgeous video by Dorset Cereals, whose award for friendliest host they won recently.
12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
Kim Breitburg's Jane Eyre musical will be performed today, January 19, in Tallinn (Estonia):
Moskva Operett presents
Джейн Эйр (Jane Eyre)
Nordea Kontserdimaja, Tallinn
19.1.2017 19:00

Tallinna publik saab nautida värvikat, dünaamilist ja kaasaegset etendust, mis jätkab imelist muusikateatri traditsiooni.
Teater “Moskva Operett” on Venemaa üks juhtivaid muusikaližanris töötavaid teatreid. Suurepärane orkester, mis koosneb 37 muusikust, laulukoor ja ballett. Lisaks Victoria ajastu kostüümid, luksuslikud dekoratsioonid ning unikaalse tehnoloogia abil saavutatud valguse- ja heliefektid.
Muusikal on vene keeles!

Muusika: Kim Breitburg
Libretto ja luule: Karen Kavalerjan
Lavastaja: Alina Chevik
Balletti lavastaja: Irina Kornejeva
Kunstnik: Vjatcheslav Okunev
Muusika juhataja: Konstantin Hvatynets
Valguskunstnik: Aleksander Sivajev
Laulukoori juhataja: Stanislav Maiski
Dirigent: Konstantin Hvatynets, Arif Dadashev
Vokaali juhataja: Valerija Breitburg

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Jewish Chronicle reviews Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage.
Ellis’s book doesn’t uncover much that is new but that isn’t really her objective.
Instead, she walks the streets Anne walked, and seeks to understand the youngest Brontë sister: What motivated her? What were her dreams and desires? How did her relationship with her sisters — the troubled Emily and (in Ellis’s view) the condescending Charlotte — shape her writing? How much of her experience as a governess did she bring to Agnes Grey; how much of herself did she see in Helen, who becomes the mistress of her own life?
It’s a fascinating exploration, even if you’re not a Brontë obsessive (if you are, this may not be the in-depth study for you). Ellis frames her chapters with the different influences in Anne’s life, from brother Branwell to aunt Elizabeth; her professional life; and her sisters and their childhood games. She traces how Anne grew as a writer and poet, how she committed her hopes and dreams into fiction but never lost herself to it, in the way that Ellis suggests Emily and Charlotte could. Most of all, this is an enthusiastic celebration of a forgotten powerhouse of Victorian literature; a woman who should be remembered for her own work, and not just as the sibling of two more famous writers. [...]
She only occasionally strays into the personal with Take Courage, which is a shame as the book would have been richer for it; after all, she makes a virtue of how Anne poured out her soul on the page. Nonetheless, Take Courage is a refreshing, accessible piece of literary scholarship. (Jennifer Lipman)
Vagabomb celebrated Anne's birthday yesterday by listing '10 Anne Brontë Quotes That Might Just Place Her above Her Sisters' while Books Tell You Why tried to guess how Anne spoke. On Facebook, The Brontë Society shared a picture of flowers on the Parsonage doorstep with this caption:
Flowers for Anne's birthday. Thank you very much to the person who sends them every year - they are much loved.
It is a lovely detail.

Sheila Kohler writes about telling the truth for Psychology Today.
As a fiction writer I have often been asked the question: how much of this is true? People seem drawn to know what lies behind the stories I have told, how much of my life lies in them. I think this is a legitimate question and one that interests me with other writers. In a way what is being asked is: how do you do it? How do you take the raw matter of life and transform it into fiction? How much truth is here?
It is a question I have asked in some of my historical fiction. In "Becoming Jane Eyre" the question I asked was how did Charlotte Brontë go from writing unsuccessful fiction to her great novel "Jane Eyre," almost overnight.
Dawn finds a Wuthering Heights enthusiast in poet and playwright Irshadullah Khan.
Q: What books are you reading currently? A: I do not get to read much because I am concentrating on my writing. I have written 27 volumes of poetry and four plays and my new book just came out. My work has been performed in 35 countries and translated in many languages. That said, I went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and my subject was English Literature, so over the years, I have read quite a lot, all kinds of literature. My favourite book is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I identify with the main character, Heathcliff. He is almost like me, particularly his total love for the woman he loved. This was the most important aspect. And then the way he faced various problems that came his way and were [created for him], which can be taken as a symbol for the problems which society sometimes creates for you.
These are people whom you expect to be on your side and you find that they are not. In Pakistan you are oppressed for many reasons, for example the poor and middle class are being neglected and our society is being totally destroyed, which affects you as a poet. Heathcliff represents a character that stood against his oppressors. (Syeda Shehrbano Kazim)
The Guardian welcomes Penguin's new Book of Dutch Short Stories. There is a problem with Dutch literature:
The reason we don’t know Dutch literature over here, according to Zwagerman, is because they barely know it themselves. The Dutch language has been in such constant flux over the past few centuries, he writes, that “many great works of 17th- and 18th- and 19th-century Dutch literature have to be translated into modern Dutch to make them accessible to the average reader”. Laurence Sterne? Jane Austen? Charlotte Brontë ? Imagine them all lost to us! (Jonathan Gibbs)
The Guardian also features newly-appointed BBC chair David Clementi, who
described himself as an avid TV watcher, saying his “specialist subject is BBC1 and BBC2 between 8pm and 11pm”.
He cited Sherlock, the Agatha Christie adaptation The Witness for the Prosecution and Brontë sisters drama To Walk Invisible as examples of distinctive programming produced over Christmas, and added that the “sheer quality” of other BBC dramas made them distinctive. (Jane Martinson and Jasper Jackson)
The New York Times reviews the New York City Ballet revival of La Sonnambula (choreographed by George Balanchine, with music from Bellini, of course) and wonders,
Is she the Baron’s wife, kept out of sight because she is no longer in her right mind? (Sleepwalking and lunacy have long been linked, as Arlene Croce observed in a 1987 New Yorker essay.) Is she like the first Mrs. Rochester in “Jane Eyre”? No answers are known. (Alastair Macaulay)
The Upcoming reviews Flo Morrissey and Matthew E White's music album Gentlewoman, Ruby Man.
When they’re not covering Rob Ayers’s Everybody Loves the Sunshine, the duo take on Frank Ocean’s Thinking Bout You, from his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange. What Ocean is able to achieve and convey all on his own, the pair share in equal measure, with White’s gravelly voice being the perfect soundboard for the English songwriter’s folksy tone, which at its top end is akin to Kate Bush on Wuthering Heights. (Yusuf Tamanna)
Balivernes posts in French about Wuthering Heights and Greene County Public Library is in the second week of their Online Book Club read of Wuthering Heights.

Finally, here's day 11 of Behind the Scenes at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Intriguing!
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A new Brontë-related course begins today, January 18, at the University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education:
Brontës (Online)
Wed 18 Jan 2017 to Fri 31 Mar 2017
Dr Sandie Byrne


How did three sisters living an apparently secluded and eventless life write some of the most original, passionate and dramatic novels and poetry in the English language? Who were the Brontës, what fed their imaginations, and what makes their writing so haunting, intense, and important?
The website of the Brontë Parsonage Museum states: ‘To find two writers of genius in one family would be rare, but to find several writers in one household is unique in the history of literature. Charlotte and Emily are ranked among the world’s greatest novelists; Anne is a powerful underrated author, and both their father, the Revd. Patrick Brontë, and brother Branwell also saw their own works in print’.
We will explore those works of genius and place them in their literary, cultural, and historical (including family) contexts. You will come to understand and to be able to analyse what makes the Brontës' writings so haunting, intense, and original. Whether you've read or would like to read the work of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë – or if you're interested in nineteenth-century literature or women’s writing – this course is for you.
Programme details

1. Brontë lives and myths
2. Reading the Brontës
3. Charlotte Brontë: structure and themes of Jane Eyre
4. Charlotte Brontë: contexts of Jane Eyre
5. Anne Brontë: contexts of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
6. Anne Brontë: representations of women
7. Emily Brontë: themes and motifs
8. Brontë manuscripts and editions
9. Emily Brontë: structure and language of Wuthering Heights
10. The endings of the Brontës’ novels, rewritings, prequels and sequels, and opportunities for further exploration.
 More information here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:07 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
Today is, first and foremost, Anne Brontë's birthday. She was born 197 years ago and there's no better way of celebrating than by reading her novels and poems. But also remember that there are two recent biographies of her: In Search of Anne Brontë by Nick Holland and just-out-of-the-oven Take Courage by Samantha Ellis. And the classic biography by Winifred Gérin is worth a read too.

Minster FM features the Yorkshire Water campaign in which the Brontë sisters are 'seen' bathing in it. But the campaign now has a promotional video which uses the same image.
The firm’s new campaign includes a video, declaring Yorkshire as the ‘best place on earth’ and that its famous water was bathed in by the Brontë sisters in the nineteenth century and makes the world’s best rhubarb and gravy. It is expected to be viewed by thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter this week.
Tom Hardy himself speaks about his Taboo character on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Where did Taboo begin for you? Was it the character of Delaney, the idea of building this family empire or just wanting to do something in the historical period? Tom Hardy: A bit of everything really. I came home to my dad, and I’d just finished playing Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist, and I said, “Do you know what would be really good, Dad? To take Bill Sikes and play him as a hero.” He’s a villain, but if he had a noble cause, what a great hero he could be, because he’s just got loads going wrong with him.
How would you mix Bill Sikes and blend him with a Sherlock Holmes type, or someone Ralph Fiennes might play like [Chekov’s] Ivanov, a character which had more gentlemanly or higher class? The amalgamation of the two and then maybe perhaps Marlow from The Heart of Darkness and a bit of Heathcliff [from Wuthering Heights]. We could throw lots of different classical characters in there, a bit of Odysseus.
My father said, “Tom, that’s too many characters to put in one thing.” Then he went away and he wrote a treatment for it, which he set in 1860. That was when the world came of the drama and the characters and the history.
Producer David S. Simon writes about his childhood for The Huffington Post.
We got sick, our local pediatrician/smiling mortician house called on by to both simultaneously diagnose and terrify us (while smoking a long-ashed Lucky Strike), we took our medicine, we sailor-puked some more and then we went to school, sometimes still spotted like someone just did a spit take on our face and we lived our lives fully until we got sick all over again, which frankly, we did so often, that our house could easily have been mistaken for a Charlotte Brontë orphanage bursting with consumption.
Librópatas (Spain) lists the 16 books read by Matilda in Roald Dahl's book, among which is Jane Eyre, of course. The Reader's Room has a Love It or Hate It 'competition' with Jane Eyre. Metro lists the '12 of the best University Challenge contestants of all time' including the memorable one involving Mr Rochester/Inspector Clouseau (number 11). On Twitter, Graham Watson has improvised a Lego version of the Pillar Portrait sans pillar/Branwell while Mandy Powell has also created a Lego version of the dining room at the Parsonage.

Kotiopettajattaren romaani (Jane Eyre)
Charlotte Brontë
April 2016
ISBN: 9789510416273

Charlotte Brontën (1816-1855) kuuluisa romaani on vaatimattoman, älykkään ja sisäisesti voimakkaan nuoren naisen ja hänen suuren rakkautensa tarina. Sen ylle luo romanttista välkettä taustan värikäs tapahtumasarja. Mutta kirjan tenho on muussakin kuin juonen jännittävissä yksityiskohdissa - vanhan linnan arvoituksessa, odottamattomassa Intian-perinnössä, miehisen päähenkilön merkillisessä ja traagisessa elämänkohtalossa. Puolentoista vuosisadan takaa Charlotte Brontën kertojaääni kiehtoo meitä lämmöllään, aitoudellaan ja hämmästyttävällä tuoreudellaan.
Brontën sisarusten Charlotten, Emilyn ja Annen koti oli Yorkshiren nummilla sijaitseva syrjäinen Haworthin pappila. Täällä he kirjoittivat seitsemän romaania ja lähes 400 runoa. Samaan aikaan Kotiopettajattaren romaanin kanssa, vuonna 1847, tuli julkisuuteen Emily-sisaren kirjoittama Humiseva harju, joka ei kuitenkaan vielä kirjailijan elinaikana saanut ansaitsemaansa tunnustusta. Charlotte Brontë, sisaruksista vanhin ja kirjailijana tuotteliain, eli heistä myös kauimmin, 39-vuotiaaksi.

Charlotte Brontë
Translator: Inkeri Koskinen
October 2016
ISBN: 9789513191481

Eletään 1800-luvun alkupuolta, teollistumisen ja romantiikan aikakautta. Etonista valmistunut William Crimsworth matkustaa Brysseliin toimiakseen siellä opettajana, eli professorina, kuten Belgiassa sanotaan. Tyttökoulu tarjoaa periaatteelliselle nuorukaiselle haasteita ja houkutuksia. Aikansa kahleista pyristelevälle Williamille tärkeintä on kuitenkin kulkea omaa tietään kohti tosi rakkautta muiden juonitteluista huolimatta.
Professori on Charlotte Brontën epäsovinnainen esikoisteos. Elinaikanaan hän yritti turhaan löytää sille kustantajaa. Harvinainen teos on julkaistu ensi kertaa suomeksi 2009.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017 11:15 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    No comments
Yorkshire Post tells about poet Simon Armitage's busy year:
I’m there to meet poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage who has just taken up a 12-month residency for the park’s 40th anniversary. Armitage will be helping the YSP celebrate its unique appeal throughout 2017, visiting in different seasons and producing new work in response to the park as well as curating a programme of readings and events, and launching a new publication in the autumn. [...]
Since 2011 Armitage has been Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield, where he teaches the MA poetry course, and in 2015 he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, a four-year appointment which requires him to deliver one public lecture a term. He is working on a couple of drama projects – “I’ve always been interested in writing dialogue, and there is nothing like theatre for getting an immediate response” – and has also been announced as the creative partner for the Brontë Parsonage Museum this year to commemorate Branwell Brontë’s bicentenary as part of the Brontë200 programme.
So he is keeping pretty busy – but he says it has a plus side. “One of the things that’s good for me about these residencies is that I have tried to stop writing for a while. I wanted to impose a kind of moratorium on my own writing and see what happens next.” (Yvette Huddleston)
Women of China features Luo Yufeng, described as
A young woman from China's hinterland, with few qualities believed necessary for success, claws her way to online respectability by following loads of chutzpah with growing sophistication. [...]
Maybe Luo had a split personality from the get-go. When she was still playing the dating game, some of her poems surfaced, revealing a sensitive soul and the writing proficiency up to the par of professionals. But they were lost in the crazy whirlwind she had helped whip up around her.
Jane Eyre would not take this route to fame or fortune, but Luo, a product of reform-era China, has even less to fall back on than the character in the Charlotte Brontë novel. She may not have clawed into middle-class respectability yet, but nobody can deny her effort. (Raymond Zhou)
The Brussels Brontë Blog discusses new translations of Villette and The Professor while Nick Holland posts about Anne's 'land of make believe' on AnneBrontë.org,
12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
We have posted so many reviews already of Samantha Ellis's Take Courage that it seems redundant to present the book. But here it is:
Take Courage
Anne Brontë and the Art of Life
Samantha Ellis
Chatto & Windus
Published 12th January 2017
ISBN-13: 978-1784740214

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings -- virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.

Or that's what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.

Take Courage is Samantha's personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time -- and her more celebrated siblings -- and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Two new reviews of Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage. The Irish Independent:
Ellis admits right at the start of Take Courage (the title comes from Anne's last words before her death) that she feels a connection with her subject. She herself is just turning 40 as she begins the project, not in the best of health, feeling she's achieved little so far, that everything she's done has been "heartbreakingly ephemeral".
Understanding Anne is as much a voyage of self-discovery as it is biography or literary analysis. That's both this book's strength and weakness. Identifying so strongly with Anne makes her a passionate advocate. At the same time, the book frequently tips over into self-indulgence as a result. She dreams about her subject, "but they don't feel like dreams". Anne sits on the edge of her bed with "a piercing look in her eyes", asking: "Why aren't you writing my book?" (...)
Here, though, the first doubts about Ellis's technique start to form. Talking of Maria, she writes: "I wish she'd told Patrick about the neglect and cruelties of Cowan Bridge. I wish she'd made him bring her sisters home. I wish she'd made him expose the school in the press."
This leads on to some fanciful leaps of supposition. Pondering the reasons for the absence of much of Anne's and Emily's juvenilia, Ellis quickly comes to the conclusion that the sisters probably burned it themselves.
That's simply impossible to know, so it's a worthless observation, something akin to that earlier wishing. Later, she even tries to pinpoint the exact date when Anne might have destroyed her own work.
Take Courage is filled with similarly liberal uses of the words "perhaps" and "maybe", as well as numerous sentences beginning, "Anne must have felt", "Anne must have wondered", and so on. Such speculative biography has become increasingly common, going hand in hand with the rise of what have been dubbed "shelf-help", rather than self-help, books - that is, books which wring fiction for its usefulness as therapy and consolation. (...)
"So what?" exasperated readers might well ask, having come to read a book about a neglected literary figure and finding themselves in a group hug instead. (Eilis O'Hanlon)
The Daily Express says
Much of the book is speculative, but this makes for a lovely and imaginative investigation into a serious and searching woman whose last words were “take courage”. It’s inspiring stuff. (Eithne Farry)
The News on Sunday (Pakistan) publishes not really a review but a vindication of Anne:
Anne Brontë is an interesting and largely overlooked writer, but the tv biopic of the Brontës along with Samantha Ellis’s book on her have now refocused attention on her and her work. As her two novels are read or re-read, it is likely that there will also be some reassessment of the literary importance of this largely forgotten Brontë sister. (Umber Khairi)
The Manchester Evening News announces that the Bolton Octagon Theatre is holding a dog audition for its new production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
Has your hound got what it takes to be in a Brontë play?
That's exactly what the Octagon Theatre in Bolton is asking as it looks for canines who can cut it on the stage in their latest adaptation of Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
The perfect pooch would have to be very disciplined and able to take instructions while surrounded by cast, children, lights, loud noises, and an audience of 400 people.
Dogs will be auditioning for the role of Sancho, the loyal companion of the story's narrator Gilbert Markham.
The show opens this spring and runs from March 30 to April 22, with rehearsals starting on March 2. The dog and their owner must be available for all rehearsal dates and performances. (...)
The theatre is also auditioning for two children to share the role of Arthur - the son of Markham's love interest and the tenant in the story's title, Helen Graham. (Sarah Walters)
Bookriot selects some poetry compilations:
Sylvia Plath- Selected Poems edited by Ted Hughes
I don’t think you can discuss poetry and not talk about Plath. Mired in a historical void of depression, angst and suicide, I think people have a tendency to shy away from Plath when they should be getting ever closer. This collection features, among others, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Lady Lazarus’ and contains works from all four of Plath’s poetry collections. (Aisling Twomey)
Lucasta Miller reviews Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature by Shelley DeWees in The Sunday Times:
Shelley DeWees studied ethnomusicology before teaching English in Korea. But her private passion was classic English novels. She became as “addicted” to Jane Austen as Austen’s own Catherine Morland is to reading Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. After a detour into the Brontës, DeWees began to wonder about other female writers of English literary history. The result is this series of seven vivacious sketches of lesser-known “ambitious women with inky thumbs”.
Also in The Sunday Times how it is to be a shepherdess and mother of nine in the country:
I strap my five-month-old to my front in my waterproof papoose and head out to the hills. I’m looking forward to getting her into my backpack as that will free me up to use my arms more easily. You can get lost in the monotonous daily grind, but when you look around you, you feel like a character in Wuthering Heights. (Moya Sarner)
The Times of India praises the Indin nineteenth century writer Toru Dutt
British scholar Edward J. Thompson, who was an associate of Tagore, had described Toru as “one of the most astonishing women that ever lived, a woman whose place is with Sappho and Emily Brontë, fiery and unconquerable of soul”. (Priyanka Dasgupta)
MSN has a list of fifty romantic movies, including Jane Eyre 2011:
The film, based on the classic novel by Charlotte Brontë, is directed by Cary Fukunaga and stars Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. The story revolves around a young girl who falls in love with her employer, but with time she realizes that he has some grave secrets.
The Daily Beast tells the inspiring story of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, recently deceased:
Steven’s sister, Delores, imagined that Steven was now with their mother, running though the moors like in the last scene of Wuthering Heights. (Michael Daly)
Pink Smarties posts about Wuthering Heights. Diminishing Thoughts and Molly's dreams post about Jane Eyre and Shirley respectively.
1:13 am by M. in    No comments
And some more Brontë-related recent theses:
Finding freedom for Jane: A reading of subjugation, shame, and sympathy in Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre"
by Shaver, Rebecca, M.A.
Clemson University, 2016

In an investigation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Jane Eyre, Jane clearly desires liberty in the form of social belonging or freedom, and makes the active choice to pursue it, but finds that liberty is ultimately best won not by an antagonistic battle, but instead through subjugation by those of a higher class than herself. As a social inferior, the mere association with a higher-class family name (whether that is through employment, marriage, etc.) is enough to set Jane’s eye on the ultimate goal of total autonomous freedom through social climbing. Jane actively participates in subjugation as a means to elevate her state in society, evident through choices of language. This language ranges from inhuman equations to magical creatures to derogatory social labels, but functions in the same way throughout the novel. I assert that Jane is fully active in her pursuit of a place in society. It is paradoxically through assimilating to the language and culture of the higher classes and referring to herself as an inferior that Jane takes back her power. By acknowledging her inferiority through her language, either to herself or by participating in conversations with (or active silence toward) social superiors, Jane actively wrests conversation to her advantage.
The figure of the female traveller in Victorian fiction
by McNeely, Sarah, Ph.D.
Texas Christian University, 2016

This dissertation examines the figure of the female traveller in Victorian fiction. Using examples of travelling women from canonical novels of the Victorian era, including Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this study identifies the gender implications of mobility in Victorian fiction.
This study defines the female traveller as a female protagonist or secondary character who undertakes a significant journey that holds importance in the overall narrative and where she steps out of her element in class, geography, or culture. The figure of the travelling woman in Victorian fiction is a signal that the text is doing important ideological work with regard to gender and mobility. The travelling woman disrupts two conventional tropes, masculine mobility and female stasis, and calls for a re-evaluation of the way we see and privilege mobility in the Victorian novel.
Humankindness: Illness, Animality, and the Limits of the Human in Victorian Fiction
by Cooper, Isabella Lucy, Ph.D.
University of Maryland, College Park, 2016

This project posits a link between representations of animals or animality and representations of illness in the Victorian novel, and examines the narrative uses and ideological consequences of such representations. Figurations of animality and illness in Victorian fiction have been examined extensively as distinct phenomena, but examining their connection allows for a more complex view of the role of sympathy in the Victorian novel. The commonplace in novel criticism is that Victorian authors, whether effectively or not, constructed their novels with a view to the expansion of sympathy. This dissertation intervenes in the discussion of the Victorian novel as a vehicle for sympathy by positing that texts and scenes in which representations of illness and animality are conjoined reveal where the novel draws the boundaries of the human, and the often surprising limits it sets on sympathetic feeling. In such moments, textual cues train or direct readerly sympathies in ways that suggest a particular definition of the human, but that direction of sympathy is not always towards an enlarged sympathy, or an enlarged definition of the human. There is an equally (and increasingly) powerful antipathetic impulse in many of these texts, which estranges readerly sympathy from putatively deviant, degenerate, or dangerous groups.
These two opposing impulses—the sympathetic and the antipathetic—often coexist in the same novel or even the same scene, creating an ideological and affective friction, and both draw on the same tropes of illness and animality. Examining the intersection of these different discourses—sympathy, illness, and animality-- in these novels reveals the way that major Victorian debates about human nature, evolution and degeneration, and moral responsibility shaped the novels of the era as vehicles for both antipathy and sympathy. Focusing on the novels of the Brontës and Thomas Hardy, this dissertation examines in depth the interconnected ways that representations of animals and animality and representations of illness function in the Victorian novel, as they allow authors to explore or redefine the boundary between the human and the non-human, the boundary between sympathy and antipathy, and the limits of sympathy itself.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Keighley News reports some of the upcoming activities at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
The Brontë Parsonage Museum looks deserted during January, the only month of the year when it is closed to the public.
But behind closed doors at the Haworth attraction the staff, from shop workers to specialist curators, have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.
There are general repairs, decorating and maintenance tasks, as well as checking every item in the museum and refreshing displays in readiness for reopening on February 1.
Principal curator Ann Dinsdale said there was a huge amount of work going on at the house where the Brontë sisters wrote their famous novels.
She said: “I think people imagine the winter is a quiet time for us, but it’s probably the busiest time as it’s the only time of year when we can do any conservation and maintenance work.
“Everything is cleaned and we check the entire collection for any signs of change in condition, including the furniture.”
Much of this month’s efforts are focused on preparing two major exhibitions that will run throughout 2017.
Mansions In The Sky will tie in with the major event of the year for Brontë enthusiasts: the 200th anniversary of the birth of Branwell Brontë.
The exhibition has been curated by poet Simon Armitage, the Brontë Society’s creative partner for ‘Branwell’s year’.
Simon will be in Haworth on May 13 at 2.30pm to talk about the exhibition.
The other 2017, exhibition, From Parsonage To Production, will include costumes, props and behind-the-scenes photographs from To Walk Invisible, the BBC drama about the Brontë family that was screened over the Christmas period. (David Knights)
You can check the rest of the activities on the Brontë Parsonage Museum website or on our Brontë calendar.

The Sunday Herald reviews Samantha Ellis's Take Courage biography of Anne Brontë. It's a curious (and mostly negative) review in which the author Lucy Ellmann impersonates Anne herself for a bit:
A lone cur howled across the sleet-drenched moors as I, in semi-transparent skeletal form, struggled to the door of Miss Samantha Ellis’s temporary dwelling in Haworth. Having discovered she was writing a book about me, I had come to plead with her to stop forthwith, for I did not wish my life to be arbitrarily exploited, however fast the bicentenary of my birth might be approaching.
It was not my aim to argue with Miss Ellis’s inaccuracies, inelegancies, or irrelevancies when we met, nor rebuke her curious attempt to prove that my treasured pebbles were the droppings of dinosaurs. Nor would I deign to refer to those dreams she related, in which she had supposedly found me sitting at the end of her bed, begging to be written about. Everyone must deal with their unfortunate proclivities according to their own moral fibre, however malnourished it may be. (...)
But what I objected to most strongly was Miss Ellis’s incessant projection of her own subjectivity on to mine. O how passionately did I wish she would stop entwining my life story so cloyingly with her own! (...)
Would that I could avenge those subtle slights! But I knew full well by this time Miss Ellis’s unshakeable determination to turn biography into autobiography littered with soliloquies vaguely arising from whatever titbit of information came to hand. On this basis she announces that Emily favoured mutton sleeves, Branwell had a large forehead, the poet Southey forced his daughters to bind 1400 books, and Thomas Bewick was cruel (quite wrong). More bafflingly, she wishes Dorothy Wordsworth and I had met and that I got cream on my bilberry pie, and says she has seen Kate Bush live.
In her earlier book, How to Be a Heroine, Miss Ellis debated which was the best Brontë: Charlotte or Emily. Now, perhaps in contrition for leaving me out, she wants to make a fetish of me. Yet she confesses to a growing impatience with our diaeresis! If I were to gain admittance tonight, my first duty would be to suggest she redirect her energies in future to authors with unaccented surnames. (...)
Making big claims for both of Anne’s novels, Ellis says their political engagement, class critique, pleas for education, expose of governessing, and the suggestion that mad bad Byronic men may be dangerous to know, "still feel revolutionary". Her own literary aims here are somewhat less ambitious: apart from some insightful, whimsical or frivolous asides, her book just becomes a walk in Anne’s boots, which were probably as muddied as her prose. Big walker, Anne.
Ellis too stalks the moors. She reads Bronte biographies, even that wacko Angria and Gondal juvenilia. She Googles and Pinterests. She dons latex gloves to examine Anne’s last letter or a hideous hair brooch of Charlotte’s. She asks if Anne Bronte invented the romcom (no). And she takes everything, but everything, personally: "wrongfooted, slighted, dissatisfied, bored, over-worked, underpaid and out of her depth – Agnes Grey is brilliant on the peculiar horror of a first job." It’s Ellis who’s scraping at the window. 
On the Penguin blog, Samantha Ellis herself attributes Anne Brontë's obscurity to sibling rivalry with Charlotte mostly:
When Anne Brontë died in 1849, her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was a bestseller. Her debut, Agnes Grey, was selling well too, and her poems were still being published in magazines.
So what happened? How did she become “the other Brontë”, the neglected Brontë, the least read of her sisters, both underrated and suppressed? And what does this say about what women still are and aren’t allowed to say?
Perhaps the biggest reason that Anne didn’t get her due in the 1840s was that she was just too radical. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’s heroine, Helen, starts out like all the Brontë heroines - falling for a sexy, dangerous cad. But he turns out to be an abusive alcoholic, and she leaves him. In 1848, this wasn’t just unusual; it was illegal. (...)
As misogynist critics called the Brontë novels “coarse” and “unwomanly”, Charlotte reacted by presenting herself as a martyr whose work had been misunderstood. She characterised Emily as a naïve genius who hadn’t known what she was writing, and wrote that Anne was pure, innocent, not hugely talented, and a bit gloomy. This didn’t fit with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so she decided it had been “an entire mistake”, not at all what Anne had meant to write, and she refused to allow it to be reprinted.
Because of Charlotte, Anne’s best novel was nearly impossible to get hold of for many years, and anyone who wondered why could read Charlotte’s harsh verdict. For over a century and a half, her assessment has stuck. But perhaps, at last, things are changing. Maybe now we are ready for Anne’s bold, arresting books.
Sebastian Faulks reviews The Crown in The Spectator. He mentions an anachronism in To Walk Invisible:
Watching the enjoyable Brontë drama To Walk Invisible the other day on television, I was brought up short when Charlotte told Emily that their books would be ‘rubbished’ by male critics in London. Such anachronisms crop up in all period dramas, but would be easy to fix if someone with an ear for language was asked to skim through the script before it was filmed.
The Hindu on private libraries:
When it comes to private libraries, we have more than our fair share. After all, this is the city of S.R. Ranganathan, the father of library science, whose colon classification system is followed all over the world. But one name that pops up often when talking about private book collections is that of our columnist Sriram V. “During the early part of the 20th Century, people read a lot of Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens,” says the writer and historian, before going on to share some trivia. The decision to open up some of these private reading retreats to the public is up to the family, says Sriram. “People tend to be possessive about their books; a part of any book lover’s culture. I am not flexible myself..” So, tread carefully when you visit these libraries. (Parshathy J. Nath)
Vulture recommends some Victorian TV dramas on streaming, including Jane Eyre 2006:
Jane Eyre
What’s it about? Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel got the mini-series treatment with this 2006 four-parter, which stars Ruth Wilson in the titular role as a young, orphaned governess who gradually falls in love with her older (and broodingly complicated) master, Edwin Rochester, at the sprawling Thornfield Hall. When strange and dangerous events keep occurring at the Hall while she watches her pupil, Jane begins to question how dark Rochester’s past really is.
Where can I stream it? Hulu (Devon Ivie)
MercatorNet talks about the 60th anniversary of Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago:
Nonetheless, a classic story including history, romance and poetry may not be a “spiritual masterpiece.” For instance, I would not describe either Wuthering Heights or Middlemarch in these terms, though they are indisputably great novels. What makes Doctor Zhivago a soulful pilgrimage for the reader as well as an imaginative feast is undoubtedly its mystical dimension. (Francis Phillips)
Official Charts lists songs inspired by places in the UK:
Wuthering Heights. Based on the famous novel by Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights became the first self-penned Number 1 by a female artist in UK chart history when released in 1978 and refers to the Yorkshire Moors that are at the heart of the story. (Jack White)
The Daily Mail recaps recent events on EastEnders:
At this point, EastEnders’ storyline encouraging people to embrace education by going back to college or taking classes at night school, as Denise had, didn’t look so constructive.
Getting a GCSE in English Literature was obviously great but surely even Jane Eyre wasn’t that good.
Not so good it was worth abandoning your baby for. (Jim Shelley)
FareFilm (in Italian) discusses Jane Austen adaptations:
Jane Austen è sempre stata diversa dalle Brontë, alchimiste delle passioni folli, assurde, sregolate e spesso nonsense (ricordate Heathcliff e Cathy?). Nella Austen, scrittrice del Settecento inglese, tutto ha un senso, tutto ha una forma e una spiegazione. Anche l’amore più straziante. Anche l’incontrollabile. Ecco perché un brontiano preferirà vivere mentre l’austeniano analizzerà. Ma i consigli di Jane Austen per gli affari di cuore sono sempre attuali. (Alice Grisa) (Translation)
Movietele (in Italian) finds more Heathcliff-ish things in Tom Hardy's role in Taboo:
Taboo - stando almeno al pilot appena andato in onda - è una serie in costume che sembra voler chiamare le atmosfere e gli ambienti di storie oscure e tragiche, che passano per Cuore di Tenebra di Conrad e per Cime tempestose di Emily Brontë. Proprio a quest'ultima, infatti, la serie ideata da Steven Knight, deve tantissima della sua estetica: la figura granitica di Tom Hardy, ripresa spesso di spalle e in controluce, mentre lentamente si allontana in scenari brulli, quasi paludosi, pieni di indomabile natura selvaggia, sembra richiamare quasi come un omaggio palese il personaggio di Heathcliff. Somiglianza che non ha solo a che vedere con l'aspetto visivo della messinscena, ma che affonda le proprie radici anche nella costruzione di un personaggio quasi sempre silenzioso, che parla quasi a monosillabi, abbaiando minacce con la marmorea certezza del proprio potere e della propria superiorità intellettuale. (Erika Pornella) (Translation)
This Metro crossword contains a Brontë-related question s does this The Times' quiz; GreyZone Books reviews Jane Eyre; Gen Scribbles has created a Jane Eyre playlist.