Sunday, May 01, 2016

Brontë events in Pendle (not all of them for gloom-mongers)

On Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 11:18 am by M. in , , , , ,    No comments
The Craven Herald & Pioneer announces a programme of free events celebrating the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë in Lancashire:
Events will bring to life the places just over the border that inspired her writing, including the atmospheric village of Wycoller with its ruined hall – the real Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.
Pendle neighbours the Brontë moors, and so Pendle Council is launching a programme of 21 events from today until October 30 to mark the anniversary.
Pendle Council’s Brontë enthusiast, Sarah Lee, co-ordinated the programme, working with Pendle’s tourism officer, walk leaders, artists, photographers and storytellers to bring the area’s Brontë connections to life.
She said: “It’s often forgotten that Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne often walked across the border over the moors into Lancashire.
“Charlotte knew this area well, drawing inspiration from the landscape, turbulent histories, local news and Lancashire folklore.”
Tourism officer Mike Williams agreed, saying: “Pendle in Lancashire is little-known for its Brontë connections, but they are compelling.” (Daryl Ames)
The list of events can be found on the Visit Pendle website. The first one is today, May 1:
Sun 1 May 11am – 1pm
Walk in the footsteps of Charlotte Brontë
4 mile walk exploring Wycoller’s Brontë associations.
Meet leader John Crow at the Aisled Barn
Wycoller, BB8 8SU grid ref SD 933391
No need to book. Tel. 01282 870253.
The Daily Mail in the footsteps of literary giants:
They say it's grim up north - and this walk across the Yorkshire Moors does nothing to disprove the theory. The landscape might be uplifting, but the poets and novelists it has inspired were almost all gloom-mongers. Don’t say you weren’t warned...
We start at Haworth Parsonage – two centuries ago the home of the Brontës.
It was here Charlotte wrote the gloomily romantic Jane Eyre, Anne wrote the fierily feminist Agnes Grey, and the depressive Emily wrote the gothic nightmare that is Wuthering Heights.
Is it already time to do what Branwell, brother of the three sisters, did every night and slope off to the Black Bull for a gallon or two?
 Not if you want to make it across the moors, it isn’t. So instead, make your way across to the church, next door to the Parsonage, and take the footpath that skirts the graveyard and leads on to the Brontë Way.
This takes you across Penistone Hill and on to Haworth Moor – the terrifyingly beautiful landscape that inspired Emily’s novel.
An hour or so in, just after joining the Pennine Way, you come to the ruins of Top Withens Farm – thought by many to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights.
When the wind blows the trees (as it usually does here) you feel ‘the intense horror of nightmare’ as Cathy knocks at the window: ‘Let me in – let me in.’ And let me out of here! (Christopher Bray)
The Times is concerned about how much Jane Eyre should have paid in taxes today for her inheritance:
Reader, I married him, but Osborne clobbered me for £600,000
Our great literary heroines and heroes are forever inheriting fortunes, but how much tax would they have to pay on them today?
“‘Twenty thousand pounds?’ Here was a new stunner — I had been calculating on four or five thousand. This news actually took my breath for a moment.”
So says Jane Eyre, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brontë’s debut novel, on learning she has inherited a fortune from her Uncle John. She is shocked that she alone will receive the full £20,000 but soon realises it will be a “grand boon”.
An inheritance of £20,000 would still be a boon, but when Jane Eyre was published in 1847 it was a vast sum — equivalent to about £1.9m today. (Ruth Emery)
BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please latest programme includes a poem by Charlotte Brontë: Parting.
Roger McGough marks a series of poetic anniversaries with a programme on the theme of time, memory and remembrance. Shakespeare, of course, makes an appearance, as does Charlotte Brontë. It's also a century since the Easter Rising in Dublin inspired WB Yeats and others to put pen to paper. More reflections on time and memory come from poets including TS Eliot and Thomas Hardy. Producer Sally Heaven.
DNA (India) has an article on the Elena Ferrante mystery:
Women writers, especially, have tended to take on masculine-sounding names because they perceive a male bias among publishers and readers. Think of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), or the Brontë sisters who wrote first as Currer (Charlotte), Acton (Anne) and Ellis (Emily) Bell. But a famous and recent example of this is E.L. James, Erika Leonard in real life, who took on the gender neutral initials because she felt that Fifty Shades of Grey's sexual content would be better accepted coming from a male writer. (Gargi Gupta)
Página 12 (Argentina) explores the life and works of Cynthia Ozick:
Desplazamiento, soledad y pertenencia: tres sensaciones que experimentó cuando comenzó a leer esos cuentos mágicos, y volvió a experimentar más tarde al meterse en la retorcida Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë, y más tarde cuando los poetas románticos la hicieron llorar en el baño de su casa. (Fernando Krapp) (Translation)
Electric Lit is re-reading Jane Eyre; Confesiunile unei iubitoare de cărţi (in Romanian) blogs and Jen Campbell and Emily Hornburg vlog about Jane Eyre;  Create with Joy reviews Rita Maria Martinez's The Jane and Bertha in Me; Blissful Blog reviews Patricia Park's Re Jane; Les Soeurs Brontë (in French) has a new imagined Brontë portrait using paintings by Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans; Mind the Gap (in French) reviews the French translation of Jolien Janzing's De MeesterWritergurlny reviews Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy; Multicatable posts about Wide Sargasso Sea.
A new retelling of Jane Eyre and a German audiobook of Charlotte Brontë's novel:
Rochester: A memoir
by Cara Holmes
Publisher: Legend Books; 1st edition (2016)
ISBN-13: 978-0997274103

Since 1947 when Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre first appeared on bookstore shelves, fans have read and reread this beloved story of a penniless governess and her brooding mysterious master. They have listened to the demonic laughter and waited anxiously beside Miss Eyre in her master's burned bedroom while he disappeared into hidden third floor rooms without explanation. They have borne his moods, basked in his rare smiles, puzzled at his mercurial personality changes, and despite themselves, fell in love with Edward Fairfax Rochester right along with Jane. In this journal, adapted from Charlotte Brontë's novel, Jane Eyre, Rochester tells his story with unflinching honesty. From his barren childhood of privilege to his tragic first marriage he allows readers into his innermost soul, where they fall in love with him all over again.

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Read by Sylvester Groth, Sascha Maria Icks, Christian Redl
Hörbuch CD
Random House
ISBN: 978-3-8445-2067-5

Zum 200. Geburtstag von Charlotte Brontë am 21. April 2016: Der romantische Klassiker als Hörspiel

„Ich bin kein Vogel, und kein Netz umgarnt mich, ich bin ein freier Mensch mit einem freien Willen – das werde ich zeigen, indem ich Sie verlasse“, sagt Jane Eyre zu dem Mann, den sie liebt. Christiane Ohaus hat den romantischen Klassiker in ein akustisches Universum verwandelt, mit genialer Leichtigkeit greifen Musik, Geräusche und schauspielerische Gestaltung ineinander. Mit Sascha Icks als Jane Eyre, die sich zwischen ihrer Liebe und ihrer Selbstständigkeit entscheiden muss, mit Christian Redl als mürrisch-liebenswertem Landedelmann und Sylvester Groth als seinem Konkurrenten bleibt auch der kleinste Zwischenton von Charlotte Brontës großem Roman bewahrt.
(3 CDs, Laufzeit: 3h 50)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Samantha Ellis reviews Reader, I Married Him in The Guardian:
Right from its dedication – “For Charlotte, of course” – affection and intimacy pervade this collection of 21 short stories, all by women, inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s most famous line. (All apart from Susan Hill, who contrarily reveals in her contributor’s note that she has not read Jane Eyre.) For the editor, Tracy Chevalier, Jane’s declaration is the defiant cry of the underdog, thrilling because it is so far from the more passive constructions we might expect; it is not “Reader, he married me”, or even “Reader, we married”. In Chevalier’s own story, “Dorset Gap”, Jenn spurns Ed by pointedly summarising Jane Eyre as a novel about “a governess full of inner strength who marries a completely inappropriate man”. Ed proves his inappropriateness by confusing the novel with Wuthering Heights, and loses more ground by admitting that he always thought the Kate Bush song was called “Waterproof Eyes”. But he finally breaks the ice by misquoting the crucial line as “Reader, she married me” – and she laughs so hard that we wonder if one day she will. (...)
These stories will enrich and complicate future readings of Jane Eyre, as the best fan fiction should. It’s a testament to Brontë’s novel that we still can’t stop talking about it, fighting about it and writing around it; that so many writers want to imagine their way into it. If Brontë was going to drop in on any of the celebrations for her bicentenary, I can’t help but think she would get a kick out of this collection. After all, Jane Eyre arose from just such a liberated way of thinking about storytelling, from long nights at the parsonage with the three sisters walking round and round the table, writing and rewriting each other’s stories, in the best writers’ workshop that ever was.
The Harrogate Advertiser has an article on a local Brontë trail:
Our trail begins as we walk along Main Street, heading for St Mary’s Church. Then left through the churchyard, which contains a railed obelisk in memory of Dr John Crosby, a good friend of Branwell’s.
Following country lanes and a short stretch of road we turn onto Mill Lane. In 1842, at Long Plantation, Anne Brontë wrote her three-verse poem “Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day”, which was published in 1846 under her pen-name of Acton Bell.
Kirby Hall was demolished in the 1920s but in the distance some of the service buildings can still be seen. It was still a fine Palladian-style mansion when Anne used it as an influence for Ashby Hall in her novel Agnes Grey, published in 1847. (To shorten the walk, take the bridleway from Low Farm up to Thorpe Green Lane and turn right towards Great Ouseburn.)
Beyond Low Farm we use a footpath, known in Anne’s day as Bowsers Lane which emerges at Thorp Head, close to the River Ouse. Branwell Brontë’s poem Lydia Gisborne begins “On Ouse’s grassy banks – last Whitsuntide, I sat, with fears and pleasures, in my soul commingled, as it ‘roamed without control’…”.
Moss Hill Lane was Moss Lane in Agnes Grey and at its junction with Thorpe Green Lane we can just glimpse Monks’ Lodge above a tall wall, where Branwell stayed.
A sketch he did of the building still survives. (Read more)
HistoryExtra carries an article about the Brontës and contemporary wars (the subject of last year's exhibition at the Parsonage):
The Brontës at war: how Charlotte and Branwell brought Waterloo into their drawing room
One of the most celebrated literary families of the 19th century, the Brontës were part of a post-war generation, with Charlotte Brontë, the eldest child, born in 1816, a year after the decisive battle of Waterloo. What impact, then, did the Napoleonic Wars have on the Brontës’ early literature? (...)
he defeat of Napoleon in 1815 marked the end of a seemingly relentless war and left a stunned Europe reflecting not only on the sensational elements of conflict, but also the horrors.
The Brontë family’s local Yorkshire landscape saw multitudes of soldiers return from battle overseas, suffering physical and psychological damage and confined to the economic limitations of half-pay – an allowance soldiers received when in retirement or not in service. Within its family home, Haworth parsonage, the family’s father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë, remained a military fanatic. Although trained in the church he held a lifelong obsession with the Napoleonic Wars, passing onto Charlotte his hero worship of the Duke of Wellington.
The British writers of the day thought the early 19th century to be dull and uneventful. The future prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, famously stated in his 1826 novel Vivian Grey, “if it wasn’t for the general election, we really must have a war for variety’s sake. Peace gets quite a bore”.
The newspapers and periodicals of the day were saturated with war commentary. They ignored the monotony of the present and lingered on the shadows of Britain’s military past. Wellington and Napoleon especially dominated the media. Their rivalry was sensationalised and very quickly engrained into cultural mythology: Wellington as a hero; Napoleon as a tortured, evil genius.
The Brontë family’s favourite periodical, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, especially dramatised the relationship between Wellington and Napoleon. One commentator stated that Wellington had conquered Napoleon by “simple manly heroism”; another said that “they struggled like two giants for ascendency”. In short, throughout the 1820s and 1830s the air was still abuzz with war. This buzz filtered right through the core of Britain’s social fabric and straight into the Brontës’ imaginations. (Read more) (Emma Butcher)
The Ilkley Gazette talks about the Otley Cycle Club's recent participation in the Brontë200 celebrations:
Six riders took flowers from Thornton, where the writer was born on April 21, 1816, to Haworth, where she and her gifted family lived for most of their lives.
The symbolic ride over the moors to Haworth Parsonage was part of a hectic day of celebrations to mark the anniversary last Thursday.
The club was asked to get involved by the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and was delighted to accept.
Press secretary, Jill Birch, said: "One wreath was laid at St James's Church in Thornton and we carried the other one to be laid at the Parsonage, so we travelled from where she was born to where she lived.
"It was quite a tough ride up and around the moors, but I'm so glad we took part. It was lovely and the Parsonage was so busy when we arrived – just full of people and cameras – so it was pretty exciting.
"It was a great experience. We've done so many different things in the past couple of years we'd never have got involved with if we weren't members of the cycling club."
Brontë Parsonage Museum marketing officer, Rebecca Yorke, added: "We wanted to have some way of bringing flowers from Thornton to Haworth for Charlotte's birthday, and by bicycle seemed a nice way to do it. (Jim Jack)
The Wharfedale Observer has an update on the rehearsals of the upcoming Northern Ballet Jane Eyre production:
[Cathy Marston says] “When I think of Jane I feel inspired by images of her passionate but 'impossible' relationship with Mr Rochester; the fire and emotional destruction symbolised by Bertha Mason, the infamous 'woman in the attic'; the contrasting icy moorland through which she seems to run from one chapter of her life to another; and of course her final reunion with Rochester. (David Knights)
The Books and Arts programme of Radio National ABC (Australia) interviews Claire Harman.

Sarah Dunant talks about the disappearing art of handwriting in BBC Radio4's A Point of View 
In the archive of the Brontë parsonage in Haworth I recently saw an extraordinary letter. The sisters wrote constantly, and because paper and postage was expensive, they eked out every bit of space. In 1849 Anne, just diagnosed with TB and eager to go to Scarborough for the air wrote to a friend of the family's there - a fine and precise script leaving an equal gap between every word, so that when the page was full she could turn it at right angles and insert new lines inside the space left. This "crossed letter" as it's known, is the last she wrote. She and Charlotte went to Scarborough soon after but she died a few weeks later. So much unlived life in those cramped lines. (Source)
KCUR interviews the leading actors (who are also a couple in real life: Alisha and Matt Richardson) in a current production of Jane Eyre. The Musical in Mission, Kansas:
"Our comfort level with each other has allowed the chemistry on stage and the story to really grow, I think, at a more rapid pace than it would had we been strangers," says Alisha. "You get to the kissing, and it's like, no big deal, we can just kiss and move on."
"Rochester is a little bit more of a jerk than I am, at least, maybe," jokes Matt. "But I kind of come around at the end of the show: The softer side of Rochester comes out, and he really shows his love for her. And I think that's something that I can really relate to. Being on stage with my wife, and being able to look at her, while I'm saying these things." (Laura Spencer)
Do you need reasons to visit Yorkshire. In the Daily Express they have some:
Explore Haworth, the Yorkshire village on the edge of the Pennine Moors where the Brontë sisters grew up and were inspired by the countryside around them. Charlotte Brontë is most famous for penning Jane Eyre while Emily wrote Wuthering Heights. The home where they grew up, The Parsonage, is open to the public and shows how it would have looked when they lived there. (Anne Gorringe)
Oliver Kamm quotes Villette's use of 'fulsome' in today's Pedant column in The Times.

The wonders of a school library in Education Week:
I grew up reading—at the school library, on the bookmobile, at the comic book store, at home next to the heater under the piano. As a girl, I found pieces of myself in the characters of Ramona, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, Jo March, Harriet the Spy, Jane Eyre. (Megan McDonald)
Onirik (France) presents the book Les Soeurs Brontë à 20 ans by Stéphane Labbé:
La collection A 20 ans impose un format court et concis, qui s’attarde sur la jeunesse d’un auteur. C’est donc tout naturellement que l’on retrouve, dans le premier chapitre, une toute jeune Charlotte Brontë, sur le point de rejoindre l’école où elle va prendre son premier poste d’enseignante. Elle n’a aucune envie de partir, mais n’a d’autre choix, car les finances de la famille sont très faibles. (...)
Dans cette biographie vivante, Stéphane Labbé retrace pour nous ces destinées exceptionnelles, qui restent cependant encore bien mystérieuses. Mais il lève assurément un pan du voile, grâce à ses recherches rigoureuses et son analyse fine des oeuvres des soeurs Brontë. (Claire Saim) (Translation)
It's hard for us to take the rigor of the biography seriously judging by the rigor of its cover.

Infobae (Argentina) interviews the writer Mariana Enríquez:
El año pasado se cumplieron veinte años de su primera novela, Bajar es lo peor. ¿Qué sucedió en estas dos décadas en su escritura? (Matías Méndez)
—Como publiqué muy chica la primera vez, tenía veinte años, lo que ocurre es que esa primera novela era una novela realista y de realismo sucio juvenil, con drogas, noche y toda esa historia, peTranslation)
ro también tenía elementos de novela romántica tipo Cumbres borrascosas y alguna cosa de vampiros. (
Cultura e Culture (Italy) reviews the Italian translation of Lyndall Gordon's Charlotte Brontë. A Passionate Life; Bustle lists bookish baby names, including Jane; L'ivre des rêves (in French) reviews Wuthering HeightsSheferijm - Ajatuksia kirjoista! (in Finnish) posts bout Jane Eyre. ZSR's rare book of the month is
ZSR Special Collections’ copy of the first edition of Jane Eyre was part of Charles H. Babcock’s collection and is currently on view in the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room (ZSR625) as part of the exhibit Books and Bibliophiles at Wake Forest.
12:20 am by M. in , ,    No comments
An alert for today, March 30:
Charlotte Brontë Birthday Bash! at Central
Milwaukee Public Library
814 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233
Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Celebrate the 200th Birthday of Charlotte Brontë! 2016 marks the bicentenary of the birth of novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë, most well known for her masterpiece Jane Eyre.  Join us for music, Victorian crafts and a presentation by UW-Milwaukee Associate Professor of English, Sukanya Banerjee on Charlotte's life, career and nineteenth century England.Event begins at 2 p.m. Presentation at 2:30 p.m.
Location: Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Economist's Prospero has an article on Charlotte Brontë's education - of all kinds - in Brussels.
To her contemporaries, Charlotte Brontë came across as a “little, plain, provincial, sickly-looking old maid”. They were misguided; a retiring disposition and thick spectacles disguised the novelist’s passionate inner life. Brontë, born 200 years ago this month, endowed her heroines, particularly Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe, with similar disguises—their simple gowns cloaking an ardour for love and sex. But while Brontë is known for writing impassioned, even angry, moral romances, what has passed by largely unnoticed is her facility to write erotica. That it was inspired by true occurrences makes the fiction all the more arresting.
In February 1842 Charlotte and Emily Brontë, seeking to improve their French and broaden their vistas, sailed for Belgium. The sisters were headed for the Pensionnat Héger, a boarding school located in a sunken, cobbled street in Brussels, run by Madame Zoe Héger and her husband Constantin. Emily was gone in less than a year. But for Charlotte, these gothic environs were life changing. She made prodigious strides as a writer and learned to temper her overwrought outpourings. It was also where her heart was broken.
The dark-haired, blue-eyed, cigar-smoking Constantin Héger was the cause. Seven years older than the 26-year-old Charlotte, he dressed in black and had a temper to match. But he was a gifted teacher who quickly recognised the extraordinary talent of his English pupils. Flinty Emily rejected his impress, but emollient Charlotte fell under his spell. As “his anger fiercely flamed,” she blossomed under his glower. Teacher and student began to exchange long pedagogic letters discussing Charlotte’s French exercises. Soon, Héger was leaving books in her desk. (N.M.) (Read more)
The Sydney Morning Herald writes 'In praise of Charlotte Bronte and the greatness of her work'.
They gave Charlotte Brontë a lovely 200th birthday party last week in the Yorkshire village of Haworth, her old stamping ground. There were church services and floral tributes delivered on a bicycle by the Otley Ladies Cycling Club. They baked cakes for her, and pupils from the primary school performed scenes from Jane Eyre.
The novelist, Tracy Chevalier, a huge fan of Charlotte, gave a talk at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, which is staging an exhibition, Charlotte Great and Small. Chevalier, a creative partner in the exhibition, says she chose to display tiny things in Charlotte's life – shoes, a scrap of dress, the miniature books made by the Brontë children – alongside quotes voicing her big desires.
It sounds charming, and I'm sure Charlotte would have enjoyed it. As fine a way to pay tribute as any. But how do you capture the essence of Charlotte and her astonishing books – in particular, Jane Eyre – in any birthday celebration? (Jane Sullivan) (Read more)
This was announced coinciding with Charlotte's birthday, but it's worth reporting it again. From Keighley News:
Historic England has relisted seven buildings that witnessed the life of Charlotte Brontë.
The organisation has updated the buildings – including the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth – to mark the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth.
They include the properties that inspired Charlotte’s most famous novel, Jane Eyre, and the house where she contracted a fatal illness.
The buildings were already on the National Heritage List for England, but now their entries fully acknowledge the important history of the novelist.
Historic England spokesman, Eric Branse-Instone, said: “We are glad to be able to celebrate and mark the history of this important novelist on the National Heritage List for England.
“These buildings help to tell the story of Charlotte Brontë’s life and the inspiration of her work."
The Haworth Parsonage, where Charlotte and her sisters Emily and Anne grew up and wrote her novels, is a Grade I listed building.
Stone Gappe, in Lothersdale, which is listed Grade II, is thought to be the inspiration for Gateshead Hall – the unhappy childhood home of Jane Eyre. Charlotte was a governess there for a short time in 1839.
The Rev Patrick Brontë was curate of the Chapel of St James, also known as Old Bell Chapel, in Thornton, and his three literary daughters were baptised there.
Number 74 Market Street in Thornton was the birthplace of the Brontë sisters. North Lees Hall in Derbyshire was the ancestral home of the real-life Eyre family, and boasts the real-life story of a mad woman who was kept in an upstairs room, giving her the inspiration for the novel.
The Grade II listed vicarage in the village of Hathersage was immortalised in Jane Eyre as Morton village.
Charlotte caught a chill whilst walking in the grounds of Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, and it is thought this led to her death in 1855. (David Knights)
While they are at it, something could be done about Wycoller Hall, also of importance in the Brontë story, where - remember - Lancashire County Council is planning on stopping 'the management, maintenance and ranger service'.

Among the '14 things to do in the Bradford area this May Day bank holiday weekend' listed by The Telegraph and Argus, there's this for today:
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is celebrating the life of Charlotte Brontë with a special tour as part of the 'Parsonage Unwrapped' series, at 7.30pm. Tickets £15 / £12 concessions and Brontë Society members (proof of membership required) - includes a glass of wine. (David Jagger)
Express gives the 'top 10 reasons to visit Yorkshire', which include
6. Explore Haworth, the Yorkshire village on the edge of the Pennine Moors where the Brontë sisters grew up and were inspired by the countryside around them. Charlotte Brontë is most famous for penning Jane Eyre while Emily wrote Wuthering Heights. The home where they grew up, The Parsonage, is open to the public and shows how it would have looked when they lived there.  (Anne Gorringe)
The Daily Mail asks writer Freya North about books.
. . . would you take to a desert island?
Jane Eyre is just so devastatingly romantic — they literally go through fire for love. I read that you won’t understand true love until you’ve read it.
Writer Amanda Jennings tells The Irish Times her trick for coping with bad reviews:
What weight do you give reviews? I would be lying if I said I didn’t read them. I do. The harsh ones undoubtedly hurt. But if I do get one that isn’t great – a one- or two-star – I look up a book I love, perhaps The Book Thief or The Kite Runner or Jane Eyre, and read the one- and two-stars for that. It helps put things into perspective. If the very best books in the world can attract poor reviews, then why am I worrying about mine? Reading is highly subjective and differing opinions go with the territory. If a book is going to move some readers then it is just as likely to grate with others.
Broadway World reviews the production of Jane Eyre the Musical at Hale Center Theater Orem.
Kenna Lynn Smith as Jane Eyre (double cast with Elizabeth Dabczynski-Bean) splendidly depicts the inner turmoil of her character and sings the impactful score with beauty.
Her husband, David Matthew Smith, is the understudy for Edward Rochester (played at most performances by Equity performer Dallyn Vail Bayles). He gamely attacks the role and succeeds in winning over the audience.
Rachel Bigler deserves special recognition for her delicious portrayal of Rochester's fiancé, Blanche Ingram (double cast with Alicia Pann).
Also making a wonderful impression are Lynne Bronson as Mrs. Fairfax (double cast with Melany Wilkins), Alex DeBirk as St. John Rivers (double cast with David Matthew Smith), and Malia Mackay as Grace Poole (single cast).
Some of the dialect pronunciation is spot on, but unfortunately many of the actors' accents were hit-or-miss throughout the reviewed performance.
The music direction by Justin Bills and sound design by Cody Hale keep the music and dialogue sounding their best and add a thrilling aural ambiance to the proceedings.
The costume design by MaryAnn Hill (assisted by Patti Glad), along with the hair and makeup design by Janna Larsen (assisted by Heather Jones), are striking and appropriate.
The scenic design by Bobby Swenson and Cole McClure and companion lighting design (by Swenson) and projection design (by McClure) are artistic and captivating. The visuals of the production are sometimes haunting, sometimes glowing--encapsulating the wide range and depth of emotion in the piece.
Interesting stage pictures from director Christopher Clark and choreographer Cory Stephens heighten and intensify this emotion, resulting in a very satisfying production. (Tyler Hinton)
The Orion recommends Lyndsay Faye's Jane Steele and GraphoMania (Italy) recommends Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair among other books about books. Sandy Docherty on Baking Down Barriers posts about the cake she made for the Brontë200 birthday celebration at the Parsonage. Kevd'r (in Slovenian) posts about Charlotte Brontë. Rapsodia Literaria (in Spanish) reviews Wuthering Heights.
12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
A new regional production of the Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre musical opens today, April 29, in Virginia:
Jane Eyre. The Musical
Based on the Novel by Charlotte Brontë
Book by John Caird
Music & Lyrics by Paul Gordon
Directed by Emily Hibl
Produced by Walter Loope
Music Directed by Katy Benko-Miner

Fauquier Community Theatre
Main Stage
4225 Aiken Dr, Warrenton, VA 20187

April 29, 30, May 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15
Fri & Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm

Charlotte Brontë’s great love story comes to life with music to lift your heart and set your spirit soaring. This beloved tale of secrets and the lies that secrets create, of unimaginable hope and unspoken passion, reminds us what it is to fall deeply, truly and completely in love. Jane Eyre, the musical enchants audiences with a timeless love story.
12:02 am by M. in ,    No comments
An alert from the Brontë Parsonage Museum for toda
y, April 29:
Parsonage Unwrapped: Celebrating Charlotte
April 29, 7:30 PM

Our series of exclusive events continues with a special tour of the Museum focussing on Charlotte. Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016 11:03 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
The Advocate reviews Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë.
April marks the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, and Claire Harman’s new biography offers a compelling look at the famed novelist. [...]
Though her life was tragic in many ways, Brontë succeeded in making an indelible contribution to the world canon, creating one of literature’s most memorable heroines, Jane Eyre. Harman tells that story well in her authoritative biography. (Louise Hilton)
Rugby Advertiser reports on the celebration of Charlotte's bicentenary organised by a local florist.
A Rugby florist has come up smelling of roses after a day of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of celebrated novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë.
Sue Ainley, who owns Garden Gate Flowers, joined nine other florists in the village of Haworth, West Yorkshire, to make floral installations.
“It was just wonderful to spend the day with such a talented group, using an amazing range of locally grown flowers and foliage,” she said.
“I already use as many British flowers as possible in all aspects of my work and this unique experience has certainly reinforced my belief that British is best.”
Working from the Old School Rooms where Charlotte taught, the ladies spent the day using British grown spring flowers to create floral displays in celebration of Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre.
The Telegraph and Argus features the Bradford Literature Festival (May 20-29) which will include
hundreds of events ranging from Harry Potter themed family days in City Park to discussions about the Brontë sisters with top historians. [...]
Other events are based on a wide variety of themes, including a cosplay workshop, based on the increasingly popular subculture of dressing up as fictional characters, a discussion titled How to Be a Feminist, multiple sessions looking at the Brontë sisters and their impact on modern society, performances of extracts of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the grounds of Bradford Cathedral and a study of the secret history of Islam and coffee. (Chris Young)
The West Australian describes ballet artistic director  Aurelien Scannella as
an imposing and somewhat brooding figure (more Brontë’s Heathcliff than Villeneuve’s Beast, it must be said) (Julie Hosking)
Unabridged Chick reviews Rita Maria Martinez's The Jane and Bertha in Me. Aleksandra Podstawka discusses loneliness in Brussels on The Brussels Brontë Blog. Hopelesss Book Addict reviews Jane Eyre.
1:00 am by M. in ,    No comments
The latest issue of the Britain Magazine (May-June 2016) contains an article visiting Brontë country:

Escape to Brontë Country

In the 200th anniversay year of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, we bring you some of the easiest places to stary in her native Yorkshire, from the country hideaway of her personal physician to a Jacobean house near her birthplace. (Heidi Fuller-Love)

Patricia Park presents her novel Re Jane in La Jolla, California:
Re Jane
Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 6:30pm
7812 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she's been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle's grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of "nunchi" (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she's thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops and nineteenth century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer's feminist lectures and Ed Farley's very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed's blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.

Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is. Re Jane is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for one's self.

Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Independent looks at strange sleeping habits of famous people and twists a well-known habit of the Brontës into fitting just eccentric Emily.
Novelist Emily Brontë walked around in circles until she fell asleep.
The 19th-century novelist and poet suffered from insomnia, and she would walk around her dining room table until she felt tired enough to fall asleep. (Emmie Martin)
The all three did that and in the end, it was Charlotte who ended up keeping the habit by herself.

If you are a fan of Jasper Fforde's (and you should be), The Guardian announces there will soon be a webchat with him.
The author of The Eyre Affair is coming in to chat about everything from Charlotte Brontë to comedy writing and will answer your questions in a live webchat from 1pm BST on Tuesday 3 May
As the author of The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde is an ideal guest to discuss this month’s Reading Group subject, Jane Eyre. Fforde’s debut novel provides a fine commentary on Rochester and friends – and some quite brilliant explanations for some of the odder elements and coincidences in Brontë’s plot. If you want an alternative theory about why Bertha died and how Rochester managed to get Jane to go and find him after the fire, this is the book to look at.
There is also much more to ask this prolific and talented writer at 1pm BST on 3 May. The Eyre Affair is only the first book of seven (so far) starring the literary detective Thursday Next, a series Fforde himself has described as “fantasy spread thick, deep, and silly”. That’s a pretty decent summary, except for the fact that it downplays how clever these books can be, and how many smart questions they raise about the way novels are put together and our own expectations when reading. (Sam Jordison)
The University of Toronto wonders,
Can that treasured copy of Jane Eyre inform current debates about sexual consent on campus? You bet, argues Elissa Gurman (department of English).
While IOL (South Africa) discusses how customers treat waiters.
Then there are the chefs, who are often charming alcoholics outside of work, but become knife-wielding maniacs in the kitchen. Ivan was one such cook - a mild, cardigan-wearing man who read Charlotte Brontë and owned two Yorkshire terriers. While setting up in the evenings, we would discuss the merits of corsets and the marvel of daffodils. But once behind the stove, he yelled and screamed and clattered and thumped and called me names that were decidedly un-Victorian. Then, after work, we would share a bottle of Blanc fume and talk about Jane Eyre, and he would apologise for having called me rude names. (Helen Walne)
The Wall Street Journal mentions Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights opera.
Dorothy Herrmann, one of the composer’s daughters, spoke in between, injecting robust humor into her unvarnished reminiscences of life with father. She mentioned that he initially loathed “Psycho,” “until it became a cult classic. Then, he couldn’t say enough good things about it.” She also discussed his one opera, “Wuthering Heights,” a passion project that went unstaged in his lifetime and was recorded only at his own expense. (Its belated premiere came in 1982, in Portland, Ore.; its most recent U.S. revival was in 2011, in Minneapolis.) (David Mermelstein)
While iDiva looks at 'literary bad boys' such as
5. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights
There isn't much good Heathcliff does in the book. From strangling dogs to digging up the rotting corpse of his adopted sister and possible lover, he isn't too likable. But there is a reprehensible element to him that makes him attractive. The dark-skinned Heathcliff is considered as a misguided Romeo by many, but at the same time he is also a monster. I guess, most of us just can't resist the bad boy charm. (Ainee Nizami)
Kristianstadsbladet (Sweden) celebrates Charlotte's bicentenary. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shares lots of pictures of the celebrations too. Early Bird Books reviews Juliet Barker's The Brontës.  Aleksandra Podstawka posts on the Brussels Brontë Blog about loneliness in Brussels. She Reads Books reviews Jane SteeleThe European Studies Blog from the British Library has published a post:
Although the British Library is rightly proud of its unique collection of manuscripts relating to Charlotte Brontë, including the four letters which inspired Chrissie Gittins’s poetry collection Professor Héger’s Daughter, its European collections also contain a number of volumes which reflect the worldwide reputation which this modest and retiring author achieved after her premature death in 1837 (sic!). (Susan Halstead)
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
Our thanks to the publishers for sending us an ARC of this book.
The Madwoman Upstairs
Catherine Lowell
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 9781501124211
March 2016
Fiction somehow related to the Brontës will be a common trend these coming months. Fictions about the Brontës are not so abundant since the historical novel fever of some years ago but sequels or retellings of their novels are even more popular then they used to be (even if there is never a shortage of them). But there is a third type of Brontë-related fiction: the contemporary novel which features the Brontës as a commentary to the action and their presence in the life of the characters as motifs, landscapes. influences through the reading of their novels or even the world of Brontë studies. Recent examples that come to mind without any intention of being exhaustive are Four Dreamers and Emily by Stevie Davis, The Brontë Project by Jennifer Vandervelt or The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay.

Catherine Lowell's debut nobel, The Madwoman Upstairs belongs partially to this group of books. It's a book about the reception of the Brontës but it's also a book about the Brontës in a way, because the main character, Samantha Whipple, is the last member of the Brontë family. The book creates a parallel Brontë literary history where the Brontë descendants are alive and some of them, like the father of Samantha, are authors themselves. A parallel world where it is believed that the Brontë descendants have inherited a considerable Brontë 'estate' that they are hiding from public view(1).

Here is a novel with many simultaneous layers. It's a description from an American point of view of the sometimes bizarre world of literary academia in places like Oxford. It's a subdued but nonetheless moving love story. It's a story about how to survive sudden loss and how to deal with (or how to hide from) pain. It's a discussion about the value of literature and literary criticism confronting views about authorial intent (new criticism vs intentionalists mainly)(2) and it's, of course, a mystery and a treasure hunt that has to be solved(3).

Not all the layers work with the same intensity. Probably the less interesting it's arguably the one under which the novel has been sold: the mystery and treasure hunt. No spoilers intended, but for the hardcore Brontë aficionado it is not really very difficult to guess at once one of  the 'treasures' and imagine the other(s) will be. It's also hard to believe that some of the obvious clues are not spotted for people so versed on the Brontës as the main character or her (sort of) nemesis, the Brontë Parsonage director John Booker(4). There is also the somehow arbitrary character of the 'treasures' themselves. One wonders if they have to be read just as macguffins, but the novel itself does not treat them as such, giving them a meaning that is lacking in the end.

But the Brontës are not only on the surface of the novel. They also permeate the novel in all levels, creating a well-measured subtext which quotes explicitly or not from Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre (madwomen and fires included) and particularly and extensively from Anne Brontë's both Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This vindication of the youngest of the Brontë sisters is very welcome indeed(5). The Samantha-Orville relationship deserves special mention as it obviously echoes the Rochester-Jane one in a quite nice and well-resolved parallel.

Where the novel excels is in the description of the world of academia, and old Oxford colleges. Catherine Lowell's writing is funny and inventive. She manages to describe a sometimes bizarre world (even more from an American point of view) with a witty prose, never disrespectful. The author also creates a great character in Samantha. She is not the most likeable of characters but, in a way, she is irresistible. Contradictory (she can be extremely shy or absurdly bold, irritant, stupid, vulnerable... at the same time) and in a permanent search for meaning for her life (through her self-imposed legacy quest, through literature, trough her ancestors... ), she is the novel. So much so, that you will like the book as much as you are able to connect with her.

(1) Which opens an interesting debate that the novel doesn't explore: Is it licit to publicly expose things that the original owners didn't want exposed?
(2) Even the reader-response school gets a mention. Although the level of the discussion does not cross the Reader's Digest line, few novels are comfortable, like this one, discussing literary criticism (assuming literary criticism is something more that putting likes on an author's Facebook).
(3) Not to be compared with Robert Barnard's The case of the Missing Brontë. Barnard plays in another league.
(4) The true Brontëite will also notice that it is hardly necessary to take a taxi from the KWVR Haworth station, where Samantha arrives in Haworth, to the Parsonage. 
(5) Some of Samantha's crazy theories about Charlotte, Anne or both being the madwoman in the attic à la Gilbert and Gubar are quite funny.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 11:26 pm by M. in ,    No comments
Bicentenary in Naples, Italy

A mayor conference organized by the Italian Ministero dei Beni Culturali was held in Naples at the National Library with Maddalena De Leo and Caterina Lerro as speakers Prof. De Leo read her interesting paper about Charlotte’s heroines in Juvenilia and in the novels mainly pointing to the differences existing between the first and the second group of them, Prof. Lerro spoke of the meaning of Jane Eyre as a novel, commenting three of its most important pages (the incipit – the meeting with Rochester – ‘Reader, I married him’) also with the help of her students who played them. Great success and an enthusiastic public welcomed the event.

Both Keighley News and The Telegraph and Argus share pictures from the bicentenary celebrations last week. And The Westmorland Gazette tells about the local celebrations at Casterton Sedbergh Preparatory School.
The bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë was marked at Casterton, Sedbergh Preparatory School with a series of celebratory activities involving pupils and parents.
Headmaster Scott Carnochan said: “The Brontë sisters are an important part of the heritage of the school and a number of historic artefacts are now kept safe at Kendal Record Office.
"This birthday provided us with a tremendous opportunity for us to celebrate the legacy of the Brontës. As a school, we invest a great deal of energy into the arts and literature, developing a love of reading and writing, and we regularly welcome popular children’s authors into the school to work with the children.”
Charlotte Brontë attended a school for clergymen’s daughters in nearby Cowan Bridge in 1824, and the school moved to the current site in Casterton in 1832. In 2013, following a merger with Casterton School, Sedbergh School moved its preparatory school to the site.
Extracts of the Brontë family school bill from the 1830s show that their fees cost £14 for board and entrance for the year. It cost a further £3 if they wished their daughters to do Art, French, Music. At the time, £14 was the annual salary of a teacher at the school.
The Brontë Society and Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth will be working with the school on future workshops. (Mike Addison)
The Belfast Telegraph has an article on Branwell.
The lives of Charlotte Brontë, author of the immortal Jane Eyre (and other novels), and her dazzling literary sisters, Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Anne (Agnes Grey) are being currently marked for the bi-centennial of Charlotte's birth. But faded into the background - and painted out of the famous group portrait of the three Yorkshire sisters - is their brother, Branwell, who died of drink, dissolution and opium addiction, probably accelerated by tuberculosis, at the age of 30.
It is the Brontë women who are celebrated as a trio of literary geniuses; Branwell, their brother, only exists in relation to them. Yet some biographers have suggested that Branwell had more than a hand in the inspiration and writing of Wuthering Heights and as young children, the Brontë siblings wrote, painted and played music together, creating their own fantasy world, in which Branwell, their only brother, had a dominant role.
Like the girls, Patrick Branwell Brontë - their father, the Rev Patrick Brontë came originally from Co Down, where the family name had been Prunty - was a creative child; by the time he was 18, he had filled up 30 volumes of stories, poetry and plays, imagining an entire world of fiction and fantasy.
But the Brontë childhoods were full of tragic loss - Branwell lost his mother when he was four (she died, probably of a form of sepsis, after giving birth in quick succession to six children). (Mary Kenny) (Read more)
Whetherby News suggest a walk that is somewhat related to Branwell Brontë:
Enjoy passing through several of North Yorkshire’s prettiest villages and walking in the footsteps of the Romans and the Brontës. You’ll have the chance to observe all kinds of wildlife along the river and through the countryside.
Walk information
The full walk is 17.5 miles but can easily be broken into sections: Boroughbridge to Great Ouseburn (eight miles) and Great Ouseburn to Boroughbridge (9.5 miles). [...]
Follow Main Street, heading for St Mary’s Church, then go left down a snickelway (7) past the churchyard, which contains a railed obelisk in memory of Dr John Crosby, a good friend of Branwell Brontë.
We don't know about 'good friend' though.

Impact discusses whether 'English Students Only Study ‘Dead White Males’'.
One student [...] reported that “discussion of race … is severely lacking in the course”. While students study Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, set in the Caribbean in the 19th century, Jack believes the course should “at least have one book dealing with modern Britain and racial diversity” therein, due to the increasing diversity in this country. Jack also notes that “there isn’t a lot that goes against the ‘white old male’ canon”, aside from books by Austen and Brontë, which is in itself hardly surprising due to the fact that they are widely considered classics. (Matteo Everett)
Los Angeles Review of Books looks at the life and works of Constance Fenimore Woolson.
In tribute to Alcott, Woolson took the pseudonym Anne March and published The Old Stone House in 1873, hoping to win a $1,000 prize offered by a publisher for the best “Sunday School” reading for children. The book won, sold decently, and was kindly reviewed; Woolson, for her part, was irritated because the publisher only gave out half the prize money. Turning to examples like George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë, she knew she was not alone in wanting to chart a different path. (Stephanie Gorton Murphy)
Oxford Times mentions in passing that the recent Chip Lit Fest included
talks on topics as varied as Sikhism, Charlotte Brontë and taxation. (Megan Archer)
Thandie Newton discusses her Jane Eyre audiobook on ThandieKay:
Two centuries after Charlotte Brontë was born, I’ve re-enacted her classic ‘Jane Eyre’ as an audiobook.
And this just in – a week after its release, my Jane Eyre Audible book is #9 on their bestseller list!
I leapt at the chance to record the novel. I loved the idea of bringing the book, potentially, to a more diverse audience. It reflects the timelessness of the book and Jane’s quest for self actualisation. Also, I loved the challenge of creating a cast of different characters, all with the one tool of my voice. It’s as close to walking in another person’s shoes as you can get.
Whatmeread reviews Jude Morgans's Charlotte and Emily (aka The Taste of Sorrow);  Boken är tankens barn (in Swedish) posts about the Swedish edition of Ann Dinsdale's The Brontës at Haworth; Zeit für neue genres (in German) and this scenery is evergreen review Jane Eyre; Vesna Armstrong publishes some more pictures of Haworth and Brontë country; El despertar de un libro (in Spanish) reviews Wide Sargasso Sea; La Biblioteca de la Bruja (also in Spanish) posts about Wuthering Heights.
Alerts for today, April 26 and tomorrow April 27:

In Birstall, North Yorkshire:
Discovering the Real Jane Eyre
COFFEE PLUS at Birstall Library
Tuesday 26th April, 10.30am

In 1997 a retired teacher discovered a woman called Jane Eyre had actually lived in West Yorkshire during Charlotte Brontë’s lifetime.
As April celebrates the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, local history enthusiast Kit Shorten looks at what we know about the real Miss Eyre, and uncovers some interesting Brontë connections of his own.
At Foyles, in London:
Reader, I Married Him with Tracy Chevalier, Lionel Shriver, Joanna Briscoe, and Kirsty Gunn
Tuesday 26th April 2016 7pm - 8:30pm
Venue: The Auditorium at Foyles, Level 6, 107 Charing Cross Road

Celebrating Charlotte Brontë’s life in the year of her bicentenary, this event brings together a panel of authors to discuss the enduring impact of her life and works. They’ll be reading from their contributions to Reader, I Married Him, a new short story collection in which international writers draw inspiration from the immortal line from Jane Eyre and conjure Brontë’s spirit through their own work.
Reader, I Married Him is edited by Tracy Chevalier, author of the bestselling The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Last Runaway and new novel At the End of the Orchard. She will be joined tonight by authors and fellow contributors Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Mandibles), Joanna Briscoe (Sleep With Me, Skin) and Kirsty Gunn (The Big Music, Infidelities). Join us as we pay tribute to the legacy of one of the most remarkable women in English Literature.
In Knox County, TN:
Brontë Society Meeting: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at Panera Bread, 4855 Kingston Pike.
"How I met the Brontës" discussion.
Info: 865-681-7261 or (Via Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016 11:09 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
The Times has an article on Judi Dench being appointed Honorary President of the Brontë Society.
Next time Dame Judi Dench drives up to West Yorkshire, she should pack her copy of Wuthering Heights. Only the savage psychodrama of a Brontë novel could be an adequate preparation for taking over at the most bitterly divided fan club in Britain.
Under any normal circumstances, the appointment of a celebrated actress to the honorary presidency of a literary charity would barely trouble the local newspapers.
Yet the Brontë Society is no ordinary charity. (Oliver Moody) (Read more)
The Roanoke Times reviews Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë.
I once resolved to visit the graves of English writers Samuel Johnson, Emily Dickinson and the Brontë sisters. I made it to the first two. Perhaps reading this fine biography is not a bad substitute for the third. (Hilbert Campbell)
A columnist from Vox claims that, 'Jane Eyre is prickly, judgmental, and totally unlikeable. I love her'.
Prickly, judgmental Jane Eyre, the protagonist of the Charlotte Brontë novel of the same name, is not, perhaps, the most intrinsically lovable heroine of all time, or even of the 19th century.
She doesn’t have the sparkle and charm of Pride and Prejudice's Lizzie Bennet or Emma's Emma Woodhouse, or the tragicomic idealism of Middlemarch's Dorothea Brooke. When presented with a piteous, neglected child, Jane might allow that she’s rather fond of the poor thing, but she’ll also make a point of noting that the child is not particularly bright.
So when I asked the rest of the Vox culture staff if we should do something on Jane Eyre for Charlotte Brontë's 200th birthday on April 21, it wasn't really a surprise that two of my co-workers said in unison, "I hate Jane Eyre."
But I have loved Jane and her cool self-righteousness profoundly since the first time I read Jane Eyre at 16.
Jane Eyre already expects everyone to hate her
My admiration would probably confuse Jane. She never knows what to do when someone likes her, but she’s used to being despised. (Constance Grady) (Read more)
And right on cue, four authors tell the Daily Mail about their love for Elizabeth Bennet. Joanne Harris wishes,
If only I'd read Pride And Prejudice at school, instead of Jane Eyre, then I might have found the words to let him down politely - although, for that, he would have had to have been capable of understanding them.
In an interview in The Guardian, author Rick Riordan makes an interesting point about teenagers and reading:
Though the bad ones can put you off for ever…
I think there are two strains that run through the tradition of children’s literature in particular. One is the high-minded approach. I literally had parents say to me, my 13-year-old should be reading the Brontës – why are you giving them this? I love literature, but I think it does more harm than good to focus on what we think is important rather than trying to make books a conversation with children. My belief is if they do get interested in reading whatever it is, there is a chance they will read Jane Eyre at some point in their life. (Tim Adams)
The Guardian also reviews Noonday by Pat Barker.
Barker’s decision to situate Noonday, the final instalment in this second trilogy, during the blitz, is thus a bold one, although perhaps not as bold as the introduction of a new character bearing the name of Jane Eyre’s madwoman in the attic, Bertha Mason. Grossly overweight, a former prostitute, Barker’s Bertha now subsists as a medium: “She mightn’t have been much use giving birth to the living, but my God she was a dab hand giving birth to the dead.” (Stephanie Cross)
The Brussels Brontë Blog tells about their evening with Charlotte Brontë on April 16th. A couple of videos about the upcoming Northern Ballet Jane Eyre production deserve been seen:  preview and interviews with Cathy Marston and Hannah Bateman and a Behind the Scenes. RHVS Reports posts aabout Selfish Love in Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby; Diary of an Eccentric reviews The Jane and Bertha in Me by Rosa Maria Martinez; This scenery is evergreen reviews Jane Eyre. Juntado más letras (in Spanish) talks about Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
Audible (from Amazon) has released a Jane Eyre audibook read by Thandie Newton:
Jane Eyre
Written by: Charlotte Bronte
Narrated by: Thandie Newton
Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
Unabridged Audiobook

Following Jane from her childhood as an orphan in Northern England through her experience as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Charlotte Brontë's Gothic classic is an early exploration of women's independence in the mid-19th century and the pervasive societal challenges women had to endure. At Thornfield, Jane meets the complex and mysterious Mr. Rochester, with whom she shares a complicated relationship that ultimately forces her to reconcile the conflicting passions of romantic love and religious piety.

"I think the reason we're so struck by [Jane Eyre] is how Charlotte Brontë manages to relate, expertly, what it means to be a human being...and that never changes." (Narrator Thandie Newton)
Here is a clip of the recording via EW:

In The Daily Beast we can red Thandie Newton's thoughts on the novel:
“I felt a huge connection—coming of age in an environment which defines you as opposed to you defining yourself,” she said. “At that time it was much more of a straitjacket for women, but I certainly felt that I was defined by my environment, my school—Cornwall. As you get older you are able to wriggle out of those definitions and ask questions that lead you to a more liberated place, and that is very much what Jane Eyre is about.”
Whether Jane Eyre’s quest for liberation makes her a feminist—or at least proto-feminist—icon is a matter of academic debate. Newton, who studied anthropology at Cambridge University, said it was crucial to remember that the character was written long before the advent of the Suffragettes.
“She felt all these things from her gut, not from a headline in a newspaper, there wasn’t a rally to go and vent her frustration, this is how she felt as a person,” Newton said. “She knows from the passion inside her, the workings of her mind, she knows it. And that is incredibly powerful—she’s not joining a band of female activists and I think that’s even more powerful. (Nico Hines)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The bicentenary celebrations are still very much in the (Brontë) news:

Metro covers the Haworth events:
Charlotte Brontë’s most famous novel Jane Eyre is stocked in almost every library and every school in the country.
Her life with literary sisters Emily and Anne and brother Branwell in West Yorkshire is the stuff of daydreams, with stories of the fantasy worlds they created to amuse each other.
And April 21 might have been the 200th anniversary of her birth (what would have been her 200th birthday) but people still wanted to party in her honour.
They organised a gathering at the Parsonage Museum in Haworth to celebrate with people dressing up as characters from her books. (Jen Mills)
And Keighley News the Thornton ones (with some pictures):
Haworth was not the only place where Charlotte Brontë’s birthday was celebrated last week.
Thornton, where the writer was actually born, and London joined the festivities with special 200th anniversary events.
The Brontë Society’s celebrations began on Thursday at 11am at St James’s Church, Thornton, where Charlotte's father Patrick was the minister.
Charlotte and her sisters were born in the nearby parsonage, now a boutique coffee shop called Emily's.
Barbara Kirkaldy and husband Alan had flown in from France for the occasion, because her father Reggie Lovette had owned the butchers shop in the very same building between 1936 and 1979.
"We are fascinated by all the history and this is such an important day," Mrs Kirkaldy said.
Lyn Glading had travelled from Lancaster and is one of the longest-serving members of the Bronte Society, having joined in 1972 and was on its council for 20 years until 2002.
"The Bronte sisters blazed a trail for women and women writers and Charlotte was their driving force - it was she who urged them to publish," said Miss Glading, accompanied by her springer spaniel, Bronte.
Bronte expert and former TV presenter Christa Ackroyd attended the ceremony where a small bright coloured wreath was laid at the Old Bell Chapel by the the Reverend Gloria Hardisty and another was carried to Haworth by a team of cyclists.
"We must remember Charlotte's passion for equality of class and gender - which is as relevant now as then," Ms Ackroyd said. (Chris Tate)
Sunday Express reviews the reissue of Juliet Barker's Charlotte Brontë. A Life in Letters:
Reissued to mark the centenary of Charlotte’s birth on April 21, 1816, all the letters are freshly transcribed from the original manuscripts and 19 are published for the first time. According to Barker, the fresh transcripts “differ, sometimes considerably, from those in other sources”. (...)
But the book is exhilarating because it is a portrait of six extraordinary people in their own words. Charlotte’s voice rings out the clearest thanks to her extensive correspondence with friends, publishers and literary luminaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Harriet Martineau. (...)
Barker’s interpolations are not numerous but pithy and to the point. Movingly, the collection is bookended by letters from Patrick Brontë, the ailing patriarch whose health causes concern throughout yet who outlived his last daughter by six years. (Vanessa Berridge)
LitHub has two other Brontë-related articles. Villette and a personal story:
That was the winter I reread Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, one of my favorite novels, and the one that makes me most lonely. I have always revisited it lovingly, but with trepidation. A conventional devotee, I introduced myself to the Brontë sisterhood through Jane Eyre—and to this day I am more inclined to return it than I am to wade into to any other novel by Charlotte, Emily, or Anne. For I am, admittedly, a hungry-hearted creature; I crave protagonists who seem to welcome my company, whose narration pulsates with our mutual desire: see me, hear me, witness me. Jane demands that we read her according to her own terms—she withholds and confronts, retreats from the novel’s conclusion—but throughout the expanse of her narrative she brushes against our fingers. She reaches for us, and we open our arms. (Read more) (Rachel Vorona Cote)
And Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea:
Jane Eyre’s Bertha Mason does not speak in Brontë’s book, so what we know about her before Wide Sargasso Sea we know from Mr. Rochester and his brother-in-law, Mr. Mason. “The true daughter of an infamous mother,” Bertha is accused of alcoholism and adultery, bad behaviors that have progressed to madness in Jane Eyre. And she is Creole, the term used at the time to describe the white European planting class in Jamaica and other Caribbean colonies, although it could also be a catchall phrase to include people of mixed-race ancestry, too. In Jane Eyre, Rochester tells a pitiful story about being forced to marry Bertha (as a penniless second son, a victim of primogeniture) in Jamaica before taking her back to England, where the marriage devolved. Bertha is continually racialized by Brontë, her face described as dark, and her “blackness” coded in comparisons of her movements to those of a wild animal.
It’s easy to imagine Rhys zeroing in on Bertha when considering Jane Eyre around the time of its first celebratory centennial, when she began writing Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys was born to Scottish and Welsh parents on the island of Dominica; she spent years roving around France drinking and carrying on with men as a chorus girl and mistress and nude model; she hated England. The first thing she did in her retelling of the novel was to change Bertha Mason’s name to the lyrical, flirtatious “Antoinette Cosway,” before beginning Antoinette’s own bildungsroman, like Brontë did for Jane. (Bridget Read)
The Irish Independent has a reminder of the other Brontë sisters and brother: Maria, Elizabeth and Branwell:
The lives of Charlotte Brontë, author of the immortal Jane Eyre (and other novels), and her dazzling literary sisters, Emily (Wuthering Heights) and Anne (Agnes Grey) are being currently marked for the bi-centennial of Charlotte's birth. But faded into the background - and painted out of the famous group portrait of the three Yorkshire sisters - is their brother, Branwell, who died of drink, dissolution and opium addiction, probably accelerated by tuberculosis, at the age of 30.
It is the Brontë women who are celebrated as a trio of literary geniuses: Branwell, their brother, only exists in relation to them. Yet some biographers have suggested that Branwell had more than a hand in the inspiration and writing of Wuthering Heights and as young children, the Brontë siblings wrote, painted and played music together, creating their own fantasy world, in which Branwell, their only brother, had a dominant role.
Like the girls, Patrick Branwell Brontë - their father, the Rev Patrick Brontë came originally from Co Down, where the family name had been Prunty - was a creative child: by the time he was 18, he had filled up 30 volumes of stories, poetry and plays, imagining an entire world of fiction and fantasy. But the Brontë childhoods were full of tragic loss: Branwell lost his mother when he was four (she died, probably of a form of sepsis, after giving birth in quick succession to six children). (Read more) (Mary Kenny)
L'Arena (Italy) has an article on Charlotte Brontë and her heroines; ABC (Spain) also mentions the bicentenary:
En el bicentenario de Charlotte Brontë, Alba reedita «Jane Eyre» (1847), una de las más turbadoras novelas del XIX: la infancia de una muchacha maltratada en internados y su paso firme en ese piélago de calamidades, hasta llegar a institutriz y concluir su vida en una gótica historia de amor. Dos años después de la muerte de Charlotte, animada por el reverendo Patrick Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, dio a la imprenta la primera biografía su «Vida de Charlotte Brontë». La historia de la saga Brontë es, en sí, una lección de cómo la literatura puede ayudar a soportar las afrentas de la vida. Las hermanas Brontë, ejemplo de la mujer escritora, lectora, protagonista. (Sergi Doria) (Translation)
ABC Radio National (Australia) has a couple of podcasts: one devoted to Claire Harman's Charlotte Brontë's biography and a brief comment of Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier. WBUR Here & Now also has a podcast talking to Patricia Park, author of Re Jane. BookRiot lists the best lines from Jane Eyre. Sonia Gensler's Friday Favorite is Charlotte Brontë. A Boat Against the Current also posts about the bicentenary.

Keighley News has an article about the rehearsals of the new Northern Ballet Production, Jane Eyre:
The celebrated Leeds dance company is staging its adaptation of the novel to mark the 200th anniversary of author Charlotte Brontë’s birth.
The production of Jane Eyre, described as a journey of courage, romance and tragedy, will receive its world premiere at the Cast theatre in Doncaster from May 19 to 21.
It will then begin a national tour taking in Richmond, Aylesbury, Wolverhampton, Stoke and Leicester.
Jane Eyre is choreographed by internationally acclaimed British dance maker Cathy Marston who previously created the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities for Northern Ballet.
Composer Philip Feeney has compiled and arranged a score for Jane Eyre made up of original compositions and existing work.
Cathy said: “Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was a novel far ahead of its time.
“When I think of Jane I feel inspired by images of her passionate but 'impossible' relationship with Mr Rochester; the fire and emotional destruction symbolised by Bertha Mason, the infamous 'woman in the attic'; the contrasting icy moorland through which she seems to run from one chapter of her life to another; and of course her final reunion with Rochester.
A restaurant review in the Daily Mail begins like this:
Spring may have sprung, but no one’s given Cambridge the news. It’s a damp, dismally dyspeptic April day, the meteorological equivalent of man flu.
An ill wind splutters off the Fens, while the city glowers under a dour, half-hearted drizzle. We take a taxi through town, and cross the Cam twice, once on wheels, then back across on foot, just by Midsummer Common.
Which, despite its sun-dappled name, looks as bleak as any Brontë moor. Except with more Tesco bags. And find eventual solace in Midsummer House, a neat Victorian villa that sits between river and ancient common land. (Tom Parker Bowles)
Another passing reference is in The Telegraph in an article about sleep patterns:
During daylight hours, we are perfectly compatible. But by night, the cracks emerge, and I’m despondently forced to conclude – to quote Emily Brontë – that our souls are as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire. (Anna Hart)
Bustle lists feminist quotes from the 1800s still relevant today:
3. “I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.” (Charlotte Brontë) (Selection by Suzanna Weiss)
The Jamaica Gleaner reviews the book  Caribbean Irish Connection: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Alison Donnell, Maria McGarrity and Evelyn O'Callaghan:
The contributions of Richard McGuire's "Two Tunes (Settler-Colonist Worlds)," Elizabeth Bowen's "The Last September," Jean Rhy's "Voyage in the Dark," Jean Antoine-Dunne's "Mutual Obsessions," and Emily Taylor's "Rewriting Heathcliff (Irishness, Creolization, and Constructions of Race in Brontë and Condé)," explore the rudiments of Caribbean and Irish literary artists who are caged by their own experiences, yet artistically free by their unique sensitivity to time and space. (Dr Glenville Ashby)
The Herald Times has a quiz with some Brontës on it; Useless Things Need Love Too posts about Wuhtering Heights 1939. El borde de la realidad (in Spanish) reviews Todo ese fuego by Ángeles Caso. posts about Shakespeare and the Brontës.