Friday, February 28, 2014

The Keighley News has an article by a new intern on the current exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and on what's on at the Parsonage in the coming weeks.
This year the Brontë Parsonage has had its busiest closed season yet with much refurbishment taking place.
Building works have been carried out to relocate the admissions area.
There is now a timeline of the family’s life and contemporary events to give visitors more context before they enter the house.
We hope these changes will improve the overall visitor experience. And we also have a new contemporary arts space, currently displaying works by Cornelia Parker.
Last week, the Brontë Society launched its year-long 120th anniversary programme at Christie’s, celebrating our status as the oldest literary society in the English-speaking world.
The reception was lively, with more than 100 guests attending. Speeches were given by Charlotte Brontë biographer and former president, Rebecca Fraser, and Professor Ann Sumner, Brontë Society executive director.
Ann reminded guests the first meeting of council was held in January 1894 and the second in February 1894. Initially, membership costs were half a crown!
The evening saw the launch of a new patrons scheme to help raise support for future exciting plans, as well as the launch of Brontë liqueur. All at the reception enjoyed tasting it!
Jenny McKinley from Scala Publishing was also there, celebrating the launch of our new guide book. Guests enjoyed Yorkshire-inspired canapés and Timothy Taylor beer, as well as wine, which Scala Publishing donated.
This season we welcome our new exhibition, The Brontës and Animals. Animals feature heavily in the Brontë novels, from Pilot in Jane Eyre to Snap in Agnes Grey, as well as in their personal lives. The exhibition explores this relationship. Now the Parsonage has re-opened, it has many fun family events planned for half term, each animal themed to celebrate our new exhibition. Today there is Animal Writes with local writer Beth Cunningham, and all week there are furry facts to be found around the museum. All events are free with museum admission. Please see our website for more details or contact Sue Newby via her e-mail address.
The fourth Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing takes place from March 14-16. An exciting programme will be taking place during the weekend, including talks, workshops, readings and family events.
The event opens with our writer-in-residence, Jackie Kay, and other authors include Louise Crosby, Sarah Dunant and Rebecca Stirrup. These events are sure to be popular, so please visit our website to book a space!
The team are very much looking forward to welcoming you at the Parsonage. (Hermione Williams)
Coincidentally, the Brontë Parsonage Museum Facebook page shares a few pictures of how the shop and new tickets desk look like now.

Also from the Keighley News and of a certain interest to residents and visitors:
A shop in Haworth’s Main Street that has been empty for several years is poised to become the new home of an established nearby art cafe.
Cobbles and Clay, which is situated further down the same street, has bought the premises that once housed Ye Olde Brontë Tea Rooms and Gift Shop.
Jill Ross, who owns and manages Cobbles and Clay, said her own cafe will move into the previously disused unit further up the street.
She wants to turn her existing base into a new shop, though has still to decide what kind of retail business this will be. [...]
“We bought it in November last year, and we hope to open in May,” she said. “It’s a listed building at the front, and it’s taken a long time for planning permission to come through.
“We’ll mainly be making cosmetic changes. The building hasn’t had anything done to it for a long time, and it’s been closed for a couple of years.”
Mrs Ross added: “It’s bigger than where we are at the moment, and is all on one floor, which will be better for us. We often have to turn people away when we’re too full.
“We could have carried on where we are now, but this is an opportunity for us.”
As well as food and refreshments, Cobbles and Clay also gives customers the chance to paint and buy pottery. It even received a visit and a commendation from Chancellor George Osborne during his tour of Silsden and Haworth earlier this month. (Miran Rahman)
The Wellingtonista reviews Miss Brontë, currently on stage at Circa Theatre Two in Wellington, New Zealand.
As we walk into the theatre a woman sits on stage frantically writing in a tiny book. She wears a plain blue dress made out of different patterned fabrics. Her hair is parted in the middle and tightly pulled back. Every so often she pauses, looks into the distance, then scribbles some more. The furniture is sparse – a writing desk, a table, a chair. A fireplace is in the background with books on shelves on either side. Four tiny paintings complete the picture of a study belonging to a family of modest means. The woman is Charlotte Bronte.
Over the next 75 minutes Charlotte tells us the story of her life – her family, her sisters, her writing, her ambition.  At least 75% of the script comes from her letters and novels. This makes the frustration and sorrow expressed all the more poignant.
Mel Dodge whirls around the stage through the production. Almost constantly in motion it is a nice way of showing the character’s desire for movement while directly relating to the fact that Brontë and her sisters used to get so worked up during their writing sessions that they would stride around the table. Dodge is particularly affecting during the scenes where she’s still, when she is playing grief and sadness. Her lower lip trembles, and tears well up in her eyes. I absolutely believe the truth of her performance in those moments. I want to have more time to be affected by it.
A strong performance based on a strong script. (Kris)
The Phoenix has an article 'in defence of fan fiction' and as usual Wide Sargasso Sea crops up.
And if you want to look further into the canon of English literature, John Milton’s magnum opus Paradise Lost is essentially fan fiction about Biblical events. Jean Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea gives a backstory to the mad Mrs. Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantastic reimagining of the English War of the Roses. And that is all just to name a few. (Emily Lau)
The Telegraph also mentions Wide Sargasso Sea in an article wondering whether Peter Pan needs a backstory, seeing as there is 'a Peter Pan 'origins' film starring Hugh Jackman due in 2015'.
And "origins" are all the rage in television, showing us how Hannibal lived before his arrest, Norman Bates' relationship with his mother before he started wearing her clothes, or – that other famous screen monster – Carrie Bradshaw's life before she started writing her Sex and the City column.
In fact, one can apply the term, in retrospect, to any story exploring the beginnings of an already established character and showing how they turned into the person we all love or hate or fear. Jean Rhys's 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea (filmed in 1993, and again, in 2006, for TV) is the "backstory" (another buzzword) of the madwoman in the attic of Jane Eyre's Thornfield Hall, in which it's revealed that Rochester's first wife wasn't always a cackling pyromaniac, but was once a young woman with her own hopes and dreams, much like Jane herself.
Rhys's novel also seems to be precursor to an increasingly popular type of origin story, in which we're shown how a villain wasn't necessarily born evil, but turned that way because of circumstances. (Anne Billson)
Fan fiction is again discussed by KUOW, where the Brontës' juvenilia is briefly mentioned:
Fan fiction may seem like a modern Internet phenomenon, but in fact, the genre has plenty of historical roots and mainstream appeal.
Slate editor Dan Kois gave some examples on KUOW's The Record: BBC’s popular modernization of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock, Superman hanging out with Spiderman in the DC-Marvel comics crossovers of the 1970s, the Brontë sisters making up adventure stories about a local dignitary, and Virgil riffing on Homer in “The Aeneid.” (Arwen Nicks)
The Evening Standard reviews Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss in which one of the characters
thinks of passages of Jane Eyre in times of crisis, and it is a book that holds the key to the story. (Susannah Butter)
Pierre Bayard's book Il existe d’autres mondes is reviewed by Le Nouvel Observateur (France).
Nabokov déboule, Kafka rapplique, les soeurs Brontë s'en mêlent. (Didier Jacob) (Translation)
Buzzfeed, based on a 2013 article from The Guardian, features the '22 Books You Pretend You’ve Read But Actually Haven’t'. One of which is Jane Eyre:
What you think it’s about: A story about a woman who lives a very, very, very, very long life — 400 pages long, in fact.
Why you should actually read it: If you can get past the tough language and considerable amount of pages, Jane Eyre explores a number of important themes like gender, sexuality, class, and religion. (Krystie Lee Yandoli)
The number of pages is not always what's keeping people from reading the classics, at least according to this column from The California Aggie:
She would probably like Brontë’s Wuthering Heights if she gave it a chance, but she won’t because the copy you gave her was from a thrift store and smells like old cigarettes. (Eren Kavvas)
An article from CBC Books on pen names mentions the Brontës. Lividlili reviews the second part of the Bristol Old Vic Jane Eyre production and Tiffany Imogen posts about the whole two-part show.


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