Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bonnie Greer continues her 'campaign' to make the people of Haworth feel included in the Brontë Society. As the Yorkshire Post reports,
Brontë Society president Bonnie Greer has called for local people in Haworth to consider running for leadership roles in the literary group.
In a new year address sent to members following a turbulent year, Ms Greer said she wants to see Society members who live in the village to stand for election for voluntary posts on the Society’s Council.
The American-born writer said: “We must engage even more with Haworth and we’re lucky and unique to be situated in a living and thriving village. I would recommend, for example, that villagers stand for Council.
“We must bring our membership age down in order to ensure that our beloved Society and Museum continue into the 21st century.”
Her comments follow months of turmoil which saw angry exchanges between Society members and the sudden departures of its executive director and chairman.
During the internal wrangling, critics called for Haworth’s Parsonage Museum to be run by a Trust rather than the Society’s council.
Ms Greer told members: “Personally I don’t want to see the Society become a Trust, separating the Museum from the members. The Museum belongs to you, and I will support your right to keep it and have it taken care of by a Council elected by you, the Members.”
She said “grievances” aired by some members last year had led to a “rather expensive” extraordinary general meeting in October.
She added: “Council and staff have done everything possible to alleviate reputational damage and to ensure the business of the Society and Museum has not lost momentum.”
Her letter contains nomination papers for election to the Council. The Society is seeking to fill the posts of three honorary officers, who are standing down, and at least one other post. Ballot results will be declared on June 6.
The Society is keen to receive nominations from people with skills in tourism/visitor attractions, press/journalism/marketing, IT/digital technology and publishing. (Andrew Robinson)
Still in Yorkshire, Dalesman features the 2015 Rugby World Cup advert where there
is a Yorkshireman high atop a moor, enjoying a cream tea and a copy of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, while accompanied by a tuba player, highlighting the area’s famed brass band legacy. (Colin Todd)
The Derry Journal claims to have found the real life inspiration for Wuthering Heights (one of many claims):
It’s perhaps best known for the story of tragic Half Hanged John McNaughton.
But a little known fact about the historic Prehen House in Derry is that it’s believed to have been the inspiration behind Emily Brontë’s epic novel Wuthering Heights.
The Wuthering Heights link and John McNaughton are just two of the subjects covered in a series of historic tours which will take place at Prehen House this weekend. [...]
And the story of John McNaughton remains the house’s biggest selling point, despite the various versions of his story which have been told down the years.
John McNaughton was a friend of the Knox family. In 1761 Mary Ann Knox who was just 15 became besotted with McNaughton and the two began a relationship. McNaughton convinced Mary Ann to marry him in secret. But her father Andrew Knox found out their plan and forbid it — he believed McNaughton only wanted her considerable dowry, to continue his gambling. When Mary Ann was travelling to Dublin with her father on November 10, McNaughton held up the carriage to try and elope with the girl. The shoot-out went wrong and McNaughton accidentally killed Mary Ann. McNaughton was sentenced to hang for his crime but on the gallow the rope broke. Local legend says he was offered the opportunity to escape but declined, as he did not want to be remembered as a half-hanged man.
Ironically McNaughton became infamous as ‘half hanged’ and his ghostly presence has been said to have been seen in Prehen.
Downstairs you can see the actual wheels from the coach in which Mary Anne Knox was shot.
“People know the story better than the house,” said Colin. “During the tours visitors will get to see practically all of the house and hear the entire history. We were very lucky that the year before last Queen’s University Belfast visited and dug up the old borne in the grounds. Amazingly they found an old fort out there and a tower.”
Colin explains how there’s a strong suspicion that Emily Brontë could have based her novel Wuthering Heights on the tragic love story of John McNaughton and Mary Anne Knox.
“Look back at that situation in the 1760s,” he said. “This was a love story, a great romance. He was brought into the family. Then she leaves him and he comes back and wreaks havoc and revenge. There was quite an outrage at the time. There were contemporary articles written about it all over England and news would have travelled very fast.
“Patrick Brontë grew up in County Down, he would have known all about it. He was a clergy man and a teacher and educated his daughters himself. It would be strange if he didn’t tell them this story. There are so many similarities between elements of the Wuthering Heights and what happened here,
“One imagines Emily Brontë must have heard the story.” (Erin Hutcheon)
Express Milwaukee reviews the Florentine Opera performances of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights.
After a long absence from the performing stage, audiences had a chance to hear Wuthering Heights, Carlisle Floyd’s unique 1958 incarnation of the Emily Brontë classic, in an exhilarating concert presentation by the Florentine Opera at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. Surprisingly, Floyd’s riveting score supplants sentimentality with a dramatically polyphonic, unflagging steam of music rich in dissonant, ear-catching harmonies.
Floyd creates a surprisingly sophisticated, contemporary musical intensity; without exaggerating the dramatic tension, the opera remains faithful to the original story. The emotional tensions are taut and never seem extreme. The score feels fresh and original, as if consciously independent of its famous source material, yet not particularly melodic in a sentimental sense. Whether or not this remains faithful to Brontë’s original conception of the metaphysical aspects of her love story remains a matter of conjecture. The emotional extremes in Floyd’s score leave little room for tenderness, but his characters have great dimensionality. The music’s impetus often resembles Samuel Barber in its sophisticated determination to identify itself as an original 20th-century work, and not a sentimental derivative of an English classic.
While the operatic stage cannot conjure up the moors, film buffs will be reminded that much of the libretto is directly derived from both the 1939 film and the novel. If truth be told, many lines are better served spoken than sung. However, the magnificent closing scenes of both film and novel are duly acknowledged in the libretto. Many will feel that the musical intensity, which defines Floyd’s commitment to the power of the conclusion of Wuthering Heights, is no small compensation.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under Conductor Joseph Mechavich played this complex score with an easy aplomb as if they had been long familiar with it. The cast was uniformly excellent. As Heathcliff, Kelly Markgraf cut quite a figure and would have been great in a staged production. His authoritative baritone resounded powerfully at all times. As Kathy, soprano Georgia Jarman tackled some treacherous high notes but remained steadfast. As Isabella, the neglected wife, the attractive Heather Buck performed admirably, as did Chad Shelton as Hindley and Matthew Burns as the elder Earnshaw. Suzanne Mentzer as Nelly the servant was equally effective. (Steve Spice)
While the Star-Telegram reviews The Book Club Play:
Like the page-turners that stubbornly end up being discussed in The Book Club Play, Karen Zacarias’ comedy is slight, cute and occasionally infuriating, but its area premiere at Dallas Theater Center is ultimately entertaining.
That might be the same reaction that serious bibliophiles — like some characters in the play — might have to books like Twilight or The Da Vinci Code. Hey, perhaps those who were among the first to read novels we now consider literary hallmarks, like Melville’s Moby-Dick or Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights or Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, might have felt similarly about those works. (Mark Lowry)
San Diego State University interviews Professor Mary Galbraith whose course, "Twisted British Novels" explores crucial literary periods including the Romantic and Victorian Ages.
My sense of a great author is someone who is masterfully articulate but who knows how to get out of their own way and let the selection process emanate from a layer of self not normally accessible to consciousness. Thus, in Twisted Brits, we will speculate about the ways in which the primal experiences of Mary Shelley, the Brontës and Charles Dickens find expression in their novels.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner features Kirklees Council's project on Mary Taylor.
She was a feisty, independent character who was a pioneer for generations.
Yes, there was certainly something about Mary.
Mary Taylor, that is, who as well as being a friend and inspiration to famous author Charlotte Brontë, attracted international attention in her own right for her unusually-independent lifestyle.
Mary was born and lived in Red House at Gomersal and is now to be the subject of a new project by Kirklees Council.
Seen as one of Britain’s first feminists, Mary Taylor flouted the accepted norms of 19th Century society to lead a life of travel and adventure.
Now visitors to the museum can learn about this extraordinary Victorian woman through a quiz, ‘There’s Something About Mary Taylor’, that will uncover her incredible story as they explore the house.
Mary Taylor, who was born and lived in the Red House at Gomersal, flouted the accepted norms of 19th century society.
During her life, Mary ran a business, led mountain climbing expeditions and advocated feminist views.
Born in 1817 into a woollen merchant’s family at Red House, Mary Taylor gradually grew away from her traditional West Riding roots.
She became a friend and inspiration to Charlotte Brontë and attracted international attention.
Challenging the strictures of the time she taught boys in Germany, she emigrated alone to New Zealand in 1845, and she wrote three books.
When she returned to West Yorkshire in 1860, Mary contributed to the history of the women’s movement by writing articles for a magazine called The Victoria.
In her articles Mary outlined her feminist views, for instance calling on women to earn money to look after themselves so they were not dependent on men.
The free quiz will run from this week until Sunday, March 29. Normal house admission charges apply: adult £2.50, child £1 and family £6.
The museum’s winter opening times are Tuesday to Thursday 11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-4pm. From March, the museum is open Tuesday to Thursday 11am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-5pm. Access is via stairs. (Neil Atkinson)
This columnist from The Huffington Post recalls spending her
adolescence locked in my room, angry and hopeful, reading about what love looked like, and felt like. Love felt cold sometimes, like when I kept my teddy bears close to me to make sure they stayed warm. It felt like my heart swimming in my chest when Anne finally professed and reciprocated her love to Gilbert on Anne of Green Gables. It looked like a puppet, as if there was a string somewhere under Mr. Rochester's left rib, tying him tightly to little plain Jane Eyre. (Madina Lawlis)
Côté Maison (France) has an article on Gravetye Manor in Sussex:
Des fenêtres du manoir, on s'attend à voir passer une héroïne de Jane Austen ou des soeurs Brontë se promenant jusqu'au lac, passant sous les chênes et tilleuls centenaires, panier et sécateurs sous le bras, cueillant dans le sous-bois des brassées de fleurs ou jouant sur les grandes pelouses. (Cléophée de Turckheim) (Translation)
Manuela Cappon has imagined covers for Brontë novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The Sunny Patch has read and Wordarts has reread Wuthering Heights. Daily Muse Books posts a Jane Eyre Flow Chart; Pages Unbound reviews Shirley; Paul Wake Baker reviews Jane Eyre 2011.


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