Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Telegraph and Argus announces a new project at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
An artist is inviting more than 10,000 visitors to the Brontë Parsonage Museum to recreate a long-lost manuscript of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
The new commission, ahead of the bicentenary of Emily Brontë’s birth, will allow visitors to copy the novel a sentence at a time into a handmade book in the house where it was written.
Thousands of pencils, specially commissioned by artist Clare Twomey, have been produced to write the book, and visitors will be invited to keep these as a memento of their participation in the project. The completed book will be exhibited at the museum next year as part of the bicentenary celebrations.
Twomey will be at the museum in Haworth on Thursday for the project launch, alongside museum curator Ann Dinsdale who will write the first sentence at 10am.
Wuthering Heights: A Manuscript’ will run until January 1. (Rhys Thomas)
It sounds like a splendid idea to us!

Manchester Evening News suggests a trip to Bradford and the surrounding area:
Away from the city centre, there are an array of attractions within a short drive or train ride.
The village of Haworth, set in the heart of Brontë country, offers independent businesses, a steam brewery and charming cafes, surrounded by dramatic moorland. . . (Lisa Gray)
Lancashire Telegraph reviews the stage production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.
If the idea of a Victorian love story condensed for the stage is right up your street, then The Tenant of Wildfell Hall at the Octagon Theatre is for you.
Throw in the daughter of Shakespearean 'royalty' Jonathan Pryce in the lead role, and the current production will be even more attractive.
Phoebe Pryce brings her RADA training and presumably what she learned from her famous father to the role of the mysterious newcomer to the 19th century small community in Yorkshire. [...]
There is a lot of coming and going around mealtimes in the first half ... blink and you'll lose track of whether we're on breakfast, dinner or tea. And there's not much sense of space, considering we're a four-mile walk from a view of the sea.
But things open up after the interval, the story unwinds and Phoebe brings her Helen to life as the story turns into a flashback of the domestic hell she has escaped.
Writer Deborah McAndrew and director Elizabeth Newman make much of the difference between the true Christianity of Helen and the Pharisaical kind displayed by the local minister. But those references don't translate well from the early Victorian novel of the daughter of an Irish priest . . . they seemed lost on the 21st century audience, who caught comedy where I'm not sure it was intended. For instance, Helen's words to her wastrel husband: "We all die Arthur. It's always as well to live with that in mind," provoked hoots of laughter.
However, for all the changes that have affected the status of women since the book was published in 1848, the words of Helen's husband: "You, your fortune and your child belong to me," still ring true for women trapped in a domestic setting they can't escape. Ms Newman did her research at women's refuge Fortalice before she staged the play.
Another small thing to mention, the Yorkshire accents were flaky . . . Susan Twist was safe as the mother of Gilbert . . . but Natasha Davidson and Nicole Lecky have some work to do on theirs before the play transfers to the York Theatre Royal on April 26.
But I liked this adaptation of the lesser known Anne Brontë's novel, in fact I might just go read it. (Maxine Wolstenholme)
Big Issue North features the production as well:
 “Anne’s novels have always impressed me with the rage I can sense in the writer,” says Deborah McAndrew, who’s written a stage adaptation, opening this week in Bolton. “I believe that Anne was genuinely outraged by the treatment of women in society. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is often cited as the first feminist novel and with good reason.”
Despite her dissent, Helen is a moralist but McAndrew says it would be inaccurate to read her as an insufferably saintly woman. “She has a rebellious and willful nature. She is bold in her actions and desires, but strives for integrity in both. Tough stuff for the mid-19th century.”
And Helen is never punished in the story. Instead she is rewarded with the true love of a worthy man – Gilbert Markham, played by Michael Peavoy.
Taking on the role of Helen is Phoebe Pryce, who admits she didn’t know the novel before auditioning for the role. “I can’t quite believe I didn’t. Anne doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I find myself in awe of Helen’s strength, her ability to use her intellect and courage to pull through the most trying circumstances. It’s a beautifully crafted tale that I feel Deborah’s adaptation honours so wonderfully.”
McAndrew says her approach to the adaptation was to swallow the novel whole and then spit it back out as a play. “Structurally I’ve kept with Anne’s three sections. Within that I’ve condensed and amalgamated scenes to resist that episodic tendency that happens when novels get put on stage.”
As with all great literature, many of Brontë’s themes are, sadly, still relevant. “Women still find themselves trapped in abusive relationships, often with their children in danger. It still takes huge courage to leave such a man, especially without any kind of independent financial means,” says McAndrew, pointing out the pertinence of the novel’s characters being upper class. “Often alcoholism and abuse are things associated with poverty today. Anne has the courage to show that these things are present in all strata of society.” [...]
“The only good reasons for adapting this novel for the stage are that it is dramatic and relevant,” says McAndrew. “However, if our production brings attention to Anne’s work then I’d be delighted. I believe that she is at least as great a writer as her sisters, and far more radical. She was so young when she died and only just getting started on her craft. Imagine what she might have produced if she’d lived as long as, say, Charles Dickens!” (Antonia Charlesworth)
And Pocklington Post has a short article about it too:
Director Elizabeth Newman, artistic director of Octagon Bolton Theatre, said: “Deborah’s adaptation has beautifully captured the passion and the bravery of Anne Brontë’s exquisite novel, which follows one woman’s fight for independence against all odds.
“ It is such an amazing privilege to be producing this brand new adaptation in Bolton and at York Theatre Royal, who we are very excited to be working with for this production. Audiences will be transported into a world of mystery, intrigue, betrayal and love.”
More on theatre as The Huffington Post reviews the stage adaptation of Vanity Fair by Kate Hamill.
After this satisfying evening, you’re tempted to send her your favorite novels in hope of inspiring her next show. Would the dour Brontë sisters be too lacking in humor for her to tackle, say, Wuthering Heights? What about Little Dorrit? Or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening? (Michael Giltz)
The New York Times reviews the play too and slips another Brontë mention:
After a brief introduction by a leering stage-manager-type (Zachary Fine), we find Rebecca Sharp about to leave the finishing school where she slaved as a charity pupil. Doomed to become a governess, she tries to duck her grim fate by seducing the brother of her best friend, Amelia (Joey Parsons). When that fails, she nearly pulls a Jane Eyre and marries her new boss (Brad Heberlee), only to hook up with his son (Tom O’Keefe) instead. And that’s just the first act. (Alexis Soloski)
BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime has selected the most unreliable narrators in literature and Wuthering Heights had to be there:
Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights
How much can we trust Lockwood, who is jotting down the tale of Wuthering Heights in his diary as told to him by a servant, Nelly? As the facts are already once removed and Nelly seems prone to exaggeration and embellishment, is Lockwood also adding his own spin on the story of the Earnshaw and Linton families? There’s almost too much perspective offered.
A couple of Brontëite writers mention the Brontës today. Female First has Joe Treasure share 10 things about him with his readers. One of which is
I used to be a news hound but I’ve started watching the news through half-closed eyes, like a kid watching a scary movie. Reading nineteenth century fiction is a form of escape. Writing The Book of Air allowed me to get reacquainted with Jane Eyre. Right now I’m reading War and Peace for the first time and wondering why no one ever told me Tolstoy is funny.
And Bristol 24/7 interviews Sanjida Kay about her novel The Stolen Child.
The settings in all your novels are very strong – what’s the significance of Ilkley Moor in The Stolen Child? For me, place is important – it’s like another character in my fiction. From the age of eight, I grew up living on the edge of Ilkley Moor and it exerted a powerful hold over me. Right next to Ilkley, you can find ancient Neolithic sites, such as a stone circle, and stones with strange markings on, that could have been used for blood sacrifices.
It’s also near where the Brontë sisters lived. As a teenager I loved Wuthering Heights, and I wanted, in some way, to pay homage to such a wonderful, dark and savage story, which has inspired me throughout my life. (Joe Melia)
Based on some reading maths, Book Fifty recommends several 'one-sitting books for spring break'.
1. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Length: 336 pages
If you’ve been looking for a book where Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters meet the modern world, look no further. I absolutely devoured this book and couldn’t stop turning the pages! Plus, this work of faith-based fiction has a great message in addition to appealing to book lovers everywhere. (Sarah)
The Irish News reviews the film A Quiet Passion:
Supported by her doting sister Vinnie (Jennifer Ehle) and frequently visited by their friend Vryling Buffam (Catherine Bailey), Emily [Dickinson] settles into an almost hermetic existence at the family home, where she observes the minutiae of society life and passes judgment on the work of the Brontës.
"If they wanted to be wholesome, I imagine they would crochet," quips Emily. (Damon Smith)
Maddalena De Leo writes about the authorship of Wuthering Heights on The Sisters' Room. StreamLine has a 'smackdown': Wuthering Heights 1939 vs Jane Eyre 1944. The Brussels Brontë Blog has an article on the latest translations of Villette and The Professor.


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