Friday, September 04, 2020

Keighley News reports that Keighley MP Robbie Moore, who was present when the Brontë Parsonage Museum reopened last week, considers the museum to be a 'valuable asset'.
He spoke after visiting the Haworth literary shine two days before it reopened to the public last Saturday following several months of Covid-imposed closure.
His comments came this week as the Brontë Society announced jobs at the museum were under threat of redundancy due to lack of revenue.
Mr Moore said: “The Bronte Parsonage is a valuable asset for the constituency, and in the literary and historical world puts Haworth on the map.
“I’m glad they’ve been able to open up again and I would encourage anyone who is interested in literature or the history of our area to pay them a visit.”
The museum, based at the former home of the famous Bronte sisters, is opening five days a week rather its usual seven.
Mr Moore said museum bosses insisted they had taken all necessary safety measures, with social distancing enforced, masks available and cleanliness a top priority.
He added: “The operators go further, suggesting that visitors now have the opportunity to get a ‘more intimate view’ of the iconic parsonage which are the ‘crown jewels’ of the constituency.”
A museum spokesman said: “We have worked hard to make the museum a safe and welcoming environment for our staff, volunteers and visitors and are looking forward to sharing our world class collection with people from near and far.” (David Knights)
Keighley News also reminds its readers of the fact that this is still Anne's year at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
The reopening of the museum following the coronavirus lockdown has given literature fans another chance to see the display, entitled Amid The Brave And Strong.
The exhibition delves into key elements of Anne’s life, from her childhood at the parsonage, to how her legacy has been shaped by others since her death.
A museum spokesman said: “Throughout her life, ‘dear gentle Anne’ was considered the baby of the Brontë family, but she went on to write one of the first sustained feminist novels in English literature.
“Although her work bears the familiar stamps of a classic Brontë novel, Anne’s strong moral beliefs led her to write for purpose as well as pleasure, something which shocked and excited her readers at the time.
“Anne was not to be deterred by criticism however, and right up to her death she had plans and schemes for the future.”
The exhibition tracks the course of her life and gives an insight into Anne’s personality and motivations, which reveal a strong, outspoken and complex genius.
Highlights include Anne’s poignant last letter; Charlotte’s first ‘little book’, which was written especially for Anne; a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall given by Anne to a close friend, which is currently on loan to the Museum; and a portrait of Anne by Charlotte, displayed together with the carnelian necklace worn by her in the picture.
A sketching block specifically designed for use in the open air and purchased by her in 1843, has been loaned to the museum and is being displayed for the first time, alongside some of her original drawings and paintings. (David Knights)
In Town & Country writer Finola Austin tells about she came to write her novel Brontë's Mistress.
Like many readers, I fell in love with the Brontës and their works as a teenager. I longed for forbidden romance, like that between plain Jane Eyre and her brooding Mr Rochester. I thrilled at the Gothic horror of Cathy’s ghost appearing at a Wuthering Heights window. And I sympathised with Agnes Grey (a governess like Jane), as she dealt with her capricious, cruel employers.
I was also fascinated by the Brontë sisters themselves – their early deaths, their precocious talent and their elusive brother Branwell, who descended into depression, alcoholism and laudanum addiction.
Like the Brontës, I’d grown up writing stories, dreaming up elaborate worlds of play and reading voraciously. Unlike them, however, formal education was open to me, a woman. At 18, I left my home in Northern Ireland to study Classics and English at Oxford, then stayed on another year to complete a master’s in 19th-century literature, including working on Charlotte Brontë. Still, it wasn’t until several years later that I came across my own Brontë story to tell.
By then, I was working in advertising in New York City. My interest in Victorian novels was something I pursued in my free time – a quirk I rarely spoke about. I was reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (the first Brontë biography, published in 1857, just two years after Charlotte’s death) when I came across the story of Lydia Robinson, the older married woman who allegedly had an affair with Branwell. (Read more)
Lancaster Guardian reviews Brontë's Mistress.
But in her enthralling reimagining, Austin rejects the assertion in Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell’s first ever Brontë biography, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, that Lydia Robinson, the woman at the centre of the scandal, was a ‘wretched’ and ‘profligate’ woman who had ‘tempted’ Branwell into sin.
In Brontë’s Mistress, it takes two to tango as we meet a restless, unhappy woman, newly bereaved and trapped by social convention and a marriage in which passion has long since been spent, and a handsome, articulate and darkly exciting young man eager for love, life, new experiences, and forbidden sex. [...]
Austin’s atmospheric, feminist take on the life and loves of one of the least known members of the remarkable Brontë brood positively crackles with sexual tension as Lydia and Branwell are swept up into a relationship which can only ever end in disillusionment and disgrace.
This is Mrs Robinson placed firmly at centre stage, and creatively and carefully rendered as a complex and compelling quasi-feminist heroine… sometimes shrewish and sometimes selfish, but constantly railing against a life constrained by expectation, family duty, and a husband without either understanding or passion.
Educated and dutiful, the Lydia we first meet is still raw from the loss of both her youngest daughter and her beloved mother. Lonely, miserable and oppressed, she is ripe for the charms of a young man whose ‘otherness’ and mystery offer a panacea to her fears over ageing and a loss of purpose.
But Lydia is also smart and brave, and soon recognises that her young lover is flawed and unstable, and not the romantic, empathetic soulmate she had so desperately desired. And with her fighting spirit ignited, she is determined to emerge with her dignity intact.
Emotionally powerful, written with immense sensitivity, and inspired by a mission to finally give a voice to the mysterious and enigmatic Lydia, this is a captivating new chapter from a shadowy corner of the extraordinary Brontë family. (Pam Norfolk)
The Upcoming reviews Sisters by Daisy Johnson.
Sisters echoes Brontë’s Wuthering Heights not only in its gothic elements and sombre descriptions of English landscapes but also in the idea of doomed love, love which becomes an omnipotent, harmful power. “If one of us was going to die and we could choose which it would be, would you die for me?” asks one sister. “Yes, of course”, comes the unsettling response. (Elizaveta Kolesova)
We think this contributor to Old Gold & Black would do well to (re?)read Wuthering Heights.
None of this is to say The Last Book Party [by Karen Dukess]  is a “bad” book. It is well written, with many characters invoking a wit I can only imagine within someone whose life is centered in writing. Just because a book revolves around an echelon most people can’t relate to does not discount its other merits. Writers have always focused on the rich, out of touch echelons of society, from The Tale of Genji to Wuthering Heights to … Dukess’ novel. (Declan Sander)
If Wuthering Heights is about 'the rich, out of touch echelons of society' we wonder what the people in novels like, say, The Great Gatsby are.

Quinlan (Italy) reviews the film Amants directed by Nicole Garcia.
Nulla di nuovo, dunque e Amants magari scorre anche rapido, al seguito della sua eroina di stampo romanzesco, che ora pare uscita dal Moll Flanders di Defoe, ora da un romanzo delle sorelle Brontë. (Daria Pomponio) (Translation)
Glamour (Spain) looks at the fashion trends for this Autumn/Winter 2020. (We would foresee lots of staying-at-home looks, but apparently, the fashion world goes on regardless).
Otro tanto ocurre con ciertas creaciones de Miuccia Prada para Miu Miu, que solo resultan apetecibles a las seguidoras de las hermanas Brontë; o con los románticos patrones de Alexa Chung, que parecen pensados por y para las chicas que pasan el mismo tiempo en una librería que en una pista de baile –el hábitat natural de la diseñadora–. (María Mérida) (Translation)
Ginger Generation (Italy) lists the literary influences of writer Stephenie Meyer, including Charlotte Brontë (but not Emily?). The staff at Santa Fe New Mexican choose Jane Eyre as one of their 'favorite back-to-school' books.

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