Friday, June 25, 2021

Variety has an exclusive interview with Frances O'Connor on writing and directing Emily, the Emily Brontë upcoming biopic:
Frances O’Connor is in week two of the edit for her debut feature as writer-director, “Emily,” which brings to life the world of author Emily Brontë in the years leading up to the creation of her seminal novel “Wuthering Heights.” Variety speaks to O’Connor about the film, which has been pre-sold by Embankment Films to multiple major territories. (...)
About 10 years ago, a love of Emily Brontë led her to start writing a script about the author’s life. “She’s a very inspirational character, but we know so little about her,” she says. “And there are certain issues that I was interested in exploring about being authentic as a woman, and I felt that’s something that she really speaks to.” (...)
O’Connor was attracted to Emily Brontë as “she’s just an incredibly authentic person, and she could only really be herself. And I think that’s something that’s a really admirable quality.” This is becoming increasingly relevant now when young people are under pressure to present an insincere version of themselves on social media. “She knew who she was, and who she was, was kind of eccentric, and wouldn’t fit into the norm of the girl next door. She was very much herself, and happy to be so,” O’Connor says.
The film explores how Emily Brontë found her true self, and how her real life and the world of her imagination fed into the creation of “Wuthering Heights.” “Early on in her trajectory, she had failed at a few things. She tried to fit in, but was pretty anti-social and didn’t really have that capacity,” O’Connor says. “Whenever she’d leave home, she would get sick and wouldn’t function very well, and then, eventually, when she decided that she was just going to concentrate on her work at home, things really flourished for her.”
She adds: “She went through a moment – where we are in our story – where she decides to accept who she is, and go on this adventure to find out who she is in her own backyard. And she tries a lot of different things to find out who she really is. She goes on a true journey that she initiates to find out who she is. And at the end of it, she knows who she is, and then from that she can write and express herself. That’s something I really believe in: that you have to take the time to do that. But it’s not about becoming a perfect person, but just becoming a person.” (...)
In terms of hair and makeup, she says: “We wanted to create a natural beauty for everyone, so everything you see it’s just like you’re really there. That was the feel we were going for. These kids are like 20-25, so we just had to pop the camera on them and they look beautiful. So we went for something very natural in terms of minimal makeup and really natural hair. So it just feels like we’re looking at the real Brontës, hopefully.” (Leo Barraclough)
The Daily Mail rejoices in exploring the dark history of Brontë scandals with the story of the (in)famous T.J. Wise:
 The name T. J. Wise will mean little to those outside the lofty world of rare books: it appears in passing in the details of an ‘incredibly rare’ set of handwritten poems by Emily Bronte which was to have been auctioned at Sotheby’s next month. (...)
His name now serves as a reminder of one of the greatest literary scandals of the 20th century.
Wise was at the centre of a bibliographic whodunnit of the highest order, a tale of class, money and hubris in which the ingenuity of a couple of young scholars destroyed the reputation of one of the most respected men of their age. (...)
For most of his career, Wise had an international reputation as a bibliographic scholar and collector of rare books — perhaps the pre-eminent authority on book collecting and valuing modern first editions. He became president of The Bibliographical Society and a trustee of the British Museum. He sat on the consultative committee of the Bodleian Library and became an Honorary Fellow of an Oxford college.
He was also regarded as an expert on authenticating rare books and detecting fraud.
But just three years before the end of his long life — when he could reasonably have expected to be borne into posterity amid universal acclaim — Wise’s world imploded. He was revealed as a forger, a thief and a cheat. This head gamekeeper was, it turned out, the worst poacher of all.
Throughout his career, Wise had been ‘discovering’ and selling valuable ‘first editions’ that had never actually existed.
He had staged phoney auctions to establish high prices for his own forgeries. He ripped out and stole pages from valuable books in the British Museum’s permanent collection to cannibalise them into the equivalent of what used-car dealers call ‘cut-n-shut’ jobs, before selling them to wealthy patrons in America. (Sam Leith)
Also in the Daily Mail, a new thriller:
The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman 
The third novel from the Downtown Abbey actress underlines what a fresh voice she brings to thrillers.
London actress Mia Eliot is about to get a BAFTA for her performance as Jane Eyre when her agent sends her to LA to capitalise on her rising status. Never having been to Hollywood before, Mia is entranced and, at an audition, meets a fellow actress, New Yorker Emily, who goes there most years in search of her big break. (Geoffrey Wheatcroft)
The University of Huddersfield reports the publication of the new book by Michael Stewart, Walking the Invisible:
 Author and lecturer Dr Michael Stewart has followed in the footsteps of the Brontës for a new book that not only chronicles the famed literary family but also assesses how the north of England has changed over the last two centuries. (...)
Walking The Invisible’ begins in Thornton, birthplace of sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë as well as brother Branwell, and traverses the north of the country by visiting both coasts and other locations in Yorkshire and Cumbria.
“It’s a book about the north of England as well as a book about the Brontës because I compare then with now,” says Dr Stewart. “Scarborough, where Anne went to die in 1849, was at that point an up and coming spa town, very prosperous and where the London gentry went to experience the baths. Now it is very impoverished and has one of the highest opioid death rates in the country, so I compare how it was then to now. The contrast is extreme.
“I traced Anne’s last days, when she went to Scarborough with Charlotte, when she was already very weak and fragile. She arrived on a Friday, and she was dead on the Monday, and I visited her grave at St Mary’s church above the town.
“I walked from Haworth to Liverpool, recreating the fictional walk of Mr Earnshaw in ‘Wuthering Heights’ when he returns with Heathcliff.
“Again, it is a case of a place that very different now. I look at how Liverpool was the centre of the European slave trade as around 80 per cent of the country’s income was from slavery, and I look at the likelihood of people being a slave or the child of a slave at that time.”
Dr Stewart’s book also covers the travels of Branwell, the only son of the Brontë parents. A painter and writer, Branwell also found work as a tutor in the town of Broughton-in-Furness, at the time in Lancashire.
“I also visit Broughton in Furness,” adds Dr Stewart, “but the differences are not as marked as with Scarborough. The pubs are there, the streets are cobbled – it’s fairly unspoiled so the comparison is not as stark.
Something escapes us in this humorous allusion on Baristanet:
Elizabeth Gaskell also wrote a biography of Charlotte Brontë, whose iconic “Jane Eyre” novel gave its title character quite a decision to make: whether to buy Edward Rochester a wedding gift at Lackawanna’s old Radio Shack store. (Dave Astor)
The Yorkshire Post and The Telegraph & Argus rejoice at the return of the Bradford Literature Festival:
 There are conversations on race and equality, reflections on the impact of the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements, alongside a discussion on the romanticism on 18th century Haworth, and how life may have been in Brontë times. (...)
The Annual Brontë Heritage Weekend returns with talks and a walking tour taking in the poetic tributes carved into stones between Haworth and Thornton. (Ruby Kitchen)

There are guided tours of the Brontë Stones trail, from Thornton to Haworth, historic Undercliffe Cemetery, and a Jewish heritage walk in Manningham. (Emma Clayton)
It's gratifying to know that Jane Eyre's twist is still surprising new readers. On Shemazing:
A classic for a reason, I have to imagine Jane Eyre’s twist shocked audiences in the eighteenth century just as much as it shocks modern readers. A twist that inspired an entire spin off novel (read ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys afterwards), it will keep you guessing up to the end.
Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again? And what are the dark presences lurking around Thornfield Hall? (Fiona Murphy)
Business Insider lists audiobooks read by 'celebrities'. Like Jane Eyre read by Thandie Newton:
"Jane Eyre" is a 19th-century gothic classic literature about an orphaned girl who is hired as a caretaker in Thornfield Hall, working for a mysterious and brooding man named Edward Rochester. Though Jane has felt like an outcast for most of her life, she falls in love with Rochester, who showers her with flattery and distracts her from his troubled spirit and the dark secrets the house may hold. This moody and powerful audiobook is narrated by Thandiwe Newton, an award-winning British actor most recently known for her role in "Westworld." (Katherine Fiorillo)
The Telegraph quotes from the novel London. Burning by Anthony Quinn:
Slowly, these four Londoners’ lives get tangled up. Quinn, a former film critic, is busy stirring up a period mood: from the ever-present adverts (for Kit-Kats, wallpaper, “Labour isn’t working”) to the disdain for working women (another officer suggests that Vicky could dress better). At times Quinn goes overboard – like a dissection of The Deer Hunter stretching over several pages, or when Hannah tells Callum, “I don’t think I’ve heard anything like Wuthering Heights – ever”. (Francesca Carington) lists books to satisfy your 'wanderlust' this summer:
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has been a classic for over a century. It’s the story of an orphaned girl who escapes her abusive aunt to become the governess at a wealthy manor house, only to fall in love with its master and find his mentally unstable wife locked in the attic.
While Jane Eyre skims over the story of this original wife, Bertha, Rhys reimagines her tale in the West Indies. A tale of race and resentment post-abolition, Wide Sargasso Sea’s idyllic setting is key to its twisting of perspectives. (Mishti Ali)
And Active Traveller recommends walking through the Peak District:
Hathersage to Stanage Edge
14.5km / 4 - 4.5 hours

Explore the gritstone escarpment of Stanage and enjoy views over Kinder Scout with this classic nine-mile Peak District walk. The route starts in the quaint village of Hathersage, before passing North Lees Hall, a building surrounded by history and literary connections. The manor inspired the home of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Brontë's famous novel, Jane Eyre. (Dottie Giller)

Broadway World announces the 2021-2022 season of Edmonton's Citadel Theatre:
Jane Eyre (March 24 - April 10, 2022) One of literary history's great characters is brought to life by one of Canada's most exciting playwrights, Erin Shields. This is the world premiere of this witty, romantic, feminist dive into Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece, commissioned by the Citadel and directed by Daryl Cloran. (Maclab Theatre) (Alexa Criscitiello)
Harper's Bazaar brings together Britney Spears and Jane Eyre:
 In 1847, Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre, in which a woman was locked up in an attic after a man declared her mad. This man wasn't a medic, he was her husband. She would cry at night so loudly that other members of the household heard, yet everyone turned a blind eye.
Nearly 200 years later, Britney Spears - a healthy, working woman - is still being held against her will by her father after 13 years under his conservatorship. She has been placed on drugs against her consent and prevented from having more children. Her situation is of course different to Brontë's imprisoned Bertha Mason in that Spears is wealthy and white, rather than Creole like the fictional character. But the narrative around the singer's mental instability of 2007 has prevailed, allowing members of her own family to exploit and control her. Spears might be locked in a gilded cage in LA, rather than a chilling attic in the UK, but it is yet another example of how men can impose power over women by calling them mad. Once we have undermined or questioned a woman's character, it becomes easier to dehumanise them. To force them to take birth control against their will, or to make them work when they don't want to - to strip them of their freedom. (Ella Alexander)
Il Bolive (Italy) talks about one theatre piece that gets premiered at the current Babele Festival:
Terzo appuntamento di Babele Festival, con lo spettacolo teatrale Locke and Downe: a survival guide, regia di Pierantonio Rizzato con la collaborazione di Fiona Dalziel.
Quest’anno, il laboratorio di teatro in lingua inglese propone uno spettacolo scritto dalle studentesse e dagli studenti del gruppo. Prendendo spunto da un quadro della prima vaccinazione, di Edward Jenner, dalla filastrocca "Ring-a-ring-a-rosies", da "Jane Eyre" di Charlotte Brontë e da "L’Ultimo Uomo" di Mary Shelley, studentesse e studenti propongono una loro visione della pandemia. Il tutto, raccontato da due investigatrici in cerca di una risposta alle domande: perché è scoppiata la pandemia? E qual è il segreto per la sopravvivenza? (Translation)
Algérie Presse Service talks about the the novel Maussem Ed-dem by Meriem Telli:
L’auteure explique avoir opté pour le style narratif, plutôt que le dialogue entre personnages, influencée dans son style d’écriture par des genres de littérature universelle, notamment anglaise, américaine et russe, dont ceux de Charlotte Brontë, Georges Orwell, Antoine Tchekhov et Virginia Woolf, en sus d’autres romanciers et poètes arabes de renommée mondiale, à l’instar d’Ahmed Matar, Mahmoud Derouiche et le poète de la Révolution algérienne Moufdi Zakaria. (Translation)


  1. "Shemazing" says:
    "A classic for a reason, I have to imagine Jane Eyre’s twist shocked audiences in the eighteenth century just as much as it shocks modern readers."
    It is indeed shocking that people in the EIGHTEENTH century already knew about the twists in the plot of "Jane Eyre"!

  2. Haha, absolutely! Well spotted.