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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Dyddgu Pritchard Owens

Sally McDonald writes:
Mrs Dyddgu Pritchard Owens passed away on 12 August.
Dyddgu was a truly popular and well known figure in the Society who was at every AGM weekend I can remember until this year, and her absence this year was noticeable. She won friends with her cheery nature and passion for the Brontes and Haworth.  The Society offers deepest sympathies to Dyddgu's family.

Welcome back, Kate Bush

Kate Bush, a terrific singer and performer, brought a significant number of new members to the Brontë Society after the release of her 1978 single Wuthering Heights, and turned many others towards actually reading the novel. She is still popular with many aficionados, even though not an enormous amount seems to have happened for an incredible thirty-five years.

Now she has come back to live performance - in Hammersmith and then in Manchester. It is one of the big musical events this year. We'd love to have your review, so send it to the blog at

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

From one Haworth to another...

Beth Potter, Friends of the Haworth NJ Library, writes:

I'm president of the Friends of the Library in Haworth, New Jersey, USA.  Our library here is trying to reach out to Brontë fans everywhere to get some help for its expanding library.   I figure anyone who's read and appreciated Jane Eyre or Villette or Wuthering Heights or Agnes Grey must have a soft spot for a place named Haworth.   Haworth, New Jersey, is, in fact, named for Haworth, England - in 1872 a railroadman and land developer named John S. Sauzade named this little station stop Haworth in honor of the Brontë sisters' hometown.  Sauzade was himself a novelist, and, obviously, a huge admirer of the Brontës.  
John S Sauzade

Within our new local history room, we hope to have a plaque on the wall, honoring the sisters - and the British town - that gave us such a special name.   We're also going to have a new children's room and a meeting room.  

The new addition will have a glass 'Donor Wall' with names honoring the people and groups that have donated to our expansion, and it occurred to me that it would be meaningful to have the Brontë Society listed as a donor, because without the Brontës, we wouldn't be a Haworth.   And a library in a town called Haworth is a very relevant place to remember the Brontë sisters.  

If you'd care to help, there's a Paypal "Donate" button on the library website,  We sure would appreciate your support.   Small donations from lots of people add up to a large donation!  And come visit us sometime...  a lot of folks from here have visited your Haworth and had a grand time.  

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Milton Rosmer as Heathcliff

Milton Rosmer
One of the historic films shown regularly on television is Goodbye, Mr Chips, which was on larger screens in picture houses in 1939. We'll be seeing it again soon, because of its main theme, which deals with the deaths of young men in the First World War. The main stars were Robert Donat and Greer Garson. One of the lesser-known principals was Milton Rosmer, who played a character called Chatteris. Look out for him next time the film comes round, because back in the 1920s he played Heathcliff in a lost, silent, version of Wuthering Heights, which was made by the Ideal Film Company in and around Haworth, directed by Arthur Bramble. Only a few stills remain as visual evidence of this first adaptation of Emily Brontë's novel.

The film might have gone the same way as many others: made of nitrate stock, it may well have exploded, or turned to dust in a forgotten canister. The script, however, has been found, and has been bought by the Parsonage from a West Sussex book dealer, along with nearly two dozen pages of production notes. It will go on display early in 2015.

In 2006, the lost film was front page news in the Brontë Society Gazette:

Friday, 18 July 2014

Film rights of The Master/De Meester sold

Congratulations to Jolien Janzing! The Master, her novel about Charlotte Brontë's secret love, will soon become a film!
Listen to this interview (in Dutch) on Belgian National Radio about Wuthering Heights and Haworth which was made following the passage of the Tour de France through Yorkshire:

Here is the official press release about the film rights:

Klik hier om de webversie te bekijken.
De Arbeiderspers | A.W. Bruna Uitgevers
              Foreign Rights Department
                      Manager: Laetitia Powell
Stop press! Film rights of The Master sold to David P. Kelly Films Limited
The Master/De Meester written by Jolien Janzing on the big screen
Dear Friends,
I am very pleased to announce you that the Film Rights of The Master/De Meester, a beautiful historical novel about the secret love of Charlotte Brontë written by Jolien Janzing have been sold to DAVID P. KELLY FILMS LIMITED. This is  absolutely wonderful news and sometimes two excellent things happen around the same time. The Turkish rights have also been sold and this to Güldünya Yayınları.
I am looking forward to see this marvelous novel on a big screen. David Kelly has made numerous films such as The Last Station with Helen MirrenThe Desert Flower and is currently working together with Ralph Fiennes on the costume drama Two Women which is in Post-Production.
I would like to let you know that 2016 will be the memorial year of Charlotte Brontë's birth. We can provide you with a full English Translation of The Master/De Meester (proof copy). If you would like to know more about The Master by Jolien Janzing do not hesitate to contact me,
All the best,
Laetitia Powell
Foreign Rights Manager                                                                                                  - 0032 495 26 64 61
Explore here our Foreign Rights Catalogue
About the producent
Who is David P.Kelly?
David P.Kelly has 19 years experience of producing, co-producing and executive developing in international Independent film and television drama. He has just recently financed a  co-production on the film ‘TWO WOMEN’ starring Ralph Fiennes and become a partner with a new Cinema Exhibitor, Shortwave Cinema ltd.

David is a former chairman at First City features, a UK and European Industry recognised Film Producer he has wide ranging experienced having worked at MGM studios in L.A., Working Title Films London, Alibi Television, Eggoli Tossel-Berlin and Rezo Films –Paris.
David has a comprehensive understanding of the Film Industry across production, financing, distribution and exhibition. He has developed high quality film scripts from Oscar-winning writers to emerging talented newcomers across a wide range of genres.
His latest film (he is the lead UK Executive producer) is TWO WOMEN and stars Ralph Fiennes. It will be released internationally in 2015.
Before that he worked on numerous International co-productions including, ‘The Last Station’ starring Helen Mirren and James McAvoy, which was Oscar nominated in 2010.
About the author
Who is Jolien Janzing?
Jolien Janzing (1964) is a Dutch author and journalist who lives in Flanders. She became well known for her controversial reports in Humo. In 2009 she debuted at De Arbeiderspers with her novelGrammatica van een obsessie (Grammar of an obsession). She is a connoisseur of nineteenth-century English literature.
About the book
Charlotte Brontë, a parson’s daughter from Yorkshire, England, fragile yet fearless as a young fox, longs for adventure, self-fulfillment and passionate love. She conceives the idea of going abroad to study languages. She manages to persuade her sister Emily to accompany her. Brussels, the capital of the brand-new kingdom of Belgium, with its Catholic liberalism and French wine, represents a culture shock. The Pensionnat Heger is run by Madame Claire Heger, an elegant, shrewd lady. Charlotte falls in love with her husband, monsieur Constantin Heger…
Charlotte’s story is interwoven with that of Arcadie Claret, the young mistress of Leopold I, king of the Belgians. Charlotte first sees the girl on the beach in Ostend. Arcadie is so attractive, dearly loved and beautifully dressed, and stands in such sharp contrast to herself, that Charlotte becomes violently jealous of her.
A historical novel about the love of Charlotte Brontë for the Brussels teacher Constantin Heger, based on actual events (1842 – 1844). The story is set in Brussels and in West Yorkshire.
The Master has been selected for Books at Berlinale. 

An integral English translation is now available.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

June Weekend - Friday

Friday 13 June, 6.30pm, West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
A talk followed by a performance by Simon Warner, David Wilson and Adam Strickson. Preceded by a Harp Quintet and a meal.
An evening of artistic responses to the landscape that influenced the lives and works of the Brontës by musician David Wilson, artist Simon Warner and poet Adam Strickson.
Throughout 2012 David composed music inspired by the Haworth landscape and carried out research into the music played and appreciated by the Brontës. Simon will show film shots in and around Haworth in response to David's musical compositions, while Adam reads poetry by the Brontës and others, including Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and Charlotte Mew alongside his own compositions. Pennine Harps will play a selection of music and will complete their set with an arrangement of an Emily Brontë peom set for the harp by a Society member.   
Tickets: £15 (performance only)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Charlotte Brontë’s Scottish jaunt

A record of Charlotte Brontë’s Scottish jaunt in the visitors’ book at Abbotsford, Walter Scott’s home
Helen MacEwan, Malcolm Morrison (Abbotsford guide), Kathleen Shortt

Helen MacEwan writes:
On a trip to Edinburgh on 10-11 May I met up with Kathleen Shortt, the Brontë Society’s representative for Scotland. We went south to the border country for a tour of Sir Walter Scott’s house, Abbotsford, by Malcolm Morrison, a BS member who lives in Melrose and works at the house as a volunteer guide. Scott’s literary creations were of course hugely influential on the Brontës, as on so many other writers of the period; in 1834, advising her friend Ellen Nussey on which novels to read, Charlotte Brontë had written: ‘For fiction read Scott alone – all novels after him are worthless’.

Abbotsford, his amazing and highly personal creation in stone, was to ruin him financially, though he eventually managed to write his way out of debt. We were privileged to have not only a private tour of the house with Malcolm but also a private viewing of the visitors’ book that covers 1850. The book, whose binding is in too fragile a condition to allow it to be permanently displayed, was brought out for us by Sandra Mackenzie, the Heritage and Learning Officer, and opened at the page where Charlotte Brontë and George Smith signed it during their visit to Abbotsford on 5 July of that year along with 17 other visitors. . Charlotte had joined her publisher for a couple of days’ sight-seeing in Scotland when he and his sister went to fetch their younger brother home from his school in Edinburgh for the summer vacation. She was originally to have joined the Smiths for a longer tour of Scotland but her time with them was curtailed, probably because of the disapproval of Ellen and others of her jaunts with the unmarried Smith.

Charlotte and George Smith signatures in the visitors' book

Despite the brevity of her Scottish trip Charlotte waxed lyrical in letters about her glimpse of Edinburgh, Abbotsford and Melrose, telling her friend Laetitia Wheelwright that ‘Edinburgh compared to London is like a vivid page of history compared to a huge dull treatise on Political Economy – and as to Melrose and Abbotsford the very names possess music and magic.’

The visit to Abbotsford was magical for us too, since apart from the fascination of the house itself there was the thrill of seeing Charlotte’s signature – a record of a trip she enjoyed so much, at the height of her friendship with her handsome young publisher.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fifth Brontë Pilgrimage Sunday 6 July

This is the advertisement for the event, which is not organised by the Brontë Society:

Walk and Worship the Brontë Way

The Vicar of Tunstall, The Revd Carus Wilson set up the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in January 1824 which Charlotte Bronte and three of her sisters attended  before the elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth died of consumption in 1825.She subsequently drew on her memories of this experience as the basis for ‘ Lowood School’ in  Jane Eyre. In 1824 all pupils walked to Tunstall Church for Matins- apparently Leck church was not large enough- ate a packed lunch in a room over the porch ( a parvise) and attended Evensong before returning to Cowan Bridge. In 1825 the latter church was expanded and the pupils were saved this long walk.

On Sunday 6 July it is proposed to commemorate this experience by services in both churches starting with Holy Communion at 8am in Leck, St Peter’s Church (car parking available), followed by a visit to the ‘fever’ graves of some of the pupils of the Clergy Daughters’ School.

Those who cannot attend this service can go to the Fraser Hall, Cowan Bridge, where all will assemble to leave as a group at 9.30am ( drinks will be available). The group will then walk to Tunstall following the same route the girls did. (Please wear suitable clothing and footwear) Matins will be held at Tunstall at 11am. The service will be in the style of the period. Bring a packed lunch to eat in the comfort of Tunstall Village Hall-where drinks will be available prior to the return walk.

Refreshments will be then available in the Fraser Hall, Cowan Bridge prior to Evensong at 4.30pm at St Peter’s Leck. As little or as much as you wish, of the Pilgrimage, can be undertaken.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring Walk from Wycoller Hall on 11 May

The walk is approximately five miles long - and will include Clam Bridge, Walton's Cross, waterfalls and splendid panoramic views from the Panopticon.
Tickets are £5 and can be bought either by cheque in advance (payable to The Brontë Society) or can be purchased on the day with cash or on
A car park is available at Wycoller Country Park.

Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës

Review by Elisa Fierro
“Reader, I did not marry him.” This is the arresting beginning of Vanessa Gebbie’s Chapter XXXVIII – Conclusion (and a little bit of added cookery) with abject apologies to Charlotte Brontë, one of the short stories in the new collection Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës (ISBN 978-0-9572897-3-4).

Red Room, edited by A. J. Ashworth and published in paperback by Unthank Books in 2013, is comprised of twelve short stories and a poem, written by some of Britain’s best contemporary writers to celebrate the Brontë sisters and their unexhausted modernism. According to the editor, part of the sale profits of the book will be donated to the Brontë Birthplace Trust to help spread awareness of both the village and the building where the three sisters and their brother, Branwell, were born.

The Brontë Birthplace, located at 72/74 Market Street in Thornton (West Yorkshire), was a museum until 2007, thanks to the passion of the late novelist Barbara Whitehead. After being sold, it has recently become a café. At the time of the sale, the Brontë Birthplace Trust was raising the necessary funds to acquire the building, and their mission is now to try to secure it at a future date for Brontë lovers worldwide.

This collection of short stories, Red Room, is a continued commitment of Unthank Books towards contemporary short fiction and classic literature. The contributors – all writers of remarkable standing in contemporary British literature and winners of prestigious awards like, for example, the BBC National Short Story Award - have all waived their fees. Their generosity is shared by Unthank Books, as mentioned earlier, to help the Trust give the Brontë Birthplace its deserved position among the most important literary birthplaces in the world.

The Brontës and their work inspire all of the carefully crafted stories in Red Room, but a previous knowledge of the sisters’ novels – although certainly desirable – is not absolutely necessary in order to enjoy this book.  Everybody can find something to his or her taste: the authors deal with a variety of themes (from children abuse to supernatural sheep), write in different styles, and set their stories in the past as well as in the present, showing how human traits and situations described by the three sisters transcend time and place.

The previously mentioned Chapter XXXVIII – Conclusion (and a little bit of added cookery) with abject apologies to Charlotte Brontë, by Vanessa Gebbie, offers a humorously alternative ending to Jane Eyre, where Jane and Rochester do not marry but live as companions, while Rochester develops an interest for cooking with a penchant for oddly mixed ingredients (after all, he is blind!). The author’s (never random) good humor – through Jane’s first person narrative – doesn’t spare any character of the novel, including St John Rivers, whose fate is described in a way highly appropriate for him: “St John is unmarried: he never will marry now (Who would marry him, reader? Look at the verbiage up with which one would have to put)”.

Modern values are the theme of Rowena Macdonald’s A Child of Pleasure. Inspired by the relationship between Lucy Snow and Ginevra Fanshawe in Villette, the story is about Liza Frost, a teacher giving private lessons, and Jemima Fenchurch, her student. Jemima is not in the least interested in passing her exam, and often tries to demean Liza by pointing out her plain appearance, her solitary life, and her lack of wealth. Jemima is “about as sensitive as a brick”, has been indulged all her life, is self-centered, and only believes in beauty and money. However, at the end of the story, Liz and the reader are left wondering if, after all, Jemima was right. “I had been wrong: she was nobody’s appendage” – don’t we all want to be a celebrity like her, without a care in this world and sure that we will “suffer as little as any human being I have ever known”?

Heart-rending is the atmosphere of Carys Davies’ Bonnet.  The headwear of the title is one that Charlotte, on her way to meet her publisher George Smith in London, has embellished with a new lining, “a lustrous, pearly pink like the interior of a shell”. Smith has written Charlotte a letter telling her about his recent engagement – a letter that she had not yet received when she embarked on her trip. In reality, the trip never took place, because at the time Charlotte had stopped going to London to see her publisher. However, there has always been much speculation about the feelings that Charlotte might have entertained for the young, charming George. They were certainly friends, and it is possible that she – bereft and alone after the death of all her siblings – might have hoped to have him as life companion. Throughout the story, Charlotte is acutely aware of her plain appearance and clothing, especially during the meeting: “…  it is the worst imaginable thing for her to sit and feel the bright new silk around her face, like a shout, and see how embarrassed he is, how he can’t look at it.” In Victorian England, like today in our modern, multicultural, open-minded society (sarcasm intended), there is an incredible amount of pressure for women to be physically attractive. It takes a lot of self-esteem not to feel, like Charlotte, “always always acutely and painfully conscious” of the way we look as opposed to the way we are expected to look. I am sure that many women can relate to that – I for one certainly do.

I have chosen to use these three stories to illustrate how varied and multifaceted the collection Red Room actually is, and it is a totally subjective choice. I do not doubt that every reader will find his or her favorites, as the rest of the stories combine elements of fiction, realism, fantasy, even fairy-tale, and are filled with characters who, while based on the Brontë works, are strong in their own right.

In My Dear Miss … Zoë King imagines a lively epistolary exchange between Jane Eyre and Emma Woodhouse, where the latter – faithful to her character – tries to set Jane up with “a certain young clergyman, Mr. Elton, a handsome and intelligent addition to our circle.”

Contrasting with this playfulness are Sarah Dobbs’ Behind all the Closed Doors, dealing with the loss of a parent at a very early age, and Alison Moore’s Stonecrop, where an abusive stepfather gets what he deserves from his young victim.

On the other hand, stories like The Curate’s Wife, by Felicity Skelton, will appeal to lovers of historical fiction and romance, for its depiction of a fortuitous meeting between Charlotte and a well-known historical character – with interesting consequences.

Subsequently, Ashton and Elaine, by David Constantine, is a fairy-tale version of Heathcliff and Catherine’s story in which an adopted child finds a loving family and a supportive teacher, so that we can all be hopeful for him and his future.

Although the stories show a variety of subjects, two elements tie them all together: their authors’ captivating imaginations and their desire to bring the Brontë sisters to a wide modern audience, an audience who might or might not have a good literary background knowledge. At the end of the book, actually, the reader with less familiarity with the Brontës will find help with understanding the context of each story in the final section, entitled Inspirations, where every author explains how he or she came to write that particular piece of short fiction.

Being a Brontë lover myself, I am always an avid reader of anything related to the sisters and am sometimes disappointed by what is published; but this collection did not disappoint! The works in this book show how modern the Brontës will always be, how they can still inspire good literature, how the characters they created can and shall hook a contemporary reader, and make him or her reflect on the human condition. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are alive and well, and they are waiting for you in the Red Room.

(Elissa Fierro is Representative of the Heartland West Region, one of the American Chapters of the Brontë Society. She teaches Italian at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014

Brontë Festival of Women's Writing

Friday 14 – Sunday 16 March
Join us for the fourth Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing at the home of the Brontës. An exciting range of events will take place throughout the weekend, including talks, workshops, readings and family events. There’s something for everyone!

To book tickets or for further information contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Friday 14 March
Jackie Kay
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth, 7.30pm
Join the 2013 Brontë Society Writer in Residence, Jackie Kay as she opens the fourth Bronte Festival of Women’s Writing. Jackie Kay grew up in Glasgow and has written all her life, publishing novels, poetry and short stories. Several of her adult poetry collections have won or have been shortlisted for awards. Her first novel Trumpet won the Author’s Club First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Red Dust Road won the Scottish Book of the Year award and was picked as a World Book Night title.
Tickets: £6
To book tickets contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Saturday 15 March
Festival Fun at the Parsonage!
Brontë Parsonage Museum, 10am-4pm
Visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum for some festival family fun. Follow clues to a literary trail around the village or play a giant game of Wuthering Heights poetry on the front lawn.
Free with admission to the Parsonage.

Saturday 15 March
Louise Crosby: Creative Writing Workshop West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth, 10am-1pm With the recent growth in popularity of graphic novels and memoirs this workshop provides a simple introduction to working with words and pictures together.  Participants will create their own short graphic memoir inspired by a Brontë poem.  This may form the basis for a future graphic short story, visual diary or even the start of your own graphic novel!
The course is suitable for writers and artists of all abilities.
Tickets: £12
To book tickets contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Saturday 15 March
Readings by Ilkely and Calderdale Young Writers
Bronte Parsonage Museum, 12pm
Hear Ilkley and Calderdale Young Writers in the rooms of the Parsonage as they read their own poems inspired by the Brontës and the museum’s collection.
Free with admission to the Parsonage.

Saturday 15 March
Jackie Kay: Creative Writing Workshop
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth 2-5pm
A rare opportunity to join award-winning poet, novelist and short story writer Jackie Kay in this creative writing workshop inspired by her 2013 Brontë Writer’s Residency.
Tickets: £15. Booking essential.
To book tickets contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Saturday 15 March
Sarah Dunant: Blood and Beauty
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth, 7.30pm
Internationally bestselling writer Sarah Dunant visits Haworth to discuss her latest novel, Blood and Beauty, which takes on the Italian Renaissance’s most infamous family: the Borgias. Sarah Dunant is famous for her Italian historical novels: The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan and Sacred Hearts, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and bring voice to the lives of three different women in three different historical contexts. She has worked widely in television, radio and print, has written ten novels and edited two collections of essays.
Tickets £6
To book tickets contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Sunday 16 March
Drop-in Creative Writing
Bronte Parsonage Museum, 11-4
As part of our Festival of Women's Writing, visit the Parsonage for a drop-in creative writing session. Create your own piece of writing inspired by the Brontës and the museum collection.
Free with admission to the Parsonage

Sunday 16 March
Rebecca Stirrup: Creative Writing Workshop
Brontë Parsonage Museum, 10.30am-1.30pm
Gothic fantasy is that wonderful combination of horror, folklore, fairytale and myth.  Monsters may exist in these worlds, but often it is the humans that are monstrous.  There is a potency to gothic fantasy that, in our attempts to tame the beasts, is often lost today.  Vampires should not be considered good boyfriend material, werewolves are not our friends (at least not during the full moon), and while our heroes strive for goodness they do so at a cost.  This workshop will explore gothic fantasy through excerpts and through writing exercises.  You will develop ideas for your own gothic fantasies, and generate and develop the motifs and symbols of the genre in your writing. 
For everyone from the budding to the experienced writer.
Tickets: £12
To book tickets contact / 01535 640188 or book online at

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Jane Austen vs Emily Brontë

If you are in London on 26 February, you might like to take part in this literary combat organised by Intelligence Squared. Here is what they say:
Jane Austen created the definitive picture of Georgian England – a landscape of Palladian mansions and handsome parsonages, peopled by rigidly-divided classes. No writer matches Austen’s sensitive ear for the hypocrisy and irony lurking beneath the genteel conversation. Never has a novelist written comic prose with such subtlety and restraint. If you want to understand the early 19th century – the power of money and inheritance, the clothes, the interior décor – Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are worth a dozen history books, and any number of second-rate novels by Austen’s contemporaries.
That’s the argument of the Janeites, but to the aficionados of Emily Brontë they are the misguided worshippers of a circumscribed mind. In Wuthering Heights, Brontë dispensed with Austen’s niceties and the upper-middle class drawing rooms of Bath and the home counties. Her backdrop is the savage Yorkshire moors, her subject the all-consuming passions of the heart. The story of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is a full-blooded tale of violent attraction, thwarted love, death and the supernatural that makes Jane Austen look mundane – and clutches at the reader’s heart with a vigour and directness unmatched in English literature.
To help you decide who should be crowned queen of English letters we have the lined up the best advocates to make the case for each writer. They will be calling on actors, including stars Dominic West and Sam West, to illustrate their arguments with readings from the novels.
More at this website
The Queens of English Literature Debate,  
with actors Dominic West and Sam West


Royal Geographical Society  

1 Kensington Gore,
020 7591 3000