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Sunday, 16 December 2007

American echoes of the Parsonage

Barbara Tanke from Elma, New York writes:

Since I had to move back to Western, NY last fall for my mother's failing health, I have discovered (by accident) an 1810 house near her nursing facility that reminds me of the Brontë Parsonage.

It is at the end of a lane, and when I was waiting for traffic to pass, I thought I was looking at the Brontë house - or one similar in style. Here are photos of the exterior and the inside window.

This is the Hull House, built in 1810, which the community is trying to renovate back to its original state. I see that it was built about 30 years after the Brontë Parsonage and wondered if there was any English inspiration to it. I will have to research further.

I have a nice warm feeling that I am back in Haworth -- if but momentarily -- when I go visit my mother.

Below, the Hull House:

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Fourth Brontë Sister?

This painting by Branwell will soon be on display in the Parsonage – a portrait of Mrs Maria Ingham of Stanbury.

“We made a successful bid for it at the recent auction,” Librarian Ann Dinsdale told the blog. “She looks quite handsome, I think.

You could say she looks a little like a fourth Brontë Sister, if you look at the style and put it next to Branwell’s other portraits. Of course we’ve got her brother Robert already.

Now they are reunited! The Parsonage is going to close soon, to reopen in February 2008, and when we do, visitors will be able to see Maria.

They will also be able to see some other new acquisitions: three Victorian envelopes which we bought at a small auction house in Colchester called Reeman Dansie Auctions. One contains a lock of Charlotte’s hair, one a lock of Anne’s hair, and the third contains a ring which belonged to Charlotte.

The envelopes were given by Ellen Nussey to her friend Lady Morrison in the 1880s.”

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Rebecca in Haworth

Martin Rippingale writes:

Next Friday brings a chance, I am noting, that if you can get to Haworth in Yorkshire you can watch the 1940 movie version of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

I would love to attend and to walk around the Brontë Parsonage as a prelude, but I’ll just have to fix myself up with a DVD viewing.

It cleaned up at the awards ceremony at the time, for good reason: Fontaine is at her emotional finest and Olivier is as impressive as always as Maxim de Winter, with those slightly clipped cultivated tones which made him such a wow in the London theatre.

Londoner Alfred Hitchcock made his mark as a director in the States with this movie as well, doubtless taking a bet that a novel published a couple of years previously to great critical applause would bring in the audiences – and it did.

Over in England, there was a war in progress, so I imagine the blitzed-out Brits escaping into a gothic du Maurier world, where the horrors were different. Sunken boats with bodies in them? It happened every day in the Atlantic – or come to think of it, the ocean not too far from Cornwall.

John Harrison and Robert Sherwood wrote the screenplay, and it hits the mark because according to all allegations and reports, the producer David O Selznick had an attack of sensitivity and demanded that it be faithful to the novel.

It is not a hundred percent faithful though. In the novel, Rebecca is slain by a slug from Maxim’s gun. Not so in the movie of course. The burning down of Manderly at the movie’s finale was not in the novel either, so perhaps the guy who called the shots – Selznick – was more influenced by Jane Eyre than Daphne du Maurier.
Richard Wilcocks adds:

The film will be shown at the West Lane Baptist Chapel at 7.30pm. Contact Andrew McCarthy on 01535 640194 to make sure of your seat. Entrance £6.00