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Monday, 15 December 2008

A unique resource

A news release from Andrew McCarthy – Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum:

The Brontë Parsonage Museum has just been awarded full accreditation status from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The accreditation scheme award demonstrates that the museum has achieved defined national standards relating to governance, visitor services and collections management.

The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Brontë material including letters, manuscripts, furniture, clothing, personal artefacts and artworks. There are over 7000 items in the collection which is a unique resource for academics from around the world. The treasures of the collection are displayed within the Parsonage which also draws general visitors and lovers of the Brontës’ books to Haworth in tens of thousands every year.

We are delighted to have been granted full accreditation. The Brontës are of course intimately associated with Haworth and Yorkshire, but the Parsonage museum has a collection which is nationally and internationally important and we should all celebrate that fact. The museum’s collection has continued to grow in recent years and through our education and arts programmes we’ve offered all kinds of exciting new ways for visitors to experience the museum and find out about the Brontës.

The museum is offering free admission to children every weekend in December and in January will close for a major refurbishment which will see the installation of a new exhibition focusing on the Brontës’ lives. The exhibition will include many new acquisitions to the collection and also fun interactives for families.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Christmas at the Parsonage

A news release from Jenna Holmes:

For those who feel the modern Christmas is just too commercial, the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth is offering a taste of Christmas past over the next few weeks. The Parsonage rooms have been decorated in traditional holly and ivy and with children under 16 able to enter the museum completely free of charge every Saturday and Sunday in December, the museum is hoping to encourage families to come and experience the special festive feel of the Parsonage at this special time of year.

On Saturday 13 December, there’ll be some added festive spice with Branwell Brontë’s Christmas Cracker, which involves Branwell visiting the museum, with mulled wine and mince pies on offer. Branwell will be performing his own hilarious version of the Brontë story at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm. There’ll also be a special children’s Christmas treasure hunt.

The truth is that Christmas for the Brontës was very different because it was before the Victorians got their hands on it. It was a religious festival without a lot of the paraphernalia which has come along since. 

We think the Brontë Christmas would have been much more civilized and if people are fed up with the modern commercial holiday, they should rediscover a simpler Christmas; come and get away from it all here at the museum. They can always get their Christmas gifts in the museum shop anyway, which has an excellent range of festive presents.

Andrew McCarthy – Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum

As well as festive decorations, Branwell, and Christmas gifts, visitors to the museum in December will be able to take part in an exciting new musical project. The Fragmented Orchestra takes place at 24 public sites across the UK, including the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and launches on Friday 12th December. Visitors will be invited to become both player and audience of a vast interactive musical composition extending across the UK.

December is also the last chance to see the museum’s special exhibition for 2008, Emily Brontë: No Coward Soul, which has attracted visitors from around the world. The exhibition is the first time ever that such an extensive range of manuscripts, letters, art works and personal artefacts relating to Emily Brontë has been displayed. The exhibition, which earlier in the year included high profile loans from the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery, will only run to the end of the year.

Further information from;
Andrew McCarthy, Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum
01535 640194/


It's time again to make mention of Dickens's A Christmas Carol........

Charles Dickens first published his world-famous ghost story in 1843, under the title A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.

A phenomenal six thousand copies were sold in the week following its publication. Dickens has probably had more influence on the way that we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual in human history except one.

Can he be blamed for the many millions of tons of seasonal decorations shipped in from China, though? That is, if they are still being shipped in during the current recession........perhaps we should be thinking of Tiny Tim as well as the Original Parsonage Christmas. End of sermon.

Below, the man who invented Christmas-as-we-know-it-today

Friday, 21 November 2008

‘Life is Compost’

IS reports on Diane Setterfield's recent visit to Haworth:

'Life is Compost' - The Thirteenth Tale

Perhaps it was quite courageous that this former French teacher, turned superstar author, from Harrogate, informed her audience, in the Baptist chapel in Haworth - within sight of the literary shrine - that it had not been the Brontës who had influenced her to write The Thirteenth Tale. It was from a very different kind of writer - the writer of psychological thrillers, Patricia Highsmith, a writer who herself very much preferred her own personal life to remain private - that she gained inspiration. After reading avidly the stories about 'the incredible Mr Ripley’- whom Mrs Setterfield described as an amazing character- living a double life- with those around him thinking he was an honourable, successful, conventional business man.

However Mr Ripley himself is the only one who knows the truth because nobody else is allowed in on the real man. So it was with a feeling of disappointment she realised that, with the death of Mr Ripley, there would be no more stories and the world would never know the truth- which left her with lots of questions in her mind. There is little consolation in death but perhaps one consolation is the consolation of being remembered but here again, if one is leading a double life, there is difficulty. Mr Ripley was human- was he tempted at the end to tell the truth? Surely after committing the perfect murders- so perfect nobody knew the perpetrator- you may be forgiven for thinking that he might need someone to know- need to proclaim to the world ‘ It was me!’

So Mrs Setterfield thought that she might be the one to put the record straight- might be the one to give Mr Ripley the somewhat dubious credit he deserved. She had no wish to pick up the mantle of Highsmith but was left with a ‘pressure cooker’ of desire. Walking home across the Stray, in Harrogate, a voice came to her, a voice with a bullying, hectoring tone and, as if in the grip of some unknown force, she raced home and began writing- thus The Thirteenth Tale was born. She went on to describe her book’s equivalent of Mr Ripley- the famously reclusive Vida Winter who decides, for the first time, after a lifetime of lies and tall stories, to tell the truth about her life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea - herself somewhat reclusive- a person who likes to remain on the margins of life. Both women desire not to be known but come together to tell Miss Winter’s story.

Mrs Setterfield described , to a captivated audience, that she thought of life as compost and, whilst she emphasised that the Winter character was in no way autobiographical, the idea for her characters came from her dreams, her conversations, books she had read and people she had met and she had drawn from this ‘compost’ to write the book. However, if left long enough, all the individual things that go in to make a compost heap will disappear and will become one rich mulch- the imagination. Some stuff does not decompose straight away and so it is, in our own minds, with dreams. Like eggshells that are instantly recognisable for quite a while, which keep surfacing through all the other stuff, dreams can stay with a person or can keep turning up unexpectedly. Mrs Setterfield’s ‘eggshell’ was the dream of a library on fire with two people fighting in the flames. Certain things in a compost heap never disappear - an avocado stone stays there permanently and the author’s ‘avocado stone’ was a story related to her by one of her French students, who, being told, at the age of eighteen, that he was born a twin and that his brother had died when he was three days old, said ‘So that’s it’- he had always known there was ‘something’ but had not known what that ‘something’ was.

The whole compost heap, including the eggshells and the stones, all went into the writing of this book- which has comparisons to the Brontës and references to Jane Eyre - and which has landed one of the biggest first book deals ever and was actually published a year after first being sent to agents. I am sure everyone who listened so intently to Mrs Setterfield speaking at Haworth, if they have not done so already, will soon be reading what sounds to be a very intriguing story and then, will eagerly await the publication of, perhaps, ‘The Fourteenth Tale!’

Mourning Ring

Mourning Ring by Ian M Emberson was published on October 1st 2008, and is a small collection of poems relating to the Brontës – their lives, writings and the landscapes associated with them. It is an expanded version of a previous publication Three Brontë Poems, and is lavishly illustrated by the author, with a picture on each page. The composer Robin Terry is working on a song-cycle based on the poems, and it is hoped that this will have its first performance in Haworth next year.

The basic details are as follows:

Mourning Ring:Brontë related poems
by Ian M Emberson,
Angria Press, 2008, 20 pp. £3.00
ISBN 978 0 9521693 6 9

It is available from the Gift Shop, Brontë Parsonage Museum, Church Street, Haworth, Keighley, West Yorkshire. UK. BD22 8DR – telephone (01535) 642323; fax (01535) 647131; e-mail

or direct from the publishers:

Angria Press, 1 Highcroft Road, Todmorden. UK. OL14 5LZ; telephone (01706) 812716; e-mail

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

BBC update on clampers

Click here to watch yesterday's report on BBC Look North. See local MP Ann Cryer voicing her concerns and Betty Boothroyd voicing her anger. See also Ted Evans, owner of the Changegate Goldmine, telling us that it's just something he has to do.......

Monday, 27 October 2008

Maggie O’Farrell in Haworth

Jenna Holmes announces:

Novelist Maggie O’Farrell will be speaking about and reading from her latest novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and discussing the influence of the Brontës on her writing, at the Old Schoolroom, Haworth on Wednesday 12 November at 3.30pm.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox tells the story of a woman edited out of her family history, exploring themes of sanity and madness, and parallels have been drawn with Jane Eyre.

Maggie O’Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972, and grew up in Wales and Scotland. Her debut novel, After You’d Gone, was published to international acclaim, and won a Betty Trask Award, while her third, The Distance Between Us, won the 2005 Somerset Maugham Award.

Her visit to Haworth is part of the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s contemporary arts programme.

Admission is £5.00. For further details and bookings contact the Brontë Parsonage Museum, 01535 640188/

Below, Maggie O'Farrell:

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Maddalena De Leo reports:


A very interesting meeting of the Italian section of the Brontë Society was held in the centre of Milan on Saturday 11th October at 4 p.m. in Casa Verdi, the rest home for retired musicians built at the beginning of the XXth century by Giuseppe Verdi himself. The author of Traviata and Rigoletto left all his musical rights and wealth to this institution and also lies buried there in a crypt together with his second wife Giuseppina Strepponi.

In so a suggestive place it was a must to choose ‘The Brontës and Music’ as a theme for the meeting and after gathering in the magnificent red saloon on the first floor, the Italian BS members: Mrs. Franca Gollini, who introduced the Brontë Society, Mrs. Raffaella Pazzaia, who organized the meeting, Maddalena De Leo, Giuseppina Verga,Paolo Mencarelli, Daria Innocenti and all other people present could enjoy a short talk by Professor Maddalena De Leo right about the Brontës and their relation with music soon followed by a wonderful concerto by the ‘Gondal Trio’ (Paolo Mencarelli – cello, Maddalena Main – violin, Emanuele Ardica - piano) who played some compositions by Beethoven and Mendelssohn Bartholdy, namely Trio op. 70 ‘Gli Spettri’ and Trio op. 66.

The atmosphere conveyed by that brilliant music was magic and the three musicians played it in a very clever and involving way. As usual the meeting ended enthusiastically with a little party held in an elegant room nearby where all at Casa Verdi could taste the exquisite chocolate cakes home-made by some of our Italian BS members.

Below, Giuseppe Verdi and members of the Italian Section:

Brontës and Music in Milan

Maddalena De Leo reports:


A very interesting meeting of the Italian section of the Brontë Society was held in the centre of Milan on Saturday 11th October at 4 p.m. in Casa Verdi, the rest home for retired musicians built at the beginning of the XXth century by Giuseppe Verdi himself. The author of Traviata and Rigoletto left all his musical rights and wealth to this institution and also lies buried there in a crypt together with his second wife Giuseppina Strepponi.

In so a suggestive place it was a must to choose ‘The Brontës and Music’ as a theme for the meeting and after gathering in the magnificent red saloon on the first floor, the Italian BS members: Mrs. Franca Gollini, who introduced the Brontë Society, Mrs. Raffaella Pazzaia, who organized the meeting, Maddalena De Leo, Giuseppina Verga,Paolo Mencarelli, Daria Innocenti and all other people present could enjoy a short talk by Professor Maddalena De Leo right about the Brontës and their relation with music soon followed by a wonderful concerto by the ‘Gondal Trio’ (Paolo Mencarelli – cello, Maddalena Main – violin, Emanuele Ardica - piano) who played some compositions by Beethoven and Mendelssohn Bartholdy, namely Trio op. 70 ‘Gli Spettri’ and Trio op. 66.

The atmosphere conveyed by that brilliant music was magic and the three musicians played it in a very clever and involving way. As usual the meeting ended enthusiastically with a little party held in an elegant room nearby where all at Casa Verdi could taste the exquisite chocolate cakes home-made by some of our Italian BS members.

Below, Giuseppe Verdi and members of the Italian Section:

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Another clamping outrage

Richard Wilcocks writes:

Haworth was in the news again yesterday, for the wrong reasons: the admirable Baroness Betty Boothroyd was on BBC Look North, and she was justifiably outraged, because the clampers had been at it again, with her as the victim. If only Carstoppers came around as an occasional or seasonal affliction, like the flu, but they are there all the time!

By 'there', we mean the Changegate Car Park, of course. Visitors to Haworth do not know that there are alternatives run by Bradford City Council, so they enter the clampers' domain and suffer. There are so many stories and anecdotes on this matter, that a collection of them would make a fair sized book. I remember, in particular, the couple from Sweden who were caught out for some trivial mistake and forced to hand over a tidy sum to enable them to drive away. They swore they would never come back.

This is the story according to today's Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The Telegraph & Argus revealed yesterday the ticket had time remaining on it but had fallen face down so the women had to pay a £75 fine. Signs state all tickets must be displayed face up.

Carstoppers has been criticised for its strict policy before.

Speaking to the T&A yesterday, Baroness Boothroyd, 78, said: “I think it was outrageous. I thought we would be told, ‘Girls, do not do it again, put it the right way up and make sure it is.’ There was no kindliness at all.

“I have been driving for more than 50 years and never had such an experience. People are up in arms about what is happening. Us Yorkshire Tykes do not take things lying down.

“It is not fair if shops in Haworth suffer because of such actions. I do not know what can be done as it is not really a political matter.

“The Council should take some action and put a dirty big notice up saying people should not park there, and explain why.

“It is difficult parking around there. The Council should find a little space and introduce a shuttle service, like park and ride on a smaller scale.”

Mrs Megahy said last night an appeal against the fine to car park owner Ted Evans was in the post: “I have appealed but I do not expect to receive anything.”

Mr Evans said on Monday: “It’s pay and display and they didn’t display.”

It's a great pity that some people actually avoid Haworth because of this nonsense! Anyway, my very best wishes and sympathies go to Betty Boothroyd.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

It permeates our consciousness

On Saturday 18 October, exactly a year after organising its first talk, the Brussels Brontë Group once again brought the Brontës to a Brussels audience. The talk hosted by us last year was on the theme of Charlotte's anguished letters to M. Heger. A journalist in a Brussels "What's On" which announced the event, getting a little carried away himself, invited people to "close their eyes and let themselves be swept along by this torrent of passion". This year we again invited our audience to be swept along by a torrent of passion, but with their eyes open not closed, gazing at a screen on which they could watch Heathcliffs and Cathies from various film versions (the 1939 Olivier one, the 1970 one with Timothy Dalton and the 1991 version with Ralph Fiennes) chasing each other over the moors.

The film clips were shown to illustrate a talk by Patsy Stoneman called "What everyone knows about Wuthering Heights: the novel and its film adaptations". She pointed out that many people are not quite sure whether they've read the novel or not, as it permeates our consciousness. Her comparison of scenes in the films with the corresponding passages in the novel revealed how often we, the readers, supply in our imaginations scenes (such as those between the lovers on the moors) not actually described in the novel.

Patsy Stoneman's talk, which was received enthusiastically, was the first in our new venue in a university in central Brussels, Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis. We have for some time been looking for a suitable venue and were delighted when some of the English lecturers at this university who support our events offered us the use of a room which is ideal for our purposes. The staff bent over backwards to make us welcome and help with all the practical aspects of the organisation, and staff and students from the English language department, who had prepared for the talk beforehand, attended the event. In all over 80 people were present.

After the talk we wound up with some music before partaking of the refreshments offered by the university. The music was supplied by a Dutch member of our group, Veronica Metz, who is the lead singer of Anois (click here), a Celtic band which is recording an album of Emily Brontë's poems that she has set to music. With recorded accompaniment, she sang four songs to haunting melodies a little reminiscent of Enya's. Another member, Marina Saegerman, had prepared a display of her calligraphy versions of Emily's poems.

We are looking forward to our next event to be held in the same venue, a Brontë weekend in April when Stevie Davies will be talking to us, also about Emily Brontë. Having hitherto concentrated more on Charlotte because of the influence of Brussels on her we are devoting this year to Emily, who of course also spent time in this city although there is less evidence of it in her work!

Helen MacEwan
Brussels Brontë Group

Kids go free

From the Director:

The Parsonage is offering a special kids go free offer through the October half term holiday. All those under 16 years of age, and accompanied by a full paying adult, can enter the museum completely free of charge. The offer is valid from 27 October to 2 November inclusive.

In addition to the Museum’s usual displays there are a number of other unusual extras for visitors to see. The museum’s special exhibition for 2008, Emily Brontë: No Coward Soul, has attracted visitors from around the world. The exhibition is the first time ever that such an extensive range of manuscripts, letters, art works and personal artefacts relating to Emily Brontë has been displayed. The exhibition, which earlier in the year included high profile loans from the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery, will only run to the end of the year. 

In addition to No Coward Soul, the Museum is also currently exhibiting controversial contemporary art by Swiss artist Annelies Strba. Strba, who has exhibited around the world, was commissioned by the museum to create works for display within the historic rooms of the house, a move which has delighted some visitors and appalled others. Strba’s dream-like digitally manipulated photographs are on display until 31 October.

The Brontë story might seem pretty serious stuff, and it is of course. But there’s a lot about the Brontës’ lives and their creativity that appeals in a very direct way to children. We are hoping to try and make the museum even more appealing to younger visitors, starting with a major redevelopment of our main exhibition space next year. But we also want to encourage more of the families who visit Haworth to come and experience the Parsonage and see the remarkable treasures it houses and we hope this special offer will help them to do so.

Andrew McCarthy
Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum

Further information from 01535 640194/

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Parsonage Website

Jenna Holmes explains:

The Parsonage website is down at the moment due to a problem with the provider. We are making every effort to put it back up - so apologies! It should be available very soon.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Wuthering Heights Music

Alison Mullin sends this press release:

Mark Ryan (Transformers, The Prestige, Evita, Robin Of Sherwood) announces the launch of Wuthering Heights Music, a musical adaptation based on the novel by Emily Brontë. Beginning today, visitors to can listen to Ryan's four original songs inspired by the gothic love story: Dark Passion, Women, Heathcliff's Prayer and I love The Wind. The website also features a music video for the song Women, narrated by Ray Winstone (Beowulf, The Departed, Indiana Jones, Sexy Beast). Currently, music downloads for Dark Passion and Women are available free and a four-song EP will soon be available for purchase for $1.99.

Growing up amongst the hauntingly romantic landscapes of Yorkshire, Ryan developed an emotional connection to the story of Wuthering Heights. In 1988 he wrote eighteen original songs inspired by Emily Brontë's novel, but was forced to put the project on hold due to his burgeoning film and television career. Years passed and with the success of Transformers (voice of Bumblebee), he decided it was finally the right time to record the music. 

Twenty years later Ryan comments, "This has been a labor of love and I am so proud to finally launch it. I believe we've created a musical that is as powerful and heartfelt as Bronte's tragic love story and I hope it entertains fans and music lovers alike."

Ryan is proud of the team he has assembled to make his passion project a reality. Credits include Robb Vallier (Spamalot, Gin Blossoms, Peter Murphy), who produced the four songs with Ryan. The vocal ensemble includes Jenn Korbee (Cathy), Jessica Kennan Wynn (Nelly) and Katie Boeck (Isabella), who all appear in the video for Women.

For more information regarding this project visit For all other media inquiries please contact Angela Moore at 310-429-8868 or

Below, Jenn Korbee:

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Brontës and Dickinsons

IS writes:

That marvellous Emily Brontë, that gigantic Emily Brontë

Lyndall Gordon is an academic, born in South Africa and now Senior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, who is well known for her literary biographies, which include T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Mary Wollstonecroft and Charlotte Brontë. She spoke to a captivated audience in Haworth, on Thursday 2 October.

Her new book is to be published shortly with the intriguing title of
Lives like Loaded Guns. This concentrates on the poet Emily Dickinson by way of the so called ‘Dickinson feud’. The feud explodes over adultery but comes to focus on the poet.

Mrs Gordon came to Haworth to speak of how the lives and characters of the Brontës, most especially Emily, and Emily Dickinson follow a very similar pattern. There are so many similarities between the Brontës and the Dickinsons, for example strong fathers, both imbuing their children with a demand for learning. Although we have Mrs Gaskell to blame for the myth that Patrick was something of a tyrant, all evidence points to his being a loving and concerned father to his little bereaved flock, and Mr Dickinson was apparently captivated by his elder daughter’s wit and indulged her college education. Emily consistently describes her father in a warm manner.

It is fair to say that both girls’ characters were shaped by their father and perhaps influenced by the lack of a maternal figure in their lives. In the case of the Brontës we know that they were too young, when she died, for their mother to have had much influence on them and although Emily Dickinson’s mother died when the poet was fifty two, correspondence suggests that she was cold and aloof and if Emily was in trouble it was to her brother Austin that she would turn.

Other similarities between the two Emilies are that they were devoted siblings, albeit with some rivalry, and both were acutely homesick when away from home and family.
Emily Brontë drooped and suffered when absent from Haworth and the moors - when staying at Roe Head and Law Hill- and similarly Emily Dickinson left college early and, like Emily Brontë, returned home to occupy her time with household duties. This early return could have been a combination of homesickness or a possible rebellion against evangelism - she did not want to be instructed in faith and this may have played a part in her dropping out of college. This sounds all very familiar to the Emily Brontë we know - the Emily who rebelled against her father’s religion - who found ‘God within her breast’. Both girls were individuals who insisted on thinking for themselves - spirited, strange, concentrating on visionary faith.

In her early thirties Emily Dickinson did not leave her home unless it was absolutely necessary and avoided speaking to people face to face. Emily Brontë became more and more withdrawn, tramping the moors with only her dog, Keeper, as companion. Both Emilies have been described as reclusive, but this could be said to be a form of freedom and, as other people have done, they both achieved much even in this state. Florence Nightingale did nothing visible after the Crimea but actually managed to reform the sanitation of India, and Darwin, the invalid - his achievements speak for themselves.

It is thought that the Brontës influenced Emily Dickinson from beginning to end. ‘No Coward Soul Is Mine’ – Emily Brontë’s wonderful poem, was read at her funeral, and the library in the Dickinson’s Amherst home held many Brontë books which had been acquired as published. Dickinson called her guide ‘gigantic Emily Brontë, marvellous Emily Brontë’ but
Wendy Powers, in her article ‘Parallel Lives’ says both Emilies lived in ‘an independent world, created out of pure intelligence’.

Lyndall Gordon delivered an informative and enjoyable lecture a few hundred yards away from where Emily Brontë lived and wrote one of the greatest works of literature in the English Language and I am sure the lecture left those who had heard it wanting to learn more about the parallel of these two writers, separated in age by a decade and in location by the Atlantic and thousands of miles, but whose lives ran in parallel courses from childhood to death both trying to put the ‘unsayable’ into language.

Below, Lyndall Gordon

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

Yorkshire-based writer Diane Setterfield will be discussing her phenomenally successful debut novel The Thirteenth Tale at the West Lane Baptist Centre in Haworth on Wednesday 15 October at 2pm. The event will take place as part of the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s new season of Contemporary Arts events.

The Thirteenth Tale reached number one on The New York Times bestseller list and has won numerous awards including the 2007 Yorkshire Book of the Year. A timeless gothic tale about the magic of books and storytelling, the novel makes reference to the works of the Brontës, specifically Jane Eyre, as well as other gothic writers such as Daphne du Maurier and Wilkie Collins.

“The Thirteenth Tale is full of intriguing references to the Brontës and their work, so it will be fascinating to hear Diane Setterfield read from the novel here in Haworth. Listening to such a deliciously gothic story is the perfect way to spend an atmospheric October afternoon!” Jenna Holmes, Arts Officer.

Zoe Brigley: Poet in Residence

A news release from Jenna Holmes:

To mark National Poetry Day, poet Zoë Brigley (pictured below) will be resident in the museum for one day next Saturday October 11, engaging with visitors to create new poems inspired by the Brontës and the Parsonage. Zoë invites visitors to consider the Brontës' secrets and to write their own responses, which she will weave into a long collaborative poem. This will be read at the end of the day along with poems from her most recent poetry project  My Brontë Passion.

Zoë Brigley's first collection of poetry The Secret is published by Bloodaxe Books and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. It has also been longlisted for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize. Zoë Brigley works at Northampton University as lecturer in English and Creative Writing. She has won an Eric Gregory Award, an Academi bursary and the English Association Fellows' Prize for Poetry.

Free on admission to the  Parsonage 

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Emily in Haworth

From a Parsonage news release:

It's your last opportunity to see the Emily portrait as she bids farewell to Brontë Museum after a three month loan.

The Parsonage will be sad to see the return of the rare and iconic portrait of Emily Brontë painted by her brother Branwell and on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London.

It has been on display at the museum as part of the 2008 exhibition ‘No Coward Soul’ celebrating the life and work of Emily Brontë, and is due to return to its permanent London location on October 7th 2008.

Only two portraits of Emily Brontë are known to have survived, both painted by her brother Branwell and they are owned by the National Portrait Gallery. Due to the rare nature, poor condition and significance of these pictures, they very seldom leave the capital city. However, this summer the Parsonage has been fortunate enough to have been able to display one of them.

Objects owned by Emily, her manuscripts and her artwork are extremely rare. Unlike her sister Charlotte, she did not achieve literary fame in her own lifetime; therefore objects belonging to her were rarely saved.

We heard about the 2008 Emily exhibition at the museum and decided to make a trip to Haworth from Aberdeen, Scotland. Emily is a particular favourite of mine and when we arrived we were truly moved by her objects on display. To be able to see her artwork, her handwriting and her own gloves made our pilgrimage to Haworth very special indeed. Our trip was made a trip of a lifetime by being able to see the portrait of Emily by her brother Branwell- stunning to look at yet not what we expected at all. We might never see the mysterious portrait again and I am glad we made the effort to travel down to Haworth

(Comment from S. Derwent, Aberdeen, Scotland)

The ‘No Coward Soul’ exhibition runs to the end of the year.

For further information contact:

Ann Dinsdale, Collections Manager, Brontë Parsonage Museum, 01535 640198 –
Sarah Laycock, Library & Information Officer, Brontë Parsonage Museum, 01535 640199 –

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Emily in Brussels

Helen MacEwan writes:

Since its inception a couple of years ago, the Brussels Brontë Group (the Belgian and Dutch branch of the Society) has concentrated mainly on Charlotte Brontë's relationship with Brussels, organising an annual weekend of events in honour of her birthday, readings from Villette, walks around places mentioned in both her Brussels novels and talks on the Pensionnat Heger featured in those novels. So we felt it was time we turned our attention to the other Brontë who spent time in Brussels. The year 2008-09 will therefore largely be devoted to Emily.

The year's events will kick off with a talk by Patsy Stoneman on Saturday 18 October called 'What Everyone Knows about Wuthering Heights: the novel and its adaptations',  illustrated with film clips. She will examine the assumption that even people who haven't read Wuthering Heights think they know what it is "about", mostly from films. She will compare some extracts from film adaptations of the novel (e.g. the 1939 film with Laurence Olivier, the 1970 film with Timothy Dalton and the 1991 one with Ralph Fiennes, as well as the Bernard Hermann opera and the 1991 musical) with the corresponding passages from the novel, showing for example that the films give us answers to what in the novel remain questions.

The talk will be held in one of the Brussels Universities, the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, which has enthusiastically offered to host our events and some of whose English Literature students will attend the talk.

Our 19th century reading group has included Wuthering Heights on its list for this year to tie in with the talk and with that to be given by Stevie Davies as part of our Brontë weekend on 25-26 April 2009. Stevie Davies will speak about Emily Brontë and the Mother World, exploring themes in Wuthering Heights which she has discussed in Emily Brontë: Heretic and other works.

Brontë Society members from outside the Low Countries are always welcome to join us for our events.

For more details click here.

Below, Branwell's portrait of Emily

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Three Quartets

Richard Wilcocks writes:

On Saturday 11 October at 6.30pm in St Margaret’s Church Hall in Ilkley, there will be a (free) talk by Ian M Emberson entitled Three Quartets: the Rossettis, the Mendelssohns and the Brontës. It is an event in the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Ian is a writer, artist and former music-librarian who is the author of one book and many articles about the Brontës. The talk will be brilliant, I know, because I heard a version of it a while ago in the Parsonage cellar. He focuses on the childhoods of three gifted families, discussing how this background influenced their later achievements. In each case there are four exceptional children, slightly apart from their immediate surroundings, yet ultimately blending different cultures in their mature creative activities.

The talk is the result of extensive research: all three of the significant ancestors of the families were exiles in some way. For example Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of Felix, was a partner in a silk firm in Berlin at the time of Frederick the Great and a writer on the theme of Immortality of the Soul, who achieved the status of ‘protected Jew’, which made a big difference at a time when Jews were subject to frequent restrictions and humiliations. Gabriel Rossetti was a political agitator and scholar who sought asylum in England, where he taught Italian at London University, and of course Patrick Brontë escaped a life of poverty in Ireland to go to Cambridge.

All three brought something beautiful, fresh and new from the outside to their country of settlement.

Below, Ian Emberson (look at his website here) – photo by Richard Wilcocks

Monday, 8 September 2008


Best wishes and good luck to Karin Quint, who is in charge of a new Brontë website based in the Netherlands. The website is here.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Charlotte's letter returns

Over 4000 miles away from where it was first written, an important Charlotte Brontë letter to her publisher William Smith Williams has been bought by the Brontë Parsonage Museum with financial help from a grant given by the MLA and V&A Purchase Grant Fund. It has just been put on display.

Written at a significant point in her life, the letter, signed in the pseudonym ‘C. Bell’, discusses reviews of her recently published novel Jane Eyre and also makes reference to the second edition.

Written in Haworth just three months after the first publication of Jane Eyre on 13 January 1848, the letter was purchased over seventy years later by an American Brontë Society member visiting England and it was taken back to the USA when she returned. It was inherited from her grandmother by Patti Engels of California, who sold it to the Brontë Parsonage Museum just a few weeks ago. For most of its time in the USA, the whereabouts of the letter remained unknown.

Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale commented: “Patti Engels did not want the letter to be sold in the United States. She was very keen that the Parsonage should have it.

“Now it has returned to where it was written. Charlotte relied on letters from Mr Williams after the loss of her sisters. He was the first person in the publishing world to spot her potential as a novelist."

Friday, 22 August 2008

Puppets at the Parsonage

Jenna Holmes announces:

Outdoor puppet theatre company Frolicked will be performing a specially commissioned new show at the  Parsonage next Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 August.

Museum visitors will be able to watch and interact with the performance, which has been inspired by the Brontës and the Parsonage. Visitors will be able to see the Brontës’ servants come to life in unexpected places around the Parsonage and its grounds. The company will be working at the museum and creating informal performances throughout the day.

Frolicked is a puppet theatre company based in Huddersfield, who specialise in designing, creating and performing with puppets in interesting and unusual spaces and locations.

There are also plenty of Contemporary Arts and Education events to interest museum visitors over the coming bank holiday weekend.

Today (22 August), chainsaw artist Dominic Clare (see below) will be carving a sculpture from a tree that was felled in the Parsonage garden earlier this year. You can watch Dominic Clare at work throughout the day at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

A reminder - currently on show at the museum is My Life Dreams: an exhibition of digitally manipulated photographs based on the Brontës by Swiss artist Annelies Strba. Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to see the famous portrait of Emily Brontë painted by  Branwell, which is on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

All events are free with normal admission to the museum.

Below, Dominic Clare with Helix, a work from 2006. On his website, Giovanna de Sola Pinto writes.........

That he has a great affinity with nature is very striking when one sees the large-scale site-specific commissions he has produced for public places throughout North Wales. One can immediately appreciate the depths with which he has responded to the sites, his thoughtful research into their historic origins and the ways in which his pieces are sensitively integrated into the environment.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Filming at Oakwell Hall

Thanks, Joanne Catlow, for sending us this press release and the photos:

Historic Birstall takes star role in Bronte classic

It's already well known to lovers of the work of Charlotte Brontë.

Now Birstall's Oakwell Hall is set to play a starring role in a major television adaptation of Wuthering Heights, her sister Emily's classic tale of romance and revenge.

The Elizabethan manor house has been picked as one of the locations for the filming of the drama, which is being made for ITV by production company Mammoth Screen.

Oakwell Hall's first brush with fame came in 1849, when Charlotte Brontë used it as the basis for a house called ‘Fieldhead’, the home of the heroine in her novel Shirley. In 1921, the historic building was also chosen as a location for a silent movie version of Shirley.

Wuthering Heights cast members include former Coronation Street favourite Sarah Lancashire and Andrew Lincoln, who played Egg in cult BBC Two show This Life. Band of Brothers actor Tom Hardy will portray Heathcliff while newcomer Charlotte Riley has landed the part of Cathy.

Filming meant that the hall was closed to the public for four weeks to allow for two weeks of filming plus time for the preparation and dismantling of the sets. Now re-open, the hall which was built in 1583 by John Batt, offers visitors an insight into the workings of a post English Civil War household.

The two-part drama for ITV1 is expected to be shown autumn 2008.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Kirklees events

David and Imelda Marsden write:

The filming of Wuthering Heights at Oakwell Hall is now finished. It will be shown on ITV1 in two ninety-minute episodes. The staff at the hall told us all about it – more later. In 1921 a silent version of Shirley was filmed at the hall, and the search for this is still going on.

We are holding a sponsored Luddite walk in North Kirklees - where Charlotte Brontë set Shirley. On 7 September 2008 at 1.30pm it will start at the Dumb Steeple in Mirfield, with North Kirklees Rambler Association member Ken Dews as the leader. A talk will be given on the route the Luddites marched in 1812 by Luddite expert Dr J A Hargreaves. Funds raised on the walk will go to Hollybank School in Mirfield which the Brontë sisters attended between 1831-1836 when it was called Roe Head. The school now caters for severely disabled young people aged five to nineteen, who are resident at the school, educated and cared for by dedicated staff.

For further details telephone 01924-519370 or 01535-648209 or email or

Also - the Ramblers Association have a stall at the Mirfield Show on Sunday 17 August where details and sponsor forms can be picked up. This is held near the site where Blake Hall stood - where Ann Brontë was a governess. Only the South Lodge remains.

Below, Charlotte Riley as Cathy and Tom Hardy as Heathcliff. Background vegetation may or may not be in the vicinity of Oakwell Hall. In this version by Blackpool writer Peter Bowker, Heathcliff kills himself when he hears of Cathy’s death.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Strba at the Parsonage

An exhibition of new work by Swiss artist Annelies Strba will go on show at the Parsonage tomorrow, Friday 1 August. The exhibition will be opened by Christoph Grunenberg, director of Tate Liverpool.

‘My Life Dreams’ is a series of digitally-manipulated images in response to the Brontës and the Parsonage, displayed throughout the period rooms of the museum. The exhibition is funded by Arts Council England and forms part of the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s contemporary arts programme.

‘My Life Dreams’ takes inspiration from Wuthering Heights, and the illustrations for the 1935 edition of the novel by the artist Balthus. Annelies Strba portrays a magical and entirely feminine world, in which her daughters and granddaughters (always central to Strba’s work) appear as ethereal figures suspended in dream-like landscapes.

The series of tiny works will be displayed imaginatively throughout the Parsonage, placed in spaces within the period rooms and amongst the Brontës’ own possessions.

‘My Life Dreams’ will be on show until 31 October 2008 before it transfers to The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin.

“We are tremendously excited to be working with Annelies Strba and this exhibition continues the museum’s programming of bold visual arts projects. Annelies Strba‘s images visualise her own emotional response to the Brontës’ radical creativity and these vibrant images, placed amongst the Brontës possessions in this way, create powerful connections between the imaginative worlds of the Brontës and Strba’s own contemporary artistic practice.”

Jenna Holmes, Arts Officer.

Annelies Strba’s work has been inspired by a diverse range of locations and subjects, including her own life in Melide, Switzerland, the earthquake-stricken city of Kobe, the gloom of Auschwitz and the Cottingley Fairies. 

She has exhibited widely in recent years throughout Europe and the USA. Her work has been shown at, amongst others; James McCoy Gallery, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague; European Museum of Photography, Paris; Tate Gallery, Liverpool and Barbican Centre, London.

Annelies Strba is represented by Frith Street Gallery, London.

Eighty years on

The Parsonage Museum will celebrate its 80th anniversary by holding a free open day for local residents next Monday 4 August. The museum will also be offering visitors aged 80 years or over free admission to the museum throughout August.
In addition, residents with a BD21 or BD22 postcode can gain free admission to the museum by presenting proof of address.

Artist Lesley Martin will be working with visitors to create a giant artwork on the front lawn, made from natural materials. Visitors are invited to bring along their own flowers and leaves found on walks in the area and to learn about the plants growing around the Parsonage.

The open day will launch a series of special arts events at the museum throughout August, including a chainsaw sculpture created from Charlotte Brontë’s tree and a specially commissioned puppetry theatre performance.

The Parsonage was acquired by the Brontë Society in 1927 and its doors opened to the public on 4 August 1928. A crowd of thousands arrived in Haworth to witness the opening.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Dewsbury events next year

Ruth Battye writes:

Patrick Brontë arrived in Dewsbury on 5 December 1809. To celebrate this event there will be special services in Dewsbury Minster on 6 December 2009. Dewsbury wishes to involve the Brontë Society and so a meeting was arranged in the Minster on 28 July 2008.

Those present were Rev Canon Kevin Partington, Team Rector of Dewsbury, Museum & Galleries (Kirklees) Manager,  a representative of Dewsbury Matters (a local history group), Batley & Dewsbury Town Centre Manager, a member of Dewsbury District Council, the President of Mirfield Historical Society and myself, representing the Brontë Society.

It was felt that although December would be a more appropriate time to hold celebrations and it would be good to share in the services which are to take place, the difficulty in travelling to Dewsbury during that month may well prevent many members from attending and so it was suggested that, in addition to the service in December, we hold our celebrations during a long weekend in September. The provisional dates are Friday 25 to 28 September 2009 inclusive.

Once we have a committee established we can begin coordinating all the different groups to organise what promises to be a thrilling time for local people as well as Brontë Society members. Hopefully this will be the launch of an annual event in Dewsbury.

Although this may seem to be a long way ahead, the planning of such an event does take time. I will keep the Parsonage Blog  informed of developments but people who are interested could contact me at +44 1535 642219, preferably on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, or e-mail
Imelda Marsden raised this matter to start with: you could contact her at 

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Rare portrait on loan

See a BBC video about the portrait of Emily Brontë here.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Meeting in Amsterdam

Maddalena De Leo writes:

In the first days of July just before leaving for The Netherlands on holiday I proposed that
Helen MacEwan, the BS representative for Belgium, should gather the Belgian members from Brussels and possibly from The Netherlands for a meeting in Amsterdam in the period I should be there. It might be interesting for our two sections to exchange opinions and to know us by person in a country different from ours. It was also something not attempted by the Brontë Society as yet and eventually a key to new collaborative plans for the future.

Helen was really enthusiastic for the idea and in a short time she emailed all the BS members she knew, receiving a positive answer from all. On my part, I got in touch with
Veronica Metz, the lead singer of the Dutch Celtic band ‘Anois’ since I heard she’s working on a project based on Emily’s poems set to music at the moment. Veronica promptly agreed to be present to the meeting.

On 8 July 2008 at 3 pm sharp my hotel in Amsterdam saw the arrival of a group of people, each coming on their own and asking for me. Surprisingly there were at the door Helen MacEwan,
Selina Bush, Eric Ruijssenaars, Maureen Peeck-O’Toole, Sherry Vosburgh, Jenny Hoffman's friend (she was ill and unfortunately couldn’t come that day), Veronica Metz with her band and, absolutely by surprise, my Belgian BS penfriend Luc Bormans and his girlfriend.

When we sat down in the small breakfast room of the hotel and after having bravely defied the hotel receptionist’s fury, calming him down by buying some drinks, I started by asking Veronica about her musical work on Emily’s poems and about her inspiration for it. She told us that all was due to her visit to Haworth Parsonage some years ago and to the magnificent view of the moors behind it. She kindly handed each of us a CD-demo of her
Emily Brontë and the conversation so started was followed by questions and answers dealing with the organization of our two sections, on our meetings, the blogs, the web and the magazines edited by each section.

After a short break with the Anois music filling the air and a really friendly atmosphere among members - all chatting as old friends both in Dutch and English - I gave Helen an Italian ceramic plate commemorative of the event and we all drank a toast with the champagne I brought from Italy for the occasion. I then read my lecture ‘The Brontës and the Sea’, a topic I chose for our being in Amsterdam, thanking all for their presence there.

What a success and what an incredible BS meeting this was, only planned in a few days and by e-mails! By leaving as real friends we all wished to possibly meet again in Brussels or Italy in the future hoping to experience again so lucky a Brontë day.

Below, the complete group, Maddalena with Helen MacEwan, Maddalena with Anois:

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Perfect Heathcliff

Richard Wilcocks writes:

I'm starting to feel sorry for Gordon Brown, after, I admit, a few sniggers yesterday. I travelled down to London at an unearthly hour yesterday morning, so missed out on the Radio 4 Today programme and the morning papers. I have now caught up, thanks largely to exhaustive coverage of the matter on Brontë Blog.

Andrew McCarthy (Parsonage Acting Director) said all the right things, of course, as did Juliet Barker (hear her again online at the BBC) we really want a man who identifies with a character who hangs dogs as PM? It's an amusing parlour game, I suppose. Which character in fiction most resembles (insert name here)? It's a parlour game played by point-scoring politicians as much as by journalists who would have us believe that they have actually read Wuthering Heights rather than just seen the film or the synopsis on Wikipedia. Mind you, I'm not sure whether Gordon Brown has read the book or what did he actually say in the New Statesman?

Not very much, it seems. Thanks again to Brontë Blog for quoting this from the NS:

Heathcliff? Absolutely

Most observers agree the Prime Minister has improved at the despatch box after being mauled by David Cameron early on. But Brown remains an unsympathetic figure in the eyes of the electorate. His advisers may have tried to turn his brooding seriousness into an electoral asset, but they must secretly hope he would share more private moments with the public, which seems to have decided that he lacks warmth.

There is a human side to Gordon. He may be uncomfortable talking about himself, but on the train home our conversation is punctuated with laughter, and most of it is neither nervous nor insincere.

Is he a romantic? I ask. "Ask Sarah," he chuckles. Some women say you remind them of Heathcliff, I suggest. Brown is, after all, brooding and intense. "Absolutely correct," he jokes. "Well, maybe an older Heathcliff, a wiser Heathcliff." (Gloria di Piero)

So Gordon Brown chuckled. He was picturing in his mind some of the women who thought he reminded them of Heathcliff, no doubt. He was recognizing the ludicrous nature of the comparison. After all, he doesn't look at all like Sir Laurence Olivier. You don't find women like that everywhere! What else could he have said other than what he did say?

I think he has a hidden witty side, a dry sense of humour, perhaps.

The publicity people at Birmingham Rep have moved swiftly. There is now a site devoted to windswept Gordon here. You can add your comment if you want.

Wuthering Heights in Birmingham

Pictured here - April De Angellis

Here are some publicity paragraphs from Birmingham Rep:

A brand-new adaptation brings Emily Brontë's passionate and spellbinding tale of forbidden love and revenge to life on stage. Set on the wild, windswept Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights is the tempestuous story of free-spirited Catherine and dark, brooding Heathcliff. As children running wild and free on th emoors, Catherine and Heathcliff are inseparable. 

As they grow up, their affection deepens into a passionate love, but Cathy lets her head rule her heart as she chooses to marry the wealthy Edgar Linton. Heathcliff flees broken-hearted only to return seeking terrible vengeance on those he holds responsible, with epic and tragic results.

April De Angelis is one of the UK's most innovative dramatists. Her plays have included A Laughing Matter at the National Theatre, Hush at the Royal Court and The Warwickshire Testimony for the RSC.

More information from Birmingham Rep

Birmingham Repertory Theatre 20 September to 18 October 2008

Invitation to vote

Chris Routledge writes:

I am the online editor of The Reader Organisation. You may have heard of us in connection with The Reader magazine.

We are starting a campaign to get 'classic' literature on the Richard and Judy TV Book Club show and we are holding a poll to decide which of five novels to champion. One of the five is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and I wondered if your readers/members might be interested in voting. The link (to a post on our blog) is here.

The poll closes at the end of July.

Best wishes!

Richard Wilcocks adds:

I voted for it - that's one more! The Reader is now on our links list.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Emily portrait comes home to Haworth

Arts Officer Jenna Holmes writes:

A National Portrait Gallery Loan and rare poems manuscript return to Haworth for first time in nearly 150 years to crown the 2008 exhibition No Coward Soul at the Parsonage.

As part of the 2008 exhibition focusing on Emily Brontë, the museum is delighted to able to display her Gondal poems notebook and a rare portrait of Emily painted by her brother Branwell. Both of these items are currently on loan to the Parsonage for a limited time only.

In 1861, after the Brontës had died, the Gondal poems notebook left Haworth for Ireland with Charlotte’s widower Arthur Bell Nicholls. Following his death in 1907, the manuscript was auctioned in a sale at Sotheby’s and purchased by Mrs George Smith, widow of Charlotte’s publisher. It was then bequeathed to the British Library in London by the Smith family and for the first time since 1861, returns to the Parsonage where it was originally composed.

The iconic portrait of Emily by her brother Branwell was once part of a larger painting called ‘The Gun Group’ portrait. It was cut out by Arthur Bell Nicholls on the death of Patrick Brontë in 1861 and was later found on top of a wardrobe along with ‘The Brontë Sisters’ portrait (also by Branwell) by Arthur’s second wife Mary Ann Nicholls after his death.

It is now owned by the National Portrait Gallery. This is a very rare opportunity for visitors to see the portrait outside of its usual London location.

Special loans and No Coward Soul exhibition 2008 – Ann Dinsdale Collections Manager – 01535 640198

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

McCain recalls loss on 'Jeopardy'

Paul Daniggelis sends this Associated Press report:

PIPERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Who is Heathcliff?

The name of the doomed romantic hero in Emily Brontë's novel 'Wuthering Heights' eluded John McCain more than 40 years ago, robbing him of a second straight win as a contestant on the televised quiz show 'Jeopardy',  the Republican presidential hopeful said Monday.

Riding aboard his Straight Talk Express campaign bus, McCain, well-read and a trivia buff, recalled his two-day appearance on the popular program in 1965. He won the game the first day, and lost the next day in the final round.

So, what was the Final Jeopardy question that tripped him up?

The famously competitive Arizona senator recalled it exactly. "Cathy loved him, but married Edgar Linton instead."

McCain said he knew the name of the book, but that his answer — What is Wuthering Heights? — led to his elimination.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Jane Eyre: text, context, urtext

A Call for Papers from Elise Ouvrard:

For more than 160 years, Jane Eyre has been the object of all sorts of readings, critiques and sequels. When it appeared in 1847, the novel enjoyed incredible success: Jane Eyre, an Autobiography was widely read, but its plot and heroine were also accessible through the first critical interpretations or the numerous plays that were adapted from the novel as early as 1848. Known at first or second hand ever since its publication, Jane Eyre nowadays belongs to the category of books that one can discuss without having ever read them. Yet, to Brontë scholars and enthusiasts, appreciating the plot without having a taste of Charlotte Brontë’s style seems impossible, claiming a clear understanding of the novel without resituating it in its context seems absurd, just as it feels pointless to try to appraise the talent of Charlotte Brontë’s literary descendants without having been carried away by her own genius. This special issue of LISA e-journal, to be published in the first quarter of 2009, intends to reexamine Jane Eyre, its context, its text and its scope as an urtext, in order to exploit the full richness of the novel and to allow the readers to become immersed once more in this major text of nineteenth-century British literature।

Returning to sources, with such a novel as Jane Eyre, means first of all exploring what surrounded its creation. Victorian England, Yorkshire, Haworth or the parsonage may all be apprehended as fundamental to the novel, and examining their importance may lead to a better understanding of the thematic background of the text. Other elements in the genesis of the novel equally deserve our attention: the collective reading at the parsonage, allowing each sister to use the other two as touchstones to test the quality of her writing, Charlotte Brontë’s involvement in the publication of the three sisters’ works, or the energy she spent writing Jane Eyre in only a few months, while her first novel wound its way from publisher to publisher and kept being rejected. The context sheds a precious light on the novel and also functions as a background against which the originality and timelessness of Jane Eyre may be traced.
The text itself, because of its uniqueness and also the way it merges History with its story, has been the object of many readings, from feminist to Marxist, from psychoanalytical to structuralist, and so on। It is true that the novel is very fertile ground for critical discourse and offers an invitation to react, to comment or to decipher. The fields of investigation are as wide as the text itself, wider even, if one considers the importance of intertextuality (Bunyan, fairytales…) and of all the other art forms that punctuate the text (like painting or folklore), incessantly enabling it to transcend itself.

Reexamining Jane Eyre also means reading its sequels and rewritings, considering Charlotte Brontë’s text as an urtext, an original text founding an artistic continuation. New connections may then be discovered between Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. The notion of quotation in works published afterwards may be of interest in a context of dissemination of Jane Eyre, as well as a study of adaptations for stage, screen or television, or of the illustrated versions of the novel that have been released so far.

Please send your proposals (20 to 50 lines), along with a short bio-bibliographical note, to Elise Ouvrard ( or Charlotte Borie ( before 30 September 2008 (the deadline for completed articles is 30 November 2008). Please follow the norms for presentation indicated on the LISA e-journal website

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

June weekend - Thornton

On the Tuesday (10 June) of the annual June weekend of the Brontë Society, a reading from Charlotte Brontë's letters took place in  St James's church hall. Readers were Robert Barnard and the organiser of the day's events, Angela Crow-Woods.

There were more readings after this, from Brontë poems, with commentaries, from Catherine and Ian Emberson, whose home page can be found here.

Later, there was a walk around the village. Of course, there was a significant pause outside the birthplace, which was sold in an auction last year to a London property developer. It is empty, but has, apparently, been "damp-proofed and repainted" inside. The tiny patch of garden at the front had been hastily dug over, unearthed bulbs on the surface.

Pictured above - a page from the register in the church, the well-kept ruins of the Old Bell Chapel, the old bell itself and the birthplace.