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: