Saturday, 6 June 2009

Sex, Drugs and Literature

On Thursday evening the new exhibition Sex, Drugs and Literature: The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë was viewed by an appreciative crowd. Branwell's life is presented in a balanced way, with recent research appropriately incorporated. We saw Branwell the impressive translator, Branwell the accomplished musician and Branwell the inspirational child as well as Branwell the drunk, Branwell the mediocre painter and Branwell who was hopelessly in love with his distant Lydia: her name appears in Greek lettering on one of the documents. It is beautifully set out and well designed, with banners by Den Stubbs.

"Branwell with his red hair would have been bullied had he been sent to school," Juliet Barker told her audience yesterday. "The only reason he wasn't sent was because his father couldn't afford it." She was speaking on her own, efficiently introduced by Jenna Holmes from the Parsonage, and without Justine Picardie, who is ill. The listeners included a contingent of younger aficionados, sitting cross-legged on the floor, an excellent sign.

Later yesterday, Director Andrew McCarthy talked about the new permanent exhibition and how problems installing it were overcome, using a slide show. Today, there's the church service, the AGM in the afternoon and  The Brontës and Romance. Tomorrow, there's music and walking - hopefully not too lashed by the Pennine weather.

Below, four of the overseas members - Maddalena and Paolo Mencarelli from Italy, Judith Watkins from Canada and Helen MacEwan from Belgium.

Full details of the weekend can be found on the Museum website at

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