Sunday, 27 September 2009

Singing was superb

Richard Wilcocks writes -

Keeping the Flame Alive
Friday 25 September
Lyrics by Val Wiseman
Music composed by Brian Dee
Featuring the Brontë Legacy Musicians

The show was in just the right venue: Val Wiseman, at the mike beneath gothic arches, made frequent references to her musings on Patrick Brontë, about how he would have walked where she walked in Dewsbury Minster, about what he might think of the music. Her personal engagement (dating back to childhood) was total, which resulted in her effectively bringing to life through narrative and song such characters as Blanche Ingram from Jane Eyre, Helen Huntingdon from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. There were many references to and quotes from Brontë texts in her lyrics (I particularly liked her take on Blanche), and she explained all the contexts more than adequately for the benefit of those in the audience who might not be as fully acquainted with the poetry and the novels as herself.

"Some critics described the novels of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell as 'brutal', 'coarse' and 'wicked'," she told us. "But the appetite of the reading public to obtain books written by them was insatiable......

For the next piece, I want you to imagine Jane, who has left that brutal Clergy Daughters School, not long after her arrival at Thornfield, feeling the first strong feelings of love for Mr Rochester, who......" and so on.

The singing, as might be expected from the Best British Jazz Vocalist 2008, was superb - dramatic and presented with a beautiful flourish. Regretfully, I did not get to see the tribute stage show 'Lady Sings the Blues', in which she portrayed Billie Holiday - but I am certain that the acclaim she received was very well deserved, because she oozes presence. The music composed by the illustrious Brian Dee was excellent, too. He was on one of the two keyboards alongside bass and drums.

It was a wonderful climax for Dewsbury's commemoration of the arrival of Patrick Brontë two hundred years ago. It should be experienced elsewhere -


For the website click HERE

Monday, 7 September 2009

Keeping the Flame Alive in Dewsbury

Imelda and David Marsden write:

As part of the Brontë Dewsbury 200 celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Patrick Brontë's arrival in Dewsbury in 1809, London Brontë Society member Val Wiseman will perform at 7.30pm on 25 September in Dewsbury Minster, in a musical tribute to the father of the family.

This is entitled Keeping the Flame Alive. It takes as its inspiration the enduring themes in the Brontë novels, poetry and art.

Val Wiseman (pictured) was voted the Best British Jazz Vocalist in 2008

Booking enquires: 01924 466076 / 01924 457057

Tickets £7: Booking in advance is recommended

Arts Events at the Parsonage

News release from Jenna Holmes, Parsonage Arts Officer:


The Brontë Parsonage Museum launches its new Contemporary Arts Programme this month, with an evening with internationally bestselling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford on Saturday 19 September at 7.30pm at the Old Schoolroom, Haworth. The event will see Yorkshire-born Barbara Taylor Bradford return to the UK as part of a special tour celebrating 30 years since the publication of her landmark novel A Woman of Substance and her new book Breaking The Rules. Barbara Taylor Bradford will be discussing her books, career and love of the Brontës with arts critic and journalist Danuta Kean.

This special event is the first in a new season of contemporary arts events to take place at the Brontë Parsonage Museum between September 2009 and March 2010. Other high profile events will include readings by Sarah Waters and Tracy Chevalier, and a talk by screenwriter Peter Bowker who recently adapted Wuthering Heights for ITV1.

As well as its usual mix of visual arts exhibitions, talks and workshops, the museum is currently receiving funding from Arts Council England to develop a season of events that showcase and celebrate women’s writing. Arts Officer Jenna Holmes says:

“The Brontës were pioneering women writers and we are delighted that Arts Council England is supporting us to really explore and highlight the Brontës’ influence on contemporary women writers today. This special strand of programming includes visits by high-profile women writers such as Sarah Waters and Barbara Taylor Bradford, but it also enables us to appoint a writer-in-residence, Katrina Naomi, to explore the museum collections and work with community groups, as well as allowing us to support emerging women writers and introduce new creative writing projects and events for everyone who comes to the museum”.

The full details of the new programme are listed below:

Sam Taylor-Wood: Ghosts
Until Monday 2 November
Brontë Parsonage Museum
Landscape photographs of the moors around Haworth, inspired by Wuthering Heights, by major British artist Sam Taylor-Wood. Free on admission to the museum.

A Woman of Substance: An Evening with Barbara Taylor Bradford
Saturday 19 September
7.30pm, Old Schoolroom, Church St, Haworth
Internationally bestselling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford will be visiting the Brontë Parsonage Museum as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of her landmark novel, A Woman of Substance, and the release of her new book, Breaking The Rules. She will be speaking about her work and the influence of the Brontës with journalist and arts critic Danuta Kean.

Barbara Taylor Bradford was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, and was a reporter for the Yorkshire Evening Post at sixteen. By the age of twenty she had graduated to London's Fleet Street as both an editor and columnist. In 1979, she wrote her first novel, A Woman of Substance, and that enduring bestseller has been followed by 24 others. Her novels have sold more than 81 million copies worldwide in more than 90 countries and 40 languages. Barbara Taylor Bradford lives in New York City.

Tickets are £5 and should be booked in advance.
Bookings: 01535 640188 /

National Poetry Day – Writer in Residence
Saturday 10 October
Brontë Parsonage Museum
Poet Katrina Naomi is the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s first Writer in Residence, and over the coming months will be working in the collections, as well as facilitating a special community project. To mark National Poetry Day, Katrina Naomi will be engaging with museum visitors for the day, to produce new poems inspired by visitor responses.

Katrina Naomi is originally from Margate and now lives in London. Her first full collection The Girl with the Cactus Handshake will be published in October 2009. She won the 2008 Templar Poetry Competition and her pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant & Castle was published later that year. She has received an Arts Council England writer's award and a Hawthornden Fellowship, and has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths. Katrina is also a lecturer in creative writing for the Open University.

Free on admission to the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Tracy Chevalier (pictured)
Friday 16 October
7.30pm, West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
Novelist Tracy Chevalier will be visiting Haworth to read from and discuss her new novel, Remarkable Creatures. The novel tells the story of Mary Anning, who in nineteenth-century Lyme Regis discovers the first pre-dinosaur fossils which will pave the way for Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Tracy Chevalier is the author of five previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), The Virgin Blue (1997), Falling Angels (2001), The Lady and the Unicorn (2003) and Burning Bright (2007). Born in Washington, DC, she now lives in London with her husband and son. She is Chairman of the Society of Authors.

Tickets are £5 and should be booked in advance.
Bookings: 01535 640188 /

Peter Bowker and Wuthering Heights
Saturday 24 October, 7pm
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
BAFTA winning screenwriter Peter Bowker will talk about his recent work adapting Wuthering Heights for television. Peter will be joined by director Coky Giedroyc and (filming schedules permitting) other key members of the production team to discuss the process of transferring the story from page to screen. The costumes from the ITV production are currently on display at the Parsonage.

Peter Bowker wrote Blackpool for the BBC, and adapted A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2005) and Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale (2003) for television. His ITV movie Buried Treasure won the BAFTA Lew Grade Award for Most Popular Drama in 2001, and his television film, Flesh and Blood won the Prix Europa and two Royal Television Society awards in 2002. His three part drama, Occupation, about three British soldiers serving in Iraq was shown on BBC1 in 2009.

Tickets are £10 and must be booked in advance. Bookings: 01535 640188 /

From Laptop to Bookshop: The Mslexia Roadshow
Saturday 28 November
Mslexia is a magazine dedicated to women writers. The Mslexia Roadshow offers a day of creative writing opportunities and to hear a successful author discuss her work. Each event can be booked onto individually or you can take part in the whole day.

Mslexia Workshop 1: Writing a synopsis
10am – 12pm, West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
Led by novelist and founder of Mslexia Debbie Taylor, this creative writing workshop is aimed at novelists. It will help you identify what your novel is really about, and communicate it to an agent or editor.

Tickets £10 and includes admission to the museum; women only; places are limited and must be booked in advance.
Bookings: 01535 640188 /

Mslexia Workshop 2: First Paragraph
1.30pm- 3.30pm, West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
Led by novelist and experienced creative writing tutor Jane Rogers, this workshop is aimed at novelists and short story writers and will help you create an arresting first paragraph.

Tickets £10 and includes admission to the museum; women only; places are limited and must be booked in advance.
Bookings: 01535 640188 /

Sarah Waters in conversation
6pm, West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
Sarah Waters will be in conversation with Mslexia founder Debbie Taylor about her writing career and her latest novel, The Little Stranger.

Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature and has been an associate lecturer with the Open University. She has won a Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and was twice shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2003, she was named Author of the Year three times and was also chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Fingersmith won the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger Award for Historical Crime Fiction and the South Bank Show Award for Literature and both FingersmithThe Night Watch were shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes. Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith have all been adapted for television. The Night Watch is currently in development with the BBC. The Little Stranger has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize 2009.

Tickets are £8 and should be booked in advance; all welcome.
Bookings: 01535 640188 /

Mr Lockwood’s Confusing Christmas
Saturday 12 December
Brontë Parsonage Museum
It’s Christmas and characters from the Brontës’ novels have escaped the pages of their books and been let loose in the Parsonage, where mayhem unfolds. What would happen if Mr Rochester met Cathy under the mistletoe, or Jane Eyre came across Heathcliff in the graveyard with a shovel? And when will Nelly Dean sort out that strange laughter coming from the attic?
Event takes place throughout the day. Free on admission to the museum.

Jo Brown: The Sunbeam and the Storm
Friday 5 March – Monday 3 May
Brontë Parsonage Museum
Artist Jo Brown exhibits a series of abstract paintings inspired by descriptions of weather in Emily Brontë’s poems.

Jo Brown was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and studied in Yorkshire, at Bretton Hall College then Sheffield Hallam University, gaining a BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 1995. She was artist in residence at Dean Clough, Halifax in 1995 and has since exhibited regularly in municipal and commercial galleries in England, Scotland and the USA. Free on admission to the Brontë Parsonage Museum

Lisa Appignanesi: Mad, Bad and Sad
Wednesday 10 March, 2pm
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
“Charlotte Brontë’s portrait of Bertha Mason, the ‘mad, bad and embruted’ wife of Rochester in Jane Eyre has taken on iconic value. But by the time Brontë penned it, she was drawing on what were already old images of madness, probably garnered from the notorious Bedlam”. Lisa Appignanesi

Lisa Appignanesi will be talking about her latest book MAD, BAD and SAD: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800. Including writers such as Charlotte Brontë, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, this is the history of the study of the female mind over the past two centuries. The book has been shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, the Warwick, the MIND and has won the Medical Journalist’s Award.

Lisa Appignanesi is a novelist, writer and broadcaster, she is former deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, chair of the Freud Museum and president of English PEN.
Admission is £3 and there is no need to book in advance

An Afternoon with Persephone Books
Wednesday 24 March, 2pm
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth
Persephone Books reprints neglected novels, diaries, short stories and cookery books by women writers such as Dorothy Whipple and Katherine Mansfield. Founder Nicola Beauman talks about the origins of Persephone, how books are chosen and some of the authors.
Admission is £3 and there is no need to book in advance

For further information please contact:

Jenna Holmes, Arts Officer

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Yorkshire Clamper on Friday

The Yorkshire Clamper - documentary in the First Cut series

Richard Wilcocks writes -

The notorious antics of the Changegate car park clampers have been spotlighted on this blog in the past. To find out what was said two years ago and read more recent comments, click HERE.

The director of this documentary, Leon Dean, first approached me more than a year ago, and a few of my observations are likely to be in there somewhere. I haven't seen the final version, so I'll be watching carefully this Friday on Channel 4 at 7.35pm.

Channel 4 publicity -

First-time director Leon Dean meets Britain's most notorious car clamper.

Ted Evans is the thorn in the side of the beautiful Yorkshire village of Haworth, the home of the Brontë sisters.

Residents spurn him and tourists fear him. He has been accused of immobilising a car while its driver was asleep, clamping a minibus for disabled children and clamping the prime minister of Australia.

In 2003 his company, Carstoppers, won the RAC Dick Turpin Award for the nation's worst clamper.

And Ted's car park ends up being debated in Westminster when he clamps former parliament speaker Betty Boothroyd.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Patrick in faded sepia

News release from Sarah Laycock:

‘Picture-perfect’ Patrick Brontë caught on camera and donated to the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

A rare photograph of the proud father of the most famous literary family in the world has recently been bought at auction in Surrey and donated to the Parsonage.

The faded sepia image of this remarkable old man taken before his death in 1861 is one of the very few photographs known to exist of Patrick Brontë. Still in its original oval gilt frame, the photograph was discovered among papers in an old film box.

The photograph was once part of a collection of items sold off at auction in 1898 originally belonging to the Brown family- Martha being one of the Brontë servants. Over 110 years later, the photograph returned to the auction room and was bought by a first time auction bidder who donated it to the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Very few original images of the Brontë family exist so we are delighted that this special and rare find can now be displayed for thousands of our visitors to see from Wednesday 2nd September 2009 until January 1st 2010.