Planet Century 19

October 25, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


Dark morning ― but no rain.

Dickenson, Underhill: ― at 10.30 ― in cab to City, & got my annual Dividends ― this year £115.0.0. Leaving £100 with Mr. Scott, I returned home, just in time to show Lady Hatherton & Lady Fanny Harcourt my pictures. After they went, I finished the Sir Walter James picture ― & touch it shall I no more.

At 2.30 to the City again to Scotts, & was only just in time at the Bank to “accept the Stock.” ―

Back ― & bought Inkstands & at Parkins & Gotto, & then back to Stratford Place ― arranging letters &c. &c. Reginald Cholmondeley came: & now I am going to dress.

The whole evening was remarkably delightful, being a pleasant & surprising mixture: only Miss Bromley ― affected & vain, I never could endure.


Vastly pleasant.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 25, 2014 08:00 AM


Creative Writing and Auditions

Two very different Brontë alerts for today, October 25:
A Day of Creative Writing at Ponden Hall with Anne Caldwell
Saturday 25 October 2014, 10.30am - 3.30pm

The Brontë Parsonage Museum is hosting a one-day workshop with us here this October -  ‘A Day of Creative Writing at Ponden Hall’ with poet Anne Caldwell on Saturday October 25 (10.30am-3.30pm).
Tickets are available from the Parsonage (email Sue Newby at, or phone her on 01535 640185) on a first-come first-served basis. Tickets cost £50 and include a soup and sandwich lunch, afternoon tea and cake, and a tour of the Hall.
And in Washington City, Utah, auditions for a Jane Eyre.The Musical production:
 AUDITION NOTICE: Jane Eyre, the musical
Saturday October 25th 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and
Wednesday, October 29th 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: Brigham’s Playhouse
25 N. 300 W.
Washington Utah, 84780
(In Cottontown Village, next to the Red Barn)

by M. ( at October 25, 2014 01:30 AM

A debt of gratitude

In the midst of its inner 'wars', a reader of Keighley News thinks that the Brontë Society is owed a 'debt of gratitude'.
The Brontë Society owes a debt of gratitude to those early founding fathers of the society, for their dedication to ‘promoting and commemorating the lives, times, literature and art’ of the Brontë family – Brontë Society chairman steps down due to health (Keighley News, October 9).
Those early stalwarts used to meet in a room above what was the butcher’s shop above what is now the information centre, at the top of Main Street in Haworth.
In 1928, the then Parochial Church Council declared, in modern parlance, Patrick Brontë’s Parsonage was no longer ‘fit for purpose’, and put it up for sale. To our internal gratitude, the Parsonage was purchased by a wealthy benefactor who, having applied for trust status, gifted the Parsonage to the existing members of the Brontë Society, who by law immediately become trustees. We are therefore bound by law to ‘maintain and care for the Parsonage, to hold in trust in perpetuity’ (forever).
It should now be seen and appreciated that since 1928, Brontë Society members worldwide are now trustees of the Brontë Parsonage Trust. We therefore own the Parsonage and every thing in it. We can’t sell it, can’t give it away and, more importantly, no one can take it away from us. John Thirlwell and his ‘co-conspirators’ are in breach of trust law in attempting to do so.
Somewhere along the line, the Parsonage was granted charity status, readily granted by an ‘arm’ of the government, called the Charity Commission, in order (as I see it) to avoid the thousands of charities springing up all over the country from applying for grants for various causes.
So now we have become The Brontë Parsonage Charity Trust. A stand-alone entity responsible for raising our own funds as non-paid members. We trustees cannot pay ourselves for any services rendered, though we can pay for accountancy work etc. Charity Law forbids remunerated employees from having any control over the trust’s governance. Thus any attempt at any sort of takeover by our own employees renders them liable for instant dismissal on those grounds.
We can, by law, employ staff to carry out some duties that may need a full-time operative, such as clerical work, but such numbers must be kept to a minimum to keep costs down.
All this information should therefore stop those spurious efforts by Mr Thirlwell and co dead in the water, and any continuation of his destruction of our Brontë Parsonage Charity Trust is a total waste of time and effort, as we have charity law and trust law on our side!
Go Home Mr Thirlwell, you can’t win.
Still locally, the Keighley News also reports that the 'Black Bull in Haworth now the centre of a vibrant music scene' and also that 'Councillors apply for community asset status for Haworth's Royal Oak pub to try and block Tesco bid':
Council vice chairman, councillor Angel Kershaw, explained that if the application to Bradford Council is successful the parish council would have have the right to be consulted in the event of the pub being sold off.
She said if the pub is put up for sale councillors would then have six months to suggest alternative ways of retaining the premises as a community asset.
"The Royal Oak has been allowed to become run down," she said. "It's quite obvious that the people who own it have not invested in it.
"We would like the brewery to sell it to another brewery that is interested in it, or to invest money and bring it up to scratch.
"Its location by the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway means it could be a brilliant place. The pub dates back to before the 1850s and we know it was there at the time of the Brontës.
"We very much want it to continue as a centre for community gatherings.
"It's the only pub left on that side of the village. If it goes then people who aren't physically fit enough to get up the hill to the other side of Haworth will be left without a local pub."
Tesco's plans to turn the pub into a convenience store have encountered strong opposition from local people and councillors.
One of its applications, which would have involved locating a cash machine on the outside of the building, was rejected by Bradford planners earlier this month. (Oct) Worth Valley Ward Councillor Rebecca Poulsen said this cash machine would have been in a "ridiculous and dangerous" location.
Tesco has argued that a convenience store in the building would create 20 jobs, boost economic regeneration and bring extra trade to Mill Hey. (Miran Rahman)
The Irish Times lists '10 fictional characters who are given a novel of their own'. One of which is:
Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea acts as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, told from the perspective of the madwoman in the attic. Rhys reimagines the voice of the beautiful and fragile Antoinette Cosway, years before she is shipped to England to start her new life as Bertha Rochester. (Sarah Gilmartin)
The Times publishes the obituary of the author Mary Cadogan (1928-2014):
"I used to devour the Magnet and the Schoolgirl avidly in the 1930s... at the same time as I was devouring the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Anne Sewell", she recalled. "It never struck me then, or now, that there was anything fundamentally in opposition about these two types of reading".
Spanish writer Santiago Posteguillo speaks in Las Provincias (Spain) about the suffering of Charlotte Brontë and what she turned it into:
Pero pese a sus diferencias, bajo todos los escritores incluidos en el libro subyace la presencia común de la sangre, "ya sea física o metafórica". Y ha puesto como ejemplo el sufrimiento de Charlotte Brontë, quien "tuvo la genialidad de reconvertirlo, en lugar de en soledad, en una obra maestra como 'Jane Eyre'", ha observado. (Translation)
La plana al día (Spain) thinks that Tennyson's Enoch Arden follows in the footsteps of Wuthering Heights.
Enoch Arden es una historia de amor. Una historia total que sigue la senda de Wuthering Heights (Cumbres borrascosas), publicada por Emily Brontë casi veinte años antes, en 1847. (Translation)
According to Closer Magazine (France), Isabelle Adjani, who played Emily in André Téchiné's Les Soeurs Brontë, considers Isabelle Huppert, who played Anne, her rival.
L'autre Isabelle, sa sœur Brontë détestée, sa rivale de toujours. (Coralie Vincent) (Translation)
Vasabladet (Sweden) thinks that Wuthering Heights is one of the best fall reads. A columnist from La Jornada (Mexico) speaks about her love of books and mentions reading the Brontës. The Times makes a list of Gothic art, music... and Wuthering Heights seems to be in. reviews Jane Eyre 2011. Booked til Tuesday reviews Ironskin by Tina Connolly. thatgirlwiththenovel posts about Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at October 25, 2014 12:31 AM

October 24, 2014

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


To quote a famous example Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South raised the question of social and cultural tensions between the North and the South of the country. The opposition between cities and […]

by Jo Taylor at October 24, 2014 03:30 PM


The Victorian Studies Association of Ontario executive invites proposals for 20-minute papers to be presented at the Association’s 48th annual conference at Glendon College, York University, Toronto, on 25 April […]

by Jo Taylor at October 24, 2014 03:26 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6. Bright, gorgeous hues of foliage ― cold withal.

Wrote a letter or 2, ― & walked round the garden before 7.30. Breakfast ― with F. Riley, & Decie, ― & we 3 walked to Rail ― 8.13. ― Riley is a queer dry uninteresting cove, ― tho’ I dare say good Decie is both good & interesting. We 3 parted at Waterloo Station. ―― I found no letters from Corfû ―strange. Violently I set to work on unfinished bits of the Campagna picture ― & generally improved it. ― Arranged & attempted to pack a little, but at 1 ― went out. Met Lord Kirkenwall, to whom I only said, “I don’t like your book” & passed on: for I am always unable to say terse or sharp things. To Martins, & Lady Waldegrave’s, & to Drummond’s, where I drew out £17.0.0, & then, (having vainly tried to get a map of the Riviera,) I went to Days ―: Days had notrubbed off my drawings ― tho’ I wrote to them to do so in June. ― Returned, variously shopping ― by 5 ― & then called at Lady Hathertons, & at Emma Parkyns ― who is still very unwell. Home by 7. Dinner ― 7.30 ― μοναχῶς. Ἔπειτα ― arranged books & other matters till bed time.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 24, 2014 08:00 AM


Theatre and Jane Eyre meeting Thomas, the tank Engine

A couple of rendez-vous with theatre adaptations of Brontë novels.

The Peter McMaster's all-male Wuthering Heights will be performed today, October 24 at the Folkenstone Fringe:
Wuthering Heights
Directed by Peter McMaster

Four performers explode their own experiences of being men in this bold theatrical debut from 'one of Scotland's most interesting young theatre makers' (The Scotsman)'. As the men recall the dark expanses of the Yorkshire moors, sing together full-throated and bold, recall poignant memorials of being a boy and dance optimistically to the howling tones of Kate Bush, the energy of this brave new performance is not to be missed.

McMaster's all male, award-winning interpretation of Emily Brontë's seminal text, re-visits the iconic landscapes and characters from Wuthering heights and places them alongside the stories of the male performers. This re-imagined classic considers how almost 200 years after the book was published, the lives and aspirations of men are now different. From the perspective of this all male company, this timely new production questions what should be left behind in history and what should be held onto as we move forward into the 21st century.

Fri 24 Oct | 19.30 - 20.40
£10, £8 concessions
Quarterhouse, 49 Tontine Street, CT20 1BN
In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a student performance of Robert Johanson's Jane Eyre adaptation:
Jackson Hole High School Drama is ready for the curtain to go up on its fall performance of “Jane Eyre,” the stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s opus. (...)
For six nights — Thursday through Saturday and Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 — the drama students will bring “Jayne Eyre” (sic) to life in the high school auditorium.
There are many theater adaptations for the classic story, but the Robert Johanson script that drama teacher Evie Lewis found is the most true to the novel. Most members of the cast had not read it. After becoming familiar with the relationships they embraced it.
“The kids don’t read this that often anymore,” Lewis said of the book. “They’ve really enjoyed discovering this whole story and this period.”
The teens command the lines and movements of Victorian classicism, all as young professionals.
Senior Cheyenne Garnick was raised around the theater and personifies the independent and outspoken governess Jane Eyre. Her lines come naturally, and even when she struggles to remember the exact phrase her passion for the theater is obvious.
Senior Douglas DuPont, who has performed in the fall drama productions since his freshman year, takes on the role 38-year-old Mr. Rochester with acumen. In preparing for the part he observed older men’s mannerisms so that he could fix his “lazy, high school posture” when he was onstage.
“It’s art,” he said of the performance.
However, these are students, and as they learn in English or math classes they broaden their vocabulary, their understanding of history and their public speaking skills, taking on new words with each day. They might struggle with the pronunciation of “solace” or “artifice,” but they learn, correct and move on. (Jason Suder in Jackson Hole News & Guide)
And finally, the NEPCA’s 2014 fall conference  (Northeast Popular / American Culture Association) (Providence, Rhode Island) schedule contains a talk that is quite.... well... bizarre?
Session II: Friday, October 24, 2:45–4:15 pm
“Jane Eyre on the Island of Sodor”
Andrew Hazucha, Ottawa University

by M. ( at October 24, 2014 01:14 AM

Haworth on TV - then and now

The Telegraph and Argus reports that Haworth is going to be on TV this weekend. In the first episode of the fourth season of Channel Four's Walking Through History :
Haworth and Brontë Country will be featured again on national television this weekend. Presenter Sir Tony Robinson will front an episode of his latest documentary series, which is called Walking Through History, on Channel Four at 8pm on Saturday. The footage was filmed in Haworth and Stanbury earlier this year when Sir Tony visited Ponden Hall, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and Haworth Parish Church.
This was also on TV but in 1977: Joan Bakewell visiting Haworth. (Via the Brontë Parsonage Museum Facebook page).

Still locally, Virtual Festivals recommends a trip on the Keighley and Worth Valley railway as it is
a unique way of enjoying the beautiful countryside immortalised by Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.
And moving further north, Big Think recalls Charlotte's opinion of Edinburgh:
... and that charm certainly did not miss its mark with Charlotte Brontë. In a letter dated 1850, she wrote: "My dear Sir, do not think that I blaspheme when I tell you that your great London, as compared to Dun-Edin, 'mine own romantic town', is as prose compared to poetry, or as a great rumbling, rambling, heavy Epic compared to a Lyric, brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning." (Frank Jacobs)
Not so accurate is the columnist of Spartan Daily, who attributes the wrong quote to Charlotte Brontë:
There is this quote from the novel “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë about depression that has always stuck with me.
“Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you’re alive.” (Jerica Lowman)
And Vogue looks back on a 1961 essay by Joan Didion where she discusses crying too:
 It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag. There is a similar case for all the small disciplines, unimportant in themselves; imagine maintaining any kind of swoon, commiserative or carnal, in a cold shower.
This is what this columnist from The Huffington Post remembers of her first time reading Jane Eyre:
It all started when I read Jane Eyre as a child. Rather than focusing on the gothic romance between Mr Rochester and Jane, all I could think of was the crazy wife locked in the attic. The thought haunted me for weeks and weeks, or more realistically, years and years. The image of her laughing on the roof as the house burnt down is absolutely terrifying, because she isn't a monster or a vampire or some extra-terrestrial being - she is one of us, a normal person pushed to the brink of her mind. (Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh)
The Pittsburgh City Paper also comments on Jane Eyre's gothic-ness:
[Playwright Carole] Fréchette relies heavily on gothic tales of the past — Jane Eyre, The Tell-Tale Heart, the legend of Bluebeard — to fuel the first half of her story. In the second, however, the "spookiness" gives way to a melancholy tone poem perfumed with more than a little magic lyricism about love and loneliness. (Ted Hoover
This reviewer from The Spectator hasn't enjoyed the film Fury, directed by David Ayer.
Action movies are, of course, wonderful, as long as the director and the writer control their impulses to blow us away with violence. I suppose today’s films are made for those who blog, text and post selfies: non-readers, whose imagination has to be jarred from their narcissistic state. Mind you, I’m not a fan of French films where everyone sits around and talks and nothing, but nothing, ever happens. (Directors of such movies are called auteurs.) Nor am I mad about films, or books for that matter, that focus on everyday grievances, the regrets that pile up as the years crawl by. (I tend to hit the popcorn too much.) But there is a happy medium, and the old flicks had it in spades. Was there violence in Rebecca? In Wuthering Heights? In Laura? Could anyone ever get bored with The Best Years of Our Lives? Or the best war film ever, Go Tell The Spartans, about early Vietnam, starring the great Burt Lancaster. And if you hate the Germans and the fascists, go see The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, written and directed by Vittorio de Sica, starring the best looking woman of her time, Dominique Sanda. I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. All I’d like to know is where has all the talent gone? And as always I will answer my own question: movies today reflect what the audience wants to see, and the audiences are imbeciles and uneducated fools and that’s why Fury will be a hit, so help me God. (Taki)
More on films, as A.V. Club looks at the different screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice:
In 2005, director Joe Wright cast Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as the stars of his Pride And Prejudice. The film downplays the satire (although not the comedy) and takes a more romantic approach—both by emphasizing the love stories and in the literary sense of the word. In Wright’s Romantic aesthetic, the natural world reflects his characters’ emotional states. Darcy’s failed first proposal takes place outside in a torrential downpour, while the lovers’ reconciliation happens as the sun peaks over the horizon of a misty field. That climax even styles Darcy as a Heathcliff-esque hero with a flowing coat and proudly displayed chest hair. Where the 1940 version offers broad comedy and satire, Wright goes for sentiment. Both work well as individual films, and it’s a testament to Austen that her novel is rich enough to provide fodder for these wildly divergent interpretations. (Caroline Siede) 

by Cristina ( at October 24, 2014 12:56 AM

October 23, 2014

News from Anywhere

A Mysterious Book

In an earlier post, we touched upon the identity of the tragic poet Gerald C. Siordet. That post was prompted by the auction--still ongoing--of an Earthly Paradise volume signed by Jane Morris to Siordet.

Why is the book still up for sale after its first auction's end date? Well, it had to be taken down for a while, for very interesting reasons.

The book was originally posted to ebay with a second item grouped in with it for free. This second item, a book, wasn't in prime condition, so it seemed a mere token to accompany the Jane-inscribed book. It soon emerged, however, that this free book was extremely rare, and quite valuable.

The book is a rare volume of Siordet's poetry, published after he died in battle in Mesopotamia during WWI. It includes a portrait of Siordet, pictured here. It's so rare that no copies seem to exist in the US, and only two can be found in the UK.

The book is on its way to a new home, where the public will be able to view it, (more on that later), so all's well that ends well. The Jane Morris-inscribed Earthly Paradise on the other hand, taken off of ebay in the interim, is still without a home. Feel free to rectify this situation. The vendor is Humanity at Heart, a British charity.

by Clara Finley ( at October 23, 2014 10:07 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Signals Catalog, Now with More Alice!

Back in March we blogged about this cool necklace, and now catalog giant Signals has added it to its inventory.  Just in time for Christmas!

by Matt at October 23, 2014 04:00 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion October 1814

October is clearly the month for walking at Ackermann's

An evening primrose-coloured French sarsnet petticoat, trimmed round the bottom with a double border of clear muslin, drawn full with a narrow ribband of corresponding colour to the petticoat; high body of jaconot muslin, with reversed drawings; long sleeve, drawn to correspond. A silk ruff.

 A silk net handkerchief-sash, tied in streamers and small bows behind.

A Shipton straw bonnet, tied under the chin with a net handkerchief crossing the crown, and trimmed with a band of the same silk net.

Sandals of evening primrose-coloured kid. Gloves to correspond.

Very smart. And more sandals.

Until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at October 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Wet ― gray ― windy. Rose at 7. Wrote to Mr. Edwards ― Mrs. Robinson, & F.L. Breakfast ― 9.15. Pleasant. ――

At 11 ― walk with Riley, E. Wolstenholme, ― & S. Vincent, thro’ Richmond Park to the Star & Garter Terrace ― that loveliest of all lovely views. How many years since I came first here with R. Gale! ― (in 1834 I think. ―) A pleasant walk: we came back to Lunch; ― & afterwards, I talked first with one, then with t’other, till dusk, when Mr. Ball came ― (Botanist, & Alpine club traveler,) & we all were very merry ― singing to little Frank &c. Poor little Ruth is always very unwell.


Dinner & evening most pleasant. There can be no kinder or more hospitable people than these.

Bed at 11.

(Inspector of Schools. “Who brought the message to the Virgin Mary?”
Little girl. “Garibaldi Sir!”
Inspector. Nonsense! Gabriel.)

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 23, 2014 08:00 AM

The Little Professor

It's the Annual Halloween Horde of Horrors!

To change things up a bit, this year's installment of things horrific features eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century literature (to about 1835 or so).  More verse (and longer texts in general) on the table than usual.   

  • The Black Forest; Or the Cavern of Horrors: A Gothic Romance.  A "German" tale (well, maybe--that was the marketing angle) in which a man finds himself taking up the sword of vengeance (literally) from...well, somebody buried in this mysterious cave.  
  • Gottfried Burger, "Lenore" (Thomas Taylor's translation | Walter Scott's translation).  Foundational Gothic text, especially when it comes to the "please check to make sure your would-be bride/bridegroom is actually alive" trope.  Once you've read this poem, you'll find echoes of it everywhere.
  • Robert Burns, "Tam o' Shanter."  The dangers of riding home after having one too many...
  • S. T. Coleridge, "Christabel."  An early example of the female vampire.  
  • Daniel Defoe, "A Relation of the Apparition of Mrs. Veal."  A woman manages to pay a visit despite being, you know, deceased.  
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown."  Puritan goes for ride, has unpleasant experience.  
  • E. T. W. Hoffman, "The Sand-Man."  Nightmarish creatures, automata, madness, etc.  
  • Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  The one with the headless horseman.  
  • M. G. Lewis, The Castle Spectre.  Villains! Innocent heroine! Revenge! Murder! Oh, and a ghost.  Successful drama by the man better known as author of The Monk
  • ---, "Albert of Werdendorff, or the Midnight Embrace."  (You'll need to turn to p. 35.)  "Lenore," basically, except here it's the dead woman who comes back for the man.  Lots more weird stuff in this volume, so do read on.
  • Richard Brinsley Peake, Presumption; Or, the Fate of Frankenstein.   Early (and, shall we say, loose) adaptation of, well, Frankenstein, featuring more singing than perhaps one might expect from the novel in question.  
  • John Polidori, The Vampyre.  One of the first successful vampire tales in English.  Bears considerable responsibility for the sexy vampire phenomenon.
  • Alexander Pushkin, "The Queen of Spades."  Would-be gambler gets advice...unfortunately for him.
  • Leitch Ritchie, "The Man-Wolf."  Gentleman discovers that he has some unseemly issues.  
  • Walter Scott, "Wandering Willie's Tale."  Inset ghost story from Redgauntlet.  
  • J. L. Tieck, "The Field of Terror."  (1st story in the volume.)  I've heard of having a hard row to hoe, but this field takes that saying to new heights...
  • Horace Walpole, The Mysterious Mother.  Gothic drama featuring the usual run of conspirators, angst, and, um, misdirected romantic interests. 
  • The Weyhill Ghost.  Comic poem in four cantos (and somewhat dubious rhyming couplets) about what happens when a traveler becomes convinced that a ghost had visited him in the night.  
  • Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson, The Priory of St. Clair; or Spectre of the Murdered Nun.  A Gothic Tale.  Lust! Convents! Murder! Annoyed ghosts! A Gothic chapbook (requires download).
  • John Wilson [a.k.a. "Christopher North"], "Extracts from Gosschen's Diary #1."  (Starts on p. 596, if the link doesn't take you there directly.)  Priest hears the confession of a man who murdered his lover.  
  • William Wordsworth, "The Thorn."  Oh woe is me! O misery!

by Miriam Burstein at October 23, 2014 02:11 AM


Christian Ethics struggling against enclosure

A paper and a thesis. New Brontë scholar additions:
Christian Ethics in Wuthering HeightsMarianne Thormählen
English Studies, Volume 95, Issue 6, 2014, pages 637-653
Even the first reviewers of Emily Brontë's novel thought it lacked a moral, and literary critics have struggled to find an ethical dimension in it. Many of them have concluded that the book is “amoral” and that it constitutes a world of its own to which no extraneous rationale can be applied. This article maintains that there is in fact a moral to Brontë's story, and that that moral is consistent with the ethical teachings of Christianity. When the actions of characters and the outcomes of their individual life stories are examined, it turns out that whatever lasting happiness any one of them experiences is the outcome of loving-kindness that is, patient and forgiving, in accordance with 1 Cor. 13:4–7. The concluding section of the article looks at the reasons for the inability of generations of readers and critics to perceive this ethical pattern. Finally, the significance of Heathcliff's strange way of dying is seen in relation to the loss of his desire for revenge.
The Outward Female Vision: The Struggle Against Enclosure in the Novels of Charlotte BrontëKon, Sheree
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The good of Villette in my opinion Miss is a very fine style; and a remarkably happy way (which few female authors possess) of carrying a metaphor logically through to its conclusion. And it amuses me to read the author’s naive confession of being in love with 2 men at the same time; and her readiness to fall in love at any time.l So begins William Makepeace Thackeray’s letter about Villette and its author Charlotte Brontë (1816-55), "the poor little woman of genius," "the fiery little eager brave tremulous homely-faced creature."
2 While Thackeray twice praises Brontë for her style and an enjoyable novel in his responses to Jane Eyre and Villette, in his later review he assumes a more condescending, paternalistic tone. Although in 1847 he correctly identifies the author of Jane Eyre as a woman, he does not center his assessment of the novel on her female nature. But in speaking of Villette to Lucy Baxter in 1853, Thackeray notes that he "can read a great deal of [Bronte's] life in her book, and see [s] that rather than have fame, rather than any other earthly good . . . she wants some Tomkins or another to love her and be in love with."

by M. ( at October 23, 2014 01:30 AM

Emulating Jane Eyre

This columnist at Christianity Today has a question:
I couldn’t think of a lot of protagonists from classic literature whom I wanted anyone to emulate, except in the most vague way—because they learn lessons and grow up and so on.
I posed this question to my students, because I didn't (and don't) have an answer. We came up with a few answers: Ulysses (but not the gods); Jesus (but not a lot of the patriarchs, at least not halfway through their "stories"); Paul, maybe; sheriffs in old Westerns; superheroes, at least in the early days; Founding Fathers. (Jane Eyre, maybe, but . . . maybe not.) But I brought up the fact that Lizzy Bennet and Emma Woodhouse are not people we ought to emulate, nor are a lot of Biblical characters, nor Shakespeare protagonists, nor many, many, many protagonists from classic literature, especially in the nineteenth century. (Alissa Wilkinson)
This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist thinks that,
Had Charlotte Brontë stretched out on Dr. Sigmund Freud’s couch, she might have reduced Jane Eyre’s traumas to a psychological exercise instead of writing the lush novel that’s become a classic. (Bob Hoover)
Cosmopolitan is quite surprised that people like writer Anna Todd read and enjoy the classics.
In high school, Todd loved reading the books we're all forced to read in English class. Whether for school or pleasure, she only read classic novels like Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, and when she found a book she liked, she'd read it over and over again. "Most people in my class were like, 'This is terrible,' but I got really, really into it, and I loved it." (Amy Odell)
Sveriges Radio's Kulturnytt (Sweden) finds that Núria Amat's El país del alma is
en kärlekshistoria som skulle kunna vara skriven av systrarna Brontë eller varför inte Emily Dickinson, och ett porträtt av en stad  i mentalt sönderfall. (Fredrik Wadström) (Translation)
Fantasymundo (Spain) reviews the book Cielos de ira by María Martínez Franco and thinks that the Brontës wrote 'garden tragedies'.
Quizá la historia podría adaptarse perfectamente al formato de serie televisiva española, tan de moda hoy en día, con bonitos trajes y preciosos decorados pero, al menos en la novela, la autora no consigue mantener el interés necesario y pasamos demasiado bruscamente de un Forsyth o Le Carré o la tragedia de jardín de Austen o Brontë. (Alberto Muñoz) (Translation)
2 Paragraphs finds what Kate Middleton and Charlotte Brontë have in common. And two reviews of Wuthering Heights stage productions: Pagan Spirits on Aquila Theatre's and Creative Drinks on shake & stir theatre co's. The Reviews posts about Jane Eyre 2011.

by Cristina ( at October 23, 2014 12:31 AM

October 22, 2014

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

Screen Grab of the Letters Master List in-progress

I’ve written before about my ongoing project of compiling a “master list” of the present locations for all of Blake’s correspondence. To collect all of this data, I’ve scoured a tall stack of fat books and a lot of online catalogues. The baseline for this list is the work info that we’ve already verified on the Blake Archive: both for letters that we’ve published and for those that are on deck for publication. Locating the rest of the letters has taken (and is still taking) some hunting around.

Screen Grab of the Letters Master List in-progress

Screen Grab of the Letters Master List in-progress

Sometimes, this is a quick process: past print editions of Blake’s letters or past catalogues pin a letter’s location down to a specific library. Ideally, the online catalogue for the library in question is complete and easy to navigate, and I simply confirm that the letter is still there. Other times, it’s not so simple.

This week, the editors at the Blake Archive had a routine email back-and-forth about locating a specific Blake document: the 11 December 1805 letter from Blake to William Hayley. According to the last print catalogue of Blake’s works, the letter should live in a collection donated by the Keynes Family Trust to the Fitzwilliam Museum. But, upon trying to locate it recently, it doesn’t appear to be there.

After combing through every account I could find of the letter’s whereabouts (including G. E. Bentley’s massive online bibliography of all things Blake) the account of the letter’s location changes over time: in the earliest account, the letter was definitely in Geoffrey Keynes’s collection, which was donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum. A later account corrects the phrasing, saying that the letter is “presumably” with that donated collection. The most recent attempt to locate it reports that the letter is neither with the family that donated the collection, nor in the collection itself.

Hopefully, the letter is only temporarily misplaced–not truly lost or untraced. The goal of this list is to figure out the present location–or at least the last known whereabouts, as in this case–of any given letter written by or to William Blake. And even when we don’t know where that is, the final list will provide the most up-to-date provenance, so that we don’t have to duplicate the sometimes tedious process of figuring out exactly where a letter lives.

by hardeepssidhu at October 22, 2014 07:59 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Wheelock Family Theatre Alice Musical Oct 17 – Nov 16

This just in:  The Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston is mounting a new Alice musical.  Starting last Friday and running weekends through November 16th, tickets available here.  From their press release:

This new adaptation sends us on a fantastical coming of age adventure. Alice, relying on her wit and empathy, must negotiate the seemingly arbitrary rules of polite society; the tea parties, the poetry recitals, the croquet matches, and the important dates with royalty. In this distorted adult world of Wonderland, will Alice retain her dreams when pressured by the capricious nature of conformity?

This new musical adaptation of the stories “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice through the Looking Glass” by Stoneham local, Andrew Barbato, offers a fresh musical perspective on the satirical vignettes drawn up by Lewis Carroll. Barbato, who has graced local stages as an actor, has been writing plays since he was a teen. “WFT has been an instrumental force in my artistic development and I feel lucky to have been mentored by founding members Jane Staab and Susan Kosoff,” says Andrew. “Places like WFT replenish my soul and remind me that the journey is much richer than the destination.

A nice review of the show appeared in the Boston Globe on Oct 22nd.

by Matt at October 22, 2014 05:19 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose earlier. Worked at the Sir W. James Campagna ― improving it considerably till 2. ― Men putting up the screens for the unborn drawings: Cecil Lane came, & lunched ― & at 4.30 I went to Rail. Came to Barnes with Sir F. Doyle ― merrily piuttosto. Mrs. Prescott had sent the “Midge” ― so I was there by 6. ― Dinner & evening very pleasant. Immensely kind friendly people.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 22, 2014 08:00 AM



Republishing a recent post on the Brussels Brontë Group.  A new addition to the (large, but not always very constant) family of Brontë Blogs: the blog of the Brontë Society American Chapter:
I’m happy to report that a Brontë Society American Chapter Blog is now available.
Our primary purpose is to offer a visitor an opportunity to talk Brontë. The Brontë Society American Chapter blog home page invites visitors to comment on a selected Brontë topic. The current one is “How I met the Brontës”. Other pages include “Gallery” for photos and “Scribblemania” where Brontë inspired prose and poetry can be shared.

Brontë Society American Chapter Representative

by Cristina ( at October 22, 2014 01:30 AM

Handcuffed Heathcliff

Books Live interviews writer Anthony Ehlers.
As a writing teacher who has taught on writing erotica, what’s your take?
Erotica can be a sub-genre of romance. For all its kink, Shades of Grey by EL James is a love story – Wuthering Heights with handcuffs. There is a balance between emotional and sexual tension, but the story is highly idealistic and has a happy ending. It’s a safe way to explore fantasies and sexuality. (Joanne Hichens)
This is what an Ithaca Journal columnist recalls of reading Jane Eyre for the first time:
My parents collected Reader's Digest Condensed Books. I read them all, discovering, only years later that "condensed" meant "abridged." "Jane Eyre" was a darker tale than I knew. (Sandra Steingraber)
Mendoza online lists Emily Brontë among other one-novel writers.
2. Emily Brontë, Cumbres borrascosas. Publicada en 1847 con el pseudónimo Ellis Bell, la novela de Bronte se considera actualmente como un clásico de la literatura. En el comienzo btuvo duras reacciones de los lectores y los críticos, que vieron en sus páginas una historia deprimente. El tiempo sin embargo hizo justicia. (Translation)
Regretflix! reviews Wuthering Heights 2011.  A Night's Dream of Books and The Frugal Chariot are participating in  Jane Eyre readalong. Warmisunquausten reviews in Spanish the Cozy Classics edition of Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at October 22, 2014 12:20 AM

October 21, 2014

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive


An exhibition curated by the Blake scholar Michael Phillips is opening at the Ashmolean in just over a month and will run until March. It will contain works from a number of institutions, as well as a recreation of Blake’s studio from his time at Hercules Buildings in Lambeth. There are lots of associated events being planned, most notably an Inspired by Blake festival in Oxford for two weeks in January.

Many thanks to Theresa Nicolson at the Ashmolean for sending us the flier:



by Blake House at October 21, 2014 06:44 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Dot and Bo Wonderland

Our favorite modern design shopping site Dot & Bo has a new page entirely devoted to Wonderland-inspired items.  Very cool stuff!

by Matt at October 21, 2014 04:49 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine ― ever. Rose latish. And all day long were interruptions ― Vincent & one of the Twin Lushingtons, ― S.W. Clowes & Mr. Okeover, ― Dickenson & a lot of men, who put up the 5th Cabinet, & 2 bits of side bookcases from 11 to 5. E. Baring & Straham, & Mrs. Bergmann, whom I could not see ― I am sorry to say. Did not go out at all.

At 7.15 ― came Godfrey L. ― who, I thought had been here today, ― but it was Vernon who came with Vincent. Before he went came E. Baring & G. Straham. But the dinner was woefully postponed, ― & when it came, (tho’ not bad,) was full of lapses & vacua.


All today I have thought of sending things to Malta ― & being there 2 or 3 months. But now, I opine quite the contrary. Menton or Eastward of that, or [Paro], or Gibraltar.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 21, 2014 08:00 AM


Jane F---king Eyre

Ok, so this is supposed to be funny (not the part which says that Jane Eyre has never been updated...ehem, ehem... but the actual story):
Jane F---king Eyre: adapted from Charlotte Brontë
J.K. Really (Author)
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 962 KB
Print Length: 68 pages

You can trust and believe I had the childhood from hell. When my spoiled-ass cousins weren't cracking me upside the head with leather-bound novels, I was getting locked in the family murder room by my bitchface Aunt. Just the fact we even had a murder room should tell you something about the next level kind of bullshit I endured.

Jane F---ing Eyre is the Victorian gothic romance Jane Eyre, retold by a heroine who's ready to get real. While Charlotte Brontë's classic has spawned dozens of film iterations, it's never been updated, probably because Mr. Rochester's little tricks wouldn't fly with any woman navigating the dating scene today. Re-telling this iconic piece of literature as a mashup of the original verbatim dialogue and what Jane's thinking with her Victorian filter off, allows fans to experience the romance, the horror, and the passive-aggressive jabs of Ms. Fairfax again as though for the first time... but with all the boring parts cut out.

by M. ( at October 21, 2014 01:30 AM

October 20, 2014


Governesses and bad boys

Music Omh reviews the Glyndebourne production of Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw and wonders,
what sensible Governess would not have turned tail sharpish, faced with such monsters? – and we intend the question as a compliment to these unusually talented youngsters. Corrupted by an oik who got above himself in league with Jane Eyre’s evil twin? Hardly. The ceremony of innocence may have been drowned but these two gave it something to grapple with on the way down. (Melanie Eskenazi)
Anime News Network discusses Episodes 1-3 of the Japanese shōjo manga Wolf Girl & Black Prince:
That said, there's something about the jerk boyfriend trope that resonates with the type of person who enjoys it, because it sure appears a lot in fiction, and has for literally hundreds of years. (Consider Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, for example.) It's not just the "oh, girls really want a bad boy deep down" argument, either. Most women are quite aware that they're not going to be the one who changes a bad boy, and frankly, he's not worth the effort anyway. (Brooding, self-aggrandizing people do not make good friends.) However, the crux of compelling stories is drama. Ideal relationships are sweet but not often ideal entertainment. Fiction is a safe place for exploring an unhealthy dynamic between two characters. (Amy McNulty)
The Reviews posts about Jane Eyre 2011;  Babbling Books and Future.Flying.Saucers. continues posting about the original novel. The Bookworm's Closet didn't like Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at October 20, 2014 11:37 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6. Certainly, in fine weather, few scenes in all England can beat Cadlands. ―

Breakfast at 7. Off in car at 7.30. Hythe ― 8. ― Rail 8.30 ― off ― 8.40. In Stratford Place by 11.30.

The Duke of Newcastle is dead..

O! life of sorrow & labour! at last finished. ― E ― “la Susanna!”?

At home found the Athens things, & took out the Rettimo & other carpets ―.

Lunch. ― And at 3 called on Evelyn Baring ― whom I saw, & asked him to dine tomorrow. Then went a searching for a Pedestal writing table ― & found one for £9.0.0 ― To Foords ― & back, (having left a note to ask G. Straham also ―) by 6.30. ―

Dined μοναχῶς, & bad before 10. tired.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 20, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two



Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.’
    ‘Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?’
    ‘I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.’
    ‘Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?’

Friends and readers,

I am delighted to be able to announce the publication by Valancourt Press of a scholarly edition of what was once the rarest of the seven famous “horrid novels” listed in Austen’s Northanger Abbey: Eleanor Sleath’s The Orphan of the Rhine (1798). The text is based on the first edition and includes an accurate life of Eleanor Sleath (misidentified in the 1968 Folio Press edition) and useful bibliography. Readers will be able to experience for themselves the nature of the text, and another interesting woman writer is added to a fuller spectrum of gothic and women writers. The male lead is a secondary intriguing figure, who, together with the book’s heroine Julie de Rougine (Madame Chamont — characters regularly have more than one name), obliquely mirror a long-time love affair in Sleath’s life. The story belongs to a type outlined by Marianne Hirsh in her The Mother/Daughter Plot, except this solitary mother’s boy and girl grow up to become a Paul et Virginie pair (I allude to Bernardin St Pierre’s wildly popular novella, Englished by Helena Maria Williams). For myself the power of the novel resides in its many descriptive landscapes which capture some still or distant numinous pastoral vision whose deepest impulse is retreat.

Valancourt has also published Sleath’s Pyrenean Banditti (1811), introduction by Rebecca Czlapinski and Eric C. Wheeler


The gothic owes much … to the emancipation of the novel from overt moral commitment. Perhaps it derives most from the enormous interest around the turn of the century in the solitary eccentric, the misfit, the social outcast, or, to use the handy phrase, the guilt-haunted wanderer — Lowry Nelson, Jr, ‘Night Thoughts on the Gothic Novel’


by ellenandjim at October 20, 2014 02:01 AM


Marketing and Communications Officer

The Brontë Society is hiring. If you are interested in this position you should hurry up:
Marketing and Communications Officer, The Brontë Society
Yorkshire Closes Tuesday 21 October 2014 Paid (£20k-25k pro rata) Part time Artform: literature, museums   Contact: Sonia Boocock
Salary pro rata £20k - £25k / annum (dependent on experience)
The Brontë Society is seeking a Marketing and Communications Officer at an exciting time as we move towards the bicentenary celebrations of Charlotte Brontë in 2016, Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020.  We are seeking an experienced and highly motivated individual with specific responsibility for developing and administering the Society’s marketing and communications strategies.

Purpose of the job:

To build the profile of the Brontë Society through all media and digital channels with the aim of growing the Society’s membership.
To promote the Bronte Parsonage Museum and its associated events programme in order to drive an increase in visitor numbers.
To develop and implement plans to maximise opportunities presented by the upcoming bi-centenary celebrations.
To manage marketing communications on behalf of the Society across print, digital and social media.
To manage the work of the Membership Officer and develop them in their role.
To develop and implement a PR strategy for both the Society and the Museum.
To  improve our understanding of visitor, membership and social media profiles in order to inform the development of  our offer and to maximise our appeal and income generation.

by M. ( at October 20, 2014 01:30 AM

October 19, 2014


British Mollusca vs Velveteen Rabbits

What can The History of British Mollusca and the Brontës possibly have in common? The answer in The Scarborough News:
The answer lies in the name ‘Currer’. It was the Christian name adopted by Charlotte Brontë, later author of Jane Eyre, when she self-published with her sisters Anne and Emily (‘Acton’ and ‘Ellis’) their first volume, a collection of poetry, under the joint surname ‘Bell’. (...)
But where did that unusual given name that Charlotte chose come from? It’s believed it may have been a tribute to a Miss Frances Mary Richardson Currer (1785-1861) of Skipton, an early member of the Scarborough Philosophical Society which, in the early 1800s, built the Rotunda museum.
When the museum opened in 1829, women made up just 10 per cent of its membership – and it was to be a further 70 years before one achieved the dizzying heights of being elected as an officer.
But women collectors were a powerful force in the rapidly expanding scientific enlightenment of the late Georgian and early Victorian periods – several were major contributors to the Society during its early years, even though they had no family connection with it.
Miss Currer, who lived at Eshton Hall near Skipton, was a niece of Clive of India, and variously described by other scholars as ‘at the head of all female collectors in Europe’ and ‘England’s earliest female bibliophile’. She is also believed to have given £50 (nearly £4,000 today) to help pay the debts of the Brontë sisters’ father, Patrick, when he was widowed in 1821. Perhaps Charlotte’s adoption of her name 25 years later was a way of saying ‘thank you’?
A highly regarded book collector and scholar, with a library containing some 15,000 volumes, she donated large sums of money to the Society and bought cutting edge scientific books for the museum’s library.
These included the gorgeous leather-bound gilt-edge, four-volume set pictured here: History of British Mollusca by Professor Edward Forbes, FRS and Sylvanus Hanley, published in 1833 by John Van Voorst. (...)
The books are part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. (Jeanie Swales)
Mantel’s artful use of various classic storytelling gambits no doubt reinforces one’s sense of this all-of-a-pieceness: her Brontë-esque preference for knowing, if not cynical, first-person female narrators; the crisp, droll narrative idiom; and her abiding curiosity about what might be called the crises of bourgeois sociability – disturbed and/or misfiring relationships between hosts and guests.
Chicago Theater Beat reviews the LifeLine production of Jane Eyre:
Minus that chemistry and so much of the early essence in Brontë’s book, “Jane Eyre” never really takes flight. The story is missing both Jane’s raw, beating, authentic heart and the gloriously undiminished empowerment she finds under the most oppressive circumstances. (Scotty Zacher)
The Glens Falls Post-Star gives more details about a story we loved a few days ago:
“What story were you hoping the teachers would pick?” I asked.
Girl after my own heart, she answered, “Jane Eyre.”
“For the fifth-grade play?” I asked.
“Yes, why not?”
I tried to imagine the elementary school putting on a play about a man who keeps his crazy wife locked up in the attic and tries to marry another, but gets tripped up because crazy attic wife keeps trying to light everyone on fire.
“I’m not sure ‘Jane Eyre’ would have been a good fit,” I said, picturing orange and red construction paper flames across the cafetorium stage while a screaming 10-year-old in a house coat leaps to her death.
“I would have played Grace Poole,” said my daughter, who had already cast herself as the devoted servant to the crazy lady.
“I agree ‘Jane Eyre’ would have been lovely, but what’s so bad about ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’?” I asked.
She looked at me like I had just kicked over a baby carriage.
“It’s about a stuffed rabbit that gets burned up in a fire!” she said.
I thought for a moment, quickly scrolling through my mental Rolodex of children’s literature.
I got nothing.
Three kids, and I couldn’t remember what happened to the stupid stuffed bunny.
“It’s true,” confirmed my niece, walking into the kitchen right on cue. “Everyone dies. The boy. The rabbit. Everyone.”
“Wow, that’s pretty depressing for the fifth grade,” I said, thinking “Jane Eyre” was starting to look pretty good. (Martha Petteys)
On Moviepilot we read a list of favourite recent films:
Jane Eyre 2011
Looking for a good love story with a bit of mystery behind it? Look no further. Not only is the book great but it bodes well in film. It doesn't matter which version you watch (though I highly suggest the 2011 or 1996 versions). Jane Eyre the plain, penniless orphan sets out to be the governess of Mr. Rochester's ward. During which time her wit ensnares her master but he has a deadly secret. (Danica Lynn Abeln)
Dr G in The Star (Malaysia) is a bit full of clichés:
Just like how Mr Rochester proposed his love to Jane Eyre with such primitive instinct of fixation: “You, Jane. I must have you for my own - entirely my own” with a tinge of ardor: “I ask you to pass through life at my side - to be my second self, and best earthly companion.” With such primal enthusiastic passion, no women will decline.
Entertainment Wise publishes an excerpt of the upcoming novel After by Anna Todd:
Before I can stop myself, my hand is turning the knob on the only room I’m somewhat familiar with in this oversize house. Hardin’s bedroom door opens without a problem. He claims to always lock his door, but he’s proving otherwise. It looks the same as before, only this time the room is moving around beneath my unsteady feet. Wuthering Heights is missing from where it was on the shelf, but I find it on the bedside table, next to Pride and Prejudice. Hardin’s comments about the novel replay in my mind. He has obviously read it before—and understood it—which is rare for our age group, and for a boy especially. Maybe he had to read it for class before, that’s why. But why is this copy of Wuthering Heights out? I grab it and sit on the bed, opening the book halfway through. My eyes scan the pages and the room stops spinning.
Jenna Hermle reviews Jane Eyre. A Serpent for All Seasons posts about Wuthering Heights. And on The Sunday Times you can listen (yes, listen) to Helen Davies discussing The Colour Purple:
I had devoured Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, and churned through Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jane Eyre, but nothing had prepared me for the sexual violence, degradation and grinding poverty that Walker presented in short, often misspelt sentences in her 1982 novel.
And Krissi Murison talking about The Yellow Wallpaper:
As any student of Victorian, feminist psychodrama will tell you, there is usually a madwoman locked in an attic somewhere. Jane Eyre had the violent arsonist Bertha Mason, but it is the not-so-reliable narrator, Jane, from this 1892 short story, that I find creepiest.

by M. ( at October 19, 2014 03:55 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Lovely ― early. ― all the rest of the day ― cloudy ― calm, warm[.]

Rose at 6.15 ― most surprising gorgeous flower & lawn & wood scenery!! ― wrote to Lady Simeon, ― Daddy Hunt &c. ― Letters from C.F. ― irritated by my last note, but kindly ― which I replied to: & from Mrs. G.C. ― sad enough about H. Mildmay. ――

Walked a little before breakfast. Breakfast pleasant, ἔτζι κ’ ἔτζι. Looked at house with E.A.D. ― & then walk in grounds & park ― beautiful ― to the sea: so to Dairy, Kitchen Garden &c. &c., home, & saw various rooms & the top of the house. Lunch: plain, unshowy folk. Afterwards, at 3.30 ― E. & I walked by a common ― very beautiful, to the Cottage ― by the sea, & so by Pine-woods to Eaglehurst, & home by 6.30 ― dark. I had no idea of the beauty of the scenery nor of the magnificence of Cadlands. ―

Ordered Fly for tomorrow, & dressed.


Evening ― some not good singing: & I tried but, really could not sing to such a piano.

Bed at 11. Hospitable kindly folk, & very thorough well-bred. Edgar is an A 1 man.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 19, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Matavai Bay (1773-74) by William Hodges (at times in the entourage of Hastings)

Dear friends and readers,

In my previous, a preliminary portrait sketch of Philadelphia Austen Hancock, known to “history” as Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza’s mother and Warren Hastings’s mistress for a brief time, I spoke of a single letter by her to Hastings somewhere in Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh’s invaluable Austen Papers. I have since discovered it appears in the section immediately after that made up of Saul Tysoe Hancock, Phila’s husband’s letters, mostly to her: Chapter 4: Eliza in France, 1777-78. Written four years after Hancock’s death, and sent by Hastings’s brother-in-law and man of business in England, Woodman, who controlled and conducted all the Hancock affairs, it confirms all I suggested was true of her character and circumstances.

Although Ronald Dunning has placed on line copies of the texts from this edition, for the convenience of the reader I replicate the text here: its poignancy speaks for itself:

Philadelphia Hancock to Warren Hastings, Paris, 3rd March 1780

After a silence of so many years on your part, nothing shd have prevailed on me to have troubled you with another Letter but my earnest desire to have some information concerning Mr. Hancock’s affairs, and and to whom can I apply but you? Let me conjure you by your Friendship for his memory and by those uncommon marks you have given of it to his Family not to refuse me this request last perhaps I shall ever make you & by the very opportunity let me know how far Mr. Hancock’s have been collected in and how far his Creditors satisfied or likely to be so. Mrs. Forde continues to write e and distresses me beyond measure on account Louisa’s Fortune which was in Mr. Hancock’s Hands. I know not what answer to make her & have vainly waited to receive some Account from you. I shall be happy to hear it will not be all lost. Mrs. Davis is returned from America a Widdow with two Children in great Distress. Is there anything for her? Has my Uncle given you any Account of the Money in his Hands? — about two thousand pounds, I imagine, besides my Brother Hancock’s Bond which I fear we shall see but little of. I have met with many mortifying and disagreeable Events in my Life, but none that has given such lasting Affliction as the reflection that many worthy Persons may be sufferers by the confidence they have unfortunately placed in person whose name I bear, not from any fault of his I will be bold to say for never was there a Man of better principles than Mr. Hancock but from a concurrence of unlucky events — I know not what — some people are born to be unfortunate — I wish also much to know if anything is secured for Clarinda whose demand I enclose to you, be t ht as it may I take it on myself that she shall not be a sufferer in her little Fortune. Alas! She has but too severely suffered in her Health and perhaps may not live to to want it — it is now more than five months that she has been quite helpless and that from so small a beginning as a whitlow on her left thumb which notithstanding all possible assistance and after six operations performed threatened the loss of her Hand & even her life & before those wounds were healed the humour conveyed itself to her right shoulder where she has already had three severe operations performed and threatened with a fourth without some extraordinary change in her favor. She has been attended by three Surgeons, one of them the first in Paris, and a Physician; the latter still attends her and one of the Surgeons Dresses her Arm twice a Day — God knows how it will end, though I am assured her life and the use of her Hands are at present in no danger. — This has been a most unfortunate affair on all accounts & has cost me more anxiety than I can describe; the expence too has been and is still very heavy, it could not have happened at a worse time, but of that I shan’t complain if the poor faithful creature can be restored to me.

I once thought to have confined this Letter to Business but knowing your Heart as I know it and convinced that in spite of appearances it is not changed for your Friends, I cannot refuse you the satisfaction of knowing my Daughter, the only thing I take Comfort in, is in perfect Health, and joins me in every good wish for your Happiness — you may be surrounded by those who are happy in frequent opportunities of shewing their attachment to you, but I will venture to say not one among them who can boast a more disinterested steady and unshaken friendship for you tnan that which for so many years animmated and will ever continue to animate the Breast of

        Dear Sir, your obliged Friend, Phila: Hancock

It is with pleasure I can add here that Clarinda is much better and altho still quite helpless is thought to be out of danger & in about a fortnight may be able to quit her Chamber.

In a letter I some time ago troubled you with, I requested you would send me a collection of Coins &c. I now request you will not think about it as the person I designed them for I shall probably never see again.

Phila’s tone is that of a woman who has had an intimate (using the world in its moral and emotional sense more than the physical, though the physical was there originally) with Hastings. She opens with his silence of so many years. After that letter of 31 January 1772 which I summarized in my previous, whose text begins on p 58 of the Austen Papers, which Hastings wrote to Philadelphia as he was landing in India, he did not write again — as we recall it was one which let her know he was dismissing her. She is hurt and knows he does not want any letters from her. In her Postscript she refers to a letter which she did “send some time ago,” disobeying his implied orders not to bother him ever again, and which he never answered. But, asks she, “to whom can I apply but you?” She conjures him by all their ties to tell her what he knows of Hancock’s financial affairs.

So Woodman has not been forthcoming — for he would know and had not told her. And her brother, George Austen has been cautious and either not told what he was not sure Hastings would approve of or was not fully apprized of what Philadelphia needed to know. I fear that Philadelphia wanted to know about her money and get it at to pay either Lambert or de Feuillide and surmize both Woodman and George Austen were holding out in order to stop this relationship from going further. It could have stopped Feuillide marrying Eliza. We do not know if in response Hastings directed Woodman to be more forthcoming.

And as I surmised, we have evidence at last — testimony — to how much these unpaid bills and all this borrowing Hancock insisted she keep up from her uncle (Francis), from others (anyone who would give her money that Hancock thought ought to), distressed her and continues to aggravate her as people as desperately genteel as herself try to collect from her all the more persistently now that he’s dead. Hancock mentioned his guilt over Louisa (as I wrote these are relatives by second marriages: Mrs Davis may be another. We confront the problem that when women married we get only their married names so we lose where the connection is: we just have it Mrs Davis is widowed and broke.

Philadelphia feels an intense mortification at bearing the name of this man who died owing so much money and having failed to live up to the confidence others had in his abilities. This sense of the man’s name who shames you because it is yours is found repeatedly in women’s correspondence where there is debt: Charlotte Smith voices it over her extravagant husband. These debts are the result of his persistently buying into the values of high status as we shall see in his letters in my next installment on Chapter 3: Hancock and India. When Philadelphia says Hancock had “high principles” but she is referring to morals outside social status, probably to his not having deserted her and having taken on the role of legitimate father to Betsy.

Clarinda is the servant Hancock kept mentioning: I assumed she was young, perhaps a sort of playmate for Eliza, but now it emerges she is old, and has endured the misery of surgery in this era (no anesthetic). Philadelphia seems to have has this woman with her (though she may be staying at an infirmary run by the Surgeon). She clearly sees herself as obliged to care for her. When she says “the poor creature” needs to be “restored” to her perhaps it’s a way of saying Philadelphia wants her health restored so she can be a servant again. Servants did lend masters on the economic edge money (we see how Thackeray’s Crawleys fleece and bankrupt Rawdon’s aunt’s servants and their landlord in Vanity Fair this way)

But Philadelphia cannot resist moving out from “business” to speak of the “heart.” Despite all appearances she must believe “Knowing your heart as I know it” he still wants to hear of “my Daughter.” Eliza in “perfect health”: and “joins in every good wish” for his “happiness.” He may be surrounded by people now with frequent opportunities of showing their attachment but hers and Eliza remains “disinterested” “steady” over “many years.” Such feelings continue to “animate the breast” of Phila Hancock.

A PS tells of how Clarinda is better, and “although helpless” she will be “out of danger” in about a fortnight.” Able to “quite her chamber.” It ends on a note of despairing pathos: he should ignore the letter she troubled him with “some time ago” (he did, not to worry) to ask for “a collection of Coins” but now she says he should “not think about it” (no evidence he did anyway) “as the person I designed them for I shall probably never see again.” She plangently tries to reach him emotionally but and expresses how the social arrangements she must endure have repeatedly cut her off from others whose friendship she valued and thought valued hers.

A (not very accurate) image of a “white Persian cat” (angora), for a time a popular and prestigious cat to own in the 18th century (by Jean-Jacques Bachelier, 1724-1806): in Hancock’s letters he mentions in passing the murder of one Hastings bought for Eliza by someone angry possibly at Hastings or Hancock

My next two blogs from the Austen Papers will be on Hancock’s letters to Philadelphia from India. Before that though I will be posting about the papers I heard at the October 2014 Burney and JASNA conferences in Montreal.


by ellenandjim at October 19, 2014 01:39 AM


The Essence of the Brontës

Carcanet Press has republished Muriel Spark's essays on the Brontës and her selection of Brontë poems and letters:
The Essence of the Brontës
A Compilation with Essays
Muriel Spark
ISBN: 978 1 847772 46 6
Publisher: Carcanet Press,  September 2014
Lives and Letters

Muriel Spark always regarded the Brontës with a novelist's eye. As Boyd Tonkin argues in his lively introduction, written for the new edition, the Brontës inspired Spark at the very beginning of her own career, but not in a straightforward way. Through her critical and biographical on the Brontës Spark identified not only their achievements but also their flaws and failings, and thereby began to define, as Tonkin puts it, 'her own best route'. As she herself said, in a piece recorded for the BBC at Emily Brontë's grave in 1961, 'I was fascinated by [Emily's] creative mind because it's so entirely alien to my own'.
This book, first published in 1993, collects Spark's essays on the Brontës, her selection of their letters and of Emily's poetry. Evident throughout are Spark's critical intelligence, dry wit, and refusal to sentimentalise - qualities that gave her own novels their particular appeal. At the same time, The Essence of the Brontës is Muriel Spark's tribute to the sisters whose talents 'placed them on a stage from where they could hypnotize their own generation and, even more, posterity'.

by M. ( at October 19, 2014 01:30 AM

October 18, 2014


Things far more dangerous than Heathcliff

The Yorkshire Post vindicates the validity of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
The latest version includes Geoffrey Ambler, a Bradford industrialist and senior RAF officer who reached the rank of Air Vice Marshal in Fighter Command during the Second World War, and his scientific collaborator Margaret Hannah – a mathematician who became a lecturer at Leeds University.
Another new addition is Sir James Roberts, the former owner of Saltaire textile mill who later saved the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth.
The Sheffield Star has eaten at the Greenhead House Restaurant in Chapletown:
There are times when the soul needs as much sustenance and nurture as the body. And that a few hours in food heaven help you through the hellish. We walked into the charming three-storey 17th century cottage and relaxed in a drawing room filled with cushions, nicknacks and antique furniture. It was like being in Charlotte Brontë’s dolls’ house.
The New York Times reviews  The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton:
It’s a lot of fun, like doing a Charlotte Brontë-themed crossword puzzle while playing chess and Dance Dance Revolution on a Bongo Board. Some readers will delight in the challenge, others may despair. (Bill Roorbach)
The Chicago Daily Herald remembers that the LifeLine Theatre performances of Jane Eyre has been extended:
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of "Jane Eyre," adapted from Charlotte Brontë's novel by ensemble member Christine Calvit and starring Anu Bhatt as Jane and John Henry Roberts as Edward Rochester. Performances continue through Nov. 16.
The Daily Express invites you to take their literary quiz and find out which classic literary character you are:
Great works of literature entertain, inform and reflect the world back at us.
Do you identify with a particular character - perhaps you share Jane Eyre's quiet wisdom and determination, Lizzie Bennet's quick wit, Holden Caulfield's contempt for the status quo or Edmond Dantes totally focused drive?
Now's your chance to discover your true literary soulmate - just click the link below...
Sarah Moss reviews The Surfacing by Cormac James in The Guardian:
The last expedition of Sir John Franklin has been lost for over 160 years, but the search continues. A Canadian team this summer found the hull of one of Franklin's ships, the Erebus, reported abandoned in 1848. Franklin and his men were looking for the last section of the Northwest Passage, where British governments since the 16th century had hoped to find a quick trade route to the fabled wealth of east Asia. Like hundreds before them, they died in the attempt. Most of the British men who died after them in that area were search crews; well before the end of the 19th century, more explorers had died looking for the Franklin expedition than were on it in the first place. The search, motivated by Franklin's widow and by a powerful mixture of Victorian sentiment and imperial rhetoric, became a national project. There were folk songs, poems, lantern shows, essays by Charles Dickens and a play by Wilkie Collins. There's a glancing mention in Jane Eyre.
The Globe and Mail interviews the writer Carrie Snyder. She's is not a Brontëite, sorry:
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
Pass. If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it, and therefore do not despise it. For example, I could never get into Jane Eyre despite having made repeated attempts. Please don’t hold this against me.
We read on The Cambridge Student:
When I was thirteen, I was forbidden to do three things: hard drugs, join the Tory Party and read Wuthering Heights. My mother explained that teenage girls read Emily Brontë’s novel when young and suggestible. The next 10 years are spent searching for Heathcliff, trawling an adolescent smog of lynx and insecurity for a whiff of angst-fuelling testosterone. (...)
Perilous as this passionate romantic view may be, my mother missed a trick. Far more dangerous than Heathcliff to sexually frustrated teenagers is the super-embossed goo of kissing in the rain and writing letters that is Noah from The Notebook. (Sarah Howden)
The TImes reviews Gwendolen by Diana Souhami:
Just as Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea resurrected Antoinette in a post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre, so Souhami's first novel Gwendolen becomes a 21st-century feminist rereading from the perspective of Daniel Deronda's heroine. (Fiona Wilson)
Grazia (Italy) reviews the performances in Milano, Italy of Faust Marlowe Burlesque :
È una storia nota, quella di Faust che stringe un patto col diavolo Mefistofele pur di appagare la sua sete di conoscenza. Meno nota la versione di Aldo Trionfo e Lorenzo Salveti, scritta per due mostri sacri come Carmelo Bene e Franco Branciaroli. Un pastiche di attuale complessità, che cita Goethe e Marlowe, senza precludersi riferimenti letterari eclettici come quelli a Cime Tempestose. (Gabriele Verratti) (Translation)
Milliebot Reads compares several covers of Wuthering Heights editions.

by M. ( at October 18, 2014 08:57 PM

In Memoriam. Robert Demeger

Several news outlets report the death of the British actor Robert Demeger (1951-2014):
Although Robert Demeger played some challenging leading roles, including an acclaimed King Lear for director Deborah Warner early in his career, and went on to cover an impressive range of work on screen and on stage in the West End as well as for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was always happy to describe himself, with characteristic self-deprecation, as "a jobbing actor". (Alan Strachan in The Independent)
He played the role of Joseph in Wuthering Heights 1992.

by M. ( at October 18, 2014 01:25 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Slept well. Rose at 7. & by 9. was up at De V.’s ― breakfast. prayers ― & talk till 11 ― when I went off in a car. I am very glad to have seen these good people again.* Ryde by 12. these Isle of Wight places are odious ― & full of bore. Steam ― by Osborne (1846!) & to Cowes ― & so to Southampton ― going on to another pier, whence I went to a 3rd ― & so by another Steamer to Hythe ―: There a lunch at the Drummond Arms ― & car on to Cadlands. Very splendid place. ― Walk till 5. Came in ― & saw sweet Mrs. Edgar Drummond ― & now ― 6-7 ― am in my “own room.”


Dinner pleasant. Afterwards ― a bore, along of these Jenkinsons.

(he lingered till Saturday Tuesday h 22nd.)


* Alas! alas! I never did nor can! this day ― 1 Aug. 1865 ― I hear that yesterday poor De Vere was murdered!

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 18, 2014 08:00 AM

Victorian Poetry Network

Inaugural Poems in Victorian Periodicals

New or re-launched Victorian periodicals often published as their very first item, in their very first issue, a poem to define the “personality”, ideological orientation, and readership community of the title. These inaugural poems emphasized the cultural value of poetry to the periodical, a value that enhanced the periodical’s claim to literary prestige and also the serial’s educational, political, or religious mandate. The poems are usually — but not always — meta-textual commentaries on the aims and ambitions of the periodical. Sometimes the relationship between the inaugural poems and the periodical is harder to decipher.

The crucial factor is placement. When inaugural poems are positioned first, in the first issue of a new periodical, as the initial contribution, usually their status as the interpreter of the title’s “personality” is clear (see, for example, Edwin Arnold’s poem for Atalanta). When the first poem in a new title is placed later in the volume the relationship to the periodical overall is less certain and open to interpretation (as with Good Words‘ first poem, “Little Things”, and Woman’s World‘s “Hazely Heath”, respectively discussed by Caley Ehnes and Kathryn Ledbetter). The positioning of poems within each separate part of a periodical title conveys important information about the conceptual place of poetry overall, which was part of what Robert L. Patten and David Finkelstein term the “editor function”. Poetry is often placed repeatedly in the same position in a periodical part: such as at the beginning, after a fictional instalment, and at the very end of the issue before the advertisements. In addition, poetry read across periodical issues often creates a pattern in terms of the visual layout and illustration, linking poems across issues as well as within each issue.

The Database of Victorian Periodical Poetry offers many inaugural poems, some of which are listed below. What features do different inaugural poems share? Are inaugural poems a poetic category all of their own? What do they tell us of the cultural value of poetry at a title’s launch? Do inaugural poems always have to be on the first page? Here I interpret the category of inaugural poems as generously as possible to include the first poems published in the first issue of a periodical title.

Unsigned, “To My Bird (Adelaide)”, The Keepsake, 1829, 19-20.

Leigh Hunt, “Abraham and the Fire-Worshipper. A Dramatic Parable,” Household Words, 30 March 1850, 12-13.

Edmund Ollier, “The City of Earthly Eden,All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, 11-13.

Shirley Brooks, “Once a Week”, illustrated by John Leech, in Once a Week, 2 July 1859, 1.

Unsigned, “Little Things”, Good Words, January 1860, 15.

Edwin Arnold, “Atalanta,” illustrated by F. Somerville Morgan, Atalanta, October 1887, 2-3.

Violet Fane, “Hazely Heath”, Woman’s World, November 1887, 16.

Richard Le Gallienne, “Tree-Worship,” The Yellow Book, April 1894, 57-60.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, “A Roundel of Rabelais,” Pageant, 1 (1896): 1.


Works Cited

Caley Ehnes, “‘Little Things’: Poetry, The Periodical Press, and Good Words

Kathryn Ledbetter, “Time and the Poetess: Violet Fane and Fin-de-Siècle Poetry in Periodicals,” Victorian Poetry Spring 2014 (52.1)

Robert L. Patten and David Finkelstein, “Editing Blackwood’s; or, What Do Editors Do?”, Print Culture and the Blackwood Tradition, 1805-1930. Ed. David Finkelstein. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.


by Alison Chapman at October 18, 2014 03:00 AM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Mrs. Seamer [a.k.a. Mary Seymour or MFS], The Young Missionaries (Sunday School Union, c. 1874).  Activities of various Christian children in Switzerland.  This copy was given as a Baptist prize book in 1887.  (eBay)
  • Sarah Doudney, Loser and Gainer (Sunday School Union, 1873).  Short novel by a prolific children's author, this one about a young boy whose desire for a book leads him into temptation and (minor) theft.  (eBay)
  • Sarah Stickney Ellis, Pique: A Tale of the English Aristocracy (Porter & Coates, n.d.).  US reprint of a didactic novel about a young woman's major character flaw and the effect it has on her prospects, romantic and otherwise.  Mrs. Ellis is best known today for her conduct manuals (Women of England, etc.).  This copy has an interesting scratch-off Christmas label attached  (still unscratched).  (eBay)
  • Charlotte Maria Tucker [ALOE], Flora, or Self-Deception, and The Great Reformer (Robert Carter, 1869).  US reprint of two works, one a novel about a young woman who fails to understand her own moral character, the other a potted biography of Martin Luther.  From the 1870s on, Tucker was a missionary in India.  (eBay)
  • Joseph Jeffrey Walters, Guanya Pau, ed. Gareth Griffiths and John Victor Singler (Broadview, 2004).  Reprint of the first African novel in English, originally published in Liberia in 1891.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Robert Edric, The Monster's Lament (Doubleday, 2013).  Aleister Crowley meets organized crime, among other things, in the mid-1940s.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home: Sentimental Literature and Nineteenth-Century Religion (Pennsylvania, 2014).  Tracks the interplay of sentimental rhetoric and theology in multiple spiritual contexts (including the LDS and Christian Science).  I'm reviewing this for Choice.  (Review copy)

by Miriam Burstein at October 18, 2014 01:23 AM


Bonnie Greer and Auditions

Today, October 17, at the Ilkley Literature Festival, we have a rendez vous with the president of the Brontë Society, Bonnie Greer:
Bonnie Greer: A Parallel Life
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman 1.30–2.30pm

Award-winning playwright, author and critic Bonnie Greer discusses her touching, funny and thought provoking memoir: A Parallel Life – a voyage into the making of a woman who set out to unmake what she’d been born and brought up to be. Born in segregated, racist America, Bonnie defeated the odds to become one of the most important champions of civil – and human – rights.
And in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:
Young Actors Company
Neptune Theatre

Auditions for Jane Eyre will be held on Saturday, October, 18 2014 at 10am at Neptune. Please enter via the Studio Theatre doors on Argyle Street. You are to prepare one monologue under two minutes in length. No need to make an appointment.
Students who are cast will rehearse Fridays from 6:00-10:00pm and Sundays from 10:00am-5:00pm beginning Friday, January 9, 2015.
In this process-oriented program, students work with a professional creative team to hone their acting skills. The culmination of this rehearsal period is a fully mounted show on Neptune Theatre’s Studio Stage from March 4-7, 2015. 

by M. ( at October 18, 2014 01:30 AM

An ivory quill-cutter

The Telegraph and Argus has a letter from the Brontë Parsonage Museum telling about the latest goings-on:
This morning was spent organising the return of Elizabeth Gaskell’s escritoire (or writing desk!) that we have had on loan from Manchester Museum.
We have also been introducing our new collections intern, Alana to the role. She will be working with staff, including Collections Manager and the Library and Collections Officer for the next six months to gain experience in the museum.
Alana will also be writing this column in future, keeping you up to date on all things Brontë related.
It’s been a busy month. Last week, we were alerted to a Charlotte Brontë letter coming up for sale by auction, the next day! Sadly, we were unsuccessful in our bids as it sold for double the estimated price.
We were disappointed that we couldn’t bring the letter back home to the place where it was written over 150 years ago.
To lift our spirits though, we were thrilled to receive an exciting donation to the collection. An ivory quill-cutter which the Brontë family would have used to sharpen their quills before they put quill to paper!
This was an important tool in the Brontë household and was probably used many times by the young Brontë children to achieve such miniscule handwriting inside their tiny books, and later in life for writing their letters, poems and novels. We will display the quill-cutter from February 2015.
The year 2016 marks 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Brontë and there will be celebrations all over the world.
We have been putting together a list of objects to exhibit at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York to commemorate the bicentenary, which will include a Charlotte Bronte dress, a selection of her artwork, and one of the famous handmade ‘little books’.
The exhibition will travel between the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Parsonage, and finally the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York throughout 2016.
Staff have also been star-spotting in Haworth! Actress Drew Barrymore visited the museum, taking some time out from shooting scenes for Missing You Already, and she was later spotted in the Black Bull, Branwell’s favourite pub!
We also welcomed famous folk singer Maddy Prior who took a guided tour of the museum and came in to the library for a special treasures session.
Last Saturday we held a water colour painting workshop at the very atmospheric Ponden Hall. Sue Newby our Learning Officer, who organised the workshop, said: “The painting was really enjoyable and people produced some lovely work, but the highlight of the day might just have been the incredible home- made cake made by our host Julie Akhurst!
“Ponden Hall is such an inspiring environment for any creative activity that we do hope to repeat it in the future; in fact we have a writing workshop booked for October 25 run by Hebden Bridge based author Anne Caldwell.”
Rachel Hore tells about her struggles when young in The Independent:
As a conventional teenage girl of the 1970s dressed in Laura Ashley prints, I had little knowledge of feminist texts and found those I had come across beyond my sheltered experience. At the same time, nothing infuriated me more than some male of my acquaintance asserting that women were intellectually inferior to men.
Where were the great female musical composers?, they'd ask, as if this nailed the matter. The great female artists? I'd struggle to suggest examples. At least when it came to literature I could say Jane Austen, the Brontës, George Eliot, but these names were still only a handful and I didn't know enough history to commandeer a fuller answer. 
Daily Press interviews Jerry Lewis:
Daily Press: A generation of people grew up on your comedies – films like "The Nutty Professor," "The Disorderly Orderly" and "The Sad Sack." Groundbreaking comedies. Is there one film in particular that stands out as your own favorite?
Lewis: "Wuthering Heights" … oh, you mean my films! "The Nutty Professor" is the one that is the most special. (Mike Holtzclaw)
The Independent describes a more recent take on Wuthering Heights--Peter Kosminsky's 1992 version--as 'fitfully powerful'.

iDigital Times brings up a relevant point in connection with that:
... it’s been decades since Hollywood has tackled “Moby-Dick.” The book has a deserving reputation for its thematic density and the tendency of movie adaptations to treat the “Moby-Dick” dialogue like Shakespeare and its metaphors like lectures.
It’s a strange problem to have, since most major books end up getting a Hollywood adaptation every ten years or so. Just look at Jane Austen, Hamlet, “The Great Gatsby,” or even “Wuthering Heights.” (Andrew Whalen)
Palatinate discusses imaginative play and mentions the young Brontës:
Imagination has to be nurtured. Otherwise, we will all use it with minimal effort, just like we do with our back muscles. But regular exercise is not enough, a good diet is necessary too: feed yourself with words and images and your imagination will be fine. The lives of the three Brontë sisters show how play and imagination are intertwined, and how imagination can develop if it is allowed to follow the right course. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell (a painter) created stories as children, fashioning the African kingdom of Glass Town and the Empire of Angria and the fictional continent, Gondal. They were particularly stimulated by their father who gave them books and toys to immerse themselves in. (Natalia Dutra)
The Drum comments on Yorkshire being chosen for the Tour de France Grand Départ.
Unlike boasting of being the birthplace of the Brontë sisters or David Hockney, or falling into low-level factionalism around a cricket team or quality of beer, La Grande Boucle conferred a rare honour, one which Yorkshire had been granted only by outsmarting the likes of Edinburgh, capital of a near-nation. (Lewis Blackwell)

by Cristina ( at October 18, 2014 12:43 AM

October 17, 2014


New Peer-Reviewed Resource! “walter dear”: The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt

NINES is pleased to announce that our newest peer-reviewed resource is available for searching! “walter dear”: The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt makes available, in many cases for the first time, the substantial material written by Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to her son. Published on the Walt Whitman Archive, this project is an exceptional contribution to nineteenth-century American scholarship. Many congratulations are due to Wesley Raabe of Kent State University for the development of an excellent resource.

You can explore the archive through this saved search.

by Brandon Walsh at October 17, 2014 05:14 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine ever ― & not so cold ― sun poco.[1] ―

Morning with ET chiefly. AT was in one of his irritating small=captions moods. I believe no other woman in all this world could live with him for a month. I walked alone to Murrow’s, & took leave of poor “Katie.” ― Then lunch ― & afterwards ― at 2 ― left in a car. ― It always wrings me to leave Farringord ― yet I doubt ― as once before ― if I can go again. I suppose it is the Anomaly of high souls & philosophic writings combined with slovenliness, selfishness, & morbid folly that prevents my being happy there: ― perhaps also ― vexation at myself for not being more so. The drive to Newport is hideous ― save just above Swainston ― & ditto to Ryde. It was past 5 before I got to a little Inn by the shore ― called ― … Vale ― close to Puckpool, & having dressed, the Landlord took me up by a path to the house ― a Swiss=like place ― with trees: a [battery] being on the shore. ― Here were De Vere, Mrs. D.V. ― Major Buchanan ―, & dear little Mary, who was very funny & nice. Dinner very pleasant ― & evening also ―: I read half Enoch Arden, & sang a good deal. De V. & B. walked down with me at 11.

Buchanan tells a sad story of the Clarks: ― Mrs. C. it seems “devellopped [sic] her complaint,” in the street at Malta ― & he was ordered to leave the Island: ― they are at Woolwich. ―

We had long talks of Corfû days “the past” ― as Mrs. D.V. says.

[1] Not much.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 17, 2014 08:00 AM


The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds

A new scholar book exploring the 'translingual, transnational, and transcultural' contexts the Brontë sisters works:
The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds
Edited by Shouhua Qi, Jacqueline Padgett
ISBN 9781137405142
Publication Date October 2014
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

While the reception of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë has drawn extensive attention from critics in the United Kingdom and in the United States, much needed scholarship on their position in other wor(l)ds - languages and cultures - remains to be done. This collection of essays looks at the works of the Brontë sisters through a translingual, transnational, and transcultural lens, viewing them as examples of heteroglossia, hybridity, and postcolonial reworkings. In applying principles of postcolonial theory, reception studies, translation theory, media analysis, and comparative literature, this collection is the first book-length study of the works of the Brontës sisters as received and reimagined in languages and cultures outside of Europe and the United States.

by M. ( at October 17, 2014 01:30 AM

Saint Emily's favourite gin

The Museum Association Journal reports the Brontë Society emergency general meeting taking place this weekend at Haworth.
The chairwoman of the Brontë Society, which runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, has stepped down just 26 days into her 12-month term.
The society said Christine Went had been forced to take the decision due to "ill health and an urgent family matter". She was appointed as chairwoman on 6 September after a unanimous vote, and formally stepped down on 2 October. Went had previously been a member of the society for four years.
Her resignation came ahead of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), which takes place this Saturday. A group of more than 50 members have forced the meeting amid a number of allegations about the conduct of the council.
These included a claim that the council attempted to call an EGM to overturn a vote at the society’s AGM in June that defeated motions to extend the chairman of trustees' term of office and give the council the power to summarily expel trustees and members.
The group said the meeting would include discussion about electing a new council in order to “modernise” the organisation and bring “higher levels of professionalism and experience to the society”.
However, a clause in the Company Act prevents a vote removing the current council.
Doreen Harris, the honorary secretary of the society, who has taken on the work of the chairwoman until an appointment is made, said: “Regarding the EGM, we look forward to a frank exchange of views to enable the Brontë Society to go forward into the bicentenary period a stronger and more united organisation.” (Rebecca Atkinson)
TES has a letter from a head of English on the new English literature syllabus.
Perhaps it’s not actually who is speaking that they are objecting to, but what they’re saying. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre also features on OCR’s syllabus, but from nowhere has come the suggestion that this honest portrayal of the tribulations of a 19th century governess is unsuitable material for our children, despite the fact that the novel was initially condemned by critics for violating “every code, human and divine”.
It seems that social comment is acceptable as long as it’s studied at a safe historical distance. God forbid that, after reading about Brand’s call for a more compassionate approach to drug addiction, Dizzee’s ideas about Britishness or Moran’s opinions about the treatment of women in the 21st century, rigorous linguistic analysis might be also accompanied by some classroom discussion of the UK’s (failing) drugs legislation or the gender pay gap. (Alexandra Smith)
Sentieri Selvaggi (Itali) mentions François Truffaut's Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent:
“Aveva dei problemi personali, che risolse tuffandosi nelle Due inglesi. […] Per i due terzi seguì pressappoco la mia stesura, ma nell’ultima parte – la morte di Anne e della madre – apportò alcuni elementi nuovi: stava leggendo la biografia di Branwell Brontë scritta da Daphne Du Maurier, e si ispirò un poco alle Brontë”  [Fragment from J. Gruault, Il segreto perduto, in Il romanzo di François Truffaut, cit., p. 86] (Translation)
Marie Claire (Italy) finds a Brontëite in writer Valentina D'Urbano:
I tuoi miti? Le sorelle Brontë, che prego quando ho il blocco dello scrittore “santa Emily aiutami tu”. (Laura Goria) (Translation)
Forbes features a type of gin called Caorunn and finds potential drinkers:
Carounn (sic) is also made with the following: heather (Scottish Highlands heather—think of it, this could be the official gin of Wuthering Heights fans), Coul Blush apple, dandelion for an herbal twist and rowan berry—a traditional medicinal herb of the Highlands. (Katie Kelly Bell)
female arts reviews the Butterfly Psyche Wuthering Heights production:
Jazz Hazelwood's direction is sharp, well-realised and manages to expertly lead the actors through the complexity of their many shifts and character changes with success and vivacity. She navigates a concept, which could have easily slipped into absurdism into an elegant, engaging example of storytelling.
This is a play that will please even the most avid lovers of the book, whilst holding its own as a brilliant production in its own right. A thoroughly enjoyable and captivating piece of theatre that held the audience's attention from start to Finish. I look forward to seeing more from both Butterfly Psyche and Livewire Theatre.  (Naia Headland-Vanni)
Girls Love to Read posts an entry by Zana Bell talking about Jane Eyre vs Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at October 17, 2014 12:09 AM

October 16, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


[blotted] ― did not rise ― as it would be too cold to draw out[.]

Afternoon ― cold & windy.

Prayers at 9. Breakfast. Afterwards ― talk with ET till 12.30. Certainly, there are few like her. ― Their interview with the 2 ― who made a very low courtsey to AT ― but shook hands with ET ― & the boys. Talk of the Danish war, when ET said ― “you know, [maam], we are all Danes.” ― At 12.30 ― I walked to Murrow’s, & brought up K. Lushington. Lunch ― AT’s manner is assuredly odious at times. ― After lunch, sate with him ― reading scores on scores of letters ― from fools ― madmen ― admirers ― would-be=employers ― &c. &c. ― some letters very curious. Galileo Galilei ― & his ideas of a poem on. ― Later, Mr. Worsley came. ― & at 3.30 he walked a little way on the Down with us. AT & I went on to near[Alamo] Bay ― which they are fast spoiling. Back by 5.30 ― looking in at a Shepherd’s cottage. ― Dinner. AT’s ways ― & afterwards, my outspoken opinion about his morbid absurdity & unphilosophical bothers. Evening pelasant, I “explaining” Crete to them both.

Bed at 11. Uncomfortable bed: noise of flapping window or door: sleeplessness & indigestion.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 16, 2014 08:00 AM

The Little Professor

A Mother's Sacrifice; And Other Tales

Maureen Moran, among others, has demonstrated the extent to which representations of Roman Catholicism--both by Protestants and Catholics--could not escape Gothic tropes and narrative conventions.    Indeed, Catholicism posed problems for nineteenth-century realism--a mode that, according to Valentine Cunningham's provocative argument, was inescapably Protestant, translating post-Reformation "religious ecstasies" into something "merely secular" (e.g., "love").1   Protestant realism finds God at work in, for example, plot construction (those providential coincidences so beloved of nineteenth-century novelists like Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens), but, despite Protestantism's own mystical tradition, generally rules out miracles and manifestations; when visions appear in Protestant novels, they normally do so when bracketed off explicitly as dreams (as in Charles Kingsley's Alton Locke or Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays).  Catholic realism, by contrast, is not chary about introducing miracles and visionary messages--and thus finds itself situated in an awkward position vis-a-vis "mainstream" realist conventions and the Gothic, even when it isn't trying to be Gothic in the first place.  Moreover, because so much nineteenth-century Catholic fiction from the UK and Ireland emphasizes how Catholics have been systematically alienated from their own inheritance, physical and spiritual, it again finds itself on Gothic grounds (the wronged heir and/or the wrong heir being popular Gothic villains and protagonists alike).  

A. M. Clarke's collection of four novellas, A Mother's Sacrifice; And Other Tales (1893), illuminates the ways in which Catholic authors put pressure on Protestant protocols.  The collection itself is various, and aside from general themes of sin and redemption, isn't particularly unified: the title novella, supposedly a translation from the Russian, tracks an impoverished peasant woman's attempts to have an icon of the Madonna painted in honor of her dead child; the two middle tales are very much on Wilkie Collins/Mary Elizabeth Braddon territory and feature murder, wastrels, and lust; and the last tale is a historical novella set during the Great Plague.  Although A Mother's Sacrifice is intriguing for its ambivalence towards folk spirituality--the mother appears to be vaguely on the right track, but the entire enterprise is suffused with dark comedy, and the woman's ironic death at the end is certainly not exalted--it's hard to know how much of this is the original and how much of it is Clarke.  

I'm more interested in the middle tales, "The Wyntertons of Netherwood" and "Answered at Last."  As I mentioned, both stories are narrated by solicitors, another tie with the Victorian Gothic (which frequently features professional men coming into contact with unspeakable horrors--Mr. Utterson in Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic example).  "The Wyntertons" is part of a Catholic novelistic tradition about the collapse of Catholic families under attack by Protestantized (and, by implication, secularized) culture.   Wynterton inherits a property, initially alienated from the Church during the Reformation, which supposedly bears a curse: "You are no doubt aware that in cases like the present, in which a Catholic, or one who had been a Catholic, took possession of an estate belonging by right to the Church, a curse of some kind invariably rests on the actual holder of that estate, whoever he may be" (76-77).  Here, the circuit of possession--from the Church to an "apostate" (76) and ultimately to a lay Catholic--is incomplete; despite building a new church on the estate, Wynterton continues, rather than concludes, Protestantism's ongoing appropriation of sacred spaces.  Matters are not improved by the current heir, Hubert, who consorts with wicked Protestants like Sir Philip Fletcher--a man with his eyes on Wynterton's lovely daughter, Beatrice.  Hubert's fascination with the material trappings of Protestant culture (gambling dens, for example) leads him to murder, opening up a space for Sir Philip to blackmail Captain Wynterton into giving him Beatrice for a wife. Sensation-novel tropes accumulate apace.  As our narrator observes, this situation ultimately traces back not to Hubert, but to Wynterton's own sin: his own son died at birth, and he substituted another child from a working-class twin birth so as not to distress his wife.  It should come as no shock that the man Hubert murders is, in fact, his twin brother, so that Wynterton's "original sin" leads to fratricide.  "I interfered with Providence and practised a gross deception," moans Wynterton (98). The divine curse, working itself out upon the family, is all too legible, as Wynterton's projected future, based on a fiction (the false heir), wrecks the family fortunes.  As a false heir, Hubert is merely one more would-be link in the chain of wrongful possessors, who take the sacred and make it profane out of greed.  Disaster follows disaster: Beatrice agrees to marry Sir Philip and Wynterton dies almost immediately, albeit with God's mercy.  At the same time, Hubert's crime leads him to become a true "penitent" (110) and he winds up living happily overseas as a farmer, reconciled with the Church.  Similarly, Sir Philip dies just before he marries Beatrice, an honest convert in his own right; in this cluster of providential exiles and deaths, we see the power of divine forgiveness at work.  In other words, the novel averts the poetic justice one might expect from a Wilkie Collins novel, and substitutes instead the potentially unappetizing reminder that all sinners may be forgiven.     Finally, Beatrice sells the property and donates most of the proceeds to the Church--thus healing the broken circuit of possession--and miraculously dies on the day she professes her vows as a Carmelite, rewarded with "glory everlasting" (115).  The "fix" for the curse, which appears Gothic but is not, requires all the false inheritors to understand and reject their own worldliness.   Or, to put it differently, the family must grasp that the curse is part of the fabric of reality,  which cannot be separated from the workings of Providence.   Marriage with Christ the Bridegroom is Beatrice's reward for subduing her own earthly desires; this is a rather different iteration of the marriage plot.  Pointedly, however, it leaves the Wyntertons not only dispossessed, but entirely extinct.

"Answered at Last" trespasses on even more overtly Gothic space.  Our narrator, the solicitor Mr. Furnival, is called out to conduct some business in the countryside.  There, he has an experience that, as he says, demonstrates that "the supernatural" still works in the world, and that it is explicitly the hand of God making His "over-ruling Providence" felt (118).  Whilst sitting in the country-house library, the narrator has a horrifying vision: a man brutally stabs a young woman to death.  The difficulty, then, lies in accounting for the vision, which the butler coolly dismisses as impossible ("There are no ghosts in this house" [121]); the narrator's host is equally unimpressed.  (If it's not a ghost, then perhaps it's "delirium tremens" [125].)  That the solicitor insists on the truth of his vision subverts one Gothic convention, in which the professional man initially rejects evidence of the supernatural.  (The butler's disinterest subverts the convention in another direction--normally, servants are more likely to believe in ghostly manifestations, and therefore ought to be listened to.)  Narrator, host, and butler alike make a key interpretive error, though: they understand the vision in terms of "haunting."  If the house is haunted, then the vision announces the undercurrents of unresolved past violence persisting into the present.  But whereas "The Wyntertons" made the Catholic past into its own "ghost" forever stalking the Catholic present, here the vision is not of the past at all, but of the future: a lapsed Catholic man, ultimately rejected by his devout beloved, murders her in a fit of rage.  It is essential that Furnival reject purely Gothic readings of this phenomenon (the ghost) in favor of the miraculous.  The use of this premonition, though, seems initially hard to determine.  In the end, the man still stabs the woman and the woman still dies.  It is only at the tale's end that we discover the vision's real purpose: many years later, Furnival encounters the Spaniard, Alfonso del Mar, again in an Australian hospital (yet another act of providence) and successfully persuades him to confess to a priest.  Furnival's premonition turns out to be Alfonso's haunting: "Ever since that fatal night a curse has pursued me.  I have failed in everything" (144).  The Gothic "curse" turns out to be divine punishment via the medium of human conscience.  But in del Mar's confession, the narrator finds the answer to his own puzzlement: the premonition enables Furnival to lead del Mar back to the Church and, therefore, to his own salvation, for "having repeatedly made acts of humble contrition and complete resignation to the will of God," del Mar will likely receive a "merciful" judgment from Christ (148).  Interpreted from a properly Catholic point of view, then, supernatural horrors turn out to have beneficial consequences.  


1 Valentine Cunningham, "The Novel and the Protestant Fix: Between Melancholy and Ecstasy," Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000, ed. Mark Knight and Thomas Woodman (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), 46.  

by Miriam Burstein at October 16, 2014 01:50 AM


Heathcliff Adrift

Devil's Eye (Source)
Today, October 16, at the Durham Book Festival. A talk and an exhibition:
William Atkins and Benjamin Myers: Lives, Landscape, LiteratureThursday 16 October,
Durham Cathedral, Chapel of the Nine Altars

This special event celebrates the dramatic landscape of the moors, in both words and pictures. William Atkins’ The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature is a deeply personal journey across our nation’s most forbidding and most mysterious moors.
Atkins will read from his work, surrounded by Heathcliff Adrift, an exhibition of poems and images from author Benjamin Myers (winner of the 2013 Gordon Burn Prize) and photographer Nick Small, covering Heathcliff’s ‘missing’ three years in Wuthering Heights, when he leaves Haworth a boy and returns a wealthy man, and the moorland landscape, as seen through his eyes. Extracts from Myers’ haunting poems will be read aloud during the event.
The Moor was The Guardian’s book of the week and described as ‘an ambitious mix of history, topography, literary criticism and nature writing, in the tradition of WG Sebald, Robert MacFarlane and Olivia Laing.’
Caught by the River gives some more information about the Heathcliff Adrift exhibition:
A clever idea cooked up by a triumvirate of Caught by the River pals and contributors – Nick Small, Ben Myers and Will Atkins – Heathcliff Adrift is a series of narrative poems, a selection of which are being reproduced and exhibited in Durham Cathedral for the duration of Durham Book Festival 2014.
Ben says of the idea’s genesis: “It was conceived while walking the moors of the West Riding in Yorkshire and born out of the questions: where did Heathcliff go and what did he see? The work runs alongside stunning landscape photographs taken by Nick Small which explore the idea of what happened to Heathcliff during his ‘missing’ three years in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, an era in which the industrial revolution was in its earliest days and the ragged beauty of the landscape was under threat from the arrival of mechanisation.”
Nick says: “This collaboration between Ben and I was born on the pages of Caught by the River. Having exchanged correspondence over an number of years we finally met in the fitting environs of a Hebden Bridge pub, with beer in hand and in the company of chief alchemist Jeff. When Ben asked me to provide photographs to accompany his Heathcliff poems we both found that we referenced the peerless collaboration between Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, “The Remains of Elmet” as our inspiration. The photographs are taken on the South Pennine Moorland between Calderdale and Haworth. The intention was not to create a literal narrative accompaniment to the poems. Instead, I wanted to present a series of images that would convey the wild and weird nature of the landscape that is my “back yard” and to explore some of the emotional themes that the landscape itself evokes: love, fear, life, death, awe, euphoria and, above all, time(lessness).”

by M. ( at October 16, 2014 01:30 AM

October 15, 2014


Horrified by her own stockings

Bustle lists '13 contemporary novels all feminists should read'. It's not Jane Eyre that's on it but
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
As much as I like Jane Eyre, I still think that Jean Rhys’s retelling is an essential critique. The novel refocuses the story and makes Bertha, Rochester’s crazy wife in the attic, the protagonist and narrator. That alone makes a powerful statement about who gets to have their story told and which women are worthy of being the center of attention, and Rhys follows through with a short but impactful novel about Bertha and Rochester in the their early days. (Emma Cueto)
Blogtaormina (Italy) features another list: the one compiled by literary critic Piero Dorfles for the Italian TV programme Per un pugno di libri.
Poche, a nostro giudizio le scrittrici selezionate: Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Agatha Christie, Margaret Mitchell, Elsa Morante e Mary Shelley. (Milena Privitera) (Translation)
And speaking of lists, Ecns (China) has an article on the Book List Challenge. Apparently,
Li Jiajia, an anchor at Guangdong Satellite TV, based in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, accepted the challenge on Sept 26, after a friend working at Phoenix Satellite TV nominated her.
She listed 10 books, including Wuthering Heights, 1984, Animal Farm and Chinese writer Yu Hua's Brothers and To Live.
"The books I listed were those I could remember instantly when I received the challenge," Li says. "They are both insightful and a pleasure to read, and they easily stand out from what I have read." (Si Huan)
And yet more lists, as The Independent reviews the book Lists of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher which includes
Hemingway's must-read books for aspiring novelists: War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights[.] (James Kidd)
The Star is reminded of a Brontë novel when reviewing The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.
Mystery and intrigue infuse every page of this first novel by British writer and actor Jessie Burton. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, “where the pendulum swings from God to a guilder,” there’s a Brönte-like [sic] mood afoot from the moment Nella Oortman arrives at her rich husband’s house on an Amsterdam canal. (Nancy Wigston)
The Spectator discusses heroes and makes an interesting point:
After any famous writer goes their own long journey, the difficulties of preserving their home for would-be pilgrims become more fraught: whether a literary shrine is tended or neglected, there will always be enthusiasts claiming that their idol has not been treated appropriately. As Simon Goldhill observes in Scott’s Buttocks, Freud’s Couch, Brontë’s Grave, Charlotte Brontë would have been horrified had she seen her stockings on public display at Haworth Parsonage, but in the 21st century they’re a precious link – however creepy – to a great talent now gone. (Philip Sidney)
Speaking of Charlotte Brontë items on display, The Economist's Prospero posts about the new British Library exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination where
there is a case dedicated to "Northanger Abbey", the gothic spoof written by the teenage Jane Austen; a waspish letter written by Ann Radcliffe to her mother in law; and early copies of "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë and "The Raven" by Edgar Allen [sic] Poe. (K. S. C.
Brides offers guidance on how to find a passage for a wedding and suggests
Novels and plays: Writers such as John Updike, Thornton Wilder, D. H. Lawrence, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea) and Gabríel (sic) García Marquez offer great inspiration. (Terri Pous)
The Notre Dame & St Mary's Observer reviews the performances of the Aquila Theatre production of Wuthering Heights. Patras Events (Greece) has a quote on eyes by Charlotte Brontë. The deputy books editor at The Boar picks Jane Eyre as one of her favourite literary characters. More on Jane Eyre on the Lifeline Theatre blog, this thread on reddit/r/books (or in here) and Chicago Literati. WKTS posts in Polish about Agnes Grey.

by Cristina ( at October 15, 2014 09:08 PM

Three plays

WhatsOnStage reviews the current performances of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall at Arnos Val Cemetery in Bristol, part of the LiveWire Theatre and Butterfly Psyche Theatre Brontë season, and gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
Performed in the atmospheric surroundings of Arnos Vale Cemetery, Alison Farina's moving stage adaption sees just two actors on stage throughout the performance, each representing a multitude of carefully defined characters. The speed at which the actors switch between roles to narrate the story is extremely impressive. From youthful humour to lustful conceptions the characters are near-faultlessly played. Both Madeline Ryan and Tom Turner shift between these opposing roles across both genders with accuracy and wit.
Directed by Shane Morgan, the choice of soundtrack (by Bradford –Upon – Avon based Wasuremono) is apt for the production, sparsely using modern alternative music to compliment the minimalist set and timeless costume. There is no frivolity or grandeur to stifle the lesson behind the story and this is an astute director's choice, leaving the audience to focus on the characters and how their actions affect others within the plot.
Despite being just an hour and a half long, due to the nature of the story and the depiction of time passing slowly and painfully through an abusive relationship, the play does seem – only very slightly – too lengthy towards the end and could perhaps be split in to two halves. However, this may awkwardly divide the plot and I can understand the avoidance of having an interval in such a gripping tale. [...]
If you are looking for a thought-provoking night at the theatre, this is the play for you. (Hannah Sweetnam)
While the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's Observer features Aquila Theatre's take on Wuthering Heights.
Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” graced the stage at O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s Monday night with a performance by the Aquila Theatre company. Six actors, united by Aquila’s mission to make classical works accessible to everyone through performance arts, brought the classic novel to life under the direction of Desiree Sanchez.
“It was a marvelous performance,” director of special events Richard Baxter said. “Very well put together, very clear. You know what I loved most of all? No mics.”
One of the production’s lead actors, Kali Hughes (Cathy Earnshaw), said although the show is demanding, it is gratifying to perform.
“It’s a really tough show,” Hughes said. “It’s kind of shocked me. I’ve got to stay fit and healthy. You can’t have a day off, but it’s immensely enjoyable as well.”
Dale Mathurin (Heathcliffe), who is just older than most members of the Saint Mary’s audience, said “Heights” has been on the road for three weeks and the central role can be taxing for such a fresh actor.
“It’s a very hectic show,” Mathurin said. “I’m fresh out of drama school. This is my first time abroad. There are a lot of days in the van getting to different venues.” [...]
“As brilliant as the book is, it really does peak in the middle, it’s really exciting, this bit where we ended. A novel is different. On the stage you need to be gripped. Despite the absolute mess they’ve gotten themselves into. If we were to put the whole thing onstage, when [the characters] fail, we want to see more, do we care? It’s like a book with lots of little ends. It kind of leeches the drama.”
Hughes said part of the challenge in adapting “Wuthering Heights,” is the complexity of Cathy’s character.
“I actually find Cathy to be an energy vacuum,” Hughes said. “She walks into a room and sucks the energy out of everything, like a vortex. But she’s also very human, and she makes a mistake. I think she’s just this fantastically flawed individual. She’s trying to claw back her love for Heathcliff.”
Mathurin said Heathcliff’s mysterious side makes the role appealing.
“What draws me the most is his mystery,” he said. “I find him to be very enigmatic to play with in the scenes that he’s in,” Mathurin said. “The mystery of the character’s what drew me. I don’t think at this point in time I want to be anyone else but Heathcliff.” (Emilie Kefalas)
And even more theatre, as Broadway World reports that the Lifeline Theatre Chicago production of Jane Eyre has been extended:
To accommodate ticket demand, Lifeline Theatre announces fifteen added performances of its critically-acclaimed production of Jane Eyre, adapted from Charlotte Brontë's novel by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Christina Calvit (four-time Jeff Award winner), and directed by Lifeline Theatre Artistic Director Dorothy Milne (Jeff Award and After Dark Award winner). After a troubled childhood, Jane Eyre searches for new purpose as a governess at Thornfield Hall. But a fragile peace gives way to turbulent passion when she meets Mr. Rochester, a man concealing a dark secret. Their unconventional relationship leads to a terrible revelation, and Jane must forge a new future amid the ashes of her ravaged dreams. As she struggles to free herself from the ghosts of her past, Jane realizes that her only hope is to find love on her own terms. A highly theatrical exploration of one woman's independent spirit in a beloved adaptation freshly updated for its first appearance on the Lifeline stage in thirteen years. Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (
UPDATED CLOSING DATE: Jane Eyre runs through November 16 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. [...]. Performance times are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. The production runs approximately two hours with one intermission.
A columnist from Lillie News reviews the play Fishwrap and says,
 "Fishwrap" is hardly a hard-hitting drama. It's rife with puns, as well as jokes about booze and sex. Hey, it takes place in a newsroom: What do you think we talk about around here, the Brontë sisters' collected works? (Ben Bromley)
The Guardian has received a letter stating that bad mothers weren't quite so rare in 19th-century novels:
“Family” novels by women writers featuring bad mothers (Tim Lott, Family, 11 October) were a standard trope in 19th-century literature. Jane Austen’s lazy Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park prefers her pug to her children. Charlotte Brontë’s cold Mrs Reed in Jane Eyre spoils her children and believes her bullying son’s lies. Elizabeth Gaskell’s hypocritical Mrs Gibson in Wives and Daughters neglects her daughter. All are described with compassion and wit. Perhaps that makes them not quite bad enough?
Michele Roberts, London
This columnist from My Jewish Learning recalls that,
Growing up as the daughter of two teachers, my parents encouraged me to read every kind of book that I was interested in. As a middle schooler I socialized with Charles Dickens, curled up with Jane Austen, ate snacks with the Bronte sisters, decided that I hated every stuffy Victorian who took 150 pages to start a plot, and moved on to their dark Russian cousins, the Tolstoys and Dostoevskys (125 pages to start a plot). (Malka Z. Simkovich)
Flavorwire reviews Nell Zink's novel The Wallcreeper:
The driver of the novel, its protagonist and voice, is Tiffany, a thoroughly contemporary personality that somehow hearkens back to the Brontë’s and Jane Austin (and Zink confirms that Austen is a reference for The Wallcreeper). (Jonathon Sturgeon)
Columbus Monthly shares several not-so-well-known shopping places in the area such as the following:
At the Library Store inside the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s main branch Downtown, you’ll find much more than books for sale. For the book-obsessed, there are T-shirts, books, toys, accessories (like an irresistible “Jane Eyre” zippered pouch) and even books about books. 
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shares an oil sketch by Branwell. Open Letters Monthly talks about the upcoming Annotated Wuthering Heights published by Harvard University Press. edited by Janet Gezari. On Bookriot (and on The Squirrel's Diary) we read the personal experience and timeline of a Wuthering Heights reader.  Finally, Vonnie's Reading Come, Lost Generation Reader and A Night's Dream of Books continue posting about their Jane Eyre readalong.

by Cristina ( at October 15, 2014 09:02 PM

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

Snippet of manuscript.

I’ve been proofreading the Genesis manuscript (for longer than I’d like to admit), and surprisingly, I’m finding myself implementing a really basic rule of the archive for more or less the first time. The only other handwritten works I’ve ever proofed or transcribed were all letters. Since letters are basically one of a kind, and there are few guideposts besides common sense to indicate what Blake is saying most of the time, if a word or a letter looks funky, I transcribe it funkily. The “transcribe what you see” rule is very straightforward in these cases.

However, for a work like Genesis, this rule is supplemented by an ongoing consciousness that since Blake is writing by hand, everything he means is not going to be executed perfectly. For example, the row of indentations for each line down the page might look wildly variant, but basically, we get the picture, and though Blake may have been drunk that day or something, we understand that the indentation of each line should be represented by one “tab” space, and we represent it as such. Here are a couple examples of what I’m talking about from Genesis

Snippet of manuscript.

Obj. 3 line 6: It looks like there’s a space missing between “of” and “the”. Should we transcribe “ofthe deep”? No, because we can see that these are two separate words, and what’s more, we’d have to transcribe two words as one in almost every sentence throughout the work.

Snippet of manuscript.

Obj. 4 line 9: Here again, this “t” is missing its cross; should we transcribe it as ambiguous/ as an “i,” or note it? No, because the number of “t”’s missing their crosses might actually outnumber those with crosses. Wait, does Blake even know what a lower-case “t” looks like?! I think I have my dissertation project!!!

Hopefully I won’t go mad with the power this proofing project is affording me before I finish it, but at this rate….

by mspeer2014 at October 15, 2014 05:35 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Perfectly lovely day. Rose shortly after 6 ― & at 7 drew in the Garden ― Hallam & Lionel coming now & then. At 9 ― breakfast, ET, ― & afterwards ― AT. Talk with E.T. about the boys’ going to school. The news of a Railway to cut thro’ the park disturbs. Of Mrs. Park House L. ― & her Edinburgh life ―! Of F. & Kate L. ― & so on ― At 12 I called on poor Kate L. ― in the sunny room at Murrows I had in 1861. ― Saw the little Harry. Walked back by the Downs ― lovely. ―

2 Messrs Worsley at lunch ― rather tiresome ― but then I am not tolerant. At 3 ― Walked with AT to the needles ― he does not seem to enjoy scenery now ― & ever talks about the accursed railway. ― No one came to dinner, but he was “far from over wise” ― & at 8 came F. & Mrs. F. Pollock ― who staid till 10.30. One always seems to live in public here. (Letter today from D.J. Simeon ― they are away ― so I can’t go on Monday.)

AT’s ravings about England ‘going down hill’ ― “best thing God can do is to squash the planet flat” ― &c. &c. ― are wearying & distressing. Much talk of religion ― Balaam’s ass. ―


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 15, 2014 08:00 AM


Charlotte Rhymed

An alert for today, October 15, at the Ilkley Literature Festival:
FRINGE: Something Rhymed
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman 9.15–10.15pm

Who did Jane Austen turn to for literary friendship? What about Charlotte Brontë? Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney discuss the friendship of female authors and share new writing inspired by the friendships of Ilkley Festival goers.

by M. ( at October 15, 2014 01:30 AM

October 14, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


Gray ― sunless ― fine. ― Rose at 6.30, & “packed” &c. till breakfast. Underhill came. ―

At 10 came to Railway ― & by 1.45 or 2.15 (in company with a very pleasant intelligent man,) came to Brocklehurst ― days of 1855!! ― & to Lymington. Here, there was a fuss about the Steamboat, ―going from the quay to the jetty & vice versa ― water not being deep enough. At last, got off with 2 passengers from the jetty. Ran aground on starting & had to wait the tide ― saw 2 wrecks in the river. Across the Yarmouth ― ˇ[by 4.10] & Fly to Farringford ― arriving before 5. Great loveliness of scenery ― but how much is being spoiled by “novelties” as the Spaniard says.

Saw ET & AT ― & walked in the field & garden with him ― the boys 2 here. Dinner pleasant ― & evening would have been so had not Mrs. C. come in, whom ― never liking at any time, ― I now dislike extremely on account of the H.H.J. business. Besides she is a bore. Emily T. is I think sadder than formerly: the sending the boys to school is a weight perhaps on the future. Alfred is more expansive & diffusive than usual. Although this is one of the places I am really happy in, ― (& few they are) ― tho’ the pleasure is “mingled with Melancholy” ― like Ellis Ashtons “fox color mingled with gray.” ― I had a letter from the good old gentleman yesterday.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 14, 2014 08:00 AM


Posthumous Vision

Raffaelli Editore has re-issued the works of the Italian poetess Nadia Campana (1954-1985), including Visione Postuma (originally published in 1986) where she showed her fascination with Emily Brontë.
Campana Nadia
Visione postuma
Collana Poesia contemporanea n. 53
A cura di Milo De Angelis, Emi Rabuffetti e Giovanni Turci
ISBN 9788867920464
Raffaelli Editore

Sono importanti questi saggi per comprendere la figura e l’opera di Nadia Campana. E sono tutti percorsi dalla passione per la vita e per la letteratura. Alcuni poi (in particolare quelli sulla Cvetaeva) hanno venature biografiche di impressionante profezia, come se l’autrice avesse scelto questo tipo di scrittura per svelare la parte più segreta di se stessa e il destino che da lì a poco si sarebbe compiuto. (Milo De Angelis)
Abbiamo intitolato Visione postuma questa raccolta di scritti di Nadia Campana, in gran parte inediti, prendendo spunto da quello inaugurale, particolarmente caro all’autrice. Il libro è diviso in tre sezioni. La prima raccoglie testi di poetica, ricchi di forza lirica e di presagio, dove il tema della morte volontaria appare centrale. La seconda comprende alcune riflessioni su due scrittrici di lingua inglese – Emily Brontë ed Emily Dickinson – e sull’arte della traduzione. La terza riunisce scritti brevi e di vario genere, dedicati agli interessi di Nadia Campana negli anni ottanta: i libri di poesia usciti in quel periodo, il teatro, l’insegnamento della letteratura nella scuola media.

by M. ( at October 14, 2014 01:30 AM

October 13, 2014

Regency Ramble

Thanksgiving - Canadian style

When I grew up in England, Thanksgiving was something I read about in "Little Women". As I understood it, the celebration related to something that occurred as a result of leaving Britain behind.  We did have Harvest Festival, or Harvest Home, a Sunday church service relating to the bringing in of the harvest that occurs around the autumn equinox, usually in late September. The church was decorated with wheat sheaves and other items of produce signifying a successful harvest and food items are given to those less fortunate. There were no special family gatherings.

When I came to Canada I was surprised to discover the extent of Thanksgiving in North America. To me it felt like having a second Christmas with turkey and all the trimmings and family in attendance, but no gifts.  I was also surprised to discover that it came a month earlier than the one celebrated in our neighbours to the south.

It certainly didn't take us long to adapt to this additional celebration in our annual calendar and every year we look forward to sitting down with family and friends. And if we have taken on the Canadian traditions of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie to go along with our turkey, we retain some of our British roots with chestnut stuffing and bread sauce added to the table's delights.

Our family has much to give thanks for, despite trials and tribulations throughout the year, and I wish all my Canadian friends and family who are unable to be with us today, Happy Thanksgiving and all best wishes to those of you who will celebrate your Thanksgiving next month.

by Ann Lethbridge ( at October 13, 2014 12:59 PM


Chloë wants to be in a Brontë film

It's a quiet Monday in Brontëland. Harpers Bazaar features Chloë Sevigny who
wouldn’t mind playing a femme fatale, a Jean Harlow–esque comedienne, or the lead in a period drama—preferably anything Edith Wharton, Henry James, or the Brontës. (Christine Whitney)
The St. Joseph News-Press features a local classic book club:
From there, the group moved on to other classic tales, including books by Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Brontë. The members also tackled three Russian novels in one year, including “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. For longer novels, the group sometimes takes two months to read and discuss the book. (Jena Sauber)
Krytyka Polityczna interviews the Polish writer Agnieszka Graff:
Czy miałaś szczególnie ważnych bohaterów literackich, jakieś inspiracje?
Do tego dziewiętnastowieczna powieść angielska: Tessa Hardy’ego, Wichrowe wgórza Emily Brontë, potem Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë. (Michał Sutowski) ( (Translation)
The Edinburgh Journal discusses Michael Gove's new English Literature syllabus. Escritoras inglesas writes in Portuguese about Emily Brontë. Beauty is a sleeping cat posts about Agnes Grey. Allerhande, maar vooral literatuur (in Dutch) reviews Wuthering Heights 2011.

by Cristina ( at October 13, 2014 10:39 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Same gray dry fine weather, & bright moon at night. Did not go out all day. Underhill came at 9 ― & till 10 worked at the Cedar outline, wh. I have set him to do: he seems a good lad ― he gets 57£ per ann. (from the club ― Pratt’s) of which £5.5. go in his lodgings ― & £10.10 to his disabled mother ― leaving him 40 for board & clothing. So I don’t think what help I can give his would be misplaced.

I worked a little ― almost the last I can do ― at the Janina. And a good deal at the Campagna ― sky particularly. Then, I cleared out a closet, & more or less arranged various things. At near 6 ― the Railway people brought the Athens roba here, ― but I had no change to pay: so it was sent back to Foord’s.

Dined alone at 7. Piano ἔπειτα[.]

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 13, 2014 08:00 AM


Compelling Portraiture in Wuthering Heights

Today, October 13, in Ponden Hall. A workshop on compelling portraiture photograpy:
Compelling Portraiture - A Creative Residential in Wuthering Heights
A site-specific residential photography training experience
13th – 15th October 2014

A creative residential in the real Wuthering Heights aimed at those who are passionate about exploring and learning more about creating stunning Portrait
Photography/Lifestyle/Dramatic Imagery and Story/Fashion based images.

Led by Carolyn Mendelsohn
Winner of Professional Photographer of the Year 2013 – Lifestyle

“I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.” Emily Brontë
Location: Ponden Hall, Haworth, BD22 0HR, England
Arrival: 4pm Monday 13th October ending at 5pm 15th October 2014

An amazing experience for those who love their photography, love portraiture, love history and a good classic.
A two day residential in the most – and I mean the most amazing and unique place. A place frequented by Emily Brontë, who often used the library in the house, and reputed to be where she based the story of Wuthering Heights. As part of these two days the small and select group of participants will stay in this beautiful, wild and wuthering building and experience the following.

Arrival day – 4pm. Cream Tea and a tour of Ponden Hall putting the two days in context. Meeting the facilitators and finding out more about how the days will work.

Evening Free time with personal mentoring and portfolio review tailored to where you are now to be arranged.

Day One:
First light photoshoot. (optional) - Get out on those blustery moors as the sun comes up and take sublime pictures

Workshop on Portrait and Lifestyle photography with a practical on location Portrait and Lifestyle shoot
There will also be individual and group exercises to play creatively as well as develop your skills
A Portrait and Lifestyle shoot facilitated by Carolyn Mendelsohn
Evening screening of Wuthering Heights (hopefully outdoor projection) – with hot chocolate and snacks.

Day Two
A possible visit to Haworth with an expert setting the scene for Wuthering Heights.
A workshop on creating dramatic and compelling photographs
Meet the make up Artist and Location Stylist. Question and Answer session.
Followed by an amazing on location Wuthering Heights Fashion/Themed shoot.

by M. ( at October 13, 2014 01:30 AM

October 12, 2014


Schoolgirl Stick-Jaw and Old Rumbustious Nonsense

The Toledo Blade interviews the author, illustrator and film director Marjane Satrapi:
“I read a lot and nothing was forbidden. I read a book about Che Guevara when I was 9 and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights when I was 10. I read Jean Paul Sartre when I was 11 or 12; I didn’t understand all of it.” (Tahree Lane)
Reuters interviews another author, Jessie Burton:
Q; Who are your three favourite authors?
A: Of all time, Charlotte Brontë, Hilary Mantel, and Margaret Atwood. (Verity Watkins)
The Independent remembers the figure of Brigid Brophy:
In 1967, she flung a pot of ink in the public’s face with Fifty Works of English Literature We Could Do Without, a bracing argument in favour of dumping everything from Hamlet to Jane Eyre, that is smashing fun now that shock and outrage have subsided. (Christopher Fowler)
Not only Jane Eyre (which the author, and co-authors Michael Levey and Charles Osborne, describe 'like gobbling a jar-full of schoolgirl stick-jaw') but also Wuthering Heights (which 'will wash as a psychological-historical curio or as high old rumbustious nonsense, but not as a great novel').

The Boston Globe has an article about literary reworkings. Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is a standard example:
We’d broken this ground before, though, when Jean Rhys published her 1966 masterpiece “Wide Sargasso Sea” (Norton, 1982). It’s another upending, redemptive story, this time about Bertha Antoinetta Mason Rochester, the “madwoman in the attic” from “Jane Eyre.”
Charlotte Brontë herself felt remiss about Bertha. In an 1848 letter, she wrote she should’ve had more “profound pity” for her, but “I have erred in making horror too predominant.” Rhys grew up in the Caribbean, just like Bertha Mason, and her prose seems to swoon with insight and intensity; it took her 20 years to write the novel. And just as Brontë boldly embraced the topic of passion, Rhys tackles feminism, post-colonialism, and racism: Brontë often cited Mrs. Rochester’s dark skin and hair, unintentionally linking madness to miscegenation.
Rhys divides her book into three sections, with the first and last belonging to Bertha, the middle to Mr. Rochester. He doesn’t fare well: As one of Bertha’s friends says, “It is in your mind to pretend she is mad. I know it.” But Bertha is not so much genetically mad as traumatized. After the British outlawed slavery, when she was a little girl, freed slaves burned down her property and lives were lost. Now I’ll never be able to read the flaming climax of “Jane Eyre” without the double vision of Rhys’s heartbreaking retelling. The arson was inadvertent: As Bertha sees the fiery sky she says, “It was red and all my life was in it.” (Katharine Whittemore)
The Sunday Times publishes an article by John Carder Bush where he discusses the evolution of his sister Kate Bush from her childhood until the Wuthering Heights eclosion.  Kulturalna rzeczywistość (in Polish) reviews the Polish edition of Unfinished Novels. Billy Goes to School posts a couple of Wuthering Heights-inspired photographs. Finally, good news from the Brontë Bell Chapel Facebook Group:
Really great news , we have been given a grant from Community first . This is to create a visitor centre in St James church . This will incorporate the work of the Bell chapel action group and the Brontë artefacts. All this will enhance the visitor experience to Thornton.

by M. ( at October 12, 2014 05:12 PM

The Little Professor

In which I offer potentially useless advice

I have come around to the position that most advice to job candidates is potentially useless, not only because there are so few t-t jobs in most fields that "advice" implies more agency than most candidates have, but also because even the most general advice will inevitably hurt some candidates at some institutions.  Nevertheless.

One of the golden rules of application letters and CVs is: do not confuse, or try to confuse, the committee.  (The rest is commentary.)

For example, a basic yet commonly-committed no-no in CV construction: lumping all sorts of miscellaneous things under "publications."  Professor Doe picks up a CV, sees a long list of titles under the "publications" heading, and is duly impressed...until she looks more closely and realizes that "publications" includes conference papers, articles in circulation, articles in progress, and several entries on TVTropes.  There are, however, no actual peer-reviewed publications in sight.  At this point, Professor Doe becomes mildly irritated and aims the CV in the direction of a figurative recycling bin.      There are many reasons why a candidate might try to lump his or her work instead of split it, but the end result tends to be the same.  

To reiterate: do not confuse, or try to confuse, the committee.

by Miriam Burstein at October 12, 2014 02:32 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Gray ― but always fine. Rose before 7 ― & did a good deal at times all day to the Campagna in spite of many interruptions, ― for

Mr. Prescott.
Mr. Morier.
Middleton ― all came. Bob M. is engaged to be married. Poor Mr. Morier is much aged. ― At 4 or 5 I walked out with G. Middleton ―& then to pay Bicker’s bill ― & to Foord’s ― returning at 7 to dine.

Dined μοναχῶς.

A letter came ― a bill for £2.2s,7d ― being the charge for the last, or Athens parcel of Crete things & paper ― which has arrived at Liverpool.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 12, 2014 08:00 AM


Upcoming Nelly Dean

The Bookseller announces that The Borough Press (an imprint of HarperCollins which publisher director is Katie Espiner) has acquired the rights of a new novel by Alison Case: Nelly Dean.
The Borough Press has paid six-figures on a pre-empt for Nelly Dean by Alison Case, a book which revisits the events of Wuthering Heights through the eyes of the loyal housekeeper.
Publisher Katie Espiner signed UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) with exclusivity in Europe from Deborah Schneider at ICM.
Espiner was alerted to the début by Tracy Chevalier. It will be released in early 2016.
The literary agency of the author (Curtis Brown) gives some more information:
The debut novel from Alison Case, Nelly Dean is a story narrated by the housekeeper and narrator of Wuthering Heights. The narrative focuses on Nelly’s own story, her relationship with Hindley Earnshaw, and the stories of the youth of Cathy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw, and Nelly’s own parents. It concludes some years after the first novel ended, and contains revelations about Heathcliff and about Nelly’s background.
The world Alison Case has created is so singular, so utterly real, the characters so vivid, that it is an original story that does not require any knowledge of the Bronte classic to be appreciated. Alison has made Nelly’s story completely her own (but you may be inspired to go back and reread the original).

by M. ( at October 12, 2014 01:30 AM

October 11, 2014


Everyone should ponder what’s in their attic

Katherine Rue, author of Carly Keene. Literary Detective: Braving the Brontës, talks about her novel on KTOO, particularly about its Alaska references:
Katherine Rue made sure the book’s New York illustrator had an idea of where 12-year-old Carly Keene is from.
“I sent him a picture of my XTRATUFs. Then I sent him a picture of a tent set up in the marsh in Alaska. ‘Here’s the kind of mountains I’m talking about. Here’s what the water and the mountains and islands look like together. And just so you know, people from Juneau don’t use umbrellas. We all make fun of them. She needs a raincoat on the front’ – that kind of thing,” Rue says lightheartedly.
Published by New York-based In This Together Media, the book begins and ends in present day Juneau. It takes an interesting turn when Carly is walking downtown with her best friend Francesca.
“They go into a bookshop they’ve never seen down a little alleyway they’ve never seen when they’re walking home from getting hot cocoa downtown. And she’s reading a first edition of ‘Jane Eyre’ and falls asleep, and wakes up in 1846,” Rue says.
Carly finds herself in the home of the Brontë sisters in England as Charlotte Brontë is trying to write the classic “Jane Eyre.” Carly is stuck there until she can solve a mystery involving the literary family. (...)
Braving the Brontës is geared for kids ages 9 to 14. Rue warns there is some challenging vocabulary that parents may need to decipher. The book also references many other great works of literature besides those written by the Brontë sisters. But Rue doesn’t expect her readers to have read “Jane Eyre” or to know who the Brontë sisters are. (Lisa Phu)
The New York Times reviews Sarah Ruhl's 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write:
Judged by its title, Sarah Ruhl’s book might seem the very embodiment of Woolf’s prophesy, though its defensive flippancy, nearly a century later, might have surprised her. For a woman who confesses to a moral loathing of the word “quirky,” Ruhl comes alarmingly close, at first glance, to appearing just that: Does a successful female playwright (“In the Next Room; Or, The Vibrator Play,” “The Clean House”) and intellectual, offering a collection of her pensées in 2014, really still feel the need to reassure the public of her cute, harassed harmlessness? When the likes of Adam Phillips bestow their fragments on the world, it is with all due self-importance, and while Ruhl’s title is mindfully unpompous, it also asserts — though somewhat apologetically — a connection to living too vigorous for a pristine set of cleaned-up, embalmed reflections. That note of apology, thankfully, does not persist. “If one is interested in longevity as a writer,” she asks, “how does one respond to the cultural obsession with newness? Or to the sinking and perhaps paranoid feeling that women writers in particular, as soon as they are no longer perceived as potentially seducible daughters but instead as repulsive, dry menopausal mothers in need of lubrication — wait, Virginia Woolf said that Charlotte Brontë wrote badly when she was angry.” (Rachel Cusk)
We clearly disagree with Jacquie Moore when she says in The Calgary Herald:
I devoured Jane Eyre in the greasy lunchroom at the hotel. As it turns out, it’s not a terrifyingly Important Book after all but—as Ann-Marie MacDonald writes in her response to our required-reading survey on the following pages—simply a story that encourages one to ponder what is in one’s own attic. (...)

Ann-Marie MacDonald
A book that should be required reading for most humans.

Jane Eyre, because everyone should ponder what’s in their attic. (...)
Ivan E. Coyote
A book you said you read but didn’t.
Wuthering Heights. I was in my blue-collar pride phase. I still am. It just didn’t work for me, the poor boy being rescued by the rich family. It gave me a bad attitude.
We really loved this story in the Glens Falls  Post-Star:
Abigail came through the door and collapsed into a heap.
She had held it together at school. Acted tough. But now home, the heartache poured out.
Life had dealt the poor child a severe blow.
It took a while, but finally she pulled herself together enough to find the words.
“They ... they decided ... (tears wiped, snot sucked) ... they decided on which play they are going to do for 5th grade drama club. It’s ... it’s the Velveteen Rabbit!”
I hugged her and offered my condolences.
I asked her which story she was hoping they’d do
Girl after my own heart, she said, “Jane Eyre.” (Martha Petteys)
Amy Jenkins discusses Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd in The Guardian:
To this extent, FFTMC has a classic "marriage plot". A misguided heroine overlooks or misunderstands sensible Mr Right, goes off with imprudent Mr Wrong, learns the error of her ways, and returns to settle safely. Even when this story is told the other way round – it's the man who has been with Miss Wrong and must be converted (think Jane Eyre or Rebecca) – the marriage plot is nearly always told from the woman's perspective; it served to protect inherited wealth, no doubt, and warned many a young heiress away from an unreliable husband. When the man is the protagonist, on the other hand, he is rarely shown to pass over the sexy beauty for the plain Jane. Quite the opposite. He is encouraged to aim high and win the girl who seems impossibly out of reach – as with Gabriel Oak in FFTMC.
The Destin Log discusses the importance of playing  in childhood:
Playing games develops innovation and creativity. The authors indicate that when children are not told what to do by an adult, they have to figure out their own fun activities. The Brontë children created an imaginary world called the Great Glass Town Confederacy. This time spent in imaginary play became the backbone for the imagination the three sisters used in writing their classic adult books. (Tommy Fairweather)
The Daily Jeffersonian talks about the last performances of the Cambridge Performing Arts Centre Jane Eyre production:
In just his second show with CPAC, Heath Chaney -- who plays Edward Fairfax Rochester -- shares Roberson's sentiments.
"I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work with friends and the people in the community that are so brilliantly artistic. It has been a reunion of sorts," he said.
Chaney describes the show as, "a timeless story about redemption." He adds that "Jane Eyre" is a perfect story for this time of year. "'Jane Eyre' is a dark story. There are secrets about Rochester. The music is dark."
Danielle Zaborski, who plays the role of Mrs. Reed, says that she sees Jane Eyre as the perfect production for Jane Austen fans and romantics, "It is right up their alley."
"I love the music," Zaborski said. "The music is difficult but beautiful once it comes all together." (...)
[Brent] Miller explained that "Jane Eyre" differs from other shows CPAC has done in the past. "This is more of an operetta than a musical, a lot of the dialogue is sung."
Many of the musicals that the Cambridge Performing Arts Centre has done in the past have featured stand alone songs that the audience is often familiar with. The music and songs in "Jane Eyre" are unfamiliar but as many of the people who have seen the show have said, it is beautiful. (Stacy Mathews)
The Washington Post reviews the novel The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue:
Atmosphere and atmospherics are crucial to the success of gothic fiction. “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Rebecca” and “The Haunting of Hill House” have at least this quality in common, that their protagonists inhabit and move through a largely unknowable world that darkens around them. “The Boy Who Drew Monsters” could not be improved upon in this regard. (Peter Straub)
The Daily Nebraskan reviews the film Gone Girl by David Fincher:
Once again, looking at the stories we tell is a surefire way to get at the heart of our cultural beliefs. Historically, it isn’t difficult to see the commonalities linking our fictional accounts of passion. Almost always, the unifying factor in our stories of passionate love is an element of danger or uncertainty. Lancelot and Guinevere. Romeo and Juliet. Heathcliff and Catherine. The names and the details are different, but we’ve always been telling stories of incredibly troubled love, the most tragic of which we use as our most iconic examples of passionate love. (Sean Stewart)
George Mason's University Student News Outlet reviews the Aquila Theatre production of Wuthering Heights:
The play was enrapturing and I found myself falling in love again with this classic tale. The actors continued to outdo my expectations as the play progressed; the acting became more intense and the emotions were synced with my own.
The last scene stood out to me. I felt that the play had its own heartbeat and crescendo — thumping rapidly at this pivotal point. (Richard Termine)
The Waikato Times (New Zealand) talks about Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca:
Rebecca is a rich character study. Maxim de Winter epitomises the "Byronic Hero". Arrogant and brooding, he is the Heathcliff or Rochester of the 20th century.
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) reviews the fifth season of Downton Abbey:
Temat för säsongen, som tar sitt avstamp 1924, tycks vara tvåsamhet, ett ämne som ligger genren starkt om hjärtat - trånande blickar över vidsträckta salsgolv är själva motorn i brittiska mästerverk som ”Stolthet och fördom” och ”Jane Eyre”. (Erika Hallhagen) (Translation)
Libero Quotidiano (Italy) reviews the TV series Un'altra vita:
Nel frattempo, il marito corrotto, dalla Svizzera, chiede a Vanessa -che a quanto punto è una sorta di Moll Flanders del basso Lazio- di testimoniare il falso. Ovviamente la puntata successiva si risolverà tutto per il meglio. Inutile citare la solita struttura iterativa che affonda nei classici del melò tra le sorelle Brontë e Daphne du Maurie. Cotroneo, a passeggiare affondando nei sentimenti, è maestro. (Translation)
Matheikal's Blog posts a poem with the title Heathcliff on his deathbed;  Stiles Kicks Ass, Yo posts a beautiful meme using Wuthering Heights 2011; Saylingaway publishes an interesting entry: Clothes in Jane Eyre's Time by Luccia Gray; Toastwig reviews Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at October 11, 2014 02:47 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Gray ― fine ― no sun. Did but little work ― some generalization of the Sir W. James’s picture. But Dickenson came to measure for the Water Colored Screen ― & after that Mansfield Parkyns came & staid a long time ― & then they came & hung up the portrait of my dear Ann (― done by Gush ―) & the remaining unhung prints. So I neither worked nor went out ― but mooned & moaned, & what I painted painted ill. And it is useless to think of leaving London before I go.

At 4 or 5 ― a note from Gussie, with Ten Guineas for her drawing of Suda Bay. Ahi!

“Depressed” & “sad” ― which one ain’t often now a days. At 7.30 to 15 Belgravia Square.


Very good dinner ― & pleasant evening ― in a way ― only the lamps hurt me. ― E.A. Drummond walked home with me nearly: home at 11.45.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 11, 2014 08:00 AM

Victorian Poetry Network

New Publications on Victorian Poetry

The latest issue of Victorian Poetry, for Summer 2014 (52.2), contains the following essays:

  • Gregory Tate, “Infinite Movement: Robert Browning and the Dramatic   Travelogue”
  • Lakshmi Krishnan, “Robert Browning and the Intelligent Use of Anger in The Ring and the Book
  • Charlotte Boyce, “‘Mighty through thy Meats and Drinks am I’: The Gender Politics of Feast and Fast in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King
  • Jill R. Ehnenn, “Strong Traveilling: Re-visions of Women’s Subjectivity and Female Labor in the Ballad-work of Elizabeth Siddal”
  • Marisa Palacios Knox, “Masculine Identification and Marital Dissolution in Aurora Leigh

The special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture (42.3 [Spring 2014]) on “Victorian India”, edited by Mary Ellis Gibson and Melissa Richard, has some articles relevant to Victorian poetry studies:

  • Alison Chapman, “Internationalising the Sonnet: Toru Dutt’s Baugmaree”
  • Máire ní Fhlathúin, “Transformations of Byron in the Literature of British India”


  • Caroline Gelmi, “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating”: Sappho and Early American Newspaper Poetry”, Nineteenth-Century Literature 69.2 (September 2014)
  • Matthew Rubery, “Thomas Edison’s Poetry Machine”, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 18 (2014)
  • F. Elizabeth Gray, “‘With thrilling interest’: Victorian Women Poets Report the News”, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies
  • Jayne Hildebrand, “The Ranter and the Lyric: Reform and Genre Heterogeneity in Ebenezer Elliott’s Corn Law Rhymes”, Victorian Review 39.1 (Spring 2013)
  • Jason Rudy, “Floating Worlds: Émigré Poetry and British Culture”, ELH 81.1 (Spring 2014)
  • Kirstie Blair, “‘Let the Nightingales Alone’: Correspondence Columns, the Scottish Press, and the Making of the Working-Class Poet”, Victorian Periodicals Review, 47.2 (Summer 2014)

by Alison Chapman at October 11, 2014 04:23 AM


Patti Smith introducing and signing Wuthering Heights

The Folio Society presents a new edition of Wuthering Heights with illustrations by Rovina Cai and introduced by Patti Smith. The singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist will be tomorrow, October 11, at the McNally Jackson bookstore (52 Prince Street, between Lafayette & Mulberry, New York) signing copies as a part of the New Yorker Festival:
New Yorker Festival Signings
5pm: the Folio Society presents Patti Smith signing Wuthering Heights

Location: 52 Prince St
New York, New York
United States
Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë
Introduced by Patti Smith
Illustrated by Rovina Cai

Wuthering Heights defies easy classification and stands alone as a uniquely powerful novel that transcends genres. Patti Smith, the singer-songwriter and poet, has written a new, lyrical introduction to this edition, in which she sums up Emily Brontë’s complex gifts.
Illustration by Rovina Cai
An extract from the introduction to Wuthering Heights by the acclaimed musician and poet Patti Smith

Through the endless winter of 1847 the Brontë sisters paced, sparred and provoked one another. They had written since childhood; a form of comradely self-entertainment, inventing scandalous histories, warring countries, dueling kings – their own game of thrones. At the ink-stained table, scarred in the center with a candle-burn the size of a small hand, each conceived of her heroine – drawing from the sap of their particular situations. Anne offered her own double with the gentle, empathetic Agnes Grey. In an act of proud defiance, Charlotte created the small, plain and beloved Jane Eyre. Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre each would be obliged to overcome numerous trials before securing constant and fulfilling love-on-earth by book’s end.

And what hath Emily wrought? No such earned splendor. She drew from her restive pulse and unleashed the unquiet apparition of Catherine Earnshaw, whose pale fingers reached from the grave as if to paralyze the breath of her soul’s predestined mate. Those who are not passionate are pallid, and those languishing from passion develop a color of their own – that of death. Charlotte and Anne’s protagonists sought redemption, equilibrium. Emily courted no such outcomes. She created a heroine spawned from interesting winds, reflecting her own emotional range, from inner waywardness to the deep restraint of self-deprivation. Emily was like a small volcano, dormant yet restlessly bubbling, and erupting through the words and actions of her chosen characters. She sternly adhered to her own sense of morality from which she would not waver, not even to appease her extremely vexed sisters. Snipping the chains of convention,Wuthering Heights was declared uniquely powerful, yet so savage and morally repellent that it was to plunge Ellis Bell, like it or not, into the public forum.

by M. ( at October 11, 2014 03:06 AM

October 10, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

(There would have been more, except that some Amazon seller decided to stick the wrong tag on a book and sent me a bizarre novel having to do with Celts and black magic instead of, you know, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.)

by Miriam Burstein at October 10, 2014 11:40 PM


'An incredible story that is as relevant today as it was when it was written'

Here's a rather controversial statement from BlogHer:
It might not have been what Austen and Brontë had in mind when they pioneered the classic romantic novel, but the evolution of women’s literature to the modern genre “chick lit” certainly has the literary world abuzz with both praise and controversy. (Allie Paul)
The Washington Post does fit Wuthering Heights in its right literary genre though:
Atmosphere and atmospherics are crucial to the success of gothic fiction. “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Rebecca” and “The Haunting of Hill House” have at least this quality in common, that their protagonists inhabit and move through a largely unknowable world that darkens around them. (Peter Straub)
Novelicious finds a Brontëite in writer Jodi Taylor:
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why? I read Jane Eyre at school, enjoyed it and forgot it. I read it again a couple of years ago and was astonished at the power and passion of Charlotte Brontë’s writing. It’s an incredible story that is as relevant today as it was when it was written. I've read it several times since, finding something new and amazing every time.
The Museums Association has a little quiz on who said what on Twitter. Here's a hint: it wasn't the Brontë Parsonage that said this:
4. #DidYouKnow that Branwell Brontë worked on the railways&was sacked due to incompetence. Today marks 166 yrs since his death at the age of 31
The Morley Observer lists some of the events that took place last weekend as part of the ninth Morley Literature Festival.
The ninth Morley Literature Festival got off to a solid start at the weekend and there is still a lot more to see before it draws to a close on Sunday.
A heritage walk, Brontë Literary Lunch and manga workshop were among the events to make a splash with visitors.
Boy George talks about Kate Bush's comeback shows in the Nottingham Post.
I heard people moaning about Kate Bush's show because she didn't perform 'Wuthering Heights'. That's a weird one though because it's like me not performing ‘Karma Chameleon’. We'd probably get pulled off the stage" he laughs.
Manchester Confidential has an article - with pictures - on the re-opening of Elizabeth Gaskell's house. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books reviews Jane Slayre.

EDIT: As seen in the Drew Barrymore's instagram:
I went to the Bronte sisters house, where they lived and loved and wrote some of the most inspired novels ever written. It's was a house of brave and brilliant women. #girlpower

by Cristina ( at October 10, 2014 08:47 PM

16.21 hours

We find this curious (and slightly misleading). How long does it take to read a book? (Via Personal Creations)
There’s nothing quite like unwinding from a long day at work or enjoying an afternoon in the sun with a good book. Engrossing ourselves in the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the characters can be exhilarating and calming all at once. But we are also busy people, so it’s good to know how long it will take us to read this novel. That’s where we come in.
We took some of the most popular books of all time and estimated how long it would take the average reader to finish by multiplying word count by the average person’s reading speed, 300 words per minute, which will give you an approximate gauge of how long it will take any of the following great books.
Reading difficulty should be considered as well, as for most it may take longer to read an old book such Homer’s The Odyssey versus a newer text such as The Hunger Games. So, don’t set your watch with this guide – use it as a rough gauge to inform your next reading session. Enjoy the infographic!

by M. ( at October 10, 2014 08:44 PM

The Little Professor

An English Ghost Story

It's October, so it must be time for haunted house stories.  Kim Newman's An English Ghost Story offers up a variant drenched in idyllic nostalgia.  Our heroes, the Naremore family, are a vexed twenty-first century assortment of ex-punk rebels (the parents, Steven and Kirsten) accessorized by an unhappy adolescent (daughter Jordan) and an obessive military roleplayer (son Tim).  On the verge of a breakup, the Naremores exit urban London for life in the countryside, where they find "the Hollow," an ancient home that last belonged to Louise Teazle, author of a beloved series of children's books transparently set in that very spot.  London: hectic, cramped, rapidly transforming under capitalist pressure.  The Hollow: peaceful, spacious, a medieval relic.  (The Hollow's illusory edenic quality is, in part, thanks to the apples which dominate the scene.)  Despite its age, the Hollow promises salvation by erasing family history: "This was what they needed.  A new place, to start all over again, to build something.  Yet an old place, broken in by people, with mysteries and challenges, temptations and rewards" (loc. 112).  This fantasy--that a family in pain can simply be restarted, swept free of its accumulated history--is an error integral to the Gothic genre, which is filled with characters who yearn to bury the past, only to find that it persists in walking.  Newman's key innovation here is that the family brings the deadly ramifications of this error to the haunted house.  As in so many haunted house tales, terror erupts in the change from one house to the next; here, though, the problem is not that the family invades the home's space, but that the family's very nature transforms the initially caring home into something much more vicious.  The living people are Gothic; the ghosts, not so much.

In many ways, the novel's truest ghost is "Vron," Kirsten's old friend Veronica, whose wayward behavior as a woman in early middle age constitutes a different kind of haunting.  Vron is a tattooed Goth of sorts, dabbling in one thing or another--"the Wild Witch," Jordan calls her--whose influence has repeatedly disrupted the family in the past.  Most dangerously, Vron's irresponsibility when it comes to lovers, children, and friends represents the allure of complete, egotistical freedom.  Given to trendy enthusiasms, implicitly neglectful of her child, and possibly the overage seducer of Jordan's boyfriend, Vron embodies the ghost of adolescent rebellion--the childish things one must put away.  "No one ever really changes," she warns the Naremores at the end of the novel (loc. 4193), and that threat, even more than Vron herself, is the danger that really propels the novel's events.  

To be a family, the novel insists, is to change: in order to survive the Hollow, the characters must recognize that they exist as a growing, shifting unit, not as little atomized bodies of desire.  Despite their brief honeymoon in the Hollow, filled with childlike play (and, on the part of the adults, rather a lot of sex), the characters soon regress, or perhaps progress, to extreme forms of the behavior that got them in trouble in the first place.  Kirsty's straw feminist desire for self-realization--"[t]he daughter crisis diverted Kirsty from what she wanted to do, what she wanted to be" (loc. 1756)--leads her to reject her duty to care for others.  Steven's desires, by contrast, emerge in a parody of patriarchal power, as he takes charge of the family in order to save it: "I may have to be hard, make firm rulings you won't agree with, but you must believe me that it's all for the best" (loc. 2292).  Jordan tries to control both her own body and her boyfriend, Rick, in ways that suggest she resents adulthood (she fears her own developing physique) instead of embraces it; her brother imagines everything in terms of survival tactics, pitting him against his family instead of prompting him to defend it.  These drives toward selfish fulfillment and control are as much about the fear of others as they are about twenty-first century individualism.  The characters don't want to be vulnerable to the pains and sufferings and others; they want to live like Vron, who treats people like "toys" (loc. 4197).   

Thus the Hollow, whose ghosts vibrate in ultra-sympathy with the home's inhabitants.  As the multiple inset narratives suggest, living residents can engage warmly with the ghosts and live happily in return, or they can be angry and suffer horrible deaths instead.  It is here that the novel is, perhaps unintentionally, at its eeriest.  As I said at the beginning, An English Ghost Story seeps nostalgia: the Hollow is most closely associated with a children's author, whose books prompt fond memories of childhood happiness; those books in turn saved the sanity of a man kept hostage for many years; the house itself, far out in the countryside (a conventionally idyllic pastoral space, in other words), is a architectural hodgepodge of English styles from the Middle Ages to the modern.  Being content in the house requires that the characters abjure the rush of the modern world--Steven, after all, has to cut back on his business dealings at the end.  If Jordan, unlike Louise Teazle, ultimately decides that the Hollow "is not enough" (loc. 4230), nevertheless her family, to remain a family, must stay in the house and be trained to exist in sympathy.  The characters change, all right, but would they change if the ghosts were not there to force them into mindfulness?  The happy Hollow may be a carrot, but the horrors always remain as a stick.  "But not fighting was habit-forming," Jordan notices, "and the Hollow was supportive" (loc. 4219).  To have a loving traditional family, it appears, one still needs terror.  


by Miriam Burstein at October 10, 2014 01:40 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Keynote Speakers: Professor Caroline Arscott (Courtauld Institute of Art, London); Professor Tim Barringer (Yale University); Meaghan Clarke (University of Sussex); Professor Kate Flint (University of Southern California); Professor Michael Hatt […]

by Jo Taylor at October 10, 2014 12:04 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine, but gray ― scarcely sunny.

Letters from B.H. Hunt ― he will, with his usual kindness ― be executor for Ellen. From Miss Dennett, who writes rather more hopefully if the Duke ― but her letter is very sad: ― & from Lady Hatherton ― very nice.

Wrote to Taylor, & G. Kokali ― (2 letters to him, having forgotten in the first to tell him to call at the Post in Nice.) Ellen, Mrs. Hunt & others. Worked pretty stiffly at Sir Walter’s picture, the sheep & middle distance ― till 4. Nobody came. ―――――――

But, just as I was going out, somebody did come: to wit Caroline & Augusta Bethell. ―――――――――

Emma Parkyns was in the Carriage below. ――

After which I walked to Kensington & called at Robt. Martineau’s ― out. back by 7. Dressed ― & to Lowndes Square ―


Very pleasant. Among the many anecdotes ― one from H.G. ― of Garibaldi: ― he had come to Taplow from Cliefden ― &, ― driving back ― many labourers left the plough to see him. “This” ― he said, “I like: in Italy the priests would not let them come: this is freedom.” ―― One more; ― at a[1] village school, the mistress (I think G.’s sister,) hearing the boys talk of Garibaldi ― said ― “attend to your books ― what can you know of Garibaldi ―? ― Do you,” ― (addressing a boy[)]― “even know who he is?” ― “Yes ―― he is the man who set Italy free, & took nothing for himself.” ― (Mistress shuts up.)

[1] The entry continues at the bottom of the opposite page, for 9 October.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 10, 2014 08:00 AM

William Morris Unbound

Theses for a William Morris Communism Project

1. William Morris was above all a communist – and this crucial fact is too little recognised. As he declared in Commonweal on 18 May 1889, ‘I will begin by saying that I call myself a Communist, and have no wish to qualify that word by joining any other to it’; and his pamphlet ‘Why I am a Communist’ was published by James Tochatti’s Liberty Press in 1894. George Bernard Shaw, who had been very close to Morris in their early activist years, confirmed in 1934 that ‘Morris, when he had to define himself politically, called himself a Communist ... He knew that the essential term, etymologically, historically, and artistically, was Communist; and it was the only word he was comfortable with’.

2. With so much of the discourse on and around Morris in our culture consisting of gossip about Pre-Raphaelitism, admiration for flowery wallpaper or textile designs (which you then have reproduced on your tea-towels and wellies), worthy but in the end merely historical scholarship about his life and writings, or benign approval of his environmental and conservationist commitments, there is room and need for a group or network which locates itself firmly on the terrain of Morris’s communism, at the extreme edge of his and our culture, and which strives to get his role as a major communist activist, artist and theorist widely acknowledged.

3. This is, however, not just a historical project. Alongside the global capitalist crisis from 2008 onwards, we have witnessed a growing affirmation that communism is once again a viable term for radical politics and thinking in our own time. Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, Jodie Dean, Bruno Bosteels and others have been key thinkers in this project. For as Badiou puts it, ‘We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy – the form of state suited to capitalism – and to the inevitable and “natural” character of the most monstrous inequalities’. After its twentieth-century history, communism certainly remains a challenging term, but the wager of these theorists is that now is clearly the moment to reinvent it.

4. Past and present can and should powerfully illuminate each other. The return of communist thinking in our own time once again makes visible this neglected but central dimension of Morris, while his own political activism, artistic work and utopian writing make available new resources to the communist revival of the early twenty-first century. There is thus now the possibility of an invigorating conversation between communisms past and present – a conversation which will be a matter of artistic production as well as intellectual analysis. Given the continuing hegemony of neo-liberalism, and all the human and ecological damage it does, no contemporary use of William Morris could be more necessary or urgent than this.

by Tony Pinkney ( at October 10, 2014 03:37 AM


Plugging books from dead authors

The spookiest time of the year is drawing closer and Bustle lists 13 of the best haunted houses in literature. One of which is
Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre
Mr. Rochester’s mansion is full of long hallways, plenty of unused rooms, a troubled owner who’s always leaving, and a terrible secret in the attic. When Jane Eyre arrives at Thornfield, she notices that “a very chill and vault-like air pervaded the stairs and gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitaire.” There’s also a lot of weird, ghosty laughter that floats around after midnight. (Tori Telfer)
More spookiness. Every Eye (Italy) interviews actress Sarah Gadon about her role in the film Dracula Untold:
Quale è il tuo rapporto con il romanzo di Bram Stoker? Sarah Gadon: Mi piace molto il romanzo di Bram Stoker, ma amo la letteratura gotica in generale, come Frankenstein di Mary Shelley e Jane Eyre. (Translation)
The Independent reviews another film: Effie Gray, which looks at the life of John Ruskin's wife, Euphemia Gray.
[Emma] Thompson’s screenplay approaches the breakdown of the marriage between Effie and Ruskin, one of the great scandals of the Victorian era, as if it is a dark Gothic fairy tale. Effie (Dakota Fanning) is introduced to us as a “beautiful young girl who lived in a very cold house in Scotland.” Like a heroine in a Brontë novel, Effie is plucked from her childhood home to begin her new life faraway. (Geoffrey MacNab)
Sargasso Sea (Source)
The Buffalo News looks at the work of the artist Amanda Besl:
Besl also alludes to Josephine through the image of the swan. Josephine adopted the swan as an emblem, in part because she admirSargasso Sea,” shows it sitting amid an abundant bed of hair. The work appears simultaneously serene and menacing, as achieved by the eerie greenish light that emanates from it, punctuated by warmer pink and orange tones. The title of the work lends a great deal to understanding this rather haunting scene.
ed its elegance and aggressiveness. One work in which the swan appears, “
The Sargasso Sea, located in the Atlantic Ocean, is a free-floating mass of seaweed that forms an unusual ecological world unto itself, much like Besl’s world where abundant, coiling strands of hair become home to symbolic objects. The title also seemingly refers to “Wide Sargasso Sea,” Jean Rhys’ prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” a story of a woman driven to madness by the patriarchal world in which she lived and who also had an affinity for the lush green botanicals of her Jamaican home. (Brooke LeBoeuf)
The Guardian brings up the age-old discussion of art vs. having children.
We can, if we like, list the successful women artists who have had children (Rego, Spero, Ayres) or come up with long lists of those who didn’t (Kahlo, O’Keeffe, the Brontës, Austen). It’s the old pram-in-the-hall argument, that parenting is the enemy of great art. There is a truth in it. Children stop one separating from the world. They interrupt one’s sense of self as the most important thing ever. This is not always a bad lesson for artists to learn. The domestic sphere is not one of imagination, goes the script Try telling that to Kate Bush. Motherhood can be miserable, of course, and an excuse, and a source of terrible conflict. Plath said it was her muse. But Emin’s adherence to the myth of creativity versus motherhood is so old-fashioned. Emin would have been able to afford childcare and this is the actual issue. What stops women being able to write, or paint, is trying to do everything. It’s Emin’s prerogative, but it is all part of her increasing conservatism. (Suzanne Moore)
The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy looks at October 7 Daily Show where
The mock chaos continued into the interview portion of the show, with Jones and Bee tag-teaming to welcome guest (and former “Daily Show” correspondent) Wyatt Cenac, who was promoting his new Netflix special, Wyatt Cenac: Brooklyn (available October 21).
But apparently even those who are no longer on the Comedy Central series are able to take “The Daily Show” seriously when someone else is in the anchor chair “remolding [Stewart's] ass groove.” The interview was more like a drunken reunion of college buddies, with Cenac dressed in Jeffrey Lebowski chic, complete with a knitted sweater right out of the Dude’s closet, opting to “plug books from dead authors” (including “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” and “‘Charlotte Brontë’ by Jane Eyre” (erm)) over his own work. (Sarene Leeds)
This Daily Telegraph (Australia) columnist doesn't 'plug' Wuthering Heights:
I’m still wondering what I actually learnt from writing all those essays on metaphors and symbolism — other than I absolutely hate Wuthering Heights. (Melissa Matheson)
This Craven Herald & Pioneer columnist looks at a Brontë connection in his family history. The books editor of The Boar is quite a Brontëite. Lifeline Theatre's blog looks at education in Jane Eyre's time.

by Cristina ( at October 10, 2014 12:42 AM

October 09, 2014

Regency Ramble

Athelhampton - Dorset

Athelhampton House in Dorset is full of lovely surprises and I will reveal them as we go along. Rambling Regency Britain is always a joy, mostly because much of what I discover predates the Regency so I have a chance to enjoy more history rather than less.

 Located in the heart of Thomas Hardy Country, Athelhampton is a privately owned home and has been for 500 years.  And since we are focusing on the Regency we are focusing on the Long family who owned the residence until the mid 1800's

This was my first view of the house on the day of the Queen's Jubilee in 2012. The original gatehouse, removed in the mid 1800's according the the guide book, but the arch is quite similar. The gate house was a two story affair, the arch wide enough for carriages leading into the a courtyardwalled on two sides with the "L" shaped house making up the other two sides of a rough square.

Here you can see the two wings of the building.  The front of the house is the original 15th Century Great Hall and buttery with an attached solar.

In the sixteenth century the west wing, on the left was added to that original building.

It is such a treasure and such a privilege to see inside this wonderful old house

As we get closer we cannot help but be enchanted the the embattled frontage and this wonderful window in the corner of the two wings at the solar end of the Great Hall

First we have to go inside so you will follow me through this ancient door beneath  the tower-like entrance porch. Or you may want to sit awhile on the stone benches and soak up the ambiance, like a lady waiting for her carriage to be brought around from the stables.

Until next time.....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at October 09, 2014 01:27 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Gray, but fine. Rose early ― in order to get 60 drawings together ― of various places ― to show Gussie & Emma tonight. This took me ― with packing then ― till nearly 1. P.M. Then there came a letter from Slingsby ― saying ― could I come on Monday or Tuesday, as Emma was not so well today. I was greatly disgusted ― & as he said nothing of my coming without the drawings, I wrote to say I would give up dining with them. Best so ― for, even at this late hour of life, the ridiculous flames of nature burn: best put out at once ― hard as it is ― over & over again, to welcome darkness.

So I went out “no whither” ― & walked till near 5, when returning, I found a not from Lord George Quin, asking me to dine on Tuesday. ― Whereon I wrote, yes ―, ― & left it at Belgravia Square. Then called to see if E. Baring had returned ― but he hadn’t. ―

Then to the Blue Posts ― where I dined for 3/. ― & home by 7. But life, tho’ not very luminous ― is far lighter than at this time last year. ― I wrote today to Taylor, Giorgio, ― C.F. ― Mr. Ashton, Mr. Edwards, Mrs. Clive, Sarah, & others. ――

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 09, 2014 08:00 AM


Developing Wuthering and interpreting Jane

We present today two different approaches to the Brontë opus. First, a long term work-in-progress:
Bethumped Theatre Dance
Wuthering Heights

Read more about the project on our blog page & on our Wuthering Heights research-book containing photos, pictures, context and much, much more.

Conceived in the form of scrappy and sketchy ideas in 2011-2012, 2014 sees the fermentation of these into a more structured and achieveable goal. Jude (director) and Kat (dramaturg) are beginning the journey of creating a literary dramatization of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The process will involve R & D, workshops, on-location research, staged readings, scratch performance and more, over a period of years. The aim, ultimately, is to present a full production for the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth in 2018 (born: 30/7/1818).

We hope this lengthy period of development will give room and space for the creative team and cast members to breathe, to think, to experiment and to bring the novel to life without feeling rushed. The aim is to give the novel the time and space it deserves, and to really do it justice.

Throughout this process the opportunity will be there to explore and delve into the structure, narrative, language, character, body, physical states, accents, atmosphere and space, environment, architecture and much, much more. Not least, it will allow us to research and shed light upon the world which gave birth to the novel, from the gothic and Romantic influences, the German philosophical texts, the writer’s father and family, the influences of classical tragedy and Shakespeare.

British theatre, unlike other parts of the world, rarely allows for such a period of development, but Bethumped wants to challenge the commonly fast-paced production cycle and take Wuthering Heights in its stride.
And Lisa-Marie Kasper presents on kwerfeldein an 'interpretation' of Jane Eyre as a modern photonovel: J.E.
Heute morgen habe ich Euch hinter die Kulissen meiner Serienerstellung von „J. E.“ blicken lassen und gezeigt, wieviel Herzblut, Gedanken, Ideen und auch Hilfe von Freunden und Bekannten sich dahinter verbergen. Nun darf ich Euch meine komplette Serie mit einer kurzen Zusammenfassung der Ereignisse des Romans „Jane Eyre“ von Charlotte Brontë hier vorstellen.

by M. ( at October 09, 2014 01:30 AM

October 08, 2014


Activity Jane

The Observer interviews the actress and now author, Sheila Hancock:
Were you inspired by any particular books while writing?
No, I was put off by particular books, because they were so good. In the middle of it I did a documentary about the Brontës   [Perspectives -The Brilliant Brontë Sisters] – oh God, Emily Brontë – and I couldn’t write for a long while after that because I thought, what is the point? They’re just genius writers. So while I was writing I didn’t read, because I found it really off-putting. (Kathryn Bromwich)
Deseret News reviews some of the new products by BabyLit. Now, activity books:
Doodle Lit: Drawing on the Classics,” by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, Gibbs-Smith, $19.99, 272 pages (ages 8 and up)
Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver have teamed up on most of the board books in the BabyLit series. This time, they are introducing an activity book that has elements from their stories and prompts to encourage young doodlers. They also include some drawings from authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charlotte Brontë. (Christine Rappleye)
Reading Eagle reviews the Aquila Production of Wuthering Heights now touring the US:
Aquila's artistic director, Desiree Sanchez, has not flinched from presenting the characters accurately, and the result is a theatrical work that captures not only the essence of the novel, but the zeitgeist of the 19th century.
Sanchez has set the play squarely within the early Industrial Revolution by using the device of a textile mill in which the workers pantomime their jobs while listening to a narrator reading from the novel (the single departure from the book). The six actors portraying these workers at the beginning take on all the roles as the story develops.
The play, probably the darkest piece of theater I've experienced, is as dimly lit as a 19th century house in the dead of winter, while it explores the dark heart of that century, which loved a good ghost story or a great mad scene (witness Lucia in opera and Giselle in ballet). (Susan L. Pena)
The Daily Mail traces a profile of the actress Kaya Scodelario:
She went on to win excellent reviews as Cathy in director Andrea Arnold’s 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and her latest project is the dystopian sci-fi action movie The Maze Runner.  (Elaine Lipworth)
Albuquerque Journal reviews a local production of The Mystery of Irma Vep:
If you prefer your Halloween on steroids, get thee to the theater.
The Mystery of Irma Vep” pokes fun at everything from Hitchcock to “Wuthering Heights” to grade-B horror flicks, then lards them with a collection of vampires, werewolves and ghosts. (Kathaleen Roberts)
The Herald on Sunday reviews the latest episode of Doctor Who (S08E07 - Kill the Moon) with this bizarre Brontë reference:
Stuck with these hen-peckers, Peter Capaldi turns to the brat and with growling gallantry, transforming him into a magnificent Glasgow Heathcliff, asks: 'How'd you like to be the first woman on the moon? Is that special enough for you?' (Julie McDowall)
The News on Sunday (Pakistan) interviews the author Rukhsana Ahmed:
Ahmed is particularly well-known for her plays, including the recent Mistaken…Annie Besant in India, and for adapting plays by other writers, such as Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers. (Aasim Akhtar)
Peace Love Books reviews Jane Eyre;  Escritoras Inglesas (in Portuguese) devotes a post to Anne Brontë; PMS Library recommends Always Emily by Michaela MacColl; Bibliographic Manifestations doesn't like Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at October 08, 2014 11:08 PM

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

Manuscript page for Vala or the Four Zoas by William Blake.

In Rochester, we get a little caught up with transcription practices. It’s not [entirely] our fault. The Blakeians at UNC-Chapel Hill focus on Blake illustrations while the manuscript/language stuff gets sent up north. Blake’s often mystifying script surrounds us, and we have been charged (by God, sure) to transcribe our way out, into the promised land of textual clarity.

During this process, we think unreasonably hard about impossibly small details. Is that a period or a comma? (What is our policy on commas again?) Is that “d” really there? Am I seeing things? Wait, or did I read it?

If you ever wanted to bridge the gap between punctuation and existentialism, documentary editing may be for you.

Anyway, the point is that we look very, very close. But maybe it helps to step back. Maybe instead of squinting real hard at our monitors, we can think for a moment how transcription serves our project in general. So there, I just did it — I stopped squinting and thoughtfully gazed out the window. Here’s what I came up with:

Remember Your Role

Manuscript page for Vala or the Four Zoas by William Blake.

Abandon all hope, ye who read for clarity here: a page from Blake’s unfinished Four Zoas manuscript.

First, we should remember that the Blake Archive is, first and foremost, and collection of digital facsimile editions. Electronic images of Blake works have been painstakingly calibrated to simulate (not “reproduce”) their physical counterparts. In deference to these facsimiles, our transcriptions serve the user as a tool to clarify any difficult reading sections or to assist the image in the simulation of textual data. And sometimes that “simulation of textual data” involves reiterating a difficult reading section, or in other words, affirming its illegibility.


The battle cry of Blake Archive transcription is to “transcribe what you see,” which is a nice way of carrying out diplomatic transcriptions. In other words, we want our transcriptions to resemble the physical document. On the spectrum of reliability vs. readability, our stuff leans heavily toward the reliability side. But again, this diplomacy is only in service of a user making sense of the facsimile.

So let’s return to those mysterious marks. Is that “d” really there? Well, if it’s clear, we wouldn’t be asking the question. If it’s unclear, we have an <unclear> tag for conjectural sections. If it’s there but has been attempted to be cancelled or erased, we can use a <del> tag. And if there are illegible marks, we can use <gap>. The point here is that the Blake Archive’s MS tag set (as well as TEI) has made numerous provisions for encoding manuscripts that are difficult to read, or even see.

So in the current efforts for transcribing something like Vala, or the Four Zoas, I’m starting to feel a bit better. I know that we don’t have to “figure out” the manuscript or make our way to that promised land of clarity. As editors, we need only to recognize various possibilities and create transcription schemas that accommodate space for speculation. We can be OK with unclear.

by Eric Loy at October 08, 2014 04:56 PM


Book Traces Event at Columbia University Today!

Book Traces travels to Columbia University today to seek out interesting treasures in the library stacks. Follow along at #booktraces on Twitter! We are very excited to see what the participants find.

by Brandon Walsh at October 08, 2014 02:21 PM


Brontë tweets

This is something creative and useful for the compulsive tweeter. Bustle selects 17 quotes by the Brontës that fit into a tweet:
A lot of authors have packed some pretty great quotes in fewer than 140 characters. The Brontë sisters, for example, knew how to express heartbreak, passionate love, and some great witty insults in a tweet-sized package. So, for your tweeting pleasure, here are some of the best quotes from the Brontë sisters that are short enough for you to post on Twitter and impress your friends with how literary you are. (Some very minor condensing had to be done to a few quotes — but I don’t think Anne, Charlotte, and Emily will mind.) (Shaun Fitzpatrick)
Financial Times complains about the image given by pictures like Effie Gray or Mr Turner of John Ruskin:
Mike Leigh – whose Mr Turner is also released this month – owes a debt to Ruskin, too. The young critic was an eloquent and enthusiastic advocate of Turner’s work, notably in Modern Painters (1843), which became the foundation of Ruskin’s professional reputation. The book drew praise from the likes of George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë, who said it “seems to give me eyes” to judge truth in art. In return, the ungrateful Leigh depicts Ruskin as a simpering, precocious swot who can’t pronounce his Rs. (Andrew Hill)
Crikey Daily Review reviews the QPAC performances of Wuthering Heights in Brisbane, Australia:
Nobody ever told me that Wuthering Heights was a comedy. Or that I’d get soaking wet if I sat in the front row.Frankly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this production —  laugh, because it came across as pure farce; or cry, because it’s a travesty of Emily Bronte’s flawed but compelling tragedy.
It began with a classic case of miscasting. Having comedian Gerry Connelly to play Nelly Dean (pictured above), the old housekeeper of Wuthering Heights, probably seemed like a good idea at the time, because of his former high profile in Brisbane. But Connelly played the devoted family servant as a classic pantomime dame, with an inconsistent  fake Irish accent, complete with the dreaded rising inflection at the end of every monotonous sentence. He was totally out of step with the rest of the cast, lurking always in the background as a kind of glowering presence, more like the sinister Mrs Danvers in Rebecca than the rock on which the whole household depends. It didn’t help that he often forgot his lines. (...)
Still, top marks to Josh McIntosh, because the set could have worked had it been handled better; to Jason Glenwright for another effective moody lighting design; and to Guy Webster for his seriously atmospheric noises on and well as off. The two-star rating that this production has received was entirely for their contribution, because the show was otherwise almost a complete disaster, unless you were able to look at it as the Monty Python version, and even then I was waiting for the Colonel to come on and say “This is all getting very silly”. (Alison Coates)
TheatreinChicago reviews the Lifeline production of Jane Eyre:
Edward Rochester, we are told, refused to flee the fiery destruction of his unhappy home until the rest of the household had been evacuated, only to find himself trapped beneath the burning ceiling. Though he survives, he is left with a crushed hand that must be amputated, a missing eye torn from its socket and the loss of sight in the one remaining.
The rules of stage decorum require heroes to wear their injuries with grace, leading most productions to merely suggest Rochester's disabilities by means of an empty sleeve-cuff and a pirate-style eye patch. In Christina Calvit's steampunk-tinged adaptation for Lifeline Theatre, though, actor John Henry Roberts displays his persona's mutilated visage in full view of the audience. (Mary Shen Barnidge)
The Arts Desk talks about the new British Library big exhibition: Terror and Wonder. The Gothic Imagination:
What follows is a history of the democratisation of entertainment, as the taste for fiction trickled down the social ladder via Dickens, Collins and the Brontës, until the Victorian fin de sièclegave us the divided selves of Jekyll and Hyde and that covert sexual liberator, Count Dracula.
Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail:
True loves, we are led to believe, cannot bear to be apart, not even for a moment. Separation is a knife to the heart; they would rather die than be parted. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Cathy and Heathcliff: joined at the hip or for ever doomed.
Erm? On Vulture:
Like Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets a Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pharrell [Williams]'s "Gust of Wind" is a music video fit for fall. (Lindsey Weber)
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune makes an autumn quotes search on Google and finds Emily Brontë's, of course:
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree,” writes Emily Bronte. (Marilynn Preston)
Librópatas (Spain) recommends Jane Eyre for all of the pre-raphaelite lovers:
Ya os hemos dicho en varias ocasiones por qué deberíais leer Jane Eyre. La obra es la más conocida de las hermanas Brontë y una de las más leídas. Jovencita huérfana con vida difícil se va a trabajar a lejana mansión como institutriz de una niña francesa a cargo del misterioso señor Rocel C. Pico) (Translation)
Davidemaggio (Italy) reviews the TV series Un'Altra vita so far:hester. (Raqu
La nostra impressione iniziale è stata più che confermata con l’andare avanti della storia, che a tratti risulta pesante e per niente briosa come ce la saremmo immaginata. Ai telespettatori italiani però il drama evidentemente piace molto e ne avrà ancora di più nell’ultima puntata, in cui la protagonista Emma (Vanessa Incontrada) vivrà alcuni momenti concitati che culmineranno nel rapimento della figlia minore per mano di Anna (Francesca Cavallin), il personaggio oscuro che trasporta la sceneggiatura nelle atmosfere di Jane Eyre.
Al pari dell’oscura Bertha presente nel romanzo di Charlotte Brontë, Anna è infatti lamoglie nascosta dell’uomo che fa girare la testa alla protagonista. Una donna fragile, pericolosa perchè fuori controllo, suo malgrado carnefice di un marito che non la abbandonerebbe mai ma che non ce la fa più a convivere con lei. La domanda a questo punto è la seguente: anche Anna, come Bertha, morirà nel finale lasciando Emma e Antonio (Daniele Liotti) liberi di amarsi? Di seguito le anticipazioni dell’ultima puntata (la sesta) di Un’Altra Vita. (Translation)
The Worm Hole is disappointed with Bidisha's postcolonial reading of Jane Eyre in The Secret Life of Books.

by M. ( at October 08, 2014 02:59 PM

Shadows in the Parsonage

A ghost story with some Brontë background:
Shadows in the Mist
by Amy Flint
ISBN 9781291923896 (August 2014)

Nicknamed ‘the Shadow Reader’ for her ability to see ghosts, Dr Porter Biggleswade is a straight-talking paranormal investigator. While Porter’s work takes her to the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth, ghostly feuds are the least of her worries. A woman haunted by her living mother; a farmer plagued by spectral ewes; and a developer desperate to evict his mediaeval tenants show Porter that the living are as troubled as the shadows she is investigating.

Shadows in the Mist is the first book in Amy Flint’s Porter Biggleswade series.
A good review can be read on Goodreads.

by M. ( at October 08, 2014 10:26 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

George Achen, Interior, 1901

 photo achen1901.jpg

We have had this before, but this is a much better image.

October 08, 2014 08:57 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Same lovely weather.

Rose at 6.30; (nevertheless) ― & worked from 9 to 4 pretty well ― at Sir W. James’s Campagna.

Then walked across the park to Fanny Coombes, ― saw her & Sidney, & met my Godson as I was going back. Cab home by 6.15[.]

Dressed, & to 24 Cambridge Square.


Pleasant ― but how strange!

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 08, 2014 08:00 AM

Project MUSE®: Victorian Periodicals Review - Latest Issues

Victorian Periodicals Review: Volume 47, Number 3, Fall 2014

Victorian Periodicals Review: Volume 47, Number 3, Fall 2014

October 08, 2014 12:00 AM

October 07, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Drew Barrymore as new Chairman of the Brontë Society

The Yorkshire Post informs that Christine Went has resigned as chairman of the Brontë Society council for urgent personal reasons, not before she bitterly criticised the 'agitators' inside the Society that are behaving 'irresponsably'. Council member Doreen Harris will be the new chairman provisionally:
The chairman of the under-fire Brontë Society council has resigned less than a month after taking up the post during a period of turmoil at the famous literary society.
Christine Went cited personal reasons for stepping aside but hit out at “agitators” who have been making calls in recent weeks for fresh leadership, saying they were “behaving irresponsibly” in seeking power for themselves. (...)
Asked about the ongoing arguments over the governance of the Society, she said that for the vast majority of the 1,700 members there was no row.
“A small number (of members) are behaving irresponsibly,” she said.
“I think there is a personal aspect for some people - these people want the power. If they ever get it, they may be staggered to discover the amount of work involved in being on the council.” (...)
John Thirlwell, a TV producer, who last month helped force the extraordinary general meeting by collecting 53 members’ signatures, said: “I think there is a lot of unease in the council and rightly so.
“It’s a great shame there is more unrest.”
Mr Thirlwell said the aim of the EGM was not to be “antagonistic” but to bring about change.
A Society member who asked not to be named said: “Clearly it’s a blow for council to lose not just another council member but the Chair at a time when strong leadership is essential.
“Over the past year, two further council members have resigned as well as a high profile museums’ professional who acted as advisor to the Council. Brontë Society members will be disappointed.”
A Brontë Society spokesman said Ms Went stepped down “due to her own ill health and an urgent family matter”. (Andrew Robinson)
Manchester Confidential explores some of the known collaborations between pop music and literature:
Strange bedfellows at best. All those Tolkien-inspired prog rockers – let’s confine them to Mordor’s gloomy dungeons. But then there’s Rick Wakeman’s War of the Worlds, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and, mining the same wuthering seam, Cliff Richard’s Heathcliff, aaghh, and much, much more. (Neil Sowerby)
The Hollywood Reporter reports the death of the actress Marian Seldes (1928-2014). She played Emily Brotë in the NBC Hallmark Hall of Fame 1952 production, Our Sister Emily:
Our Sister Emily
June 29, 1952.
Associate director, Paul Lammers; production assistant, Marylyn Evans; stage manager, John Schwartz; scene designer, James Russell; costume designer, Saul Bolasni; music director, Jules Seidman; technical director, Bob Hanna; lighting designer, Lee Carlton; video engineer, William DeLannoy; audio engineer, Lincoln Mayo.
Cast: Starring Sarah Churchill as Charlotte Brontë, Richard Derr as the curate, Scott Forbes as Mr. Smith, Lenka Peterson as Anne, Marian Seldes as Emily, Gerard Burke as Williams, Miriam Stovall and Basil Howes as guests, Liam Sullivan as the footman; speaking for Hallmark Cards, Lee Vines. Presenting Sarah Churchill [with concluding remarks, promotional announcements, and acknowledgements].
The Guardian publishes the obituary of the writer, literary historian and broadcaster Mary Cadogan:
Cadogan's youthful reading would have an impact on her later writing career, as she noted: "I used to devour the Magnet and the Schoolgirl avidly in the 1930s … at the same time as I was devouring the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Anna Sewell. It never struck me then, or now, that there was anything fundamentally in opposition about these two types of reading." (Brian Sibley)
Fine Books Magazine is delighted with the reopening of Elizabeth Gaskell's house in Manchester:
The suburban Manchester house described by Charlotte Brontë as "large," "cheerful," and "airy," reopened this weekend after a multi-million pound renovation. Its most famous former occupant, the b
Bestselling Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, wrote some of her most beloved works there including "Cranford," "North and South," and "Wives and Daughters." (Nate Pedersen)
Tages Anzeiger (Switzerland) talks about the Finnish author (in Swedish language) Edith Södergran:
Edith Södergran ist natürlich dabei – ein zartes Mädchen, besessen von einem Genius, der sich mit dem von Rilke messen könnte. Sie wurde mit Anna Achmatova und Emily Brontë verglichen. Ihr Motto: «Ich mache keine Gedichte, sondern ich erschaffe mich selbst.» (Astrid Kaminski) (Translation)
Cosmopolitan lists several actors and actresses talking about shooting sex scenes. There is not really too much sex in Jane Eyre 2011 but Michael Fassbender says:
Sex scenes can be quite awkward. As a guy, the first thing you want to do is make sure you're not taking advantage. You don't want the girl to feel like you're getting a free feel or something. I try to make a fool of myself in one way or another to lighten the mood and then just go for it, because you don't want to be doing take after take." — Michael Fassbender, on Jane Eyre. (Kaitlyn Frey)
Poor Laura Thompson in The Telegraph didn't enjoy Wuthering Heights:
It took me years of false starts to get through Wuthering Heights. Does it matter that I can now say I have read it, even though I didn’t enjoy it? Not really. What have I proved, what have I achieved? Nothing, except that if the book comes up in conversation I can put in my ha’p’orth of knowledge.
And that attitude to reading has no essential value. Reading for the sake of it, in order to say that one has done so, is all too common. It is a sort of intellectual herd mentality, peculiarly inappropriate to the private joy of communing with a book.
The contemporary equivalent of feeling one ought to read Wuthering Heights leads people to plough through the Booker Prize shortlist, only rarely an activity that brings pleasure. 
The Huffington Post puts Heathcliff on a list of 'the most dastardly husbands':
If you were Cathy Earnshaw, Heathcliff might make you a wonderful -- if somewhat intense -- husband. Married to Isabella Linton, however, he's the stuff of nightmare. Seeing in her an opportunity to take vengeance on Isabella's brother, Edgar, who has married his beloved Cathy, Heathcliff sets out to ruin her, eloping with her and thus ruining her reputation and causing her beloved brother to disown her. Later, keeping her in utter isolation at Wuthering Heights, he subjects her to a life of savage cruelty and violence. One can only imagine the encounter that results in their son. (Lucie Whitehouse)
The Telegraph & Argus informs that Drew Barrymore was filming in Haworth's Main Street a couple of days ago (the film is Miss You Already by Catherine Hardwicke)
Movie star Drew Barrymore swapped the Hollywood hills for Ilkley Moor, where she has been shooting her latest film.
The actress has been in Ilkley and Haworth filming comedy drama Missing You Already.
The film, which is due for release next year, also stars Australian actress Toni Collette.
Sightings of the two stars have been reported on Facebook and Twitter, with people claiming to have spotted them filming and dining at the Cow and Calf Hotel on the edge of Ilkley Moor. (...)
The Yorkshire scenes are believed to be the women following the Bronte trail and local filming ended yesterday. (Emma Clayton)
More pictures of the Ilkley shooting here and on Haworth's Main Street here.

Female First interviews Kaya Scodelario:
Asked if she thought her career was over when hit TV show Wuthering Heights [ ? Skins]ended she replied: "A bit. I was so lucky to get 'Wuthering Heights'. It was such a different role. I was proving to myself that I could do it". (Daniel Falconer)
The Justice (student newspaper from Brandeis University) reviews the Carolyn Gallagher talk about Wuthering Heights (see this old post):
 The Mandel Center for the Humanities Reading Room was buzzing with literary chatter as the English department—professors, graduate students and undergraduates—awaited the arrival of Catherine Gallagher, a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. On Thursday evening, the professor spoke about the theme of revenge in Emily Brontë’s 19th-century novel, Wuthering Heights. (...)
Launching into her discussion of Wuthering Heights, Gallagher began by noting that scholars have not paid much attention to the theme of revenge in Brontë’s masterpiece, even though the whole second half of the book seems to revolve around the topic. Gallagher suggested that the neglect of the theme of revenge in literary scholarship might stem from the unconventional form that the revenge plot takes on in the novel. (Emily Wishingrad)
DC Metro Theater Arts reviews the Aquila Theatre Wuthering Heights performances:
Before you can see anything, you can hear IT – the howling of the hostile and ominous wind of the Yorkshire moors. This is how Desiree Sanchez, Artistic Director of Aquila Theatre and adapter of Wuthering Heights, lets us know that we are entering a dark and twisted world, in which nature and humans are one, and families, like fruits of one tree, refuse to share its seeds with other kinds. When the stage emerges out of darkness exposing a group of mill laborers, working as if they were in a trance, against a backdrop of a huge spider web like net, the introduction to Wuthering Heights gloom is complete.
Before//After reviews Wuthering Heights;  Rosie Amber reviews (enthusiastically) Luccia Gray's All Hallows at Eyre Hall; Fictionbitch discusses Bidisha's take on Jane Eyre in The Secret Life of Books; Geek Girl in Love celebrates the anniversary of Jane Eyre's first appearance in print.

by M. ( at October 07, 2014 03:14 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion - October 1814

From Ackermann's Repository October 1814

 A CELESTIAL blue or French grey silk skirt, buttoned and trimmed down the front with a full border of lace, gathered on a plain heading, terminating at the bottom with a deep flounce of the same; high-drawn body, made either of sarsnet or India muslin; long full sleeve, confined at the wrist by a bracelet of blue satin bead and emerald clasp. Lace ruff round the neck. 

A net handkerchief crossed over the bosom and tied in bows behind. 

Full-bordered lace cap, ornamented with a small wreath of flowers on one side. 

A French straw bonnet, lined with white sarsnet, and trimmed round the edge with a narrow quilling of net lace; a small plume of ostrich feathers in the centre of the crown. Sandals of blue kid. Gloves, York tan or Limerick.

Sandals in October. A bit nippy on the toes I must say. And what is the idea of the handkerchief? Support?

Until Next Time......

by Ann Lethbridge ( at October 07, 2014 12:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7. A wonderfully lovely day all thro’ ― clear ― & not so cold.

Letter from F.L.

Cab to Rail at 8.30 ― & to Leatherhead at 10. Walk to Ellens ― & a walk with her to Norbury. The brightness of sky & earth was lovely.

I found that Sarah Ann K. is dead. She died last year of smallpox. Poor sad life! ―――――――――

Dinner at 2. Παραπλὺ πρέπει νὰ τρώγωμεν εδώ.[1]

Left at 5 ― & rail to town from 5.25 ― to 6.20. ―

Cab home by 7.

[1] We must eat very much here (NB).

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 07, 2014 08:00 AM


Are these the Brontës? Or those?

A couple of years ago, we presented this alleged photograph of the Brontë sisters. The comments of the post follow quite accurately the ongoing research with its owner and many other aficionados trying to confirm the identity of the sitters.  Not an easy task and, for the moment, unsuccessful. Nevertheless there the original website has been revamped and many new and interesting pieces of evidence have been published. Nothing conclusive but everything intriguing:
This is a photograph on glass which can only date from the 1850s and yet has "The Brontë Sisters" written in French on the reverse. The problem with this is that Emily died in 1848 and Anne in 1849, before photos on glass existed.
The researcher has many years experience with glass negatives and believes that this is a copy of an earlier 1840s photo (a daguerreotype).
If it is genuine then one day it will be possible to prove, but there are many obstacles.
As with most photos, there is virtually no provenance and can only be traced back to the previous owners in France. It was one of many items they had purchased over the years, at flea markets and sales. As it wasn't thought to be of any significance, they couldn't remember where it came from.
There is no record of a photo ever being taken of the Brontë Sisters but this may be because most primary sources have been lost and there are no diaries.
Comparing the ladies with portraits of the Brontë Sisters isn't easy because most depict them as teenagers and the photo is of three adults. There are descriptions though.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum viewed it in 2012 and it is hardly surprising that they didn't think it could be a photo of the Brontë Sisters.
Without a scrap of evidence, it was a little difficult to persuade Ann Dinsdale that this was a photograph of the Brontë Sisters which has turned up completely out of the blue in France, after 160 years and with no provenance. The fact that it dated from after the death of the Brontë Sisters didn't help, nor did the theory that it is a copy of a daguerreotype and depicts them with hats of the wrong period.
The National Media Museum couldn't help as there's no way of confirming whether a photograph is an original or a copy. As it is thought that the hats are Belgian(Charlotte & Emily spent time there), and of a style not normally worn in 1840s England, there is little point in asking fashion historians in this country.
More evidence was needed and this website was set up in the hope that people would assist. Fortunately, with the help of people from around the world, progress has been made in the fields of early photography, Brontë studies and European fashion so there is now a better understanding of the photo. It was discovered who could have copied a photo of the Brontë's in the 1850s and that the photo is linked with another photo at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
We have recently been attempting to trace the original 1840s photographer by looking into the history of early photography in Yorkshire and a possible location has been discovered. If this were confirmed then the image will date from the 1840s as the building only housed a photographer in that decade.
Unfortunately York is where the research is needed and it is too far away; it may be a worthwhile project for someone interested in the Bronte Sisters but success can't be guaranteed.
The research is only being carried out in spare time, a few days each month, so it may be some time before the mystery is solved.
But now we have a competitor. @realbrontes has been tweeting for a few weeks about a picture arguing that it is 'evidently' the Brontë sisters because of the 'striking facial similarities' as compared to the Pillar portrait. Provenance is not important, it seems. What do you think?

by M. ( at October 07, 2014 01:41 AM

October 06, 2014

News from Anywhere

"Oxford and Cambridge Magazine " explored by David Taylor

Dr David Taylor, Hon. Research Fellow, University of Roehampton; and Project Archivist, Lushington Archive, Surrey History Centre, gave a fascinating Morris-related talk at the "Places, Spaces, and the Victorian Periodical Press" conference at the University of Delaware. Here's the abstract for the talk, which is called "Dreaming Spires and Radical Roots, Oxford in the 1850s: Godfrey Lushington and the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine."

"The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine appeared in 1856. It was founded by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones while both were students at Oxford University. They were joined in the venture by other undergraduates including the twins Vernon and Godfrey Lushington who became disciples of Auguste Comte and leading advocates of Positivism and the Religion of Humanity.

Although always known and recognised for their role in the attempt to spread Positivism during the second half of the nineteenth century, the Lushington brothers remained shadowy figures until my recent acquisition of the important Lushington family archive. My resulting doctoral thesis and ongoing work cataloguing the papers, is bringing the Lushingtons more to the fore of the stage in the cultural and intellectual world of the fin-de-siècle.

Whilst Vernon Lushington was busy at Cambridge attempting to win converts for Comte (and taking time to introduce Burne Jones to Rossetti, thereby setting in motion the development of the second phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement), Godfrey was at Oxford where he fell in with Morris and other like-minded students.

The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine was devised by Morris and his friends as a successor to the short-lived Pre-Raphaelite periodical, The Germ. The enthusiastic students formed a 'Brotherhood' to take up the ideals of Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Millais and others who formed the original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  But the new 'Brotherhood' was not to be an imitation of The Germ. Its aim, in the words of Burne- Jones, was to be as a weapon in a 'Crusade and Holy Warfare against the age,' meaning specifically the appalling conditions of life in the great industrial areas and the indifference toward them of the upper classes, and more broadly the lack of idealism in contemporary society. In addition to the original P.R.B., the inspirers of the new group were Carlyle, Ruskin and Tennyson.

The twelve numbers of the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine that appeared in print, first under Morris’s editorship and financial backing, were conceived with the 'central notion' 'to advocate moral earnestness and purpose in literature, art, and society.' It was in this magazine that some of Morris’s first writings appeared together with contributions of verses by Rossetti. The names of contributors of individual essays are not printed leading to much debate as to attribution of authorships. I have been fortunate to acquire Vernon Lushington’s own bound copies of the magazine in which he has added the names of many of the contributors against the essay titles. From this we know that the essay on Oxford was by his brother Godfrey. In fact this was Godfrey’s sole contribution; Vernon contributing a series of essays on Carlyle which form an important, early, critique of the great prophet of the age.

Godfrey Lushington’s essay is not another eulogy on the glories of Oxford. He makes the point of the essay at the outset by quoting from Carlyle’s Life of Sterling, 'Alas, the question of University Reform goes deep at present; deep as the world; - and the real University of these epochs is yet a great was from us.'

Reform ran deep in the veins of the Lushingtons. Their father had been a Whig MP with advanced ideas who supported the Reform Bill of 1832 and who strove for the abolition of slavery and other social ills. The call for University Reform voiced by Lushington in the
Oxford and Cambridge Magazine amounted to an attack on the 'social position' and the 'classed space' that the universities represented at this time. The demands surprisingly came from young radicals such as Lushington and his brother who were themselves members of the very same privileged elite he was criticising.
Matthew Arnold, coincidentally a friend and neighbour of Vernon Lushington, elevated Oxford to a 'sweet city with her dreaming spires'. Drawing upon the resources of newly discovered archive, I will look at the radical roots which lay beneath the veneer of Oxford’s romantic façade in the middle years of the nineteenth-century. I will consider the background of Lushington’s attack on the university system and the role that the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine in giving voice to that attack and its effectiveness in bringing about the changes that ultimate followed.  I will also show the importance of the magazine as a launching place for the pursuit of reform which can be traced throughout the brothers’ professional careers in the civil service and the judiciary. "

To contact the author about his work, email: /

by Clara Finley ( at October 06, 2014 11:07 PM


Rochester's Bad Press

It was a matter of time that the legion of Rochester-lovers reacted to some of the accusations that Bidisha made in the latest installment of The Secret Life of Books. Carolyn Hitt in The Western Mail:
Reader, they harried him. Mr Rochester that is. The Gothic hottie got a very bad press in the latest episode of The Secret Life of Books, the BBC series that invites academics and personalities to revisit classic works with fresh, modern and critical eyes.
How very dare they? Talk about trampling on the adolescent fantasies of generations of females. How can you diss literature’s greatest craggy love god? (...)
While Austen’s fiction reflects the refinement of the Hampshire country gentry and the social mores of The Season in Bath, the Brontë sisters roughed it on the Yorkshire moors. Their romantic heroes are hewn from a more elemental environment. Heathcliff is rather too elemental for my tastes – you just know he’d be a bit smelly wouldn’t he – but Rochester cuts a dashing figure with an intriguing dark side. And presumably better personal hygiene.
Or at least that’s how it seems to the young and impressionable female reader. For Jane Eyre is one of the ultimate rites of passage works. Many women read it on the brink of puberty – indeed it is one of the few works of literature that can kickstart the hormones into overdrive. (...)
But after watching last week’s dissection of Rochester on BBC4 I fear another of my great romantic heroes has been given the toes of Playdoh treatment. Like me, the presenter of the programme, journalist and novelist Bidisha, was absorbed by Brontë’s Jane Eyre as a teenager.
But re-reading the story as an adult has left her increasingly uncomfortable. (...) Oh come on. It was written in 1847. Viewing the values of the first half of the 19th century in the first half of the 21st is always going to portray our literary forebears in a dim light. I lost patience with the thesis at the point a contributor said, with grim resignation, that “Charlotte Brontë was probably a Tory”. Who cares? It’s not as if there was the political choice in her day that we enjoy. The poor woman didn’t even have the vote. As for the suggestions of racism, again this is a book of its time not of our time.
My own theory is that Charlotte Brontë wrote this for herself, as an act of therapy, not to please a readership and certainly not to affront the liberal minded who wouldn’t be born for another century.
The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier talks about bluebells:
Emily Brontë wrote, “the bluebell is the sweetest flower.” Hyacinthoides or bluebells are prized for their spring charm, not-always-blue bell-shaped flowers and ability to naturalize. Bluebells thrive in moist, woodsy settings with sunlight and light shade.
H. hispanica, the wood hyacinth, is a 17th century Spanish heirloom that blooms prolifically, as does h. non-scripta, circa 1580, known as the English bluebell. It is scented with dark-violet blue flowers on just one side of a bending stem. Brontë also wrote that “she mourns the sweet bluebell.” Perhaps that’s because it can spread like wildfire, swallowing up shorter plants in its path. Best to plant is on its own or with equally thuggish, stout perennials.
It's good to remember that it's not clear if the Brontës (because not only Emily but also Anne wrote poems about bluebells) meant bluebells or harebells. Check this old post if you are interested.

BondyBlog interviews the film director Alice Diop:
Née à Vincennes (94) en 1979 d’un père ouvrier et d’une mère femme de ménage sénégalais, Alice Diop est la benjamine d’une fratrie de cinq enfants. A la cité des 3000 à Aulnay-sous-Bois (93), quartier « pittoresque » et « chaleureux » où elle a grandi, elle connaît une enfance «heureuse et protégée ». Son déménagement dans une zone pavillonnaire à l’âge de 8 ans la plonge pourtant dans un ennui profond. L’alternative ? L’évasion littéraire. Les sœurs Brontë, Jane Eyre, Au bonheur des dames… « Je ressentais déjà une nécessité de partir même si je n’en avais pas conscience ». (Claire Diao) (Translation)
Flicksided lists the greatest actors of all time.
In the case of Laurence Olivier, his performances as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard III are some of the best committed to cinema, but you aren’t going to want to re-watch the films over and over. (Thomas Swan)
Two Jane Eyre sightings in The Times coverage of the Cheltenham Literary Festival: in John Sutherland's quiz and in a q&a with Howard Jacobson. Carti Audio (in Romanian) and Babbling Books posts about Jane EyreExotic and irrational entertainment discusses Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Brontë. The Gutenberg Press posts a Wuthering Heights-inspired poem.

by M. ( at October 06, 2014 04:05 PM

Agnes Grey in BBC Radio 4 Extra

Agnes Grey returns to the radio, with this now almost classic adaptation:
Agnes Grey (first broadcast in June 1997)
BBC Radio 4 Extra
Dramatised by Judith Adams
Directed by Nandita Ghose
With Poppy Miller, Robert Whelan, Christine Mackie, Martin Reeve and Alison Darling

1 episode (60')

October 6 15:00
October 7 03:00

A young woman causes dismay by deciding to earn her own living as a governess.

by M. ( at October 06, 2014 01:15 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7. Clear fine all day ― not so cold quite.

Letter from Daddy Hunt ― to whom I wrote.[1]

At 10 ― the Contents of the 7. Corfu packages ― left on April 4 March 26th ― At Corfû. ―

No one article is missing ― but the little double saltcellar ― which, like the Philates sketch, is I fear foever gone. All the day ― nearly ― went in unpacking, arranging, & stowing away.

The Ithaca Penna Marina’s were all broken: & so I fear were the Lamps. It seems strange to see many of the old things ― their first Corfû memories being in 1855: ― Taylor’s table covers ― the spoons ― &c. &c. ―

Sir Paul & Lady Hunter came ― & later, Slingsby & Mrs. Slingsby Bethell, & little Violet.

Did not go out.

At 7.30 ―


A most pleasant evening ― looking at Crete drawings: & it was nearly 12 before T.G.B. left.

[1] You can read the fun part of this letter at the Blog of Bosh.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 06, 2014 08:00 AM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Queen Mary, University of London English Annual Lecture Dame Gillian Beer 16 October 2014 You are warmly invited to attend the English Annual Lecture, delivered by Dame Gillian Beer: “Are […]

by Nicole Bush at October 06, 2014 07:12 AM


23rd Annual Meeting of the British Women Writers Conference June 25th-27th, 2015 Hosted by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York at The Heyman Center, Columbia University […]

by Nicole Bush at October 06, 2014 07:08 AM


Brontë Relics at the Morley Lit Festival

An alert for today, October 6:
Morley Literature Festival
Brontë Relics: Literary Lunch with Ann Dinsdale

Monday, 6th Oct , 12:00 - 14:30
The Village Hotel, Tingley
Duration 2.5 hours
Price £25 (includes a three-course lunch with tea/coffee to follow)
The Brontës are the world’s most famous literary family. Their home at Haworth has become a destination for pilgrimage and the family’s letters, manuscripts and personal possessions have become revered and sought after as relics. Many of these have now returned to the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth and Ann Dinsdale will be discussing her work at the Parsonage and telling the fascinating story of how the Brontë Society’s collection has grown and developed.

Ann Dinsdale is Collections Manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, where she is involved with organising exhibitions and caring for the collections. She lectures and writes on aspects of the Brontës’ lives and social conditions in mid-nineteenth century Haworth. She is a contributor to The Brontës in Context’ (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and the author of The Brontës at Haworth’ (Frances Lincoln, latest edition 2013) and ‘At Home with the BrontësThe History of Haworth Parsonage and its Occupants (Amberley, 2013).

by M. ( at October 06, 2014 01:30 AM

October 05, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


Very clear & fine & cold. East wind ever.

Worked at Sir W. James’s picture. Letters from Lady J. ― F.L. ― & E.T. ― At 4. called at Lady Hatherton’s, & saw D’Azeglio’s painting of Tivoli; then across the Park to the Crakes ― & saw the “Dean of Battle” ― Miss C., ― & “Feefy.” They are an uninteresting lot in all ways, & the old gentleman & John by far the best. ―

Back to dress ― & at 6.45 ― to S. Bethell’s.


Strange meeting of ancient acquaintance! Evening past delightfully in seeing a large quantity of Magic Lanthorn Photographs ― (Swiss &c.) magnified. Really beautiful ― Ἐπεριπάτησα ‘ς τὸ σπῆτι, κατὰ ἐνδεκα κὶ ἣμισυ.[1]

[1] I walked home around half past eleven (NB).

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 05, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Artist unknown, a painting of Philadelphia around the time of her initial return to England — she was clearly what was known as a “beauty”

… una donna senza storia …
… une femme sans histoire …

NPG 4445,Warren Hastings,by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Warren Hastings, by Joshua Reynolds (1732-1818); painted around the time of the above, their first return to England with Saul Tysoe Hancock (her husband of whom no image has survived)

Dear friends and readers,

For the past month (we have been going slowly) a group of us on Austen-l, Janeites and cc’d to other listservs have been reading the third chapter of Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh’s invaluable Austen Papers. We are near the end; it has taken us thus long because in order to begin to understand Hancock’s letters one must know the contemporary history of Indian colonialism, inside the state despotism and the East India. While we made a couple of startling inroads such as there was a devastating famine at the time of Hancock’s return to India (partly engineered by British and Dutch colonialist policies), we have not had the kind of sources or resources to understand Hancock’s context adequately.

One must also know the life-history and as far as if possible, character of his wife, George Austen’s sister, Jane Austen’s paternal aunt, Philadelphia Austen Hancock. Most of Saul Tysoe Hancock’s letters are addressed to her: all but a few to their legal daughter, Eliza Hancock, and to a family friend from Phila’s young years, Molly Freeman. Philadelphia is the elephant in the room, the silent presence. This preliminary sketch has to be regarded as a pendant to those I wrote on Philadelphia’s daughter, Eliza Hancock de Feuillide Austen, and her husband, Jane’s fourth brother, Henry Thomas Austen. I will follow this with a two-part blog on Hancock’s letters to Phila.

Sources include Jane Austen’s Catherine or the Bower; the letters of George and Cassandra (Steventon) and Hancock in the Austen Papers; Claire Tomalin’s scattered account in JA: A Life; Deirdre LeFaye’s life of Eliza Austen and Eliza’s letters; short lives of Warren Hastings in various articles in JStor and the Literature Resource Center (on-line at Mason); the four articles cited on Henry Austen; and the sources for the previous biographical blogs (family papers, biographies); mostly importantly for the French phase of Phila’s life, Michel Devert, “Le Marais de Gabbarret and de Barbotan, Bulletin de la Societe de Borda, 340 (190):331-350.


Anglo-Indian painting from the later 18th century: early image of the Raj

The first attempt to tell the history of Philadelphia candidly is in her niece Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Catherine, or the Bower (1792): we are told the heroine, Kitty, had had a friend who disaster had visited:

It was now two years since the death of Mr Wynne, and the subsequent dispersion of his family who had been left in great distress. They had been reduced to a state of absolute dependance on some relations, who though very opulent and very nearly connected with them, had with difficulty been prevailed on to contribute anything towards their Support. Mrs Wynne was fortunately spared the knowledge and participation of their distress, by her release from a painful illness a few months before the death of her husband. — The eldest daughter had been obliged to accept the offer of one of her cousins to equip her for the Indies, and tho’ infinitely against her inclinations been necessitated to embrace the only possibility that offered to her, of a Maintenance; Yet it was one, so opposite to all her ideas of Propriety, so contrary to her Wishes, so repugnant to her feelings, that she would almost have preferred Servitude to it, had Choice been allowed her — . Her personal Attractions had gained her a husband as she had arrived at Bengal, and she had now been married nearly a twelve month. Splendidly, yet unhappily married. United to a Man of double her own age, whose disposition was not amiable, and whose Manners unpleasing, though his Character was respectable. Kitty had heard twice from her freind since her marriage, but Letters were always unsatisfactory, and though she did not openly avow her feelings, yet every line proved her Unhappy. She spoke with pleasure of nothing, but of those Amusements which they had shared together and which could return no more, and seemed to have no happiness in veiw but that of returning to England again.

Philadelphia was born in 1730 (her brother George, 1731, Leonora 1732) to William and Rebecca Walter (nee Hampson) Austen; her mother died when she was 2 (at the birth of Leonora). There had been a baby girl who died before (1728-30). Rebecca had also had a son by her first husband, William Hampson Walter (1721-98). William remarried a second much older wife (by 13 years) and died himself 1736. Susanna Kelk was this woman’s name, she lives on in his house but refused to take his children; he had not revised his will (remember John Austen IV).

This is not a formula for producing a self-asssured identity. The biographers of Austen comment that Philadelphia must’ve had a hard time in the early years of her life.

From Andrew Davies’s film adaptation of Cleland’s Fanny Hill: Mrs Cole (Samantha Bond) greeting Fanny

We next find Philadelphia at age 15, apprenticed to a Covent Garden milliner, Hester Cole, a sum of 45 pounds paid for her to learn for 5 years how to make an sell hats. So while her brother George was placed on his way to become a gentleman at Oxford (so too Hastings whose biography resembles that of George Austen), Philadelphia is placed in a trade that bordered on respectability in London. A curious coincidence: 1748-49 was the year Fanny Hill was published and Phila begins life in what she assumes andis cited as a millinery shop – to a Mrs Cole of Covent Garden. Perhaps Cleland used the familiar shop’s name? Philadelphia had 2 fellow apprentices, Sarah and Rose. It was at this time a family connection whose names were Freeman were so kind to Phila as to elicit her husband Hancock’s continuing desire to reciprocate – we do not know what that kindness consisted of but it seems to have been to rescue her from spending her life as a seamstress.

Family history of this sub-branch of people:

George Austen’s mother, Rebecca had married as her first husband William Walter and as we’ve seen the son of this marriage, William Hampson Walter married Susanna Weaver and she and Cassandra Austen were correspondents and George Austen honored the half-brother connection (or step-brother). Philly their daughter became Eliza’s correspondent when they were young and as Mrs Whitaker sister Cassandra’s correspondent when they are much older. Well William Walter had a sister, Catherine Margaret who married John Cope Freeman. So here is where the Freeman family comes in. Hancock remains grateful to them for having helped Philadelphia when she was a seamstress;he writes to Molly. Catherine Margaret and John Cope Freeman had two children, son and daughter, whom they named precisely after themselves (doubtless to confuse us). John Cope Freeman Jr was the father of the Miss Freeman Hancock wrote to (Molly or Mary, or maybe Stella). The daughter, Catherine Margaret (II) married a Charles Stanhope. Ah. So now the Stanhope name comes in and they had a son, Philip Dormer Stanhope born 1753. He is the Stanhope who plagues Hancock’s life in his last months; he first married in 1780 Elizabeth Hughes.

When Phila’s five year apprenticeship was over, Philadelphia is recorded as off to India. It seems the process may have been set on foot by Francis, the same uncle (third son of Elizabeth Weller Austen, George’s uncle, Henry Austen’s great-uncle), acting for a client in the employ of East India company. Phila had to get permission from directors of the company and have names of friends in India to act as “surety.” For the trip round Africa and into Indian Ocean with landing on Bombay Castle she is responsible for herself; 2 years earlier Warren Hastings (orphaned like George Austen with his gifts recognized by those who had the care of him) had been plucked out of Westminster and sent by guardians to East India company clerkship. Hastings goes to Calcutta, Phila lands in Madras in 1752 (Chennai). A turmoil of violence erupting in that city at the time. Six months later Phila marries Saul Tysoe Hancock, that is to say February 1753, when he was 30 and had been in India for 5 years. Francis was Hancock’s lawyer too. No children were born to the couple.

In 1759 Saul and Phila Hancock move to Bengal where Hancock becomes friends with Hastings, who by then had become dedicated to the work and his career, had studied and understood something of India (though he was arrogant in his dealings with Indians). Hastings’s first wife died in 1759, an infant daughter lived but a week, a baby son George sent to England to George and Cassandra Austen. Think of Hastings as a CEO of a corporation, and Hancock a minor but centrally placed private contractors and operative in the corportion. Hastings has a town house in Calcutta, a garden at Belvedere. Phila seems to have known first wife — it was a small world of interconnected people. A private business partnership for two men, trading ventures in salt, timber, carpets, Bihar opium, rice for Madras, money made. Phila is now pregnant and a baby girl was born in 1761. She is given name of Hastings’s dead daughter (so Eliza named after Hastings’s first daughter) and Hastings becomes godfather. (Pride made Hancock brazen out situation says Tomalin). Hastings had built up spectacular fortune mostly from opium; 1764 Hastings pays 1500 pounds for himself, Hancocks, baby girl and Indian servants to return to England.

Jane’s father, George Austen had married Cassandra April 1764, and went almost immediately to the parsonage at Deane; so the Austens had the care of this precious Hastings baby right away. The Hancocks and Hastings arrived in England on June 16, 1765 and Hancock took a house in Norfolk Street, with Hastings nearby in Essex Street, off Strand. Hastings learns baby George died of diptheria the previous autumn – of course George and Cassandra desolated. Could we expect anything else?

In the Austen Papers (Chapter 2: Steventon) letters we saw that Phila visited in 1766 with Hancock and was there at the birth of George, Hancock a godfather. Hancock met Leonora in London and took a kindly interest. (Leonora lived on to 1784; Elizabeth Hinton died, Hinton was decemt but she was not considered eligible to go to her brother George, notice. Dropped from family including by Phila). Next two years George borrows from Hancock, to the tune of 228 pounds. Hancock leaves to make more money in 1768.

A vignette of Philadelphia by Cassandra Austen to Susannah Walter in a letter of August 1770:

Sister Hancock staid with us only a few days, she had more courage than you had, and set out in a post-chaise with only her little Bessy, for she brought neither Clarinda or Peter with her, but believe me she sincerely repented, before she got to her journey’s end, for in the middle of Bagshot heath, the postilion discovered that he had dropped the trunk from off the chaise. She immediately sent him back with the horses to find it, intending to sit in the chaise till he returned, but was soon out of patience and began to be pretty much frighted, so began her walk to the ‘Golden Farmer’ about two miles off, where she arrived half dead with fatigue, it being in the middle of a very hot day. when she was a little recovered she recollected she had left al lthe reset of her things (amongst which were a large parcel of India letters, which she had received the night before, and some of them she had not read) in the chaise with the door open, she sent a man directly after them and got them all safe and after some considerabel time the driver came with the trunk and without any more misfortune got to Bolton Street about nine o’clock. She is now settled in her cottage near Cobham, Surrey. The lettes brought good accounts of both my brother Hancock and Mr Hastings.

We come to our one and only letter from Hastings to Phila; by this time Hancock’s letters have recorded considerable financial help to the Hancocks, and we have seen that Hastings gives financial help, returned to India and took up with Mrs Imhoff, the wife of another partner (a pattern here) – Phila’s first response was to offer to return to India. Hancock forbids it and then now and again reports about Mrs Imhoff and Hastings’s relationship. Philadelphia was clearly out.

A summary of the letter: Fort St George, 31st January, 1772 (p. 58, the Austen Papers): Hastings is on his way back to India; as opposed to Hancock, while it was to make more money, he had a high position awaiting him. We have to recall there was an imposed famine in Bengal, because the one book I have omits all these realities. In the early part of his time there Hastings seems to have been successful — for the East India company and himself, with the usual information about improvements to economic structure and judicial trials (for efficiency), some respect for certain kinds of Muslim law Hastings achieved — but later he found the office far too problematic and his taking of huge sums (especially some bullying of famously local begums) come out of this. Upper class lives are a tiny part of what is being experienced here.

Tellingly (not in the letter) Hastings was having his trouble with Junius at this juncture, which we know about because Junius was famous anonymous writer who wrote for reform strongly: he is today thought to be Philip Francis; well Francis was in India at the time and Hastings and Francis conflict over the spoils so to speak (and appointments) to the point they actually duelled: later in England at the trial Francis was one of the key witnesses against Hastings.

Philadelphia and her daughter Eliza were among those people Hastings sent money from India for — she is regarded as part of this demi-monde milieu that Hancock seems so to loathe and does not want Betsy to become any part of. Now Hancock’s position as a surgeon (not a sinecure as he complains bitterly and one he has to pay taxes on) kept him at a geographic distance from Hancock He has little time for Hancock and basically interacts with Woodman, his brother-in-law, close to George Austen, and disburser of funds and advice to Philadelphia.

This letter cannot be readily understood on its literal surface well beyond the actual relationship of Philadelphia and Hastings. On more diurnal matters, it’s interesting he says he is writing her late at night, reserving to himself this private time to talk to her (as it were) by letter. There is an intimate tone here: he regrets parting from Fort St George and the Council Board there, a British stronghold by the sea, a sto-pover:

Hastings is not looking forward to Bengal — Hastings was by the way a highly educated man in the language of the country. He is sending yet another child, a little Watson — someone should look to see if this name shows up on George Austen’s school roster. Maderia, a painting on dooruars, a fashionable fad at thetime, chintz.

The letter was prompted by other considerations too. We come to the business of the letter: he hopes “our concerns” will come to some conclusion now.” It’s his going which enables this – the increase in revenue to him. He does not have the difficulties Hancock does. If Hancock is like a small private contractor of a corporation. Hastings is one of the official CEOs. He says Hancock’s health has held out and it is the dry air of Madra. Hancock is not keen on Madras’s air as we have seen — he suggests it’s very humid. I know who I believe. Then an emotional goodbye of sorts to Betsy and herself. I suggest it’s easier to break firmly from Philadelphia and let her know it once he has left the Austen grounds of their relationship. Future letters show her abject and him referring to Woodman.

Hastings then thanks Phila for some disinterested act of friendship — she did some favor, achieved something in the patronage line. He will write again on this subject — but we lack that letter — it was not saved. I suggest this too was the cause of this letter. Again Betsy should be reminded to love him as her godfather and mother’s sincere and faithful friend.

It startles me to think of the great fuss made about a non-existent conversation over slavery in MP, though I don’t discount the business in Antigua, Emma has far more on slavery explicitly. The passages in Catherine or the Bower are part of this larger world the Austens themselves fed off of (in their naval sons, and their banking son) as well as Wentworth’s abilty to make money off the empire. These are the real contexts. A propos of these letters they are not annotated because they deal with real sore content the Austen family is not keen on, and Hancock and India this chapter takes us far more into the direct terrain than any other. I recommend Smith’s Ethelinde too for the light it sheds on Edmund Bertram’s unwilling to take a position in the navy or other charming occupations Mary Crawford sees as money-making and prestigious.

There is one (eloquent) letter from Philadelphia to Hastings, written well after the above letter from Hastings to he in the Austen Papers — categorized as part of another subset of the family doings; I have printed it complete in a second blog on Philadelphia). This separation of her letters into categories that do not directly reflect her life shows how little her individual personality is paid attention to or her story. It is, as Jane Austen, suggested significant and characteristic of the stories of women. In the letter she is hesitant and apologetic. She is worries lest she offend him because he has told her not to bother him directly. We cannot see what might be her real feelings (anger, hurt? indifference to him by this time) because her need and anxiety about his response to her is too great. It does show the woman who lost her poise in a carriage accident recorded by Cassandra Austen; the woman who could not make up her mind where to live in the 1770s.

In 1776 George and Cassandra Austen in London visited Phila and Betsy, with word that Hancock had died (November 1775), she afflicted, he died penniless. Woodman: “all his effects will not clear his debts here.” We see from letters by George and Cassandra that Phila cannot make up her mind where to live precisely (with her daughter), loses her poise (and consequently nearly some valued goods) in being forced to roam around the countryside with an entourage of babies, children, child-minders …

1773 Hastings had given Betsy 5000 pounds (he was Governor of Bengal and is referred to as “the Governor” by Hancock in his later lettrs); in 1775 Hastings gave another 5000. Everyone sworn to secresy. Woodman was also Hastings’s borther-in-law. Woodman and George Austen trustees.

A few months later Phila receives 3500 from Woodman, another sum of 5000 from “bill on Ind. Co” She opens an account with Messrs Hoare & Co, her brother’s bankers. George also continues to repay money owed to his sister (from Hancock)

One should remark (as Tomalin does) that there was no attempt to send Eliza away to a school. I see this as to Phila’s credit and we may assume Eliza did have good masters, was dressed well, rode and the rest of Hancock’s curriculum for her. Pace Hancock though connections were kept up with George and Cassandra Austen in Hampshire and the Walters in Kent.


Chateau du Marais, a Barbotan — where Feuillide took Eliza and her mother to live

Hancock’s death mattered: it was after his death that Phila moves to France with Eliza – no longer called Betsy.

Phila is 46 and Eliza 13 when Hancock died. A striking and pathetic glimpse of Philadelphia when the news finally reached her that Hancock had died: Woodman to Hastings (Woodman was Hastings’s brother-in-law and agent): the “story of your success” is

dampened by the “unwelcome news of poor Hancock’s death by a letter from Mrs Bowers [Hancock's housekeeper? a member of his household in India], which Mrs Hancock received on Friday last: we feel much for her, & endeavour to support her under the affliction. Her brother and sister Austen were there when she received the letter, which has helped to comfort her, as it adds much to her distress that she had not received any other letter from India. the Salisbury having put into Cork in Ireland, only part of her letters are yet come up” (Austen Papers, p 82)

On the 20th of June Woodman wrote Hastings to confirm that Hastings’ letter to Philadelphia had arrived “confirming the death” while Woodman finds that Hancock was so badly in debt what he left could scarce clear “his debts here.”

Two years later they go to France: the man Phila now became involved with was Sir John Lambert, an Anglo-French baronet. Why? It’s assumed that their position was not comfortable: they did not have huge sums to silence everyone. Here a fragment of Mary Crawford’s mind reflects the Hancock women: she says with large enough parties, a house, and enough spent Maria Bertram if married to Henry Crawford would find a world to belong to. But you have to throw a lot of money at this.

This would be 1778 and in a note Tomalin says Phila’s account at Hoare’s “shows many transfers of money to Sir John Lambert during 1778; there’s also a letter of credit to Lambert at Paris for 200 pounds – that means he gets 200 pounds. Phila and Eliza were in Germany and then Brussels in June 1778 – and then Paris. Much that we know about this visit comes from Eliza’s letters to her cousin which we’ll be getting to in these Austen papers eventually.

The survival of Eliza’s letters from France to her cousin is attributed to her mother saving them.

Eliza is 19 when she marries Feuillide (age 30) in 1782 and she herself says it was not a love match – she was bound to follow ‘advisors of rank and title” – in that sentence she is excusing herself. Lambert was called by Eliza “le chevalier de Lambert” – he had French relatives. Capot de Feuillide was not a count; this was a misrepresentation; he is said to have been known as handsomest officer in the army; attended balls.

Woodman to Hastings in a letter “They [the de Feuillide family] seem already desirous of draining her [Phila] of every shilling she has. Phila defended her decisions; “it is “entirely to her satisfaction, the gentleman having great connections and expectations.” Great expectations – remember Dickens’s great novel’s title. Phil is recorded as lending money to Feuillide for his draining projects too. How much not said. Eliza is the conduit for money wrenched from the abysmally vulnerable of India.

Lambert was involved in the affairs of the Capot de Feuillide (to give this 30 year old man his full name) for years after Eliza’s death – for Henry Austen does business with Lambert’s heirs after her death. Again Tomalin cites amounts paid to Lambert – 370 pounds between Oct and Dec 1778, more again in 1780

After Lambert got out of Phila what he could and vanished, she seems to cave in (as it were) and spend the rest of her life as mother, mother-in-law, grandmother. This is from within as she had the wherewithal to do otherwise. She reminds me of Madame de Genlis up to this point: both not mothered, both married up to gain security, the husbands of both not high enough so that they must look to another more powerful man and do; both became devoted to their children (with yet more ambivalent actions by Genlis) out of memories of what they had not known and known. The daughters of both show devotion to them and to their own children, in Eliza’s case to a disabled grandchild of the powerful man; but Madame de Genlis can lead her own life once the threat of the guillotine is removed; Philadelphia had not the connections of Genlis and she had had it. Genlis seems to have bones of steel inside her where others have mere calcium,and she never lost her grim determined hypocritical performative abilities. These Philadelphia never had (it seems to me if she had she might not have lost Hastings).

Perhaps she’d had enough after Lambert and what she saw was the result of Eliza’s first marriage (Feuillide’s house, land projects, mistress, ceaseless desire for money); I see her as tiring of the struggle and letting Eliza take over with herself as advisor at most. It is said that one of the many causes of cancer is stress; I’ve read these hinting analyses of Austen’s fatal illness which suggest stress was an element, especially after there was no legacy, to be no relief when the uncle died. Against that cancer repeated itself in Eliza and there does seem to have been genes inherited in the family which made for severely disabled children.

In 1784 records show Eliza and Phila traveling south to live in a romantic chateau in southern France, 450 miles from Paris, sparse population; Feuillide’s mother lived with them. (No records of mistress until he returns to Paris to try to wrest his property back.) His mother died at the end of the winter; “fever’ everywhere (marshes remember, perhaps malaria). Phila lives with her daughter and son-in-law, Eliza upset by miscarriage and – Feuillide building a chateau on his northern lands which Eliza enthusiastic about. James Ausen plans a visit. 1785 – but Feuillide, Phil a and Eliza go to Pyrenees spa very favored by aristocratic and rich bourgeois French – Bagneres-de-Bigorre (Sophie Cottin went there for her health and the French social world doubtless too)

The final return to England:

Gravestone of Phila, Capot, Eliza …

Eliza pregnant again and Feuillide wants child born in the UK especially as Hastings has returned; May 1786 Phila and Eliza set off on bad roads, into a ship across the channel, baby born in London June 1786. Named what? You guessed it: Hastings. (Eliza named after Hasting’s first dead daughter.)

Eliza will not give baby up when it does not develop as expected and her mother is with her. Now there is plan for Henry to accompany Eliza to France; Eliza reported as richly dressed. No one reports on Phila except she is with daughter at Tunbridge Wells.

The next autumn (1787-88) was when theatricals start occurring in Steventon – we must assume Phila there too. Eliza much older than her boy cousins who are rivals. Phila may be helper to Cassandra Austen — as women did, and friends too. They keep up with Walters (Eliza writes cousin)

Phila is not individually mentioned until her illness and death in 1792 (age 62). Phila had a “hard and painful swelling on one of her breasts;” a mountebank (but no one then knew what to do – today we are not much on) woman doctor hired; pain was reduced. Eliza stays with her mother in Orchard street that summer of 1792. Edward visited on his way to Lake district (remmber he lives the life of an heir). Phila in “acute pain” in August; Eliza talks of her amendment (how people hope on), Eliza calls in one Dr Roops; October Phila confined to bed, severe attack Laudanum prescribed. Eliza in a state of distress “bordering on distraction. Terrible autumn. I can imagine it.

Christmas 1792-93 Phila still alive with ”violent cough, no appetite, disordred bowels.” She is recorded as telling Eliza her complaint is “getting better” by Eliza in a letter and Eliza does not believe this.. She has Hasting son her hands – he is 5. Boy cannot keep upright. Count attacked by angry mob at his property; new house pillaged (this commonly happened during first English civil war too – 1642-47), draining projects cease. He goes to Paris and is recorded as owing Phila 6500 pounds.

Phila dies Feburary in Hampstead. Tomb: “Philadelphia wife of Tysoe Saul Hancok” whose “moral excellence united the praise of every Christian virtue” commended for her pious resignation to “severest trials of a tedious and painful malady.” Feuillide is there and takes his wife to Bath, but then the fool return to Paris lest his property be forfet – those who survived knew better than to do this. It was hopeless. The thing to have done was join the emigres developing an army to attack the French republic.

Eliza lives through a very hard time from the time of her first miscarriage on. Some bright spots: love of mother, love of child, enjoys theatricals, husband does show up. We have nothing of Phila’s inner life but a widow whose first love (Hastings) remarried and who was otherwise exploited by men but her brother (George), with Hastings paying people to try to advise her from afar.

Wm Hodges (hired by Hastings) View of Calcutta from Fort William, 1781:

The life of Philadelphia Austen Hancock as revealed in the letters of others (she is silent woman) show the continuing marginality of many of the Austens, who hovered uncertainly on the periphery of the wealthy world. Worry about money seems to have run in much of the family. In Philadelphia’s case, she was forced to go India to seek a husband, and married one 20 years older than herself. According to the introduction, the family tried to move back to England but couldn’t make it financially, so Tysoe returned to India to try to make a second fortune there. The family he left behind included Philadelphia and the daughter Eliza. He buys utterly into the values that life is not worth living without high status and that is his ruination and in a way hers too.

In his first letters, Hancock exhibits continual anxious stress about expenses, appears thwarted in business ventures and laments that he may never be able to return to England. I am reminded strongly of Burnett’s The Making of the Marchioness, written 130 years later, but still describing the same situation–the disenfranchised poor relation forced unwilling to live in India and to make a life there, no matter the longing to be in England. Once again, we see the cruelties of primogeniture, and not incidentally, the added pressure to exploit the Indians because of the concentration of wealth in just a few hands, leaving the English who might otherwise have done well in England to wrench fortunes out of other lands. We feel Tysoe’s unhappiness. He longs to be with his wife, laments the huge expenses he bears in India and sees few opportunities. He tries to control her behavior to force her to educate Eliza so as to find her an upper class husband and thus provide him with prestige by proxy. But over the years, he does not make the money he wants to be able to insist on their living a fully upper class luxurious life; he dreads any return, has perhaps gone native to some extent, and does not want to show himself out of shame: he regards himself as a failure in every way. He knows Eliza is not his and others do too. He scolds his wife irritably so that we see how hard pressed she is, but also registers her loyalty to him. It may be said he drove her to marry her daughter to the false count. She did not live to see her daughter’s second wise marriage to the kind and upright Henry Austen and good life with him in London.

Often the magic figure of 600 pounds per annum comes up. Hancock does not want Phila to manage on less. He is fiercely opposed to any drop in the class ladder he envisages for Phila and Betsy. Money, money, money, the endless concern, threads through these letters to Phila. (Much more on Hancock in my next blogs on the Austen Papers.)

As to any kind of in-depth portrait of Philadelphia (which could be attempted for her daughter, though LeFaye has not done this), we can say little about her from the records I’ve seen, but that hers was a desperate flotsam and jetsam life and she won the deep affection of her daughter. She was taught no system of values or norms whereby she would want to express her inner life or have feelings of her own, never mothered, hardly fathered. The letters to Hancock show their marriage was a bargain whereby he said he would provide for her and on those grounds she married him. She may have hoped Hastings would love her, but it seems she lacked the social cunning he felt a mistress or wife of his would need; I surmise she was either not smart enough or too smart for his taste. Perhaps she was too dependent in nature. She exhibited wary judgement while in England and with the money Hancock provided and Hastings through his agents, she lived a conventional life of a gentry mother bringing up her daughter genteelly. After Hancock’s death, she showed herself susceptible to unscrupulous exploiters. Not surprising: perhaps Lambert exhibited concern and helped her with kindness and grace (something Hancock does not understand in the least). In her last years she turned to her daughter; during her decline and illness she was with her brother and his wife as well.

Her fate was shaped by the death of her parents when she was young; then by her having had an affair and child by a powerful man when she had no power. Everyone knew who was Eliza’s father, but it was equally in everyone’s interest at the time not to acknowledge Hasting’s parentage in any open way too — no drop in legitimate status either: there is the determination to keep the 10,000 pounds a secret and the poignant letter from Philadelphia herself to Hastings saying how she leaves him alone (as I said above, I will add that one from later in the Austen Papers). Hastings preferred another married woman who had been married to an underling. So she allures people who want money and yet is stigmatized, a semi-pariah at the same time. She may have been persuaded to marry her daughter to a French count thinking that would give them status. It did not because of his motives and nature.

Nokes opens his biography with Hancock’s letters and the story of his life — but no one tries to tell the life of Philadelphia. This has been one of the first attempts to bring the documents we have together to tell her life. Jane Austen thought it important: it’s one of the first she tries to tell after the Juvenilia — and the few paragraphs in Catherine, or the Bower, bear witness to the initial crucial phase of Phila’s life.


by ellenandjim at October 05, 2014 03:43 AM


We've got a house

Finally, the day is here. Today, Elizabeth Gaskell's House at 84 Plymouth Grove Manchester re-opens:
Elizabeth Gaskell's House in Manchester was the home of the famous author of Mary Barton, Cranford, North and South, Ruth and Wives and Daughters. Her novels are enjoyed on television, stage and radio.

This beautifully restored home will re-open on Sunday 5 October 2014. It has spectacular period rooms and garden, a tea room, and there is a programme of exhibitions and events planned for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 11:00
Opening Day

Join us on our Opening Day. Be one of the first people to see the amazing renovation of the house.

Admission is by timed ticket and includes a tour. Booking in advance advised.
Thereafter open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 11.00am -5.00pm

by M. ( at October 05, 2014 01:30 AM

October 04, 2014

The Little Professor

Very funny (or not)

On Thursday, I spent about an hour talking to our graduate writing seminar (before coming home and promptly falling ill--I don't think the two are related), and one of the questions the students asked me was about humor.  They had read an article I wrote on neo-victorianism and Dracula pastiches (accepted for a collection which is doing the out-and-about thing), and noticed that it was often "playful."  So what role did I think humor had in academic prose? Not least because I had originally floated some of the ideas on this blog, where I have been known to be funny, and then recast them as a conference paper, where being funny can help keep the audience awake.  The academic paper, by contrast, has its moments, but is predominantly "serious."  What, then, is going on?  

As my readers may have observed on more than one occasion, I frequently write about novels that have at least one aesthetic quality in common--they're terrible.   Now, that being said, it is possible for something to be at once terrible and interesting.  Or, to put it differently, to be terrible on its own, yet become an interesting object of analysis once understood in a particular context.  For a literary historian, many books that cause great pain and suffering during the initial research process may nevertheless be "energized" during the act of writing about them.  

From a purely rhetorical point of view, I tend to moderate my snark in formal academic prose because I want the reader to focus not on how bad the book is (why must this character "explode" each time she has sex? Isn't that rather messy? Do we need cleanup on aisle three?) but, instead, on how it works and what it can tell us.  When I'm blogging, I'm usually recording initial, or at least early, impressions of my research, and the snark helps keep me on an even keel after I've read the umpteenth novel about an angelic child who converts hardened sinners/someone of a different religion/her family/etc.  But in formal academic mode, I want the reader to grasp that said angelic child represents a significant phenomenon in nineteenth-century culture; while I may occasionally wax playful and/or irate (it is difficult to be polite about the kid in Charlotte Elizabeth's Judah's Lion, who keeps calling the protagonist "Mr. Jew"), I'd prefer that the reader pay more attention to the cultural phenomenon and less to my exasperation with any given text.  

by Miriam Burstein at October 04, 2014 11:37 PM