Planet Century 19

December 18, 2014

William Morris Unbound

Teachers of Lore 2: John Goode

In June 1978 John Goode interviewed me for a place on the MA in Literature course at Warwick University, where I met my wife Makiko Minow, and at the end of that academic year he sent me down the road to Oxford to work with Terry Eagleton, so he certainly played a major role in shaping my personal, professional and political life. He co-taught literary theory to us on the Warwick MA course, and I did not then fully grasp what an important nineteenth-century scholar and critic he was. It was only later at Oxford, as my own thoughts turned to William Morris, that I began to take the measure of Goode’s significance as a Morris scholar in particular. His work mattered so much because – unusually among that generation of Morris critics – he brought the lessons of the ‘theory revolution’ of the 1980s to bear upon News from Nowhere and other key works. Under the impact of Louis Althusser and Pierre Macherey, he had moved from a ‘reflectionist’ to a ‘productionist’ concept of the literary text, and he produced his most important work on Morris in the light of the latter.

I attended John Goode’s inaugural professorial lecture at Keele University in February 1992, and learnt of his death in January 1994 at the age of fifty-four with great sadness. I heard later from Keele colleague Charles Swann that on his death-bed John had been reading, in such moments of respite as he had, Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove and volume two of Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action, both immensely formidable texts in their different ways even if you were in the very best of health. So he leaves us not only an important body of writing about Hardy, Gissing, Clough, Morris and other Victorian literature topics (partly gathered in the Collected Essays of 1995), but also that moving example of intellectual dedication even in the face of great adversity.

by Tony Pinkney ( at December 18, 2014 01:16 PM


A 'mass of original material'

The Northern Echo features Juliet Barker and she speaks about her former job at the Brontë Parsonage and how her famous biography of the Brontës came to be.
Her first and only “proper” job after leaving Oxford, where she studied history, was as librarian and curator at The Bronte Parsonage in Haworth. “I would see writers coming in and researching for their books, but most of them them just looked at what other people had written. They ignored all that mass of original material we had there just waiting to be looked at.”
In the end, she was driven to write her own – much acclaimed – biography of the Brontes, which turned previous accounts pretty much on their head. “We’ve all bought Mrs Gaskell’s version of this isolated family living miles from nowhere, but Haworth is just four miles from Keighley. By the time the Brontes were there, it was a busy industrial area with 15 mills.”
As part of her decade of research Juliet spent read two years reading local newspapers of the time. “Addled my brain, but gave me so much information about the Brontes in the community that no one had ever bothered with before,” she says.
The Brontes ended up as a stonking great book, winning awards and establishing her as a writer who really knew her stuff. Despite its scholarship, it’s wonderfully readable.
“I hate it when academics just seem to write in their own language for each other and ignore everyone else,” says this Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature fiercely, over a cappuccino in the Little Chocolate Shop in Leyburn. “I want my books to be for anyone who’s interested.”
So she writes and rewrites them to get the tone just right, “treading that fine line between not making assumptions about how much people know, but not talking down to them either”. [...[
She has, she says, no great plans for another book ticking away at the back of her brain. “But there are a lot of anniversaries coming up in the next few years… Agincourt, various Brontes…”
You can be sure she’s not going to be sitting idly, resting on her laurels. She’s much too Yorkshire for that. (Sharon Griffiths)
PQ Monthly has an article on Céline Dion:
For a glimpse of the career she might have had, had she and her managers desired to position as more of a daring, envelope-pushing artist, one can turn to “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” in which she collaborated with Meatloaf producer Jim Steinman. Inspired by “Wuthering Heights,” Steinman described this as his attempt to write “the most passionate, romantic song” he could. (Leela Ginelle)
Culturamas (Spain) mentions that Le Fanu's tale A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family may have influenced Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at December 18, 2014 09:57 AM

Brontë Christmas Decorations

Bronte inspired range — at Keelham Farm Shop.
Brontë Christmas Decorations from Keelham Farm Shop:
Brontë sisters (Haworth)

Keelham Farm Shop shares the same rugged moorland landscape as the Brontë sisters who provided the inspiration for some of British literature’s greatest heroines. A sterling selection of silvery candlestick holders adds a dramatic touch to soft lighting for this warm and rich range of decorations which include Victorian top hats, lush burgundy hearts and vintage cameo tree ornaments.
Finally, fill your house with the aroma of Christmas – you’ll find our pick and mix pot pourri in the Flower Barn so you can create your own gorgeous Christmas scent.

by M. ( at December 18, 2014 12:30 AM

December 17, 2014


Emily Brontë on current events

Big Think picks a quote from Wuthering Heights as 'words of wisdom'.
Emily Brontë (1818-1848) was an English novelist and poet whose only novel, Wuthering Heights, is concerned a classic in the British literary canon. Together with sisters Charlotte and Anne, the Brontës are considered one of the great families of literary tradition, though one of the major reasons for their fame is that none of the six Brontë siblings lived to see 40. This tragedy is likely attributable to unsanitary water sources near the family home.
The following quote, spoken by the character Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights, is one that is so steeped in moral universalism that it transcends time. It's certainly resonant in the wake of current events: from terrorist violence in the Middle East and abroad to the U.S. Senate torture report released this month.
"Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies."
-from Wuthering Heights, the character Isabella Linton (Ch. XVII).
Writer Jennifer Dawson picks Jane Eyre as one of her three favourite books on USA Today's Happy Ever After.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Honestly, it was a tossup between this and Pride and Prejudice, but I'm going through a bit of a dark, Gothic phase so settled on Jane Eyre. Hands down one of my favorite books. How can you not love a brooding Mr. Rochester? I still remember the first time I read it in school. I was reluctant, but it sucked me right in as soon as I started reading and I stayed up half the night because I couldn't put it down.
More fans of Jane Eyre to be found on The Pitch.
Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was perhaps English literature's first feminist, an independent woman guided by heart and instinct rather than by society's expectations. The four young women in Miry Wild have taken their band's name from a phrase in Brontë's 1847 landmark — a reference I keep in mind when I drop in on their weekly practice at keyboardist and guitarist Holly Grimwood's Raytown home. (Natalie Gallagher)
The Herald (Scotland) discusses endings after watching the 'disappointing finale of The Missing'. SPOILERS alert.
I assume then we just make up our own minds about Tony's sanity, but that's rather a cop-out. Great works of literature can have uncertain endings, like Charlotte Bronte's agonising Villette, but this isn't great art and so it should have done its job and concluded properly. To do otherwise is just frustrating, especially after making us wait throughout eight long episodes. (Julie McDowall)
The Independent mentions the editorial influences of writers.
Mary Shelley tested Frankenstein out on Lord Byron. The Brontë sisters constantly read their work to one other. Jeffrey Archer's prose was unintelligible until Mary weaved her "fragrant" magic, allegedly. (Saul Wordsworth)
The Sydney Morning Herald finds out what two people with the same name have in common.
They enjoy the same preppy dress style (Yongxin in a polo shirt, Ruichen in boat shoes) and the same favourite quote from Wuthering Heights ("I am Heathcliff!"). (Konrad Marshall)

by Cristina ( at December 17, 2014 11:26 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Regency Ramble

A Regency Christmas

Some insights into Christmas time during the Regency are needed when writing a Christmas story, which I am. It is especially timely so I thought I would share some of what I have learned and which will in some form or another be incorporated into my story. (More about that another time).

In Victorie Count De Soligny's Letters on England, we learn some interesting tidbits. I should mention that the Count is far from impressed by the serious character of the English nature. We didn't enjoy ourselves enough for him.

He tells us that during the fortnight (two weeks) before Christmas arrives in London, i.e. now, itinerant players,  called Waits, wander the streets of London playing carols. He calls it sweet low music, which by the time you wake up to hear it, the players have moved on, to be heard only in the distance.  These players would go house to house on the day after Christmas Day -- the day we know as Boxing Day -- seeking a small deucement (money).

In a similar vein the Bell-man, or watchman would also stroll the streets ringing his bell and chanting in an ill-sounding voice (according to De Soligny, remember) and also come round on Boxing Day for money. You can tell which one of these our Count preferred.

This tradition was left over from earlier centuries when such carol singing in the streets was encouraged.  Oliver Cromwell sent it underground until the Victorian times were well underway, but it seems as if carol singers might well have been heard in town and country celebrating the arrival of Christmas. I wonder if they will show up in my story?

De Soligny was very pleased by another tradition, that of decorating the interior of houses with evergreens, laurel, bay, ilex and particularly holly with it glittering leaves and bright red berries, which are stuck in windows and over the mantelpieces and wreaths of them hung against the walls.

Oh yes, I feel a scene coming on.

The Count notes that in the kitchen or the servants' hall, a large bunch of mistletoe is suspended from the ceiling, underneath which the maidens are liable to be kissed, if they are caught by the male part of the household.

And that is just perfect for my story.

More Christmas in the Regency to come next time.

by Ann Lethbridge ( at December 17, 2014 11:00 AM

The Little Professor

Brief note: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (ROH livestream)

It's the first night of Chanukah, I'm in the middle of grading...clearly, I should be watching ballet.  Ahem.  I posted at greater length about Alice when I saw the National Ballet of Canada perform it a few months ago, so just a few comments here:

  • My sense that the ballet works better in the cinema or on video than on stage continues--it benefits strongly from closeups and editing, especially in the more crowded sequences, like the courtroom scene.
  • Of course, on stage you don't lose audio for several minutes at a time.  Most of the Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar scenes were totally silent (which, in the case of the latter, meant that the boombox joke at the end didn't work).  Fortunately, we did have the Mad Hatter's taps.  However...
  • ...for me, at least, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party fell utterly flat this time.  McRae was great, of course (it's his role), but the sheer nastiness of his characterization needs to be moderated a bit by his interactions with the March Hare and the Dormouse, and he was not in synch with either of them, acting- and sometimes choreography-wise.  It's not clear how much rehearsal he got with this March Hare, whom he was having some trouble partnering.   Matters weren't helped by the March Hare's total blankness; Ricardo Cervera managed to make the character three-dimensional, but that didn't happen here.  Speaking of which...
  • ...despite the slaughter of the bunnies, which took out first Edward Watson (the original White Rabbit, injured) and then Cervera (his last-minute replacement, also injured), Alexander Campbell (Cervera's really, really last-minute replacement) was a terrific White Rabbit/Lewis Carroll.  Like Dylan Tedaldi, whom I saw with the NBoC, Campbell is Watson's physical opposite in every respect, a classic demi-caractere dancer (short, muscular, compact) rather than tall and leggy.  (As Lewis Carroll, he also looked about twelve, which was a little disconcerting; some aging makeup might be in order.)  Even if the long arabesque lines Wheeldon developed for Watson didn't always suit Campbell's physique, Campbell's footwork was outstanding and the characterization was just great--that was the best visual rendition of an AARRRRRGHHH I have seen in some time.  I found myself watching Campbell more than almost anyone else on stage.
  • As the Queen of Hearts, Zenaida Yanowsky continues to own this ballet.  The "tart adage" was especially funny; bonus points to Bennet Gartside, the Four of Clubs, who ramped up some of the comic business from last time.
  • Bonus points do not go to the camera work.  Despite what I said above, some of the decisions made no sense whatsoever, especially in the Mad Hatter's Tea Party ("the Hatter is over there, sir," I found myself muttering at one point, "why are you shooting this minor action over here?").  Similarly, while the closeups help the characterization of Alice and the Knave, they're not so good while they're in the middle of a pas de deux and the audience wants to see, um, the dancing. 
  • Darcey Bussell is...not a natural interviewer, and perhaps should be politely retired.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 17, 2014 04:18 AM


Bit Players in Wuthering Heights

This article in The Boylston Banner about the publication of the third installment of the Bit Players Series by S.M. Stevens has brought to our attention that the second had a very Brontë setting:
Bit Players, Bullies and Righteous Rebelsby S. M. Stevens
ISBN-13: 978-1481015103
December 7, 2012

Sadie Perkins just wants the Crudup High drama club's spring musical to go smoothly, but the original production of "Wuthering Heights: A Modern Tragedy" is threatened when an anonymous texter starts bullying Sadie's gay friend Foster, the lead in the play. And Sadie's boyfriend Alex is suddenly acting homophobic, making Sadie wonder if she really knows him at all. On top of that, she has to add a controversial, secret song-and-dance number to the show behind the director's back, to impress the professor from the Yale School of Drama. Find out how it all ends up in this sequel to "Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers". Bit Players is one of the only Young Adult series set in the theatre world. More theatre resources are available at and the Bit Players Pinterest page.

by M. ( at December 17, 2014 12:30 AM

December 16, 2014


Those horrible things!

Winston View on what to give book lovers for Christmas:
For the book lover, there are pretty hard cover editions of classic novels like Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Wuthering Heights.  These books are budget friendly, coming in at under $20. It doesn’t matter if she already has a copy; these beautiful hard covers will quickly replace the old paperback she has on the shelf. She’ll be so happy you took her love of a classic novel to the next level by giving her the ability to read a hard cover edition, the way these books were meant to be read. (Scott Heggen)
While film lovers may enjoy this compilation by IndieWire's The Playlist: The 20 Best Movie Posters Of 2014.
16. “Winter Sleep
Divisive as Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s epic Palme d’Or winner is around these parts, it is at times certainly very beautiful. This one-sheet, a clever mix of Drew Struzan and what looks like rotoscoping, encapsulates that harsh beauty, but also gets at the bookish tone of the film, and the fraught relationship between the central husband and wife, with the snowy wind whipping their hair about as the man hides his face in... shame? Defeat? Exhaustion? The generous wide vista puts the Cathy-and-Heathcliff vibe into context though, something that, arguably, the film, with its tendency for tighter, more claustrophobic interior shots, could use more of.
More Wuthering Heights inspiration behind films as 411 Mania lists the top 8 'high fantasy films':
#5: Labyrinth (1986)
Labyrinth is one of those films that does start in the real world, but it quickly transitions to the realm of high fantasy. Jim Henson directed this film and while its failure to become a financial success effectively ended his career behind the camera, it is one that he can be proud of on a creative level. Jennifer Connelly fulfills the “hero on a quest” role as Sarah, a girl who must rescue her baby brother from David Bowie’s goblin king Jareth before he’s claimed forever. Henson relied on his puppetry pedigree to make this one work, combining darker elements with very kind-friendly stuff to make an odd sort of film that appeals to many different types of people. Bowie does fine work as the evil Jareth and designer Brian Froud did amazing work, using literary sources such as Wuthering Heights as an inspiration for his visuals. It has become recognized as one of the greats of that era, and rightly so. (Jeremy Thomas)
The Los Angeles Times recalls Wanda Coleman's early experiences of public libraries:
In her 2005 book “The Riot Inside Me,” Coleman recalls her early visits to the library, although even there, she writes, she was required to work the system: “At that time,” she tells us, “books were segregated — you had boys’ literature and girls’ literature. When I went to the library (Ascot and Downtown branches), I could read ‘Cheryl Crane, Nurse,” books by the Brontë sisters, and Nancy Drew mysteries — yes, those horrible things! But I wasn’t allowed to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or H.P. Lovecraft — the boy’s books.”
Her solution? “I would have my father go to the library with me. I would pick out what I wanted and he would check the books out. … Then I could read to my heart’s content!” (David L. Ulin)
Petoskey News has an article on flowering plants and quotes from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
Personally, I have had a special affinity for the white hellebore or ‘Christmas rose’. In Anne Brontë’s 1848 novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, her intrepid hero leaps out the window for his love to pluck a handful of the flowers blooming in the snow. Based on the novel’s description, however, I still had no idea what I was seeing when I first spotted a wooded English hillside covered with hellebores in full bloom. (Mary Agria)
The Starving Artist reviews Wide Sargasso Sea.

by Cristina ( at December 16, 2014 10:58 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


There are around 800,000 species of insect. From the honey on our breakfast cereal, lice infesting our hair to cockroaches invading our homes: insects are, and always have been, implicated in our […]

by Jo Taylor at December 16, 2014 02:32 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Victor Mottez (1809-1897), portrait of his first wife Julie Mottez, 1837

 photo Julie_Mottez_by_Victor_Mottez.jpg

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Another portrait

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Ingres, Julie Mottez, 1844

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Théodore Chassériau, 1841

December 16, 2014 09:17 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Doran Goodwin as Emma just back from Miss Taylor’s wedding: a tough moment of aloneness (1972 Emma, scripted by Denis Constanduros)

Dear gentle friends and readers,

And you thought I was forgetting Austen’s birthday. Even if, like Samuel Johnson, at least on the day she wrote a poem in honor of her natal day, Jane Austen did not anticipate the day or experience it in a celebratory spirit (one of her close older friends, Anne Lefroy died on Jane’s birthday on 1804, To the Memory of Mrs. Lefroy who died Dec:r 16 — my Birthday), I’ve tried to remember her gaiety when dancing, as well as other of her poems capturing her sincere moods for her birthdays.


Andrew Davies’s film begins with a comical foreshadowing of the film’s end on desperate stealing of chickens at Harfield, but after a touching tight moment in the carriage of kissing between Kate Beckinsale as Emma and Samantha Bond as Miss Taylor we do get quickly to Emma alone — with Mr Woodhouse to cheer up (1996)

This year I can report that a small group of us on WomenWritersthroughtheAges @ Yahoo, together with joiners-in on Austen-l and Janeites have embarked on yet another reading of Austen’s Emma! Can there be anything left to discuss? We have already found there is, and I have been forced to make a schedule as there are too many people to leave this to be casual: I put this on the blog for the people on these listservs joining in:

Beginning Sunday, December 13th to 20th: Chapters 1-5
From Dec 20th to 27th: Chapters 6-10
Dec 27th to Jan 3rd: 11-15
Jan 3rd to 10th: 16-20
Jan 10th to 17th: 21-25
Jan 17th to 24th: 26-30
Jan 24th to 31st: 31-35
From Jan 31st to Feb 7th: 36-40
Feb 7th to 14th: 41-45
Feb 14th to 21st: 46-50
Feb 21st to 28th: 51-55

This past spring in our small WWTTA and EighteenthCenturyWorlds @ yahoo we read Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire’s The Sylph as a novel exploring rape; that morphed into just a few of us on WTTTA (as I recall the first for short), partly prompted by an essay by Isobel Grundy on Richardsonian novels by women (in a volume of essays on Richardson), going on in the summer to the anonymous Emma; or The Unfortunate Attachment, as a Richardsonian epistolary novel, clearly by a woman, but not by the Duchess; and this fall, wondering about the woman The Sylph has been wrongly attributed to, the Scots sentimental novelist, Sophia Briscoe, we read her 2 volume epistolary The History of Miss Melmoth, where issues beyond the Richardsonian heterosexual ones include a sympathetic account of womens’ need for a friend; a hostile depiction of a woman whose elopement with a rake turns out so badly that she is driven to become a lady’s maid who then betrays her young mistress by marrying her domineering shallow father; a deeply empathetic depiction of a stranded widow; the tenuous security of all women.

So this was we felt a sort of continuation of Emmas and novels by women dialoguing. It seems fitting then that our first debate (as we included more readers) was over on Alison Sulloway’s Jane Austen and the Province of Womanhood, and her provocative and (to some of us) refreshing and relevant point of view highly critical of Mr Knightley’s patriarchal stances.

Fast forward to the Hindi appropriation of Emma: Aisha-Emma’s humiliation is made excruciating because it occurs before an audience — Harriet-Shefali is the real heroine of this fashion-mad yet punitive film (2011 Aisha)

Why is Emma’s intelligence as such (what is she to do with it?) a central issue?

Romola Garai as Emma leading a reluctant Louisa Dylan as Harriet to refuse Mr Martin’s offer of marriage

Johnny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley, shocked upon being told of this refusal — for the first time I realize Sandy Welch made him narrator because the book puts Mr Knightley in charge (2009 Emma)

So what can one do more for a woman who died nearly 200 years ago then close read one of her masterpieces.

By way of contrast, the British Library has chosen Northanger Abbey (that “horrid” novel) as the focus of its commemoration.



by ellenandjim at December 16, 2014 02:38 AM


Wuthering Heights on Stories

Today, December 16, opens in Bologna a new photographic exhibition with a Brontë connection:

Paolo Gotti
un viaggio tra fotografia e letteratura

16 dicembre 2014 - 19 febbraio 2015
inaugurazione 16 dicembre ore 18,30

Foyer Teatro Duse, Bologna
Il 16 dicembre 2014 alle ore 18,30 nel foyer del Teatro Duse di Bologna inaugura la mostra STORIES. Un viaggio tra fotografia e letteratura del fotografo Paolo Gotti. La mostra prende ispirazione dalle trame avvincenti di alcuni tra i più celebri romanzi di tutti i tempi a livello internazionale.
Il libro mette in scena la complessità del mondo, ne è la sua fotografia. Ma se il libro è il riflesso della realtà, è altrettanto vero che la realtà trova spesso ispirazione nei libri.
Con la serie fotografica STORIES il fotografo bolognese Paolo Gotti conduce un’indagine diametralmente opposta rispetto a quella dell’editore alla ricerca della copertina di un libro. Gotti è partito, infatti, dalle immagini fotografiche che ha scattato personalmente nei suoi innumerevoli viaggi intorno al mondo per ritrovare poi le trame a cui potrebbero essere idealmente collegate. Ad ogni immagine è associata una citazione tratta, di volta in volta, da libri diversissimi tra di loro: grandi classici e romanzi contemporanei, raccolte di racconti o narrazioni storiche.
Ed ecco dunque che si susseguono una dopo l’altra le interpretazioni visive di Robinson Crusoe (1719) di Daniel Defoe, Cime tempestose (1847) di Emily Brontë, Anna Karenina (1877) di Lev Tolstoj, L’isola del tesoro (1883) di Robert Louis Stevenson, Racconti dei mari del sud (1921) di William Somerset Maugham, Sulla strada (1957) di Jack Keruac
Cent’anni di solitudine (1967) di Gabriel García Márquez, Il nome della rosa (1980) di Umberto Eco, La polvere del Messico (1992) di Pino Cacucci, Oceano Mare (1993) di Alessandro Baricco, Vergogna (1999) di J. M. Coetzee, per finire con La strada (2006) di Cormac Mc Carthy.
“Non avrei potuto scegliermi un altro posto più lontano dal frastuono della società.
E’ il paradiso del perfetto misantropo: e il signor Heathcliff ed io siamo fatti apposta per dividerci tanta solitudine… „
EMILY BRONTË da Cime tempestose (1847)
13 immagini per 12 romanzi di autori differenti che Paolo Gotti ha amato, che in qualche modo hanno scandito la sua storia personale, così come i suoi viaggi e le sue fotografie, che il fotografo compie ormai da quarant’anni attraverso tutto il pianeta.
Il monumentale repertorio fotografico di Gotti conta infatti oltre 10.000 fotografie scattate in oltre 70 paesi nei cinque continenti.
L’unico romanzo che è citato in due immagini differenti è Cent’anni di solitudine di Gabriel García Márquez, in omaggio alla recente scomparsa del grande scrittore.
Oltre ai pannelli fotografici di grandi e medie dimensioni, verrà presentato il calendario tematico 2015 dal titolo STORIES. Un viaggio tra fotografia e letteratura. (Translation)

by M. ( at December 16, 2014 12:30 AM

December 15, 2014


'I want to read Jane Eyre to my sons and teach my daughters car maintenance'

Perth Now publishes an extract from Genevieve Gannon’s new book, Husband Hunters.
‘Marriage seems like a sham sometimes,’ said Clementine sadly. ‘I’d never made it a priority before, but I’m starting to realise I do want—’
‘Love?’ Annabel asked.
‘A family?’ said Daniela at the same time.
‘Well, all the trappings,’ said Clementine. ‘I’ve seen enough failed marriages to know I shouldn’t rely on a big white wedding to make me happy forever. But I do want children. I want to read the Brontë and Mitford sisters to my daughters, and I want to show my sons how to change a tyre. Come to that, I want to read Jane Eyre to my sons and teach my daughters car maintenance.’
Alison May has re-read Wuthering Heights. The Book Trail traces a literary route from Wide Sargasso Sea until Jane Stubbs's Thornfield Hall passing by, obviously, Jane Eyre.

And--erm--that's it for today.

by Cristina ( at December 15, 2014 10:56 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Dr Kate Katigbak The travelling exhibit All that is Solid Melts into Air, curated by Jeremy Deller, made its way north this past summer to the Laing Gallery in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, […]

by Jo Taylor at December 15, 2014 06:45 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


An illustration to Tam O’Shanter

Dear friends and readers,

A third and final blog on the EC/ASECS conference which I thought I had less to share than I do (1st, 2nd). There really was a wealth of new insights and (for me) new or different information on a variety of 18th century topics, beyond the night of Shakespeare Restored, the Winterthur museum, and a late evening of reading of poetry aloud the first night. All that in itself a pleasure (the conference’s subject, along with leisure and entertainment).


I did go to two panels of the more traditional type, with papers on major figures, major works, using close reading and historical approaches.

Robert Burns (1759-96) by Alexander Nasmyth (1787): best known portrait

My favorite paper was second on a panel on the Scottish enlightenment (Friday, mid-morning) was by Carol McGuirk, a moving autobiographical and thematic exegesis of Burn’s “Tam O’Shanter” (with English transliteration), which is often looked at from the angle of Burns’s use of mock-heroic conventions. Ms McGuirk showed us that Burne=s was revisiting his relationship with his father. It is his first known extended work, a strange intense poem where he looks back to scenes of his early childhood and adolescence. The scene of witch-nanny brings us back to Burns when young, from which there was a long-lasting estrangement between Burns and his father. Burns had gone to a dance when forbidden; this was seen by his father as a solemn breaking of the fourth commandment, and from this instance of rebellion Burns felt his father took a dislike to him, which led to his later rebellions, especially when the paternal dislike developed into a fear for Burns’s soul. The Victorian editor of Burns’s work softened an anecdote Burns’s sister told where the dying father denied he’d see his son in the afterlife. The poem has been misread as about retributive justice, but is rather a deft depiction of an old central psychic wound, about a life-altering conflict. The narrator is caustic but this is not a poem advocating prudent conformity; the thrust of the poem is on the side of tolerance as the poet faces the residual power of memory to hurt again. Ms McGuirk reminded everyone that Burns’s wife Jean was a woman who accepted and tolerated Burns’s flaws and suggested in the poem Kate stands in for Burns’s father. Tom’s experience is a painful memory. Alluded to figures in the poem include Margaret Thompson who Burns said distracted him from his trigonometry studies and whom he remembered with deep affection; he visited her and sent her a copy of this poem.

Arthur Murphy (1727-1805) by Nathaniel Dance (1777)

I slipped off to another panel I had longed to hear too (going on at the same time): Samuel Johnson. Unfortunately I missed the first two papers, and came in only at the middle of the third and a discussion of all three afterward. A. J. Schmidt’s paper (2nd) had been about Johnson’s attitude towards the American colonies and touched on the Hudson river and empire, and as I came in Jane Wessel was talking about how and why although Murphy defended literary property rights (against booksellers) he also defended the right of an author to imitate, adapt, use and said this was not plagiarism. Murphy was arguing for a modern low threshold definition of originality: the expression of the idea is protected not the idea itself. In an essay on the “Genius of Fielding” Murphy had urged that complete invention is a myth, and what was central to the new work was the establishment of an authorial persona. Murphy himself adapted and transferred plots and other elements from other people’s plays to his own, and cited his own name on his later adaptations. John Radner further elaborated on his argument that for Johnson hope is less related to despair than a forward-looking vein of nostalgia; the future is seen with anxiety; morally we need to spend well the present time, not try to escape it. (I remembered how Johnson tormented himself over his waste of his gifts and time.) It was mentioned that Murphy had apparently met Johnson after Murphy had accidentally plagiarized Johnson, and the similarities between one of his own plays and one of Sheridan’s had made him wonder if Sheridan plagiarized him. (So Murphy’s spontaneous thinking belies his theory.) Johnson’s defense of abridgements and his own imitations supported Murphy’s outlook too. Anna Foy talked more about how Johnson praised James Grainger’s Georgic, “Sugar-Cane” as a new original poem though derivative; Grainger brought into poetry new images and refreshed the reader’s mind; Gilmore’s book on Grainger’s poem, The Poetics of Empire was mentioned.


A photograph of a contemporary actress as Nell Gwyn delivering one of Dryden’s satiric epilogues sending up he pious character she had just acted

Late on Friday afternoon, the plenary lecture which preceded Shakespeare Restored was appropriately about 18th century audience’s tastes. In “Hamlet with a Hornpipe,” Diana Solomon (who has published a book on 18th century prologues and epilogues), suggested the 18th century general preference was strongly for comedy, and audiences especially seemed to have enjoyed the disruptive effect of mockery interjected into serious texts. Comic scenes may have been controversial or forbidden under strict “rules,” but audiences liked a mixed experience, with comic entracts between acts of tragedy (even), lively comic dances, and ridicule framing or joking parts of plangent and poignant nights. A pantomime might follow an anguished suicide scene in a proto-feminist she-tragedy (say about rape). These were often short disconnected spectacles. She cited many many kinds of disruption and burlesque. Some statistics; after 1750 and 60 plays by dead writers predominated, only 10 were new; out of 371 performances 20% were tragedies, with comic after-pieces a must. She conceded there were those who decried this situation. Addison was one of those who decried these practices, and often they were treated as guilty pleasures (no much discussed). Cibber said he included gross derision (cross-dressing) “againts my conscience.” Perhaps some found graphic distress too hard to take (she instanced Johnson’s response to the dreadful murder scene in Othello, the despair of Lear). Should we look at these entracts as curative, the epilogues as a form of release. The discussion afterward was fun. People talked of how we watch TV today: continually changing channels, having more than one program on the screen at a time; how a row of disconnected commercials is part of most people’s experience of whatever program they are watching, and they don’t seem to object over-strenuously. It is true that certain things were not mocked: nobility or the aristocracy as such; religion.

The last panel and last two papers I heard on late Saturday afternoon into evening questioned the extent of debauchery claimed as experienced by John Wilkes, Charles Churchill and the Hell-fire club. Kevin Knott’s very long paper, “Necessary Lies: Sodomy Hysteria and the Heroic Grotesque in Charles Churchill’s The Times and David Garrick’s The Fribbleriad” opened with Hazlitt’s comment on the pleasure of hating, and how mockery of exaggerated disgusting versions of transgressive behavior were used as to attack and satirize and erase homosexuality. He went through Ned Ward’s writings, Molly-house culture, how Garrick tapped into cultural prejudice against effeminacy (for his own theatrical needs), sought to titillate, encourage violence (at least in emotion), discipline by hostility (turn what was feared into the abject). He went over a number of texts psychoanalytically (the persistent fear, oppositional ideologies), quoting Byrne Fone, Rictor Norton. Churchill used viotriolic discourse to disrupt the social order; a public display of a venomous nature was a mode of outing. He quoted private ugly letters by Wilkes and Churchill which seem to suggest that yes debauchery went on.

Modern photograph of 18th century print of Medenham Abbey

Jack Fruchtman’s presentation, “‘Was it all true or made up? Hell-Fire, Tory Politics,and Aborted Reform in 18th century Britain was a similarly complicated text. He first surveyed a group of aristocratic politicians regarded as radical who were themselves involved in transgressive behaviors with infamous members of Francis Dashwood’s circle (among these Bolingbroke, Frederick Prince of Wales, John Montague, Lord Sandwich, George Bubb Doddington, famed obese man) or very much in opposition to them (Walpole). See the Wikipedia list of people, with Hogarth’s depiction of Francis Dashwood as a parody of St Francis. Mr Fruchtman showed slides of the mansion in which the orgies and uses of prostitutes were said to have occurred (said to have been 12 inner circles in Medmenham Abbey), how much money these people had as income, how they dressed, heir libertine doctrines; he named individuals from several walks of life (archbishops involved), told of their lives, their relationships to kings and princes (Lord Bute). Hogarth hated admiration of such people and his art was effective in characterizing these people for many people. Unfortunately I had to leave because the clock turned 5 (like Cinderella at midnight — I was driving home with a friend) so missed out on specific political legislation some of these people urged (increases in taxes, Wilkes’s famous No 45 North Briton). Mr Fruchtman though was moving towards scepticism: that in his words in an email to me “We will never know for certain whether it was all made up or real. The evidence was destroyed or lost so all we have are second-hand accounts like those of Walpole and Wilkes.”

dashwood gates
the Abbey is now private property and people photograph the Francis Dashwood gate which allows a glimpse of the building

While listening to Mr Knott I thought about modern day uses of snark in newspapers and on the Net. I also wondered and took down scattered notes to the effect that perhaps Wilkes and Walpole’s accounts of the Hell-fire club were fabricated for political and personal reasons. There was a patness in the descriptions of the cells — it all seemed so archetypal. What I had wanted to ask about was a parallel in stories told of Madame du Deffand and the French Prince Regent, Duke of Orleans (to put it in the English form) when she were young and “said to have been his mistress.” I remembered coming across a passage of salacious innuendo which suggested nefarious goings-on in the grass at Sceaux late at night — everyone very drunk and some naked. Now that had a feel of reality,but by the time it reaches the public written down the text has been shaped by a temptation to make it more shapely as well as certain. Some people want to deny such things occur and others want to build them up.

Angora cats were popular subjects for paintings at mid-century: these two were said to be owned by Madame du Deffand, late in life blind, living alone, but bravely writing on (to Walpole, to Voltaire) and holding salons


Next year they meet at West Chester University (Pennsylvania), and the topic is “Networks.” I’ve thought of a topic for a CFP: “Forging Connections among non-elite women:” it is a truth once universally acknowledged that the way societies have organized themselves isolates the average women; they may socialize within the space they find themselves in with their families and friends, but there are enormous pressures and social and economic constraints keeping them from reaching out to people beyond where chance has thrown them. Thus the writing of poetry, novels, plays, and especially memoirs by women become ways for the average woman or women below the gentry, working class women (some wrote poetry, many could read) to dialogue with other women; they also beat time and space by writing and receiving letters; by visits to others; by attempting to travel and write about it; if they had the funds, go to a spa or town where there was a public life they could enter into, someone’s salon they could attend; or perhaps run a shop where they would not be under the monitored control of the house servant class. We can have papers on the elite (married or connected to powerful men, with access to large funds) but how did they address the shared question of being a woman, given that the salon and the “behind the curtains” operator may be said to support the male hegemonic order by not trying for her own position, salary, independence but supporting his and that of hegemonic families. I’ll invite papers on this subject.



by ellenandjim at December 15, 2014 05:00 AM


Inky Brontësaurus

Via this tweet by Emma Butcher we have discovered this illustration by Niroot Puttapipat as posted last summer on his blog:

Brontësaurus‏. Sepia ink and gouache on Strathmore grey toned paper, 151 x 147mm.
My literary and palaeo friends and audiences so rarely converge (which is a great pity), but I’m jolly well going to try.

by M. ( at December 15, 2014 12:30 AM

December 14, 2014

The Little Professor

Grading, in the style of four directors

I.  George Lucas



[Pan across a VILLAGE COVERED IN SNOW--the VILLAGE of TROPKCORB.  The SIDEWALKS are empty, save for a few RESIDENTS, struggling vainly against the BLOWING SNOWFLAKES.]

[A wipe reveals a SMALL PROFESSOR in some sort of EATING OR DRINKING ESTABLISHMENT, surrounded by EXAMS.  We hear a low hum of conversation.]

[The SMALL PROFESSOR sighs loudly and picks up another EXAM from the PILES.]

SP: I have a bad feeling about this.

[A COLLEAGUE slides into the SEAT across from the SMALL PROFESSOR.]

COLL: Finally getting those grades done? It's taking you long enough.

SP: Look, just tell the Registrar that the grades will be done by Friday, m'kay? 

[The SMALL PROFESSOR takes a swig of her DIET SODA.]

COLL: You've procrastinated too long.  I happen to know for a fact that you also have fifty papers to grade, two meetings to attend, and a book review to revise.  Face it--you've failed.  And you know what the Registrar does to those who fail. 

SP [stealthily unscrewing the TOP OF A PEN]: The grades will be submitted.  If you don't believe me--

COLL: I look forward to seeing that nasty letter of reprimand in your personnel file!

SP: Yah-huh.

[The SMALL PROFESSOR squirts the INK at the COLLEAGUE, leaving them SPUTTERING IN RAGE.*]

SP [throwing a big tip to a watching BARISTA]: Sorry for all the ink--probably another reason to give online exams.  

*--For the Special Deluxe Anniversary Edition, this scene was re-edited so that the COLLEAGUE squirted first.

II.  Peter Jackson

[The CAMERA flies over the SNOW-CAPPED PEAKS of the MOUNTAINS OF TROPKCORB, then dives into a STRANGE CAVE on one side.]

[The STRANGE CAVE is filled with ENDLESS PILES OF EXAMS, as far as the eye can see.  In the midst of the EXAMS, it is just barely possible to spot a SMALL PROFESSOR, hunting amongst the ENDLESS PILES.]

SP: Where did that exam go? Where did it go?! That student is going to file a grievance with the chair--what if I can't find the exam?

[The SMALL PROFESSOR keeps hunting.]

SP: What are all these exams doing here, anyway?  I only had enough for a week's worth of grading.

A STRANGE VOICE FROM OUT OF NOWHERE: We needed to give you enough exams to warrant making this a trilogy.

SP: Figures.  

[Out of the blue, a COLLEAGUE floats by on a GIGANTIC LAPTOP COMPUTER, borne along by a STREAM OF MOLTEN GOLD.]

SP: Y'know, I really struggled with college-level physics, but even I'm pretty sure that you and your humongous laptop should resemble strips of burnt bacon by now.

COLL: Chill.  So to speak.  It's CGI, OK? Just grade with the flow.

SP: Literally.


[We are in some sort of COMMAND CENTER.  The DESKS are all made out of a technologically-advanced transparent material.  COMPUTERS hum along quietly in the background.  The dominant colors are black and white.]

[A SMALL PROFESSOR can be glimpsed at one of the desks, working away at a PILE OF EXAMS.]

SP: I'm a professor, not a miracle worker!


MYST COLL: I believe you need the assistance of my superior mind.  Only my intellect, charisma, and excellent teeth can save you from the endless torment of correcting grammar.  Obey me, and I will promote you to Associate Dean for Red Pen Distribution; defy me, and I will sentence you to an eternity of labor in the spice mines of Kessel.

SP:...Are you quite sure you've got the right film there?

MYST COLL: Haven't read IMDb lately, have you? 

SP: I would rather go down to the very depths of Moria before I aid you in your evil plans!

MYST COLL: Now who's got the wrong film?!

[Suddenly, there is a GIGANTIC LENS FLARE.  When it vanishes, the MYSTERIOUS COLLEAGUE has also disappeared.]

SP [stumbling around, temporarily blinded]: Blasted lens flares...what the...where are the exams...can't see...REGISTRAAAAAAR!


[We are in a CONSPICUOUSLY CGI VERSION OF TROPKCORB, filled with CGI PEOPLE and CGI BUILDINGS.  On one of the few physical sets, we can see a SMALL PROFESSOR--except that this SMALL PROFESSOR, unlike all other versions, is actually tall, blonde, and blue-eyed.]

TBBSP: The prophecy says that she who finishes the exams shall be promoted, and she who shall be promoted will finish the exams.  Whatever could that mean?

[She tries to take a swig of her CGI diet soda, then scowls.]

[An ELDER COLLEAGUE steps down from a CGI chariot and approaches the TALL, BLOND, AND BLUE-EYED SMALL PROFESSOR.]

ELD COLL: I have some information about your true identity that may be of interest to you.

TBBSP: Before we start--are you real or CGI?

ELD COLL [sighing]: Real.  For the moment.  In this scene, anyway.  Can I go on?

TBBSP: Dude, I can either listen to you or grade these exams, which unfortunately aren't CGI.  Get on with it.

ELD COLL: As your use of "dude" suggests, you are not whom you believe yourself to be.  Instead, you are actually a very short brunette with myopic brown eyes, originally from Los Angeles--

TBBSP: Whoa, whoa, whoa.  That's ridiculous! Who on earth would make a casting decision like that? 

ELD COLL [shrugging]: The same person who cast Christian Bale as Moses, I'm guessing.





by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 14, 2014 10:20 PM


Make it buzz all year round

The Brontë Society president, Bonnie Greer is trying to implement her recently expressed wishes to increase the collaboration of the Society and local organisations and business. In Keighley News:
Brontë Society president Bonnie Greer has pledged to work with Haworth organisations and local politicians on future projects.
She this week told the Keighley News that such partnerships would help make the most of three upcoming Brontë bicentenaries. (...)
Ms Greer, a playwright and novelist, said she and her Advisory Group hoped to team up with whoever wanted to work with them on the “exciting” events.
She said this was an expression of her support for the Brontë Society Council, museum staff and leadership team.
She added “This is also an expression of support for those who are looking towards the future - and not back at the past - as we build towards a key cultural event.”
Ms Greer made her comments following a turbulent few months for the Brontë Society as its members clashed over the direction of the 120-year-old organisation.
Some critics demanded the society work more closely with the Haworth community.
Ms Greer subsequently set up her advisory group with expert members including a BBC Radio director, and said she hoped to add a handful of local residents and.
She said she wanted to boost visitor numbers to Haworth and “make it buzz all year round”.
John Huxley, chairman of Haworth, Stanbury and Cross Roads Parish Council, welcomed the chance to work with the Brontë Society and Ms Greer for the good of the village.
But he pointed out that in recent years the Brontës had been joined by other major attractions in the village, such as the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Haworth Festival and the 1940s weekend.
He said: “Everything needs to be integrated. A vibrant Brontë Society working in conjunction with other event organisers in the community would obviously be an asset.” (David Knights)
The wonders of a box set in Los Angeles Times:
The best box sets are their own worlds, aural encapsulations so fully imagined that five or six hours becomes something to get lost in, like a Brontë sisters bender or a Martin Scorsese weekend. (Randall Roberts)
Kitap Gurmesi interviews the writer Kimberly Freeman:
There are boks that everyone's life is affected. Do you have books to read you didn't give up on you ?And this book have helped your novel ?
I have read a lot of books and all of them have affected me and my writing in different ways. One very important book for me has been Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. It has a great central female character.
onceudigital (Spain) reviews Wuthering Heights; Les Soeurs Brontë posts a particularly sad moment of Jane Eyre: Christmas in Gateshead.

by M. ( at December 14, 2014 03:20 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii



The new book by Carys Davis contains a Brontë-related short story which was previously published in the Red Room collection published in 2013:
The Redemption of Galen Pike
Carys Davies
Publication Date: 15-Oct-14
ISBN: 9781907773716
Salt Publishing

In a remote Australian settlement a young wife with an untellable secret reluctantly invites her neighbour into her home. A Quaker spinster offers companionship to a condemned murderer in a Colorado jail. A tourist, mistaken for a god, finds his position questioned by the beautiful maid sent to look after him. In the ice and snows of Siberia an office employee from Birmingham witnesses a scene that will change her life. At a jubilee celebration in a northern English town a middle-aged alderman opens his heart to Queen Victoria. High in the Cumbrian fells a woman seeks help from her father’s enemy.

The seventeen stories in The Redemption of Galen Pike are about how little we ever know of other people and the unpredictable bonds that spring up between us when our worlds collide. 
The Yorkshire Post gives a few more details:
Each story is a perfectly distilled, intense slice of life and includes the exquisite Bonnet which features Charlotte Brontë who makes an ill-fated journey to London to meet her handsome young publisher George Smith.
He does not reciprocate her romantic feelings and Davies describes their awkward encounter with such delicacy, empathy and economy that the reader is almost able to feel Charlotte’s acute embarrassment as their own.
“That is one of my favourites in the collection,” says Davies. “I have always loved the Brontës and I was re-reading their letters when I just had an image of Charlotte getting on a train in Leeds and going to London; this small Northern woman going off into this strange far away place. I didn’t know why she was going at that point or who she was going to see. Then I just started writing. It is really how I write my stories – I don’t know what the story is going to be and they generally end up a very long way from where they started. Perhaps I was particularly intrigued by the relationship with George Smith because in short stories it’s about what’s not on the page. The story came out of those spaces and silences.” (Yvette Huddleston)

by M. ( at December 14, 2014 01:12 AM

December 13, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Crowdfunded Alice Book with Very Cool Illustrations

You know we love a good crowdfunding project, and there is a fantastic book project on Indiegogo running now through January 6th.  Graphic designer and illustrator Tanika Fey has created 50 beautiful watercolors for her illustrated Alice, available in English and German, and is using Indiegogo to fund the printing of the actual books.  Depending on the success of the project, the book may be printed in a variety of formats with even more illustrations!  So get cracking, sponsoring a project like this makes a great Christmas or Hanukkah gift!  Be sure to check out her webcomix too!

by Matt at December 13, 2014 04:53 PM


The missing staircase

We open today's newsround with a Brontëana finding. A link with Anne Brontë's stay as a governess in Blake Hall, Mirfield has been found in the US. The Blake Hall staircase which was sold in 1958 to a Long Island couple has been located. The story is in the Yorkshire Evening Post:
A wooden staircase with Brontë connections which was sold when the manor from which it came from demolished, has been tracked down to a house in New York.
Lifelong Brontë enthusiast Immelda Marsden, described by her peers as the ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’, managed to trace the Queen Anne staircase to a house in Long Island on the other side of the Atlantic.
The find has come at an important time as preparations are being made to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Charlotte Bronte in 1816. A number of events are planned both here and in the US to mark the occasion and now the staircase has been found it is hoped it too could form some part thereof.
Immelda, 68, took up the story: “The staircase was once part of Blake Hall on Church Lane and I can remember going there as a very small child. But the mansion was demolished and today it’s a housing estate. Bits of it were sold to dealers and the staircase went to one in Kensington, London.
“It was sold at auction to a Mr and Mrs Toppings, who had just built themselves a new house on Long Island and were in London looking for things to fill it with. They took the staircase and installed it in their house and there it stayed.”
Indeed, the discovery, which was aided by museum staff in New York, came as a complete surprise to the current owners of the building.
Immelda said: “Anne Brontë was a governess at Blake Hall in 1839, looking after two of the five children of the Ingham family. There was Tom, aged six and Mary-Anne, who was about four or five. The story goes that Tom was a bit of a handful and used to do all sorts of nasty things and Anne Bronte had trouble controlling him. On one occasion, she tied the children to chairs. The family must have found out about this and they dismissed her the same year. She would have worked there for about nine months in all.” (...)
“That house was demolished in 1954 and, although the interior parts were dismantled and auctioned off, their fates were lost in the mists of time. With one exception.
“Due to a short article in the Mirfield Reporter back in the 1960s, the wonderful Queen Anne staircase, hand-carved in burled yew, went to a London dealer. He then sold it to Allen and Gladys Topping, an American couple he met at Kensington Antiques Fair in 1958 and they installed it in their house on Long Island, New York. The story goes that Mrs Topping saw a ghost on the stairs in 1962. Was it Anne? Who knows?”
She went on: “Having checked this much out, our ‘Miss Marples of Mirfield’ made inquiries abroad but things did not look promising. People seemed to think that the house had been lost in one of the many hurricanes that occur so commonly there.
“The breakthrough came when a keen local librarian suggested contacting the Quogue Long Island Historical Society and they tracked down the exact location of the house and contacted the current owner. Much to their joy they discovered that not only was the staircase intact but the current owner was unaware of its origins and delighted to invite them over to see it. (...)
“Now Mirfield and Quogue are working together to document this little-known link between them with a view to incorporating it in the bicentenary celebrations.”
She added: “Sometime in 2016 you will be able to see the fruits of their labours for yourselves. All thanks to crucial evidence in local newspapers and business records unearthed by a killer combination of keen locals and bright librarians on both sides of the pond.”
The ghost story has circulated widely and appears in books and newspapers (where the location of the house known as Sanderling in Beach Lane, Quogue, Long Island, is also mentioned) but, apparently, nobody has looked for the exact location of the house until now.

BBC News echoes the auction of Charlotte Brontë's Fisherman drawing and quotes Ann Dinsdale, collection manager of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, talking about their most recent acquisition:
The drawing of a fisherman sheltering from the rain was drawn by the then 13-year-old Charlotte in 1829.
Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre, copied the work from a popular guidebook of British birds.
The drawing will be placed on public display in early 2015 and will be available to view in the Parsonage's exhibition in Haworth. (...)
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage, said "We're thrilled to be able to bring this drawing home to Haworth to sit with the rest of the collection of the Brontë family.
"This sketch represents the start of Charlotte's creative genius and is a rare insight into one of Britain's great literary minds."
Bloomberg asks Jason Furman, chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, about the best books of the year:
My favorite diversion was Minae Mizumura’s “A True Novel,” a retelling of “Wuthering Heights” set in postwar Japan. It had compelling characters, a unique mode of storytelling and an epic sweep. (Simon Kennedy)
The New York Times talks about the pleasures of reading:
Gayle Forman, the author of numerous books, including “If I Stay,” which was also turned into a film this year, agrees that pressuring kids to read “better books” won’t work. “I’m definitely in the ‘reading is reading is reading’ school,” she said. “I read a lot of terrible stuff when I was young. My dad would take me every week to buy the latest ‘Sweet Dreams’ romance book. Then I read Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon. Boy, did I learn a lot! But by the time I was in 11th grade I was reading Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen and ‘Jane Eyre.’ ” (Bruce Feiler)
The Guardian talks about the recent Withins Skyline fell running race:
Despite the time of year, the Yorkshire sun is fighting its way through the morning mist and – dare I say it – it’s definitely vest-only weather. No thermal tops or sweat-wicking rain jackets: today is a day for getting muddied up to the knees. And where better to do it than on the bleak moors of Brontë country in a fell race? (...)
As I finish the Withins race, willing myself up the final climb through bog and heather, I can’t help but smile. It may have been be tough, but I’ve had the privilege of a run out to the skyline, a descent along the trails back to Brontë Bridge and a final, sludge’n’ puddle drag to the finish. (Boff Whalley)
Screen Daily reports how the film project The Master based on Julien Janzing's novel Der Maaster has been presented at the Riga Film Festival:
Over 25 of the Riga Meetings participants were also in town with concrete projects which they were able to present to leading international screenwriters and script doctors as part of the European Script Meeting.
The projects being presented include:
* UK producer David P Kelly’s The Master, based on Jolien Janzing’s bestselling new novel about Charlotte Brontë’s secret love in 19th century Brussels. Kelly, who is one of the co-producers of Vera Glagoleva’s Two Women, starring Ralph Fiennes, acquired the film rights to Janzing’s novel after it was presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market’s Books at Berlinale showcase in February 2013. (Martin Blaney)
LiveMint finds Wuthering Heights echoes in Allahabad:
A giant uprooted tree resting against an abandoned bungalow in Civil Lines presents a poetic sight. It looks like the set for a film adaptation of some moody romantic novel like Wuthering Heights or Rebecca. In fact, the surroundings of one neglected bungalow were the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s famous Jungle Book short story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. (Mayank Austen Soofi)
Dagens Nyheter mentions the use of pseudonyms by the Brontës; the Portsmouth wind remember this journalist from Haber Turk Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights; The Bromsgrove Advertiser thinks that it was her Cathy in Wuthering Heights 2001 the inflection point of Kaya Scolerario's career.

by M. ( at December 13, 2014 02:50 PM

Charlotte Brontë's fisherman

Via this passing mention on Newsweek
Other items included more illustrations by E.H. Shepard, a handwritten manuscript from poet and writer Dylan Thomas (sold for £104,500), dozens of works by artist and designer Eric Gill, a 1632 folio of Shakespeare’s works (£74,500) and a pencil drawing by Charlotte Brontë (£13,125). (Stav Ziv)
we have found out about a couple of Brontë-related items auctioned yesterday afternoon at Sotheby's in London as part of their English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations Including Eric Gill – The Felix Dennis Collection auction. This drawing by Charlotte Brontë dated October 23, 1829 was expected to fetch 6,000-8,000 pounds but ended up selling for 13,125. EDIT: And the buyer is the Brontë Parsonage Museum!  Here's how Sotheby's described it:
encil drawing on card (image size: 70 x 105mm, card size: 100x 145mm), depicting a figure in a hat holding a fishing rod in driving rain, huddled by a river beneath a windswept tree (copied from Thomas Bewick, History of British Birds (1816), volume 2, p.47), signed and dated, 23 October 1829, mounted, framed, and glazed (frame size 230 x 285mm)
LITERATURE. Alexander and Sellars, no. 24 
A first edition of Shirley was sold as well and it fetched 1,500 pounds (the estimate was 1,200-1,800).
8vo (189 x 112mm.), 3 volumes, FIRST EDITION, 3-page advertisement for the third edition of Jane Eyre at end of volume 3, with volume 2, p.304 correctly numbered and with the error '"Well said he' in line 1 not corrected, contemporary half calf, spines gilt, red morocco lettering-pieces, lacking 16-page publisher's catalogue in volume 1, some wear to hinge of volume 2 with small tear at foot of gutter in first few pages
PROVENANCE. B. Williams Ball, bookplate; F.W. Fitzwygram, inkstamp
LITERATURE. Parrish, p.93; Sadleir 348; Smith 5
The Lancashire Telegraph features a Dickens medley and the venues where it will be on show. It's not all Dickens, though:
Scenes from Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations and others will be enacted and “guest” writers such as Anne Brontë and the well-loved diary of Mr Pooter will also be represented. (Diane Cooke)
The Huffington Post lists '100 Random Facts About The English Language' such as
79. The "wuther" of Wuthering Heights is an old English dialect word for a sudden and strong gust of wind. (Paul Anthony Jones)
But we are sure everyone reading this blog already knew that.

Daily Life jokes about Amy Poehler's writing habits:
Amy Poehler's debut memoir Yes Please has been creeping up bestseller lists since its release last month, and, while appearing on Ellen yesterday, the Parks And Rec star revealed her very idiosyncratic creative process behind the book - she wrote it while topless (kinda like the Brontë sisters - no, I just made that up). "I find that writing topless relaxes me," Poehler explained. (Rob Moran)
And now for something that sounds straight out of a British sitcom or soap opera (we can't make up our minds on which) but it's apparently from real life. The Telegraph reports:
Roger Bird has launched a fight back over claims he sexually harassed a potential Ukip candidate by releasing a number of text messages between him and his accuser
Star Ukip candidate Natasha Bolter sent a text message saying 'love or infatuation made me lose my brain' two days after claims of sexual harassment against him were raised.
After an apparently fatal blow to his political career, Mr Bird has gone on the defensive by releasing hundreds of text messages between himself and the woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct to prove that their intimate personal relationship was consensual.
The messages paint a picture of a sometimes volatile relationship which veered between loving and strained. [...]
In one more recent text message, Ms Bolter complains that "life is not a bronte novel" and that "love or infatuation made me loose my brain for a while [sic]". (Gregory Walton, Steven Swinford and Luke Heighton)
On Facebook, Wuthering Hikes shares a stunning recreation of how the Haworth Parsonage would have looked like in the 19th century (before the Wade wing was added to it). And via the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page, we see that the second episode of the BBC's Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance featured the Brontës' upright piano.

Mainline Media News features Merion Mercy Academy's Madi Resnic who is 'Main Line Student of the Week' and whose favourite novel at the moment is Wuthering Heights. She Read Novels reviews Robert Edric's Sanctuary. Thé Toi et lis! (in French), Falling in Love with Words and The Jis Journals post Wuthering Heights. Bored Panda publishes a photoshoot by Michalina Woźniak inspired by Jane Eyre; The World of my Green Heart posts about Jane Eyre. Finally, Malvern College publishes a review of their own Jane Eyre production.

by Cristina ( at December 13, 2014 02:09 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Parsonage Christmas and Europe alerts

Several alerts for today, December 13 from all over Europe:

The first one in Haworth itself:
Parsonage Christmas weekend
Festive activites in the Museum
December 13th 2014 11:00am - December 14th 2014 05:00pm

A festive weekend of activities for visitors, including talks and walks, readings of Christmassy passages from classic literature in the rooms of the Parsonage, and drop-in craft activity to create baubles for your Christmas tree.

All activities are free with admission to the Museum and are ‘drop-in’.
Events will vary across the weekend so please telephone for more details if there is something you specifically wish to take part in.
In Italy, the La Sarabanda company is touring their Wuthering Heights adaptation:
Cime Tempestose
Writer Mara Gualandris and Loredana Riva
Director Loredana Riva

December 13  21.00 Teatro Birone di Giussano, Giussano
January 24 21.00 Teatro Oratorio, Lomagna
February 14 21.00  Centro Don Virginio Pedretti, Cesano Maderno
Feburary 28 21.00 Madonna in campagna, Gallarate
April 19 21.00 Teatro Barbarigo, Milano
And in Galmaarden, Belgium:
ATK Kokejane
Woeste Hoogten
Director Bruno Demuynck
Adapted by  Jeroen Olyslaegers
13, 19 and 20 december 2014
20.00 h
Baljuwhuis in Galmaarden

by M. ( at December 13, 2014 12:30 AM

December 12, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 12, 2014 11:49 PM


All the juicy bits

The New York Times interviews Anjelica Huston about books:
Who is your favorite novelist of all time? [...]
I’d have to say, for sheer force of beauty, Leo Tolstoy. It’s a while since I read “War and Peace,” but I reread “Anna Karenina” not too long ago, and it is mighty. I must confess I love female writers: Jane Austen, Isak Dinesen, Colette, Willa Cather, Dawn Powell, Joan Didion. I grew up on the Brontë sisters, and Daphne du Maurier. I gravitate to love stories. I love the way Elizabeth Bowen writes, and I’d have to say I take Edith Wharton over Henry James. She’s fruitier. Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain” is a classic. And of course, for sheer language and character, Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectations” ranks very high. I loved Yukio Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility tetralogy: “Spring Snow,” “Runaway Horses,” “The Temple of Dawn” and “The Decay of the Angel.” Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is such a powerful book, and “Love in the Time of Cholera” is so strangely, brilliantly optimistic.
Another Brontëite (well, sort of) is this 17-year-old columnist from The Huffington Post.
The only books that I have read in high school that left me astonished were Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment, To Kill a Mockingbird and Les Miserables. I felt that all the others I had to read were simply in the curriculum to fill the specified quotas (i.e. one book on race, another on religion and several from Shakespeare). Basically, these often abstract books just did not interest me, a regular teenager just trying to get through the maze of high school unscathed. (Mackenzie Patel)
Wuthering Heights may appeal to teenagers because, apart from the general sturm und drang of it,
 All the juicy bits in Wuthering Heights are near the beginning. (Charlotte Runcie in The Telegraph)
The New York Daily News book blog Page Views questions Minae Mizumura's view of A True Novel as a retelling of Wuthering Heights,
Firstly, yes, Minae Mizumura’s “A True Novel” has been compared to “Wuthering Heights” and “The Great Gatsby.” But the riveting and languorous tale, first published in Japan 12 years ago, has just as much in common with “Cloud Atlas” (or should I say, seems to have influenced the latter, which came out two years after) and “The Pillow Book,” the 11th-century collection of single lady Sei Shonagon’s often hilarious writings that muse upon romance, annoying one-night stands and court life. [...]
We start with fictional Minae’s preface set near the time the book was published in 2002, then skip to her adolescence as a Japanese expat in Long Island in the ‘60s, and after that fast-forward through her career to the moment she meets a young man who knows someone she once knew.
That “someone” is Taro, and his story is eventually taken back to the beginning— not by him, but by maid Fumiko, who eventually comes to work for Taro after lengthy servitude with the family of his childhood girlfriend, Yoko. Fumiko is the analogue to Nell from “Wuthering Heights,” but that’s as specific to Emily Brontë’s classic as “True Novel” gets, at least in my opinion. Class-crossed lovers, humble protagonist getting rich, wealthy families falling into genteel poverty, an epic comprising several decades, even the Three Crones (here, aged sisters of a nouveau riche postwar Japanese family): these are common tropes. [...]
When “True Novel” winds down, we feel the triumph and agonies of love and personal success as keenly as Taro, Yoko, Fumiko, Minae, Yusuke and the Saegusa sisters, and practically have implanted memories of Japanese small town Karuizawa, so richly described are its seasons, foliage and denizens. Confused now? No worries — it’s a joy to witness everything become clear. (Eydie Cubarrubia)
Jane Eyre is one of The Arbiter's 'reads to match the winter mood'.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë: For those readers looking to catch up on their classics “Jane Eyre” is definitely a good place to start. Largely considered a revolutionary work of fiction for its use of a female heroine who shares her intense emotions and does not apologize for her sexuality, no one’s literary repertoire is complete without a reading of “Jane Eyre.” (Patty Bowen, Justin Kirkham, and Emily Pehrson)
The Huffington Post rightly claims that.
Inverting the classics is nothing new; while The Last Ringbearer is a well-conceived semi-sequel to Tolkien, Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), and John Gardner (Grendel) have done this sort of thing much better. Not only do these three novels work brilliantly as free-standing literary works, none of them has, to my knowledge, produced ressentiment-infused subcultures (though Maguire, in providing the inspiration for the shlock anthem "Defying Gravity," is guilty of much worse). (Eliot Borenstein)
The Mirror sums up the latest goings-on on EastEnders:
Anyway, we FINALLY got to meet the Carter’s errant matriarch, Sylvie, who’s been tucked away in Aunt Babe’s spare room like something out of a Brontë novel. (Katy Brent)
But of course life isn't a Brontë novel, as Natasha Bolter well knew. The Daily Mail (of course) and the Evening Standard discuss the text messages sent back and forth between her and Roger Bird.
Are we really so busy now that even our love gets abbreviated? Life is not a Brontë novel, Bolter notes in another message. It certainly doesn’t seem like one reading these. (Rosamund Urwin)
Arte (Italy) features Magdalena Tomala's exhibition Maddy.
Ma è proprio la burrasca che conferisce vigore alle opere e alla visione –artistica e non solo- della Tomala, che ama citare Emily Brontë: “...solo gli inquieti sanno com'è difficile sopravvivere alla tempesta e non poter vivere senza”, dove l’unica ancora di salvezza è costituita dall’ironia e dall’autoironia –ribadita anche dal titolo della mostra- dal ridimensionamento della sofferenza attraverso il gioco, la leggerezza, l’accettazione di eventi che non si possono cambiare, ma trasfigurare ed esorcizzare attraverso un’espressione artistica cinica e sarcastica. (Translation)

Ask the locals - Brontë from gVisions media on Vimeo.
Via the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page, we have found this trailer for Ask the Locals - Brontë, a documentary made by the grandson of Joanne Hutton, the first female curator of the Bronte Parsonage Museum. Newstalk shares an interview with the actors of the Gate Theatre production of Wuthering Heights. Tattoos A shows a tattoo with a Wuthering Heights quote.

by Cristina ( at December 12, 2014 10:53 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Giuseppe Tominz (Italian, 1790-1866), Self-portraits

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Self-portrait with his brother Francesco, 1819

December 12, 2014 09:48 AM


Candlelit Parsonage

This evening a the Brontë Parsonage Museum will be a very special one:
Candlelit Tour of the Museum
Christmas at the Parsonage
Friday, December 12 between 7pm and 9pm.

A very special candlelit tour of the Parsonage from Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale.
See the house lit by candles and dressed up with its traditional Christmas decorations.
The evening will include mince pies and mulled wine, and the opportunity to ask all you have ever wanted to know about the Brontës’ Christmas!
Tickets £15 including refreshments. This event has sold out online. Please contact the Museum to find out about any remaining ticket availability. Contact 01535 640188.

by M. ( at December 12, 2014 12:15 AM

Stolen candles

Weird news from Haworth church as reported by Keighley News:
Church leaders in Haworth have been left puzzled and saddened by a “bizarre” theft.
At least a dozen large candles, including a symbolic Advent light symbolising the birth of Jesus Christ, were stolen from Haworth Parish Church in Main Street some time between Friday morning and 9am Sunday.
Priest-in-charge, the Reverend Peter Mayo-Smith, said the theft meant a Brontë Carol Service on Sunday – which was meant to have been candle-lit – had to go ahead with more modern illumination instead.
“They’ve taken about 12 to 15 of the bigger, more expensive candles,” he added. “What really upsets people is they’ve stolen what is known as the Christ Candle, which is at the centre of the Advent wreath and is lit to represent the coming of Jesus Christ. Having that stolen has struck a chord with people.
“The other larger candles were on the window sills – they left the smaller ones behind.”
Mr Mayo-Smith said the church had quickly replaced the stolen items in order to be ready for the annual torchlight procession carol service this Sunday.
He added: “We keep the church open because we want visitors to Haworth to be able to come inside. I feel more sad than anything else. It’s a shame someone has stooped to this level – it shows a lack of respect.”
Church warden, Diane Wilson, who first noticed the candles were missing, said: “To steal candles from a church just seems ridiculous. Yesterday in the church we prayed for the person who stole them. Myself and my husband have been here for 45 years and nothing like this has happened before.”
The church will again host the carol service at the end of the popular Haworth torchlight procession at 5pm on Sunday.
The procession itself begins at the bottom of Main Street at 4.30pm. Participants will slowly wend their way up the street carrying electric candles and singing Christmas carols accompanied by choirs and bands.
Saturday is Candlemas Eve in Haworth. Santa will lead the torchlight procession down Main Street at 3pm accompanied by the Holly Queen, Morris dancers, choirs and bands, finishing with carols around the street’s Christmas tree. (Miran Rahman)
Michael Dirdas lists his favourite books to give for Christmas in The Washington Post. Among them is:
Wuthering Heights (The Folio Society, $69.95), by Emily Bronte; illustrations by Rovina Cai. Lately, the Folio Society — the London-based publisher famous for its illustrated slip-cased editions — has begun to make some of its titles available in bookstores. All the society’s offerings are certainly worth seeking out, especially if you are tired of paperbacks with small type or would like more permanent hardcovers for your home library. But in this particular case, you might also want this edition of Bronte’s brooding elemental classic if you are a Patti Smith fan: She provides a knowledgeable and passionate introduction.
John Barrell doesn't seem to like to adjective 'Victorian'. Or so it seems in his article on the Late Turner exhibition at Tate Britain in the London Review of Books.
The curators don’t shy away from calling him a “Victorian artist”, a term which, though of course factually accurate for much of his later life and career, is unavoidably, provocatively, loaded. Who doesn’t flinch a little from the use of such a label, for so long a term of disparagement?’ Imagine calling Bleak House or Jane Eyre ‘Victorian novels’! If we did, who would read them? We should understand Turner instead as a ‘modernist precursor’, for that is the Turner that speaks most directly to us today – the ‘most compelling’ Turner because the ‘most familiar’. God forbid that exhibition curators should try to defamiliarise him.
And, more understandably, this columnist from The Huffington Post doesn't like clichés about women.
We've been typecast as lunatics for hundreds of years. For crying out loud, the word "hysteria" comes from the Greek for "uterus." Because hysteria -- nowadays, more commonly called the crazy cakes -- was thought to be exclusive to the ones with the wombs. And remember Jane Eyre? We're all "crazy women in the attic." Aren't we lucky. (Vicki Murphy)
Finally, only the final hours left to bid for the seven volumes of the The Life and Works of the Brontë Sisters - Thornfield edition (1899-1900, Harper & Brothers) on AuctionMyStuff. Here's the description:
Edited by Temple Scott. Introduction by Mrs. Humphrey Ward. Biography of Charlotte Bronte by Mrs. Gaskell. It appears that this set was issued, in America, in at least two forms. One is a set limited to 150 copies, in half cloth and with dust jackets. Such a set was auctioned in 2003 for $800. Other sets, such as yours, are not numbered and limited, but are available at prices ranging from $275 - about one thousand. One set, in blue cloth like yours, is priced at $700. In my experience, a set such as this would do well to sell at $250 - $350. This set in half cloth and boards, with paper labels on the spines, are larger pages, and handsomer bindings. 

by Cristina ( at December 12, 2014 12:12 AM

December 11, 2014

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion December 1814

Snow here today.  Others in the house were up and shovelling at 5am. It is a very pretty day and worth a fashion picture.

From the Lady's Magazine for December 1814

Morning Walking Dress.

A round dress of grey or stone colored French silk figured with small flowers or springs of the same, made high on the neck with a frill plating of ribbon of the same colour; the bosom open, the sleeves long, divided at several distances, with tufts of floss silk, the skirt rather short with a trimming of ribbon to correspond with the neck.

Mantle the color of the dress, or scarlet made square, with lapel collar trimmed with a broad border or ribbon, of the same colour.

Bonnet of black silk velvet, made high in the crown with full poke front, figured with tufts of let-in ribbon, of scarlet, or yellow, or variegated; a cluster of coloured flowers on one side with trimming of variegated ribbon.—The hair in full curls, in front and sides, with cap of thread lace,--an occasional handkerchief of variegated French silk.—Gloves of York tan—Half boots of coloured jean.

Personally I am not having a good time matching the description to the picture, nor am I rushing out to buy this one, but there we have it. Until next time.

by Ann Lethbridge ( at December 11, 2014 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Harald Sohlberg (Norwegian, 1869-1935), some landscapes

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Country Road, 1905

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Detail from previous

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Sun Gleam, 1894

December 11, 2014 10:14 AM


Theatre and film

Tomorrow in RTÉ1-Ireland:
The Works
8.30pm, Friday, 12th December, RTÉ One

Withering Wuthering
From song to film to stage, we take a look at Wuthering Heights in a few of its incarnations and talk to actors Kate Brennan and Tom Canton who play Cathy and Heathcliff in a current production at the Gate Theatre, Dublin.
And today, December 11 in Luxembourg:
Wuthering Heights (L'esthétique du noir au cinéma)Fade to Black : Esthétique du noir
Cinémathèque de la Ville de Luxembourg
December 11, 2014
18.30 h

USA 1939 / vostf / 104' / De : William Wyler / Avec : Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Donald Crisp
Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath) had the freedom to develop his soon-to- be-famous deep-focus photography, allowing simultaneously clear images of both the foreground and background, all shot in black-and-white expressionist tones. But while his depth of field covered the entire visual space, his lighting purposefully did not, using minimal light to create a candle-like effect, allowing small pockets of light in which actors could enter at precise moments of emotion. » (Jason Fraley,

by M. ( at December 11, 2014 12:20 AM

December 10, 2014

The Little Professor

A Noble Wife

Another reasonably competent Victorian religious novel--reasonably competent as a novel, that is.  Given my usual intake, that's high praise.  In any event, John Saunders' historical novel A Noble Wife (1896), which covers a roughly twenty-year period from Henry VIII to the ascent of Mary I, has an unusual protagonist: Margarete (Margaret) Osiander, the second wife of Thomas Cranmer.  I can't recall ever seeing her in fiction before, although she may have wandered through in one of the Anne Boleyn novels I wrote about a few years back.    The novel's title puns on the word "noble," for it juxtaposes the Protestant Margaret's spiritual nobility to the social nobility of her opposite and (mostly) antagonist, the Catholic Lady Oldcastle.  The conflict in question revolves around Margaret's fictional son, Gerald, whom in an emergency Margaret abandons to Lady Oldcastle's keeping; alas, Lady Oldcastle had recently lost her own infant son, and Gerald's apparently providential appearance drives her not only to protect him, but also to refuse to give him up when Margaret wants him back.  Gerald thus serves as the linchpin which keeps the Cranmer/Oldcastle families connected through a series of historico-religious highs and lows, not least of which are Cranmer's and Sir John Oldcastle's (of whose fictional descent more in a moment) reforming goals.

Although the novel is firmly on the Protestant side, its approach is moderately philo-Catholic: that is, it simultaneously professes respect for devout Catholics and insists that the only possible framework for religious toleration is Protestant.  Margarete (never actually named in the narrative) articulates the novel's most sympathetic viewpoint: "Where we see a new and infinitely more glorious world, waiting but for us to knock at the gates, and enter, they see only, care for only, the old world they have come to love; piously and wisely as they think, and which naturally they desire to stay in. Their punishment should be to live, see, and share in the spiritual Eden they denied and obstructed the way to" (123).  Here, Protestantism is not just futurity, but also an entirely different mode of being, a "more glorious world" that approximates to a renewed "Eden"--it restores England to a state that is "spiritual[ly]," if not physically, prelapsarian.  It is new and old at once.  Catholicism, by contrast, looks backward, and thus needs to be relegated to history; at the same time, its thought-processes are, in a sense, entirely historical in a mundane sense (that is, focused on the past).  At the same time, Margarete's spiritual clarity contrasts starkly with the workings of profane history: Henry VIII turns out to be a persecuting monster who murders people in his way and leaves the "poor creatures" (132) ejected from their monasteries with nothing; his son is a weakling; and, of course, Mary I does in most of Cranmer's reforms (along with Cranmer).  Margarete's crystalline, perhaps utopian sense of how history ought to work counterpoints her husband's slow, sometimes problematic work at court, and their double act suggests that religious transformations require, as it were, a double gaze, one aimed at earth and one at heaven.  As Cranmer says after he determines to recant his recantations, "I needed a strength more than my own, because I needed all you could give me of your strength, conviction, and peace, henceforward" (389).  At the same time, the gendered implications of their division of labor are obvious: Cranmer has both faith and political savvy, and while the latter can lead him astray, it also enables him to engage in large-scale historical work that is denied to the purer but also more innocent Margarete, whose spiritual work remains "offstage" in her immediate domestic circle.

Still, this idealized religious marriage--idealized even more because the author, in his zeal to represent them as Super Awesome Couple, carefully skips over the existence of Cranmer's Wife #1 and, in his postscript, Margarete's Husbands #2 and #3--miniaturizes how the interplay of "public" and "private" religious practices enabled Protestantism's ultimate historical success.  By contrast, the Oldcastles embody all the ways in which Catholic marriages (and, therefore, Catholicism) could misfire.  To begin with, the Oldcastles are a mixed marriage, with the wife devoutly Catholic and the husband enthusiastically (albeit ultimately unsuccessfully) Protestant.   Unlike Margarete, who only criticizes her husband in order to support him, Lady Oldcastle works to undermine Sir John whenever she thinks his behavior threatens the Catholic order.  Moreover, in order to hold on to Gerald, Lady Oldcastle must engage in a series of misreadings and misappropriations that contrast sharply with Margarete's spiritual clarity: although Margarete leaves Gerald in a tiny boat in the river, deliberately evoking how Pharoah's daughter discovers Moses, Lady Oldcastle neglects to think about the larger implications of the Biblical reference, which would require a return to "his" people in adulthood.  (Which, as it happens, is what eventually transpires.)  Similarly, she rewrites her desire for a replacement son in terms of his providential rescue from his birth mother's "heretic fancies" (14); much later, in an equally self-serving appropriation of the judgment of Solomon, she demands that Gerald choose between her and his birth mother.  As the narrator says, in a chapter pointedly entitled "The Wisdom of the Serpent," she has the knack of "explaining satisfactorily to the conscience whatever the conscience, without such prompting, was likely to revolt from" (65).  Her devotion to Gerald and to the traditional Catholic faith alike spur her to manipulate Sir John whenever possible, climaxing in her success at getting him to recant his Protestantism near the end (an obvious contrast to Cranmer).  

Sir John is, in a sense, wrecked by his own ancestry--that is, his devotion to Protestantism is in part an effort to reinhabit John Oldcastle's spirit, to live up to tradition, and not to craft the "new" Eden anticipated by the Cranmers.  We are told at the beginning that Sir John has a habit of thinking "so long and deeply over the reforming tendency and tragical end of the latter [his ancestor], as to feel at once attracted and repelled" (3), and his Protestant efforts--which include shattering an idol and chaining up a Bible in his chapel--are grounded in this attraction.   Yet in contemplating his ancestor's "tragical end,"  Sir John falls prey to a Hamlet-like stasis, opting for thought over action.  The persecuting Archdeacon warns him that he may not be so "brave" when he "come[s] to the fate of your ancestor" (255), which turns out to be all too true: instead of emulating his former associate Ishmael, a simple tailor who dies at the stake, Sir John is instead moved to recant.    His habit of "dwelling ever too intently on the fate of his illustrious ancestor" (381) parallels his wife's obsession with Gerald, inasmuch as his simultaneous desire to and fear of living up to his ancestor's example interferes with his ability to engage in right action.  Even more: it interferes with his ability to conceptualize himself as a spiritual agent in his own right, rather than as a mere repetition of his martyred relative.  Like Lady Oldcastle, who misreads or misapplies the Bible to suit her own ends, Sir John misreads the Protestant martyrological tradition by focusing on the death itself and not what it means


by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 10, 2014 09:49 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Carrolling – A Musical Project on SoundCloud

For those of you lucky enough to attend the spring meeting in 2014 you got a taste of this very fun project.  Well now you can get even more!  The project has been posted to SoundCloud, and you can take a listen at any time.

by Matt at December 10, 2014 08:43 PM

The Hoarding

John Savarese

If you will be attending the 2015 MLA Convention in Vancouver (8-11 January), you may be interested in the following sessions on British literature of the long 19th century. The complete convention program is available and searchable on the MLA website. If we’ve left anything out, feel free to let us know. THURSDAY, 8 JANUARY […]

by John Savarese at December 10, 2014 08:31 PM

John Savarese

We are pleased to announce The Hoarding’s upcoming return from hiatus. The editorial team will resume their usual activities with the new year, and would like to thank our readers for their patience. If you are just joining us, The Hoarding reports recent scholarship in Romantic and Victorian studies, with a primary focus on new […]

by John Savarese at December 10, 2014 08:27 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


A Wuthering Heights Sculpture

This 2011 sculpture by the Bulgarian artist Plamen Dimitrov was featured recently on ArtParks:
Wuthering Heights Figurative abstract bronze sculpture
Dimensions/size: 49 x 27 x 12 cm (height x width x depth)
approx: 1 ft 7 2/7 in x 10 2/3 in x 4 2/3 in

Small or Little Bronze Metal Post Modern Abstract Contemporary statuette, statue, ornament, or sculptures for sale Of a Nude Calling in the Breeze, for Indoors Inside Interiors of Homes or Houses or Outside Outdoors in the Exterior in the Garden by the so successful Plamen Dimitrov.

by M. ( at December 10, 2014 12:30 AM

December 09, 2014


On Bonnie Greer's words

The Yorkshire Post publishes a letter from a reader who strongly disagrees with Bonnie Greer.
From: Catherine Rayner RGN, MA, BSc and BA, Life Member of the Brontë Society and former member of council.
It was with growing concern that I read the interview with Bonnie Greer, current President of the Brontë Society, in your newspaper (The Yorkshire Post, December 1). Following her warnings, at the recent EGM, “of the dangers of talking to the Press” and how “she did not want to hear any criticism of the Brontë Society in print”, I found it particularly offensive.
The Brontë Society Council is currently being challenged and constructively advised by a group of members (The Modernising Group) who know and understand the problems of the last 18 months and are trying to rectify a lot of mistakes and move the society forward in to the 21st century.
Ms Greer speaks of setting up an Advisory Group and bringing “money into the village”. Money seems to be the aim and yet she has not consulted with the village traders or the inhabitants, who may not want her interfering in their affairs. Ms Greer has not consulted with any of the Modernising Group, declaring that she does not know who they are despite many of us standing up at the EGM and declaring our names and concerns. By her own admission, therefore, she is woefully ill-equipped to advise anyone on the running of the society or on the future of Haworth and its residents.
I have been a life member of the Brontë Society for over 35 years and served on its council for six years. After being re-elected to council in June this year, I resigned a month later because of poor governance and internal wrangling. I find it unpalatable that the president, who holds an honorary title only, should be allowed to air her views whilst trying to silence the very people who are desperately trying to move the society forward.
Ms Greer has her own agenda and is trying to take on a role for which she has no local knowledge or experience. She appears to be riding on the backs of all those who have spent months trying to set up a dialogue and organise constructive talks and action, both within the society and alongside the local population. A great deal of positive work and fruitful liaison has been achieved by the local ministers working with the traders and the community. Ms Greer has continually turned a blind eye and is now trying to take on the role of saviour.
It is an insult to the hard-working and dedicated members of the Brontë Society and also to the people of Haworth, who have both benefited, and suffered, from having such a famous legacy in their midst.
The Brussels Brontë Blog has a post on this year's Christmas lunch. Teen Ink has an article on Wuthering Heights. Expediente Quatermass writes in Spanish about Jane Eyre 2011.

by Cristina ( at December 09, 2014 10:50 PM

The Little Professor

Today's mildly exasperated response to a modern hagiographical account of a Victorian clergyman

If someone's behavior occasioned angry commentary and condemnation in the 1840s, then it is not anachronistic, let alone "politically correct," to suggest that the behavior in question may have been, you know, problematic. (Or, in this case, immoral.)   

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 09, 2014 06:02 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


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Ludo Vanden Haute, High Window, c.1910

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Henri Choanard, Picnic on the Loing at Montigny

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December 09, 2014 10:03 AM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Keynotes:  Isabel Hofmeyr (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) Nile Green (University of California, Los Angeles) This conference will examine the means by which imperial networks of print and media helped fashion […]

by Jo Taylor at December 09, 2014 08:16 AM


Identities on the Move

A new scholar contribution:
Identities on the Move 
Contemporary Representations of New Sexualities and Gender Identities
Edited by Silvia Pilar Castro-Borrego and Maria Isabel Romero-Ruiz
Lexington Books
978-0-7391-9169-9 • Hardback
December 2014

Contributions by María José Coperías Aguilar; Logie Barrow; Mariam Bazi; Rocío Carrasco Carrasco; Concepción Parrondo Carretero; Laura Gillman; Eduardo Barros Grela; Inmaculada Pineda Hernandez; María Elena Jaime de Pablos; Kate Joseph; Cynthia Lytle; Lucia Garcia Magaldi; Angelita Reyes; Antje Schuhmann and David Walton

The development of new sexualities and gender identities has become a crucial issue in the field of literary and cultural studies in the first years of the twenty-first century. The roles of gender and sexual identities in the struggle for equality have become a major concern in both fields. The legacy of this process has its origins in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century.
The Victorian preoccupation about the female body and sexual promiscuity was focused on the regulation of deviant elements in society and the control of venereal disease; homosexuals, lesbians, and prostitutes’ identities were considered out of the norm and against the moral values of the time. The relationship between sexuality and gender identity has attracted wide-ranging discussion amongst feminist theorists during the last few decades. The methodologies of cultural studies and, in particular, of post-structuralism and post-colonialism, urges us to read and interpret different cultures and different texts in ways that enhance personal and collective views of identity which are culturally grounded.
These readings question the postmodernist concept of identity by looking into more progressive views of identity and difference addressing post-positivist interpretations of key identity markers such as sex, gender, race, and agency. As a consequence, an individual’s identity is recognized as culturally constructed and the result of power relations. Identities on the Move: Contemporary Representations of New Sexualities and Gender Identities offers creative insights on pressing issues and engages in productive dialogue. Identities on the Move to addresses the topic of new sexualities and gender identities and their representation in post-colonial and contemporary Anglophone literary, historical, and cultural productions from a trans-national, trans-cultural, and anti-essentialist perspective. The authors include the views and concerns of people of color, of women in the diaspora, in our evermore multiethnic and multicultural societies, and their representation in the media, films, popular culture, subcultures and the arts.
Two chapters are Brontë-related:
“Sexuality and Gender Relationships in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea
Lucia Garcia Magaldi, University of Cordoba (Spain)
“Lust and sexuality in Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Rhys’s Antoinette Mason”
María José Coperías Aguilar, Universitat de València (Spain)

by M. ( at December 09, 2014 12:27 AM

December 08, 2014


A guide on how to establish one’s self on the property ladder

Patheos gives voice to a young muslim female Ph.D. student:
I was the only hijab-wearing woman in the group attending this course. When I have told people in the past that I am a PhD candidate, they tend to jump in with two predictable choices. Something to do with medicine, they say. Dentistry? Pharmacy? Or it’s Middle East Studies. Translation? Arabic? Urdu? Persian? One of those “Islamic” languages?
Well, it’s a language. But not one of those that involves “deciphering crabbed oriental scrolls” like St. John in Jane Eyre. There’s a clue there. Because I am a hijab-wearing woman who has been studying English literature at university level for a decade, more or less — although I am predictable in that I choose to study novels about and from the Middle East. (tasnim)
Página 12 (Argentina) publishes an obituary of PD James quoting a fragment from her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest:
It was a room which came alive in memory when I read an account of the schoolroom at Lowood in Jane Eyre, although I am sure the two establishments had absolutely nothing else in common.
We loved this Common Core State Standards reinterpretation as published in the Washington Post:
His new rather sarcastic Common Core curriculum appeared on the blog of education historian and advocate Diane Ravitch, who gave me permission to republish it.
Here’s the post, starting with a quote from the anonymous teacher:
“I put together this list of required readings for 9-12 when I was told by our curriculum director that we could, with few exceptions, only teach “informational texts” in English class, because it was what Common Core Standards required. Here is my list with the explanation following of why it is an informational text:
A New Curriculum for the Common Core (...)
Twelfth Grade(...)
Wuthering Heights – A guide on how to establishing one’s self on the property ladder with a section on effective community relationships. (Valerie Strauss)
Both tripfiction and  The Writers of Woman review Jane Stubb's Thornfield Hall; billierosie posts about Wuthering Heights. On the Brontë Bell Chapel Facebook Wall we can find a Telegraph & Argus article on the group and its work to recover the Thornton Brontë Bell Chapel.

by M. ( at December 08, 2014 12:16 PM

Home Teaching the Brontës

The Oregonian reviews a local performance of Luigi Pirandello's Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore:
The uninspired rehearsal clumps along, until the sound of wind fills the theater, and a group of characters all in black, a somber family, materialize on stage. They're wan and washed out, figures out of Charlotte Brontë of even a European version of the Addams Family. These 19th century folk stuck in time are mission-bound: They want to perform their play, and it's a doozy. It's the only way they can come alive. (Holly Johnson)
The Auburn Citizen  remembers a Christmas party in the 1940s  but the Brontë reference is not really fitting in our opinion:
It is the girls' comments of that party that are memorable. I have their permission to quote their individual impressions. I could not help, but think and compare the description of the houses in the Victorian Gothic novels of “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” to Willowbrook, envisioning the little girls in their party attire exploring the hidden recesses of the house. Willowbrook was described as a jumble of additions onto additions made over the years with turrets and spacious rooms.
Salon lists possibe gifts for favourite fictional characters. For Tina Belcher from Bob's Burgers:
It’s not exactly erotic friend fan fiction, but she’ll love Mallory Ortberg’s irreverent literary satire “Texts From Jane Eyre” ($14, hardcover) just the same. (Erin Keane)
In the Sunday Times a mother who is home schooling his sick son:
"He's been out of school now three weeks. I'm trying to teach him history, about the Brontës," (Sian Griffiths
The Portland Mercury has an alert for today, December 7:
I don't even know why the rest of us bother to write anything so long as Mallory Ortberg is around. The founder of the fantastic site the Toast and one of the smartest and funniest people online, Ortberg's hilarious new book, Texts from Jane Eyre, imagines text messages between beloved literary figures, from King Lear to Cormac McCarthy. Tonight's reading is going to be great. (Erik Henriksen)
Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, 7:30 pm, FREE
Montages (Norway) interviews the director of photography  Runar Sørheim. Talking about the use of the 4:3 (or Academy ratio) format he says:
Dere har valgt å skyte filmen i 4:3-format, såkalt Academy Ratio, som var standard frem til begynnelsen av 50-tallet. Hvilke tanker ligger bak denne beslutningen?
– Vi hadde lyst til å gjøre noe drastisk. Jeg opplever ofte at scope-formatet ikke blir tilstrekkelig utnyttet. Det bærende motivet i filmen er nærbildet av Julia, og nærbildet mister sin kraft hvis det blir unødvendige mengder informasjon på hver side. Wuthering Heights (2011) av Andrea Arnold er et godt eksempel på hvordan den kvadratiske formen styrker nærbildet. Vi ville ikke ha to tredjedeler med tomrom på hver side av Julias ansikt, forteller Sørheim. (Sveinung Wålengen) (Translation)
Louise Sanfaçon posts on Les Soeurs Brontë a collection of collages combining different portraits of the Brontës with a screen printing filter. The book trail reviews Jane Stubb's Thornfield Hall.

by M. ( at December 08, 2014 11:39 AM

Dice, Dresses and Scarves

Eager to find curious Brontë-related gifts? 

Jane Eyre Dice on Palimpsestic:
Unblockers Jane Eyre Dice

If there'a book out there with more atmosphere than Jane Eyre, I don't know of it. The chill of the moors literally seeps out of every page.
Okay, not literally.
The chill of the moors figuratively seeps out of every page!
Each one of these dice is a 3/4-inch cube with a word or phrase from a Charlotte Bront ë's classic on each side. The great aged color of the wood comes from a natural coffee stain. (It's like extra inspiration is soaked right into the wood!) I hand-sand the edges and corners of each cube for a worn-in look.
You'll receive a set of five dice with random words, chosen to be both evocative of the book and helpful in your writing or storytelling. They're packaged in a black velveteen bag accented with a real vintage fountain pen nib. They also come with a helpful instruction sheet, useful for both writers and storytellers.
A Brontë dress on Phase Eight:
Bronte Dress
£59.00 Was £95.00 100%
ref: 202654836
Colour:  Black/Ivory
Fabric:  100% Viscose
Care:  Professional Delicate Dry Clean Only
Length:  89cm shoulder neck point to hem
Model:  Size 10 /Height: 179cm

This stylish shirt dress features pretty detailing on the collar, front and sleeves. Styled with short sleeves and a concealed button front.
Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights scarves on Uncommon Goods:
Literary Scarves
by Tori Tissell

Warm Words
Is it easy for you to get all wrapped up in a good book? Then these infinity scarves are the perfect way for you to show off some literary love in any weather. Each circular scarf is silkscreened by hand with passages from some of the world's great books: Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, or Wuthering Heights. A great transitional scarf, they're made from medium-weight cotton knit, with a comfy, t shirt-like texture that keeps out the chill without being too heavy. Hand printed in Portland, OR. 

by M. ( at December 08, 2014 11:02 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Louise-Adéone Drolling

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General Lafayette, 1830

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Child in an interior, 1830s

Another interior by this artist:

December 08, 2014 09:28 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Frances Abingdon as Prude in Congreve’s Love for Love by Joshua Reynolds

Dear friends and readers,

This is the 2nd of 3 reports on the papers I heard at the Nov 6th – 8th conference of the Eastern Region division of ASECS at the University of Delaware. I hope it won’t seem utterly narcissistic if I concentrate on the two panels whose papers were sent in response to my Call for Papers, or placed on my panel as closely connected; as I went to both, and took good notes on both, if I ignore them I will not have much more to say about the conference’s papers. So, to begin with, here’s the call for papers (and early thinking on this topic). For the record, including my own, 7 proposals were sent in, 6 became papers.


Charlotte Lennox, an engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi after a portrait by Joshua Reynolds

Charlotte Turner Smith by George Romney

The first panel occurred mid-Friday afternoon. The first paper was Sue Howard’s “Chronicling the Liminal State: Fictional and Non-Fictional Expressions of Married but Separated 18th century Women’s Experience.” Hers was a tale of two Charlottes, Charlotte Lennox and Charlotte Smith, both married, both mothers, both badly treated by domineering husbands (Smith’s a lot worse); they both supported themselves and their children by writing and both separated from these husbands but could not escape the husband’s rights, say in Lennox’s case to determine what schooling her children would have, and in Smith’s, his right to come and take all the earnings she had from her and beat her with impunity. Lennox was 30 years older than Smith. In the 1770s Lennox wanted to live with a friend and was thwarted; she wanted to try for a theatrical career, again thwarted. In the 1790s she wrote begging letters to her husband on behalf of her son. He would not support them; he tyrannized over her and yet took her earnings; they did not sleep together. True, he was not violent and did not intrude himself into her presence without warning her first. Ms Howard felt that Lennox handled her situation well by not allowing this private situation to become widely known; she used her novels to express her happiness and show the the vulnerability of women indirectly. Her last novel, Euphemia, an epistolary one, which takes place partly in the US, is the most open: Euphemia’s husband takes their son into the wilderness and loses him; she gains financial control, a separation from her husband, US laws were more favorable for women. Charlotte Smith’s was a devastating experience: her husband ended in a debtor’s prison where she had (it seems) to join him; he inflicted 12 children on her, had mistresses, threatened her life. She was fiercely frank about the autobiographical sources of of the misery of the older married women in her novels (surrogates for herself), and aggressively angry in her sonnets over the way the courts, the lawyers, and society in general treated her complaints and demands. Smith was criticized severely for her radical political opinions and presentation of a rape in Desmond. Ms Howard suggested that over time Smith was forced to write more indirectly, and that when she became more elusive her novels improved (she instanced Old Manor House, and The Young Philosopher).

Self-portrait of John Flaxman when young

Ann Denman Flaxman, painted by Henry Howard in 1797

Marie McAllister’s subject was the real correspondence between John Flaxman (1755-1826) who became a successful sculptor, draughtsman and painter, and his eventually bethrothed, and later wife, Ann Denman. they left love letters they wrote before marriage, a journal of their tour together. The love letters tell the story of a young couple where the girl’s parents are fiercely opposed to the marriage, because they felt his status was low and he would not make enough money. The letters read like a novel of the era; the lovers see themselves as tormented people; there are incidents of misunderstanding and she breaks off with Flaxman at one point. An uncle and aunt intervene, the couple are permitted to court at a distance, and eventually they do marry. The letters are poignant, melodramatic, show intense reveries; the language used is that of novels partly because they had no other language with which to encompass their emotional extremes. Ms McAllister quoted these letters to great effect. One cannot say this paper was about women living alone but it showed the mores and economic circumstances and social realities of the era.

Gemma Jones as Mrs Dashwood standing by the window of Barton Cottage (1995 S&S)

I have since revised my paper, “The Depiction of Widows and Widowers in the Jane Austen canon,” and sent it to Persuasions on-line to see if this Jane Austen periodical will publish another more detailed and somewhat differently focused version of the paper. I’ve also been encouraged to write a book proposal on the topic of The Anomaly and call for papers by someone at a well-respected academic press; at that time I will revise my paper so as to fit the topic more closely. What I wrote was a survey of the way widows and widowers are treated in the Austen canon: in her novels, in her letters, and what we see in the contemporary family documents. I have uploaded it to my space in for anyone who wants to read it: The Depiction of Widows and Widowers in the Austen canon. A few snippets:

In a recent study of widowhood in the ancien régime, Bardet remarks the obstacle to understanding the condition of widowhood is what we have are sociological studies badly served by sources (7) … The Austen canon, her fiction, letters and contemporary family documents, mirrors these distortions and adds a few, but is valuable because of her strict adherence to social verisimilitude and the successful attempt of some later Austen relatives to save her relatives’ life-writing.4 Thus widowhood is as common as marriage in the novels: at least 19 widows , and nine widowers. …Her particular limitations must be noted. Her fiction depicts the genteel … she often refuses to believe people are ill and confronted with mental suffering she spits out mostly caustic and wry references … There is though a realistically enough rendered depiction of these circumstances and of the social mores and instinctive behavior shaping the reactions of the widowed to make visible probable conditions and their motives from the standpoint of how the afflicted characters cope and the social advantage or damage (and it is mostly damage) they or others close to them bring upon themselves and others. In her female characters, a fear of widowhood pervades the novels … while the widows we remember are well-heeled and menopausal, Austen has three widows in need of security, with children, in tenuous circumstances. Most of her widowers are an even eagerly marrying or marriageable bunch … a saturnine perspective contrasting or and confirming Austen’s unmarried and married women’s anxieties emerges: [three central widowers] are suggestively presented as having contributed to the early deaths of their wives … The fictions include central now widowed people who themselves make unwise remarriages, and the fiction’s plot-design hinges on how a new marriage is ruining the other central character’s lives (or so they feel)… Austen also pays attention to the relationship of the widowed with their children, and how the absence of a moderating parent influences the fate of these children …Several of Jane Austen’s wives and widows’ calamities parallel those of her great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Weller Austen who writes about the calamity she experienced and exposes the injustice of the primogeniture system … The letters of Jane around the time of Henry’s first wife’s death and for a year or so after need a thorough re-seeing to understand what is fully going on …The frequency of death in people’s lives from a young age in Austen’s era is not enough to account for her uses of widowhood or obsession with the deaths of women in childbed .. she delineates and attacks not just those who confront their disasters with strong sensibility to show the high price such people and their involved relatives pay for feeling and/or finding themselves in vulnerable places in the social and economic arrangements of the later 18th century.

See also Bereft: of Widows (in Austen), aging with poem on Jane Kenyon; widows as disabled.

Clarissa (Saskia Wickham) and Anna Howe (Hermione Norris) talking of a single life (1991 Clarissa)

The second or continuing panel occurred on Saturday morning at 9. In her “The Protestant Nunnery: Richardson’s Take on a Proto-Feminist Term,” Dashielle Horn discussed Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (to advance their education, opportunities, improve their lives), mentioned Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall (there was not time to discuss it but its content is relevant), and went closely over Richardson’s proposal for a Protestant nunnery in Sir Charles Grandison. Astell was seeking to help women personally develop themselves; Richardson a solution to the problem of single supposed non-productive women. Astell thought a moral and practical education cold enable women to be fulfilled and useful. Sarah Scott develops a feminist Utopia. Richardson recognizes the plight of women: his Clarissa’s sees marriage bleakly and finds the single life preferable; the harsh severity and exploitation she meets with makes her want a refuge, but the presentation of a nunnery in Grandison seems in the service of controlling women, of serving society; the women are regarded as having failed in life.

Elizabeth Kemble in Southerne’s Oronooko

Elizabeth Keenan Knauss’s paper, “Unbounded: The Many Empowered Women of Thomas Southerne’s Oroonoko” presents women characters living outside the traditional roles of wife and daughter, and given ususual positions of power. Marriage, it’s suggested, is a kind of slavery; in this colony where there is a slave rebellion, women experience agency, e.g., the Widow Lackett. Other women characters are hunters rather than hunted; they choose their husbands; they would rather be an anomaly than lose their liberty. She interestingly told how the many female characters broke with passive stereotypes; Imoinda takes control of her situation by killing herself. The fantasy empowerments reveal where in life women have no power.

A young servant girl plucking a chicken (follower of Nicolas Bernard Lepicie, French, 1735-1784)

Lastly, Joanne Myers discussed Jane Barker’s vocation in her prose fiction. Only recently have Baker’s texts become available, and the interest has been her loyalty to the Jacobite cause. Ms Baker’s argument was that Baker achieved autonomy subjectively, from within by her commitment to her religion. The conversion experience is an assertion of selfhood and virginity the center of her strength. There is much ambivalence in the writing, suffering becoming beauty is pathological perhaps. Myers conceded that Toni Bowers has seen in this kind of intangible fidelity to self a pseudo-choice, a painful escape from life.

Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh bullying Elizabeth Garvey as Elizabeth Bennet (1979 P&P by Fay Weldon)

Before and after both sessions there was much talk about the status of women who were without men. It was suggested that women lived in groups or with another woman or that a lady’s maid was of paramount importance to her as a protection, essential helper, and to give her more status. People thought that there were more women living without men than we realize. The problem of violence (by implication) rape was brought up: a woman without a man was a target for thugs. People were (of course) interested in women who were able to exercise power. Older women and widows were thought to be powerful; but my research suggested the powerful widow was rarer even than widows left a good deal of money. Some did carry on the business they had exercised with or by their husbands, but many sought to remarry. Since there were no papers on actresses, as a group they didn’t come up, but they do fit into the anomaly and they exercised power in building a career, in moving about when they had to, in creating a reputation. The fantasy element in books dramatizing women’s communities was talked about, women dressed up as as men, in breeches’ parts on stage; how in many novels middle class women were represented. Institutions were usually set up to control women, not help the individual “find herself.” There was little talk about the stereotypes of the era which depicted women alone hostilely and cruelly, and hardly any talk about the real emotions of such women living alone (whether widowed, or never married by choice or as a result of the society’s response to her, or separated); we did discuss how women who were beaten terribly were often still expected to carry on living with a husband.


Sad journey, by Raffaele Faccioli (1845-1916).
Italian painting of a widow forced to move with her child

Today I thought I’d read an essay on the legal status of single adult women, and found an essay whose title suggests the author was going to discuss the legal status of married and single women, but after a paragraph stating with that in theory the single woman had the same legal status as a man, and that this was not in practice true as women had no place in public law (they couldn’t hold office, couldn’t be on a jury, &c), the author said since marriage was the goal of the majority and most did marry, she would devote her essay to the legal status of married women. I judge that there were far more single unmarried adult women living alone, spinsters, divorced, separated, and widowed women than has been supposed. It was in their interest to keep themselves invisible: many may have lived quietly with other women; there has been startling little effort to discuss them as a group, which is going to be the start of my book proposal. This is fertile ground which could open up new areas of research and kinds of women’s lives.

Patricia Rutledge as Mrs Peachum (Beggars’ Opera)


by ellenandjim at December 08, 2014 05:03 AM


Shades of Jane Eyre

A letter of Jane Austen will be sold by the Torquay Museum as the BBC News Devon informs:
A previously unseen letter penned by Jane Austen is set to be sold by Torquay Museum.
The letter, from the famous author to her sister, makes a reference to her novel Pride and Prejudice - which at the time had not yet been published.
The letter is part of a collection that includes letters from Charlotte Brontë, John Keats and Abraham Lincoln given to the museum in the 1930s.
The Hester Forbes-Julian Letter Collection has indeed a curious history:
The Hester Forbes-Julian collection of letters and autographs, now one of the Museum’s most valued possessions, remained hidden until 1987, when it was rediscovered during storage improvements. The collection comprises 16 albums of autographs, letters, engravings and cuttings relating to some 1500 individuals, many of them major figures of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The fields of literature, politics, science and music are all represented: John Keats, Jane Austen, the Brontë’s, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Guiseppe Verdi, Dr. Livingstone, the Duke of Wellington to name but a few.
The catalogue can be found in the National Archives: Charlotte Brontë, 10 September 1850. More details can be found on Newby's Chicanery: New Brontë Letters by Alexander, Christine, Notes & Queries; Jun95, Vol. 42 Issue 2, p189:
Focuses on a letter sent by novelist Charlotte Brontë in 1850 to William Smith Williams, reader for Bronte's publisher, alleging mishandling of authors and their texts by publisher Thomas Cautley Newby. Details about the practices followed by Newby.
Los Angeles Times gives tips for Christmas gifts:
Litographs book T-shirt, $34: Bibliophiles can take their passion to a new level with cleverly designed T-shirts that allow book lovers to wear their favorite stories — whether by William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Leo Tolstoy or Charlotte Brontë — instead of just reading them. Geeks may find themselves especially fond of the designs for Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn,” Jules Verne’s classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” H. G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and more. The designs are also available as tote bags, posters and tattoos. (Tracy Brown, Noelene Clark, Blake Hennon, Todd Martens and Jevon Phillips)
The New York Times reviews Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre:
Meanwhile, there are books such as Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters (Holt, $23), by Mallory Ortberg, a co-founder of the website The Toast, in which the jokes will probably have the life span of a sand mandala or a 21st-century communications device. Some of these jokes are good, but the high-low conceit of literary characters sending chatty, subliterate texts — and sexts: Jake from “The Sun Also Rises” tries to get Brett’s attention by emulating Anthony Weiner, LOL — already feels dated. “Faxes From Jane Eyre” might have at least had a retro ’80s appeal. “Zeppelin Mail From Jane Eyre” would have had a cool cover. (Bruce Handy)
The New York Review of Books reviews The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited with a foreword and notes by Leslie S. Klinger, and with an introduction by Alan Moore:
What does Asenath Waite want? What does any woman, in Lovecraft, want? “She wanted to be a man,” and, in pursuit of this enterprise, “constantly took his body and went to nameless places for nameless rites, leaving him in her body and locking him upstairs”—shades of Jane Eyre. (Charles Baxter)
Broadway World interviews the actress Gina D'Arco:
What's your dream role? I'm a huge book nerd so I would love to play one of my favorite literary heroines. Jane Eyre (as long as it's not the musical...this gal is not especially musically inclined) or Esther Greenwood if someone ever put on a stage version of The Bell Jar. (Jeffrey Ellis)
The Bournemoth Daily Echo begins an article with this question:
No-one wants to lounge on a summer beach reading Wuthering Heights, do they? But, equally, who wants to sit by the fire at Christmas and read about folk who are running around in a bikini? (Faith Eckersall)
Well, we wouldn't mind actually.

Mainline Times interviews a local junior student:
Q: What is your favorite book, and why?
A: My favorite book(s) changes a lot, but right now I am between The Fault in Our Stars and Wuthering Heights. I love romance novels. The Fault in Our Stars was a pleasure read that was so well written and has made me love John Green as a writer. Wuthering Heights was part of my summer assignments for a British Literature class but became one of my all-time favorites.
Did you know that Jane Birkin wanted to play Branwell Brontë (!) in André Téchiné's Les Soeurs Brontë? We read it in this interview in Midi Libre:
Vous dites parfois regretter votre accent qui vous a privée de rôles. C'est un regret profond ?
Ça dépend. Je me dis aussi que ça fait rigoler les Français et que j'ai peut-être été adoptée grâce à cet accent. Et je ne pourrais pas vivre ailleurs qu'en France. Mais ça me limite. Je voulais jouer le frère dans les Sœurs Brontë de Téchiné. Mais il m'a dit que les trois filles ne pouvaient pas avoir un frère avec accent. Elles étaient anglaises, pourtant, les sœurs Brontë ! J'ai fait des efforts avec Chéreau qui m'a appris à rouler les “r” alors que je ne savais pas que ça existait. Doillon a essayé de m'apprendre, tout le monde s'ys est mis, même Serge a essayé, mais je m'énervais. (Jean-François Burgeot) (Translation)
La Jornada San Luis (Argentina) interviews the writer Claudio Magris:
“He releído Cumbres borrascosas y descubrí que lo leía con cierta ingenuidad, estaba el personaje de Heathcliff que me daba un coraje enorme.” (Ericka Montaño Garfias) (Translation)
Finally, on the Facebook Wall of the Brontë Parsonage we found this painting by Basil Taylor, The Brontë Sisters (1935).  The story behind the painting is as fascinating as the painting itself:
Curiously, [Laura] Riding later published a painting of the Brontë sisters by Basil Taylor, Lucie [Aldridge]'s escort in that demimonde after he, like many others of the set, had committed suicide in 1935 A note accompanied the reproduction, clearly written by Riding, though signed by John and Lucie. She described Basil as he himself had; a pariah who regarded his paintings, like himself, as failures "in the sense that his preoccupation was fatedly with the beauties of waste". Drawn to "the brilliant, lavish subject conditioned emotionally by the shadowy threat of waste, disappearance," Basil's painting of the Brontë sisters was unfinished at his death." (In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding by Deborah Baker)

by M. ( at December 08, 2014 01:38 AM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Alice150 Resource Page

imageOur good friend and past-president of the UK Lewis Carroll Society has created a centralized site for all items pertaining to the 150th anniversary celebration of our favorite book.  Updated daily, this site is must see TV – or something like that :-)  Invaluable resource to be sure.

by Matt at December 08, 2014 12:16 AM

December 07, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Christian Vogle von Vogelstein (1788-1868)

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Young Lady with Drawing-pad, 1816

 photo vogelJunge_Dame_mit_Zeichengerat_CarlChristianVogel_vonVogelstein_1816_det.jpg
Detail from the above

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A drawing of the artist by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

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Christiane Wetzel, 1839

December 07, 2014 10:12 AM



From book to sculpture:
Jane Eyre
Series: ArtFolds Classic Editions (Book 4)
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Studio Fun
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Series: ArtFolds Classic Editions Series , #4
ISBN-13: 978-0794433338

Readers and art lovers alike are about to fall in love again with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the gripping story of Jane’s growth from young orphan to a woman in love. The entire book is included inside this ArtFolds™ edition, which folds into a memorable sculpture displaying the word READ.

An ArtFolds book is a hardcover book that is transformed into a unique paper sculpture merely by folding pages, based on our exclusive, patent-pending instructions. The process is fun and easy and takes surprisingly little time, making it as appropriate for children as it is for adults. Each Classic Edition, with its embossed cover and color-edged pages, is based on a much-loved classic work of fiction.

ArtFolds: READ features the complete text of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, a story of personal resilience and the ultimate power of love. Jane Eyre is a timeless novel depicting one woman’s drive to define her own identity, in spite of those men and women who attempt to limit her possibilities. It’s a story as moving and gripping today as it was in 1847 when it was first published. Ranked number 12 on the Guardian’s list of the 100 best novels, the book enchants you upon each reading.

And when done, you can fold the book into a powerful sculpture of the word “Read,” presented in a lovely serifed typeface highlighted with soft gray page edges that you can look on with joy for years to come. It’s the perfect ArtFolds™ edition to show your lifelong love of books and great reading.

by Cristina ( at December 07, 2014 12:27 AM

December 06, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Wreath-making, Carols, and Christmas Market

Today, December 6, in Haworth:
Wreath-making Workshop
Christmas at the Parsonage

Make a festive wreath for your front door inspired by the traditional Christmas decorations at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Tickets £20 and must be booked online. All materials will be provided, and includes admission to the Museum and a minced pie.
If the workshop has sold out online, please email as we may still be able to accommodate you.
Haworth Christmas WeekendChristmas markets, carols & church service
December 07th 2014 11:00am - 04:00pm

Arrive at the Parsonage for 2.20pm when children from Haworth Primary School will be singing carols in the Parsonage garden. A traditional carol service at St Michaels and All Angels Church in Haworth will follow at 3pm, and all are welcome.
These events are FREE - but please note that usual museum admission charges will apply.
Please note that due to circumstances outside of our control the Haworth Christmas Market has been cancelled this year. All other activites will take place as planned. We apologise for any disappointment.

by M. ( at December 06, 2014 12:30 AM

December 05, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Rosanna Mullins Leprohon, The Manor House of De Villerai, ed. Andrea Cabajsky (Broadview, 2014).  Reprint of Leprohon's 1859-60 historical novel set during the Seven Years' War and its immediate aftermath.  (Amazon)
  • Annamarie Jagose, Slow Water (Victoria UP, 2003).  In the 1830s, a would-be missionary sails to New Zealand.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Clare Clarke, Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadow of Sherlock (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).  A study of detective fiction that decenters Doyle, examining the Sherlock Holmes stories in the context of the many other authors at work in the period (such as Zangwill). I'm reviewing this for OLM.  (Review copy)

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 05, 2014 11:26 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


University of Kent (Canterbury) 15-16 May 2015 Keynote Speaker: Dr Silvia Antosa (Dipartimento di Scienze Umane, Università degli Studi di Palermo) Plenary Speaker: Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah (School of English, University […]

by letitbeprinted at December 05, 2014 01:53 PM


Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights will be recorded in 2015

Great news as reported in Milwaukee Daily Magazine. It seems that Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights opera will finally be recorded:
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) continues to support the arts and creativity to improve lives and communities in the United States. In its first fiscal year 2015 announcement, the NEA will award $29.1 million through 1,116 grants in three categories including Art Works funding for the Florentine Opera Company's Carlisle Floyd Recording Initiative. (...)
The project features a concert performance and professional recording of "Wuthering Heights" by composer Carlisle Floyd. NEA Opera Honoree Carlisle Floyd's canon of operas is amongst the most performed by any living American opera composer, however four essential operas have never been commercially released. With the composer acting as artistic advisor, this Florentine premiere recording will feature conductor Joseph Mechavich, soprano Georgia Jarman (Cathy), baritone Kelly Markgraf (Heathcliff), soprano Heather Buck (Isabella), tenor Vale Rideout (Edgar), tenor Chad Shelton (Hindley), mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer (Nelly), tenor Frank Kelley (Joseph), The Florentine Opera Chorus and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The live concert recording by Soundmirror of Boston, MA will be released by the Bridge Records label.
On Jan. 9 and 11, 2015, the Florentine continues it's tradition of highlighting American operatic classics with a premiere commercial recording project featuring Carlisle Floyd's "Wuthering Heights" at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center in Brookfield – FO General Director William Florescu announced, "Through the support of the NEA, this project will add to the canon of great American opera recordings–The Florentine Opera brings American Opera Composer Carlisle Floyd's operatic masterpiece to life in this concert staging of the classic English novel by Emily Brontë. Floyd's score takes you to the heart of Catherine and Heathcliff's devastating love story."
"Wuthering Heights" will be presented in concert, live on the stage of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center with an all-star cast of Florentine favorites, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Joseph Mechavich. Soprano Georgia Jarman (Elettra in Idomeneo, 2012; Marie in La Fille du Regiment, 2006; Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, 2008; Gilda in Rigoletto, 2010) sings the role of Catherine with baritone Kelly Markgraf as Heathcliff. Soprano Heather Buck (Valencienne in The Merry Widow, 2007; Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, 2009; and Lulu Baines in Elmer Gantry, 2010) returns to the Florentine as Isabel, while tenor Vale Rideout (Frank Shallard in Elmer Gantry, 2010 ; Igneo in Rìo de Sangre, 2010) returns as her brother, Edgar. Tenor Chad Shelton makes his Florentine debut as Hindley. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer makes her return to the Florentine stage as Nelly, and tenor Frank Kelley (Spoletta in Tosca, 2009; Eddie Fislinger in Elmer Gantry, 2010; Pang in Turandot, 2011; and Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro, 2013) sings the role of Joseph.
Keighley News reports the performances of the Lip Service comic duo in Halifax:
The Brontë sisters are among the latest targets for well-known Yorkshire comedy duo LipService.
The two women are playing real-life characters including Charlotte Brontë as they tour The Hysterical The Historical.
The show will be performed at the Square Chapel Centre For The Arts in Halifax on December 12 at 8pm.
Audiences can expect a whacky, whirlwind tour of Britain’s female national treasures in a production that is part sketch show, and part pub quiz.
A spokesman for LipService said The Hysterical The Historical saw the two women returning to their stand-up comedy roots.
She said: “You can meet notorious gossip Mrs Gaskell and her timid friend Charlotte Brontë, and learn about Marie Stopes and her little known friendship with Scott of the Antarctic. (David Knights)
The Guardian reviews the Pierre Huyghe exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
There are funny emphases, like an early Super-8 travelogue never seen before, and intentionally gaping holes. Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights might start blaring from one gallery while you’re contemplating a puppet show featuring a dancing Le Corbusier. Sounds chaotic? It is, in places. But the more accurate word might be alive. (Jason Farago
Bustle on fan fiction:
Fanfiction can fill in gaps in existing stories, expand on the narrative of minor characters, transplant characters from different universes into the same fictional world, bring real people into fictional universes, and so much more. When the Brontë sisters spent hours of their youth and young adulthood constructing fantastic adventure stories for the real life Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, that was fan fiction. (Hannah Nelson-Teutsch)

The Bedford Daily Voice informs of the inauguration of the revamped Fox Lane High School courtyard:
The dedication included a ribbon cutting, music from student a cappella group the Commoners and a poetry reading from Fox Lane student Andrew Reino, who read a work by Emily Brontë. (Tom Auchterlonie)
The Juneau Empire reviews Longbourn by Jo Baker:
If you find “Pride and Prejudice” boring and agree with Charlotte Brontë that “I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses,” then I would suggest “Longbourn.”
Jared Della Rocca is not an Austen fan as this article about Persuasion in Bennington Banner shows:
While oft-considered a classic of literature, it's not one that necessarily bears revisiting. There are others from that era ("Jane Eyre") that are more worth your reading time.
Another review. Washington Post discusses Family Furnishings: Selected Stories 1995-2014 by Alice Munro.
Like one of those poor relatives or downtrodden governesses of Victorian fiction, the short story often seems anemic or slightly depressed. It is shuffled off into a corner, while its wealthy cousin the novel sits in the spotlit warmth, luxuriating in the depth and breadth that is its birthright. Lacking the novel’s richness, the short story offers a Jane Eyre-like intensity, which some readers may find uncongenial or bought at too great a literary price. (Claire Hopley)
Confessions of a Yorkshire woman on The Cambridge Student:
I walk on the treadmill on the highest incline, close my eyes and listen to an audiobook of Wuthering Heights. I am Cathy and Cambridge is my Thrushcross Grange.I long for sweeping hills and rugged landscapes. I long for a land of lads with White Rose tattoos chanting ‘Yorrrrrrksha’ and lasses wearing heels, false eyelashes and not much else. A land where lunch is dinner and dinner is tea, just like God intended. (Charlotte Akers-Dunphy)
The Portland Tribune lists a local representation of The Mystery of Irma Vep:
Third Rail Repertory presents the Charles Ludlam quick-change romp, directed by Philip Cuomo and starring Isaac Lamb and Leif Norproductionby, with the actors playing all the roles in a send-up of Victorian melodrama, farce, 1950s horror movies, “Wuthering Heights,” and Hitchcock’s “Rebecca.
On Menorca (Spain) we read the following (quite funny) comment:
Transcribo un significativo fragmento a continuación: «Definitivamente, tenemos gustos literarios diferentes. ¡Con lo que molan las hermanas Brontë! ¿No me negarás que esos páramos ingleses no son también una típica estampa otoñal? :D». A lo cual respondí: «¡Lo cortés no quita lo valiente! Heathcliff es uno de los grandes tíos buenos de la Historia de la Literatura anglosajona y yo lo vi primero, aunque solo sea porque tengo más años. ;-P».  (Ana Gomila) (Translation)
Libreriamo (Italy) recommends books as gifts for Christmas:
Cime tempestose, Emily Brontë - Unico romanzo di Emily Brontë, pubblicato nel 1847 sotto lo pseudonimo di Ellis Bell un anno prima della sua prematura morte all'età di trent'anni, rappresenta una delle opere più significative, intense e originali di tutta la letteratura inglese. L'autrice narra la storia di un grande e appassionato amore con tale immaginazione, veridicità e densità emotiva che sembra richiamare addirittura la semplicità e l'autenticità delle tragedie antiche. (Roberta Turillazzi) (Translation)
La Repubblica (Italy) traces a profile of the writer and film director Marjane Satrapi:
A nove anni sfogliava testi di Che Guevara, a dieci aveva letto Cime tempestose e a undici prendeva in mano i saggi di filosofia di Sartre. (Anaïs Ginori) (Translation)
The Tooele Transcript Bulletin reviews Texts from Jane EyreRandom Things Through My Letterbox gives away a copy of Jane Stubb's Thornfield Hall.

by M. ( at December 05, 2014 11:57 AM

Wuthering Bomber

Gifts for Christmas? This one is a bit expensive and not for everybody:
Wuthering Heights Bomber at Olympia Le-Tan
A series of limited edition bomber jackets inspired by Olympia's favorite Kate Bush songs.
100% Cotton
Embroidered felt patch on the back
Color: Pink

Le Figaro also reports another Wuthering Heights-inspired Olympia Le-Tan products. Particularly, a book clutch
Parmi ces classiques de la littérature, un exemplaire rare de L’Attrape-Cœurs de J. D. Salinger, Lolita de Nabokov (repéré fin 2010 entre les doigts de Natalie Portman lors de la première de Black Swan), plusieurs vieilles éditions de Simenon (série « Boîtes de nuit  » pour l’hiver 2010), des œuvres romantiques de Rilke (« Schnitzel with Noodles  », hiver 2013) à Madame Bovary (« Housewife’s Choice  », hiver 2011) et Wuthering Heights d’Emily Brontë («  Still ill  », été 2012)… D’ailleurs, bouclant la boucle, le titre anglais des Hauts de Hurlevent s’inscrit aussi, cette saison, au dos d’un bomber rose bubble-gum, clin d’œil au tube de Kate Bush sur les amours impossibles d’Heathcliff et de Catherine.  (Hélène Guillaume) (Translation)

by M. ( at December 05, 2014 09:54 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Chocolate biscuits and questions in the margins: the Jane Eyre experience

This is sweet: the Hebden Bridge Times focuses on what is going on at Calder High School and we get this:
Olivia Iribarren, Emily Sutcliffe and Nell Hunt of the Year 7 Book Group write: “We have been reading a book called ‘Jane Eyre’ - the author is Charlotte Brontë and the story is partly based on her own life. It was published in 1847.
“We learnt that as children Charlotte and her sisters loved to write and come up with stories. We meet in the LRC and read after school in an informal environment.
“So far the book is quite gruesome and sad but we want to read more so we find out what happens and because we have been promised some chocolate biscuits!”
And this is funny. A columnist from The Cavalier Daily discusses marginalia:
I like to mark up my books as much as the next person. I bracket passages. Sometimes I write little notes for myself in the margins. I’ve even dog-eared a page or two. Importantly, however, I mark up my books: my ragged, Amazon-used paperbacks and thrift-store pulp. Go to Alderman Library and pick out a book: you’ll find the marginalia of a dozen readers before you — odd stars, arrows, checks and scrawls on every other page. At first I found it stirred in me a certain nostalgia for times passed, but now I just find it annoying. Please, stop writing in the library books.
A heinous example: in the margin of page 570, in a certain Alderman copy of “Jane Eyre,” there’s a question written out in red ink. This is the part when Mr. Rochester — the thinking man’s Mr. Darcy — proposes to Jane Eyre for a second time. It’s touching and beautiful stuff. A house fire had, unbeknownst to Jane in her and her lover’s long estrangement, blinded both of Rochester’s eyes and taken his hand. Newly crippled, sightless and loveless, Rochester falls into despondency until, months later, Jane goes back to him. I read that Jane cares nothing for Rochester’s deficiencies, and loves him more when she can “really be useful” to him than when he was in his “state of proud independence.” I glance to the left, and scrawled there, unabashedly, is a question for Jane: “What are you, his mother?”
In retrospect it’s a pretty funny poke at the Victorian ideal of romance and the woman’s marital role. But after nearly 600 pages of a book one gets pretty invested, and by that point all I wanted was to see Jane and Rochester declare their everlasting love — since they’re so perfect for each other. I don’t want to criticize their romance; I want to revel, grossly, like a hog in the mud, in the soppy sentiment. Whoever wrote that in the margin — I can’t say ruined — but definitely detracted from my experience finishing “Jane Eyre.” That reader with the red pen wounded my appreciation of the novel by thrusting his cynicism and discontent into the text. I’ll always think of that when I remember “Jane Eyre.” (Brennan Edel)
(As a side note, describing Rochester as 'the thinking man’s Mr. Darcy' is quite interesting, though we haven't decided yet whether we agree or not.)

More readers' experiences as The Guardian publishes love letters from readers to libraries.
Austen, the Brontës and Dickens in a Hong Kong village. Josephine Wang recalls fondly her experiences in Hong Kong libraries – and shared a picture of her current one:
As Ray Bradbury, I was also raised by the library. A one-room facility in an island village off Hong Kong, there I first read Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, Lawrence, Joyce, Woolf, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Kafka, Shakespeare … (in Chinese). I didn’t understand some of them but I read them anyway.
And there's of course what Friends taught us about reading. From Bustle:
Do your homework. Some people were lucky enough to have gone to high school, while others grew up on the street. That person may really want to learn. (Laura Brennan)
Another TV show which recently featured the Brontës was Sons of Anarchy. Beware of spoilers in this article from US Weekly:
Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club member and confessed “rat” Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz (Theo Rossi) was first to bite the dust in a prison cafeteria at the hands of white supremacist Ron Tully (Marilyn Manson). After slipping Tully a scalpel, Juice asked only to finish his cherry pie before Tully slit his throat. (Tully, who had read him Emily Brontë poetry in creepy slammer scenes, obliged.) (Rachel McRady)
Télérama (France) recommends a box set which includes Jacques Touneur's I Walked with a Zombie (released as Vaudou in France). Robert Edric, author of Sanctuary, speaks about his novel and Branwell Brontë on BBC Radio 4 's Frontrow. The Writes of Woman reviews Jane Stubbs's Thornfield Hall. FringeReview ja que probable

by Cristina ( at December 05, 2014 12:27 AM

December 04, 2014

The Little Professor

Song Yet Sung

Unlike his more recent The Good Lord Bird (2013), with its irreverent first-person narrator trailing in the wake of John Brown, James McBride's Song Yet Sung (2008) neither deconstructs period heroes (The Good Lord Bird's Frederick Douglass comes off...badly) nor comments sardonically on white abolitionist politics.  Instead, it tracks the chaos that follows in the wake of escaped slave Liz Spocott, known as "the Dreamer," who, as she nears death, accurately foretells more and more of the future.  Although the ailing Liz spends more of the novel being carted around (sometimes literally) than moving on her own, the novel's plotlines all intersect in the quest to recapture her.  First, Liz draws down the enmity of the real-life (albeit chronologically transplanted) slave stealer Patty Cannon after she frees herself and several other slaves from Patty's clutches; then, Liz's owner sets the eerie, unstoppable slave-catcher Denwood after her; and soon Amber, a conflicted slave planning to escape from the impoverished mistress he respects, falls deeply in love with her.  Finally, Liz's dreams of a strange and powerful Black preacher from the future make her realize that the strange son of the Woolman, a quasi-mythic escaped slave with near-superhuman powers, must be protected so that the future can actually come to be. 

One of the novel's refrains is, as Amber tells Liz at their first meeting, "You in it now.  You got to stay in it" (90).  At the most local level, being "in it" means being admitted to the community of slaves who know the code, something that a frustrated Liz struggles to master throughout the novel; this alternate language (of knots, quilts, numbers, and so on) enables the slaves to communicate both secretly and far more efficiently than their masters.  The code is integral to running Moses' (Harriet Tubman, offstage in this novel) "gospel train," and rather than sacrifice the code's integrity, characters like the Blacksmith or the elderly Clarence make it clear that they'd kill Liz first.  But being "in it" also means, as Clarence warns Liz, "[w]e all connected" (276): her attempts to hold herself aloof from both the community and their goals are doomed to backfire fairly spectacularly, sometimes with serious consequences for all concerned.  Decisions once made cannot be undone; "[o]nce you're on [the gospel train]," Amber is told, "you can't get off" (123).  The narrative pushes all of its characters forward to two options: seek freedom or die.  Or seek freedom and die.    But once the seeking begins, there's no stopping.

Liz's double quest--to find out "the meaning" (1) of her dream and to understand the code--highlights one of the key obstacles on the route to freedom: interpreting the signs.  (This theme crops up again in The Good Lord Bird, when Henry inadvertently causes disaster because he doesn't know the code.)  Liz's dream, which eventually turns out to foretell the coming of Martin Luther King, Jr., embeds the reader in this interpretive quest, for the dream is sometimes literal (the reader eventually recognizes the "I Have a Dream" speech), sometimes allegorical (the vision of Black children simultaneously "gorging" themselves and sobbing in "hunger and starvation" [40]), sometimes a combination of the two.  The twenty-first century reader can decode the implications of Liz's dream--of African-Americans supposedly enjoying the freedoms of consumer capitalism, for example, but other freedoms, not so much--but our gift of hindsight also reminds us that we lack Liz's gift of foresight.  For part of the novel's point is that "freedom" is located somewhere beyond not only the novel's horizon, but also our own; if we (and especially, no doubt, "we" who are not African-American) rest secure in believing that our comfort with Liz's dream means that we are reading the novel from some position of historical plenitude, "freedom" neatly achieved, then we commit the same kind of error of which Liz accuses Amber.  "Freedom ain't up North" (80), Liz insists; later, she continues, "You love the North [...] You love a place.  There ain't nothing there to love.  Not today.  Not tomorrow" (156).   Identifying "freedom" and "North," that is, makes freedom seem concrete, easily grasped, finite, but it also denies the fact of being "in it."  

The novel insists that all characters are "in it" in another fashion--in a system that codes whites as superior.  In his afterword, McBride mentions his daughter reading Gone with the Wind for class, and in many ways Song Yet Sung deliberately averts GTW-style tropes:  the only plantation owner we meet is derided as a fool, the whites (slave owners included) are mostly poor and/or struggling, and the Black women are all savvy, powerful figures in their own right.  Moreover, the only hint of white romance, between Kathleen Sullivan and Denwood, is entirely one-sided on the man's part and goes nowhere--no Rhett and Scarlett here (and Kathleen's obvious Irish roots may be an additional whack at Scarlett O'Hara).  This shift to slave-ownership amongst impoverished whites actually highlights the difficulty of being "in it."   Amber is grateful that the widowed Kathleen has not sold off her slaves, and even though he plans to escape, he still intends to pay her back fully for his own value (124); similarly, his sister Mary "cared for the missus" (272).  Kathleen, for her own part, thinks of her slaves as "part of her family," and vice-versa (101).  And yet, as the novel shrewdly insists, these affective ties are part of the systemic horror.  Emotional ties cannot override the fact that Amber, Mary, and Mary's son Wiley are all Kathleen's property, and that she remains perfectly capable of contemplating their eventual sale; moreover, as Liz points out to Amber, his gratitude for Kathleen's kindness is, if anything, terrible on the face of it.    It's easy to believe that Kathleen and the monstrous Patty Cannon are the novel's binary opposites (good/evil), but although the novel ultimately rejects Liz's claim that "[s]he [Kathleen] ain't no different than that woman that tried to kill us over yonder" (197), it nevertheless insists that Kathleen's subjectivity is inescapably scarred by the racism that enables her to keep slaves in the first place.  Patty's professed fondness for Black men--"She actually liked the colored.  She trusted them  more than she did the white man" (21)--chimes uncomfortably with Kathleen's own professed fondness for her slave "family"; the reader who denounces the first as hypocritical and the second as authentic rather drastically misses the point.  For even though Kathleen is, as Amber says more than once, "up to the job of being decent" (160), the reader is reminded again and again that "decent" and "racist" are not incompatible.  Quite the contrary.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 04, 2014 11:44 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion December 1814

Here we have a dress in the much despised puce of Georgette Heyer, a sort of brownish, reddish, purplish colour.  I can't say I am that keen on the style either, but here is the original descriptions

Walking Dress from Ackermann's Repository

A pelisse of short walking length, made either in erminette or silk velvet of puce colour, open down the front, and bound entirely round with celestial blue satin, terminating at the feet with a broad border of white lace.

 A high plain collar and treble copes [capes] bound to correspond; full lace ruff.

The Spanish hat composed of erminette or velvet and blue satin, corresponding to the pelisse, trimmed round the edge with quilling lace and ornamented in the front with a plume of ostrich feathers.

Half boots, blue kid or erminette. Gloves, Limerick or York tan.

Until next time....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at December 04, 2014 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Macchiaioli, a miscellany

 photo TelemacoSignorini-12Lalunadimiele.jpg

Telemaco Signorini, The Honeymoon

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Giuseppe Abbati

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Odoardo Borrani, The Studio

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Giovanni Fattori

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December 04, 2014 10:48 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Remnants of an 18th century mine in Cornwall

An 18th century Christmas feast — for Trenwith in new adaptation

Dear friends and readers,

One last proposal for this coming spring 2015: I sent it to OLLI at American University and it seems to have been liked, and is now accepted; I was hoping that the new film adaptation of the books would be aired this spring, and have now discovered it will be on BBC:

Angarad Rees and Robin Ellis as Ross and Demelza Poldark the night before his trial (Poldark Season 1, Part 9)

The Poldark novels in context I

In this course we’ll read Winston Graham’s first three Poldark novels: Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark. These plus a fourth, Warleggan, were the novels adapted for the first season of televised Poldark (1974-75), and the matter for the coming Poldark mini-series (to be aired in 2015). They represent the first phase of a 12 novel roman fleuve, a regional romance continuing story, deeply researched and imaginatively realized historical novels moving from the time of the French revolution and reform and politically radical movements in England to the end of the Napoleonic era, including the realities of county politics, mining, banking, smuggling (known locally as free trade) and farming in Cornwall. Written 1945-52, the first four mirror issues of the post World-War II world, are proto-feminist, with a deeply appealing group of characters from all classes in suspenseful plot-designs. We will also study the older film adaptation against these novels, and if possible, discuss the new one. It is suggested that students read a novella mystery, Winston Graham’s The Forgotten Story, before the class begins. Graham won awards and praise from the literary establishment for his mysteries, several of which were filmed by Hitchcock (e.g., Marnie); many of his novels were US Book-of-the-Month Club selections. The Forgotten Story was written in tandem with Ross Poldark and became a BBC mini-series in 1984.

The Movie

The old picture plays
Lights across the screen.
Overhead the beam
From the thoughtful booth
Flickers in a kind
Of code that only
The screen can read out.

Lights like memories
Flicker on the screen
of your deep gazing.
My eyes and my hand
are like some part of
The Surrounding dark.

— John Hollander.

The first seven novels of the 12 have never fallen out of print since each was first published (beginning 1945), and there will be a republication (or reprinting) of the most recent editions of first four once again, with the new actors on the covers. For individual discussions of all 12, go to my website (linked in above), or the category, Poldark, Ellen and Jim have a blog, two; or this handy list bringing all Graham’s writing together and discussing it briefly. I would do all four, but this is considered too much reading in 10 weeks. Heigh ho. If the course is liked, I could go on to “do” novels 4, 5 and 6 another season (Warleggan, The Black Moon, The Four Swans), with Black Moon and Four Swans mirroring the conflicts of the 1960s-70s era (e.g., the story of continued marital rape would not have been written in the 1940s, early 50s).

Norma Steader and Jonathan Newth as Verity Poldark and Captain Blamey dancing at an assembly ball (Poldark, Season 1, Episode 3)


by ellenandjim at December 04, 2014 04:09 AM


Thornfield Hall

A new retelling of Jane Eyre. This one is narrated from the point of view of the servants of Thornfield Hall (à la Mary Reilly):
Thornfield HallJane Stubbs
Published by: Corvus
Published: 04 Dec 2014
Pages: 320 ISBN: 9781782395249

Thornfield Hall, 1821. Alice Fairfax takes up her role as housekeeper of the estate. But when Mr Rochester presents her with a woman who is to be hidden on the third floor, she finds herself responsible for much more than the house.
This is the story Jane Eyre never knew - a narrative played out on the third floor and beneath the stairs, as the servants kept their master's secret safe and sound.

by M. ( at December 04, 2014 12:30 AM

December 03, 2014


Awakened by Jane

The Telegraph and Argus has a short article on the approval of the wind farm on the Brontë country moors:
An application to install two wind turbines on 18-metre masts at Old Oxenhope Farm, Oxenhope Lane, has been approved by Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel.
Objectors included the Brontë Society, which argued the turbines would dominate the scenic landscape.
Supporters of the scheme argued the turbines were vital for developing the farm’s business, and complied with government policy to cut carbon emissions from the dairy industry.
Councillor Rebecca Poulsen (Con, Worth Valley) referred the application to the planning panel.
Cllr Adrian Naylor, who voted against the application, said: “We need to protect the farming community in upland areas but to make the farms viable we’re having to provide supermarkets with marketing points so they can demonstrate their green credentials.”
Jane Eyre is one of the '9 books every woman should read' according to InQuire.
The Old Favourite…Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
As every English graduate and great grandma will tell you, Jane Eyre is one of the most epic love stories ever written. In the stormy landscape of northern moors and grand nineteenth century houses, this gothic novel follows the life of the plain but feisty Jane Eyre as she works as a governess at the haunting Thornfield Hall. It is here she meets and falls in love with the elusive master of the house Mr Rochester, whose past is clouded in secrecy and ultimately comes to the surface to threaten the relationships and lives of the couple. In addition to the enveloping romance of the story, Brontë combines horror, suspense and tragedy in order to create the ultimate love story that feels much more modern than it’s [sic] time.
Best quote: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” (Bethan Stoneman)
The Daily of the University of Washington follows the same train of thought.
An awakening, which is often said to have started with “Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Brontë, led to women wanting to identify with protagonists who could reach a higher standard of true love through her own choices and self-love. Today, a desired heroine is fully satisfied with her relationship, has a great sex life, and lives happily ever after. A heroine is empowered, cared for, and independent. (Jeevika Verma)
A columnist from El País (Brazil) picks his favourite books:
O morro dos ventos uivantes, de Emily Brontë (1818-1848) – O amor entre a complicada Cathy Earnshaw e o rancoroso Heathcliff ultrapassa as convenções sociais, o tempo e até mesmo a morte. Publicado em 1847, é a narrativa da paixão cega e da vingança a qualquer preço, desenvolvida nos grotões de uma Inglaterra selvagem. Disponível em pelo menos sete versões diferentes. (Luiz Ruffato) (Translation)
Ravenna & Dintorni (Italy) interviews writer Nicola Lagioia:
Il romanzo inizia con una morte, ci sono anche delle indagini, ma non è un noir… o in qualche modo lo è? «Il noir è un mezzo, non un fine. È un buon ingranaggio per raccontare altro. Delitto e castigo è a modo suo un noir, c’è l’omicidio della anziana, le indagini, ma è un noir come pretesto. La prima indagine della letteratura è quella di Edipo, che in realtà non è una indagine sulla morte del re-padre di Edipo, ma è indagine su se stesso. Ci sono però dei noir che ho amato particolarmente come Dalia nera di Ellroy, quelli di Lèo Malet, ma più che al noir mi sento vicino alla letteratura gotica (senza volermi mettere al loro pari) come Cime tempestose della Brontë, Sotto il vulcano di Lowry Malcom, L’urlo e furore di Faulkner e il gotico rurale di Roberto Bolaño». (Matteo Cavezzali) (Translation)
A Crowded Bookshelf is reading Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at December 03, 2014 11:16 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

TWO Teefury T-Shirts Today! Get ‘em While They Last

So our favorite daily t-shirt site has outdone themselves today, and posted two beautiful designs with Alice themes.  The first is my fan favorite Megan Lara who has created a series of Mucha-inspired designs for a wide variety of fandom females (nice alliteration don’t you think?)


The second design is by a new artist Gemma Roman, and features a Garden of Live Flowers design.

b-mco-the-flowers-of-wonderland_nvyTeefury shirts only last one day, so order now if you want them!


by Matt at December 03, 2014 02:44 PM


Knitting with Charlotte

An alert for today, December 3, in Rutherford, New Jersey:
The Knit One, Read Two knitting/book discussion group at the Rutherford Public Library will meet on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë. The meeting will be held in the library auditorium. All those who knit or crochet are warmly invited to bring their needlework and join the discussion. Copies of the books are available at the circulation desk. For more information, please e-mail Peg Mellett at

by M. ( at December 03, 2014 12:30 AM

December 02, 2014


Damp feet on the moors

These words from The Herald (Scotland) will ring true for any book lover:
When I read The Road, I swore I had radiation sickness and wobbly teeth. On reading Gone With The Wind my hair was singed by the burning of Atlanta. My feet got damp once from wandering the moors in Wuthering Heights.
Yes, the finest works of literature and film can pull you into their world completely. (Julie McDowall)
Financial Times, however, is glad that some things are not quite like in old books:
Women’s employment prospects have changed considerably since Charlotte Brontë vented her frustrations in her novel, Jane Eyre, that 19th century females were confined to “making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags”. (Helen Warrell)
The Atlantic is having a poll on which book to read in December for the 1book140 book club. One of them is
Villette by Charlotte Brontë. Nathan makes the case better than we ever could for this under-appreciated Brontë in the original late 19th Century Novels post: “[A] recent review by Lucy Hughes-Hallett in the Guardian has piqued my interest. Arguing that Villette is better than Jane Eyre, Lucy makes her case: 'It's an ‘astonishing piece of writing, a book in which phantasmagorical set pieces alternate with passages of minute psychological exploration.’ George Eliot apparently loved the book, writing that it ‘it is a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre.’ Virginia Woolf called it Brontë's ‘finest novel.' It's a ‘funny, penetratingly observant realist novel.' A story of romance and adventure, the novel follows 23-year-old Lucy Snowe from England to teach at a girls' school in the fictional French-speaking city of Villette.” From late 19th Century Novels month. (Jeff Howe and Alexis Ditkowsky)
The poll is open until tomorrow (Wednesday).

Scroll (India) shares an excerpt from Aatish Taseer's new novel The Way Things Were.
“Oh, they were! He called me in to give me a little lecture about the canon, if you please. ‘I.P., my boy, we want our young students, embarking upon the noble discovery of literature, to be acquainted with the canon. There will be time later for other things. But first, they must know the canon. The canon, I.P.’”
“I said, ‘Sir, what is uncanonical about Kalidasa?’ And, Toby, he gets this tortured expression on his face. Literally I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel. Nothing coherent comes out of his mouth. He just grips the table and says, as if the words were being wrung from him, “Sentimental poetry . . . English . . . The greats: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, the Romantics. The boys are giggling, I.P. The boys are giggling. I will have complaints from the parents soon.’”
“What did you say to that?”
“I said, ‘Sir, if giggling is what you”re concerned about, there”s plenty to giggle about in Shakespeare.’”
“‘But I.P.,’ he says, ‘they won’t mind if it is Shakespeare; they will if it is Kalidasa. They don’t spend good money to send their boys to Doon School only to learn Kalidasa.’”
“Conversation over?”
“Pretty much. Can you imagine, Toby, in a country like ours, talking of canons? Where history has played such tricks with us: to talk of canons! The thousand years of Persian writing in India. Is that canon? The Sanskrit dramas and poems, the epics . . . Not canon? The Brontës canon? I wanted to say to him, Sarkar, the Yanks are on their way up now. So, what? In fifty years, is our canon going to consist of Twain and Emerson and Melville . . . Out with the Angrez, in with the Yanks?”
Fangoria reminisces about actor Keith Prentice:
Prentice was cast as Morgan Collins on Dark Shadows for the show’s final storyline. With Joel Crothers long gone from the DS soundstages and DS superstar David Selby dealing with some health issues, Prentice, who was only on the show for two months, became the series’ final leading man. His storyline was a cross between Shirley Jackson’ The Lottery and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. (David-Elijah Nahmod)
El Mundo (Spain) features the Spanish soap opera El Secreto de Puente Viejo:
Puente Viejo ha tenido que prescindir de Pepa, a pesar de que el proyecto de Guerra se había ideado en torno a ese personaje. "A la serie la llamaba en los comienzos La partera, por el papel de Megan Montaner", recuerda Cister. "Mi idea era hacer una serie sobre una mujer a la que le arrebataban a su hijo, con un aire de novela de las hermanas Brontë»" expone Guerra, que admite que, en origen, Antena 3 "no quería una serie de época". (Eduardo Fernández) (Translation)
Ovb Online (Germany) has a short piece on the Brontës. The Book Bag reviews the upcoming Thornfield Hall and nudge newbooks interviews its author, Jane Stubbs:
Do you think Charlotte Brontë neglected her other characters because of the focus on Jane?
I’m not going to accuse her of neglect! I’m the greatest admirer of her as a writer. I think she puts in as much as necessary to build the world of the book. Take the character Sam, as an example – there’s a footman called John in Jane Eyre, who is quite regularly mentioned but suddenly a Sam appears, who I’ve turned into a ex-sailor and becomes involved with another member of the household. But in Jane Eyre he’s just a name – he shows Jane into a room at one point and then she dismisses him. He’s there as much as Brontë needed him to be.
Apart from re-reading Jane Eyre what other research did you undertake? What did you need to know in order to recreate this world for yourself?
I did quite a lot of reading. I’m not a historian but I used books written by historians and I like to see things written in at least three different books to be sure of it. I researched the clothes that the characters would have worn – in fact, I made a costume that matches the one worn by Mrs Fairfax so I could feel what it was like to be her and wear these clothes. She had a small, frilly pinny that was more of a token gesture really – it showed she was staff but also a member of the family. I read a lot about women and marriage in the nineteenth century.
FringeReview posts about the Peter McMaster adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at December 02, 2014 11:18 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Léon Bonvin (1834-1866)

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Bonvin kept an inn at Vaugirard, a suburb of Paris, and painted in his spare time, specialising in watercolours. He eventually got into financial difficulties, and hanged himself after failing to find an art-dealer to sell his watercolours.

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December 02, 2014 10:28 AM


Jurassic Jane Eyre

This is actually so insane as hilarious:
Jurassic Jane Eyre: The Dinosaur Turned Me Lesbian
Carrie Sessarego (Author), Sarah Wendell (Illustrator)
Published: Nov. 24, 2014
Words: 3,800
ISBN: 9781310153860

Jane, a lonely orphan, travels back in time and meets a fetching T. rex named Edwina. Love blossoms - but Edwina has secrets she dare not divulge. Will Jane come to learn the pleasures a female dinosaur can offer, or will Edwina's secrets, size, gender, and species keep them apart?
The author explains how this story came to be:
This story came about because of a book and a review. The book was the priceless gem, The Billionaire Dinosaur Forced me Gay, by Hunter Fox. The review, posted on Amazon by Liam Pierce, said, simply, “The Wuthering Heights of Gay Dinosaur Fiction.”
When this was revealed to me on Twitter, I joked that I would be much more interested in reading “The Jane Eyre of Gay Dinosaur Fiction.” Then I thought, “Wait a minute – I could TOTALLY write the Jane Eyre of Gay Dinosaur Fiction.”
So I did.

by M. ( at December 02, 2014 12:23 AM

The Little Professor

My Year in Books

  • Favorite novels, in whatever genre: Jeffrey Renard Allen,Song of the Shank; Ann Harries, No Place for a Lady; Jane Harris, Gillespie and I;Robert Player, Let’s Talk of Graves, and Worms, and Epitaphs; James McBride, The Good Lord Bird; idem, Song Yet Sung; Lloyd Shepherd, Savage Magic; D. J. Taylor, Derby Day; Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests; A. N. Wilson, The Potter’s Hand.
  • Favorite academic books: Sally Shuttleworth, The Mind of the Child; Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home; W. R. Ward, Early Evangelicalism; Alexis Weedon, Victorian Publishing.
  • Favorite genre anthology: Richard Thomas, ed., The New Black
  • The returns are diminishing at an ever-increasing rate: Sherlock Holmes pastiches, of which there are too many, mostly terrible.
  • There are no further returns to be had: DO NOT PUT VAMPIRES IN DICKENS.  DO NOT PUT ZOMBIES IN AUSTEN.  DO NOT PUT WEREWOLVES IN THACKERAY.  (To be clear: to my knowledge, nobody has put any werewolves in Thackeray’s fiction.  Don’t do it.)
  • At least be original about vampirizing your fiction: Michael Talbot’s A Delicate Dependency, which is pretty much J.-K. Huysmans WITH VAMPIRES!
  • If I come across this character one more time, I’m going to turn into the Hulk: Jack the Ripper.  You know, other things happened in the nineteenth century
  • Understandable, albeit vaguely depressing, cover art: All those reprints of Sherlock Holmes novels with Cumberbatch and Freeman on the cover. 
  • Most unforgivable line in a Sherlock Holmes pastiche: “Holmes, you are clever, very clever.  But I am not done yet,” hissed the Professor.  (Moriarty, of course.  No, I’m not going to i.d. the author.) 
  • On second thought, no: Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter, which I thought might be a useful novel to teach opposite Macbeth.  Of course, then I discovered that the novel was nearly seven hundred pages of teeny-tiny type.
  • Reason #19991 why using electronic texts in the classroom can be frustrating: My elderly iPad turned into the equivalent of an aluminum tray in the middle of teaching a book I only owned as an e-text, leaving me to get through the rest of it using my cellphone.
  • Novel most indebted to Cormac McCarthy: Kent Wascom, The Blood of Heaven
  • Best fictional attempt to deal with Victorian religious crises: Stevie Davies, Awakening
  • Best attempt to get at least some religion into Victorian historical fiction: Will Thomas’ Barker and Llewelyn series.  (May also qualify for the Novelist Who Remembers the Existence of Victorian Jews and Novelist Aware That Not All Residents of Victorian London Were White awards.) 
  • And now I’m sinking into permanent gloom: The cumulative effect of Alex Grecian’s Scotland Yard series.
  • Best revision of a Victorian novel: Daniel Levine, Hyde
  • Best books reread for class: Scott G. F. Bailey, The Astrologer; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day;  Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; Nina Revoyr, The Age of Dreaming.   
  • Unreliable narrator most amusing to my students: Soren in Scott G. F. Bailey’s The Astrologer
  • Author most unexpectedly interesting to my students: Mrs. Sherwood, of History of the Fairchild Family fame. 
  • There’s Self-Insert Fic, and then there’s this: Fr. Rolfe (Baron Corvo), Hadrian the Seventh
  • Most moralizing in a Gothic: Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story
  • Best response to a classic SF short story: Don Sakers, “The Cold Solution.” 
  • He synonymed, adverbly: Michael Talbot, A Delicate Dependency. “Please stop,” wailed the reader, wretchedly.
  • OMG!!! Character development!!!: Stephen Booth’s detectives Cooper and Fry appear to have finally reached some kind of détente.   
  • I’d suggest that you kill off this character, except that he’s already dead: The increasingly pointless Hamish in “Charles Todd’s” Inspector Rutledge series.    
  • Most confusing plot in a Victorian religious novel: S. J. Hancock, Confession
  • Most depressingly obvious symbolic name in a nineteenth-century novel: “Albion” in Patrick Bronte’s The Maid of Killarney (1813).  Yes, Albion is English.   
  • Victorian religious novels that did not drive me to eat excessive quantities of chocolate-chip cookies: George MacDonald, Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood; Adeline Sergeant, The Surrender of Margaret Bellarmine.
  • Victorian religious novels wretched beyond all hope of redemption: Who Will Win?; John Douglas DeLille, Canon Lucifer
  • It’s not immediately clear to me why I didn’t already own this book: A. M. C. Waterman, Revolution, Economics, & Religion
  • It’s a good thing the seller screwed up, because I already owned this book: For reasons unbeknownst to me, I ordered another copy of Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans; what showed up instead was some kind of vampire thriller (promptly deposited on the free books table).  
  • Second time is the charm: Ross Gilfillan, The Edge of the Crowd (the last time I tried buying it, I got an ARC). 
  • Rats, not again: In which I somehow wound up with a duplicate copy of George H. Miles’ The Truce of God.
  • Er, well, this will make it easier to read on the plane: I picked up Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North at my local indie, then forgot I owned it and bought an ebook. 
  • Review copy I was happiest to see: Claudia Stokes, The Altar at Home.
  • Most unexpectedly entertaining academic books: W. R. Ward, Early Evangelicalism; Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance; Michael J. Cullen, The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain
  • Most surprisingly affordable paperback: Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley, The Cambridge History of Christianity: World Christianities, c. 1815-1914
  • Best bargains: Mark Chapman, The Fantasy of Reunion; James Murphy, The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Vol. IV.

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 02, 2014 12:22 AM

December 01, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Attention Cyber Monday Shoppers: New Alice Scarf at UncommonGoods

Just in time for Cyber Monday, eclectic online retailer UncommonGoods has released a series of literary scarves – and of course Alice is amongst them.

by Matt at December 01, 2014 05:00 PM


Jane Eye month

December is the Jane Eyre month at Fuck Yeah Jane Eyre. These are the details:
I am extremely glad to announce that the ‘Jane Eyre Month’ is going to happen after all! Well, this post is for those of you, who have no idea what I’m talking about and also for those who wish to participate in the event.

❃ What is the 'Jane Eyre Month' exactly?
It will be similar to a Jane Eyre meme but it will last for slightly more than a whole month and every week there will be a different task for the people who decide to participate in the event. It’s a month dedicated exclusively to Jane Eyre -the book, the film and tv adaptations and everything else related to Jane Eyre.

 ❃ How can I participate?
You do not need to fulfill any requirements in order to participate. The participation in the event is very important for it to actually happen but at the same time absolutely optional. If you choose to participate in the event but later find that you don’t have the time or will to go on with it, you are free to quit. Those who participate will be requested to post or make things - such as gifs, graphics, screencaps, drawings or anything else - that are related to the weekly assignment. All you have to do is to take part in the weekly task by uploading your work on tumblr using the hashtag #janeeyremonth.

❃ Well, I’m not particularly artistic, may I participate somehow else? 
The whole idea of the ‘Jane Eyre Month’ is to share your own experience and opinions with people who share the same interest as you, whether one is referring to the book or movie, and not to highlight the most talented participants or anything like that. Therefore, it is not necessary that you actually make something. You can write a text -small or large- as well. This event will be organized in order to praise any form of creativity and writing is a very creative way of expressing yourself as well, don’t you think?

❃ Which will the weekly assignments be?
▸ Week one (December 1st-7th): favourite female character
▸ Week two: (December 8th-14th): favourite male character
▸ Week three: (December 15th-21st): favourite relationship
▸ Week four: (December 22nd-28th): three favourite quotes
▸ Week five: (December 29th-January 4th): five favourite scenes
▸ [optional] Week six: (January 5th-11th): favourite film or tv adaptation

note; if you are going to participate in the event you must follow the dates and assignments above. It is perfectly okay if you post something delayed, however please do not post any of the tasks earlier, as in before it’s week arrives. I am only announcing the assignments so early, so that the people who would like to participate can be ready and make / write the tasks in advance.

The official blog is the janeeyremonth but this event is organized by fuckyeahjaneeyre. All works of those who will participate in the ‘Jane Eyre Month’ will be reblogged to both blogs, provided that they are tagged with #janeeyremonth. You can follow these blogs for updates on the event. Also, if you have any questions, you can send them to any of the two blogs mentioned above. I’d be happy to answer them.

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

The Little Professor

In which I detect a somewhat odd phenomenon

So Book Two, it turns out, is now up to three reviews published (only one of which I've been able to see--darn you, lack of library subscription to expensive periodicals from Cambridge University Press!) and two forthcoming.  The five periodicals break down into theology (three reviews), history (one), and library acquisitions (one).  My identity as an English professor appears to be somewhat compromised.  Then again, my promise to Notre Dame's acquisitions board that my book would have interdisciplinary appeal has been fulfilled.  (Although I had meant to include my own discipline...)

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at December 01, 2014 12:11 AM

November 30, 2014


Painful To Read

The Professor is classic of the week in The Times. Fiona Wilson reviews it:
For anyone who has experienced heartbreak, the words written by Charlotte Brontë on November 18, 1845, to Professor Constantin Héger, the Belgian schoolmaster she had become infatuated with while studying in Brussels, are painful to read.
Tanya Gold in her Sunday Times column has something to say about the Brontës:
Female writers have always been aware of the gulf between male and female expectation. The Brontës all used male pseudonyms, as did Eliot; and Austen published anonymously in her lifetime.
Keighley News talks about a new article appearing on The Bradford Antiquary:
Two well-known Keighley figures have contributed to the latest issue of historical magazine the Bradford Antiquary.
Ian Dewhirst has written an essay entitled A Storehouse of Intellectual Pleasure and Profit detailing the early years of Keighley Public Library.
Ian, for many years the chief reference librarian in Keighley, covers the period 1904 to 1946 in his illustrated article.
Barbara Klempka, the founding secretary of Keighley and District Local History Society, has contributed and article about Keighley historian Clifford Whone.
Thwaites Brow man Mr Whone was renowned for revealing that the Brontë sisters borrowed books from Keighley Mechanics Library, but Mrs Klempka outlines his other achievements in writing, lecturing and teaching about local history.
The Bradford Antiquary, which has been documenting the history of the Bradford area since 1882, is the annual journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society. (David Knights)
Limerick Leader talks about Ursula Leslie's latest book Hidden Kerry. The keys to the kingdom:
Anecdotes about US president Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Bronte and Dean Jonathan Swift pepper Breda’s account before she moves on to Tarbert’s Bridewell and a very different tale. (Norma Prendiville)
BBC News recommends an exhibition at the University of Bristol (17 November 2014 - 27 March 2015):
Theatre Roundabout produced mainly "two-person shows" featuring William Fry and his late wife Sylvia Read between 1961 and 2008.
The couple wrote plays especially for Christian groups but also adapted novels such as Jane Eyre so they could be performed by just two actors.
The archive can be seen as part of a university exhibition until 27 March.
It includes business papers, programmes, photographs, scripts, costumes, props and "other accessories". (...)
Jo Elsworth, from the University of Bristol's Theatre Collection said: "This exhibition tells the story of Theatre Roundabout and the extraordinary energy and commitment of the two dedicated individuals at its heart."
The Sunday Herald makes already its 2014 best books list:
Which brings me to the treasure that is The Moor by William Atkins (Faber, £18.99). As one thrilled by exposure on Dartmoor as a child and by fictional lives shaped by such places in Wuthering Heights and The Return Of The Native, this book - a journey across Britain's moors exploring history, topography, mythology, literature alongside the writer's experience of treading these fugitive places - reanimates that thrill with wonderful storytelling. (Val McDermid)
The Lancashire Telegraph recommends a Rochdale walk:
Another local connection is a Rochdale lad called James Kay.
He founded the first teacher training college in England, St Mark’s in Chelsea.
He married the heiress of the Shuttleworth family and the couple made their home in Padiham in Victorian times and Charlotte Brontë frequently visited them in Gawthorpe Hall. (Ron Freethy)
The Independent (Ireland) interviews Constance Cassidy, owner of Lissadell House:
"I love my books. I read anything, everything. I love old fashioned novels. I love my Jane Eyre, I love my Charlotte Brontë. The new Jane Eyre, Michael Fassbender he is fantastic! I used to think Colin Farrell was easy on the eye but my god, Fassbender. Woo. I'll tell you now." (Maggie Armstrong)
Kelly Epperson in The Journal-Standard (Freeport, IL) is a grateful person:
That entire time in the England, my first time out of the country, I was wearing a grin and a pinch me attitude. From landing tickets to the first Live Aid concert, to waving at Princess Diana, to walking the moors like a character in a Brontë novel, I was awash in sheer gratitude for the whole experience.
Guardian (Trinidad & Tobago) talks about the writer Vahni Capildeo:
One of the most distinctive things about Vahni Capildeo is her voice. It’s imperious yet slightly breathy at the same time; she puts dramatic emphasis on the syllable at the end of sentences and phrases. It’s easy to imagine that voice reading dark, Victorian-era novels like those of the Brontë sisters. (Erline Andrews)
Perfil (Argentina) describes the works of Juan Goytisolo, recent Cervantes Literary Award, with his anecdote:
El otro día en una librería de Barcelona compré una Biblia y el dependiente me preguntó: ¿Se la envuelvo para regalo? No, gracias, le dije, es para leer. Me acordé que Borges advierte que aunque Swift creyó que escribía para desprestigiar a la humanidad, terminó siendo leído por los niños. Charlotte Brontë no hubiera podido concebir que alguien llegaría a sostener que ella había animalizado a la esposa loca de su novela porque era una criolla jamaiquina. (...) Algunos autores de obra polémica, fronteriza o de ruptura, como Juan Goytisolo, novelizan esa violencia interpretativa. (Julio Ortega) (Translation)
jennys bücherecke (in German) reviews Wuthering Heights; Domowa kostiumologia (in Polish, but also via Les Soeurs Brontë, in French) you can read  and watch the story and the pictures of the visit of Marta, Karolina et Olga to Haworth with period costumes. Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at November 30, 2014 05:02 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

François Théodore Rochard (1798-1858), some watercolour portraits

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Rochard studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and established himself as a successful portrait-painter in London; his pictures tend perhaps to be a bit over-sweet, but can be very pretty.

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November 30, 2014 09:59 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Luckington Court as Longbourn in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice (scripted Andrew Davies)

Dear friends and readers,

I’m not quite as behindhand on reporting on those papers and panels I heard and participated at the recent Eastern Region, American Society for 18th Century Studies, at the University of Delaware as I was completing the Burney/JASNA conferences in Montreal. The EC/ASECS panels and papers show the central focus of study today often become once and still disvalued texts, visibilia and people crowding into valued texts. So not Jane Austen but fan fiction became the preoccupation; learning about her, her texts and her era through fan fiction. I include sections on Death comes to Pemberley (film and book), Baker’s Longbourn, and other Jane Austen-derived texts (Cindy Jones’s My Jane Austen Summer; Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones &c&c). This is the first of 2 or 3 reports on the EC/ASECS conference, and topics beyond Austen include other pre- and post-texts in the new historicism; problems using ECCO (too many unevaluated, unedited texts!), innovative periodicals and studies in 18th century pornography and politics and printers/publishers.


I had spent the previous day at the Winterthur Museum, some of it gazing the costumes worn in the mini-series Downton Abbey, which might be called a sequel to the many Edwardian mini-series adapted from 19th century books on British TV, with pointed allusions to Anthony Trollope; on Friday night the whole conference went to a local church used as a theater to see excerpts from 18th century staged adaptations (changed texts) of some of Shakespeare’s plays. So it seemed fitting that among the first panels of the first of two days was “Jane Austen Fan Fiction.”

See my The Way We Watch TV Now

There were 2 papers, and a 3rd panelist brought 4 of her students to report on their findings in their classes studying P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley and Jo Baker’s Longbourn. In “‘If a book is well-written, I always find it too short': Fan Fiction and Teaching the Novel,” Kathleen Stall said teaching contemporary fan fiction “puts the emphasis on the students’ reaction to the text” instead of the text itself; students have to “read valuable information about the period and they relate to the characters” more readily, so such books are “useful as an instructional tool.” She thought these “escapist” books are part of a “collective narrative” and summarizing Amanda Gilroy’s paper in Persuasions On-Line, “Our Austen: Fan Fiction in the Classroom” by grouping fan fiction together as “post-texts” and going over Henry Jenkins’ work on fan fiction (10 ways of rewriting a text); Ms Stall explained what she saw students learning when she had them write their own fan fiction following a few rules (e.g., it must fit in with the content of the original work, its era, they must dramatize not just recite events). I strongly recommend my reader stop here and read Gilroy’s findings after she read a large body of Austen fan fiction.

The cast of Robin Swicord’s film adaptation of Karen Joyce Fowler’s novel The Jane Austen Book Club (see The Conversations)

Marilyn Francus (“Wanting More: Desire and Fan Fiction”) suggested the urge to read fan fiction derives from Austen readers’ desire to have more texts by Austen herself, faute de mieux (so to speak); the Internet has provided a place to participate in, and reach and belong to this creation of Austen culture; even big sums of money can and have been made. Studying the products of the Derbyshire Writers Guild, Ms Francus came up with a number of assumptions she felt underlie this material: Austen’s texts are universal, can be transposed to any other time, class, genre (though romance is the most common kind of sequel), culture. Some conventions of repetition (things repeated) show readers and writers derive pleasure from the same paradigms and enjoy their kind of analyses of Austen’s texts: they derive a psychic security from repetitions like these. They obey conventions of their communities: codes which bind and regulate the different groups; the people want to interact and each person gains an identity of her own by engaging in this way. Henry Jenkins calls this convergence culture. These works articulate a set of desires: the authors want to be Austen; they use female heterosexual narrators, but they put Darcy and Elizabeth into almost every profession and change Austen’s characters’ status easily. Austen is herself seen as a Guide and use her to resist modern society. A strong dislike of what readers perceive as the modern world is at the center of many Austen fan fiction writers and readers. (I’d say such a dislike actuates many people, scholars and ordinary readers alike, who read Austen over and over.) Elizabeth Bennet (P&P is the central used text) is seen as pretty, but not beautiful, loved for her “strong” character, intellect. Ms Francus concluded on the note that desire is central, giving continuous satisfaction in making works in progress and commenting or just thinking on other people’s writing inside this community.

Matthew Rhys as Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin do make love as Darcy and Elizabeth in the film adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley

In “Experiments in Austen” Melissa K. Downes introduced her 4 students by telling of the group project she designed in which her students had participated: the students had 15 fan fictions from which to choose; they collected, researched and discussed them. Unfortunately I was not able to pick up her students’ names, and the congenial conversational manner of delivery allowed me only to record a few points. Of Death Comes to Pemberley the the first 2 students agreed that James had used minor and new characters to avoid involving “our favorite” characters (by which she meant Elizabeth and Darcy) in sordid doings; James didn’t want to offend her readers by changing the main characters too much. They said a number of students in their group did not like Death Comes to Pemberley. It later became clear that both of them would have preferred to have Darcy and/or Elizabeth personally involved in the murder. The students who discussed Jo Baker’s Longbourn were taken by the new perspective which made us see what happened in the original novel differently; for example, that when Elizabeth runs across the fields and gets mud all over her dress, the novel’s central long-suffering lowly status housemaid, Sarah, has hours of hand-hurting work to get the stains out. Suddenly it didn’t seem so glorious for Elizabeth to have defied conventions and run athletically. These students seem to assume most readers must dislike Austen’s Mr Bennet, so when Baker has Mr Bennet have an illegimate son by Mrs Hill and does not take responsibility for him, one student offered the idea Baker’s text thus thickens our knowledge of the original character’s potentials (not allowed in Austen’s more repressed text). They said they became aware of a whole world in the original house they had not taken into account. One of the four students said she would never read P&P in the “innocent” (she did not use that word but it’s what she meant) way she had again.

There was much engaged talk from the audience and with the panelists and students afterwards. Here is just a bit of it: Linda Troost said she had heard James speak about Austen once, and she talked worshipfully; that you need to twist and distort the original novels to make them more available. It was agreed by many Austen’s wit was lost in much of these post-texts. Kathleen Stall felt that fan fiction that departed too radically from Austen’s assumptions and characters should not be seen as fan fiction (she cited as examples modern crude sexual attitudes in some of the sequels). Marie McAllister asked if Austen scholarship was at all affected by fandom and post-texts; it was implied that it was not, and yet an emphasis on Austen on romance has become dominant in recent scholarship. I tried to start a dialogue on how we can distinguish fine post-texts which can be categorized as historical novels in their own right as opposed to fictions which remain fan fictions because they are rooted in the limited terrain of the Austen worlds in her texts, and only in minor ways move outside. So Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly, which retells R.L. Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a semi-original historical novel in its own right so full and suggestive of the later 19th century world is it, so successful Martin’s creation of an appropriate style, with ramifications well beyond the original texts. Longbourn reaches out to this with its section on the Peninsula war, but does not achieve it by not realizing that war fully enough; James’s novel, Death Comes to Pemberley remains an often inert retelling of the original novel combined with a disorganized meandering mystery thriller; but the film, scripted by Juliette Towhidi, and much rearranged, developed, and made witty and intellectually interesting in its own right (and unusually based on the assumption we are to empathize with Mr Bennet) comes close, but Towhidi’s lack of real examination of the values of either Austen’s original or James’s intermediary text leaves the film without any serious moral critique of life (I do not reject F.R. Leavis’s criteria; it’s such criteria that led to D. W. Harding’s rightly influential, “Well Regulated Hated” essay on Austen’s fiction).

I think it important to distinguish the good and occasionally perhaps great books which are post-texts (before the 19th century use of copyright and theories of originality, such texts themselves are regarded as masterpieces in their own right, like Malory’s Arthurian Tales, a translation, adaptation, redaction of earlier medieval French texts). To see them as just teaching us about Austen, and demand that they stay within Austen’s point of view (let’s admit a limited one in a number of ways) is to dismiss them as non-serious. Alison Light in her Forever England, a book on neglected and good women writers of the 1930s, discusses Mrs Miniver (a pseudonym for Jan Struther) as an important sign or site for a working journalist and poet in her own right; Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones diaries descends from this kind of writing for and about women; and then there are worthwhile sequels, books with a genuine feeling about our contemporary world, something to say about it, which contribute to new subgenres of romance, such as Cindy Jones’s My Jane Austen Summer. It’s one of the jobs of the literary scholar to evaluate the texts we read and write about. See my blog on Cleland and Andrew Davies’s Fanny Hill.


A typical reprint from ECCO (on sale at Amazon)

On Saturday, the 10:30 session, Jim May’s panel on “Research in Progress” offered a series of papers on the kinds of scholarship people are doing today. Tonya Howe discussed “Corpse Humor On and Off the 18th century Stage:” corpses had become a commodity in the era; they were everywhere and farces provide a perspective on wide-spread death practices, beliefs in ghosts, anxieties, confusions and class hierarchy in undertaking/burial practices which included communal “rejoicing” in festivities at death ceremonies. Melissa Wehler has returned to a research project she began many years ago on Charles Macklin, which centered on a tragic play (a flop?) on Henry VII; the context contested by scholarship includes the question of Macklin’s Irishness, his use of a Scots identity (the Scottish Peg Woffington was in a production); the 1745 rebellion. Macklin himself made himself disliked. One has to ask what were the actualities of the time, stage, production, a more sophisticated historicism is needed. Rodney Mahler is another professor who brought a student doing research for and with him to discuss their efforts to decipher the bad handwriting of Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson (the standard biography by Anne Ousterhout and Graeme’s work as an American writer was described); Kasey Stewart, the student, showed how he used computer software to create a code. (It was later remarked if you had never learned cursive writing, you would not be able to begin to make a code.) (See Graeme Park the Encyclopedia Britannica on-line article); Matthew Vickless put before the audience and panelists the problem of having too many texts available to us through ECCO and other on-line sites: working on George Dyer, a scholarly highly learned polemical writer and poet (gently satirized by Charles Lamb; see online Dyer’s Disquisitions on Poetry; enotes); Mr Vickless found himself moving to texts within texts, and asking the question, if he was studying underappreciated important or good texts or “going down rabbit holes” of intertexuality. What does one do about all these available ancillary and auxiliary texts? His conclusion was paradoxically we need scholarly evaluative tools and edited texts more than ever.

The Athenian Mercury, February 28, 193

The perspectives of this session and the Jane Austen fan fiction panel were continued (in effect) using other texts in two papers on Eleanor Shevlin’s “book history” panel after the business lunch and presidential address. Peter Briggs seems to have discovered a version of writers interacting with audiences (analogous to people commenting on texts on websites and then on another another’s comments) in John Dunton’s Athenian Mercury. Dunton’s periodical was radical, an innovative experiment in which questions sent in by readers formed the central focus; he felt Dunton and his associates were surrrendering editorial control at least to some extent (they choose what questions to print). Readers’ questions poured in and Mr Briggs discussed the specifics that one can find in this magazine’s run. Beyond entertainment value, one learns what was on many individual’s minds (bothered by apparitions, dreams); what they had questions about (animal behavior; earthquakes); what they saw as significant (does gunpowder or printing cause greater mischief?); we see real people’s lives in process (conventions of marriage, courtship). Readers were fooled by the pretense of a panel of “12 worthies.” Perhaps Charles Gildon overpraised its value, but it is true you cannot predict what could be the results of these conversations in print. Mr Briggs conceded that the tone of the medium was calm reasoning, and the intent often to reassure and make the readers feel they were co-participants in knowledge. The Athenian Mercury provided a public space for them to experience intelligent conversation.

Mr Brickner mentioned the above text in his talk

The other paper that delved what goes on in readerships and human behavior behind and surrounding texts was Andrew Bricker’s “Title Pages, Imprints and Other Deceptions in the 18th century English book trade.” As today, 18th century gov’ts and their agents employed people to stop and control what was printed; ijn reaction about subversive texts printers published, they would claim I didn’t read or understand the text, just printed it. Libel laws were unclear and hard to use against writers and printers; nonetheless, printers were dragged into trials, pilloried, and the trade self-censored itself a good deal. Pseudonyms and anonymous were ways of protecting authors (Junius an example); certain kinds of buzz phrases would alert readers to subtexts; pornography was mostly disguised as art or comedy, e.g., the “Curious Maid” was a bestseller — she tries to see her gentilia in a mirror and finally succeeds; Mr Bricker discussed a fictionalized author calling himself Roger Fuckwell. (See 18th century pornographic verse; erotic fiction; where wikipedia assumes writings by prostitutes are by prostitutes; a book review of one of Robert Darnton’s books and a NYRB review by Darnton himself). He also discussed sycophantic texts: a fake identities like Roger Moore writing fulsomely about Walpole; and Michael Currey who was blacklisted by fellow stationers for giving information away that it was understood one would not. Woodcuts offers a way to understand what a printer intended. Mr Bricker routinely comes across entries in the ESTC that are wrong, or offer misinformation, so difficult and complex is this area.

In the discussion afterwards Mr Briggs later said of the Athenian Mercury that “social visibility” is what we are talking about here, ordinary people becoming visible. These later panels seemed to me to bring up pre-computer attempts for those left out of hierarchies of access to become socially visible and reach other people as well as the post-texts surrounding valued texts and coming out of unacknowledged disvalued communities.

For myself as a woman scholar I know that women memoirists have been denigrated and dismissed as “whores” and their books misrepresented in slurring ways as erotic, pornographic (or just stupid); and I wonder what is the relationship between older pornographic texts (which I often find distasteful) and 20th and 21st century ones (violent, intensely misogynistic); then as now men are the main readers of such books; what is the difference between salacious kitsch and biting political writing and images (e.g., Nelson’s Naked Truth for the images)? See finally Julie Peakman’s essay in History Today.

A telling cover illustration; see a review of Peakman’s now classic work (deserves to be as widely known as Darnton’s).


by ellenandjim at November 30, 2014 05:36 AM

William Morris Unbound

Jeremy Deller's Colossus

I’m not so sure about Jeremy Deller’s painting of a giant William Morris hurling Roman Abramovich’s yacht Luna to the bottom of the ocean, grand ebullient image though it most certainly is. Firstly, the painting plays into a familiar stereotype of Morris’s eccentric rages and tantrums, as when ‘at Red Lion Square he hurled a fifteenth-century folio, which in ordinary circumstances he would hardly have allowed any one but himself to touch, at the head of an offending workman. It missed the workman and drove a panel out of the workshop door’ (Mackail, I, 215). Deller’s image of Morris manhandling the Abramovich yacht thus risks reducing politics to personality, or even pathology (Shaw believed that Morris at such moments suffered from a form of epilepsy).

Secondly, if we do interpret the painting politically, it strikes me as dramatising an individualist-anarchist gesture, a terroristic ‘propaganda by deed’ of the kind against which Morris himself polemicised vigorously in the 1880s and 90s, recommending in its place the slow, patient, frustrating but essential work of building up a collective socialist movement (though to articulate that is perhaps more a task for narrative than image). Thirdly, though I too certainly want to take Abramovich’s yacht out of private super-rich ownership, I don’t want to send it plunging to the bottom of the sea, even in fantasy, but rather to turn it into a floating oceanographic research institute, staffed with unemployed youngsters from east London investigating the effects of global warming upon marine life - roughly on the model of the ship Ganesh in Kim Stanley Robinson’s ecotopia Pacific Edge.

These are just preliminary personal responses, and perhaps in time to come I’ll warm more to Deller’s Morris-as-colossus. For it is certainly a powerful image and we ought therefore to be having a lively debate about its political meanings and impact. So let me here urge the editor of the Morris Society journal, Patrick O’Sullivan, to commission a range of brief responses to the Deller painting - 2000 words each, say - for the next issue, so that our necessary dialogue can begin.

by Tony Pinkney ( at November 30, 2014 03:14 AM


The Annotated Wuthering Heights

A new Wuthering Heights edition just published by Harvard University Press and edited by Janet Gezari:
The Annotated Wuthering Heights
Emily Brontë
Edited by Janet Gezari
ISBN 9780674724693
Publication: October 2014

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights has been called the most beautiful, most profoundly violent love story of all time. At its center are Catherine and Heathcliff, and the self-contained world of Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange, and the wild Yorkshire moors that the characters inhabit. “I am Heathcliff,” Catherine declares. In her introduction Janet Gezari examines Catherine’s assertion and in her notes maps it to questions that flicker like stars in the novel’s dark dreamscape. How do we determine who and what we are? What do the people closest to us contribute to our sense of identity?

The Annotated Wuthering Heights provides those encountering the novel for the first time—as well as those returning to it—with a wide array of contexts in which to read Brontë’s romantic masterpiece. Gezari explores the philosophical, historical, economic, political, and religious contexts of the novel and its connections with Brontë’s other writing, particularly her poems. The annotations unpack Brontë’s allusions to the Bible, Shakespeare, and her other reading; elucidate her references to topics including folklore, educational theory, and slavery; translate the thick Yorkshire dialect of Joseph, the surly, bigoted manservant at the Heights; and help with other difficult or unfamiliar words and phrases.

Handsomely illustrated with many color images that vividly recreate both Brontë’s world and the earlier Yorkshire setting of her novel, this newly edited and annotated text will delight and instruct the scholar and general reader alike.
This is the table of contents:
Map: The World of Wuthering Heights
Genealogical Chart
Note on the Text
Wuthering Heights
Volume I • Chapters 1–14
Volume II • Chapters 1–20
Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell [1850]
Editor’s Preface to the New Edition of “Wuthering Heights” [1850]
Further Reading
Illustration Credits

by M. ( at November 30, 2014 12:03 AM

November 29, 2014

The Little Professor

Fame, fortune, &c.

Erm, OK, none of the above.  But Book Two finally has its first published book review ever! (There are two more that I know of in the pipeline.)  According to Choice, it's "thorough and absorbing," "truly enlightening," "engaging, precise, and eloquent," and, in general, "[e]ssential."  I'll take it.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at November 29, 2014 09:37 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Little Professor

There's always room for more than one book! Really!

Noah Berlatsky's Jill Lepore-inspired angst sent me back nearly twenty years to my dissertating days.  There I was, typing away at my magnum opus (hey, the dissertation did run over into a second volume), when I discovered, thanks to a newly-published article, that Rohan Maitzen had already written it.  LOLspeak did not yet exist in the mid-90s, but had it done so, I'm pretty sure that I could have said "I haz a sad" with a clear conscience.  (And many tissues.)  So I ordered her dissertation--a process that was also a bit more complicated in those days--and, with a deeply troubled heart, sat down to read it.

Whereupon I discovered that, no, we had not written the same dissertation. I had many fewer sads, although I did drop in some additional footnotes.  Nineteenth-century women's history was a) an underplumbed topic (in fact, there was a noticeable dearth of plumb at the time) with b) an awful lot of texts to discuss.  Of course we were going to come up with different texts, different approaches, and, for that matter, different interpretations.  Life, and scholarship, goes on.  


by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at November 29, 2014 02:42 AM


Brontë Studies. Volume 39. Issue 4

The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 39, Issue 4, November 2014) is already available online. We provide you with the table of contents and abstracts:

Special Issue: Afterlives of the Brontës: Biography, Fiction and Literary Criticism
Whose Brontë is it Anyway?
pp. 251–253 Author: Van Puymbroeck, Birgit and Malfait, Olivia and Demoor, Marysa

Lives and Afterlives: The Brontë Myth Revisited
pp. 254–266    Author:  Miller, Lucasta
Lucasta Miller revisits her 2001 book The Brontë Myth to explore the thinking behind it. In doing so, she surveys the recent history of English life-writing to cast light on recent trends towards metabiography. She also explores the theoretical issues — and subjective experiences — which the practice of afterlife study involves. In doing so, she offers an apologia for such study, especially as it relates to the Brontës. She argues that studying the posthumous construction of canonical authors can help the process of contextualizing them within their own historical moment, thus helping us to understand them on their own terms.

Beyond The Brontë Myth: Jane Eyre, Hannah Cullwick and Subjectivity in Servitude
pp. 267–278       Author: D'Albertis, Deirdre
Close analysis of the trope of servitude, central to the imaginative world of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and working-class diarist Hannah Cullwick, reveals the challenge as well as the promise of reading these two figures in tandem. Uncoupling the link between will and servitude as one which resulted necessarily in a state either of oppression or emancipation, this essay traces a literary subjectivity largely unaccounted for by The Brontë Myth. Both Cullwick’s diaries and Jane Eyre’s narrative autobiography acknowledge and actively construct servitude as a complex performance of the desire for recognition between master and servant. This desire is deeply rooted in the texts, as well as in the narrating subjects themselves.

Charlotte Brontë’s Polyphonic Voices: Collaboration and Hybrid Authorial Spaces
pp. 279–291   Author:  Scholl, Lesa
Charlotte Brontë was aware that authorship was a hybrid process, one involving translation, sharing work, rewriting and engaging with a variety of literary influences. This paper repositions Charlotte Brontë’s authorial identity by drawing out the collaborative nature of her literary relationships with her key masters: Branwell Brontë, Constantin Heger and her publishers at Smith, Elder & Co. Through a Bakhtinian dialogic lens, the literary entity identified as ‘Charlotte Brontë’ inhabits a separate authorial space from the historical person living at Haworth. She becomes a polyphony of minds and voices.

Currer Bell, Charlotte Brontë and the Construction of Authorial Identity
pp. 292–306  Author:  Wing-chi Ki, Magdalen
Focusing on the recovery of the textual and authoriality-defining politics of Charlotte Brontë’s pseudonym ‘Currer Bell’, this essay examines how Charlotte’s penname affected pre-1850 constructions of gendered authorial identity and how, after that date, Currer Bell was partially erased by means of the two distinct personae that readers fashioned for Charlotte, the female author, and Charlotte, the historical figure. The essay explores the pseudonym’s redefinition and revaluation by means of an analysis of brief accounts of Charlotte’s correspondence and the reviews of her fiction. It also examines how the use of different personae by Charlotte and critics of her works contributed to a myth that conflated distinctions she had introduced to differentiate herself as writer, using the gender-ambiguous remit of Currer Bell, and as the private individual Charlotte Brontë. The essay concludes with a consideration of how Charlotte’s textual inscription is transformed by visual culture media, which facilitated her becoming a cultural icon.

‘Becoming’ in Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë through the Eyes of Gilles Deleuze
pp. 307-318  Author:  Posman, Sarah
In four of his books Gilles Deleuze makes a reference to the Brontës. In Dialogues and A Thousand Plateaus he mentions Charlotte Brontë as an example of literature that surpasses a subject-centred narrative, a literature of what he calls a ‘haecceity’ or ‘thisness’, in which events take precedence over subjects making life choices. This essay concentrates on Jane Eyre: An Autobiography in teasing out Deleuze’s surprising mentioning of Charlotte Brontë and explores how a Deleuzian ‘haecceity’-vantage point can change our understanding of life narratives and authorship.

‘The Virgin Soul’: Anglo-French Spectres of Emily Brontë, 1880–1920
pp. 319-329  Author:  Van Puymbroeck, Birgit 
This essay studies Emily Brontë’s afterlives in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century biographies. It shows the rise in Emily Brontë’s popularity from the late nineteenth century onwards and demonstrates the rich cross-fertilization between British, Belgian and French accounts of her authorial persona. At the turn of the century, Emily became the subject of a cult that focused on her moral and inner life. She took preponderance over her sister Charlotte and became the subject of spiritualist, proto-feminist and modernist analyses. By focusing on Emily Brontë’s reception in Belgium, Britain and France, this essay adds a cross-national perspective to the Brontë myth.

Standing Alone: Anne Brontë out of the Shadow
pp. 330-340  Author:  Thormählen, Marianne
Having traced Anne Brontë’s slow emergence from her sisters’ shadow in the course of a century and a half, this article explains the reasons for the long neglect of her works and the circumstances that encouraged twentieth-century readers and academics to begin to take an interest in the youngest Brontë sister. The author argues that Anne’s two novels deserve as much attention from readers and critics as her sisters’ books. She then sets out the distinctive features of Anne Brontë’s fiction, suggesting topics for further research.

Sex, Crimes and Secrets: Invention and Imbroglio in Recent Brontë Biographical Fiction
pp. 341-352   Author:  Stoneman, Patsy
The last twenty years have seen a proliferation of fictional works which supplement, rewrite or allude to Brontë biography, augmenting the known facts with more or less plausible invention. Noting that recent literary theories have destabilized the distinction between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, I consider two categories of such fiction: those based on a biographical hypothesis, and those in which present-day readers are ‘haunted’ by the Brontë lives. Many of these stories turn on the discovery of documents, and I shall argue that the best of them offer hypotheses which address the aporias — the gaps and puzzles — in scholarly biography.

by M. ( at November 29, 2014 12:30 AM

November 28, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Edward Wakeling’s New Book to be Released – Lewis Carroll: The Man and His Circle

Carrollians rejoice!  Edward Wakeling’s new Carroll biography has been published!  Well, in the UK, not available here until Jan 28, 2015, but still.  As Edward says in his interview with the Independent:

“It is about time we cleared up, once and for all, the pervading false myth about his unhealthy relationship with children…”

Thank goodness!  To see the full text of the Independent’s article/interview with Edward, click here.

by Matt at November 28, 2014 09:49 PM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Eliza Smith Richardson, The Veil Lifted; Or the Romance and Reality of Convent Life (Henry Hoyt, c. 1869).  Anti-convent novel, featuring the usual run of abused nuns, insanity, weird-goings on, etc.  Also, it ends with a really bad poem.  (eBay)
  • John Ehle, The Land Breakers (NYRB, 2014).  Reprint of Ehle's 1964 historical novel about settling the Appalachian mountains.  (Amazon)
  • Julie Melnyk, ed., Women's Theology in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Transfiguring the Faith of Their Fathers (Garland, 1998).  An important essay collection featuring chapters on Christina Rossetti, Mrs. Humphry Ward, Charlotte M. Yonge, etc.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Kelsey L. Bennett, Principle and Propensity: Experience and Religion in the Nineteenth-Century English and American Bildungsroman (U of South Carolina, 2014).  Analyzes the concept of bildung in relation to specifically Protestant theories of the relationship between the self and God.  I'm reviewing this for Choice.  (Review copy)
  • Michael J. Cullen, The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain: The Foundations of Empirical Social Research (Harvester, 1975).  How the Victorians started classifying and quantifying everything in sight.  (Amazon [secondhand])


by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at November 28, 2014 08:23 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


The Professor on Hesperus

Hesperus Press publishes a new edition of Charlotte Brontë's The Professor:
The Professor
by Charlotte Brontë
Publication Date: 21/11/2014
Hesperus Classics
Paperback: ISBN: 9781843915300
eBook: ISBN: 9781780943381

The first book ever to emerge from Charlotte Brontë’s pen, The Professor is an autobiographically inspired romantic love story set in Brussels. Thinly veiling her personal experiences, Brontë unusually uses a male narrator, making this a fascinating and unique read. With the action played out in dark boarding-school classrooms and windy streets, Brontë weaves a tale of much emotion – one that foresees the longer, better-known saga Villette that was to follow many years later.

Fresh out of Eton, orphaned William Crimsworth finds himself in an unenviable situation – a clerk to his little-educated, caddish mill-owner brother – until opportunity presents itself for a complete change of fortune. Crimsworth is offered a job in Brussels as a teacher in an all-girls boarding school, run by a M Pelet. Later headhunted to a better position by the beguiling Zoraide Reuter, Crimsworth believes himself slightly enamoured with his new employer – only to discover her secretly and perfidiously engaged to M Pelet.

His new position almost intolerable, Crimsworth finds solace in teaching Frances Henri, a young Swiss-English seamstress teacher with promising intelligence and ear for language. Mlle Reuter though, jealous of the young professor’s obvious partiality, dismisses Frances from her position. Crimsworth, in despair, is forced to resign from the school and takes up a ghostly existence in Brussels, roaming the streets in the hopes of finding his Frances.

An often neglected classic, The Professor is not only a compellingly written novel but fascinating in its concern with gender issues, religion and social class, making it a book still studied today.

by M. ( at November 28, 2014 12:22 AM

“I’m glad you’ve read the book, I think it is so beautiful."

Picture source
Express fills us in on the background on the background on the lyrics of Wuthering Heights handwritten by Kate Bush and auctioned a few days ago.
Singer Kate Bush made a teenage boy’s dream come true when she sent him this signed photograph and a handwritten copy of the lyrics to Wuthering Heights.
Thirty six years later, the memorabilia has earned her now middleaged fan almost £7,000.
Kate was just 19 when, in 1978, she replied to a letter from a 14-year-old known only as David, asking to know the lyrics to her number one hit of that year.
Her reply, written in blue ballpoint on a sheet of paper from the Hotel Intercontinental in Paris, said: “Dear David, thank you very much for writing to me – I’m thrilled that you want to know the words of my single.” She adds in reference to her influence for the song, the novel by Emily Brontë: “I’m glad you’ve read the book, I think it is so beautiful. God Bless, love Kate Bush xxx.”
The lyrics were on the back and the photograph was signed: “To David, keep smiling. Love Kate Bush xxx.”
After the items were sold in London this week by, David said: “At the time, the song was the most extraordinary thing I had ever heard and I was utterly mesmerised by her performance when she appeared on Top Of The Pops.
“I was in love with the song so I wrote to EMI Records for the lyrics. Much to my amazement a few weeks later I received a reply from the lady herself.
“She had not only handwritten all the lyrics for me but also included a letter and a signed photograph of herself – an image that, at the time, was this teenage boy’s dream and made me the envy of all my friends.
“Even now, after all these years, I’m still amazed by the effort she went to in sending this to me.” (Chris Riches)
But clearly not amazed enough to keep him from selling it.

Keighley News has another article on the possibility of a wind farm in Brontë Country:
An applicant wants to install two wind turbines on 18-metre masts at an Oxenhope Farm.
The proposals for Old Oxenhope Farm, Oxenhope Lane, are due to go before councillors at the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel today. (Nov 27)
Bradford Council has received 11 letters of objection to the plans and seven letters of support.
One of the objectors includes the Brontë Society, which has argued: "In an empty landscape even small turbines have a dominating effect, tending to change perceptions of scale, and the movement of the blades draws the eye, making them impossible to ignore." [...]
Worth Valley ward councillor Rebecca Poulsen said: "It's a difficult application. I'm sympathetic to the farm because in order to win contracts they have to prove their green credentials.
"It's quite a competitive process and they have to show that a certain percentage of their power comes from renewable sources.
"They have made the proposed turbines smaller than they were in previous applications.
"However, this is sensitive because of the location, the views of the landscape, and the links to the Brontës.
"I referred this to the planning panel because I felt it wouldn't be fair to just leave it to a planning officer's decision. I wanted it to be heard in public where all parties can make their views known." (Miran Rahman)
The Illinois Times' 'advice goddess' replies to the following query:
In social situations, my boyfriend will often pretend to have read books I know he hasn’t. He doesn’t just fake it with some casual “Yeah, I read that.” He will try to say something deep and philosophical, but can end up not making much sense. He’s too smart to need to do this. Is there something I can say to persuade him to stop? –Embarrassed Your boyfriend’s just lucky nobody’s suspected he’s lying about what he’s read and tried to trip him up – maybe with “It’s like Heathcliff wandering the moors searching for Cathy after she was abducted by aliens!” or “What a relief when Romeo rushed Juliet to the hospital and they pumped her stomach!” (Amy Alkon)
But then again, like The Daily Star says,
While English majors are obliged to read more than students pursuing other degrees, it is silly to expect them to have read all of Dickens' or Austen's works. It is also unfair to assume that all students of literature love Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice (which are not written by the same author, by the way). (Nifath Karim Chowdhury)
BeliefNet's Commonsense Christianity mentions Agnes Grey:
Agnes Grey is a novel by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the three Brontë sisters (think Emily, and Wuthering Heights; and Charlotte, with Jane Eyre), that follows a young woman as she serves as governess to a series of horrendously atrocious children. Like her sisters, Anne made observations about the religious — Christian — environment of her day, and this passage describes her character Agnes’s assessment of the local rector, or pastor:
“His favourite subjects were church discipline, rites and ceremonies, apostolic succession, the duty of reverence and obedience to the clergy, the atrocious criminality of dissent, the absolute necessity of observing all the forms of godliness, the reprehensible presumption of individuals who attempted to think for themselves in matters connected with religion, or to be guided by their own interpretations of Scripture . . . supporting his maxims and exhortations throughout with quotations from the Fathers: with whom he appeared to be far better acquainted than with the Apostles and Evangelists, and whose importance he seemed to consider at least equal to theirs.” [...]
Published in 1847, this paragraph — so contemporaneous that it’s astonishing — is a sober awakening that the pressure to conform, obey, comply, acquiesce, and passively accept what we are told has been around a long time, and the message of 167 years ago is still being preached today, in Jesus’s name. (Carolyn Henderson)
For Noche de cine (Spain), Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Thomas Hardy seem to be all the same:
La clásica novela romántica de Thomas Hardy ‘Lejos del mundanal ruido (Far from the madding crowd)’ vuelve a estrenar una versión cinematográfica de la mano del realizador danés Thomas Vinterberg (‘La caza’). Carey Mulligan es la protagonista en esta ocasión al más puro estilo de Jane Austen o Charlotte Brontë. (Javier Bragado) (Translation)
Manchester Evening News features the upcoming performances of LipService at Elizabeth Gaskell's newly-restored home.
Head down to LipService to Elizabeth Gaskell on the weekend of December 5-6 and, if the company’s previous dips into the life of Elizabeth Gaskell are anything to go by, you’ll find the famous writer frequenting with all the successful women and provocateurs of the time.
Perhaps taking tea with pals Charlotte Brontë and Marie Stopes, or staging protests with the Pankhurst family? All that would build on the company’s Hysterical History Show, “a whacky whirlwind tour of Britain’s female national treasures”. (Sarah Walters)
Also in Manchester, The Manchester Review talks about the Peter McMaster's Wuthering Heights adaptation:
In all honesty, I don’t really know where to start. That’s partly because this is one of the most absurd and surreal things I’ve ever seen on a stage. But it’s also because it kind of blew my mind. From the moment you step into the room to see a grown man trotting around the stage and making horse noises, you know this isn’t going to be your standard adaptation of Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel. But I doubt that, even at that point, anybody predicted the hour that was to follow.
One difficulty in reviewing this play is that much of its magic comes from the element of surprise, so I’m going to try my best not to ruin that for future audiences. One thing I can definitely say is that this is no ordinary Wuthering Heights. If you go there expecting to make notes for your GCSEs or to hear the story of Cathy and Heathcliff in its full and brutal beauty, you might be disappointed. If you go with an open mind, willing to laugh, and as a fan of Kate Bush, you won’t.
This isn’t just the madcap and irreverent comedy that it first appears, though. Despite the bizarre antics, the bawdy humour, and the downright silliness, this is a play with extremely important underlying messages. (Fran Slater)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page links to a clip of Arts Officer Jenna Holmes speaking on BBC Radio Leeds. Geeks Unleashed reviews Wuthering Heights. On Michael Jayston Tumblr we can read an interview with Sorcha Cusack, Jane Eyre in the 1973 TV adaptation:
1. When did you read “Jane Eyre” for the first time and do you remember your first impressions of the novel?”
I’m afraid Wuthering Heights made a far more memorable impression though I remember most vividly the early chapters in J.Eyre: the cruelty of the Reeds and the death of Helen Burns. The fact that I read it when I was about 11 no doubt accounts for this.
2. How did you get the role of Jane? And how did you prepare for the role? Did you watch any previous performances of the character?
I had 2 BBC auditions that day. At the first, for The Pallisers the director asked me where I hoped to be in 20 years time - my totally precocious answer was: ‘Playing Phèdre at the Comedie Francaise! They roared with laughter. The director of Jane Eyre was next door and intrigued to know the cause of such hilarity, so the ice was broken and my nerves left.

by Cristina ( at November 28, 2014 12:14 AM

November 27, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

The Economist’s World in 2015

IMG_20141127_0003Alice (and Cheshire Puss) has made the Sgt. Pepper-like cover of UK’s The Economist‘s special issue, “The World in 2015.” Emma Hogan’s article inside in its “Culture” section is of interest as much for what it left out as what it included. The Morgan Library, NYU, and the Rosenbach’s exhibits are mentioned, but not the Alice150 celebration of which they are a part. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s forthcoming dual biography is mentioned, but not Edward Wakeling’s, which precedes it. It says Wonderland has been translated into “around 100″ languages, when the number in our forthcoming volume is 170. Mysteries abound: what exactly does “a picture book with key scenes will be published” mean? But all in all, we are grateful for the notice.

by Mark Burstein at November 27, 2014 06:49 PM

Regency Ramble

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Arthur Butterworth. In Memoriam

The English composer and conductor Arthur Butterworth (1923-2014) died last November 20. He has a special interest in the Brontës and composed several pieces based in the poetry of Emily Brontë but also inspired by the Brontë country moorlands:
The Moors, Suite for large orchestra and organ, Op. 26 (1962)
The Path across the Moors, Op. 17 (1959); also for brass band (1964)
A Moorland Symphony, Op. 32 (1967)
The Night Wind for soprano, clarinet and piano (or orchestra), Op. 38 (1969)
Haworth Moor, 3 Songs for chorus and piano, Op. 110 (2000)
Grey Moorland, Concert March, Op. 134
Haworth Moor (2000) :Written for the Huddersfield Singers to words by Emily and Anne Brontë including RemembrancePremiere July 1st 2000. Huddersfield Singers 125th Anniversary Concert, St Paul's Hall, Huddersfield
The Brontë sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte in addition to their novels wrote poetry, that of Emily being far superior to the poems of her sisters.
They collaborated in evoking the Land of the Gondals, a romantic childhood creation of their imagination. However, a more immediate - and plausible -source of the imagination was their lonely moorland environment. The aura of the bleak hills, in all seasons of the year were a constant source of fascination, delight, and indeed love of those wild places. This is expressed in the first of these settings, the poem by Anne: "Lines composed in a wood on a windy day" with its exhilaration and evocation of nature.
"Remembrance" by Emily Brontë is a longer and more introspective poem from the Gondal cycle of imaginative writings. Like her sister's poem, it too captures something of the imagery of the moorlands, and the spell it cast over them. However there is a deeper vein of philosophy and insight that has made it one of the more memorable of nineteenth century poetic creations.
"The North Wind" was written by Anne at the end of January 1838 and evokes, as does much of the sisters' nature poetry, the almost ecstatic fascination, amounting even to obsession, they felt for their native harsh and inhospitable moorland.
They all suffered from the climatic conditions; the chill, damp atmosphere insidiously claimed them in turn. However, the legacy of their imaginative insight into life, love and thwarted yearnings have for more than a century and a half captivated generations of us.
The Night Wind (1969)In 1969 he was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain to compose "The Night Wind, Op.38, a set of three poems by Emily Brontë (*), for the Trinidadian soprano, Miriam Nathaniel, a work first performed at the Calder Valley Festival of that year. Almost all his major orchestral works, notably the four symphonies and the suite for large orchestra "The Moors" Op. 26, contemplate this recurring theme of fascination for the remote moorlands of northern England. (Source)
(*) The Night Wind, The Visionary and The linnet in the rocky dells.

The Independent publishes his obituary with a special mention to The Night Wind:
His song cycle The Night Wind sets three poems by Emily Brontë, the poet of Yorkshire and the moors. "Like Emily Brontë I have always been deeply under the spell of the remote and lonely moorlands of the north of England," he wrote, "and much of my music has been influenced by their oftimes forbidding desolate loneliness." Perhaps his love of wild country is most popularly exemplified in his short tone poem The Path Across the Moors. (Lewis Foreman) 

by M. ( at November 27, 2014 12:20 AM

Hearthrobby Mr Rochester

Arkansas Traveler recommends several 'Good Reads to Catch Up On Over Thanksgiving Break'. One of them is by a new author:
3. “Wuthering Heights” by Emile Brontë:  Romance and ghost stories are an interesting combination, and this book is one of weird obsession and everlasting love. Set nearly entirely in a cold, deserted climate, “Wuthering Heights” is perfect to curl up with in the wintertime. Another classic that has become famous for the love-hate relationship readers will find with the two protagonists, Catherine and Heathcliff, one can’t miss being in on the age-old theme of misused lovers and undying affection. (Michele Dobbins)
Bustle also mentions the novel before suggesting more books to read on Thanksgiving break.
There are three things I never leave for home without: a bottle of wine, a copy of my passport, and a good book. Sure, the wine might only make it through the first night, and yes, the passport occasionally gets forgotten or confiscated at the least of convenient times (ask me about it over that bottle of wine), but the book — it has always been there for me.
Whether it was Wuthering Heights over Christmas Break or Play It As It Lays that fateful weekend my heart was broken and I had to make my way home by bus, the right book has always made the difference. And now, with Thanksgiving break approaching, I’ve started frantically scanning my shelves, lining up my options, and doing some serious weighing of alternatives. (Hannah Nelson-Teutsch)
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner interviews writer Jennifer Niven.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be? There are too many to choose from! But maybe Harry Houdini, Emily Brontë, Zelda Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, and Errol Flynn. (Kayla Posney)
The Guardian reviews the second season of Psychobitches and looks back on the first:
The first series was a knockout – Julia Davis played a wailing hybrid of Pam Ayres and Sylvia Plath; the Brontë sisters were foul-mouthed, filthy puppets obsessed with sex, and Sharon Horgan played a campy Eva Peron, who clung on to her bottles of “boobles”. It was silly, and odd, and very funny. (Rebecca Nicholson)
This is how Fast Company describes Michael Fassbender's take on Mr Rochester:
Fassbender is an interesting choice, having tackled roles ranging from a broody, hearthrobby Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre to a broody, hearthrobby version of psychotherapist Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method. (Chris Gayomali)
Bustle on a sidebraid sported by Kristen Stewart:
this tousled braid is exactly the type of wind-ruffled coif I would expect to see on Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre. (Tyler Atwood)
Atticus Review interviews writer Susan Millar DuMars who says she has
written a story called Grace, about the servant who cares for the mad Mrs. Rochester in Jane Eyre. (Georgia Bellas)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows a lovely detail to be found in the garden of Elizabeth Gaskell's newly-opened house, which according to them, looks 'resplendent in the Manchester gloom'. Ann Dinsdale also 'channeled Charlotte Brontë' on a recent visit to the house.

by Cristina ( at November 27, 2014 12:01 AM

November 26, 2014

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Daphne DuMaurier walking with her children in front of Menabilly (fictionalized into Manderley)

Dear friends and readers,

As this is a blog not just on Austen and her contemporaries and the long 18th century, but also on women’s art, I thought I’d record a proposal to explore with a group of retired and adult learners the life and work of Daphne DuMaurier; if accepted, this would be for a 5 weeks this summera the OLLI at Mason:

The worlds of Daphne DuMaurier

Daphne DuMaurier is far more than the writer of a single powerful Manderley novel, Rebecca, and not just a writer of women’s romances (and thus underrated) and material for Hitchcock to make movies from. She wrote gothic and Cornish romances; historical and regional novels; travel books, including time-travellers;  insightful biographies (of her father, the great actor, Gerald DuMaurier, of Branwell Bronte) and autobiographical books; family sagas; eerie and terrifying short stories, and transgressive murder mysteries; and realistic novels too. I propose to explore her marvelous oeuvre with those who’d want to do this. For summer we’d read, to begin with, one of her historical Manderley novels, The King’s General, and one of her haunting travel books, Vanishing Cornwall. It is suggested that students see the 2007 biographical film, Daphne, the screenplay by her biographer, Margaret Forster, featuring Geraldine Somerville as DuMaurier.

If rejected, I’ll save this for another time at the OLLI at AU. if it were for a fall semester, I’d do a third book, probably her biography of her father.

The great biography of DuMaurier is by Margaret Forster. I should say I’ve never read a book by Forster I didn’t like. You could call DuMaurier bisexual but the marriage to Browning was something of a veneer even if she had 3 children: her long-time relationships were with Ellen Doubleday (played by Elizabeth McGovern in the film) and Gertrude Lawrence (Janet McTeer). (She was also a friend of Noel Coward’s.)



She had a good deal of the chatelaine English type in her outward social life, but in her books she loves to cross-dress. She’s a powerful biographer and romancer, Menabilly meant a lot, but it would be going against all I am to give a falsifying dumbed wn course on this woman, perpetuating stereotypes which reverse some of her significance, erase it. There is evidence to suggest that far from identifying with the second Mrs DeWinter, she bonded with Rebecca and meant us to see Max as a tyrant. In The King’s General, which takes place in the 17th century, during the English civil war, the heroine is crippled very early on (badly, she must stay in a wheelchair) so she has a central disabled character. She identifies with heroes and transgressive characters.

Nina Auerbach (who also writes transgressively on Austen) has a perceptive informative literary biography of DuMaurier, Haunted Heiress, and Avril Horner with Sue Zlosnik on DuMaurier as a gothic and Cornish regional and historical woman novelist. I’d love a chance to read more of her novels, memoirs, life-writing, letters, and other essays on her and the films made from her books.

It’s unfortunate that most of the films from her work that are famous were made by Hitchcock, which turned her work into his usual nasty school of cruelty and misogyny. It’s their fame which has partly framed her work popularly. I did like the take on DuMaurier in the movie Daphne as brooding often solitary writer embedded in her a chosen landscape.


I’ve 33 books altogether, some on Cornwall and linked to the writing and life of Winston Graham.

A Cornish Seascape

How I’ve loved her books and would love to read more of them and more books on her and the film adaptations.

Ellen dreaming perhaps

by ellenandjim at November 26, 2014 02:38 AM

November 25, 2014


Bertha, the baddie

The Guardian discusses 'baddies' in books:
It was an odd delight to have to choose a favourite villain in literature. Reading the choices made by fellow contributors has, to an extent, brilliantly confused rather than dully clarified my thoughts. Are we talking about the scope of their megalomania – a Sauron or an Ahab? Or is it the nastiness of their behaviour – a Patrick Bateman or a Humbert Humbert? Or is it the slyness of their villainy – Bertha from Jane Eyre or Mrs Danvers from Rebecca? Henry de Montherlant observed that “happiness writes in white ink on white paper”, and it’s certainly true that villainy thrills on the page in a manner decency struggles to realise. (Stuart Kelly)
On the other side of the coin, Repubblica (Italy) looks at heroines.
Quando si è imparato che bisogna tener duro per le prime tre pagine, perché entrare in una storia è come saltare dentro un buco nero, la letteratura fa tana nei nostri cuori. Ed è in quel momento che nella vita di una lettrice entrano le regine: Jane Austen, Emily e Charlotte Brontë. Orgoglio e pregiudizio, Jane Eyre e Cime Tempestose. Si parte da lì, ovunque si decida di andare. Io sono andata sempre verso le storie, ho sempre avuto questa passione imperdonabile e inestinguibile per la narrativa. Lo dico perché altre sapranno indicare meglio di me saggi e riflessioni, la non-fiction che deve stare sul comodino di ogni donna. Io  sono devota profondamente e senza possibilità di guarigione al valore dell'invenzione, alla verità dell'immaginazione, a  quella catena di meravigliosi inganni che costituisce un romanzo. Ogni romanzo, persino quello che sembra più vicino alla realtà. I diari per esempio, o le lettere. (Elena Stancanelli) (Translation)
Weighing in on the gender imbalance debate, this reader of The Sydney Morning Herald is not quite so sure about Wuthering Heights for a reason:
Bronte makes us ask the eternal question. The gender imbalance notwithstanding, I'm all for the dumping of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, if only to save any future teacher the inevitable embarrassment of not being able to respond to some student's query as to the meaning of "wuthering" ("Gender imbalance in HSC English book lists criticised", November 24).
David Grant (Ballina)
This Portland Tribune columnist is 'reading' the novel nonetheless:
In the CD player of my car is the audiobook for “Wuthering Heights,” the classic novel by Emily Brontë. [...]
"Wuthering” is a novel powerful enough to have withstood the test of time and remain as one of the greatest love stories in the history of literature. [...]
Don’t skip Brontë. Books like “Wuthering” are the meat and potatoes for a well-rounded reader. (Stephen Alexander)
Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life asks 'writer-editor-actress' Tavi Gevinson the following:
What’s a book you’ve pretended to have read? In high school I pretended to read The Odyssey, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice. (Stephan Lee)
El Mundo (Spain) reminds us that, like the Brontës, the Goytisolo brothers are a family of writers now that Juan Goytisolo has been awarded with the Cervantes Letters Prize. Girl with her Head in a Book invites you to an upcoming Wuthering Heights readalong. Another ongoing readalong (a Jane Eyre one) is the one that A Night's Dream of Books or The Frugal Chariot are posting about.

by Cristina ( at November 25, 2014 11:41 PM