Planet Century 19

April 16, 2014

The Victorian Peeper

Sack and Slaughter: Representations of the Crusades on the Nineteenth-Century Stage

"The Blood Red Knight" by J. H. Amherst, lithograph with hand-coloring and tinsel, c. 1850,
published by John Redington

Although historians of the British theatre have long been interested in representations of the “East” on the nineteenth-century stage, few have explored plays depicting the medieval Christian quest to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim rule.

The popularity of theatrical representations of the Crusades in the first half of the nineteenth century coincided with the British public’s growing curiosity about the Near East. Tourism to the main Crusade sites rose sharply with improvements in transportation. Artists and engravers brought images of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Damascus Gate, and the Dome of the Rock directly into homes; the exploits of archaeologists in Palestine made newspaper headlines; and enormous, topographically accurate panoramas of biblical landscapes drew crowds across London. A gigantic moving diorama of Jerusalem, for example, complete with Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane, drew crowds to Hyde Park Corner in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition. Eastern-themed novels, poetry, children’s literature, missionary tracts, journals, and pictorial art of all kinds were widely available.

Theatrical managers, ever on the lookout for new ways to tap into the public’s enthusiasms, were quick to take advantage. Nearly all of the Crusade plays produced during this period were performed in London in what were called the “minor” theatres – those in which the so-called “legitimate” drama, meaning spoken drama, was prohibited. In 1737, the Theatres Licensing Act had given just two London theatres, the Theatres Royal at Drury Lane and Covent Garden, the right to perform spoken drama in English – the rest were restricted to pieces consisting of singing, dancing, mime, and feats of physical prowess. The important point is that the minor theatres were, until a revision of the licensing act in 1843, beyond the jurisdiction of the censoring powers of the Lord Chamberlain’s Examiner of Plays and thus unburdened by the ban on religious references that was imposed on the patent theatres.

The following examples, which are representative of the genre, demonstrate how playwriting offered considerable scope to the romantic imagination and plenty of room for an idiosyncratic interpretation of historical events.

The Blood Red Knight; or, The Warriors of Palestine, 
Penny Pictorial Plays
The Blood Red Knight by William Barrymore was first produced in 1810 at Astley’s Amphitheatre on the south side of the Thames. There were many versions of it, over many years, by many playwrights. Its first production ran for 175 nights and made more than £18,000, an enormous sum at the time. The plot revolves around the attempts of the Blood Red Knight to seduce Isabella, wife of his brother Alfonso, the crusader. Alfonso returns, is defeated, but then calls in reinforcements, when “the castle is taken by storm, the surrounding river is covered with boats filled with warriors, and the battlements are strongly contested. Men and horses are portrayed slain and dying in various directions, while other soldiers and horses are submerged in the river, forming an effect totally new and unprecedented in this or any other country, and terminating in the total defeat of the Blood Red Knight.”

Characters from the play were depicted in tinsel prints, a uniquely nineteenth-century art form that was popular between 1815 and 1830. Tinseling enthusiasts bought plain or colored prints, then added costumes made of die-cut metal foils, called tinsel, as well as bits of fabric, leather, or any other material. The blood-red knights shown at the top of this post and below might once have had real feathers on their helmets. When completed, tinsel prints would glow like religious icons.

"Mr. Gomersal as the Blood Red Knight," c. 1835 (Edward Alexander Gomersal, 1788-1862)

A lavishly tinseled version of "Mr. Gomersal as The Blood Red Knight"

The Crusaders; or, Jerusalem Delivered at the Royal Coburg Theatre in 1820 was billed as “an Entirely New and Splendid Melodramatic Tale of Enchantment, the Main Incidents of which are Taken from Tasso's Poem of ‘Jerusalem Delivered,’ Interspersed with Songs, Duets, Glees, Choruses, Marches, and Combats, with Entirely New Scenery, Extensive Machinery, Dresses, Properties, and Decorations.” The First Crusade was less popular than the Third Crusade as a dramatic subject during the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, playwrights inspired by Tasso’s “Gerusalemme Liberata” could depend on their audience’s knowledge of that poem, which was available in a number of English editions and translations. Its lyrical passion found a warm reception among the Victorians later in the century, who could appreciate the struggles of characters torn between love and duty and for whom historical inaccuracy was no impediment to enjoyment.

The Royal Coburg production appeared the same year that Charles Mills published his magisterial two-volume History of the Crusades for the Recovery and Possession of the Holy Land, one of the earliest studies devoted specifically to that topic – and one critical of the Western religious fanaticism that inspired the wars. Yet the impact of such historical scholarship was negligible on a general public that preferred to get its history lessons in the popular theatres of the day. This has not changed much from the Victorians’ time to ours. Compare the number of people who have dipped into The Oxford History of the Crusades (thousands, maybe?) with the number of those who have seen Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (millions). These recent films are the direct descendants of the nineteenth-century sack-and-slaughter plays.

In 1827, seven years after producing The Crusaders, the Royal Coburg produced The Unhallowed Templar, a three-act play billed as “an entirely new Grand Historical-Romantic Legendary Spectacle.” This time the subject was the Third Crusade, with much of the action focusing on the various engagements between the Christian forces commanded by the English King Richard I and the Muslim forces led by Saladin. In fact, this encounter of two towering personalities is tailor-made for the stage, which is why plays based on incidents of the Third Crusade outnumber all others during the nineteenth century. No matter that Richard and Saladin never actually met face to face – that inconvenient historical truth did not trouble the playwrights who wrote to fill London theatres. In nearly every one, there is stage combat of the most sensational kind, often on horseback, between the two leaders.

"The Combat Between Richard and Saladin," Astley's Amphitheatre,
Illustrated London News, 20 May 1843

So we have, in 1843, a play at Astley’s Amphitheatre called The Crusaders of Jerusalem, which featured a violent encounter between Richard and Saladin. Above is an artist’s rendering of this scene. Such depictions must have made an indelible impression on audiences and shaped how they thought about England’s role in the historical Crusades. Certainly they had an impact on later artistic representations, including the work of Gustave Doré, who illustrated an English edition of Joseph Michaud’s History of the Crusades in 1877. Below is a plate from that work featuring the iconography that had developed around the completely fictional meeting of Richard and Saladin.

Gustave Doré (1832-1888),"Richard the Lion-Heart and Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf,"
from History of the Crusades by Michaud (1877)

In these plays, Richard is always portrayed as a heroic exemplar of British honor and liberty. Saladin himself behaves in admirable ways – and he was revered by some English writers, including Sir Walter Scott, who compared him favorably with European sovereigns. Still, these plays leave no doubt that the “barbarism” of the Muslims must be extinguished, and that is invariably what happened on stage.

And speaking of Sir Walter Scott … it would be hard to overstate his influence in creating and perpetuating nineteenth-century romantic notions of the Crusades. Productions of plays based on Ivanhoe and The Talisman, in particular, were instrumental in transmitting these ideas to an audience well beyond those who read the books.

The first dramatization of Ivanhoe, for example, appeared at the Surrey Theatre in 1820 within weeks of the novel’s publication and inspired a further 290 versions over the following decades. One witness of the Surrey production compared its effect to the feeling inspired by a stained glass window or a Gothic chapel full of shrines, banners, and knightly monuments. Dramatists often played fast and loose with Scott’s story, creating pastiches derived from multiple sources in the interest of heightening its spectacular elements. It was also transformed into opera, pantomime, burlesque, and toy theatre versions.

Although Ivanhoe was the most widely adapted of Scott’s Crusade novels, The Talisman was also extremely popular. The first theatrical adaptation of this story of the Third Crusade was produced in Edinburgh in 1825, and more than 70 other versions followed over the course of the century. In the novel, which is set in Palestine, the Scottish knight Sir Kenneth is charged with guarding the standard of Richard the Lionheart’s camp overnight, a task he undertakes with his faithful deerhound Roswal. When Kenneth abandons his watch temporarily, the villain Conrade of Monserrat steals the banner, wounding Roswal in the process. Later, as Conrade marches in a procession before the king, the dog leaps at him, seizing him by the throat, revealing him as the thief.

The Knights of the Cross; or, The Dog of the Blood-Stained Banner was just one of many mid-Victorian plays that used this plot as a starting point. It was performed in 1841 at the Royal Albert Saloon, an establishment specializing in burlesque, comic ballets, and melodramas.

The Knights of the Cross; or The Dog of the Blood-Stained Banner, 1841 (East London Theatre Archive) 

On the poster for this play (above), you can see Roswal, played by a large dog called “Victor,” fighting Conrade for King Richard’s standard. Below that we have the list of characters with the names of the actors portraying them, and below that is a synopsis of the play and its key settings. Act One alone featured a hermit’s cave, a gothic chapel, King Richard’s tent, and a “Grand Eastern Procession” featuring “six suits of real armor.” Act Two included Richard’s camp with a distant view of Jerusalem at sunset, Queen Berengaria’s tent, and St. George’s Mount in the center of Richard’s camp. Note the action described here: Kenneth is seduced from his duty by the queen and one of her ladies, leaving his faithful dog to guard the English banner; Roswal is attacked by Conrade and an “awful, desperate, and protracted conflict ensues … the noble creature fights until his Blood bedews the Mount, and true to the last lies weltering as the Sentinel of his Master’s Honor.” Then follows an “Affecting Meeting of the Dying Dog and the Knight” that was apparently a masterpiece of the histrionic art, both human and canine. The final act began with scenes in King Richard’s tent and the Crusaders’ camp and concluded with a tournament in which “desperate broadsword and shield combat” ended in the “pride and glory of the English crusaders.”

The success of this adaptation led to a vogue for plays featuring trained dogs, who often upstaged the human actors and became stars in their own right.

A slightly earlier play called The Siege of Jerusalem, also based on The Talisman and shamelessly mixing fact and fantasy, featured Saladin’s capture of the Holy City, a view of the Dead Sea, the arrival of the French and Austrian fleets, the burning sands of the desert, an appearance by Saladin’s white bull, a “Grand Asiatic Ballet,” the encounter between the Leopard Knight and the Templar – which is straight from Scott – and a feast in Saladin’s camp. The audience certainly got its money’s worth from that one.

Each of these plays referenced tropes about the Crusades that swirled through Victorian society. Crusade plays simplified these down to their basic elements and then exploded them out into a three-dimensional sensory feast, using every trick and technique in the arsenal of stage management. They were, truly, spectacles that cemented a highly romanticized version of the Crusades in the nineteenth-century British imagination.

"Suffragettes Posting Bills," c. 1910
(Library of Congress)
Finally, I’d like to share an image that brings the legacy of nineteenth-century theatrical representations of the Crusades crashing into the modern age – one that links the world of stage melodrama with the beginning of the modern age of film. The image on the right shows two American suffragette bill posters, one of whom is just outside the frame on the right. They're pasting their “Votes for Women” posters over two advertising posters for a silent Italian film called The Crusaders, or Jerusalem Delivered that was released in the U.S. in 1911. The film was based on Tasso’s poem, making it a direct descendant of the Royal Coburg play of the same name. With one swipe of a big brush, one historical crusade is replaced by another.

by Kristan Tetens ( at April 16, 2014 09:00 PM


Cultish Meeting

A new review of the Helen Tennison Wuthering Heights adaptation now performed at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, London::
This is not the romanticised story that Hollywood devised for Olivier and Merle Oberon but the harsh reality of Emily Brontë’s novel, though its staging is often impressionistic.
Helen Tennison’s adaptation keeps Brontë’s device of the servant Nelly Dean telling much of the story to southerner Mr Lockwood. She begins in the ill-lit kitchen at Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff is polishing his boots while Hindley Earnshaw is asleep at a table across the room. It is a room which seems to have been invaded by the moors outside: ivy clings to the fireplace and furniture, mist swirls below the ceiling.
As Benedict Davies’s music, used extensively to great effect in this production, merges into the wind and storm of Matt Eaton’s sound score we hear a cry above the gale and Heathcliff is alerted. His eyes search the empty air until the shadow of Cathy appears at a fitfully lit window. (...)
Although the script of Helen Tennison’s compact adaptation provides only a filleted version of the novel and its characters' journey, her imaginative production follows its spirit in its evocative and imaginative theatricality that captures some of the wildness of the moors and of Brontë’s novel. (Howard Loxton in British Theatre Guide)
Lincolnshire Echo interviews Jasper Fforde about his literary career. This is what the writer says about The Eyre Affair:
“The trouble is, all my series started as standalones. What happens is someone will say ‘I love this, can we have a sequel’. The Eyre Affair was a standalone and Shades of Grey was originally meant to be as well. The Nursery Crimes was another but when I discover this interesting and exciting world I automatically think ‘what else can you do with it?’. (...)
"I chopped cross genres with The Eyre AffairJane Eyre, time travel, fantasy, crime and sci fi all mixed together. For the most part people say don’t write cross genre but I didn’t know this at that time.
“The important thing about writing The Eyre Affair was I felt the classic had been perhaps adopted by teachers and academics and Jane Eyre was no longer a novel but more a study text. (...)
“I wrote The Eyre Affair for fun and was writing for nearly 11 years before I got published. The only piece of advice I got in the early days was ‘look at the bestseller list and see what is selling’. I always thought that was bad advice to an author. I just wrote what was fun, enjoyable and amusing to me. (...)
“I have no plans when I am writing. I think plans can be very stifling – as soon as you have a plan you feel you have to stick to it. I tend to just start with a ‘narrative dare’ ... what would happen if someone kidnapped Jane Eyre out of the novel?
Yorkshire Post talks about female literary friendships and the website Something Rhymed:
Intrigued, they set up a website to explore their findings. The name Something Rhymed comes from the title of a poem by Jackie Kay, in which she celebrates her friendship with the novelist Ali Smith, and each month the website profiles different pairs of female writing friendships from down the years.
Readers are encouraged to submit their own suggestions and since launching in January the site has attracted thousands of readers from across the world, along with guest posts from well-known authors like Jill Dawson and Kathryn Heyman.
Profiles so far have included Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – often remembered as fierce rivals, but in fact close friends – and in May the focus will switch to Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell.
The Telegraph publishes a (quite bizarre) list with the 20 best British and Irish novels of all time. No Brontës on the list but Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is included.

On we read this story about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FSU's class Passion Through the Ages and Pages: Feminist Theory and the Romance Novel:
I read four sticky-sweet romance novels this spring. And I’m not a bit ashamed of myself.
I temporarily dropped my lifelong literary values and preferences to learn about a much-maligned but highly popular genre. And along the way, I read Jane Eyre—twice. (...)
Why does an extraordinarily well-read literary scholar love bodice rippers? And how do those novels compare to one of the earliest and most lauded romance novels, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? (Fran Conaway)
The Herald reviews the new album by the singer Liz Green:
I think I first heard her singing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights as part of a Glasgow art project, and the comparisons with the revivified Ms Bush are still there.
Bustle and StyleBlazer talk about the latest collection by fashion designer Vera Wang:
For this Spring 2015 collection, she insists that the dresses “just happened to be white,” and emphasizes that they could be worn for anything, not just a wedding ceremony. Perhaps a cultish meeting between sisters (Wang compared the models to the Brontës) in the woods?  (Tori Telfer
The mood and mystery of the film owe some inspiration to the closeness of the Brontë Sisters. (Giselle Childs)
The Bath Chronicle talks about a local production of The Three Sisters by Chekhov:
Chekhov’s masterpiece about three sisters marooned in provincial Russia whilst yearning for the promised land of Moscow was apparently inspired by the situation of the Brontë sisters living in the middle of the Yorkshire moors.
Amica (Italy) describes the recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Donna Tartt, like this:
Ma Donna Tartt ricorda anche certe miniature di Charlotte Brontë (la riga in mezzo, la fronte spaziosa). (Antonella Catena) (Translation)
Horror Magazine (Italy) interviews the author Cristina Astori:
Queste sono infatti le premesse di “Acqua e sangue”, forse la mia prima storia d'amore romantico, ma che del sentimento narra anche i lati oscuri e agghiaccianti, una sorta di Cime tempestose in chiave vampirica. (Translation)
KemzMovies reviews Jane Eyre 2011 and Expasts Post does the same with Wuthering Heights 1939;  Samantha Ellis suggests Miss Temple could have been an excellent womentor; Closed the Cover posts a negative review of the novel Solsbury Hill.

by M. ( at April 16, 2014 03:07 PM

William Morris Unbound

Flowers and Sex

In his still impressive biography of Morris, Jack Lindsay early on mentions ‘a combination that never ceased to excite him: a lovely girl merged with his childhood-imagery of flowers’ (p.4). One of the more inventive literary renderings of that particular fantasy must surely be this passage from D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover: ‘With quiet fingers he [Mellors] threaded a few forget-me-not flowers in the fine brown fleece of the mound of Venus. “There!” he said. “There’s forget-me-nots in the right place!” She [Constance Chatterley] looked down at the milky odd little flowers among the brown maiden hair at the lower tip of her body. “Doesn’t it look pretty!” she said’ (ch.15).

Whether Morris’s famously restless fingers ever occupied themselves threading flowers through Jane Burden’s pubic hair, we do not know (though we do know that pansies were later to be a sexual signal between Jane and W.S. Blunt). Not many Morris biographers have been bold enough to speculate about the details of Morris and Jane’s sex life, though Fiona MacCarthy characteristically pulls no punches in asking: ‘How did the honeymoon work out?’, and concludes rather unsettlingly that ‘Morris’s brusqueness and shyness may well have been a problem, combined with his peculiar jerkiness of movement’ (p.152). Hum, yes, physical jerkiness is certainly not what one wants in bed, so let’s hope that at some point Morris’s woman-plus-flowers fantasy did take the form of Mellor’s gentle floral practices.

by Tony Pinkney ( at April 16, 2014 11:10 AM


Ties of Blood in Toronto

Due to some technical issues, we report regrettably this information quite late. Our apologies to our readers and the people behind the production:
Ties of Blood: the Brontës
Written by Caity Quinn (this is a workshop production of fifty minutes worth of excerpts from the full-length play)
Paprika Festival
At Theatre Passe Muraille (Toronto)
April 7th @7 pm
April 12th @ 1 pm.

Grace Fournier as Anne Brontë
Caity Quinn as Charlotte Brontë
Julia Frith as Emily Brontë
Adrian Zeyl as Branwell Brontë

Directed by Caity Quinn and Will Bartley
Set and costume design by Caity Quinn
Musical Direction: Adrian Zeyl

Dramaturge: Aaron Jan
Mentored by Allyson McMackon

Ties of Blood: The Brontës is a vivid dreamscape that interprets the lives and art of the Brontë siblings, authors of the beloved classics 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre.'
Four artists, four geniuses, four siblings. Conflicting loyalties, forbidden love, and competing affections intersect in this tale of a family torn apart by fame, alcoholism, and the dark twists of fate. Through movement inspired from Japanese Kabuki theatre, live folk music, and text drawn from their diaries, letters, and novels, Ties of Blood presents a mesmerizing glimpse into the tortured world of the Brontës. 
Apparently there will be another performance in London, Ontario next May. 

by M. ( at April 16, 2014 01:31 AM

April 15, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

New Interactive Wonderland eBook by Emmanuel Paletz

I’ve just learned about a new interactive eBook app version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  This one comes from award-winning designer Emmanuel Paletz.  This version draw images from Flemish and Dutch Renaissance paintings to give the eBook a uniquely textured and “classical” look.  It’s like a mash-up of Lewis Carroll and an elegant art history class.  Add a lot of nifty-looking interactions, and you have a creation that should be entertaining for children and adults alike.

To read all about the app, click me.  The app’s website itself is visually delightful, and well worth a look.  Mr. Paletz talks about Lewis Carroll’s appreciation of art, and how images like Quentin Matsys’s famous painting “The Ugly Duchess,” referenced by Tenniel in his illustration. became a touchstone for his whole project.  The entire eBook took Paletz about four years to create– a labor of love.  His Q&A section also talks about subtle political/social commentary that he has added here and there, as well–but nothing too overt to spoil the fun of Carroll’s story.  And that’s a good thing, because as the author himself was quick to point out, in this book he wanted to entertain, not moralize.

The iPad app costs $4.99 and is available now on  iTunes.  An Andoid tablet version (also $4.99)  and versions for iPhone and Android smartphones ($2.99)  will be available in the near future.

Here’s a promotional video for the eBook.  (If it doesn’t appear below, try reloading this page in your web browser.)

by andrew at April 15, 2014 05:28 PM

Latest Disney Alice Film Not Based on Carroll

It should come as no surprise that the latest in Disney’s Johnny Depp-fueled Alice films is not based on Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. The director speaks.

by Matt at April 15, 2014 04:00 PM

The Little Professor

LP in the UK, yet again

A couple of posts down, I mentioned a Good Thing that would involve library research--this being an academic's definition of a Good Thing.  The Good Thing became official as of today: I've received one of my college's "big" fellowships (multiple K instead of multiple hundreds), which will enable me to spend a few weeks in the British Library (and some nearby archives) during my next winter break.  Victorian Catholic novelists, brace yourselves--I'm about to read you.  

by Miriam Burstein at April 15, 2014 03:34 PM


Like the Brontës, 'but without the dying young bit'

Nina Camp mentions in The Huffington Post the first time she read Villette.
And speaking of profound vulnerabilities, did you ever read the Charlotte Brontë novel, Villete (sic)? I read it back when I had an attention span. I was even in the middle of a break-up when I read it. He was 14 years older than me, but in great shape. Financial guy. Naturally athletic. Vital. But we all have stories where we miss the boat and then wait on the shore forever for another boat. [...]
But: Villete (sic,again). I remember sitting on the rug in the vestibule of my apartment reading it. I know where I sat because I remember returning to that spot after I'd gotten off the phone with my then-boyfriend after our third breakup. He'd said, "I love you. And I miss you," and I listened and felt nothing and said, "Ok," and then went back to the vestibule to read.
There's a passage near the beginning. A little girl is sitting on her father's lap. Maybe he's just a father figure. But she's sitting with him, being busy and alert and content. I feel like, if my memory is good, that something disruptive was about to happen to her, but in that moment she was, Brontë wrote, "in a trance of content." He'd given her a little kiss. She'd asked, and he gave it. 
Also, The Huffington Post's daily meditation
features a poem by 19th century English author Charlotte Brontë. The poem inspires us to let hope and courage guide us through the "clouds of gloom" that occasionally arise in life. (Antonia Blumberg)
The poem is Life.

The East End Review reviews the Rosemary Branch's performances of Wuthering Heights in London:
The sense of time winding onwards, and the intricate interweaving of the family’s fates, seemingly inevitably, often catastrophically, is complemented by the cast changes – George Haynes and James Hayward play up to four characters each, whilst Helen Watkinson doubles up as Isabella Linton and young Cathy.
A story like Wuthering Heights could easily become claustrophobic in the close confines of theatre, but Tennison’s production keeps us engaged through the haunting play of light and shadow, jangling music and the portrayal of Cathy and Heathcliff’s raging love. (Phoebe Cooke)
The Guardian's A brief survey of the short story features Jean Rhys and mentions Wide Sargasso Sea in passing:
"Too bitter," Jean Rhys said of her work in 1945. "And besides, who wants short stories?" No one did then, at least not hers. Rhys published her first collection in 1927, and her first novel the following year. In the 1930s came three increasingly dark and accomplished novels, but the better she got, the less she was read. She published nothing for 20 years, until stories began appearing in the London Magazine in the early 1960s. In 1966, her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, brought her acclaim and a degree of financial security at the age of 76. Another two short-story collections appeared before her death in 1979. They include some of the best British short stories of the last century. (Chris Power)
News Talk has a short article on Caitlin Moran's new novel How to Build a Girl.
It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde - fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer - like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës - but without the dying young bit. (Caroline Clarke)
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner includes Oakwell Hall on its list of '15 ways to make the most of Huddersfield's sunny weather'.
5) Pack a picnic for Oakwell Hall and Country Park
Popular with Brontë fans and wildlife enthusiasts alike, Oakwell Hall and Country Park is the perfect spot for a summer picnic.
A favourite spot for dog walkers and horseriders, the Birstall park offers woodland walking trails, plenty of green open space and an adventure playground to keep little ones active. And of course the historic hall, made famous as the inspiration for Fieldhead manor house in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, offers a snapshot of life in the Elizabethan era, surrounded by immaculate gardens.
A tearoom next to the hall serves coffee, cakes and snacks, while two educational visitor centres help youngsters learn more about the wildlife found in the park's woods and ponds. (Samantha Robinson)
Reader, if you would enjoy nothing better than to spend an evening debating feminist themes in Victorian literature, then this is the video (and likely, the comment thread) for you. In this episode of Crash Course, host John Green picks apart Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork, including her personal history, the plot of the novel, and the tip of the interpretive iceberg. Go make some popcorn. (Becky Chambers)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page also links to that video, by the way. And as part of their #weatherwatch, they show two gorgeous pictures of sunny Haworth yesterday: one, two.

by Cristina ( at April 15, 2014 11:51 AM

Brontë Studies. Volume 39. Issue 2

The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 39, Issue 2, April 2014) is already available online. We provide you with the table of contents and abstracts:
pp. iii-iv Author: Adams, Amber M.

Patrick Brontë: the Man who Arrived at Cambridge University
pp. 93–105  Author: Wilks, Brian
This paper discusses the importance in Patrick Brontë’s life of his early years (1777–1802) in County Down, Ireland, an area greatly affected by the tumultuous turmoil in Europe, by violence, treason, sedition and rebellion. The reasons for Patrick’s ‘voluntary exile’ from his home are explored and the impact on him of life at Cambridge University as a sizar assessed. The idea of the family’s separateness is traced to its beginnings in Patrick Brontë’s early years. His compassion and understanding were based on his belief in the rule of law, he having experienced the atrocities and savagery of rebellion in his youth. His singularity of mind, his individualism and dedication to his work as a clergyman, all resulting from his early experiences, influenced and inspired his family.

The Brontës’ Irish Background Revisited
pp. 106–117    Author:  Chitham, Edward 
Interest is again being expressed in the Brontës’ Irish background. A number of points can be added to the research detailed in The Brontës’ Irish Background of 1986 and K. Constable’s A Stranger within the Gates in 2000. An important factor is the definite date now available for Hugh Brunty’s birth. Further to this, new light has been shed on the demography of County Fermanagh by the publication of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs in the 1990s and by more accessible copies of the Irish ‘Tithe Applotment’ and Griffith’s ‘Valuation’ on the Internet. This article brings some of this new material forward as a contribution to the understanding of the Brontes’ family heritage.

The Presentation of Hareton Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights
pp. 118–129       Author: Tytler, Graeme
It is evident from writings published on Wuthering Heights over the past hundred years or so that, in their concern with Hareton Earnshaw, Brontë scholars have tended to focus their attention on his character. But whereas only a handful of scholars have been affirmative in their evaluations of Hareton, a good many others have been somewhat dismissive in theirs, chiefly by comparing him unfavourably with Heathcliff. Yet valid as is this concern with Hareton’s character, there is nevertheless also a need to consider the thematic and structural functions of his role in the narrative. For instance, it is through their relations with Hareton that the author throws useful light on some of the main characters, just as it is through their particular limitations that we become aware of Hareton’s essential wholesomeness. Especially noteworthy is Emily Brontë’s discreet use of sundry references to Hareton, including some seemingly casual ones, in her apparent endeavour to present him as a figure who deserves consideration of a kind more serious than we readers might otherwise be inclined to bestow on him.

Let’s Not Have its Bowels Quite so Quickly, Then: a Response to Maggie Berg
pp. 130–140   Author:  Hornosty, Janina
In ‘“Let me have its bowels then”: Violence, Sacrificial Structure, and Anne Brontës The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, Maggie Berg creates a useful frame in which to examine aspects of the violence that haunts The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and especially Helen Huntingdon’s past. Berg’s main theoretical touchstone is Derrida’s ‘carno-phallogocentric’ paradigm, and she correctly argues that ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall [...] elaborate[s] the psycho-social mechanisms by which men maintain this order, and the costs to its victims’. However, her employment of Anne Brontë’s descriptions of narrator Gilbert Markham is unjustifiably selective. Determined to peg Gilbert as unremittingly part of the carno-phallogocentric brotherhood by which Helen is victimized, Berg misses the ways in which the novel is structured to reveal his transcendence of the values to which he was born. Berg sets her carno-phallogocentric sniffer dogs running through the story, but they tree exactly the wrong man.

Narrating the Queen in Jane Eyre
pp. 141–152    Author:  Fain, Margaret
The autobiographical elements of Jane Eyre have been examined in detail. Charlotte Brontë’s incorporation of contemporary social issues and historical accuracy has also received scrutiny as exemplars of issues in early Victorian England. Despite the intense scrutiny, few commentators have paused to consider whether Charlotte Brontë also drew upon the public image of the young Queen Victoria when developing the character of Jane Eyre.

pp. 153-161  

Recent Brontë Books for Children
pp. 162-164     Author: Duckett, Bob

by M. ( at April 15, 2014 01:22 AM

April 14, 2014

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion April 1814

The first of our fashion plates for this month is a Promenade Dress. It makes sense that we are starting to think about walking in Spring.

This is from Ackermann's for April and the description is as follows.

A fine cambric round robe, with high bodice and long sleeves, not so full as of late; embroidered stomacher front and high collar, trimmed with muslin or lace; a Tuscan border of needle-work at the feet.

 A Cossack mantle of pale ruby, or blossom-coloured velvet, lined with white sarsnet, and trimmed entirely round with a broad skin of light sable, ermine, seal, or the American squirrel; a short tippet of the same; the mantle confined at the throat with a rich correspondent silk cord and tassels, very long.

A mountain hat of velvet, the colour of the mantle, finished round the verge with a narrow Vandyke trimming: a small flower placed in the hair beneath, on the left side.

Half-boots the colour of the mantle; and gloves of primrose kid or pale tan.

I thought this quite pretty. And I was interested in the term, mountain hat and the use of American squirrel.

Until next time.....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at April 14, 2014 12:00 PM


Looking Upward at Covent Garden

Best tip of the day (and the week) from the Covent Garden Tube Twitter @CoventGdnTube:
At the start of the week Charlotte Brontë steers us to focus anew and tweak our bearings with this #QOTD
Kate Bush's upcoming live tour is still the subject of articles in praise. Like this one in The Independent (Ireland):
Writers of a certain philosophical bent seem to view experiencing Ms Bush in their youth as a rite of passage. "For more than 30 years, Kate Bush's voice seems to have come out of nowhere," recalled Tim Adams in The Observer in 2010. "I remember the first time I heard it; the release of Wuthering Heights in 1978 coincided with my third year at grammar school in Birmingham, studying Emily Brontë's novel in our English lessons. We were 13, it was a boys' school; hormones were running high. Bush seemed, uncannily, to be talking just to us." Indeed, had Pink Floyd's David Gilmour not taken a musical shine to the 16-year-old chanteuse from Bexleyheath, Kent, and recommended her to his record company EMI, her 1978 debut single, Wuthering Heights, would never have come about. (Barry Egan)
The Telegraph celebrates that John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is 75 years today and remembers that
The book was published on Friday April 14, 1939, on the same day that the film Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier, had its premiere in New York.

by M. ( at April 14, 2014 11:54 AM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


London Nineteenth Century Seminar Graduate Conference 2014 Saturday 26th April, The Court Room, Senate House Registration now open at A day for graduate students from London and beyond to […]

by Jo Taylor at April 14, 2014 10:40 AM

The Little Professor

Is blogging "scholarship"? Redux redux etc. etc.

The question has returned from the dead yet again.  At this point, I am tempted to suggest that the answer is "blogging is scholarship whenever an academic reader decides that it is"; some of my blog posts have found their way into the footnotes of peer-reviewed publications, for example, and one of them was even the partial topic of a conference paper last summer (!), so...presumably they have "become" scholarly, despite their conspicuous lack of peer review? Or does online readership count as open source peer review? In any event, under the circumstances, it seemed silly to leave the blog entirely off my CV, so I stuck it under "Miscellaneous Writing."  (It's not this thing, it's that thing, it's...some other thing.)

At most, I think of my scholarly posts as drafts-in-public--or, if you like, as performances of scholarly process.  In that sense, they're "scholarship," but they aren't "scholarship" in the sense of "does my university 'count' this as scholarship when I apply for a merit bonus."  (Which makes me wonder if by "scholarship" we mean "what my university counts as such on an annual report.")  For example, I've done a couple of Bronte-related posts over the past few weeks, which relate directly to the article I'm working on (and, um, am supposed to be finished with by now).  But the article doesn't simply repackage the blog posts--if anything, what once occupied an entire and reasonably substantial post now boils down to a few entirely-revised sentences.  Similarly, Book Two draws on some material I posted on Scott, but the material in the book bears not much resemblance to the original blog post, aside from working from the same quotation.  There's certainly an argument to be made that drafting in public serves a useful function beyond any feedback, but the results are still only the first stage of what I would consider a finished product.  

by Miriam Burstein at April 14, 2014 01:18 AM


Romanticism, Matrimony and the Woman Question

A new scholar book with some Brontë-related content:
Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Victorian Literature
Edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno
Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 978-1-4422-3233-4 • Hardback
March 2014

Victorian literature’s fascination with the past, its examination of social injustice, and its struggle to deal with the dichotomy between scientific discoveries and religious faith continue to fascinate scholars and contemporary readers. During the past hundred years, traditional formalist and humanist criticism has been augmented by new critical approaches, including feminism and gender studies, psychological criticism, cultural studies, and others.

In Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Victorian Literature, twelve scholars offer new assessments of Victorian poetry, novels, and nonfiction. Their essays examine several major authors and works, and introduce discussions of many others that have received less scholarly attention in the past. General reviews of the current status of Victorian literature in the academic world are followed by essays on such writers as Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, and the Brontë sisters. These are balanced by essays that focus on writing by women, the development of the social problem novel, and the continuity of Victorian writers with their Romantic forebears.

Most importantly, the contributors to this volume approach Victorian literature from a decidedly contemporary scholarly angle and write for a wide audience of specialists and non-specialists alike. Their essays offer readers an idea of how critical commentary in recent years has influenced—and in some cases changed radically—our understanding of and approach to literary study in general and the Victorian period in particular. Hence, scholars, teachers, and students will find the volume a useful survey of contemporary commentary not just on Victorian literature, but also on the period as a whole.
Contains the chapters:
5. Victorian Romanticism: The Brontë Sisters, Thomas Carlyle, and the Persistence of Memory by Laura Dabundo.
8. Matrimony, Property and the "Woman Question" in Anne Brontë and Mary Elizabeth Braddon by Amy J. Robinson.

by M. ( at April 14, 2014 01:56 AM

April 13, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Royal Ballet Invites ZooNation to Create Hip-Hop Tea Party for 2014 Holiday Season

Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

London’s Royal Ballet will remount their acclaimed production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland during the 2014 holiday season.  And in a clever cross-marketing move, the Ballet has also invited popular hip hop dance company ZooNation to present their own “hip” (and “hop,” presumably) version of the tale, The Mad Hatter’s T Party, in their smaller theatre downstairs at the same time.  Twice the Carrollian fun for theatre and dance (and Alice) fans!

For more information, click me.

by andrew at April 13, 2014 01:00 PM


A Gift of a Production

What's Peen Seen? reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre Wuthering Heights adaptation:
Where to start? I am bursting with praise for this production. As soon as you enter the modest pub theatre you feel as though you have stepped into another world. Foliage adorns the fireplace and furniture, and a thick fog lingers in the air. The hypnotic score and haunting sound effects, provided by the irrefutably talented Benedict Davis and Matt Eaton respectively, top off this ethereal atmosphere. (...)
This is a gift of a production. [Helen] Tennison has used this strong company to their advantage. She mixes the themes of destructive love and social expectations into this haunting play, adding in hints of her own movement background to create a beautiful and expressive spectacle. I cannot wait to see what this company does next. (Jess Nesling)
Il Manifesto (Italy) reviews the Italian translation of Jane, le renard et moi:
Pro­fon­da­mente poe­tica, Jane, la volpe & io delle cana­desi Isa­belle Arse­nault (illu­stra­trice) e Fanny Britt (autrice) è una gra­phic novel por­tata in Ita­lia da Mon­da­dori (pp. 100, euro 16) che l’anno scorso è stata indi­cata tra le prime dieci più belle del 2013 dal New York Times. In effetti, lo è sul serio. Vuoi per quei «riqua­dri» in un bianco e nero anti­chiz­zante, o leg­ger­mente sep­piati, che ren­dono uni­ver­sale la sen­sa­zione di soli­tu­dine di qual­siasi ado­le­scente (con le incur­sioni del colore quando entra in scena Jane Eyre, alter-ego e imma­gine di un riscatto pos­si­bile), vuoi per il testo che sot­to­li­nea la malin­co­nia esi­sten­ziale della pro­ta­go­ni­sta, che vede sbia­dire la sua iden­tità e il suo pre­ce­dente mondo, giorno dopo giorno. (Arianna DiGenova) (Translation)
vvb32 reads reviews Always Emily by Michaela MacColl; My Reading Journal has read Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë; BuzzFeed compiles some appalling one-star  reviews of classics (Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights included); The Bees Knees Daily shares a Hollywood Magazine cover of May 1939 with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon as Heathcliff and Catherine.

by M. ( at April 13, 2014 11:58 AM

The Kissed Mouth

Review: The De Morgans and the Sea

On Friday, the smallest Walker and I went to Mr Walker's place of work and visited the lovely new exhibition, The De Morgans and the Sea.  The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth have turned over two spacious rooms to a display of the work of Evelyn and William De Morgan.

The husband and wife team had an extraordinary creative partnership and shared the theme of the sea in many of their works.  Where better to see them than in the cliff-top art gallery, overlooking a glorious golden beach?

Display of ceramics

Starting with William De Morgan, his pots and tiles are in deliciously resplendent colours.  He made the most amazing tiles showing fanciful medieval ships, taken from manuscripts, woodcuts and engravings...

One of my favourite pieces was this jar in ruby and gold-lustre earthenware showing curls and swirls of fish swimming around its plump figure...

There is a very 'touchable' quality to De Morgan's pots (which of course you can't indulge in!) because they are so marvellously three dimensional.  Somehow they manage to strike the right balance between tasteful and insane, and although they have a very Victorian aesthetic, the beautiful and subtle colours make them timeless.  I want a fish jar. It's so gorgeous.  Some of his tiles were used on P&O liners when he was employed by the company from 1882 to 1900 and his tiles decorated the public rooms of twelve of their liners, enhancing their sumptuous interiors.  Sadly none of the ships have survived, but a number of duplicate tiles were created and are on display at the exhibition.

The cabinet of treasures
I loved this cabinet as it showed both De Morgan's work together, Evelyn's painted frieze and William's pots, which leads me on to Evelyn and her beautiful pieces.  You will be familiar with the Russell-Cotes' De Morgan, Aurora Triumphans...

Aurora Triumphans (1886)
Mmmm, angel-y.  When you look at some of De Morgan's paintings, the seaside setting is very subtle.  Take for example this one...

Lux in Tenebris (1895)
Lux in Tenebris or 'Light in Darkness' shows an angelic figure bringing light and hope in the form of an angel with a laurel branch.  In the darkness below her feet lurks a crocodile, symbolising the Devil and peril.  Further to this, she is floating above some rather terrible looking rocks while the placid sea laps around.  The canvas is very dark but the angel glows in her pale golden gown.  De Morgan is telling us that life is a mixture of calm and trouble, hope and darkness, reflecting her interesting in Spiritualism.

The Sea Maidens (1885-86)
Goodness me.  The story behind this (should you need a story to justify that amount of boobage) is that the Little Sea Maid, on the left, was distraught when the Prince declared that he didn't love her.  Her five older sisters sold their hair to the Sea Witch in exchange for a knife so that the Little Sea Maid could go and kill her feckless Prince and return to her watery home.  Instead the Sea Maid killed herself rather than harm the man she loved.

This is lovely in the (everso abundant) flesh, and the mermaids, all painted from the same model, the De Morgan's Maid, are icily beautiful and remote.  The sea is deep and inky blue, contrasting with the pearly skin of the girls and the scales of their tails reflect the light below the water.  It is wonderful.

Ariadne in Naxos (1877)
Her choice of classical subjects made use of her love of the shoreline and here we have Ariadne waking up on Naxos to find that she picked a rubbish boyfriend.  Usually she is pictured having a right tizzy because the ratweasel Theseus has gone off with another woman but De Morgan shows her as miserable as a woman awaiting lie-detector results on Jeremy Kyle.  It's actually an uncomfortably accurate portrayal of a wronged woman, internalising her pain, unsurprised and listless.  It's okay Ariadne, something better will be along in a minute...

Boreas and Oreithyia (1896)
I'll finish with what must be my favourite image from the exhibition, Boreas and Oreithyia.  Boreas, the Greek god of the North wind, fell in love with Oreithyia, daughter of the King of Athens.  When the normal chat-ups didn't work, he fell back on the traditional pick-up and fly-off.  Charming.  When I saw this, I actually understood how people could mistake De Morgan's work for Burne-Jones, especially in the figure of Boreas.  He is painted from Alessandro di Marco, the model for The Beguiling of Merlin by Burne-Jones, and he does look rather splendid with a pair of wings.

The exhibition is definitely worth a visit and it does give you a chance to see the rest of the marvellous museum at the same time.  The De Morgans and the Sea runs from 1st April until 28th September and further information can be found on the Rusell-Cotes home page here.

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 13, 2014 05:40 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


A masquerade: The Ball of the Yew Trees

Friends and readers,

Herewith my third report on the past ASECS conference at Williamsburg. The morning after the masquerade ball, I was up by 7:30 am as I knew two sessions included papers I did not want to miss. Without intending it, I spent a morning listening to papers about the unjust treatment meted out to women by law and custom — if we include the actual content of Burney D’Arblay’s The Wanderer, a session alive with the excitement of the individuals with their text. After lunch I met the editors of the coming complete edition of Anne Finch and heard some of her poetry sung aloud — not for the first time; I had myself participated in writing a script of her songs for a musica dolce group using later 17th and early 18th century musical instruments in the 1990s. And there was a walk along Colonial Williamsburg where people read aloud from documents either read aloud at the time of the revolution or delivered and read silently as momentous and (for the participants) dangerous events went on.

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea

“Paper Cuts: Criminality, Violence and 18th century Judicial Reform” turned out to have three papers whose focus was violence and economic injustice inflicted on women as permitted by laws and customs. Peter Mello’s “Searching the Garrett: Jane Barker, John Stanhope, and Religious Law after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion:” in going through archives from 1714/15 Prof. Mello discovered on 20 July a marquis received a letter from Stanhope: the pretender’s forces were aroused, and he outlined measures to take against recusants. The inhabitants of Lincolnshire for the previous 60 years had seen action taken against local matters: prostitution, theft, having a babies born outside marriage. Now state matters like demanding people take oaths against the pope began to be enforced. Inaction had been the rule on anti-papal laws; in 1715 the Papist Act forced registration of papists. Overt acts of persecution ensued. So just before the rebellion began parliament had begun practices which anticipate modern methods of control. Jane Barker was Catholic and feared inclusion; her property could be hurt; to have a stable and horses taken from you was a substantial loss. She went silent for about 8 years. From a hopeful Jacobite waiting for the return of her king Barker became a writer about the anxiety and results of living as a Catholic in England. These stories were held together as a patchwork quilt. Her heroine, Belinda, was at risk, as she tried to “pass”. Marriage in this collection is used as an analogy of political behavior: those who don’t marry are at risk of prosecution or imprisonment; when she marries, she ends up in disaster and calamity.

Helen Allingham, Fruit Stall, early 20th century Venice

Ana Maria Diaz Burgos’ “Slanderos words and violent deeds: Female victims and perpetrators in 18th century Peru:” from 1543-1821 many cases of misery and violence inflicted on women and women trying to defend themselves under siege and gain some social standing in Lima records. There were 151 cases where emotional and physical violence were imposed on women. In one case of physical violence the female victims were allowed to sue; women themselves uttered violent words to gain attention and protection. Prof. Burgos looked at who were the witnesses and how the events were portrayed, how women explained relationships they had with attackers. She told of a case of attempted rape and homicide where the woman denounced the brutal regime itself: the woman was badly injured; the man thought he had the right to beat her; the law required 6 indigenous witnesses and she had only 4: he said these witnesses were relatives and friends and thus biased; She said he had chosen a day when she was relatively unprotected. In the second case an altercation arose between women who had a history of quarrels; we get a picture of the narrow alleys, small houses, the squares where neighbors hung out; one dangerously accused the other of whoredom and witchcraft and one of them had to pay restitution; one had more witnesses, the other a daughter of under 25. The words are not quoted (as too defamatory). In these records we can hear the voices of lower class women.

After the rape, Clarissa washing herself (1991 Clarissa, scripted David Nokes, Saskia Wickham)

Mary Trouille’s “Evolution in Rape Laws and Attitudes towards sexual assault in the 18th century:” Men have often imposed sex on women through violence; the crime is now more visible than it once was, but one can construct a history of rape in pre-revolutionary France. Women were not considered as actors in their own right; if she came from the lower ranks she was ignored. Age, social status, reputation all played a role in whether a rape could be prosecuted. Forcible rape among the haute bourgeois and aristocracy was taken seriously; seen as a crime against the property of a father or husband; women as property were damaged as this threatened the sure legitimacy of the heirs born to them (modern variant: honor-killing). Punishments could be severe: burning at the stake; you could be drawn and quartered on a wheel, and less gruesome forms of capital punishment. Rather than risk shaming someone or a family the charges would be downgraded. Gradually attitudes shifted so rape seen as a crime against a person who has right to autonomy, and the focus begins to be the rape victim. There was a gap between the reality and heightened attention; the law did not distinguish between kinds of consent; less weight to testimony than medical records; when rape committed on a pre-pubsecent girl it was regarded as a crime and prosecuted more vigorously. People began to require examination of the victim. From 1791 the Napoleonic code demands proof of rape, unequal strength, cries for help, traces of violence on the body. 1803 there is a move backwards; hard to have 4 witnesses.Rape cases accounted for little more than 1% of what was prosecuted. We see a turning point in attitudes towards dissolute aristocrats: the public was apparently distressed to see a horrible crime go unpunished because the perpetrator was a high status male. There is still a popular belief in the untrue idea that in custom a lord had the right to deflower a girl who lived on his property on the first night of her marriage; it was in the 18th century these false beliefs took hold. There was greater determination to prosecute violence.

Prof Trouille then went over some high profile cases of sexual assault involving aristocrats. 1733 a chambermaid attacked by a marquis and his brother who broken into the house; the man was angry when he was ignored by the prosecutor; in the end there were royal pardons and the woman was imprisoned for taking money from her attacker (a bribe to be silent). In a second case of a Duke’s abduction and rape of a Parisian shopkeeper’s daughter, he followed her from church, gave her gifts, went after her mother. It reads like an episode from a Sade novel: he had a rape machine which held her upside down with her legs tied; the behavior of the libertines cold and calculating. The judicial procedure was suspended after the Duke offered money. In another case a count’s wife paid the victim in another case where the man raped his chambermaid in a carriage (perhaps Valmont modeled on this). Sade as emblematic dominates the landscape of these stories: the most notorious case (1768) when on a Sunday a girl was abducted, raped, beaeten, hot liquid poured over her wounds and she fled to and reached magistrates with her story. Sade said she was a prostitute, and she that he had offered her money after she lost her job in a textile factory. The story was elaborated into a myth — Sade supposed to have used a crucifix; it’s still being discussed by Deffand and Walpole. Charges were withdrawn in return for payment of a substantial sum of money, but Sade’s mother-in-law used a lettre de cachet to imprison him; he would be imprisoned for life. Booksellers provided indignant accounts as an illustration of the impunity enjoyed by the high placed male. Sade’s wife helped him escape to Italy; she was among the strangely complicit wives (eventually divorced).

The talk afterward was instructive. A legal historian asked Prof Mello about the non-enforcement of the laws against Catholics before 1715: among other things said: after the Monmouth rebellion there was a reaction against the savagery inflicted on the suspected; and after 1715 we see an attempt to put “the right” people into office. Prof. Burgos said Lima was a port where there was much corruption in the markets. As to rape, someone talked of a recent article in Past and Present where the figure of 80-90% acquittal was claimed; to prove rape you had to prove ejaculation; those who won had help from witnesses; repeatedly there were partial verdicts on lesser charges; the sexism is seen in the way women’s low status made them not believed. We see Richardsonian complexes of feeling; when a brutal male like Charteris was successfully convicted, he was pardoned by the king. Prof Trouille said middle class males were able to get cases dismissed completely because the magistrate was reluctant to prosecute harsh laws. We see minor differences between states but the same patterns emerge. The panel moderator talked of the difficulty of proving spousal abuse; midwives did testify to abusive husbands; bruises then had to be aggravated. It is true that parishes drove women from one parish to another in order to avoid supporting them or their children.

Anonymous print

The experience of the masquerade the night before seemed to seep into the session of Francis Burney’s D’Arblay’s The Wanderer. I was not alone in remembering Cecilia that night. I found myself sitting next to someone who recognized me from the night before but I had not recognized her as the woman who told me about her paper on tuberculosis and women’s beauty.

To the papers: Tara Ghoshal Wallace spoke of how the real history of the era is reflected in The Wanderer, a text conceived during the height of the French revolution. In FBDA’s writing outside this novel she insists that politics remains outside her sphere, yet she writes a recusant narrative, and in her diaries of how she rescued her papers as she was crossing the channel. Prof Wallace talked of “rupture” in the novel as history entering through the margins of the novel; e.g., the text punishes those who travel to France as frivolous tourists who want to find favorite famous spots. Diane Boyd talked of how The Wanderer conveyed paranoia, commenting on key scenes of intense anxiety and discomfort for the heroine. Shen then told of her study mapping the text using computer programs finding clouds of words and diagramming their frequency. The graph for Book I shows violent ambivalence over women working: Juliette had trouble finding a place in the shop, networking. Hired as musician, she is reluctant to perform in public and stays with private families, hoping to pass unobserved and yet she attracts intense attention. The graph shows violent swings over aging, public performance. Juliette is in a double bind: she must pay to learn so go into business; we see how inadequate her learning because she lacks theoretical knowledge; her working conditions sound terrible, she is often anxious about her inability to support herself. FBDA has a source information about a famous French milliner. Juliette flits from place to place: liberty is a source of difficulty. Juliette a kind of female Robinson Crusoe and her novel one which keeps some realities of work for money for women before us.

Francis Burney D’Arblay, The Wanderer; or Female Difficulties (as edited by Margaret Doody)

Elaine Bander’s paper was rather different: she went over the comedy of The Wanderer, expatiating on Sir Jasper. She argued for the influence of Pope’s Rape of the Lock. We see a complex of characters’ relationships evolving over the novel: Jasper’s inconsistency enables him to read Juliette’s character subtly; he is a guardian as the sylphs are guardians over Belinda; he tells her not to take an aversion to him; under her redemptive influence, Jasper helps her. Prof Bander also talked of the ending of the novel in Stonehenge and an Abbey. (Later Diane Boyd said the word cloud for “Harleigh” the hero was huge.)

Lastly Catherine Parisian discovered from the history of sales and descriptions of costs of printing The Wanderer that the book actually did well; the problem was how large it was and the costs of printing it; the book failed to meet the publisher’s high expectations & outlay. She offered fascinating details (who got what sums, how many copies of a book printed, typical length) that enabled her to compare the various earnings for The Wanderer with how a novel by Anna Maria Porter and Alicia Lacey (a novel) did. At the same time Burney D’Arblay wrote her brother that she had never read or chanced to meet with one word on the subject, and she never expected the book to find favor in the world or enjoy “the partiality” its “Elder sisters” had enjoyed. We know that she was energized by her obsessive suspicion the publisher was cheating her (as the publisher for Cecilia had, she felt) and got a good price.” It’s a book that resembles books of the 1790s; Napoleon had just abdicated when it was published so the publisher had over-estimated “how the market would perform” at that juncture.

There was not much time for talk afterward as a group; I did talk and sit with the organizer of the session, Cheryl Clark, who sat with me to listen to the Clifford lecture and then came with me to the luncheon where we sat together and talked of Burney studies some more.

Benjamin Lay (1677-1760).

There are just a few notes from Marcus Redicker’s rousing (almost preacher-like) talk on the remarkable abolitionist, Benjamin Lay. Prof Redicker opened with an anecdote typifying Lay’s behavior, outlook, status (or class): in 1738 he took a look walk to attend an annnual meeting of Quakers, which would include many slave-owners, where he decried slavery and performed a theatrical act which got people’s attention. He was thrown out. Prof Redicker emphasized how Lay used forms of guerilla theater to call attention to his causes, e.g., he kidnapped a couple’s child and arrived at the distraught parents’ cottage, he said to all who were there this is what it is to be a slave who can be sold at any time. Another time he smashed delicate tea cups in a market place to point to the connection between these and the mistreatment of slaves. 1677 Lay was born to Quaker parents in Colchester England, he worked as a shepherd, and active on behalf of the revolutionary people after the Civil War; he was a farm laborer, a seaman until he was 33; in 1717 ex-communicated by the Society of Friends (he would go to services and be disruptive); he and his wife lived in Barbados for 14 years: there he came into direct contact with half-starved, wretched slaves who would steal and he remained haunted by what he saw. He lived a long time in Philadelphia, he died 1759 at the age of 82. In physique he was a dwarf, 4 feet 11 inches high with a large head, and might be called disabled; his wife was a dwarf too and an active abolitionist. Benjamin Franklin published Lay’s vehement uncompromising anti-slavery, All Slavekeepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates. He paid small attention to genre, so this work combines autobiography, tract, bibliography, scathing denunciations of quakerism as really practice, quotations from his commonplace book. The absence of sources (people don’t write down the terrible things they do) never bothered Lay who liked also to point out analogies between slaves’ lives and that of the workers in English mills. Lay opposed the death penalty, refused to eat meat (animals are God’s creation), boycotted sugar. Writers who influenced him included Edward Burrow. He was known widely and in his last years was something of a hermit and lived in a cave with a huge library. During the discussion Prof Brycchan Carey (who has researched into Lay’s life and works and written about him) brought up Lay’s significance for vegetarianism (Lay was far ahead of his time in his understanding of the politics of consumption). He has been a subject hard to research.

It was then time to go to the women’s caucus lunch. I can report the women just rejoiced at the terrific success of the evening before, the amount of money gotten, and made plans for next year: the 40th anniversary of the caucus deserved a party. All the tables were filled and we picked topics for next year, and good conversation was had.


For the afternoon sessions and “re-enactments” and walk in the set of blocks that make up Colonial Williamsburg, see comments.


by ellenandjim at April 13, 2014 03:42 AM


Reconstructing Emily Brontë's Poetry

An current exhibition in Dublin explores deconstruct and reconstruct iconic poetric with visual art. Among them a well known Emily Brontë poem:
4 April  - 19 April, 2014
The Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
The Concept

I’ve always been fascinated with the question: “What if?”  What if we did that another way? What if something we valued suddenly became something of no value or vice versa? What if the same words could tell a totally different story?
Several months ago, under the dark of night, a ‘what if’ conversation led to an idea…What if I could take apart stories and rebuild them to tell completely different ones? This led to an experiment…which repeated itself several times over…leading to countless conversations…which turned into bigger and bigger things…until it became…Conversations|Reconstructed.For me, I have to pursue writing and art in the same way I pursue breathing. It must happen to stay alive. This project is the next breath in our pursuit of creating, pushing boundaries and collaboration. We have been awed by where it has already taken us, and we are eager to see where it will continue to lead us as artists and creators.

The Questions & The Details

What if I could take apart some of the greatest poems and use those words to reconstruct completely new stories? Could it be done? Could I do it? Would the words be able to tell different stories? Would I lose my voice if I could not choose my words, not a single one? Do words have enough meaning to tell different stories while they stay the same?
These are all the questions I asked myself as I began this journey. It was frustrating not to be able to choose my words but, as I started doing it, I saw the words, the same words, telling new and different stories.
Once I completed a couple reconstructions it became very apparent I needed visual artists to help bring my stories to life. As each artist joined the project, (Illustrator, Sculptor, Graphic Designer, Painter, Lino Cutter/Digital Printer, and Street Artist) a beautiful collaboration began between these artists, my reconstructions and the iconic poets. Not only were we able to bring the poem sets to life visually (“poem set” being the term we use to describe an original poem, de-constructed word list and reconstructed poem), but each artist involved used the words to inspire their own story.
You will recognize some of the greatest poets of all time in the works: Yeats, Kipling, Henley, Dickenson, Hughes, Frye, Brontë, Poe, Donne, & Frost.
As our team comes from various places in the world, you will also find an international flavour to our exhibition which brings an added dimension to these conversations.
I worried about the constrained creativity this project entailed. I mean, come on, a writer who doesn’t choose any of her own words?! I won’t lie, it was a struggle, but I discovered even when you constrain creativity, creativity will not be constrained. Words carry meaning individually, and words together tell stories. You take them apart, put them back together and they can tell completely new stories. These stories then take on imagery, collaboration and multiple interpretations. Soon you find you are having new conversations out of the old ones!
Stacey Covell posts one of her contributions here:
Can you guess which iconic poem this came from? Michelle [Perera] did a beautiful job! Come to the show or get an Art Book to find out!

If you don't remember Emily Brontë's The night is darkening round me, you can read it here.

by M. ( at April 13, 2014 01:54 AM

April 12, 2014

Jane Austen's World

Les Merveilleuses, by carle vernet

During the late 18th century, early 19th century, trains on gowns were de rigueur. I chose to show the two gowns below, since the styles were popular when Jane Austen was a teenager (first image) and wrote the first editions of Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice (second and third images). As […]

by Vic at April 12, 2014 02:26 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

A Walk from Stoke Newington to Stratford

A photo blog of today's walk ... click on the image for more details ...

by Lee Jackson ( at April 12, 2014 01:33 PM


Funny Games in the Heights

The Herald talks about the Chinese writer Yiyun Li:
What the Chinese can't know - unless they read her in her adopted tongue in which she is so breathtakingly fluent - is that Li is unique. Her superb new novel, Kinder Than Solitude, has drawn comparisons with Charlotte Brontë's Villette, as well as Chekhov, Alice Munro and Patricia Highsmith. Actually, it is unlike any other book I've read, despite Li's calm, uncluttered prose and obvious love of 19th-century storytelling, stemming from her passion for Russian literature, particularly Tolstoy, Turgenev and, inevitably, Chekhov. (Jackie McGlone
The Summerville Journal Scene remembers how
Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara all carried reticules. These small, pouch-like bags were often made of net, beaded, closed and carried by drawstrings. In those days they contained such things as snuff-boxes, a sweet note or love letter known as a billet-doux, handkerchiefs, fans, prayer-books, and bon-bons. (Barbara Lynch Hill)
Talking about unlikely comparisons here comes a totally unexpected one: Michael Haneke's Funny Games and Wuthering Heights. On Teen Ink:
In a way, the end, signaling the beginning, is almost like Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, a novel that expounds upon the cyclical nature of revenge and love. (rots28)
But thinking about it... Michael Haneke could be a not so crazy option to film a Wuthering Heights version.

The Journal announces that the 2014 edition (May 2-4) of the Gateshead International Festival of Theatre will include:
Peter McMaster with his award-winning all-male version of Wuthering Heights. (Barbara Hodgson)
The Times has an article about Mia Wasikowska and remembers the words of Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes 2012 ceremony:
In fact, Streep, famously, departed from her 2012 Golden Globes acceptance speech for The Iron Lady, by announcing, apropos of nothing in particular, "What about Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre?". The actress, typically, was not watching at the time, and had to be informed via an agent's e-mail - "It was still the coolest thing ever, because she's the ultimate actress." (Kevin Maher)
Città Nuova (Italy) presents the new Italian translation of Jane Eyre with the introduction by Tracy Chevalier:
Charlotte Brontë, “Jane Eyre”, Neri pozza, euro 12,90 – Una fanciulla umile e inerme, un uomo burbero, se non crudele, una passione inaspettata, su uno sfondo di una grande casa che nasconde un segreto scabroso: sono gli ingredienti che rendono questa storia avvincente e – accanto a Grandi speranze di Dickens e Orgoglio e pregiudizio della Austen – un classico del XIX secolo, che si mantiene costantemente ai vertici delle classifiche di vendita e ha dato origine a innumerevoli adattamenti cinematografici e televisivi, opere, musical, balletti. Sarà che questo personaggio creato dalla timida figlia di un parroco dello Yorkshire ha tratti di modernità e sentimenti lo rendono universale. Il romanzo, qui in nuova traduzione, è introdotto da un’altra famosa scrittrice: Tracy Chevalier. (Gianfranco Restelli) (Translation)
An interesting announcement from the Brontë Parsonage:
 10 de abr.Next week on Facebook and Twitter we are doing a at the Parsonage. Look out for wuthering photos and hopefully sunny ones too! 
Jack Hargreaves has updated the group photo of the Facebook group I Love Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage;  Second Bookshelf on the Right reviews the upcoming YA book Carly Keene, Literary Detective: Braving the Brontës by Katherine Rue; El Blog Perdido de Laura (in Spanish) reviews Jane Eyre; Dark Readers posts about Trisha Ashley's Finding Mr Rochester ebook; Rosie's Period Journal posts a Jane Eyre 1983 photo gallery.

by M. ( at April 12, 2014 01:17 PM

The wild, windy Yorkshire Moors in a poky pub theatre in north London

The Guardian mourns the death - yesterday - of author Sue Townsend.
She could not read until she was eight. It was her mother who taught her with Richmal Crompton’s William books – the inspiration behind Adrian. After failing the 11-plus she went to a secondary modern, South Wigston high school. She left at 15 but kept reading. She devoured Woolworth’s Classics (Jane Eyre, Heidi and co) and moved on to Russian and American literature. (Kate Kellaway)
EDIT: The Telegraph adds:
Having started on Richmal Crompton’s Just William, she quickly graduated to Jane Eyre, and from there to Dostoevsky. “Jane Eyre was the first book I read right through, non-stop,” she said. “It was winter, freezing cold, and I remember seeing this thin light outside and realising it was dawn. I got dressed reading, walked to school reading and finished it in the cloakroom at lunchtime. It was riveting.”
Another writer, Emma Chase, is a fan of Wuthering Heights, as she says on USA Today's Happy Ever After.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. My go-to read for passion, drama and self-destructive main characters. I first read Wuthering Heights when I was 16, but to this day I'm still enthralled by this story that shows love has the power to heal or decimate. And that the person we love holds our happiness in the palm of their hand. (Joyce Lamb)
The Leader (Australia) tells about singer Sophie Hanlon's influences:
Her diverse musical influences have included Gershwin, Vera Lynn and Traffic, and her lyrics have been influenced by the prose of the Brontë sisters.
The Stage reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre production of Wuthering Heights.
It’s quite a challenge to evoke the wild, windy Yorkshire Moors in a poky pub theatre in north London, but led by director/adaptor Helen Tennison, this production rises to the challenge in spectacular style.
The cast of six doesn’t just throw on a variety of random wigs to play multiple roles, the doubling up has a clear, well-executed structure, with George Haynes in particular demonstrating his skills of diversity, alternating between the gentlemanly Edgar Linton, the bullied Linton Heathcliff, the gruff Joseph and the gentle Hareton with ease. Although the cast members are all strong, his performance of a range of contrasting roles is a highlight - it really does feel as if there are a greater number of characters on stage, such is Haynes’ power to convince.
Jack Benjamin, in one of literature’s most powerful roles, manages to capture Heathcliff’s joy in the company of Cathy. His distress at their separation is both disturbing and poignant. As the object of his eternal devotion, Lucinda Lloyd projects both Cathy’s effervescence and her despair - the moments when she loses control of herself are an intense experience, particularly in such a small space, but Lloyd completely goes for it, exposing Cathy’s emotional fragility wonderfully.
Lastly, it’s good to see a few believable fight scenes. Heads bang against walls and jaws look like they could really be broken, so special mention must go to fight director Phillip D’Orleans for a job well done. (Catherine Usher)
Old Gold & Black looks at the hidden treasures to be found at Wake Forest University.
For those more interested in 19th century works, there is a first edition Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Brontë. Though, since it is the original, the pseudonym Currer Bell is used. The use of a pseudonym adds a whole new experience to the reader. (Lindsey Gallinek)
The Evening Standard has an article on TB and reminds us of some of the disease's most famous victims:
TB — aka consumption, scrofula or Pott’s disease — has plagued mankind for centuries. We tend to think of its victims as a dead poets’ society: Keats struck down at 25, the Brontës and their congested lungs, Chekhov carried off with a cough. It’s the disease of Les Mis, La Bohème and George Gissing’s New Grub Street. Yet a third of the world’s population is currently infected with it and London is western Europe’s TB capital. (Rosamund Urwin)
What Shall We Blog About Today? posts about Jane Eyre and CrashCourse reviews it. Crumpets and Marmalade links to her YouTube video review of Wuthering Heights while VVB32Reads is giving away a copy of the BabyLit edition of the novel. Reading Like I'm Feasting writes about Agnes Grey.

by Cristina ( at April 12, 2014 12:39 PM

Jill Anderson's Brontë in Nebraska

Albion, Nebraska could seem an unlikely place to be connected with the Brontës, but today, April 12, there will be a performance of William Luce's Brontë one-woman-show by the actress Jill Anderson:
Albion Area Arts Council will present actress Jill Anderson in the play, Brontë, at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 12th, at the UCC/Congregational Church in Albion.

In this one-woman play by William Luce, Charlotte Brontë returns home from the funeral of her last remaining sibling and begins life alone with her father in their remote North England parsonage. She reflects on the remarkable incidents, triumphs, tragedies and relationships that have brought her to the present moment and looks toward the future with hope and courage. It is an inspiring story filled with great humor, dazzling imagination and deep poignancy.
Jill Anderson, who has ties to the Albion area, has been seen in the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, the Blue Barn Theatre, Opera Omaha and the Omaha Community Playhouse, where her roles have included Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker” and Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Jill’s performance Saturday will be followed by a Q & A session. (J Dickerson in Albion News)

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

April 11, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • George Waring, Children's Mission; Or, Great Works Wrought by Weak Hands (Harvey and Darton, n.d.).  Collection of three novellas exemplifying youthful Christian action in progress.  Part of a subgenre of religious fiction devoted to angelic children as agents of religious transformation.  (eBay)
  • Michael Garriga, The Book of Duels (Milkweed, 2014).  Collection of historical short-shorts about--you guessed it--duels, famous and otherwise.  Cf. Robert Olen Butler's Severance and Intercourse.  (Lift Bridge)
  • A. N. Wilson, The Potter's Hand (Atlantic, 2013).  Family-saga-type historical novel about the Wedgwood family of pottery fame.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Asa Briggs, A History of Longmans and Their Books 1724-1990: Longevity in Publishing (Oak Knoll, 2008).  Sweeping history of the publisher as a means of talking about changing conditions in the British book trade more generally.  (Amazon [secondhand])

by Miriam Burstein at April 11, 2014 05:58 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

USC’s Doheny Library Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Cassady Wonderland Award

USC Libraries Wonderland Award 2011

USC Libraries Wonderland Award 2011

If you’re in the vicinity of USC’s Doheny Memorial Library, you may want to know that at 8pm (local time) on Thursday, April 17th, they are holding a multimedia event celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the annual Wonderland Award that LCSNA members George and Linda Cassady so kindly sponsor.  The library is also home to the Cassady Lewis Carroll Collection, which is cause for celebration any day.

Click me for a description of the event.

Click me to visit the award’s Facebook page.

And click me to view a teaser of the upcoming multimedia event.

by andrew at April 11, 2014 01:23 PM

An Elegant (and Carrollian) Symbolist

Gail Potocki Fragmented AliceHere’s another item from one of our mimsiest minions:

“Twenty-first-century Symbolist” Gail Potocki’s exhibition of her Carrollian paintings, Fragmented Alice, took place at the Century Guild Gallery in Los Angeles last fall. You can read an interview about it here or buy the associated perfumes here. Some of these paintings are also in the catalog Century Guild Book One, available here.

by andrew at April 11, 2014 01:00 PM


Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights in Wisconsin

Good news from Florentine Opera in Wisconsin:
"Wuthering Heights," Jan. 9 and 11.

The Florentine will stage and record a concert production of American composer Carlisle Floyd's opera, based on Emily Brontë's novel. Sopranos Georgia Jarman and Heather Buck, and tenor Vale Rideout, all familiar voices at the Florentine, will have roles in the production. Performances will take place at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. (Via Journal-Sentinel)

by M. ( at April 11, 2014 01:30 AM

Project MUSE®: Victorian Periodicals Review - Latest Issues

Victorian Periodicals Review: Volume 47, Number 1, Spring 2014

Victorian Periodicals Review: Volume 47, Number 1, Spring 2014

April 11, 2014 12:00 AM


Refusing to read Wuthering Heights

You have probably heard of it by now - the profane letter a student taped to their English teacher's classroom and - here comes the good part - which the teacher returned full of corrections. What we didn't know is that the apparent reason was that they refused to read Wuthering Heights, at least according to sites like Business2Community and Inquisitr.

Clearly, the student in question wouldn't know whether to agree or not with this statement from The Daily Cardinal:
Wuthering Heights” may be depressing, brilliant and sometime pointless, but I’d be disloyal to my own gender if I didn’t want the demented-yet-so-yummy Heathcliff come wander on my moor. And plus I’d really like to be able to use that phrase in actual conversations. “My moor. Yes, I have a moor. With dramatic fog on it.” (Maham Hasan)
Neither would they get this reference from an article in defence of Captain America on Empire's Empire States:
Batman broods. We get it. Like Angel in Buffy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, it’s part of his essence. Many superheroes, action heroes and sci-fi stars have troubled pasts that they sometimes like to reflect upon while staring handsomely into the distance. But does it feel to anyone else like maybe we have a few too many troubled heroes these days? And that maybe this whole dark, brooding, troubled, tortured thing has gone far enough? (Helen O'Hara)
Chicago Literature Examiner has an article on Jane Eyre.
The beloved character of Jane Eyre has taken on historic significance in English literature today. Charlotte Brontë's sensitive portrayal of Jane's persona reflects the endurance of a passionate yet humble beauty in astonishing defiance of the tyrannically oppressive Victorian era of the 1800’s. The autobiographic story is told from the protagonist's point of view in first person, and traces Jane's experience from her early traumatic days as a child in the care of Mrs. Reed, a wealthy but cruel aunt, to adolescence under the harshest of circumstances at Lowood orphanage where she is sent to live; and finally, to her ultimate destination at Thornfield castle as governess to the ward of her future husband to be, Edward Rochester, a then powerful man representing the tragically flawed establishment of the day. The novel's striking portrayal of Jane’s perseverance to survive reveals a seemingly miraculous spiritual strength that ultimately enables her to overcome the nearly impossible obstacles in her life. (Magdalene Paniotte) (Read more)
The Helsingborgs Dagblad reviews Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs and mentions the influence of the madwoman in the attic:
Den galna kvinnan på vinden är en berömd litterär figur – ursprungligen syftande på Mr. Rochesters undangömda och mentalsjuka hustru i Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”, senare ett vidare begrepp som betecknar kvinnans dilemma i romantraditionen: bryter hon mot normer blir hon galen, och blir hon galen hamnar hon på vinden där hon och hennes tokerier göms undan och kvävs efter bästa förmåga. (Johanna Gredfors Ottesen) (Translation)
The Millions has asked several writers 'to share one or two little delights from their latest or forthcoming books':
Megan Abbott, The Fever:
For me, it was two things that found their way into my novel:
1) The mysterious weather of upstate New York, where I lived for a year, including lake effect snow and other meteorological oddities that struck me as more akin to Emily Brontë or Poe than to any experience I’d ever had in “real life.”. . . (Edan Lepucki)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows how they are getting ready for an upcoming private tour. @TheBrontesFilm on Twitter shares a picture of the Parsonage in the 1920s when it was still, well, just a parsonage with quite a history. The Story Girl posts about Wuthering Heights. Czytam, oglądam writes in Polish about Villette. The Children's and Teens' Book Connection has a guest post by Michaela MacColl, author of Always Emily, and a giveaway. Prismatic Prospects posts about Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at April 11, 2014 12:17 AM

April 10, 2014

The Little Professor

In which I take time off from working to comment on faculty working

Faculty are very, very fond of studies insisting that we work over forty hours per week.  And...some of us do! (Especially my colleagues over in the STEM fields.)  But, I rather suspect, most of us do not work over forty hours per week on a consistent basis.  The workload differs drastically according to, among other things, the phase of one's career; local service expectations (and the availability of faculty to do service); professional service expectations (which increase as one becomes more visible--more peer reviewing, organizational work, and so on); teaching load; course preparations; number of students; research expectations; and discipline.  Plus one's personal life (spouse? children? ailing parents?).  My own hours logged vary drastically semester-by-semester and week-by-week.  Are there fifty papers to grade, or are all the students doing research presentations? Am I teaching a new course with umpteen equally new novels, or Brit Lit II for the 1000th time?  Am I on three different committees and chairing one (all extremely busy), or am I on a single committee which has little to do? Am I in the writing phase on a new article or book, or am I in the "walk around the village and think about my argument" phase? I'm comfortable saying that, yes, at a minimum, I work a standard forty-hour work week, counting all contact hours, course preparation, service, and research activities.  There have absolutely been weeks this semester when I've done much more than that (see under: all those committees), but all the time? No.  But, then again, the work doesn't stop, even when I'm on "vacation."   This summer, I'm committed to writing an article, as well as presenting at a major conference, and I've also got an idea for another article kicking around; my next winter break will involve my doing something that I Cannot Yet Reveal on this Blog (because I'm waiting for official notification--I hope I'm not hallucinating the email confirmation I've already received...), but it will definitely involve a few weeks of being in a library from 9-5 or so, not "vacationing."  So might my work hours average out to more than forty hours per week if the entire year were taken into account, even though I'm officially "not working" during those months that, um, I'm working? Possibly.    

by Miriam Burstein at April 10, 2014 10:58 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Providence RI Library Transformed into Wonderland

As a part of its annual fundraising gala for literary and arts programs in Providence, RI, the Providence Public Library has been transformed into Wonderland. Gala is Friday April 11 at 7pm, don’t be late! To get tickets click me!

by Matt at April 10, 2014 10:25 PM

Regency Ramble

Montacute House III

Our next part of the visit is to the Parlour.  Oddly, I wrote this blog before, but the text and pictures disappeared. The great mystery of the age.  Onward.

Luckily for us this room while it has had several purposes, it has retained its chief features. In Georgian times it was used as a dining room.

The fireplace is something to behold, but of course one need to ignore the hot water radiator placed in the middle of it. It is made of Ham Hill stone. The upper register is decorative plaster over strapwork.

This gilt over walnut furniture dates from George I which along with the screen you will see later are embroidered in gros and petit point. As a stitcher I one can  imagine the hours of work that went into them.

The tapestry is a c 1731 Gobelins of the Hunter.

The wainscoting is thought to be original and certainly in the room in 1667.

This is a George II gilt sidetable with cabriole legs.

Lots more to see, next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at April 10, 2014 12:00 PM


New Italian translation

Tomorrow, April 11, in Castelfidardo (Italy) a new Italian translation of Jane Eyre will be presented:
Venerdì 11 aprile alle 21 presso la sala convegni di via Mazzini, l'Amministrazione Comunale, la libreria Aleph e la civica scuola di musica P. Soprani in collaborazione con Rossini Pianoforti e fondazione Carilo, presentano il romanzo di Charlotte Brontë "Jane Eyre", nella moderna traduzione per Feltrinelli realizzata dalla concittadina Stella Sacchini. L'evento sarà allietato dall'esibizione al pianoforte degli allievi dell'Accademia "Unisono" diretta dal maestro Emiliano Giaccaglia.
Jane Eyre è un romanzo uscito nel 1847 sotto lo pseudonimo di Currer Bell, rivelatosi come il capolavoro della scrittrice inglese. Un universo letterario che trasforma un'umile giovane inglese dell`800 in una donna felice. Fece scandalo all'epoca e ritorna sempre a farlo per la sua meravigliosa passione amorosa. (Source) (Translation)
Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë
12 March 2014
Feltrinelli Editore. Universale Economica I Classici
Translator: Stella Sacchini

"Quell’uomo mi costringeva ad amarlo senza neppure guardarmi”

Jane Eyre racconta la storia dell’educazione sentimentale di una giovane istitutrice inglese, orfana e di umili origini, che ottiene alla fine, dopo molte peripezie, la felicità in amore unendosi all’ardente, impetuoso Edward Rochester, suo padrone; con questa si intreccia una  precedente e tragica storia d’amore e follia che ha avuto per protagonisti Edward e Bertha, la donna strappata alla sua terra caraibica e relegata come pazza in una soffitta nella grande magione di Rochester: Thornfield Hall. Il romanzo è stato accolto con grande favore dal pubblico e da buona parte dei critici. E il favore e la popolarità sono durati a lungo e durano tuttora: ne fanno fede le molte edizioni, le traduzioni in tutte le lingue e la straordinaria serie di adattamenti cinematografici, televisivi, teatrali e musicali; basti qui ricordare i numerosi film e le serie televisive prodotte dalla BBC.”  (Dalla Postfazione di Remo Ceserani)

by M. ( at April 10, 2014 01:30 AM

April 09, 2014


Charlotte and Emily, teen detectives

The Telegraph and Argus reports that the Brontë Parsonage Museum is looking for new recruits:
The parsonage, which underwent major improvements during its closed season, is seeking retail and museum managers.
The retail manager, a post which carries a salary of £18,000 to £20,000, will be responsible for the running of the newly extended gift shop. Two museum manager posts are being advertised for the front-of-house operation. A museum spokesman said: “Our admissions area has been reconfigured, and at the same time the shop was expanded.
“The job descriptions take into account the changes to the visitor experience and the route through the museum.”
Following the work during the winter, visitors can now buy tickets at the desk in the foyer and are no longer exposed to the elements if they have to queue.
Newtown's HamletHub recommendas Michaela MacColl's Always Emily:
The latest novel by Michaela MacColl, "Always Emily," hits bookstores on Tuesday and is her fourth featuring famed women from history and literature as teens. I got a sneak peak thanks to an advance reader copy and, as with each of MacColl's previous novels, thoroughly enjoyed this combination of history, mystery, and adventure.
"Always Emily" finds Emily and Charlotte Brontë searching for the connection among a suspicious death, a string of burglaries, a secret society, and a handsome stranger with a mysterious past.
As always, MacColl deftly weaves together history and mystery, combining a page-turner of a plot with thorough character development and rich sensory details that bring the past vividly to life. What we know historically about the lives of the Brontë family blends seamlessly with imagined experiences that could plausibly explain their novels, a treat for book lovers familiar with the themes in their work. (Sally Allen)
As does Indianapolis Book Examiner on a list of new YA book releases:
Always Emily by Michaela MacColl
In this historical novel, Michaela MacColl reimagines the famous writers Emily and Charlotte Brontë as teenagers who must solve a murder and other mysterious happenings in the moors of England. (Alex Stine)
Female First interviews writer Amanda Owen and asks her about her role in Wuthering Heights 2011:
My husband was approached and handed a business card by a casting agent, his details taken and then Andrea Arnold the director came to the farm to see us about his prospective forthcoming role as Joseph in Wuthering Heights. It was all very exciting, a multiple million pound film being shot in the area and husband and son ( when she spotted Miles playing on his own in the dirt in the yard she suggested that he may be excellent for the part of Hindley) All was going beautifully, Clive needed an equity card, Miles needed a chaperone but when she handed over the filming dates Clive pointed out that he would be unable to fulfil his acting duties on one of the days as it was the Tup (Ram) Sales at Hawes auction Mart. Andrea wasn't that impressed with his lack of commitment and neither was I to be honest. I didn't talk to him for a whole day. It was only when he took his tup to the sale and won with it (a once in a lifetime achievement) and sold it for a great deal of money that I forgave him. (Lucy Walton)
Irish Central has a profile of County Down in Ireland.
Famous People with Down roots: The Brontë family, Charles de Gaulle (ancestor was a McCartan from County Down), golfer Rory McIlroy, James McCartan, John Butler Yeats, Otto Jaffe [...]
Key attractions: [...]
Down is also home to an area called the Brontë Homeland, where Patrick Brontë (originally Brunty), father of Anne, Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell Brontë, was born and raised.
The Guardian interviews dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui:
Wuthering Heights was the first Kate Bush song I ever heard. It was the early 1990s and I was 14, watching her on Dutch TV. I was mesmerised by how she moved – these strange, hypnotic gestures, like she was performing some kind of ritual. And of course there was her voice: perfectly in tune, this incredible sound, hugely expressive. I was hooked. I bought as many of her albums as I could. (Andrew Dickson)
The Dragon's Cache imagines Red Agnes, Adventuring Governess with a Sword! based on Agnes Grey. Stylist lists Wuthering Heights among the 100 best closing lines in literature. ME says loves Jane Eyre 2011.

by Cristina ( at April 09, 2014 11:46 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Call For Papers: DEADLINE APPROACHING  Readers, Purveyors, Creators, and Users: Studying Victorian Print Consumption in 2014  16-17 June 2014 Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National […]

by Jo Taylor at April 09, 2014 06:43 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Indiegogo Crowdfunding for Alice Steampunk Card Game

This just in from one of our Mimsy Minions. If you like crowdfunding (like I do) and you like games (like I do) and you like Alice & all things steampunk (like I do), then you’ll love this! Still four days to go if you want to be a backer. They’ve reached their goal so the game is on!  To visit the Indiegogo site for this game click me!

by Matt at April 09, 2014 05:11 PM

William Morris Unbound

Keywords and 1980s Art

William Morris gets a mention in Raymond Williams’s indispensable 1976 volume Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (over his choice of Communist as a political self-designation in the 1890s), and I went along to the Liverpool Tate exhibition ‘Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain’ with high expectations. The curators have picked thirteen of Williams’s keywords: these feature on the walls in a flamboyant script, while a rich selection of 1980s art – for the most part of a politically committed variety – is lined up opposite to them.

Well, that’s the theory, though there is in fact some slippage in the practice. David Hockney’s fine portrait of his parents, for instance, which according to the exhibition brochure should be aligned - rather boringly, one can’t help thinking - with ‘private’ actually hangs opposite the term ‘structural’, which certainly has you racking your brains to make connections between the two (the Oedipal triangle was the only linkage I could come up with). Similarly, Stephen McKenna’s painting of ‘An English Oak tree’ which according to the brochure belongs with ‘folk’, actually hangs opposite ‘violence’, a rather more challenging montage-effect. And Stuart Bisley’s untitled oakbeam and soft wood installation, which alludes to the heavy labour of the mining and shipbuilding industries in Sunderland, certainly touches on important Williams preoccupations (work and working-class experience), but is oddly placed opposite the term ‘myth'.

I think that in the end this is more a show about 1980s political art than about Raymond Williams’s historical semantics. But given the slant of its choice of keywords – criticism, formalist, materialism and theory all feature, for instance – there is something of a bias towards conceptual art by politically motivated artists who probably did have some general awareness of Williams’s work. Some of the artefacts on display themselves focus on issues of language – Rose English’s ‘Plato’s Chair’ performances interrogate such terms as death, the sublime, soul, representation and so on – so there is a nice fit there with the Williamsite framework . Overall, this exhibition is a salutary reminder of how varied and resourceful the radical art of the decade was (black, feminist, gay, lesbian, Irish and ecological as well as socialist voices are represented here), and how shrunken progressive political prospects were in the epoch of Thatcher, Regan and Kohl. Only Gorbachev’s coming to power in the Soviet Union in 1985 gives a flicker of hope, but then, look how that turned out.

by Tony Pinkney ( at April 09, 2014 03:00 PM

The Kissed Mouth

A Curl of Copper and Pearl

Hello everyone and welcome to launch day!  I've had a lovely day of swanning around one of the locations in my novel, Kelmscott Manor...

Today my novel is launched and I would like to thank everyone for the support I have been given over the last few weeks.  Here then is an extract from the book, when Alexa is at Kelmscott for the second time, in 1872.  Her relationship with Rossetti has become a little strained and difficult as he has been using chloral which makes him unpredictable...
I made the mistake of attending dinner that evening. I was placed beside Mr Morris, William, looking ill at ease, and Miss Rossetti, who spoke past me for the most part, eager to converse with William about poetry and his new novel.  This was engaging a great deal of his time, and no doubt giving him great reason to hide away. Rossetti sat between his mother and Jane, speaking to his mother the most and giving Jane looks of devotion which she paid no attention to. I ate well, soup, meat and a fruit pudding, but remained quiet in the midst of the conversation, as Jane did. To her credit, the crow-like Miss Rossetti engaged me in conversation about the area of London I came from, then about St Paul’s Cathedral, which I knew very little about other than its general appearance. She smiled and spoke pleasantly, if a little like she felt it was a duty.  She had the professional air of someone who found it a pleasant challenge to talk to all manner of people. I wondered if she did prison visits. Her manner was serious, but interested and she was skilful at drawing questions from my responses. I explained that my uncle ran a meat market stall.  She asked about the expense of cuts, the preference of animal at different times of year, the best cut of meat. I replied to her question about my work that I had worked as a seamstress, and she asked if I knew embroidery, of which I knew a little, which caused a nod of pleasure from both her and Mr Morris. At the end of the meal, I excused myself so I could pack and wished the Rossetti ladies a good evening. I had gone through to the room beyond and paused, catching sight of a sketch left on the chair. It was of May, looking angelic, and I paused, smiling.
‘She seems pleasant.’ Mrs Rossetti’s voice carried through to me, and there was a general chuckle from the assembled party.
‘Did you think I employed savages to pose?’ Her son’s reply was full of mischief.
‘Not at all, I assumed you employed her because she is beautiful, not for her table manners.’
There was a moment of good-natured murmuring at the table, as William and Christina both seemed to speak and laugh, then Rossetti spoke again, his voice tight with jollity.
‘Well of course I employ her because of her face, it’s hardly for her wits,’ he spouted and there was a rumble of female complaint, barely meant, before he continued.  ‘Alice is a good girl, but dull and without conversation or talent. However, one can hardly place her in a cupboard like a teapot, when you’re not using her!’
A great laugh of indignation arose from the party, laughter at me, poor stupid me and Rossetti’s cruelness in pointing out my folly. I turned to leave and saw May, crouched on the stairs, her smile like a contented cat. I didn’t linger."
So, on with the competition!  You might remember that I asked you to vote for your favourite oil of Alexa Wilding and your favourite sketch.  After a jolly response both here and on Facebook, I can reveal the winners are....

Veronica Veronese (1872)
For the oils, the clear winner was Veronica Veronese, followed by Monna Vanna and La Ghirlandata tied in second place.  I think it is the glorious green, copper and yellow all clashing and combining to such spectacular effect.  Coincidentally, this is the only image they have of Alexa in the shop at Kelmscott.  It's on a fridge magnet and therefore now on my fridge.

For the sketch, you voted for this one...

Aspecta Medusa (1867)
Lots of you loved this one and it's easy to see why.  Rossetti was an absolute genius with chalk.  That tumble of russety hair is divine.

Anyway, thank you everyone for entering and the winner drawn at random is....

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth!

So, Freyalyn, if you could drop me a line to my email with your address I shall pop a signed copy off to you!

Thank you again to you all for making the publication of my first novel such fun and larks, I couldn't have done it without all your support.  

Me reading my book in the garden at Kelmscott
Right then, I best start writing another one then...

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 09, 2014 02:09 PM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Caroline Austen

You are now collecting your People delightfully, getting them exactly into such a spot as is the delight of my life; — 3 or 4 families in a Country Village is the very thing to work on — & I hope you will write a great deal more — to Anna Austen (later Lefroy), 9-18 Sept 1814

What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of variety & Glow? — How could I possbily join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labor? — to JEAL, 16-17 Jan 1817

I feel myself getting stronger than I was half a year ago, & can so perfectly well walk to Alton, or back again, without the slightest fatigue that I hope to be able to do both when Summer comes — The Piano Forte often talks of you; — in various keys, tunes & expressions I allow — but be it Lesson or Country dance, Sonata or Waltz, You are really its constant Theme — to Caroline, 23 Jan 1817.

Dear friends and readers,

I again group four letters by Austen to her nephew and nieces (see 140-43). These are not solely to James’s children, one is to Cassandra-Esten Austen (Cassy), Charles’s daughter, companion and of an age to be a peer to Caroline. While Austen has by this time known much pain, debilitation, loss of mobility and bodily strength (probably girth too), she experiences a remission lengthy enough to renew hope (see above quotation), rewrite the ending of Persuasion and write an astonishing rapid draft of Sanditon over the next 4 months when she was again driven to put her pen down. In JEAL’s memoir which covers precisely this time, he confirms that she was working on Persuasion and (as dated on the manuscript) it was on 17 January 1817 that she began writing Sanditon.

When summer came she was literally dying in Winchester and dead by July. Cancer (aka the lymphoma) can come on rapidly & devour you. For those interested in cancer treatments here’s an early case described of a person who (in effect) does not have chemotherapy (drastic strong measure so one is seen to be doing something even if badly understood) nor the terrifying operation removing central organs (the latest expensive measure). We see the disease take a natural course which includes a surcease for a precious few months. Nowadays she’d go on a trip (last journeys anyone?) At any rate here is evidence she did not herself always act on a premonition she was dying; it was intermittent. She was not always on the other side of a fence looking at people from the aspect of someone mortally ill.

These letters show JEAL and Caroline were seeking Austen’s approval and supporting her morally (what shows more admiration than imitation) by writing novels or scraps of them on their own, sending them to her, and she reciprocates with generosity. A few of her comments to JEAL (and Anna earlier in 1814) have been ceaselessly cited and discussed. In all three cases, Anna’s novel which she paid the compliment of really detailed responses), Caroline’s short pieces and now Edward’s Scott-like attempt, Austen is pretending to regard them as working in the same light or level of seriousness as she does. She knows they do not, and one assumes that she feels assured of the profound difference between her fiction and theirs. But that she can pretend otherwise and it pass muster suggests Clare Harman is right when she writes the family did not see her novels as above other novels of her era and perhaps equally valued James’s poetry, if not as much because it couldn’t sell (bring fame, money, respect) but as that which the period took seriously.

We should note that the way she often treats her own fiction as amusement, how when even praising the novels of others (which she is not inclined to do) she does not discuss any serious ideas in them, is just the way she is treats JEAL’s probably Scott-like stories and her young niece’s efforts. Anna’s novel written in 1814 was given the literal verisimilitude treatment along with how consistent are the characters and how much they make us laugh.


Letter 146, to JEAL, Mon 16-17 Dec 1816, Chawton to Steventon

19th century illustration of a wild scene conjured up by story-telling from the past in Scott’s Antiquary (alluded to by Austen in this letter)

There is a deliberate effort to be far more cheerful than the writer really is; the letter has the effect of putting on a show. Everyone so well (Anna too, though again we catch Austen declining one of Anna’s dinner invitations), Uncle Henry in excellent looks, all health and good humor, pickled cucumbers extremely good. She feels herself working something up as she refers to her use of the word “uncle;” he must not tire of it “for I have not done with it.” She makes fun too of the way JEAL will now tell her of his miseries and crimes, on the point of hanging himself once, now that his school days are over. She will soon turn to writing a lightning quick draft of Sanditon and deal with what she feels in her body happening — making fun of just the pain she has known and probably began to know again towards the end of the draft. I believe her the walk to Anna is beyond her strength and she would need Uncle Charles plus donkey carriage.

The second paragraph is her insisting on Henry’s health, his good looks — which again is part of this vein of denying: she has denied endlessly that Henry has been upset for real about what happened to him — when she herself has given much evidence to the contrary during their tours around southern England just afte Eliza died, but in a continual denying vein — this a characteristic response, how she got through life we might say, at least on the surface. We must concede her response to her mother’s continual hypochrondia (given how long Mrs Austen lived) — that she’s not really ill at all — seems to have been born out by Mrs Austen’s long life.

She’s avoiding Anna again: whether perfectly recovered or sick, she does not want to go to Anna’s house; the rest on the uncles and then the usual joking about who she is glad to marry. It’s painful when she does not empathize with other women in their conditions as women — in life and in her books or those of others — but she doesn’t.

This is such a famous letter and the central portion where Austen characterizes her fiction deprecatingly discussed so many times it’s natural to feel we can have little more to say and I won’t go on to discuss at whether her fiction is trivial (it’s not), on a very narrow range of topics, or if this comment refers to her artistic techniques (I think it does). Rather let’s look at the remark in its social context.

Her allusion to Scott’s Antiquary suggests she and her nephew had been reading the novel together — in Scott’s novel his character launch into tales from the past, wild and whirling whose point is rediscovery of the past not just recovery and a reinstatement of Sir Arthur’s daughter (disinherited and therefore one would think someone Austen from her fiction might sympathize with); the scene Austen specifically alludes to is a famous powerful landscape storm sequence. Just the sort of thing Austen made fun of in Brunton’s Self-Control only (admittedly) much much better done. The Antiquary is a work of genius. Probably (given the love and preference for Scott JEAL evidences in his Memoir of his aunt) JEAL has been trying to imitate Scott with his “glowing” and “manly spirited sketches.” — Austen is a jealous reader of other people’s novels, of her rivals of which Scott she knew was one but whom she could not dismiss as unrealistic in the way she could Mary Brunton when Brunton did traumatic weather scenes. She did see Scott’s greatness.

Patrick Allen Fraser, A Scene from the Antiquary (1842)

She also alludes to Hannah Cowley’s Which is the Man? A comedy (1786). She tells JEAL to tell his father what he will — but then switches and says, no, James must not be left off the hook, kept out of the loop as he must make a tenant pay his rent. This sounds like a family joke referring to Mary Lloyd Austen in a hidden way.

Another by Cowley: “The charms that helped to catch the husband are generally laid by, one after another, till the lady grows a downright wife, and then runs crying to her mother, because she has transformed her lover into a downright, husband.” Cowley’s lines evoke the grim realities of marriage which Austen lightly refers to here.

Her comical acceptance of Mr Papillon as a suitor seems to have been a family trope — I wonder if they tired of it. In Miss Austen Regrets he does — am is irritated and hurt. By the end of the letter it’s obvious the family is back from legacy hunting.

2008 Miss Austen Regrets (based partly on the letters, partly on Nokes’s biography): Jane (Olivia Williams) teasing Mr Papillon who does not enjoy being mocked

On Janeites and Austen-l there was a reading of the letter which asserted Austen was mocking, ridiculing her nephew in effect throughout. Mockery as a tone includes ridicule; there is no ridicule at all here. The tone is one of friendship. I agree Austen maintains a distance in her letters to Anna and there is in the opening to Edward here something similar (but the tone is kinder), lightly making fun of his supposed stories of anguish revealed at last — perhaps to forestall him? The opening paragraph does not really have him in mind: she is — as she does in her juvenilia and perhaps first drafts of her novels — opting for repression of all deep emotional states by making fun of them. We will glimpse for a moment a startling distance between Austen and Fanny Knight in the opening of a later letter where she appears to be openly regarding Fanny as a specimen under glass of young girl’s absurdities in love – and makes Fanny uncomfortable.

The thesis she is mocking and resentful would make her really feel threatened by these family writings. Everything we have suggests it was this family writing that allowed her to write. Other families would have inhibited her (as Mary Lloyd Austen jealously tried to stop her husband and step-daughter from fulfilling their gifts). She is half-joking that she and her nephew must steal one of Henry’s sermons and put them in our novels but as companions, as two people gayly pretending to make mischief.

She doesn’t want Henry to be the complicated man he was as that makes him less manageable to her mind. She avoids them when they present depths — that’s the avoidance of Anna who is now a mature woman (with a full sexual life too). Cassandra was her shelter against the world and she builds conventional walls and understandings. JEAL is as yet a boy and that’s why she can condescend in the friendly way she does: no threat; nor Caroline.

I admit to a certain discomfort in how Austen can so easily write to people so much younger than she and act as if they were her peers. Caroline is 9. It’s unsettling when she giggles with Fanny Knight in London over Mr Haden — as if she too were a 16 year old innocent girl titillating herself. These are not acts put on: for whose benefit would be the mockery? Even assuming Cassandra reading over the shoulders could understand her letters this way, would she enjoy such laughter at her nephew or any of her nieces? Hard to say. Cassandra did laugh at Cassy with Austen when Cassy first came to stay and feared bugs in the beds. Are we to imagine Austen enjoying her mockery alone? Rather she partly identifies with this younger generation.

My feeling is the occasionally ummediated identification comes from Austen having not been given enough experience outside her family on her own utterly — to cope with money and sex too. She longed to travel on her own, but there were many areas she was kept from experiencing. Money matters and sexual experience directly especially.


Letter 147 (C). To Anna Lefroy. Thurs? Dec 1816

A loosened flexible corset: meant for pregnant women

To Anna she sends thanks for a turkey in the form of comical-benign or sweet information that Mrs Austen, the grandmamma, is grieving Anna did not keep it for her family. Austen again promises to come over. Had we not read the many previous letters we would dismiss this last as, well, after all it’s January and Austen is ill, but having gone through quite a number where she is avoiding going over to Anna, I suspect Mrs Austen is alone in wishing to get to Anna soon. They are in the position of Miss and Mrs Bates in Emma who are sent fowls and other eatables.

It is sad to think how Anna and Austen were once loving half-mother-aunt and girl and then close as aunt-and-young woman, but then became estranged when Jane took the attitude of the family towards Anna’s courtship years and marriage to Ben. As a later letter suggests some of her discomfort now is to see her niece continually pregnant and not well. After all it’s not a joking matter as she says then.


148. To Casandra-Esten Austen. Wed, 8 Jan 1817

Designs for toy alphabets (a set is used in Emma)

Cassy, still very young so she gets a mirror letter congratulating her on her 9th birthday. My dear Cassy it begins … and ends Your affectionate Aunt. A transcription I thank the members of Janeites for providing. One must have patience for this sort of thing: a love of word games, good nature too — it would also be seen by her brothers and their wives.

I wish you a happy new year. Your six cousins came here yesterday, and had each a piece of cake. This is little Cassy’s birthday and she is three year’s old. Frank has begun learning Latin. We feed the robin every morning. Sally often enquires after you. Sally Benham has got a new green gown. Harriet Knight comes every day to read to Aunt Cassandra. Goodbye my dear Cassy.


Letter 149. To Caroline Austen. Thurs, 23 Jan 1817, Chawton to Steventon

Muzio Clementi piano belonging to Jane Austen

She sits there looking at a comfortable long blank sheet of paper and really delights in the sense of presence she will have as she talks to her niece. In making “a handsome return” to Caroline’s 2 o3 3 notes, we see how happy she was to have Edward’s visits and seems to take his fiction seriously. She teases how “vile” she & Mrs Austen were to keep him from Anna – who also needed his intelligent kind company, but they were ruthless. A play on words from butter to better (vowels). No one seems to know where the evening party was held, but Clearly JEAL was a center. How he must’ve remembered such a time happily – the mood of his book comes from such experiences. Here is one of its sources: he wanted to relive these happy times, to thank her, do her justice, make sure she was remembered. At the party he read his chapters aloud and all took an interest. Mr Reeves is a name from Sir Charles Grandison. And we see Austen take the superficial attitude towards fiction she consciously does when describing it in her letters – either she condemns or talks in terms of literal verisimilitude or approaches the fiction as how “amusing”.

An association makes her remember Caroline’s similar efforts – to please the aunt no doubt too, and join in with brother and sister. Austen sensed something snobbish in using French for a malapropism for the character. I take “Lunar” to be a reference to the group that met calling themselves the Lunar Society and that’s interesting because it shows her awareness of philosophical cults in her time. She did know Maria Edgeworth enough to send her a copy of Emma so she might have been able to hear of Edgeworth, Day and that group’s activities. They were located in Birmingham:

Then she does not forget the servants: Cassy has sent them some small remembrance and Austen characterizes Sally quickly, and a bit condescendingly but she likes Sally and recognizes her good nature: “Sally has got a new red Cloak, which adds much to her happiness, in other respects she is unaltered, as civil & well-meaning & talkative as ever.

Upstairs and downstairs are intermingled in a cottage like Chawton.

Caroline’s cat brought a dormouse to her (?), and Austen laughs: only think, and well, I never …

Caroline would want Cassy to return as a playmate and companion, but March is her time to come. Austen seems to imply that Cassy is not much of a letter writer to Caroline – so there is an awareness between them of different people’s natures and capacities (Cassy not as articulate as Caroline). Everyone of course sends their love (remember Mr Knightley’s comment on that sort of thing), then Charles’s desperate sickness, and her usual refusal to admit to this: “He has a said turn for being unwell.” After all the man has just been court-martialed, his first wife dead, an array of children to care for, a sister-in-law to keep, his career is in total disarray. Who would not be ill. He has a great eruption in his face and symptoms which look like rheumatism.

Then she gets to herself and it’s worth quoting again: “I feel myself getting stronger than I was half a year ago, & can so perfectly well walk to Alton, or back again, without the slightest fatigue that I hope to be able to do both when Summer comes. Because of her better health and strength she has been able to go over to Frank and Mary and enjoy herself with them and their children. She teases that she may be be excused for “loving them” on the supposition that perhaps Caroline will be jealous of her cousins.

The postscript about her playing the piano is revealing and touching: she is saying when she plays she thinks of Caroline. Caroline comes across in her late short memoirs as sensitive, intelligent, really like Anna and Austen does lend herself to the girl and have a real relationship. The girl is yet though not into puberty, still young, not someone to arouse any feelings of disquiet over what’s to come, or what she will be. In the event she never married and lived a very quiet life. Austen says she wishes Caroline could come over as easily as her older brother, but the girl is much more easily domineered and controlled by her mother than the boy. Perhaps she felt such affection for Anna too when Anna was young.

From the online digital edition of Austen’s manuscripts: the cancelled penultimate chapter of Persuasion

Some general comments: there is enough in the letters (remnants though they are) to outline a sense of Austen’s politics and morality, central to what we find in her novels, an element shaping them. I don’t think she’s the arch-conservative Marilyn Butler makes her out to be, but we do see Austen become more conservative in her later years. Early on she was rebelling and resentful that as a woman her needs for career fulfillment were utterly ignored: she was to marry and all effort was for her brothers and used metaphors about why should she not go and hang herself. Then she wanted to set up housekeeping with Martha Lloyd and her sister. Not allowed.

But as she aged, she accepted the imposition of a conventional life-style — as many people do, because they become tired of banging their heads against a wall that is not coming down and want to identify with the culture they find will give them the only respect they can socially find,in her case as a woman writer on the meagre terms her milieu would give her. She had time and space and peace to write publishable versions of her books and was given help (by Henry) to get them into print. So she is gaining some respect, money, more self-esteem — through her books.

You can trace the changes by reading what she reads – that means more than the novels, but also books like Buchanan’s and Paisley’s (for violent imperialism both). Sometimes too — used very carefully — you can sense things about her texts by the people drawn to them to write a sequel type (feminists, PD James a conservative mystery writer) when the sequel is reasonably intelligent (it need not be a work of art) – and of course good critics.

She was also a strong partisan for most of her family members for most of her life — putting aside her own vulnerability when young, thwarted desires (to set up housekeeping with Cassandra and Martha Lloyd) — but there she could see straight too and in a couple of remarks referring to the aunt, the portrait of Mrs Norris as a smoocher, and remarks in the letters she drew a line at pretending her aunt was decent person — partly that’s the result of the way the aunt treated the Austen family.

She carried on put off by the evangelicals (we see that in her reaction to Cooper’s sermons — the cousin) as well as direct didacticism of the type we see in Hannah More but she is influenced by the mood of the times, part of her times. Her books are most of the time resolutely secular. Rare instances of allusions to religion outside Mansfield Park include Marianne confessing to Elinor that had she self-destructed she would not have had time to confront God in the afterlife.

When she writes her novels, another writing self comes forth, the one Proust speaks of in his novels, and an eye which can see further into experience archetypally and overcomes her conscious inhibitions. The draft concluding chapters for Persuasion that we have show her to be writing comically, slightly farcically, the working on those bits of ivory over and over, released something deeper and emotional and the scene become a deep meditation on loss, compensation and solace, the different way men and women experience life.

Rather than moving in the direction of cool mockery, I suggest (agreeing with Marvin Mudrick here) that Jane Austen feared what she most loved – what she feared were precisely the kind of passions she herself is intensely drawn to and in her deepest emotional life in the novels acted out. What we see in the letters is a continual distancing, much guardedness, but as she draws close to the end of life sudden bursts of open plangency and reaching out. One feels so alone, so helpless and vulnerable when one lays dying in such pain, with only opium to moderate the intensity.


by ellenandjim at April 09, 2014 01:16 AM

The Little Professor

Not actually fallen off the face of the planet

Due to one of those unbloggable crises that departments have from time to time, I have been spending most of my time thinking about things other than this blog.  (The crisis is of the "help, I'm chairing the relevant committee" variety, not the "help, an asteroid is coming directly at me" variety.  Although, come to think of it...)  Also, I have an slightly overdue article--or, at least, I'm pretty sure it's overdue--which is staring at me with soulful eyes, even though it's Just.  About.  Finished! (Cue my father: "You've been saying this article is just about finished for several weeks now."  But it is! Really!)  Thanks to those soulful eyes ("Mommy, why don't you clean up my footnotes?"), I feel horribly guilty every time I even look at this blog.  (You cannot imagine the guilt I feel at this very second.  Trust me.  Or don't.) And I have to apply for gen ed credit for a new course I'm teaching next year.  

(Which is another way of saying: more regular posting to resume next week. Because I have to write other stuff.)  

by Miriam Burstein at April 09, 2014 12:32 AM


No Cape Required

Today, we bring you a devotional book with Brontë-related content:
No Cape Required: A Devotional52 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Heroby Kristen Parrish, Jefferson Bethke (Foreword)
Publication Date December 3, 2013
Company Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN-13 9781400205158

What do Katniss Everdeen, Spider-Man, and Huckleberry Finn have in common? They’re heroes—and you can be just like them.
As children, we dream of throwing on a cape and changing the world. Then we grow up, we learn to see the flaws in our movie stars and athletes, and we accept that true heroism is not possible in the real world.  You continue to dream, though. Isn’t that why you still love watching heroes on the big screen? It’s more than just wish fulfillment. You resonate with Superman’s justice and Dorothy’s courage because you have those same qualities within yourself.
In these pages, Kristen Parrish looks at the qualities of fifty-two heroes, and then shows how you can acquire every one of those qualities. No gamma rays or radioactive spider bites are needed. You can unleash your inner hero through prayer and practical action.
Men and women, boys and girls alike, will find role models within these pages. While others watch and dream on the sidelines, you can step out in faith, learning from heroic examples and praying for God’s help to make you who you were meant to be.
The Holy Spirit enables us to do great things. Find out how. No cape required.
Includes the chapter: Independence. Jane Eyre.
(Via Tennessee Christian News)

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

April 08, 2014


Politicians, librarians and personal shoppers

It's a while since we last saw a Jane Eyre analogy in politics. Here's one from Haaretz (Israel):
Netanyahu has not yet responded in any detail to Flug’s first annual report, so it’s unclear how this story will unfold. Will Flug become Jane Eyre to Netanyahu’s Rochester? Given their shaky start, no-one should sign up Fran Drescher to star in the movie version just yet. (Matthew Kalman)
Horror Talk reviews the 1997 film The Creeps where apparently
there is a scene where the head librarian (Kristin Norton) masturbates using an original copy of Jane Eyre. (Ilan Sheady)
This columnist from Slate hated shopping so she got a virtual personal shopper:
The next question was even worse. “How would you characterize your personal style?” The options: “bohemian chic,” “classic,” “glamorous,” “romantic,” “casual chic,” “edgy,” or “preppy.” I didn’t really know what these meant, either. “Bohemian chic” sounded like a sign in an Urban Outfitters window. “Romantic” evoked the look of a Jane Austen or Brontë character. What resulted was a very long and somewhat pointless Google image search. (Alison Griswold)
eNews Park Forest features a local student who picks Wuthering Heights as one of her favourite books. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows both a sketch completed by Anne Brontë when she was 9 and Branwell Brontë's wallet, his only personal possession in the whole collection.

by Cristina ( at April 08, 2014 11:30 PM

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


Welcome to BAND’s 2014 Day of DH post where we answer the question, “just what do digital humanists do?”


Sitting from left to right: Megan, Laura, Eric, Hardeep, Rachel, Sarah, Morris, Kylie, Shannon, Lisa, Nick.

The Blake Archive has editors and assistants working at various campuses around the US, including a group at the University of Rochester. In residence at the University of Rochester, we have:

  • Morris Eaves, co-editor of the William Blake Archive
  • Amber Bertin, MA student (Film and Media Preservation) and project assistant
  • Abby Brengle, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Shannon Jaime PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Sarah Jones, Managing Editor, Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly
  • Rachel Lee, Lecturer (Writing, Speaking and Argument Program)
  • Eric Loy, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Kylie Regan, MA student (English) and project assistant
  • Margaret Speer, BA student (English and Cultural and Intellectual History) and project assistant
  • Hardeep Sidhu, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Lisa Vandenbossche, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Nikolaus Wasmoen, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Laura Whitebell, PhD student (English) and project coordinator
  • Megan Wilson, BA student (English) and project assistant

Working off-site, we have:

  • Andrea Everett, PhD student (English) and project assistant
  • Ali McGhee, PhD student (English) and project assistant

The Blake Archive team at the University of Rochester, affectionately known as BAND (Blake Archive, Northern Division) collaboratively authored this post.



I’m currently working on proofing the transcriptions of a seven-object series of fragments from William Blake’s poetic work, entitled “Woe cried the muse” and “then she bore pale desire.” Proofing involves checking that all of the elements (title, digital images, image dimensions) of the works are displaying correctly and ensuring that the functional aspects of the web pages (links between the digital image and the transcription, links to related works in the Archive, the zoom function) work properly. Of course, the more difficult work comes in double-checking the transcription, which is particularly interesting for these pieces because they include many of Blake’s cross-outs and additions, as well as marks by Blake’s editor William Michael Rossetti as he prepared the manuscripts for publication.

While working on this project, I have been using a pre-made Proofing Sheet that lists the various elements of the documents that need to be checked. The Sheet currently exists as a Googledoc so that suggested changes can be listed for review before being implemented on the Archive’s web pages. I am making notations as I run into problems with the proofing, particularly with the more detailed sections of the transcription checks, to record ideas for potential improvements to this form.




Team Color Code (Rachel, Hardeep and Laura)

Three BAND members make up Team Color Code; our primary task is to revisit the Blake Archive’s tag set for encoding manuscripts and the current color-coded transcription display, and evaluate whether they will be adequate for more complicated manuscripts, such as Blake’s Notebook or the unpublished manuscript Vala, or the Four Zoas. After toying with tracing paper and colored pencils, in addition to mock-ups of different displays in HTML, we’ve recently discovered some documentation for a TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) module for genetic editing. The genetic editing module includes elements for describing stages of a text’s development, which we think might be extremely helpful when encoding some of Blake’s more complicated manuscripts, some of which he worked on for several years.

At our weekly Team Color Code meeting, we discussed our next steps for the project. We’ve been working with the University of Rochester’s Digital Humanities group and are planning a presentation about our progress with the genetic editing module, which we will also send to Blake Camp (our annual meeting with the whole Blake Archive team). One of the problems of working on a long-term project is striking a balance between updating people and reminding them of any necessary background information, so we talked about how best to present our work.


Sitting from left to right: Rachel, Hardeep, Laura


At the moment I am tracing the Work and Provenance Info for Blake’s 1806 letter to Sir Richard Phillips’ Monthly Magazine. Since this letter is a typographical work without an original manuscript, it can be difficult to use the standard source references to fill in the gaps. (BAND has encountered issues like this before while preparing the Gilchrist letters for publication.) Beyond trying to pin down the exact composition date of the letter (which was published in the magazine on July 1, 1806 but most likely written in June yet encoded in the XML as may1806), I’ve found creative ways to research information using various bibliographic and electronic sources. As of the Day of DH, my search continues.


Instagram Photo



Eric Loy, the Blake Archive, and the Mellon Digital Humanities Program at the University of Rochester

The Day of DH is an opportune moment to congratulate the Archive’s own Eric Loy, a first-year PhD student in English. He and 3 other students from the departments of History and of Art and Art History/Visual and Cultural Studies are the first recipients of 2-year Mellon graduate fellowships in the digital humanities. (Four more fellowships will be awarded next year to create a running cohort of 8.) The new graduate DH program at Rochester is funded in part by a $1 million, 4-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to unite advanced study in the humanities with the latest digital technology. So Eric will continue working on the Archive team (which qualifies as a “humanities lab” in the Mellon program) as he acquires other skills and experience and formulates plans for his PhD qualifying exams and dissertation research. As the director of the program, I’ll help to tailor each fellow’s training, coursework, teaching, and mentoring to individual needs and interests. For more information, see the original announcement:





I have been finishing up work on Genesis. Genesis is Blake’s last illuminated work before his death – in fact it remains unfinished because he died before completing it. The main text of the work is the King James’ Bible chapter of Genesis, to which Blake added chapter headings and images. We have decided to transcribe the text in its entirety.

Genesis as a digital archive project was started by Esther Arnold and then passed to me. Today I completed the project. The related works section was the last thing that had to be added. This information (as often is) was sent from the editors and I updated it on the info pages of the work. Genesis will now have to be proofed by someone on the BAND team, and I will make necessary revisions before it is ready for publication.



From Kentucky, where I was presenting a paper at a conference, I took a look at the Google Document that has served as guidance for proofreading the Archive materials–manuscript transcriptions, work information, etc.–on Tiriel. This was a document that the primary proofreaders of Tiriel created, and I’ve started to compare it to the Proofing Form we use to proofread Blake’s letters. I’m making notes about the different elements and functions of the two documents, and the inconsistencies and inadequacies of the forms to the formatting and materials of the Archive. The end project is a potential combination of these proofreading documents (possibly with some other materials) to create a generalized Proofing Form that would be applicable, useful, and efficient for reviewing all the different projects in the Archive, present and future.



Today Laura Whitebell, Lisa Vandenbossche, and I met to discuss a new project: “The French Revolution”–a short typographical work published early in Blake’s career. We’re starting from scratch on this project, and today we went through the process of getting all of our materials in order. The first step in this process is creating a “BAD”:–the Blake Archive’s .xml file. From there, we’ll begin to enter information about the work (details about the material object; its provenance; etc.) and to transcribe the work itself.

I’m also at work on transcribing and encoding Blake’s receipts. Most of these are relatively short documents that contain details of sales of Blake’s works during his lifetime. Included in this collection is an “Accounts” ledger that spans many years and includes transactions between Blake and John Linnell. Formatting the “Accounts” objects requires a lot of trial-and-error: the object itself contains many columns and rows of text and prices that is difficult to reproduce in an accurate, readable way. Once I’m through with this transcription, I’ll continue collection the “work information” about the receipts.



Click here for Sarah’s post over at The Blake Quarterly blog.

by Laura Whitebell at April 08, 2014 09:30 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Please Welcome Our New BlogMasters!

RabbitLogoSmRI’m delighted to announce that Matt Crandall and Wendy Lane Crandall have graciously (and jointly) agreed to take over the job of blogmaster for the LCSNA effective immediately so that I can focus on my growing workload.

It’s been a pleasure being blogmaster for you all, and I hope you will remember to keep sending Mat and Wendy new items regularly via: Thanks, Matt and Wendy, and thank you all.  – Andrew

by andrew at April 08, 2014 06:10 PM

Helena Bonham Carter to Return as The Red Queen

Bonham-Carter QueenWhile many people were not fans of Disney’s recent Wonderland 3-D extravaganza film, directed by Tim Burton, it blew past all the negative reviews and earned over $1 billion dollars.  So of course, as we’ve reported previously, a sequel is already in the works–this time without Burton, who has moved on other projects.  Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska have already signed their contracts.

Variety reports that Helena Bonham-Carter is in final talks to reprise her role as the amalgam villainess, the Red Queen.  Whatever you thought of the first film, it would be hard to deny that Bonham-Carter gave the film zest.  So getting her back on board for the sequel is probably a very wise idea on Disney’s part.

Speculation runs rampant as to how scriptwriter Linda Woolverton will mash up Carroll’s characters and story elements this time.  But at least if Bonham-Carter is around with her outsized head and even larger sense of zaniness, there will be someone fun to watch.

To read the post on Variety‘s site, click me.

by andrew at April 08, 2014 01:00 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Lloyd Baker Land

A photo blog from the magnificent Lloyd Baker Estate, click on pic for details ...

and also some garden doors ...

by Lee Jackson ( at April 08, 2014 03:48 AM


Finding Mr. Rochester

The ebook world presents a new short story by Trisha Ashley inspired by the Brontës:
Finding Mr Rochester
Trisha Ashley
Publisher: Harper Collins- Avon (April 3, 2014)
ISBN: 9780007585397

In this fabulous ebook short story Trisha Ashley will whisk you away for a romantic treat on the Yorkshire moors.

Plus the first chance to read the opening chapter of Trisha’s new novel Every Woman For Herself and get your hands on some exclusive Trisha Ashley recipes.

Budding author and die-hard Brontë fan Eleri Groves decides to escape from her disastrous love life to a remote farm cottage in Yorkshire.
Living in the land of the Brontës has got to be better than her life at home and she hopes that she’ll find some inspiration for her next book.
But what she doesn’t expect is to find her own Mr Rochester and much more than she bargained for …

A warm, witty and romantic short story from Sunday Times top 5 best-selling author Trisha Ashley.

by M. ( at April 08, 2014 01:30 AM

April 07, 2014


Outside the gilded bubble

The University of Rochester's Three Percent reviews Minae Mizumura's A True Novel:
In her prologue (which, by the way, contains what is probably the best piece of writing about writing I’ve ever read), Mizumura outlines her intent in A True Novel to execute a sprawling epic in the tradition of western classics—what in Japanese is called honkaku shosetsu, loosely translated as ‘true novel’. This form is presented in contrast to shishosetsu, or ‘I-novel’, the more traditionally Japanese novelistic form of autobiographical narrative. To this end, she employs none other than Wuthering Heights, reimagining Brontë’s classic in postwar Japan.
However, A True Novel is much more than a recasting of Wuthering Heights—and much more than simply the formula of the western novel told in Japanese. I would argue that the meat of what makes A True Novel so exceptional is contained in its prologue. At nearly 200 pages, the prologue could well satisfy as a novella in itself. Though it begins as a more or less traditional prologue about Mizumura’s decision to write the book, it quickly becomes a metafictive account of the narrator’s relationship with Taro Azuma. (Ariel Starling)
The Conversation considers 1954 to be one of cinema's greatest years. That year included Luis Buñuel's take on Wuthering Heights, Abismos de pasión.
South of the border, that irrepressible surrealist-in-exile Luis Buñuel churned out three features, each of which bears reconsideration—his take on Robinson Crusoe focused on the salvational social bond with Friday; his Wuthering Heights latched gleefully on to Brontë’s evil genius; while Illusion Travels by Streetcar was a scathing satiric assault on Mexican class society. (Julian Murphet)
This reviewer from Dallas Culture Map doesn't seem to have watched Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights lately.
English period dramas are usually full of gorgeous settings, beautiful people and prim and proper fashion. But what these romanticized Jane Austen and Brontë sisters adaptations often overlook is the reality of life for those outside the gilded bubble. 
Most of the Brontë characters were from 'outside the gilded bubble'.

USA Today's Happy Ever After finds a Brontëite in writer Charity Pineiro.
Charity Pineiro, author of To Catch Her Man
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The emotion in this story of two lovers who will never be together made me want to be able to convey the same emotion and also, always have a happily-ever-after. (Joyce Lamb)
La Stampa (Italy) reviews the Italian translation of Jane, le renard et moi.
 Jane, la volpe & io, pur raccontando una storia “ordinaria”, senza magia né particolari colpi di scena, possiede un equilibrio e una bellezza che è difficile negare, e che lascia, a fine lettura, il cuore leggero. (Mara Pace) (Translation)
On Islam has an article on visiting and staying in Haworth as a Muslim.
Haworth. A cobbled, charming timepiece village, shunted, deep into the Yorkshire Moors. Setting off in the car with my daughters, I suspect we will soon risk stares as we (Anglo-Hijabis) join, almost uniquely, ‘white’ hiking families, on secluded walks, in the North of England .
We arrive outside Ye Olde Apothecary, on the sweetly named ‘main street’ in a gloomy dusk. It is the antithesis of Disney’s glitzy namesake. An unchanged 19th century row of shops and taverns, tapering into a forbidding, grey, hillside. There is no music pumping from cars, no pub sounds - there are almost no vehicles. The silence beneath the ancient church makes us whisper as we unload our bags.
Dragging them up a winding, staircase, a disembodied, voice floats down to us.
‘Assalamu Alaykhum’.
The accent is rather proper, with no trace of heritage from warmer climes. A gentleman in his fifties, smart casual, with a kind smile, emerges from the shadows, repeating his salamat, and taking our heaviest things.
‘You’re all more than welcome here ladies. Your faith is respected and you will, I hope, inshaAllah, be more than comfortable throughout your stay.’
I mutter Allahu Akbar, under my breath, in gratitude. Here, in the midst of an English winter countryside, Allah The Merciful, has sent us a sympathetic greeting.
‘Yes Allahu Akbar indeed, that means God is Great if I remember correctly’ continues the B&B owner, Nick. Who, tells us jovially, of his decade in the Middle East, as a business man. [...]
The following days are a blissful, face stinging, hale-sodden hike across glorious Moorland. Marching our way determinedly through the heather and gorse (the inspiration for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights) we make Thikr. Thanking God for making the environment so variable from place to place. My children’s best moment of all comes when, trying to fly a kite in heavy rain (why?) I slip into a vast puddle whose smell is an unpleasant reminder of the sheep all around.
It is a beautiful trip. No comments from hikers on our hijabs. Smiles all the way from fellow travelers at the guest house. (Lauren Booth)
The Brussels Brontë Blog has a post on Nicholas Shrimpton's recent talk about Shirley for the Brussels Brontë group. My Reading Journal posts about The Professor.

by Cristina ( at April 07, 2014 08:48 PM

Of Victorian Interest

Registration: The Turbulent Mind (5/16-17/2014)

The Turbulent Mind: Madness, Moods and Melancholy in the Art of the Nineteenth Century
Ghent, Museum of Fine Arts,
In collaboration with the Research Platform XIX and the European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art
May 16-17, 2014

With the support of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Flemish Art Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History (OSK), Ghent University - Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

On May 7, 1824, Eugène Delacroix wrote in his diary: “I do not care for reasonable painting at all. I can see that my turbulent mind needs agitation, needs to free itself, to try a hundred different things before reaching the goal whose tyrannous call everywhere torments me. (...) If I am not quivering like a snake in the hands of Pythoness, I am cold; I must recognize it and submit to it; and to do so is happiness.”

In these lines, Delacroix evoked the age-old theme of the mad artist, tormented but divinely inspired, balancing on the verge of insanity and genius. The attraction of this idea to Delacroix was hardly an isolated phenomenon. The rise of romanticism saw an exploding interest in the irrational and its potential to liberate the arts, and even the world at large, and this interest resonated throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. 

On the occasion of the Théodore Géricault exhibition in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, the museum joins forces with the Research Platform XIX and the European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art to organise a two-day conference to explore the theme of madness and art in the nineteenth century, a time when artists first deliberately turned for inspiration to the mentally deviant and fully developed the idea of art as an expression of the emotional self. The conference brings together international specialists in the field and deals with both the myth of the artistic temperament and representations of madness, moods or melancholy.

Organising committee: Jan Dirk Baetens (Radboud University, Nijmegen), Koen Brosens (KU Leuven), Rachel Esner (University of Amsterdam), Bruno Fornari (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent), Jenny Reynaerts (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), Johan De Smet (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent), Marjan Sterckx (Ghent University) and Cathérine Verleysen (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent)

Scientific committee: Werner Adriaenssens (Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels), Maite van Dijk (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), Mayken Jonkman (RKD, The Hague), Herwig Todts (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp), Francisca Vandepitte (Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels), Filip Vermeylen (Erasmus University, Rotterdam) and Catherine de Zegher (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent

More information:
Jan Dirk Baetens, Radboud University Nijmegen:
Cathérine Verleysen, Museum of Fine Arts Ghent:
Admission: € 40 (students € 25) 
Includes coffee breaks and lunch on 16 and 17 May
Max. registrations: 100

Registration: Email to (mentioning your institutional affiliation), and transfer of the registration fee to: 
AGB Kunsten en Design – Botermarkt 1 – B-9000 Ghent – Belgium
IBAN BE11 0910 1974 1448
Mentioning name of participant and ‘The Turbulent Mind’ 
Confirmation of registration takes place only after receipt of the conference fee.
Languages: English / Français

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:49 PM

Registration Open: Remarkable Reynolds: Dickens's Radical Rival (7/26/2014)

Westminster City Archives and
The University of Roehampton Present:
Remarkable Reynolds: Dickens's Radical Rival
University of Roehampton
London, UK
July 26, 2014

“a name with which no lady’s, and no gentleman’s, should be associated…”- Charles Dickens
A FREE bicentenary event exploring the life & work of George W M Reynolds

Saturday 26 July 2014
11.00am – 4.00 pm
City of Westminster Archives Centre
Tea and coffee available from 10.30
Exhibition of Reynolds-related material

Keynote Speakers:
Anne Humpherys
Louis James
Readings by Michael Slater from Bleak House and The Mysteries of London

Places are FREE but limited.
To reserve your place, REGISTER at:
Westminster City Archives, 10 St Ann’s St, London SW1P 2DE
tel.: 020 7641 5180
Email Mary L. Shannon at the University of Roehampton with any questions:

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:42 PM

CPF: “Longevity Networks” Special Issue Victoriographies (6/30/2014; Fall 2015)

CFP: “Longevity Networks” Special Issue
Victoriographies, A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Writing, 1790-1914
Fall 2015: “Longevity Networks.”
Deadline: June 30, 2014

Essays are sought for a special number of Victoriographiesinspired by the concept of textual longevity. There is a great deal of energy in media studies, new materialism, and print culture around questions of textual longevity. We understand longevity to mean the iterability of text, broadly conceived: reprinting, versions, editions, revisions, translation, interpretation, appropriation, the readymade, intermediality, homage, modernization, spoof, and parody.

Scholars in textual studies challenge us to consider the variability of the text over time, historical eras, national borders, print format, and genre. At the same time, Caroline Levine’s suggestion of "birth-time" in a recent issue of Victorian Studies (Summer 2013) begs the related question whether there is also a "death-time" for texts. She argues that we should turn to form, and specifically to networks, to understand literary history in ways that nation-focused approaches overlook. Texts moving through time and space develop relational networks, which raises a number of productive questions: If we consider networks of textual circulation as organic forms (networks as organisms), what might such readings yield? What might readings of the "birth-time" or "death-time" (or lack thereof) for a text teach us about how we define a text? About nationalist claims and canonization? About authorial and textual identity? About generic distinctions and ways of reading? Or about crafting a more expansive, interpenetrative literary history that extends beyond a critical reliance on place of origin or periodization?

We seek contributions to this special issue that generate a discussion on the iterable textual body as an object that simultaneously resists decay and requires human intervention to assist its regeneration, as that which is at once inanimate and living, embodied and disembodied, singular and networked. We invite articles invested in Victorian literature and in interrogating, recharting, reinscribing, and retracing the long nineteenth century.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Genre and periodization
  • National identification, borders, boundaries
  • Publication formats, print culture, the literary market place
  • Recycled narratives, interpretations, versions, fan fiction
  • Artifacts, archives, special collections, the museum, digitised treasures
  • Chronotopes, memory, preservation, and nostalgia; deep time readings
  • Literary aesthetics of death and afterlives
  • Translations, intermediality, circulation, appropriation
  • Media studies, history of the book
  • Matter and meaning-making; materialist poetics
  • Literary assemblages, paratextual matter
  • Possibilities/limitations of new materialism in literary studies
  • History of science and technology, the posthuman
  • Neo-Victorian, steampunk

Please submit essays of 5,000-7,000 words (inclusive of end notes), a 250-word abstract, a brief biographical sketch, and 5-6 keywords (preferably not words used in the title) for online searches to Guest Editor Amy Kahrmann Huseby (University of Wisconsin-Madison) at by June 30, 2014.

Please do not submit a manuscript that is under consideration elsewhere.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:36 PM

CFP: '14 ICR "Romantic Reflections" (4/21/2014; 9/25-28/2014)

“Romantic Reflections”
2014 International Conference on Romanticism
Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 25-28, 2014
Deadline: April 21, 2014

The 2014 meeting of the International Conference on Romanticism will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the heart of downtown on the banks of the Mississippi river September 25th-28th. In keeping with the spirit of the ICR, the conference organizers wish to focus on the cross-disciplinary and international aspects of Romanticism. The theme will be Romantic Reflections, which should be interpreted in its broadest context. Possible topics could include but should not be limited to:
  • Reflections in the arts
  • Reflections in the sciences
  • Romantic reflections
  • Sociological reflections
  • Cross-national echoes
  • Colonial reflections
  • Reflections in nature
  • Gothic appropriations
  • Intertextual echoes
  • Boundary and border crossings
  • Romantic collaborations
  • Interdisciplinary Romanticism
  • Aesthetic reflections
  • Romantic appropriations of archetypes and myths
  • Environmental reflections
  • Romantic Others
  • Class reflections
  • Gender reflections
  • War and Peace
  • Critical reflections
  • Philosophical reflections
  • Traveling reflections
  • Economic echoes
Abstract for complete panels and individual papers are welcome. Please send 250 word abstracts to The deadline for submissions is April 21, 2014.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:33 PM

Forum: Birkbeck Summer Programme (Summer 2014)

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies
Summer Term 2014 Programme

Friday 9 May 2014, 6.00–8.00pm
Pamela Gilbert (Florida): 'Body Objects and History: The Skin of the Marquis'

Monday 19 May 2014, 7.30–9.00pm
"Clouds: Objects, Metaphor, Phenomena"
Panel Discussion with Vladimir Jankovic (Manchester), Richard Hamblyn (Birkbeck), and Esther Leslie (Birkbeck)

Wednesday 21 May 2014, 6.00–9.00pm
"From Text to Screen and Back: Adaptation Across Media"
Workshop with Richard Taws (UCL), Silke Arnold-de Simine (Birkbeck), and Ann Lewis (Birkbeck)

Thursday 22 May 2014, 7.40–9.00 pm
Sarah Thomas (Birkbeck): "Curating 'Empire' at Tate: Dissonance and British Art"
To be held in Room G01, 43 Gordon Square

Wednesday 4 June 2014, 6.00–8.00pm
Mary Hunter (McGill): "Ladies in Waiting: Time and Gynecology in Toulouse-Lautrec's Rue des Moulins (1894)"

Monday 16 June 2014, 6.00–8.00pm
Nicholas Gaskill (Rutgers): "Interior Designs: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Progressive Art of Pure Colour"

Tuesday 1 July 2014, 6.00-8.00pm
Rachel Teukolsky (Vanderbilt): "Cartomania: Sensation, Celebrity, and the Democratized Portrait"

Tuesday 8 July 2014, 6.00-8.00pm
Sue Zemka (Colorado State, Boulder): "Prosthetic Hands and Phantom Limbs"

Unless otherwise noted, all sessions take place in the Keynes Library (Room 114, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD). The sessions are free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

For more information, see:

For more information on Arts Week 2014, a list of other events, and to book free tickets, see:

Please email to join our mailing list or to obtain further information about the series.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:25 PM

Extended Deadline: The Prosaic Imaginary: Novels and the Everyday, 1750-2000 (4/11/2014; 7/1-4/2014)

The Prosaic Imaginary: Novels and the Everyday, 1750-2000
University of Sydney
July 1-4 2014
FINAL Deadline: April 11, 2014

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: 
Professor Maud Ellmann, Randy L. & Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English, Chicago
Assist. Professor Julie Park, Vassar
Professor John Plotz, Brandeis

The conference will open up the nuances of the term ‘prosaic’ by exploring the privileged relationship between the novel genre and multiple and complex categories of the ‘everyday’. Building on John Plotz’s notion of the novel as exemplary ‘portable property’, the conference will address the relationship between novel-reading as everyday activity and the novel’s prosaic subject matter, whether this is conceived as material object, cultural practice, or speech act.

Suggested topics:  
  • The novel and things
  • The novel and film/and TV
  • Readerships of the novel
  • The novel and gender
  • The novel and childhood
  • Queer novels
  • Psychologies of the novel
  • Novel genres
  • The odd or uncategorisable
  • The secular imagination
  • Book history and the novel
  • The novel and the digital everyday
  • Characters as quasi-persons
  • Novel worlds
  • The novel and the institutionalisation of affect
  • The novel as political action
  • Temporalities of the novel
  • The novel and the forms of property
  • The scale of the novel

Proposals for 20 minute papers or for 3 paper panel sessions should be sent to Vanessa Smith ( by April 11, 2014. Postgraduate submissions welcomed.

For more information visit:

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 07, 2014 06:20 PM

Regency Ramble

Give Away ~ Return of the Prodigal Gilvry

Return of the Prodigal Gilvry

My last book in the Gilvrys of Dunross Series is currently being offered as a goodreads give away. You can sign up through the widget in the sidebar.

Reeling from betrayal, the once devastatingly handsome Andrew Gilvry has returned to Scottish shores to fulfill a promise made to a dying man. The widowed Rowena MacDonald has been entrusted to his care, and Drew must do all he can to protect her….


But Drew's honor is about to be tested—because there's something in Rowena's dove-gray eyes that awakens a flame long extinguished. And on a perilous journey across the Highlands, with only this alluring woman for company, how long can he deny his desires?

I must say, knowing this is the last time I will visit the characters in these books is very sad.  I have grown fond of them. And yet... there are lots of other stories floating around in the mish mash of my brain. Stories I have been wanting to write for ages.

Until next time...

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

The Little Professor

Brief note: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1981)

Specifically, the Vasili Livanov/Vitali Solomin Hound of the Baskervilles (Sobaka Baskerviley), which we're discussing in the Sherlock Holmes and adaptation course next week.  One of the telefilm's most striking revisions of the original comes in its treatment of Sir Henry Baskerville.  Sir Henry, as Holmes fans will recall, has spent most of his life out in the wilds of the USA and Canada before returning to take up his place as heir to the Hall; he's certainly rather less polished than his English counterparts, but "there was something in his steady eye and the quiet assurance of his bearing which indicated the gentleman" (ch. 4).  Arguably, the moment in which he casually hands over his "old wardrobe" to Barrymore, as his new English clothes have been delivered (ch. 8), counts as a subtle moment of naturalization: the Americanized Englishman returns to his proper roots, despite his desire to update Baskerville Hall to the latest American technological standards.  Nevertheless, as is frequently the case in the Holmes stories, the outsider doesn't fare well at the plot's hands: the gentleman winds up with "shattered nerves" (ch. 15) and must make a global grand tour before he can once again begin to think of his grand plans for modernizing Baskerville Hall.  (In that sense, he's a reverse Watson--Watson, after all, begins the series in a bad way, thanks to his time abroad.)   

The Russian Sir Henry is no gentleman at all.  He enters the story loud, impolite, appallingly dressed (a gigantic fur coat), and carrying...a saddle.  (Quipped one reviewer, "Overacting doesn't come much better.")   He puts his feet up on the table.  He's a sloppy drunk (and is drunk for a good chunk of the film).  Indeed, he's the source of most of the film's comic relief, whether it be his would-be efforts to dress up as a proper English gentleman, or his running battle with Barrymore over the locked drinks cabinet.  In a particularly bizarre moment, he lets off steam by galloping around the moors in a set of Western chaps while shooting off his pistol--a transplanted cowboy stereotype.  (Or, as another reviewer marveled, an "over-the-top cowboy motif and a bonhomie verging on psychosis.")   In other words, the film never propels us towards thinking about Sir Henry as carrying even the potential for revitalizing the decaying Hall; indeed, he conspicuously fails as an authority figure, as his inability to properly handle Barrymore implies, and his consistently bizarre behavior suggests that he cannot be rescued for proper "Englishness."  The comic ending is, in its execution, exceptionally creepy.  Sir Henry, bedridden and voiceless, is infantilized by Barrymore's chattering wife, who baby-talks him while feeding him the English "cereal" (porridge) he loathes; eventually, he smiles back at her and obediently eats his cereal, while Dr. Mortimer and Barrymore look on approvingly.  The would-be aristocrat becomes an overgrown child--the condition in which he has, it seems, really existed all along, enabled by his wealth.  In this 80s-era Russian translation, revitalizing the aristocratic traditions of the Hall is not, then, the way forward...

by Miriam Burstein at April 07, 2014 01:48 AM


After Jane, Wuthering Heights in London

The Rosemary Branch Theatre proposes a new Brontë adaptation this month: Wuthering Heights.
The Rosemary Branch Theatre and Tennison's Quirk
in association with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud presents...
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë
Adapted and directed by Helen Tennison
Original Score by Ben Davies
With Jack Benjamin, Emma Fenney, George Haynes, Lucinda Lloyd and Helen Watkinson

Published just after Jane Eyre, this is arguably the masterpiece of the Brontë novels.  This complex tale of cruelty, passion, jealousy and revenge charts the inhabitants of two isolated Yorkshire farmhouses over a period of two generations, and divided the readers of its day with its outspoken views on social mores.  This brand new production comes from the same team that created the Multi Award Nominated Time Out Critic's Choice Breakfast With Emma (2010) and Sense and Sensibility (2012)

8-27 April
Tuesday-Saturday 7.30pm
Sunday 6.00pm 

by M. ( at April 07, 2014 01:30 AM

April 06, 2014 19th Century History

Newspaper Sunday: Shiloh

In early April 1862 the Battle of Shiloh delivered a shock to Americans. The first clash of the Civil War to result in mass casualties, it was an indication that ...

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April 06, 2014 06:34 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

A Bakers Tale Bakery in Chicago Includes Wonderland Design Elements

Bakers Tale BakeryOne of our mimsiest minions reports that a new bakery has opened in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago: A Baker’s Tale.  In addition to  the somewhat Snarkian name of the shop, its decor also includes a large framed image of Tenniel’s Mad Tea Party, and a large sculptural tree whose blossoms are made of pages from an edition of Wonderland.  We can only hope it wasn’t an 1865 edition!!

And of course, there are white rabbit cookies, among other treats.  If you visit the shop, write us a comment and let us all know what you thought.  Who knows, maybe they even have treacle tarts!

Bakers Tale RabbitsTo visit the bakery’s web site, click me.

by andrew at April 06, 2014 01:00 PM


Yorkshire Art and a mini Charlotte

The Yorkshire Post interviews Jane Sellars, curator of the upcoming exhibition  Art and Yorkshire: From Turner to Hockney at the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate:
“This kind of exhibition takes a long time to plan,” she says. “We have a policy here that we can manage one big blockbuster exhibition every three years – the last one was the Atkinson Grimshaw one in 2011 – and then everyone says what are you going to do next and we have to start thinking of another big idea for the future.” (...)
“But I think I have ended up with a really diverse collection. It definitely does have a touch of me in it. For example, there is one section called ‘Brontë Country’ and that includes pieces ranging from drawings by the Brontës themselves to a whole series of prints by Paula Rego inspired by Jane Eyre.” Also included in this section is work from poet and artist Adrian Henri who died in 2000. “He was writer in residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum when I was there in the early 1990s,” says Sellars. “He did some wonderful work writing poetry with groups of young people but he also sketched the graveyard in Haworth which then became a painting. In that section too, there is a wonderful David Hockney – one of his photo-collages. It is privately owned and it is set in Brontë country.” (Yvette Huddleston)
Keighley News announces the new edition of the Go Local initiative:
Brontë Country Tourism Partnership members discussed the 2014 Go Local Sunday initiative at their latest meeting.
The initiative be staged on April 27, offering free entry to Keighley and Worth Valley visitor destinations to locals.
The 'adventurer' David Kim Hempleman-Adams reveals in The Telegraph he is a big fan of Kate Bush:
“On every trip, there’s always one song that sticks with you. During that climb in 1993 – with no one else on the mountain, unlike today, and with just a cassette player, rather than an iPod – I remember shivering my **** off listening to Kate Bush.”
Thoughts of the Wuthering Heights singer kept him warm: “She was a very hot lady,” he sighs, “But I expect we’ve both got a bit portlier.”
Not the only fan today. Maggie Alderson in The Sydney Morning Herald is amazed by Mia Moretti's versatility: DJ, fashion designer and musician:
I've been checking out Ms Moretti's playlists and the first one I earscoped had Kate Bush singing Wuthering Heights and a track by Stevie Wonder, so she's welcome to swing by my house with her platters any time.
The Daily Telegraph (Australia) is more concerned with Kate Bush herself:
When Kate Bush announced she was to tour again after 35 years, the tickets to her 22 London dates sold out in 15 minutes.
Now I like a bit of Wuthering Heights as much as the rest of us but surely there’s only so much of “It’s meee-oh Cathee-oh come home” one can take. (Kerry Parnell)
Also in the same newspaper an article following the literary footsteps of George Orwell:
The BBC-Ministry of Truth canteen is one of those literary settings that remain unforgettable, like Miss Havisham's House in Great Expectations (it's in Rochester in Kent) and the moor where Cathy and Heathcliff meet in Wuthering Heights (around Haworth in Yorkshire). (Dennis Glover)
Hindustan Times interviews the author Ruskin Bond:
Who is your favourite author?
I enjoy reading classics. In fact, I recently re-read Wuthering Heights. I like Charles Dickens. Somerset Maugham, PG Wodehouse, Anton Chekov, Ernest Bates, Graham Greene. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome is something I still like re-reading. So I guess there are many. (Prachi Raturi Mishra)
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) interviews Claire Messud about her latest novel The Woman Upstairs:
Vi har hört vrålet många gånger, från ”den galna kvinnan på vinden” som hon kallas i litteraturvetenskapen efter Mrs Rochester på vinden i Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”. (Lina Kalmteg) (Translation)
punctualsally reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre production of Jane Eyre;  free my mind artpop posts a litography inspired by Wuthering Heights 2011; BreakPoint reviews Wuthering Heights 1939; Kippi Rae Stories looks into Wuthering Heights and nature; LaidyEiry reviews (in Italian) La Madre di Jane Eyre by Maddalena De Leo; Leituras Brontëanas (in Portuguese) publishes some illustrations by Luiz Carlos C. Pereira  of an upcoming Brazilian edition of Villette.

And we cannot resist highlighting this YouTube video:
bronte chose to impersonate charlotte bronte for her 4th grade 'living biography' project - such interesting research and super fun making the costume from things found lying around the 5 x old tutus sewn together for the underskirt...

by M. ( at April 06, 2014 12:06 PM

Tracy Chevalier's Controversial Introduction to Jane Eyre

We suppose that when Tracy Chevalier was asked by the publishing house Neri Pozza Editore to make an introduction for a new Italian  translation by Monica Pareschi of Jane Eyre she couldn't imagine she would be at the centre of a bitter controversy.

La Repubblica published the introduction (as translated by Massimo Ortelio):
Io e Jane
Per quale motivo Jane Eyre è un classico? Perché quest’opera è tanto amata e costituisce uno dei tratti distintivi del panorama letterario britannico, accanto a
Grandi speranze di Dickens e Orgoglio e pregiudizio della Austen? Di fatto, il romanzo scritto da Charlotte Brontë nel diciannovesimo secolo si mantiene costantemente ai vertici delle classifiche di vendita. Non è mai andato fuori catalogo e vanta una trentina di adattamenti cinematografici e televisivi, oltre ad aver ispirato pièce teatrali, opere, musical e balletti. Viene studiato a scuola e non vi è chi non sia in grado di citare la sua frase più celebre (l’attacco dell’ultimo capitolo, ma non andate a leggerlo, se non volete scoprire “come va a finire”). Cos’ha di tanto attraente la storia di una povera orfanella che fa innamorare il suo sventurato datore di lavoro? (Read more) (Translation)
Clotilde Bertoni published an article on Le Parole e le Cose full of (exaggerated) indignation about some 'inaccuracies' and 'misleadings' that Tracy Chevalier said in the introduction. Accusing her, or nearly doing so, of not having read the book.
Tra le informazioni che Chevalier ci fornisce: dopo questo romanzo Charlotte Brontë ne scrisse altri, tra cui The Professor(lo scrisse prima, fu rifiutato); la principale, sconvolgente novità della storia è il matrimonio tra due persone di classi diverse (ci aveva pensato già, più di un secolo prima, un certo Richardson, con un libretto intitolato Pamela, se ne parlò); Jane da piccola subisce un trauma, la zia la rinchiude in una stanza per punire la sua caparbietà (il trauma c’è, ma la caparbietà non c’entra niente, viene accusata ingiustamente della lite con un cugino che l’ha picchiata); Rochester, il protagonista maschile, “dimostra” molti anni più di Jane, almeno quindici (in effetti ne “ha” molti di più davvero, e non quindici, ventidue), ed è “capo di una famiglia numerosa” (tutto il suo entourage consiste in: una governante, una bambina che forse è sua figlia naturale ma forse no, una “donna del mistero” – non ne sveliamo l’identità – con cui decisamente non è in buoni rapporti, un cognato che ricomparirà solo per rovinargli la vita, e un amatissimo cagnolino); nell’ultima parte Jane “è contornata da nuovi personaggi che non abbiamo il tempo di assimilare” (sono tre, proprio per allargarsi quattro, sono ampiamente descritti e messi in scena, il tempo per assimilarli c’è, beninteso sempre se c’è quello di arrivare alla fine del libro – che, oltretutto, è di dimensioni accettabili). (Translation)
The editor replied with (too much) virulence on its Facebook wall:
La malevolenza, l’atteggiamento, cioè, di ostilità e astio nei confronti di qualcuno o qualcosa, non è sempre un comportamento da rigettare, da condannare in nome di astratte buone maniere. Quando, ad esempio, Nabokov scrive di Hemingway: “A writer of books for boys… In mentality and emotion, hopelessly juvenile. Loathe his works about bells, balls, and bulls”, è terribilmente malevolo, ma, occorre dire, geniale nella sua malevolenza. Qui l’astio ruota attorno a qualcosa che appartiene profondamente al mondo di Hemingway, così effettivamente hopelessly juvenile.
Quella che è imperdonabile, di un risentimento che può suscitare soltanto commiserazione, è la malevolenza maldestra e goffa.
Un esempio di quest’ultimo tipo è l’articoletto di commento alla introduzione di Tracy Chevalier alla nostra edizione di Jane Eyre comparso su un blog, “Le parole e le cose”, e intitolato “Il massacro di Brontë. Torniamo ai classici, magari leggendoli”.
Le argomentazioni di questo articolo sono così goffe che occorrerebbe rivolgere all’autrice il suo stesso monito, vale a dire di “ritornare ai classici, magari leggendoli”, a partire appunto da Jane Eyre.
L’articolo commenta la versione dell’introduzione di Tracy Chevalier apparsa su Repubblica, versione inviata dal nostro ufficio stampa prima della pubblicazione dell’opera (gli uffici stampa, si sa, lavorano con largo anticipo) e perciò non pienamente corrispondente a quella rivista dallo stesso traduttore e pubblicata nel volume. Tuttavia, poiché non muta di molto nella sostanza, per mostrare la goffaggine dell’articolo ci atterremo qui alla versione del quotidiano. (Read more
Ms Bertoni was not conviced and replied (again quite bitterly) on Le Parole e le Cose. And more people are now entering in the controversy. We read yesterday on Barbadillo:
Mi chiedo – a parte un pacco di soldi alla Chevalier – davvero quella introduzione ha fatto del bene al classico di Brontë? E nessuno l’ha letta? O nessuno ha letto “Jane Eyre”? (Marco Ciriello) (Translation)

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

April 05, 2014


New looks: Brontë Birthplace and Branwell

The 2016 Brontë biopic project directed by David Anthony Thomas has a new addition to its cast. After Rachel Teate who will play Emily Brontë we have a new Branwell: Matthew Lewis.
An actor who starred in the Harry Potter films has been chosen for a major role in a multi-million pound film exploring the lives of the Brontë sisters.
Matthew Lewis, who played the part of Neville Longbottom in the eight Harry Potter films, was selected for a new biopic called The Brontës. He will portray the sisters’ troubled brother, Branwell.
In October of last year, Yorkshire-based Clothworkers Films revealed an estimated budget of £10 million for the production about the famous literary siblings – Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
The company has said the film will be the world’s first English-language project of its kind. The two-hour feature is due to be released on April 21, 2016 – exactly 200 years since Charlotte Bronte was born.
Mr Lewis’s involvement was announced on Monday by the film’s director, David Anthony Thomas. Mr Thomas said: “I’m really excited to be working with Matthew Lewis on The Brontës film. Matthew will be playing the role of Branwell Brontë.
“Matthew has been my first choice to play Branwell since we first started working on the production, and I’m delighted he’s agreed to play the role.” (...)
His role as Branwell will see him getting to grips with a character who struggled to find a niche in life, despite being a capable scholar and a published poet. (...)
Mr Thomas, who is himself a lifelong Brontë fan, said despite the many bleaker elements of the family’s story, his film will also celebrate their resilience and success.
He added he wants the film to be faithful to history, while being accessible to audiences unfamiliar with the Brontës’ work. (Keighley News)
©Ben Lack Photography Ltd
The Daily Mail publishes an article about the restoration and transformation of the Brontë Birthplace by the new owners who want to convert it in a popular tourist attraction:
The cottage was shut up for years following the failure of a birthplace museum on the tourist trail.
It was let as private rented accommodation until it came back on the market last year.
The historical home had been rented as bedsits to tenants in search of cheap accommodation but the plaques commemorating the births of the four gifted children outside the faded front door were barely noticed.
After the last tenants packed their bags the absentee landlord put the property on the market last year.
The Brontë birthplace trust was formed by local villagers to save the property and turn it back into a museum again.
But this scheme failed after Bradford Council decided it could not afford to buy the property.
Amid fears it would be turned back into flats, businessman Mark de Luca and his wife Michelle spotted the near-derelict property believing it to be an unpolished tourism gem.
He renovated the home which was suffering from damp and flooding and has turned it into a deli where visitors can look round the Brontë’s private quarters.
The cafe is due to open up in May following an extensive renovation.
Among other features, visitors will be able to inspect the very hearth where all three sisters were born.
It also boasts the writing desk built into the structure where Patrick Haworth wrote his first sermon - about the Battle of Waterloo. (...)
The couple are sleeping in Patrick and Maria’s room complete with the writing desk where he wrote his first sermon – on Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.
The second bedroom where the younger Brontës slept has become the drawing room, though it still has the built-in wardrobe used by the children.
The third bedroom used by the Brontë children’s nurse serves as a study while the downstairs scullery has become their private kitchen.
The rest of the downstairs rooms, including the drawing room with the famous fireplace, have been laid out as a delicatessen and coffee shop with room for 35 people due to open next month.
A counter and open kitchen serving cakes, sandwiches, and pastries has been created in one of the front extensions built in the 1900s as a butcher’s shop.
The couple hope the trendy décor will attract of a new generation of Brontë fans who previously may have regarded the sisters’ writings as a touch highbrow.
Mr de Luca added: ‘We want to make the Brontës cool and trendy. The Brontë Society meetings and events at Haworth seem to attract mainly older people.
‘The original idea of a museum is great - but you do not really get to sit there and enjoy reading a Brontë book or a newspaper.’
Birthplace Trust Chairman Steve Stanworth said: ‘I am delighted. It will  once again be somewhere that Brontë fans can see the actual place the literary giants were brought into the world. (...)
Bronte Society Chairman Sally McDonald said: ‘The birthplace in Thornton is hugely important in the Bronte story.
‘In the bicentenary year of 2016 the world’s attention will turn to all places linked with Charlotte Brontë.
‘Some years ago former Brontë Society member, Barbara Whitehead, bought and tried to restore the house but sadly it proved just too big a project.
‘It is a pity the Birthplace Trust’s hopes of turning the house into a museum were pipped at the post but it wasn’t to be and it is heartening to hear the new owners are keen to sympathetically retain the history.’
There's some confusion about what the actual place where the Brontës were born is (if it can be known at all). Chadwick's In the Footsteps of the Brontës says that the most probable place was the drawing room (as it was the warmer) which is at the right of the entrance. Nevertheless the Haworth Village website says that the room to the right is the dining room (!).  You can compare the room as it was in Barbara Whitehead's time here with the new look here. Also you can compare the children's bedroom then and now.

Daily Express concludes that in literary love nothing is meant to be simple:
In all great love stories you need a proper cast-iron obstacle that stops everyone living happily ever after - at least for a while.
You need class differences, family secrets, a lack of dowry for her or a lack of prospects for him.
You need a mad wife in the attic which prevents you from loving another (Jane Eyre), or a father who says if you don't marry the man he's picked out then off to the nunnery, missie (Midsummer Night's Dream). (Jennifer Salway)
Adrian Mourby in The Guardian tells the story of her wife's doll, Annsie, who has been passing from generation to generation since 1840:
With her Charlotte Brontë centre-parting, Annsie is not much to look at. Having seen too many scary films that make hay with malignant Victoriana, I'm wary whenever my wife removes Annsie from her cardboard coffin and shroud of spare clothes; a brown and blue coat, a brown and white winter dress, a blue and white summer dress and an apron. With her brown eyes (rare in dolls of the time), porcelain-pink cheeks and white kid-leather limbs, she radiates a disturbing inscrutability.
The Herald reviews the new edition of The Golden Fleece by Muriel Spark:
She also had a special affinity with writers such as the ill-fated, short-lived Bronte sisters and she was especially proud - as well she might be - of her own biographical study of Emily Bronte. The modern writers she most admired were those with transcendent style. Proust's roman fleuve was a book she knew intimately. Here she recalls his interest in hats, one she shared. (Alan Taylor)
This columnist from The Strait Times (Malaysia) describes his love for literature:
I spend many lonely hours reading some of the most impenetrable classics known to man. No, I am not a literary scholar. I am forever a student of literature. I devoured Ulysses, Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary, War and Peace and Don Quixote with the obnoxious intent to please myself.
The Telegraph & Argus lists several of the upcoming activites at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
On Wednesday, April 23, at 7pm, the Parsonage stages a reading from playwright Samantha Ellis’s new novel, How To Be A Heroine: Or What I’ve Learned From Reading Too Much, as she reflects on the books that shaped her, and meets her literary heroines.
Easter workshops include Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!, transforming boiled eggs using dyeing and painting techniques, and Words To Pictures, where participants can be inspired by the museum’s pictures and objects to write their own story or poem.
The Churchyard Challenge gives visitors chance to explore mini beasts and unusual plants lurking beneath the stones, and complete our graveyard trail to find out about people who once lived in Haworth.
Keighley News reports the results of the top 75 Yorkshire icons poll:
Haworth’s legendary Brontë sisters have taken fourth spot in a poll to find Yorkshire’s top 75 icons.
The literary siblings were beaten only by Yorkshire Pudding – which took top spot – York Minster and the Yorkshire Dales.
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the one-time home to sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne, said she was pleased with the result.
“Fourth out of 75 seems pretty good to me!” she said.
“I think for a lot of people the Brontës have coloured the Yorkshire landscape and will be forever associated with the county.
The Irish Times recommends literary breaks in England:
Haworth, Yorkshire
A cottage industry of afternoon teas and literary mementos has overwhelmed the village of Haworth, once home to the Brontë sisters.
To get there, take the Metro Rail Network from Leeds to Keighley, then do the last six kilometres aboard the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway steam train ( which featured in The Railway Children.
St Thomas Times journal reviews Local Customs by Audrey Thomas:
Nothing is conclusive and in well-described scenes reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, in which Edward Rochester’s attic-bound wife made eerie midnight forays into other parts of the house, the mystery deepens. All of this is pondered by Letty, but from an after-death perspective.
The Sydney Morning Herald echoes the words of the American poet John Ashbery saying that "the great themes of poetry are death, love and the weather":
In Middlemarch, Dorothea and Will Ladislaw stand hand in hand looking out at a storm where the lightning is ''the terror of a hopeless love''. And where would Wuthering Heights be without the wuthering? (Jane Sullivan)
The Swarthmore College Daily Gazette presents yet another local performances of The Mystery of Irma Vep:
Inspired by Rebecca and Wuthering Heights, The Mystery of Irma Vep tells the story of Lord Edgar Hillcrest (Patrick Ross ‘15) and his new wife, Enid (Sasha Rojavin ‘15). Edgar’s first wife, the titular Irma, died tragically and he has yet to put her behind him. After a series of mysterious incidents on the estate – including an attack on Enid – Edgar goes to Egypt in search of answers. (Allison Hrabar)
Hartford Books Examiner interviews the writer Emma Donoghue:
What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
Fairy tales above all, plus nineteenth-century novels; I remember making a family tree to help me sort out the plot of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
Página 12 (Argentina) talks about the Brazilian patron of the arts Laurinda Santos Lobo:
No tuvo padre, la crió Murtinho, el hermano millonario de su madre, y fue gracias a esas monedas de oro que las hectáreas de yerba mate le dieron a su tío homeópata que Laurinda no fue sólo la huérfana heredera –sin destino de hospicio como el que le tocó en suerte a Jane Eyre– sino la mecenas avant-garde de la belle époque carioca. (Marisa Avigliano) (Translation)
This was an April Fool's prank published on Les Histoires Sans Fin but it's still very disturbing:
Les lecteurs d'aujourd'hui ne sont plus forcément les mêmes que ceux d'il y a une trentaine d'années. En effet, plusieurs maisons d'édition américaine se sont rendu compte d'une perte à fois des repères en culture générale, mais également de la dégradation du niveau de lecture des jeunes lecteurs. Pour ce faire, un vaste programme intitulé Re(ad)make© pour redonner envie de lire les livres classiques se met en place doucement dans les plusieurs écoles test. (...)
L'une des grosses surprises de ce projet est le travail que devrait effectuer Stephenie Meyer, l'auteure de Twilight, sur le roman dont elle a aidé à relancer les ventes, Les Hauts de Hurlevent d'Emily Brontë.
L'auteure mormone confie « Je suis ravie de participer à Re(ad)make ! Même si ils ont adoré l'histoire d'Emily Brontë, mes lecteurs m'ont parfois avoué n'avoir pas tout compris de cette histoire d'amour, de vengeance et de famille... J'ai été honoré que l'État du Wisconsin me l'ait demandé et j'ai accepté immédiatement. » (Fred Ricou) (Translation)
Psychologies (Romania) lists Jane and Rochester and Catherine and Heathcliff among other literary love stories; an app designer and Brontëite on La Repubblica (Italy); Flavorwire celebrates the National Poetry Month with a poem by Emily Brontë: A Death-scene.

by M. ( at April 05, 2014 02:54 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

The Law Courts' Clock

Another new photo blog about the Law Courts' clock ... click on the pic for details ...

by Lee Jackson ( at April 05, 2014 09:45 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries



The diaries of Edward Lear’s visit to Crete, covering 4 April – 31 May 1864, have long been available in Rowena Fowler’s excellent edition of Edward Lear: The Cretan Journal, first published in 1984, and currently available in its third edition from Denise Harvey (Publisher). Both Rowena and Denise have always been very supportive and kind, even to the point of forgetting to ask me to skip this period, but I feel it would be unfair to post material that might damage sales of their beautiful book: in addition to a reliable text of the journal, you will get a useful introduction and notes, as well as many colour and b/w illustrations reproducing Lear’s watercolours of this period. All for an incredible price (£12!) from the publisher’s websiteEdward Lear: The Corfu Years, edited by Philip Sherrard, is also still available.

The book also includes a list of all Lear’s Cretan drawings, edited by Stephen Duckworth and available at his website Edward Lear and Crete.

Rowena Fowler has also edited and published on the web Edward Lear’s Grecian Travels.


See you on 1 June.


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


Always Emily

Emily Brontë is the main character in a new novel just published:
Always Emily
Michaela MacCall
Chronicle Books (1 April 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1452111742

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle— before someone else gets killed.
         Emily heard the sound of footsteps, distant enough, but still coming toward her. A thud and a muffled curse told Emily her pursuer was suffering from the whims of the moor, just as she was.

         She got to her feet and mustered all her strength for the final hill. At the crest, she looked down to see the parsonage ahead, beckoning her to safety. Behind her, the stranger was just starting to race up the hill. He wasn’t far behind.

Emily flung herself down the hill until she reached the parsonage gate. Her fingers fumbled as she undid the gate’s latch, but at last it was open and she practically fell into the garden. She only had to shout and Father would rescue her. She peered through the gate, but saw no sign of her pursuer. Emily sucked air into her lungs and let her thudding heart realize she was safe.

         A man’s hand grabbed her shoulder. Emily screamed.

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

Sad and uplifting

The news of Haworth being shortlisted for England's Hall of Fame has reached local newspapers. From The Telegraph and Argus:
Haworth could feature in an exhibition to mark St George’s Day after being shortlisted in a national tourism campaign.
The search to establish England’s Hall of Fame began in February when VisitEngland asked the public to submit suggestions on what England has brought to the world and what makes the country such a fascinating place to explore.
The village was shortlisted for the dramatic landscape that inspired Emily Brontë to write Wuthering Heights.
The top 60 can be viewed at and the public have until April 13 to vote for their favourite.
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Employment, Skills and Culture, said: “Haworth is a great tourist destination.
“I would encourage everybody who values Haworth to go on to the site and vote.”
And the Keighley News carries the story as well. Don't forget to vote here.

One of Haworth's highlights is, of course, the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which today is on Radio Leeds:
Tune in to BBC Radio Leeds 92.4FM between 9am-12pm on Friday 4th April - the Wes Butters show will be broadcasting LIVE from the Parsonage!
The Guardian Books Blog looks at 'books that make you cry':
Some sad scenes, however, are also Uplifting. The last lines of Wuthering Heights do exactly what is intended: show peace after storm.
I lingered round [the three graves], under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth. (Moira Redmond)
Charlotte Brontë is not only the questionable grandmother of chicklit but now also the (also questionable in our humble opinion) of 'chick noir', at least according to Lucy Atkins on Lovereading.
Whatever the reason, one thing’s clear: ‘Chick noir’ is a daft label. These are intelligent and well-written books: Gone Girl was even shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize. Many readers are male, and as for the ‘chick’ bit, SJ Watson, is – whisper it – a man. It’s also a trend with impressive origins: think Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, or Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
The Telegraph (India) reviews A Strange Kind of Paradise: India through foreign eyes by Sam Miller and reminds us of the fact that
Miller sleuths not just through the history of a nation but also of words with Indian roots and resonance. Enlightened readers know that Juggernaut, a term that Charlotte Brontë uses in a passage in Jane Eyre, originally referred to Jagannath. (Uddalak Mukherjee)
Movie reviews and other such nonsense posts about Jane Eyre 2011. Caught Between the Pages reviews Always Emily by Michaela MacColl. Fastpageturner interviews Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy. The American Reader quotes from an April 3 letter of Charlotte Brontë to William S. Williams.

by Cristina ( at April 05, 2014 12:40 AM

April 04, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Kate Thompson Sizer, Dickon O'Greenwood.  Or, How the Light came to Lady Clare.  A Village Picture in Martyr Days (Robert Culley, 1891).  Religious novel set during the Marian persecutions.  A young boy's father is put on trial for heresy, a priest converts to Protestantism, and so forth.  (eBay)
  • Henry Summersett, Leopold Warndorf, ed. Steve Orman (Valancourt, 2014).  Reprint of an 1800 Gothic novel in which a young man (born out of wedlock) accidentally falls in love with his half-sister (also born out of wedlock).  (Amazon)
  • Felix Gilman, The Revolutions (TOR, 2014).  In fin-de-siecle England, a young man and woman find themselves caught up in bizarre spiritualist doings, with potentially deadly results.  (Amazon)
  • Juliet Barker, The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family (Pegasus, 2013).  Second edition of Barker's standard biography of the family.  (Amazon [secondhand])

by Miriam Burstein at April 04, 2014 10:20 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


We are delighted to announce that registration is OPEN for ‘Remarkable Reynolds: Dickens’s Radical Rival’ Westminster Archives Centre Sat. 26th July 2014 11am – 4pm Sponsored by the English & […]

by Jo Taylor at April 04, 2014 05:05 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Scientific American Blog Post Considers Euclid and His Modern Rivals

Lewis Carroll with BookIf you’re a fan of geometry, math, or just Lewis Carroll, you might be interested in this blog post from Scientific American. It considers the importance and relevance of Mr. Dodsgon’s highly theatrical treatise Euclid and His Modern Rivals.  While it ultimately finds limitations in Dodgson’s conclusions, it applauds his sheer creativity in addressing a difficult and contentious topic.

To read the article, click me.

by andrew at April 04, 2014 01:00 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Victoria(n) Grove

A new photo blog, with its first post, now published - click on picture below to discover more ...


by Lee Jackson ( at April 04, 2014 01:29 PM

The Kissed Mouth

Exhibition Review : The Artists Rifles - From Pre-Raphaelites to Passchendaele

Last night I had the good fortune to attend the opening of a new exhibition at Southampton Art Gallery.  The subject relates to the First World War commemorations that are happening this year but stretched back further than that, all the way to the Pre-Raphaelites.  The subject was the Artists Rifles...

Cap badge of the Artists Rifles
The Artists Rifles were one of many volunteer regiments formed in mid nineteenth century when Britain felt under threat from the French.  Raised in London in 1859 by an art student, Edward Sterling, it comprised of men in the creative arts: painters, musicians, actors, architects and the suchlike.  It was formally named the 38th Middlesex (Artists') Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1860, with its HQ in Burlington House.  The unit's badge, above, designed by J W Wyon shows Mars and Minerva in profile.

What I didn't realise was how many of the Pre-Raphaelite and associated Victorian artists were involved in the venture.  Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Everett Millias, William Holman Hunt, Ford Madox Brown, together with G F Watts and Lord Leighton were all members.  Lord Leighton became CO of the corp after the original commander stepped down, possibly good training for being in charge of the Royal Academy.  The exhibition fills a marvellous room with their art, together with a set of portraits of the gentlemen involved.

Oscar Gustav Rejlander double self-portrait
as artist and in Artists Rifle uniform
There are some smashing stories of Pre-Raphaelites being trained as soldiers.  William Morris couldn't tell his left from his right and so turned the wrong way while drilling.  He ended up facing his friends, apologising profusely and turning around again.  Rossetti, predictably, argued all the time and wouldn't take orders without questioning the officer at length.  I think we are fortunate that the French never invaded.

Over the Top (1918) John Nash
Of course it isn't all jolly fun with beardy chaps.  The fact that it is linked to the 1914 events give a hint that the corp was involved in the First World War and a stark painting by John Nash shows part of their involvement.  Over the Top shows the Welsh Ridge counter-attack of December 1917 where the Artists Rifles climbed from the trenches in the snow and attacked the enemy.  Of the 80 men involved, 68 were killed or wounded in the first few minutes.

The Artists Rifles memorial at the Royal Academy
Post 1918, the work of the Artists Rifles is shown in such glorious pictures as Shell posters (which I have an absolute weakness for) and some utterly glorious paintings such as this one, possibly my favourite of the exhibition (outside the nineteenth century)...

Pauline Waiting (1939) Herbert James Gunn
The exhibition features works from major national collections including the Imperial War Museum, Leighton House and the National Portrait Gallery (and the Russell Cotes Museum and Art Gallery, hence me getting to go to the opening with Mr Walker).  It also has objects and uniforms from the Regiment.  It starts in Southampton Art Gallery where it runs from 4th April until 28th June.  It then goes to The Willis Museum in Basingstoke from 5th July to 27th September, then to the Gosport Discovery Centre from 4th October until 27th December.

It's a beautiful exhibition with a really moving story to tell so if you are able to come to the South, I thoroughly encourage you to do so.

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 04, 2014 11:09 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Weather fine ― but strongish N. Wind. Everything was ready as early as I could manage, & G. took the last things away to Spiro’s room. ―

So only the 11 packages for the voyage remained. Wandered about miserably ― & had to get one or 2 little things at Courages ― & Taylor’s. Walking up the Ghetto ― spoke to Politi, who thinks all the Jews will go sooner or later. At 12.40 to De Veres ― & lunched with them for the last time.

Came away at 2 ― & came off at 3 with George & Spiro in a boat to the Austn. Lloyd’s ― “Stadium.” (Saw Capt. Deverill ― & heard that all the 10 little geese were dead or stolen.) Sad enough am I ― but in better spirits than when I went last year, for Evelyn Baring joined me soon after, & at 5. we left Corfu. ―

Once more I left the loveliest place in the world ― with a pang ― tho’ less this time thro’ not being alone. Dinner ― & afterwards, B. & I walked talked smoked & sate till 8 ― when there was tea ― & then we sate stargazing rill 9 ― when we went to bed. Slept till 10.30 ― but the rolling & cracking of the ship when we got out with full sea beyond Παξῶ bored & worried me terribly: later it grew calmer, & I slept from 12.45 ― to 6.15 ― when G. woke me.

She sits upon her Bulbul
Through the long long hours of night ―
Watching ˇ[And] Where ^[o’er] the dark horizon gleams
The Yashmack’s fitful light.
The dark lone Yaourt sails slowly down
The deep & craggy dell ―
And from his lofty nest, loud screams
The white plumed Asphodel.[1]

Alas! indeed yes! ―
(12 August 1865) ―
Yesterday H. de Vere was killed.

[1]This poem was published, without recording the variants, by Vivien Noakes in Edward Lear, The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense, p. 184; the note on p. 496, however, misdates it to 4 April 1863.

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

by Marco Graziosi at April 04, 2014 08:00 AM


Jane Eyre in Leicester

The Bryony J. Thompson adaptation of Jane Eyre, produced by the Rosemary Branch Theatre will be performed today April 4 and tomorrow April 5 in Leicester:
Jane Eyre
Upstairs at the Western, Leicester’s first pub theatre.
April 4 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
April 5 @ 7:30 pm -  9:30 pm
by Charlotte Brontë

Directed and adapted by Bryony J. Thompson
with Original Music by James Young

Part ghost story, part Gothic romance this gripping new adaptation combines Brontë’s original dialogue with narrative from her classic novel, bringing the book literally to life. Set in 1840s northern England, the early stirrings of feminism shine through the strict adherence to social hierarchy giving this venerated novel its iconic status.

Orphaned into an unloving household, subjected to poor treatment at a charity school, Jane Eyre emerges to seek her fortune unbroken in spirit and integrity. She becomes a governess to the ward of the enigmatic Mr Rochester. This story illustrates a passionate and tenacious woman’s search for a wide rich life.

“Fringe theatre at its best.” -The Stage

by M. ( at April 04, 2014 01:30 AM

Haworth shortlisted for England's Hall of Fame

Great news for Haworth, as reported by ITV News:
Haworth makes the shortlist in England's Hall of Fame and could feature in a landmark exhibition to mark St George's Day after being shortlisted in a national tourist board campaign.
VisitEngland asked the public to submit their suggestions on what England has brought to the world and what makes the country such a diverse and fascinating place to visit and explore.
The village was shortlisted for its dramatic landscape which inspired Emily Brontë to write one of English literature's most revered novels, Wuthering Heights.
The vote has now reopened for people to choose their favourite from a shortlist of 60.
Still in Haworth, the British Mountaneering Council page has an article on a recent BMC Equity Symposium which took place in the area:
Set in beautiful Yorkshire and with a stay in YHA Haworth the whole event was enticing. A youth hostel is a little out of my comfort zone now, but, hey, life begins where your comfort zone ends! [...]
The outdoor sessions were brilliant! Leading and navigational skills, rock climbing and first aid. We walked the Brontë Way and learned to read maps (haven’t used a map since O Grade Geography!). Claudia, our leader, even showed us some funky moss that you can use as toilet paper! The session was confidence-building and fun and we worked as a team to get back to the van – eventually! (Afsha Malik)
In The Huffington Post, Richard Vetere thinks that 'writers are the heroes of our time'.
Writers create characters that resonate with us for decades and sometimes for centuries. Hamlet, Maggie "The Cat," David Copperfield, Gatsby, and Jane Eyre are just a handful and all of them are the product of a writer's imagination.
Movies with Butter reviews the film The Invisible Woman:
The story is similar to that of 19th century Victorian era romanticized novels about a mother whose main goal is to ensure her daughters have a secure future, either through marriage or work, typically as a governess. Reminds me of the Brontë sisters’ books, like Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, or Alcott’s Little Women, where women engage in social parties and events or become a governess in hopes of meeting a future husband or gentleman caller. (Popcorn)
The Daily Sabah wonders whether the words/acronyms used on social media are slang or the basis of a new language and concludes:
Perhaps expanding beyond the limitation of social media and subjecting students to the classic pages of the likes of Henry James, Emily Brontë and Charles Dickens may polish their language in class and allow them to fit in with their peers. (Alanur Aydemir)
But wouldn't speaking like Emily Brontë make then NOT fit in with their peers though?

The New York Times also looks at language, particularly at the different sounds the digraph 'ch' has in the English language:
It also highlights one of the oddities of the English language: the digraph “CH-” can be pronounced four different ways, and David Benkof and Jeff Chen have found four examples: CHANUKAH MENORAH, CHAOS THEORY, CHARLOTTE BRONTË, and CHAIN SMOKED. (Deb Amlen)
This is how The Telegraph describes Harvey Smith, 'one of Britain's best showjumpers over four decades':
More than that, his gruff, larger then life, plain-speaking 'Heathcliff on horseback' persona turned him into one of British sports' biggest personalities. (Ian Chadband)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page has a few pictures from the Jan Marsh and Juliet Barker in yesterday's conversation event. Emmabookblogger posts about Wuthering Heights. What Can't Say To Your Face reviews I Walked with a zombie 1943. Jane Godman Author posts about Charlotte Brontë. Molly Soda has a Wuthering Heights project which involves Kate Bush's song.

by Cristina ( at April 04, 2014 12:13 AM

April 03, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries



Awful North W. wind all the morning, with tremendous storms of rain ―beginning at 5 or 6 A.M. with a huge thunderstorm. Poor Χριστός still lingers, poor fellow, but is nearer his end hourly. ― All the morning I wrote notes to heaps of people, Lady Goldsmid, Lucy Hamilton, &c. &c. &c. But the outside was like one long continued tempest, I never saw the sea more violent nor heard the wind more horridly here. At 1. went out, but was nearly thrown down by the wind, & had to go by the Ghetto ― to De Veres. ― All is sad: but it is a pleasure to see Mrs. D.V.’s real honest face. I staid till 3 ― but had not courage to say goodbye. ― Went to the A.D.C.’s room, & sate for 2½ hours with Strahan ― afterwards, walking in the garden with him, B. & H. Excellency. (I forgot ― I went to Wolffs after De Veres, & was disgusted at his praising a most atrocious pamphlet of Dandolo’s just out: a viler product is not possible: but Wolff is vile.)

2 steamers coming in made an alarm of Mexican Majesty ― but falsely. Returned by the “Calle” to dress ― the Line-Wall being all up for Gas.


Evening, as ever, pleasant ― I grieve to leave good kind Sir Henry. ―――― Sate till 11 singing with the A.D.C.s & Bowden. Home by 11.15. Still the storm rages frightfully[.]

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

by Marco Graziosi at April 03, 2014 08:00 AM

Of Victorian Interest

Public Lecture: Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies (5/19/2014)

Annual Public Lecture
Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies
Leeds Trinity University, West Yorkshire
May 19, 2014 

Everyone is warmly invited to attend the annual Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies public lecture, which will be on Monday 19 May 2014 at 7pm in the Auditorium at Leeds Trinity University, West Yorkshire.  It will be delivered by our fourth visiting professor, Regenia Gagnier (Professor of English at the University of Exeter) on the topic “The Global Circulation of Victorian Actants and Ideas: in the Niche of Nature, Culture and Technology”. The lecture will be preceded by a wine reception at 6pm in the Conference Suite to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies.

Professor Gagnier is a distinguished scholar in the field of Victorian Studies and an outstanding critical thinker, whose work has contributed substantially to our understanding of the modern human condition. She has published numerous books on Victorian literature and culture, including Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public (Stanford, 1986), Subjectivities: A History of Self-Representation in Britain 1832-1920 (Oxford, 1991), The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society (Chicago, 2000) and Individualism, Decadence and Globalization: on the Relationship of Part to Whole 1859-1920 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

For further information and to book on to this free event, visit: or

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 07:26 AM

CFP: The Victorians and Literary Theory (5/15/2014; 10/31-11/2/2014)

Special Session, PAMLA 2014
Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, California
October 31- November 2, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Paper proposals sought for an approved PAMLA special session entitled "The Victorians and Literary Theory."  Proposals may address British Victorian fiction, poetry, drama, or non-fiction, but the emphasis should be on literary/critical theory and/or the history of literary criticism.  In keeping with the conference theme of "Familiar Spirits," this special session aims to reflect on the continuing value of Victorian literature to those who engage with literary theory.

Submission Deadline: The deadline for proposing papers to the approved sessions will be Thursday, May 15, 2014. Proposals should be submitted via the online submission form to be available at the following address: Questions may be directed to Al Drake

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 07:18 AM

Reminder: Essay Prize: RSVP "The 2014 Rosemary VanArsdel Prize" (5/1/2014)

The 2014 Rosemary VanArsdel Prize
Research Society for Victorian Periodicals
Deadline: May 1, 2014

The VanArsdel Prize is awarded annually to the best graduate student essay investigating Victorian periodicals and newspapers. The prize was established in 1990 to honor Rosemary VanArsdel, a founding member of RSVP whose groundbreaking research continues to shape the field of nineteenth-century periodical studies.

Graduate students are invited to submit essays for the 2014 VanArsdel Prize for the best graduate student essay on, about, or extensively using Victorian periodicals. The winner will receive $300 and publication in Victorian Periodicals Review. Submissions should be 15-25 pages, excluding notes and bibliography. Manuscripts should not have appeared in print. Send e-mail submissions to VPR Editor Alexis Easley (maeasley @ by May 1, 2014. Submissions should be formatted as Word files in Chicago style with identifying information removed. In an accompanying e-mail, applicants should include a description of their current status in graduate school.

For more information please visit:

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 07:12 AM

Special Event: Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies Podcast

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies Podcast

More audio recordings for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies have now been posted on our website:

Here is a list of the new recordings:

  • Angela Dunstan (Kent): "Sculptography, Sculpturing Machines, and Inanimate Sculptors: Sculpture, Authenticity and Replication in Victorian Literature"
  • Vladimir Jankovic (Manchester): "Climate Fetishism in the Long Nineteenth Century?"
  • Dennis Denisoff (Ryerson): "The Eco-Politics of Women's Pagan Desires"
Recordings and event reports of other Forum events will also be posted to this website in the future. For more information about the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies or to view other events going on at the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Birkbeck, please visit the website at:

To be added to the mailing list for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies, please email:

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 07:08 AM

CFP: The "Exotic" Body in 19th-century British Drama (5/25/2014; 9/25-26/2014)

The ‘Exotic’ Body in 19th-century British Drama
University of Oxford
Faculty of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford
Funded under the 2011 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships scheme, European Commission
September 25-26, 2014
Deadline: May 25, 2014

Convenor: Dr Tiziana Morosetti (Oxford)

Confirmed speakers:
Professor Ross Forman (Warwick), Dr Peter Yeandle (Manchester),
Dr Hazel Waters (Institute of Race Relations, London)

Increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the representation of the Other on the 19th-century British stage, with key studies such as Acts of Supremacy: The British Empire and the Stage, 1790-1930 (Bratton et al. 1991), The Orient on the Victorian Stage (Ziter 2003), Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Brooks 2006), Racism on the Victorian Stage: Representation of Slavery and the Black Character (Waters 2007), Nineteenth-Century Theatre and the Imperial Encounter (Gould 2011), China and the Victorian Imagination: Empires Entwined (Forman 2013).Building on these, the conference aims at exploring the concept, politics, and aesthetic features of the ‘exotic’ body on stage, be it the actual body of the actor/actress as s/he performs in genres such as the ‘Oriental’ extravaganza, or the fictional, ‘picturesque’ bodies they bring on stage. A term that in itself needs interrogation, the ‘exotic’ will therefore be discussed addressing the visual features that characterize the construction and representation of the Other in 19th-century British drama, as well as the material conditions, and techniques that accompany the ‘exotic’ on stage on the cultural and political background of imperial Britain.

One of the dissemination activities for the two-year project ‘The Representation of the “Exotic” Body in 19th-century English Drama’ (REBED), funded under the 2011 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships scheme, the conference also hopes to function as a site for discussing the state of the art on the ‘exotic’ in the theatrical cultures of both Romantic and Victorian Britain; contributions on ongoing research and/or recently completed projects are therefore particularly encouraged.

Although attention will be paid mostly to the non-European Other, papers addressing a European ‘exotic’ are also welcome. Topics include the following: 
Definitions of ‘exotic’:
  • Is the non-European Other on stage really ‘exotic’?
  • Are any genres more ‘exotic’ (or more liable to convey ‘exotic’ stereotypes) than others?
  • Do different dramatis personæ and/or settings convey different degrees of ‘otherness’?
  • Can the British on stage be ‘exotic’, and, if so, to what extent?
  • Is the spectacular on stage itself ‘exotic’?

Staging the ‘exotic’ body:
  • How are costumes, make-up, scenery, movements employed to construct the ‘exotic’?
  • Are any visual features more recurrent than others?
  • To what extent is the visual representation of the ‘exotic’ body historically accurate?
  • How does music contribute to the staging of the Other?
  • Who embodies the ‘exotic’? Is the acting career informed by bringing the Other on stage?
  • Who were the audiences? Did their composition have an impact on the performance of the ‘exotic’?
  • Are any experiences abroad relevant to how managers staged the Other in Britain?
  • In what ways were representations of the ‘exotic’ body informed by venues?
  • The Other on the London stage and the provinces

Cultural and political backgrounds:
  • To what extent did audiences’ expectations affect theatrical representations of the Other?
  • In what ways do class, gender, race inform the acting and managing of ‘exotic’ pieces?
  • To what extent did scientific and anthropological accounts inform theatrical portraits of the Other?
  • Were illustrations of (European and/or) non-European countries informed by theatre?
  • In what ways have political narratives influenced (or been influenced by) the ‘exotic’ on stage?
  • Has the legal frame for the theatre influenced the staging of the Other?
  • Visual points of contact between popular entertainment and theatrical representations of the Other

The travelling ‘exotic’:
  • How do texts such as Arabian Nights, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Mazeppa ‘travel’ between dramatic and non-dramatic genres?
  • Survival of a Romantic ‘exotic’ in the Victorian staging of the Other;
  • Is Othello on the Romantic and Victorian stage ‘exotic’?
  • How do translations/adaptations from other languages contribute to the construction of the Other on the British stage? Can we define a British specificity when it comes to the ‘exotic’?
  • Has the theatrical representation of the ‘exotic’ in Britain had an impact on non-British stages?

The legacy of 19th-century ‘exotic’ body:
  • Contemporary plays/performances addressing the Other on the 19th-century British stage (e.g. Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet)
  • The ‘exotic’ body on the British stage in a diachronic perspective
  • The non-European Other in the 20th- and 21st-century Christmas pantomime

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio should be sent to by May 25, 2014. Speakers whose abstracts have been accepted will be notified by June 15.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 07:03 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Piero Longhi (1701-85), The Ridotto in Venice (1750s)

Dear friends and readers,

Friday, the second full day of the conference, was the longest and would have been fuller had I known how to get to the Hennage Auditorium, at one of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, for between the last session of papers for the day and the masquerade ball, John Styles gave a lecture on the foundling hospitals of 18th century London, how bits of textile were used to connect a mother and her new-born baby in the kept records, not that it was common for a mother to return to find a living baby to take home with her. Most of the time the impoverished women never returned and the babies died.

The poignancy of these lives as caught in these textiles (to my mind) connects to the state murder of a 12 year old African-Indian girl as told by Prof Roach (in the plenary lecture briefly summarized below). The Wm and Mary museum owns a large collection of these textile fabrics. I did hear him describe his lecture on Saturday when at the end of the day William Warner led a walk around the streets of Colonial Williamsburg and took us to the College of Wm and Mary where the museum is located.

From the 1991 mini-series, Clarissa: writing while in prison

The day began for me shortly after 8:00 when, as a continuation of what I had heard at the Richardson Society luncheon on Thursday, I sat down in a chair at a session where people were sitting in a circle and talking. Several papers had been written beforehand, circulated and the writers and readers were discussing these. So much better than papers being read aloud. The description of the papers was clear enough that I could follow what was said. Topics included: Jarrod Hurlbert’s paper on Clarissa’s reception in the US (where the texts were transformed into omniscient narratives in the 1790s). Elaine Phillips’s paper about the two rewrites of Clarissa that she likened these to fanfictions on-line today, where readers actively participate and re-shape fictions to fit their own world views; Byran Mangano on friendships in Clarissa as power struggles; Teri Doerksen’s paper on the problem of poetic justice in Clarissa; Marilyn Marie Holguin if Richardson had been influenced by Jacobean tragedy (mixed together with Christian doctrine); Christopher Fanning on the mad papers Clarissa writes after she is raped, isolated, and disconnected; after listening to Eric Drew’s remarks for first time in decades I had an impulse to reread Pamela (especially the near suicide scene at the pond).

What made the session stimulating was the talk about these theses; papers were discussed and ideas debated. Everyone seemed to know one another and the talk was companionable. People spoke of how Clarissa is about uneasy relationships, shows Richardson’s attraction to Catholicism; the dark fantasy about a (pyrrhic) triumph at its catastrophic close; intense identifications; tension between characters’ inner and outer worlds; how strength is in this novel not gendered, where we see a world of perpetual conflict in which animal passion is a powerful amoral force. I thought about how the pleasures of Richardson’s texts are imbricated with levels of pain.

Image cropped and Photoshopped
Hogarth: a detail from his depiction of people seeking the longitude (seen as “mad”)

A disability studies caucus was held in the next (9:45 am) session; in a crowded small room, there were 9 papers where the people poured forth complicated and interesting ideas inside 8 minutes each. Laurel Daen’s was on a woman whose art work led people to ask what disability means; is it also a strength? ought gov’t to intervene because people respond with alarm. Dana Glisermann Kopans talked of how mental disability was theorized in the era. Madness began to be seen as a disease rather than innate, but while there were no consistent findings, people wanted to imprison the so-called mad. Some people did fake disabilities; the problem for mental disabilities is these lack ocular and physical proof. Jason Farr discussed an 18th century poem by Mary Rogers showing what can happen when a profoundly deaf person is taught sign language. It included these lines:

When Britains’ Roscius on the stage appears,
Who charms all eyes, and (I am told) all ears
With ease, the various passions I can trace
Clearly reflected from that wond’rous face.
Whilst true conception with just action join’d,
Strongly impressed each image on my mind –
What need of sounds, when I plainly descry,
Th’expressive features and the speaking eye.

Greta Lafleur spoke of how disability and homosexuality shape a pathologized past. Both are positions outside reproduction which was thought essential for all people. Divorce cases bring out into the open some of this: Anne Marie Baum applied for divorce on the grounds her husband, George Miller, was impotent; he called her a whore, threatened her if she went public. The couple was not granted a divorce; it was somehow determined that his penis did work, so they spent the rest of their lives in connected hatred. No one saw Miller’s condition as a disability.

James Rasmussen, a German scholar spoke of stuttering, a speech impediment shared by Moses Mendelsohn and Johann Homen. No one understands why some stutter and why some outgrow the problem when there is a demand in public for rapid speech; this seemingly minor problem can build major emotional barriers as it was seen as a moral failure of the will. Here the sign is the disease or condition. Terry Robinson talked about people inhabit their bodies and how melodrama with its relentless highlighting of the body and putting before us social processes lends itself to portrayals of disability. Thomas Holcroft wrote a play about a deaf and dumb boy abandoned by his uncle; a friend tries to teach him to communicate his thoughts. French philosophes had invented versions of sign language (one was pantomime and gestural). Miriam Wallace worried lest in our efforts to stop the oppression of the disabled we find they are used ahistorically to justify the humanities; a disability is a variation; at the same time there is a limit to what help is provided this way. Cynthia Richards spoke last and movingly on disabilities inflicted on people by war experiences. Few want to be frank, to focus on the acute discomfort of what is done to the vulnerable animal body which collective consciousness denies.

Talk afterward included the need for a good definition of what is meant by disability, the importance of terminology; how we should look at where some of the words used came from; how able-bodied actors imitated disabled people and the problem of doing searches in databases.

Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Elizabeth Farren (1790)

Before lunch I attended the session by the women’s caucus intended as a sort of preface to the coming evening ball. The papers augured well. Catherine Craft-Fairchild spoke on “Masquerade and female identity,” and traced eloquent and perceptive depictions of women in Maria Edgeworth’s Helen, Elizabeth Inchbald’s Simple Story and Catherine Maria Sedgwick’s American and didactic fiction. She felt that Edgeworth learned from Inchbald (who didn’t give us Miss Milner’s inner world); the characters of the first two novelists are dissatisfied with their realities. Nora Nachumi worried the concept of authenticity as replacing an older ideal of virtue as seen Hannah Cowley’s Belle’s Strategem, Inchbald’s I’ll Tell You What and Cibber and Van Brugh’s Provok’d Husband: she talked of how actresses justified their roles on stage as somehow authentic selves seen through a masquerade; if you outwardly conformed to conventional social life (Jordan did not) you could be an insider on the stage and achieve a modicum of power (e.g., Abingdon’s versatility) and make a small change in the way women regarded. Using the two different heroines of Inchbald’s Simple Story (gothic heroine, Matilda is authentic and thus naive and gullible), Jamie Smith traced how a resurgence of religion and gender panic in the later 18th century led to the decline of the masquerade which was an expression of what is repressed in everyday life; ritual became identified with paganism, Catholicism, self-indulgence, so its use for exploring unstable identities was lost.

John Hoppner (1758-1810), Dora Jordan as Rosalind (from Shakespeare’s As You Like It) (1791)

Discussion afterward included the idea that novels contain secret thoughts and can be places to perform a kind of authenticity. Jamie Smith suggested there are different levels of performance, understandings of it, and what you can do depends on who you are interacting with. Mary Trouille then said that given the structure of behavior, presented norms, in upper class 18th century groups it’s doubtful authenticity of any kind was possible. Catherine Craft-Fairchild rejoined that her women characters and real people were trapped in social performances; Nora Nachumi, that social control and anxieties about breaking code are ever there as people try to evade surveillance. Someone in the audience added that one could say that when you wear a mask you are not disguising yourself, but acting out an alluring image; most people at the same time do not expose themselves too fear lest they be too “found out.” You expect to be recognized, want to be.

Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Mrs Abingdon as Miss Prue (from Congreve’s Love for Love) (1771)

For lunch I went into the bar had a whiskey and ginger ale with a small pizza and emailed friends through my iphone. Bars are friendly comfortable places and I was able to relax as I made needed contact with daughters at home and friends on-line.


The plenary lecture, by Joseph Roach, “Invisible Cities and the Archeology of Dreams” began with Italo Calvino, Marco Polo, and Kubla Khan, and the idea that it’s not possible to tell if the cities encountered are real. He moved between arguing that authors have intentions and we can ferret them out, but the truth is that in an effort to understand a previous era we can only look at what’s left (busts, costumes and descriptions of what happened in the playhouses, texts). He mentioned in passing the people who go to theme parks, or to see resurrected time capsules where they look at rebuilt versions of what once existed, and ended on a nightmare happening that is as characteristic of the period as anything else: Hannah, a 12 year old girl, perhaps autistic, part African, part Indian, hung for murder. She had to endure a sermon preached over her and seems to have behaved stoically in the face of a tortured death. Prof Roach quoted Antonin Scaglia on how in US history child-killing (execution) was not unusual. (What a horrific past lies behind the movement into twisted cruelties in the present US criminal justice “system” now allowed and made worse by uncontrolled capitalism.)

Eric Rohmer’s Marquise of O (1976): the Marquise leaving with her children, grieving at her parents’ ejection of them

“The Eighteenth-Century on Film,” one of the many last sessions of the day was not so grim or vatic. Oliver Wunsche spoke of the use of paintings in films through studying the relationship of Rohmer’s Marquise of O and Fuseli’s Nightmare (one series of shots in the film imitates Fuseli’s painting) and a Fragonard set of paintings (The Progress of Love). Greuze was another influence. His subject was how the camera eye in painting helps us understand our historical visions, basing some of his talk on Michael Baxandall’s Painting and Experience in 15th Century Italy (1972). Guy Spielmann and Joseph Bartolomeo gave papers on the many film adaptations of LaClos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the 1991 BBC Clarissa (scripted by David Nokes and Janet Baron) respectively. The problem with both papers was ultimately they went about to compare the films against the eponymous novel, showing departures from fidelity (how the two differed in literal content), with the assumption that the novel’s vision was not only superior but the movie had the obligation to project either the author’s vision or some truth or reality of the 18th century. Prof. Spielmann was thorough in his continual see-sawing of how this movie departs this way and that that way and seems to have watched every filmic adaptation but one of this century. He kept asking what is a film adaptation and what is transformed but he never talked literally about the transferred materials and techniques used as metaphor (or filmic mirror, to use Kamilla Elliot’s phrase). Prof Bartolomeo went carefully over several places in the film where he objected to how Lovelace’s character seemed to him to have been simplified (made far more sinister than in the novel); he thought that while in the novel Clarissa does not know what is going on around her, since in the movie she does, she emerges as a deluded simpleton.

1989 Miles Forman’s Valmont: Valmont (Colin Firth, departed from LaClos’s conception to make the character appealing) and Cecile (Meg Tilly, not playing the character as an innocent at all) dancing intensely

From Cruel Intentions (1999), a free adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons, when it comes to love and sex, the usually manipulative and nasty Valmont (Ryan Phillipe) is tender and sincere; in this still a modern Tourvel (Reese Witherspoon), informs him, “it’s not about winning, Sebastian

The discussion afterward took the form of a real debate — though Prof Spielmann denied he was using the criteria of faithfulness; during the discussion period he said if movie-makers want to make a story about the 18th century, why do they go to these works? He seemed to be indignant over “misrepresentations.” (The answer is they are out of copyright and the film-makers are engaged by the works and want to make some comment about them, or bring them before an audience in ways that are relevant and appealing.) On Clarissa, I did identify myself as someone who had written and delivered a paper arguing for the excellence of the 1991 film (“How you all must’ve laughed; what a witty masquerade”), and suggested the place to begin talking about Nokes and Baron’s film is their vision (one which I think is about a nightmare of sexuality as experienced by many women in our present culture), how they saw the novel against our modern culture, how BBC filmic art was developing in the early 1990s. Prof Bartolomeo and I did agree that Nokes and Barron were much influenced by Mark Kinkhead-Weekes’s SR: Dramatic Novelist. Another woman in the audience suggested that if Lovelace seems exaggerated, there are ways in which Clarissa’s character is deepened and altered that make her more interesting to modern women in the audience. She also thought there was an enormous difference in the film of the Marquise of O and the 18th century painting, on the basis of how today the norm for women’s bodily size has become anorexic; there has been ontological out of cultural change.

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) Plaisirs du Bal (1717)

It was then evening, the public sessions at the Lodge for the day were over and I went back to my room and rested. At about 8:30 I began to get ready for the masquerade. I wore a pretty beaded aqua blue dress that I had worn for my older daughter’s wedding that looked like a 1920s flapper dress (it has layers of silk), dark blue pumps, and at the door I bought a black eye mask with cat-like ears. I came along thinking I would stay for a short while and leave. Many said later they felt this. But like many I stayed and stayed and finally was like many others dancing the night away. Over 2/3s of the people came in some sort of costume; and of these about half in 18th century dress. Some people rented, others made their own costumes, still others put together what they could find in their wardrobe that gave the appearance of someone in the 18th century. It really was a party where everyone was having a good time. I’ve thought it was a loss when the banquet was given up as too expensive and not attracting enough people; the whopping success of the night (it lasted well past midnight and took in $14,000) is a testimony to people wanting to get together for pleasure. I neglected to take a photo of myself but many took photos and some of these may be accessed at the facebook page on ASECS Women’s Caucus Masquerade Ball.

1991 Clarissa: Diana Quick as the fake Lady Betty taking her mask, wig, and hat off

But the costumes also mattered; they made the experience have the curious excitement or slight theatrical thrill it did. I felt like I was in Burney’s Cecilia when people came over who were completely swathed in costume, including a mask and wig and I could not tell who they were until they spoke for a while. People I knew emerged as having different aspects to themselves both from knowing them before and also seeing them the next day back in their usual costumes (you might say). A friend wore a Venetian mask and monk’s outfit from head to toe; I saw a hunchback of Notre Dame. Some of the women were orange wenches. Couples came with the woman in a lovely sacque; one friend was a replica of Charles II, black curly wig, extravagant outfit, little dog and all; his wife had made an outfit which made me think of Pamela in high life.


by ellenandjim at April 03, 2014 04:06 AM

Of Victorian Interest

CFP: “Dickens and Conviviality” (5/31/2014; 10/11/2014)

Dickens Day 2014
Senate House, London (WC1)
Saturday October 11, 2014
Deadline: May 31, 2014

“Dickens and Conviviality”
Dickens’s works are famously convivial, depicting sociability in myriad forms: from the famously boozy Pickwick Papers, through the Crachits sentimental festive celebrations in A Christmas Carol, to the miserable family gatherings of Martin Chuzzlewit and Great Expectations, and the skewering of upper-class social pretentions and false conviviality in Bleak House, Little Dorritand Our Mutual Friend. Dickens’s works were famous from the outset for their emphasis on humor, celebrations, family gatherings, theatrics, eating and drinking, and good cheer. Dickens was also himself famously convivial and sociable, accruing a wide circle of friends across the social spectrum and notorious for his love of parties, jamborees, practical jokes, theatrics, and other forms of high-spirited sociability. Yet Dickens was also a chronicler of the flipside of bonhomie, exploring loneliness, isolation, poverty and want, social aping and pretension, and the feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and exclusion that may fuel conviviality.

How do conviviality, sociality, and humor operate in Dickens’s work, and how and why do such depictions continue to amuse and entertain? What critical, biographical and psychological frameworks can the committee apply to analyze Dickensian good feeling? These are some of the questions the day seeks to address.

The committee  warmly invite proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars of all backgrounds and career stages. We are always keen to feature new work from postgrads, postdocs, early career teachers and researchers, and those working outside the academy. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
  • Humor, laughter and good cheer
  • Food and drink
  • Christmas
  • Picnics, outings, excursions, holidays, parties
  • Class and representations of conviviality
  • Dickens’s reputation – then and now – as a comic novelist
  • Humor, satire and Dickens’s radical politics
  • The adaptation of Dickens’s humor into other mediums – theatre, film, television
  • Amateur theatrics
  • Bodily expressions of the convivial: laughter, smiling, glowing and other non-verbal, physical cues and manifestations
  • Biography – Dickens’s famous conviviality and many friendships
  • Conviviality’s ‘others’: social anxiety and isolation, shyness, poverty and want
  • False conviviality: masks, social climbing and pretension
  • Religion and Victorian social and moral attitudes towards conviviality
  • Dickens’s relationship with his community of readers
  • Dickensian good feeling: how the work and life of Dickens encourage conviviality and good feeling amongst the academics, enthusiasts and readers of his work. The purpose, history and success of the Dickens Fellowship and similar organizations and groups that celebrate Dickens and his work through social events.
Please send proposals (maximum 500 words) to Bethan Carney, Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard at, The deadline for paper proposals is 31st May 2014.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 01:52 AM

CFP: SAMLA '14 “Maps & the Victorian World” (5/31/14; 11/7-9/2014)

Sustainability and the Humanities 
2014 South Atlantic Modern Language Association
Atlanta, GA.
November 7-9, 2014
Deadline: May 31, 2014

Sustaining Victorian Spaces Through Maps
“Maps & the Victorian World”
This panel welcomes essays exploring how the Victorians attempted to preserve an interpretation or vision of their world through maps AND/OR current projects that preserve or represent the Victorian world through maps. By May 31, 2014, please submit a 350-500 word abstract, a brief CV (both as attachments in MS Word or PC compatible document format), and A/V requirements to Shannon N. Gilstrap, University of North Georgia, at

For more information visit: 

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 03, 2014 01:40 AM


Solsbury Hill

A new retelling of Wuthering Heights has just been published:
Solsbury Hill. A NovelSusan M. Wyler
ISBN 9781594632365
01 Apr 2014
Riverhead, Penguin Books

"Susan Wyler's contemporary take on a classic love story is utterly beguiling. Solsbury Hill is a gorgeously well-written tale of a fraught love affair that takes you from New York to the wild gothic setting of the Yorkshire moors."—Fiona Neill, author of Slummy Mummy and What the Nanny Saw

The windswept moors of England, a grand rustic estate, and a love story of one woman caught between two men who love her powerfully—all inspired by Emily Brontë’s beloved classic, Wuthering Heights. Solsbury Hill brings the legend of Catherine and Heathcliff, and that of their mysterious creator herself, into a contemporary love story that unlocks the past.

When a surprise call from a dying aunt brings twenty-something New Yorker Eleanor Abbott to the Yorkshire moors, and the family estate she is about to inherit, she finds a world beyond anything she might have expected. Having left behind an American fiance, here Eleanor meets Meadowscarp MacLeod—a young man who challenges and changes her. Here too she encounters the presence of Brontë herself and discovers a family legacy they may share.

With winds powerful enough to carve stone and bend trees, the moors are another world where time and space work differently. Remanants of the past are just around a craggy, windswept corner. For Eleanor, this means ancestors and a devastating romantic history that bears on her own life, on the history of the novel Wuthering Heights, and on the destinies of all who live in its shadow.

by M. ( at April 03, 2014 01:30 AM

"A labyrinth of Emily's preoccupations"

Susan M. Wyler, author of the just-released Solsbury Hill, tells why she wrote a sequel to Wuthering Heights in The Huffington Post.
It's easy to imagine oneself the Creator when one seems to wring human beings and landscapes from mere pen and ink, but I wonder if writers aren't tapping into something that already exists, like our dream world seems to exist. At any rate, that's what writing for me has always been like. And when I began writing Solsbury Hill, when I sat down to that first empty page, Eleanor Abbott (the heroine of the novel) was already there, sitting in a Manhattan cafe sipping coffee.
I knew I was writing a book connected to Wuthering Heights. My editor had proposed the idea: the notion of a contemporary novel with a connection to this classic novel we keep reading. I'd just finished writing two novels about troubled young people in deeply troubled families and, as I finished reading Emily Brontë's novel again, I felt an unmistakable kinship with the author. When, as a teenager, I had read Wuthering Heights, I had the feeling I was missing something, or seeing something no one else was seeing. Teacher and students alike had seen the love between Catherine and Heathcliff as a great love, some exalted meeting of souls, while I saw it as a childhood love gone terribly wrong. I saw sibling loyalty, then jealousy and pettiness, then viciousness and cruelty in a story that became increasingly mired in its gothic sensibility.
Wuthering Heights is a labyrinth of Emily's preoccupations. One can trace the threads, though they're buried in twists of contradictions and emotional confusion, through the endless repetition of themes. She's preoccupied with obsessive and possessive love, with filial loyalty, with laws for passing wealth and land, with an isolating family life, with violence and cruelty, and with a concern that what happened to the mother might continue in the daughter.
Emily Brontë was a passionate writer all her life, but left none of her compulsive writing, no journals, no poetry, from the last few years of her life. And no one will ever know the extent of complication in the relationship between Emily and the drug-addled brother she cared for those last years, but Branwell and Heathcliff share qualities, this much is sure. What is less certain is what Edgar Linton stood for. The outsider, the stranger living in a well-lit house, the kind and refined young man who invited Catherine Earnshaw to join him at Thrushcross Grange and settle into adulthood there.
For at the heart of Wuthering Heights - topographically and emotionally - was a brightly lit home with gentleness and decency inside. I imagined or maybe intuited that there was a secret hidden inside the novel - that in it Emily had left a clue to something in her life - that she had had a chance to know a kind and gentle love, something separate from her family, something completely her own, before she died. (Read more)
À voir à lire (France) reviews the also recently-released DVD of Jane Eyre 1944 and gives it 2 out of 4 stars.
Voilà une sortie DVD qui ne risque pas de passer inaperçue dans le monde des cinéphiles épris de classiques : Jane Eyre tourné en 1944 avec Orson Welles et Joan Fontaine dans les rôles titres. Ce film adapté du roman de Charlotte Brontë, paraît en DVD pour la première fois en France, grâce à Rimini Éditions. Une œuvre plus que déjà représentée dans le septième art, mais qui bénéficie ici de la prestance du prodigieux Orson Welles et qui par la même occasion nous offre une interprétation à sa juste mesure. Il est accompagné de la belle et délicate Joan Fontaine, disparue en décembre dernier, et actuellement sous les feux de la rampe avec la sortie en blu-ray de l’un des chefs-d’œuvre de Max Ophuls : Lettre d’une inconnue.
Bien avant l’excellent Edward Rochester du ténébreux et séduisant Michael Fassbender dans le récent Jane Eyre de Cary Fukunaga, Orson Welles s’est glissé dans le rôle, qu’il a voulu théâtral aux accents shakespeariens. Il lui donne une apparence rugueuse et misanthrope à souhait, comme le veut le personnage du roman, et en fait l’un des éléments clefs du succès de ce film. Pourtant, contrairement à Fassbender pour lequel les femmes se damneraient, Welles ne réussit pas à nous faire pâmer et échoue dans sa partie « séduction ». On se demande alors comment Jane Eyre peut en tomber amoureuse ? Une héroïne, que Charlotte Gainsbourg a interprété sous la direction de Franco Zeffirelli, qui se veut être une femme douce, fragile, mais non moins certaine de ce qu’elle désire. Ici, Jane Eyre prend les traits de la douce Joan Fontaine, mais peut-être est-elle justement trop douce et un peu trop langoureuse ? Qui plus est, ses expressions de jeu restent classiques et ne déclenchent pas les émotions nécessaires pour rendre son personnage attachant. Cependant, il faut se remettre dans le contexte d’une époque où les sentiments ne se dévoilent pas ou alors avec parcimonie. Aussi, nous ne retiendrons pas le manque de romantisme, essentiel à toute fleur bleue qui se respecte, et apprécierons de manière plus large le récit de ce mélodrame.
Jane Eyre filmé en studio, tire avantage d’une technique photographique qui rend certains plans ou séquences, poétiques. On apprend ainsi dans les bonus, qu’Orson Welles a contribué à la réalisation et que certaines scènes lui sont attribuées. Pourtant, le jeu de lumière sur le visage de Welles, qui le noirci afin d’insister visuellement sur sa part sombre n’est pas satisfaisant. Car le fait de vouloir trop marquer le protagoniste et d’appuyer aussi lourdement, lui fait perdre toute subtilité et crédibilité. Aussi, comme nous l’avons souligné précédemment, c’est bien grâce à l’aura et la qualité d’acteur d’Orson Welles que ce Jane Eyre reste un film à (re)découvrir.
(read more(Translation)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an article of a performance of Jane Eyre The Musical at Nerinx Hall High School.
From the moment "Jane Eyre" started singing the audience’s attention was captured. This show really caused people to understand what things in people’s lives can cause them to act the way they do. It taught the audience to not to judge people on first meetings.
Natalie Hunt did an absolutely stunning job as Jane Eyre. She captured everyone’s attention and never let it go for the entirety of the show. Michael Schimmele did a spectacular job as Rochester. He was able to command the stage and change people’s affections toward him throughout the show. The chemistry between the two of them was spectacular. Everyone could really believe they were falling in love with each other.
Morgan Einwalter kept the audience laughing the entire show with the quirkiness of Mrs. Fairfax. She was able to keep her energy up for the entire show. Gabe Miller did a wonderful job as Mason. He really helped move the story along. Sam Krausz also did a fantastic job moving the story along as St. John Rivers. Annelise Moloney, who played Bertha Rochester, did a lovely job playing up the madness of her character.
The technical aspects of this show were wonderful. Everyone was able to work around the set pieces really well. The costuming was very accurate to the time period portrayed in the show. The use of younger children was nice because it really helped make the show.
There were only a few missteps in the show. There were times when the ensemble was narrating and you could not here what was being said. There were other times when there was not enough light during a scene to see the facial expressions of the people on stage.
This performance of "Jane Eyre" was truly outstanding. The audience was entranced for the entire show. It is a show that should not be missed. (Kayla Schieffer Francis Howell High School)
Elle has '12 great female authors recommend their 40 favourite female authors'. Jeanette Winterson, a well-known Brontëite, mentions the Brontës though rather in passing:
Read Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own (1929). Ask yourself how much, really, has changed. When I did my degree at Oxford University in the 1980’s, Woolf was not taught—on quality grounds—and we were told that in the nineteenth century there had been only four great women novelists: Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë. (all childless, i.e., weird). As a woman who was determined to be a world-class writer I had to learn that subjectivity = objectivity if you are a man, and lack of rigor if you are a woman. Thank God for feminism. 
Buzzfeed talks to three writers, Durga Chew-Bose among them, who says
Though I cringe when women go nuts about Jane Austen. I’ve always been more prone to Brontë: dark, disobeying women who are so-called “out of control.” (Ayesha Siddiqi)
The Times has an article on child abuse and comments on how young fictional victims usually tend to have a happy ending:
Cinderella had a happy ending, don’t forget. The Brothers Grimm may have had her sweeping floors, sleeping by the hearth and wearing wooden clogs, but she developed an amazing work ethic, acquired a love of shoes, became determined to make something of her life and married a prince. Snow White triumphed over her stepmother. Harry Potter managed to flourish despite being brought up by the Dursleys. The orphaned Jane Eyre found her Mr Rochester. (Alice Thomson)
Now that there are 100 days left until the Tour de France Grand Départ, The Telegraph and Argus lists the 100 best things about Yorkshire.
18. Haworth and Brontë Country: Historic Haworth appears very much as it was when its most famous residents, the Brontë sisters, lived there in the 19th century. The cobbled Main Street still winds its way through the village where admittedly more modern shops, cafes and pubs welcome the throngs of visitors who soak up the history throughout the year.
Actualidad Literatura (Spain) recalls that even Emily Brontë got very bad reviews with Wuthering Heights. The Northern Echo carries the story of a vintage charity shop who is trying to solve the mystery behind a World War Two letter which was found tucked inside a copy of Villette. Obsessive Mom posts about Charlotte Brontë. There's a lovely tour of Charlotte Brontë's Brussels to be found on Dr Charlotte Mathieson's blog. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page showed yesterday the image of the sampler that Charlotte Brontë finished at the age of 11 on April 1st, 1828. Mallory Ortberg on The Toast is thrilled to see one of the first copies of her book Texts from Jane Eyre (that will be published in November).  laurenlooksatbrilliantbooks reviews Jane Eyre. obsessivemom posts about the Brontës.

by Cristina ( at April 03, 2014 12:42 AM

April 02, 2014

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

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 9.47.09 AM

This coming Tuesday (8 April 2014) Team Blake Archive will be participating in Day of DH, an open community publication project for those interested and working in the digital humanities. The idea is to provide some answers to the question, “Just what do digital humanists really do?” by creating a snapshot of everyday life in the world of DH. Along with many others across the world, we will be documenting our day and posting the results on the blog and here.

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 9.47.09 AMFor us, this comes at a timely moment. We have been working hard over the last six months to create (and stick to!) a regular blogging schedule and, as Eric discussed a few weeks ago, we’re now on Twitter. Our posts and tweets are meant to be representative of the work that we actually do here at The Blake Archive: what you’ve been reading isn’t a set of carefully-designed marketing pieces, but the actual problems, ideas and questions that we encounter every day and talk to each other about in weekly meetings. Day of DH is a project after our own hearts.

Will you be participating in Day of DH? Let us know in a comment or on Twitter.

by Laura Whitebell at April 02, 2014 03:00 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


JOSEPH SHERIDAN LE FANU BICENTENARY CONFERENCE Trinity College Dublin – 15-16 October 2014 ‘He stands in the absolutely first rank as a writer of ghost stories’. — M. R. James […]

by Nicole Bush at April 02, 2014 09:23 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Very clear, & cold all day ― wind high N. by W.

Rose at 6. G. came about 6.30. poor Χριστός still lingers, but is more suffering, & weaker. A terrible trouble for the good Cocáli family. ― Breakfast. ― Spiro came ― he seems not to know if he stays or goes to Πφαῖος. ― Writing & bothering endless ― bill=paying &c.&c. ― till 11, ― when I went to a carriage ordered from Πανταλέωνε. (I called on Taylor’s among others, ― all good-byes are bores ― even old Mr. Woodhouse’s.)

In a carriage ― went ― starting at 11, straight to Πανταλεώνε by 1.30. But the wind was sadly cold. ― A vast gray gray gray delicate myriads landscape ― but immensely inferior to the more central views. Drew for an hour ― & afterwards by stopping degrees as I walked down till 3.15. Then, the carriage overtaking me, I got into town by 5.20.

O asphodels! O olives!! O shadows!!! ―

Dined at the 9th


Came away little before 12[.]

The weather is cloudy & I forebode even more change. ―

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

by Marco Graziosi at April 02, 2014 08:00 AM


Wuthering Heights in Guildford

A new Wuthering Heights adaptation opens tomorrow, April 3 in Guildford, Surrey, UK:
Wuthering Heights
A bold new adaptation of the classic love story
Yvonne Artaud Theatre
Thu 3 Apr - Sat 5 Apr
Thurs at 7:45pm
Fri & Sat at 8:00pm
Sat Mat at 2:30pm

Adapted and directed by Helen Tennison
Emma Fenney as Nelly Dean
Jack Benjamin as Heathcliff
Lucinda Lloyd as Cathy
And George Haynes, Adam Redmayne and Helen Watkinson.

A vivacious contagious love. Passion that lives beyond death

From the same team that created the multi-award nominated, Time Out Critic’s Choice Breakfast with Emma (2010) and Sense and Sensibility (2012), both of which played to packed houses at the Mill Studio, this brand new adaptation of Emily Brontë’s classic novel combines powerful acting, an original musical score with beautiful visual design-orientated storytelling.
LondonTheatre1 quotes from the director:
I have been longing to adapt and direct Wuthering Heights for the stage for ages, it’s so wild and passionate. After directing many other adaptations of great classics, I felt I needed to write this one myself in the hope of presenting a theatrically imaginative vision that fully captures its essence. Wuthering Heights has always been one of my favourites – I love the gothic, supernatural elements; Cathy’s spirit knocking at the window, Heathcliff believing he sees her after her death. These elements are so exciting in performance and take the play way beyond your average romance.“

by M. ( at April 02, 2014 01:30 AM

April 01, 2014


Anne Brontë inspired Dracula

Breaking news from the Yorkshire Post today:
Letters discovered in a fly-filled Victorian prison cell shed new light on the creation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
And one of Yorkshire’s most famous literary heroines, Anne Bronte, could have inspired the novel’s events. The letters were uncovered when the cells were cleared in preparation for literary festival Books by the Beach.
The festival’s co-director, Peter Guttridge, said the letters, written in 1878 between Stoker and Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Wyatt, the last Governor of the gaol, provide details of events and characters in Scarborough that bear a striking resemblance to episodes from the 1897 novel.
One, between Wyatt and Scarborough’s Chief of Constabulary, Richard Stout, could upset the legions of Bront*e-lovers. Mr Guttridge said: “They discuss decades of inexplicable attacks on the vulnerable in Scarborough old town and around the harbour. The police had only recently realised these attacks might be linked although there had been rumours around town since 1849.”
The attacks were committed by a pale woman, who bites her prey in the neck. They end in 1878 after the woman is confronted by police to St Mary’s graveyard.
Anne Bronte died in 1849 and is buried at St Mary’s. The woman in the letter is described as one who died in her twenties from consumption - just like Anne.
“There is an obvious connection.” added Mr Guttridge. “An exhumation would settle it. A stake through the heart is difficult to miss.”
(Hey, it's April 1st today. Well done, Yorkshire Post, that was fantastic!)

Onto real things now, as The Guardian reviews Jane, le renard et moi in its English edition:
Strictly speaking, Jane, the Fox & Me is intended for younger readers: it's published by the ever-brilliant Walker Books, home of Anthony Horowitz and Patrick Ness. However, this is a graphic novel so well drawn and beautifully told, I'm certain it will speak to adults, too – especially if you've only to think of your school days for your stomach to flip over. It's a collaboration between Quebec playwright Fanny Britt and award-winning illustrator Isabelle Arsenault, and I found it painfully evocative, the years dissolving almost as fast as I could turn its pages. (Rachel Cooke)
Svenska Dagbladet reviews the novel Mary Jones Historia by Elin Boardy.
Med skildringen av Silvers och Dolores förhållande blinkar Boardy till Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”, där Rochester höll sin första, västindiska hustru inlåst på vinden. Dolores är dock ingen Bertha Mason, hon är så långt ifrån en ”mad woman in the attic” man kan komma (även om hon för all del tycker om att bo högt upp i hus, till den enbenta Silvers förtret): driftig, kraftfull, högt älskad och aldrig undangömd tar hon en plats i berättelsen som var otänkbar i Brontës roman. Porträttet av Dolores är en lika god upprättelse åt alla undanskuffade icke-vita kvinnor i litteraturhistorien som någonsin Jean Rhys ”Wide Sargasso Sea”. (Therese Eriksson) (Translation)
BayouBuzz thinks the latest portrait of Prince William, Kate and little George is something like this:
It could be a still shot from a movie trailer for, oh, perhaps Henry James’s haunting "The Turn of the Screw." Or maybe it’s a college student’s mock-up project for what Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw’s ghost family looks like. Extra credit to salvage that dropping grade in Romantic English Literature.
If ghosts can have babies and dogs.
I mean, if Catherine Earnshaw can come calling for Heathcliff on the moor even after she’s dead, if she can try and come to him through the window of Mr. Lockwood’s bedroom, and then Heathcliff starves himself to death and they run off together, well, couldn’t they conceivably have a ghost baby and a ghost dog and (when not wandering around the grassy moors), live a ghost life at Wuthering Heights?
If the new Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw could, they’d probably take a family portrait just like the one staring out at us from the pages of the Daily Mail. (Sarah Whalen)
The Stir lists 'The 6 Worst Types of Guys You'll Meet Online'. One of which is
Mr. Wuthering Heights
Things are going great with this guy! You might even have made it as far as going out on a couple of dates. But something isn't right. He talks about his ex ... kind of a lot. And not, like, in a normal way. One glass of wine and suddenly he's crying and sobbing her name. You guys are having a great night, until he begins screaming for his ex at the restaurant. He's a real romantic, a rare breed indeed, but he's obsessed with his ex. (Rebecca Stokes)
Book Around the Corner writes about Agnes Grey. Books and Things posts about Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at April 01, 2014 08:32 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

One Writer’s Personal Tour of Oxford

Tenniel Looking-Glass TrainOne of our trusty mimsy minions passed along this link to a recent NY Times travel article.  It’s basically one writer’s personal tour of Oxford, England.  Surprisingly, there is only a fleeting mention of Alice, and that’s about the treacle well.  But perhaps the writer assumes others have covered the Carrollian elements sufficiently elsewhere.  Never, say we!  ;-)

If you’d like to read the Oxford travelogue, click me.

by andrew at April 01, 2014 01:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Quite clear early ― the Albanian snow as if in January: I fear all my 10 little geese are lost.

Sent letter to 1 C. Fortescue.
2 T. Cooper
3 John Day.
4 Messrs Woodhead.
5 Drummonds.
6 Fanny Coombe
7 Mr. Marsden.
8 Mrs. G. Clive.
9 Mrs. Hunt
10 W. Nevill.

Later clouds ― & wind N.W. ― but altogether ― fine day: colder towards sunset, & half an hour after, bitter & violent cold wind ― almost N.

Χριστός was worse all yesterday & last night.

Rose at 7 ― & concentrated all my unpacked belongings into the Studio ― bed & all. ― G. went out to arrange about the cases, & at 9 brought men ―: all 7 cases were removed to the Dogana before 11. ― G. works like 20 men when at it. ― Mrs. Nordley wrote a receipt for all. ― At 12 ― went to various places to get in bills ― Mrs. Carter poor old lady ― cried on shaking hands with me ― she goes to Scotland she says. Page’s people say all he Maltese will go by degrees ― & I fancy, all the English shopkeepers.

Sate a bit with Mr. Boyd ― & lunched on olives & τυρί;[1] By this it was 2 ― & then I sate talking with Baring & Bowden, & Baring solo ― playing songs & talking ― till 3.30. ―

Alack for the Oranges & flowers in a garden of light!

Then, μοναχῶς, I walked o Ascension: ― but a vastly cold high N.W. wind blew, & made all things cold & sad: yet went I on to the Cannone ― & perhaps see that too for the last time. “Thou seest all things ― thou wilt see my grave.”[2] ― Returned by 6.15.

Giorgio had got all the rooms cleaned, ― & all are now empty but the studio. I paid him £9.10.0 for his wages till the end of May, & for his boys school: & 10 shillings extra for much very hard work.

Dressed, & to Condi Terrace ― no easy task now, for the gas pipes are being laid down everywhere & the Line Wall is impassable.


Mrs. De V. was tired & unwell. Yet the evening was pleasant ― & it was 11.45 when we separated.

home ― by obscure lanes ― by 12.10.

[1]Cheese (NB).

[2]Tennyson’s “Tithonus,” l. 73.

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

by Marco Graziosi at April 01, 2014 08:00 AM

The Kissed Mouth

The Trouble with Alexa Wilding...

This will be a bit of a rambly one, so forgive me in advance, but it comes from a few discussions I've had in the last couple of weeks regarding Alexa and where she sits in the whole Pre-Raphaelite story.  The problem with Alexa is that in order to put her in, you have to shove other things around...

Alexa and Fanny

Lady Lilith (watercolour) D G Rossetti
Lady Lilith (oil) D G Rossetti

Slotting Alexa into Fanny's story is reasonably straightforward.  Fanny reigned supreme from 1862-65, then Rossetti dragged Alexa off the street and Fanny was shoved in a box.  He scraped Fanny out of pictures like Lady Lilith, Venus Verticordia and arguably (by me at least) Monna Vanna and never looked back.  What was it about Fanny that Rossetti no longer found inspiring?  She had grown fat (oi!) and therefore unattractive as a muse (watch it!) and he needed the beautiful, young Alexa to relight his creative fires and earn him a bit of cash.

I find the weight argument a bit spurious and based on a remark made by William Bell Scott (who hated Fanny's guts).  He called her 'the creature with three waists', how kind, but he was also the man who claimed that she cracked nuts between her teeth.  This coupled with Rossetti's nickname for her, 'Elephant', sealed her fate as being unattractive.  It should be noted that Rossetti had called Fanny 'Elephant' for years before he stopped using her and was calling her that when this picture was taken...

Fanny, 1863
When he replaced Fanny with Alexa, she looked like this...

Alexa, mid 1860s
No offence to Alexa, but she's not really a wisp of a thing.  Maybe then it had more to do with age.  When Rossetti grabbed Alexa she was around 17 years old.  Fanny was 30.  But Alexa wasn't the only woman on the scene, as 26 year old Jane Morris reappeared as Rossetti's Muse in 1865 too.  Fanny was well and truly put to one side as main muse, but if it was not her appearance, what else could it be?

I wonder if Rossetti's move away from Fanny was a move away from his dependence on her.  She had become a permanent inclusion in his life in 1862 when his wife died.  Unlike the other women who had caused Elizabeth Siddal so much heartache, Fanny moved herself in to Rossetti's life and became a fully integrated part of him as man and artist.  Annie Miller remained a muse but slipped away; Marie Stillman, Anne Ryan, Ellen Smith, all came and went but Fanny was there in his house, in his bed, in his kitchen, and in his studio when he needed her.  Possibly his move away from Fanny was a move away from any weakness he had understandably felt after Elizabeth's death.  She was around his age, she had been in his life for a while.  Maybe what he wanted was a fresh start and not be Sad, Mad Rossetti anymore.  Maybe in Alexa he found a way to forget the past.

Alexa and Jane

Whilst Alexa is quite easily slotted into Fanny's story, the real problems and arguments come when you try and reconcile Alexa and Jane Morris.  Possibly one of the main reasons that Alexa has been ignored by biographers for so long is that she makes the whole Rossetti-Jane love story a bit less single-minded.  The official story says that Rossetti fell back in love with Jane Morris in 1865 and remained devoted to her, obsessed in fact, until his death.  But then things like this happen...

Kind of Jane's face, kind of Alexa's hair.  I like to call her 'Jalexa'...
One of the reasons I wanted to write a Pre-Raphaelite story from the perspective of Alexa is that she was there at all points between 1865 and 1882.  She is a bit of a fly in the ointment of the obsession because she gives Jane a run for her money in terms of being Rossetti's muse.  Alexa appears in more oils than Jane and countless sketches.  She was there at Kelmscott Manor when Jane and Rossetti were 'all alone', she was there in Bognor when Jane and Rossetti called an end to their romance.  She was equally a matter of speculation among Rossetti's friends, but has roundly been dismissed as anything other than a model.  Why?

La Pia De'Tolomei (1868) D G Rossetti
La Pia De'Tolomei (1868) D G Rossetti
Much of Alexa's poor reputation is fixed upon a throw away remark by Rossetti, which I merrily quote in A Curl of Copper and Pearl.  Rossetti wrote to his mother from Kelmscott that Alexa was 'a really good-natured creature - fit company for anyone & quite ladylike, only not gifted or amusing.  Thus she might bore you at meals & so on (for one cannot put her in a cupboard)...' (24th May 1873)  Upon those damning words poor Alexa has been written off as not of interest in comparison to the dark goddess, Jane Morris.  Why bother with looking at Alexa when Jane was obviously his consuming passion?  Look at the pictures he painted of Jane in comparison to those of Alexa...

La Donna della Finestra (1879)
La Bella Mano (1875)
I wonder how much our knowledge of Rossetti and Jane's relationship informs how we view his art and how much that feeds back into how we view his relationship.  He loved her in real life and so his image of her is loving, therefore he loved her in real life.  It's a relationship that is self-fulfilling by this point with all the times it has been repeated in print. We can tell how intense Rossetti felt about Jane Morris because his images are so intense.  His images are so intense because he felt so intense.  But what of Alexa?  Do we believe the images of her are any less intense?   To my eye, the same gaze is reflected in all the Rossetti's muses.  It is easy to argue that Alexa looks disinterested and bored/boring because that is how we believe she was in real life.  Looking at the two images above, do we really see more passion in Jane than in Alexa?  Is it really there or do we imagine it because Rossetti felt differently towards Jane?

Did Rossetti feel differently towards Jane?

Alexa and Rossetti

Ah, now, here we go.  I am queen of unfounded speculation, but I am not alone.  Alexa and Rossetti's relationship caused gossip among his friends but mostly it was put to bed because he was openly seen with Jane.  He could not possibly be seeing two women, that wouldn't be like him at all!  In answer to the evidence of the letter, there are many reasons why Rossetti might have said Alexa wasn't amusing or gifted.  He might have been closing down an avenue of interest from his mother who was about to meet the young lady.  He might have been feeling spiteful.  He might have known that people were talking or have been paranoid enough to think they would be.  He might have been sleeping with Alexa and wanted to hide it from Jane, from Fanny, from his family.  Come on, he's not really a one-woman man now is he?  Are we claiming that Jane Morris was a far stronger influence on Rossetti than Lizzie Siddal?  Did Jane cure Rossetti of his womanising that drove one woman to the grave?  Bold claim indeed.

What we know of Rossetti and Alexa's relationship is that he guarded her jealously, not allowing her to pose for anyone other than himself, Boyce and Dunn, his studio assistant (who was also in love with her).  He paid her weekly, even if he wasn't using her, and he complained about her absences bitterly in his letters.  When he went away from London he invariably took Alexa with him, he gave her extra funds when he sold pictures and he worried about her health.  In many ways he treated her the same as he treated Jane and Fanny and yet Alexa doesn't fit in the simple narrative of Rossetti's life.  Fanny is difficult enough but she just about slots in between Lizzie's death (for which she is often help culpable) and Jane's return.  He loved Lizzie, he loved Fanny, he loved Jane, but as for Alexa, he just painted her.

Venus Verticordia (1867-68) D G Rossetti

Are we so sure?

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 01, 2014 07:05 AM


The ‘Exotic’ Body in 19th-century British Drama

The ‘Exotic’ Body in 19th-century British Drama

University of Oxford
Funded under the 2011 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships scheme, European Commission

25-26 September 2014
Faculty of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford

Convenor: Dr Tiziana Morosetti (Oxford)

Confirmed speakers:
Professor Ross Forman (Warwick), Dr Peter Yeandle (Manchester),
Dr Hazel Waters (Institute of Race Relations, London)

Increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the representation of the Other on the 19th-century British stage, with key studies such as Acts of Supremacy: The British Empire and the Stage, 1790-1930 (Bratton et al. 1991), The Orient on the Victorian Stage (Ziter 2003), Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Brooks 2006), Racism on the Victorian Stage: Representation of Slavery and the Black Character (Waters 2007), Nineteenth-Century Theatre and the Imperial Encounter (Gould 2011), China and the Victorian Imagination: Empires Entwined (Forman 2013). Building on these, the conference aims at exploring the concept, politics, and aesthetic features of the ‘exotic’ body on stage, be it the actual body of the actor/actress as s/he performs in genres such as the ‘Oriental’ extravaganza, or the fictional, ‘picturesque’ bodies they bring on stage. A term that in itself needs interrogation, the ‘exotic’ will therefore be discussed addressing the visual features that characterize the construction and representation of the Other in 19th-century British drama, as well as the material conditions, and techniques that accompany the ‘exotic’ on stage on the cultural and political background of imperial Britain.

One of the dissemination activities for the two-year project ‘The Representation of the “Exotic” Body in 19th-century English Drama’ (REBED), funded under the 2011 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships scheme, the conference also hopes to function as a site for discussing the state of the art on the ‘exotic’ in the theatrical cultures of both Romantic and Victorian Britain; contributions on ongoing research and/or recently completed projects are therefore particularly encouraged.
Although attention will be paid mostly to the non-European Other, papers addressing a European ‘exotic’ are also welcome.

Topics include the following:

Definitions of ‘exotic’:
-Is the non-European Other on stage really ‘exotic’?
-Are any genres more ‘exotic’ (or more liable to convey ‘exotic’ stereotypes) than others?
-Do different dramatis personæ and/or settings convey different degrees of ‘otherness’?
-Can the British on stage be ‘exotic’, and, if so, to what extent?
-Is the spectacular on stage itself ‘exotic’?

Staging the ‘exotic’ body:
-How are costumes, make-up, scenery, movements employed to construct the ‘exotic’?
-Are any visual features more recurrent than others?
-To what extent is the visual representation of the ‘exotic’ body historically accurate?
-How does music contribute to the staging of the Other?
-Who embodies the ‘exotic’? Is the acting career informed by bringing the Other on stage?
-Who were the audiences? Did their composition have an impact on the performance of the ‘exotic’?
-Are any experiences abroad relevant to how managers staged the Other in Britain?
-In what ways were representations of the ‘exotic’ body informed by venues?
-The Other on the London stage and the provinces

Cultural and political backgrounds:
-To what extent did audiences’ expectations affect theatrical representations of the Other?
-In what ways do class, gender, race inform the acting and managing of ‘exotic’ pieces?
-To what extent did scientific and anthropological accounts inform theatrical portraits of the Other?
-Were illustrations of (European and/or) non-European countries informed by theatre?
-In what ways have political narratives influenced (or been influenced by) the ‘exotic’ on stage?
-Has the legal frame for the theatre influenced the staging of the Other?
-Visual points of contact between popular entertainment and theatrical representations of the Other

The travelling ‘exotic’:
-How do texts such as Arabian Nights, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Mazeppa ‘travel’ between dramatic and non-dramatic genres?
-Survival of a Romantic ‘exotic’ in the Victorian staging of the Other;
-Is Othello on the Romantic and Victorian stage ‘exotic’?
-How do translations/adaptations from other languages contribute to the construction of the Other on the British stage? Can we define a British specificity when it comes to the ‘exotic’?
-Has the theatrical representation of the ‘exotic’ in Britain had an impact on non-British stages?

The legacy of 19th-century ‘exotic’ body:
-Contemporary plays/performances addressing the Other on the 19th-century British stage (e.g. Lolita Chakrabarti’s Red Velvet)
-The ‘exotic’ body on the British stage in a diachronic perspective
-The non-European Other in the 20th- and 21st-century Christmas pantomime

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio should be sent to by 25 May 2014. Speakers whose abstracts have been accepted will be notified by 15 June.

by Unknown ( at April 01, 2014 05:07 AM


Jane Morris and Jane Eyre

A couple of alerts for tomorrow April 2, 2014:

A talk in Haworth:
Jan Marsh and Juliet Barker in conversation
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth, 2pm

Join Jan Marsh, the author of Jane and May Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet and current president of the William Morris Society, and Juliet Barker, award winning biographer and author of The Brontës and The Brontës: A Life in Letters as they discuss the letter writing of Jane Morris and the Brontë sisters.
More information in the Yorkshire Post.

The Cygnet Theatre production of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre will be performed at Tiverton:
The Cygnet Company present
Jane Eyre
Wednesday, 02nd April 2014
Tiverton Community Arts Theatre, Tiverton, United Kingdom
Show: 19.30

Charlotte Brontë's classic novel of romance and mystery comes to the Tiverton Theatre in a new vibrant production.
Orphaned Jane lives miserably with her Aunt, Mrs Reed until she is sent to Lowood, a place of fleeting moments of joy and friendship amid the privation and challenges of school life.
Moving to Thornfield Hall as Governess. Jane meets the brooding Mr Rochester, her emotions blossom and marriage beckons. However, Rochester hides a secret which threatens to tear them apart.
Jane Eyre adapted by Polly Teale (Shared Experience). "A bold theatrically inventive adaptation of the literary classic that puts the interior life of the novel on the stage. "

by M. ( at April 01, 2014 01:30 AM

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

Letter to John Flaxman, 12 September 1800, object 3, detail

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of our second installment of Blake’s letters, the correspondence of 1800-1805, which includes his three years with patron William Hayley in the coastal village of Felpham, West Sussex, and the frightening months leading up to his trial for sedition.

The letters in this group supplement the Archive’s publication in November 2013 of Blake’s illustrations to works by Hayley, including his Essay on Sculpture, the broadside ballad Little Tom the Sailor, The Triumphs of Temper, The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper, and The Life of George Romney, along with the republication of Blake’s etched and engraved illustrations to Designs to a Series of Ballads, Written by William Hayley (1802) and Hayley’s Ballads (1805). Letters from this period track the downward spiral from the most hopeful moments of Blake’s anticipations of working for the beloved “hermit of Eartham” to the bitterness and resentment he ultimately felt for that “pickthank.” The letters also show Blake in the process of conducting routine business: with Hayley but also with his important London patron Thomas Butts and with the publisher-promoter Robert Hartley Cromek, who was destined to become a focus of anger and frustration in the next stage of Blake’s life.

About ninety of Blake’s letters survive, an unknown fraction of the total. Several—ten in the present group of thirty-three—are known only from partial and full transcriptions in the second, expanded, edition of Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake (1880). Blake traveled seldom and not very far. His circle of correspondents was narrow and the geographical circuit small. But his modest body of correspondence comprises an absorbing, revealing miscellany of reports on work in progress alongside friendly and not so friendly exchanges on matters of practical and intellectual substance. Occasionally the letters burst out into visions that amalgamate, in a characteristic Blakean vein, homely details, intensely energized prose, and inspired poetry.

The letters are, in any case, indispensable in preserving facts and contexts for his life and work that would be otherwise unknown and in showing him shift pragmatically from role to role in a very natural—and human—way, exposing facets of character and personality not always so apparent in his art. The letters feel closer to the exigencies of everyday life than any other works from Blake’s hand. He seldom puts pen to paper without interesting consequences for readers.

Letter to John Flaxman, 12 September 1800, object 3, detail

Letter to John Flaxman, 12 September 1800, object 3, detail


Additionally, the Archive has updated the Compare feature to include separate impressions from the same plate and such impressions included in other works, such as A Small Book of Designs. Within the Compare pop-up window, users can now also click on and drag images to reorder them out of the default chronological sequence. This functionality is of course not applicable in the case of the letters, for which there are no separate copies or versions.

The Archive now contains 136 fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of important manuscripts and series of engravings, color printed drawings, tempera paintings, water color drawings, including 90 copies of Blake’s nineteen illuminated books—all in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, careful diplomatic transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies.

As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the University of Rochester, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Joseph Fletcher, project manager; Michael Fox, technical editor
The William Blake Archive

by Andrea H. Everett at April 01, 2014 12:00 AM

March 31, 2014

News from Anywhere

William Morris’s Legacy in the 20th-Century Avant Garde

Lorine Niedecker: Image via the Poetry Foundation

Listening to a recent talk on ecology and contemporary poetry given by Professor Margaret Ronda, I was struck by how closely the aesthetic and political concerns of Objectivist poet Lorine Niedecker mirror those of William Morris, who was writing 75-100 years earlier. Niedecker’s work evinces a discomfort with the new, with aesthetic and literary emphases on innovation, and connects such neophilia with an unsustainable capitalist ideology of disposability and overproduction. This same anxiety about the connection between capitalist production and an aesthetic preference for innovation is apparent in Morris’s work, as I mentioned to Ronda after her talk. Imagine my surprise when Ronda told me that Niedecker was deeply interested in Morris and had in fact written a poem about him, titled “His Carpets Flowered.”

The poem, reprinted below, was written in the late ‘60s, and it suggests that Niedecker was primarily inspired not by Morris’s poetry, nor by his work in arts and crafts, but by his letters, and more specifically, by Morris the man as expressed in his letters. As Niedecker wrote in a 1969 letter to fellow poet Cid Corman: “I'm absorbed in writing poems--sequence--on William Morris. I know how to evaluate--Ruskin, etc., their kind of socialism--paternalism--but the letters of William Morris have thrown me. Title will be His Carpets Flowered. I can't read his poems. I'd probably weary of all those flowery designs in carpets, wall papers, chintzes...but as a man, as a poet speaking to his daughters and wife--o lovely” (455).

So many aspects of Morris’s life and Morris’s thought make their way into this short poem: his relationship with his wife (“Dear Janey”), his constant speculations about the relation of art to socialism (“If the change would bring / better art // but if it would not?”), his own conflicted position as an upper-middle-class socialist (“Employer / of labor, true -- / … / I’d be a rich man / had I yielded / / on a few points of principle”), and his late-life love of Icelandic landscapes and Icelandic literatures (“We saw it – Iceland – the end / of the world rising out of the sea”).

Niedecker herself was an obscure poet who sustained herself by working odd jobs through decades of writing poetry in her homeland of rural Wisconsin. Now rediscovered as an important poet in the twentieth-century avant garde, she has recently been celebrated with a new biography (2011) and collected works (2002).

I find it inspiring to see the traces of Morris in Niedecker’s work, the line of influence, mediated through Yeats, that “His Carpets Flowered” draws from Morris to the modernists to the avant garde. From London to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, Morris’s ideas nourished the growth of many flowers.

                 --Elizabeth Carolyn Miller

His Carpets Flowered
By Lorine Niedecker

William Morris

—how we’re carpet-making
by the river
a long dream to unroll
and somehow time to pole
a boat

I designed a carpet today—
dogtooth violets
and spoke to a full hall
now that the gall
of our society’s

corruption stains throughout
Dear Janey I am tossed
by many things
If the change would bring
better art

but if it would not?
O to be home to sail the flood
I’m possessed
and do possess

of labor, true—
to get done
the work of the hand…
I’d be a rich man
had I yielded

on a few points of principle
Item sabots
I work in the dye-house

Good sport dyeing
tapestry wool
I like the indigo vats
I’m drawing patterns so fast
Last night

in sleep I drew a sausage—
somehow I had to eat it first
Colorful shores—mouse ear...
horse-mint... The Strawberry Thief
our new chintz

Yeats saw the betterment of the workers
by religion—slow in any case
as the drying of the moon
He was not understood—
I rang the bell

for him to sit down
Yeats left the lecture circuit
yet he could say: no one
so well loved
as Morris

Entered new waters
Studied Icelandic
At home last minute signs
to post:

grows here—Please do not mow
We saw it—Iceland—the end
of the world rising out of the sea—
cliffs, caves like 13th century

of hell-mouths
Rain squalls through moonlight
Cold wet
is so damned wet

black sand
Stone buntings’
Sea-pink and campion a Persian

by Clara Finley ( at March 31, 2014 11:29 PM


'Our dear Charlotte is no more'

Today our attention is focused on commemorating the 159th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's death. The title of this post comes from the letter Arthur Bell Nicholls wrote to Ellen Nussey on the very 31st of March of 1855.

We are not alone commemorating her death. The Oxford University Press blog quotes from an emotional letter from her to William Smith Williams where she looked back on the deaths of her sisters Emily and Anne.
I could hardly let Emily go—I wanted to hold her back then—and I want her back hourly now—Anne, from her childhood seemed preparing for an early death—Emily’s spirit seemed strong enough to bear her to fullness of years—They are both gone—and so is poor Branwell—and Papa has now me only—the weakest—puniest—least promising of his six children—Consumption has taken the whole five. (Read more)
The Scotsman, Libreriamo (Italy) and a few others all recall the anniversary.

El blog perdido de Laura (in Spanish) and Eileen's Blog post about Wuthering Heights. Travel with words uploads a Jane Eyre illustration. The novel is reviewed on Youngisthan and discussed on the University of Toronto Press Journals Blog. {A classic comeback} disagrees with the feminist readings of the novel. Caffeine Epiphanies is going to read Villette. Knitted notes posts about Wuthering Heights 1939.

by Cristina ( at March 31, 2014 05:00 PM 19th Century History

Opening Day In the 1890s

As baseball season begins again, it's a good time to look back and see what Opening Day was like 120 years ago. In 1894, the New York Giants traveled to ...

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March 31, 2014 11:56 AM