Planet Century 19

April 24, 2014


Overlooking Haworth

The Telegraph and Argus reports that a directory of places to visit in the North has left out places like the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
The National Media Museum, stunning Saltaire and the Bronte Parsonage –they’re all attractions which draw thousands of visitors to the district, but it seems none are worthy of mention in a directory of places to visit in the North.
Miffed tourism staff at Bradford Council have now written to thomson local to find out why the city has been snubbed on its ‘Places to Visit’ page for the North of England. [...]
“There is not one item in it which is actually in Bradford, in spite of us having the National Media Museum right in the middle of the city centre. Instead it has attractions called Pot House Hamlet and Hall Hill Farm – probably very nice but not a patch on the NMM, Bronte Parsonage or Salts Mil.” [...]
No-one from thomsonlocal was able to provide a comment. (Julie Tickner)
Impact has compiled a list of '5 romantic literary quotes' which includes one from Wuthering Heights.
3. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Wuthering Heights; Emily Bronte
One cannot beat the beautiful and graceful employment of words Bronte was capable of. When I read this quote personally, I feel rather relaxed and tranquil which allows the potency of the love to radiate through, as if the very words were mingling with our breathing before it strikes home, into the very centre of our hearts, which ends with a sigh of desire for the very same result to occur to our own souls. (Radhika Chond)
And another list: this one compiled by Female First and showing their top 5 Mia Wasikowska films.
- Jane Eyre (2011)
Jane Eyre has been told many times on the big and small screen, and yet Cary Fukunaga's version is one of the best adaptations of the much-loved Charlotte Bronte novel.
At the time, Wasikowska was still a relative newcomer on the global film stage, and yet her Jane Eyre has such elegance and poise - it really was a terrific performance from her in the central role.
Michael Fassbender takes on the role of Rochester, and together the pair sizzles. There is a real spark of chemistry between them, which makes this fascinating literary relationship really work.
Jane Eyre may be a well told tale, but Fukunaga, Wasikowska and Fassbender make this story seem new and full of life. It really was a terrific interpretation of a great book. (Helen Earnshaw)
The Telegraph has an article on the importance of teaching Shakespeare properly and reminds us of the fact that,
Innogen and Beatrice are as real as Jane Eyre or Eliza Bennett, and while an author reveals their characters’ mind through all manner of prosaic tools, in the hands of a playwright one can only divine character from the things they say, that are said about them, or, indeed, the things that are left unsaid. (Ben Crystal)
Coincidentally, the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page has a few pictures of their own tribute to Shakespeare yesterday.

Still on the topic of education, The Stoke Sentinel reports that,
Teenagers have been set the ultimate literary challenge – to read more than 60 books from a list before they are 20.
Staff at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College compiled the list so they could help expand students' general knowledge and get them to indulge in a passion for reading.
But their initial plan to pick 20 books soon grew into a much more ambitious project.
Now students can choose from 61 different titles, ranging from children's classics and coming of age novels through to great works by Charles Dickens, DH Lawrence and JRR Tolkien. [...]
Popular choices included The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights and Nineteen Eighty Four. (Kathie McInnes)
And the Llanelli Star features the Stepney Women's Institute:
President Carol Jones said: "This group has gone from strength to strength, learning on their journey with floral art and jewellery demonstrations, talks on the Bronte sisters and the history of hats, with a large collection on display and to try on.
"All out members are of different ages and have various career backgrounds, living within the Llanelli area."
This columnist from Alabama discusses naming your child after literary characters:
What would you name your child if you didn’t care what anyone else thought, and if you knew the potential ramifications of a crazy name wouldn’t affect the child?
Under these circumstances, if I had a girl I might name her something a bit sappy, like Jane Eyre Vollers. Go ahead and roll your eyes. In this alternate universe, I don’t care what you think. (Anna Claire Vollers)
Alyssa the Bookworm posts about Wuthering Heights. Endless Books reviews Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Effusions of Wit and Humour now discusses Jane Eyre 1997.

by Cristina ( at April 24, 2014 10:57 AM

Female Identity, Upbringing and Forgery of Identity

New Brontë-related scholar papers or thesis:
Using French to construct British female identity : Defoe's Roxana, Brontë's Villette, and Fowles' The French lieutenant's woman
Toste, Jenny
California State University, Fresno, 2014

This thesis uses a narratological approach to explore how female identity in British literature is constructed through the use of French. It primarily explores how John Fowles uses French in the postmodern novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman to dramatize Sarah Woodruff’s existential journey toward authenticity. In refraining from defining who Sarah is, Fowles gives her the freedom to continue to pursue her true self, both now and in the future, offering her continued authenticity in her female identity. In order to appreciate Fowles’ accomplishment with identity, this thesis first studies the use of French in Daniel Defoe’s eighteenth-century novel The Unfortunate Mistress (“Roxana”) and in Charlotte Brontë’s Victorian novel Villette. In Defoe’s work, France provides the opportunity for Roxana to change her identity and become a mistress seeking wealthier and wealthier men, which leads to her moral demise. Roxana becomes trapped, though, by her definition as a fallen woman and becomes a warning to other women, as well as to Britain in its relations with France and construction of national identity. In Villette, Lucy attains a new, successful identity in French-speaking Belgium as she learns to balance Reason and Feeling, dramatized by her respective use of English and French language. Although Lucy achieves an authentic identity, her potential is limited by her final definition as a widow and school director.
 "Make a Man of Him": The Question of Upbringing in Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Bondesson, Rebecka
Linköping University.2014

Behandlar synen på barnuppfostran i Anne Brontës The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Argumentet är att huvudkaraktären, till skillnad mot de traditionella idéerna rådande i 1820-talets England, antar ett progressivt förhållningssätt till barnuppfostran. Det visas även att romanen presenterar en möjlig bakgrund till hennes långt framskridna idéer vad beträffar erfarenheterna som har influerat hennes utveckling. Ytterligare en dimension tillförs uppsatsen i och med ett didaktiskt kapitel som behandlar frågorna varför och hur man bör använda sig av The Tenant of Wildfell Hall i undervisningen av Engelska i den svenska gymnasieskolan. 
The forging and forgery of identity in G.K. Chesterton’s The Club of Queer Trades and Charlotte Brontë’s VilletteBethany Dahlstrom
The Victorian,  Vol 2, No 1 (2014)

Perhaps one of the most interesting topics in modern society is how someone’s identity comes to be developed and defined. This is not a concept that is exclusive to the 21st century, however, and at the beginning of a fight for women’s rights in the 19th century, literature emerged which cultivated the on-going idea that identity is something that is malleable. This is seen in G.K. Chesterton’s Sherlock Holmes-esque The Club of Queer Trades and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. In these novels, the reader is introduced to two characters, male and female respectively, who establish for themselves an identity that seems to change and fit whatever suits their needs in the moment. In this paper, I seek to examine how each character both forges their identity, and, through deception, creates a forgery of their identity, questioning how this process carries over into modern society. 

by M. ( at April 24, 2014 01:30 AM

Ballad-worthy Wuthering Heights

USA Today's Happy Ever After has writer Eleanor Moran share her top 10 love stories. One of which is
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Lots of the great romances have heroes who are total arses, and this book is no exception. Heathcliff's a world of trouble and Cathy's not much better, but you'd have to have a heart of stone to not be transported by their torturous romance. No wonder Kate Bush thought it ballad worthy. (Joyce Lamb)
The Daily Princetonian interviews a sophomore tennis player:
DP: What’s been the best class you’ve taken at Princeton?
EH: ENG 345, with Jeff Nunokawa. 19th Century Fiction. I liked his lectures a lot. He was always very interesting.
DP: From that class or any other, what’s been your favorite book that you’ve read here?
EH: Probably Jane Eyre, in 19th Century Fiction. I had never actually read it. So I got a chance to and then write a paper about it. It was one of my favorite books. (Andrew Steele)
I Am Writer... Hear Me Roar! posts about Jane Eyre while A Liberated Life discusses 'Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë and Free Will'. Effusions of Wit and Humour reviews the 1983 adaptation of the novel. The Brussels Brontë Blog recommends the local exhibition Vivre au Quartier Royal 1800-2000 Du Coudenberg au Mont des Arts at the BELvue museum, where there are images of the Quartier Royal Charlotte and Emily knew. The Brontë Parsonage Blog has a review of Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shares a picture of the sampler Emily Brontë finished when she was 9 and also the news of the installation of ' two new interactive kiosks in our exhibition room' as well as a museum app in the making.

by Cristina ( at April 24, 2014 12:15 AM

April 23, 2014

Victorian Poetry Network

Special Issue of Victorian Poetry on Periodical Poetry

Victorian Poetry has just issued a special number, edited by myself and Caley Ehnes, on periodical poetry (Spring 2014, 52: 1).


Alison Chapman and Caley Ehnes, “Introduction”

Brain Maidment, “Imagining the Cockney University: Humorous Poetry, the March of Intellect and the Periodical Press 1820-1860”

Michele Martinez, “Creating an Audience for a British School: L. E. L’s Poetical Catalogue of Pictures in The Literary Gazette

Andrew Hobbs and Claire Januszewski, “How Local Newspapers Came to Dominate Victorian Poetry Publishing”

Kirstie Blair, “‘A Very Poetical Town’: Newspaper Poetry and the Working-Class Poet in Victorian Dundee”

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, “‘Making Poetry’ in Good Words: Why Illustration Matters to Periodical Poetry Studies”

Kathryn Ledbetter, “Time and the Poetess: Violet Fane and Fin-de-Siècle Poetry in Periodicals”

Linda K. Hughes, “‘Between Politics and Deer-Stalking’: Browning’s Periodical Poetry”



by Alison Chapman at April 23, 2014 08:55 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

J Paul Getty Collection Online in BETA

The J. Paul Getty museum is putting its collection online, which is currently in beta.  Fortunately, some of the items available in the beta are nine Dodgson photos.

by Matt at April 23, 2014 04:00 PM

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


The end of the semester, that is. Happy writing and grading everyone!




by Eric Loy at April 23, 2014 03:27 PM


Jane Eyre in Erie

Tomorrow, April 24, a world premiere high school musical will take place in Erie, PA:
Jane EyreComposer: Michael Malthaner
Lyricist: Charles Corritore
Playwright: David Matthews

Starring: Payton Tevis, Luke Weyand, Hannah McLaughlin, Eli Kerr, Emily Holmberg, Leah Sulecki.

McDowell Center for the Performing Arts, Erie, PA
April 24, 25,26 7.30 PM
April 27 2.00 PM
We read on Your Erie:
It's a story about the first female hero in literature, and the students at McDowell Intermediate School are bringing it to the stage.
The play is based on the Charlotte Brontë novel but is localized for the play.
Michael Malthaner wrote the music and orchestration, Charlie Corritore from the Erie Playhouse wrote the lyrics and David Matthews wrote the book for the play.
Malthaner, who is the director of The Center Of Performing Arts at the school says this will be his last production and added “I hope to do more in the community theater and still be involved in arts education and bring on new challenges."
Jayne Eyre (sic)will take to the stage this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2pm.

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

April 22, 2014

The Little Professor

When zombie questions attack! (Again.)

Didn't we just have this discussion? Apparently we're still worrying away at it.  Blogging (and other social media) as scholarship--the topic that, once dead, rises from the grave and shambles dully down the road, looking for academics to eat.  Look, most blog posts aren't finished. The blog post as a genre privileges relative spontaneity (especially if one writes about "topical" issues) and relative terseness (lest your readers start going on about TL; DR).  For most bloggers, a week's work on a post is an extensive investment of time and effort.  This post, meanwhile, took about ten minutes, and yet has achieved astonishing success as a kind of critical document.  Investing time on a long blog post is, if anything, likely to lead to diminishing returns, as readers are far more likely to respond to, tweet, and otherwise disseminate something brief, pithy, and/or snarky than they are something Very Scholarly with Extensive Footnotes.  (Most of my long blog posts are drafts for something else--I mean, I'd like people to read them, but they're essentially notes for something I want to do in the future.) Professor Y's "several well-researched, 1,000-word pieces each week" are almost certainly not going to attract "thousands of readers," because Professor Y a) will have difficulty writing posts of that length multiple times per week, especially if he's extensively researching each one, and b) will not have thousands of readers unless he's working on a relatively small set of hot topics (which poses its own set of problems).  Blogs that do succeed in having lots of lengthy posts tend to be group blogs.  Finally, despite the dream of online readerships somehow supplanting traditional peer review, the collapse of comments at all but a very few academic blogs should raise some questions about whether or not blogging continues to promote a more liberated form of conversation, intellectual or otherwise.  A retweet is nice, but it's usually not discussion.  (In fact, Twitter links can be pretty prohibitive when it comes to discussion, much like Facebook and some Livejournal links, as it's not always possible to discover where the link is from.)

by Miriam Burstein at April 22, 2014 10:31 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

A Bellydance Alice?

This is a new one on me, but who knows?  A troupe called Bellydance Evolution is adapting Alice “through world fusion and Middle Eastern dance.”  Sounds intriguing.  August 1, 2014 in Los Angeles.  Visit the Ford Theatre site for details.

by Matt at April 22, 2014 04:00 PM


In praise of Villette

Yesterday, on Charlotte Brontë's birthday, her novel Villette got a vindication. From The Huffington Post:
This year, on Charlotte Brontë’s 198th birthday, it’s time for me to finally admit a secret that’s been haunting me for some time. I think Jane Eyre, Brontë’s masterpiece, is kinda overrated. I know what I’m saying sounds radical. It's one of the great Victorian classics -- and trust me, I would never advocate for totally dismissing this beloved novel. When I first read Jane Eyre as a teenager, I fell passionately in book love with it, and I was inspired to make the rounds of the Brontës, inhaling Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Emily’s Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre, over and over again.
Jane Eyre spoke to my very soul, summing up all the adolescent angst that had plagued my uneasy transition into young adulthood. The Brontës and Jane Austen initiated me into the world of classic literature, but Jane Eyre was the book that felt most viscerally true and resonant. So it was with surprise that I realized, upon rereading it some years later for a college course, that I no longer found the novel virtuosic in its verisimilitude. It seemed maudlin, overwrought, almost absurd at points, and the triumphant finale of Jane’s marriage to the deeply flawed Mr. Rochester troubled me. Reading A Room of One’s Own, I agreed with Virginia Woolf’s assessment that Brontë’s anger at the restrictions she faced as a woman weakened her control as a writer, leading to unevenness and bizarre shifts in tone throughout Jane Eyre. Studying the racist, colonialist and anti-feminist implications of Rochester’s imprisonment of his “mad” Creole wife Bertha Mason caused me to further question my formerly high regard for the book. For the same course, I read Villette for the first time, and I found myself wondering why Brontë’s fourth novel hadn’t achieved greater fame than the second novel I now found so patchy and weak. [...]
Villette, of course, is not itself free of mixed messages about female empowerment. But it offers an alternate and equally valuable narrative, one with equally compelling lessons that hold true for women today. Villette bears a certain Brontëan resemblance to Jane Eyre -- gothic mysticism, spiritual intensity, bursts of passionate lyricism, a plain heroine making her way in an unfriendly world -- but is in many other ways its inverse. Jane Eyre works in sharp black and white, while Villette works in psychological and even factual grey areas. Where Jane’s specialness is stipulated, despite her poverty and plain looks, the heroine of Villette, Lucy Snowe, is an unassuming figure who spends the majority of the novel as a quiet observer. Jane insists on her own agency, while Lucy is reactive at best. Yet it is Lucy who truly breaks free of the expected domestic fate.
A more psychological and subdued novel, Villette features a young woman struggling with the internal conflicts most of us grapple with here in the real world. With the high melodrama turned down, the nuance is turned up. [...]
Despite my troubled history with Jane Eyre, my love for the novel will always endure. Villette, however, contains subtle, poignant pleasures that deserve acclaim at least on par with its more attention-seeking counterpart. To celebrate Charlotte Brontë’s birthday, let’s all give Villette a little more respect. (Claire Fallon)
The Telegraph has a report of the celebration at the Brontë Parsonage Museum together with an appeal from the museum curators:
Curators at the Brontë Parsonage Museum are appealing to local people to search their attics for hidden scraps of manuscripts, letters and belongings that might shed new light on the Brontë sisters.
The museum, in Haworth, Yorkshire, is marking Charlotte Brontë’s 198th birthday by giving visitors a rare chance to examine the author’s possessions, letters and manuscripts up close in the museum’s research library, instead of viewing them behind glass.
But staff believe there are still undiscovered treasures hidden in attics that may have been given away to villagers by her family.
Millions of book lovers have made a pilgrimage to the Parsonage Museum, known around the world as the home of the Brontë sisters.
Museum spokeswoman Susan Newby said: “We are appealing for people to rummage in their lofts and attics for anything that may have belonged to the Brontës that might reveal even more about them.
“They were a generous family and gave away a lot of possessions to their servants. It would be wonderful if there was a real gem of a poem or letter lurking out there that we don’t know about.”
Ann Dinsdale, the museum's Collections manager added: "We know there are a lot of letters and manuscripts still waiting to be discovered. We don't know where they are. They are more likely to be books they wrote as children. We don't believe there are any undiscovered novels still out there, although you never know.
"There are poetry manuscripts by Emily Brontë that are missing. We did a campaign a few years ago to persuade people to come forward with items they might like to donate. Recently we were given a collar that belonged to one of the Brontë's dogs complete with a dog hair, and we also had a child's bodice worn by one of the sisters.
"A few years before that we were given a big collection from Canada from a descendant of Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte's husband and that included a miniature manuscript which was incredibly exciting." (Keith Perry)
The Washington Post's ComPost also celebrated Charlotte Brontë's birthday:
The question of “What Would Jane Do” — you would never dream of asking this question of her sister Emily’s Heathcliff or Cathy — remains relevant today, and the advice that comes from asking it remains remarkably sound. (Alexandra Petri)
As a way to celebrate, New Republic shares 'an appraisal of Charlotte and Emily's unique brilliance from 1918'.

According to this columnist from La Nación (Argentina), once you read Little Women and Jane Eyre you can't help but go on to read Mills & Boon sort of books.
Las niñas se abismaban en Mujercitas de Luisa May Alcott, que luego se prolongaría en Jane Eyre de Charlotte Bronté [sic], y en los inevitables libritos de Corín Tellado. (Rolando Hanglin) (Translation)
A couple of reviews of the new TV adaptation of Jamaica Inn mention the Brontës:
Deepest, darkest Cornwall, brought back to me tales of  school trips, not enticing but could be exciting? After all we’ve had other great adaptations on moors; Jane Eyre, Hound of the Baskervilles; but in Jamaica Inn even the moor isn’t that interesting. (Kate Bellamy in Metro)
There were beautiful moments of picturesque Wuthering Heights-reminiscent moors, with Mary standing, Cathy-esque, amidst the sound of the wind blowing in the grass. (Alex Hoskins in the Cheddar Valley Gazette)
Effusions of Wit and Humour reviews Jane Eyre 1998. Reading, Writing, Working, Playing recommends Jude Morgan's The Taste of Sorrow. YA Book Shelf posts about Michaela MacColl's Always Emily.

by Cristina ( at April 22, 2014 03:28 PM

The Kissed Mouth

Art Avengers Assemble! Again!

Righty-o, assembled chums, have a look at these pictures for me.  To give you some background, these are illustrations by George Goodwin Kilburne, the question is what was the book?

Kilburne, born 1839, was a genre painter who specialised in interior scenes with detail and figures.  He favoured watercolour but worked in all mediums and when younger also engraved.  He was apprenticed for five years to the Dalziel Brothers, marrying their niece, Janet.  He contributed to The Graphic and The Illustrated London News and provided illustrations for books, as seen above.

They are owned by the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, possibly purchased by Merton Russell-Cotes, but over the years the title and orgins of the works has been lost.  What is known is that they are illustrations for a book and what I would like is some suggestions to what that book might be.  Do the scenes give any plot hints?  What about the lass fishing?  That's quite unusual.  What on earth are they covering up with a sheet by the door?

Thinking caps on then, Art Avengers, and give me your best shot!

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 22, 2014 01:44 PM

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. 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 22, 2014 04:30 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Manydown — old print of the house the Bigg girls grew up in, Austen went to balls in, and she could have been mistress of had she been willing to marry Bigg-Wither

Aloft on yonder bench, with arms dispread,
My boy stood, shouting there his father’s name,
Waving his hat around his happy head — Southey, Proem to Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo

Dear friends and readers,

We have 12 letters left — by Jane Austen. Three to Fanny Knight — one of them contains the striking description of Anna as “poor animal” brought down and aging from miscarriages and pregnancies. Two to friends, Alethea Bigg and Anna Sharp. 3 to Caroline, 1 to James-Edward Austen Leigh (JEAL). Two rare ones to Charles. Her last to Francis Tilson, the wife of Henry’s partner, someone Jane had described twice as perpetually pregnant, this one in scraps showing that Austen herself was censoring out any real description of what she had been experiencing.

Then 3 — by Cassandra, 2 to Fanny Knight and 1 to Anne Sharp.

Alethea was an old and close friend, one of the sisters of Harris Bigg-Wither; the other close friend was sister Catherine who found a hard berth by marrying an old wealthy man who then perpetually impregnated her (Austen comments on this at least three times). Alethea, Le Faye reports, spoke candidly to Austen of the novels with words that suggest intelligent reading MP superior to S&S and P&P in many points but lacked the spirit of P&P; Althea thought Emma not equal to P&P or MP — many readers of the era were (alas) bored by Emma as too much like real life. Austen seems to have taken this seriously too — Persuasion marks a departure to include the war frame, the sea, Bath, allusions to colonial world and Sanditon further yet in a new direction of commercial seaside spas.

The letter to Alethea is not short but it is not hard to decipher as there is a directness and plainness about it that show a real confiding friendship and some congenial (ironic?) joking: the “real purpose of the letter” held off until the postsript is a recipe for orange wine. Here is another woman friend I assume others wish we had more of Austen’s letters to.

She is putting the best face on a series of calamities that she can — from her illness (she’s got it under control now), to Henry’s drop in status to a curate, from Anna’s weakness (but must spare donkeys) to her spinster friend’s misplaced gown. What is really needed is some orange wine from Manydown.

Streatham Common

Austen opens with the assertion that it’s “time there should be a little writing between us.” They have been parted enough, they have not been in contact in too long a time; Austen says the “epistolary debt” is on Alethea’s side. In other words, Austen was the far more regular correspondent — as often happens between friends (when you have not the Internet to find people who like to write). Alethea is is involved with Catherine’s family at Streatham nearby and Austen hopes all are well.

An older drawing of Chawton with the street in front flooded

Then there’s been a break in the frost and Austen describes the near by roads “great many ponds” near by the meadow with “fine running streams.” She does not look upon this as something to be drained, but beautiful and providing subject for talk. anyone looking at the early 20th century photos of the huge body of water in front of the block with Chawton cottage recognizes damp raw damp, fetid horse manure would get into the place. Disease ridden as well as smelly and making for weather discomfort. The Austens blocked up their front window from the street with good reason. So when Austen writes “it is nothing but what beautifies us & does to talk of,” she is again putting a good face on something not desirable, is perhaps ironic?

All on her side in “good health” — a few precious words are cut out — these are about her sickness – but we can see from the previous letter and this it is still in remission and Austen is believing she may be able to beat it. She says “bile” is at the bottom of her ailment. She’s putting a good face on her illness and like others in such a grave frightening state trying to convince herself she can cope with her condition by herself (as her doctors are no help).

That is a reference to a psychological state too – part of the humors theory. Paula Byrne in her Real Jane Austen adheres to the older theory that Austen had Addison’s disease where adrenal glands don’t make enough cortisol which helps the person against stress — and it’s thought is a disease brought on by stress too — so Byrne connects this to Leigh-Perrot leaving the family nothing (all to the miserly mean aunt — and Austen mentions this in one of the remaining letters connecting it to her collapsed state), Henry’s bankruptcy, Edward’s law suit, and after all writing and publishing books is stressful. Remember Job who wished on other people they should publish books — she has probably heard far more remarks than she wanted to. She may have realized that after all she should have taken Murray’s good offer of 450 — all she would get now is 38 pounds and some shillings as profit for Emma. But she did not write for money — she wrote to write and then would have liked to make money.

Wyards Farm
Wyards Farm (where Anna Austen Lefroy was living)

Then several sentences on JEAL — all testifying to her liking for him – I see his kindness in his continual visits to his sister at Wyards Farm; she is not well or strong enough to come to Chawton; she says of JEAL the “sweet temper and warm affections of the Boy confirmed in the man.”

A modern donkey cart

She turns to thoughts of Anna by implication. They don’t have a horse and carriage but donkeys and cart — and these they take care of. They use but one at a time. Donkeys are not easy to force to carry you places and they haven’t been using them in a while. Still it does seem like an avoidance again. Imagine how these spinster women looked to others. She does wish for Anna that Ben would be ordained already and with a parsonage house. It did happen but alas he died young, she was widowed and after that lived a penurious life off other relatives. JEAL was one of those who helped her a lot.

Their own new clergyman is Henry of course and they want to see him acquit himself very well as they have now heard he is doing. She does not register what a come down this is (banker to rich people to country curate) but it is understood.

Then a recognition that Alethea is a spinster living off others — if there should be “any change” in the circumstances at Streatham and Winchester, ” let the Austens and Mary Lloyd know and come to them. That underlying more somber reality prompts a joke: her comic alarm that Alethea left her gown at Steventon (visiting Mary?) She will want to look right for another friend, Mrs Frere.


I find the long passage on Southey’s Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo takes us to a prose elegy on the death of Southey’s young son — he pays a moving tribute to his boy, spared such a battlefield. (Austen had been reading Scott’s Antiquary, now she moves to meditations on a battlefield.) We see how she identifies with Southey as a person part of their circle — the genteel circles of the UK were intertwined. Southey was Catherine Bigg’s husband’s nephew and his elder son has died — part of the mournful thoughts of the poem. She finds the proem “very beautiful” but the “poor man” rings flatly — too cliched? — even if the words that follow show she does empathize to this extent: that fondness of Southey for this boy has come across to her and so his grief. It is propaganda and against the French revolution as having “caused all this” — without regard for the reasons for the revolution, why it failed to produce the reformed society people said they wanted (did they?) and thus a Tory poem. Austen is liking it — more than his earlier critique of English life in his Letters from England: she disliked that: ever the partisan.

More single lady friends: Miss Williams and Charlotte from abroad but being determinedly anti-anything but English Austen declares she would not like their letters unless they breathed regret at not being in England — as usual LeFaye (p. 585) tells us about the family and nothing about the two women which might light up the passage with understanding — such as where they were, it’s they as individuals. It’s a circle of spinsterhood — Donoghue sees lesbian patterning in these too — and they are amorphous, mentioning now this woman and that and over the years we’ve seen Austen tried to add women to it, who were pulled away by relatives.

The last is kind love to Catherine’s children with positive comments and an attempt to show interest — a social gesture. “I suppose his holidays are not yet over” — these people sent their sons away. It may be she has in mind persuading Alethea she did the right thing in refusing Harris Bigg-Wither but we must remember how many years have gone by since then. I do doubt Austen would think that Alethea would have such a thing in mind: H B-W had long since married, had many children, Austen had written books. It is old and dead history by now.

The P.S.

Home-made orange wine

A joke about the purpose of the letter really being to get a recipe for Orange wine from Manydown — though perhaps it is no joke and Austen is hoping for a medicinal effect from the wine. If Austen was worried she was drinking wine that was too strong, associated with black bile, her request for the wine recipe may have been more urgent and poignant than we realize.

And let us recall that she has begun and is writing Sanditon at a frantic pace: I’d call it filled with a form of nervous hilarity when (for example), she has her Diana write of how it deranges the nerves don’t you know to have 3 teeth pulled at once, and other such funny jokes about fatal illness ….

See comments for text and other readings.


by ellenandjim at April 22, 2014 02:13 AM


Twenty-First Century Perspectives on the Brontës

A new scholar book with Brontë connections:
Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Victorian Literature
Edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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.
Includes "Victorian Romanticism: The Brontë Sisters, Thomas Carlyle, and the persistence of Memory by Laura Dabundo and Over", "Covert Narrative Structure: A Reconsideration of Jane Eyre" by Katherine Saunders Nash and "Matrimony, Property, and the "Woman Question" in "Anne Brontë and Mary Elizabeth Braddon" by Amy J. Robinson.

by M. ( at April 22, 2014 01:05 AM

Beyond Charlotte's Doodle

The Independent talks about the new Jamaica Inn BBC adaptation:
“It’s a perfect fusion of gothic romance and a young woman’s rite of passage in the vein of Twilight and Wuthering Heights”, says Emma Frost, who has adapted Du Maurier’s 1936 novel. (Gerard Gilbert)
The Sussex Express talks about the opening of the Arlington Bluebell Walk:
Hailsham town crier Geoff Rowe formally opened the Arlington Bluebell Walk last week.
At the opening on Thursday (April 10) he read Emily Brontë’s bluebell poem and led a toast to spring 2014.
The Arlington Bluebell Walk, which takes in three working farms, has raised thousands of pounds for Sussex charities since it first opened in 1972.
Business Telegram talks about the WattPad website:
You and your Uncle Max can publish their fiction and nonfiction on WattPad, an online site. It also has hundreds of free classics such as "Jane Eyre," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." The website,, draws 15 million readers a month. And posts more than 1.5 million new stories.
Dr. Tony Shaw talks about the Manchester blue plaque devoted to the place where Charlotte Brontë began the writing of Jane Eyre. Finally, an alert from Madrid (Spain):
Escritores en imágenes: Las hermanas Brontë
Lunes 21 de abril.
Fundación GSR- Casa del Lector
19:00h. - Auditorio.
Entrada libre hasta completar aforo.

Las hermanas Brontë, de André Téchiné (1979). VOSE. Digital. 115’

Patrick Brontë, pastor de la iglesia anglicana desde 1806, se casó en 1812 con Mary Branwell. El matrimonio se instaló en Yorkshire, donde nacieron Charlotte, Emily y Anne: las hermanas Brontë. La película traza una semblanza de la reprimida educación victoriana que sufrieron las escritoras, víctimas las tres de una difícil existencia. Sus obras literarias, tan apasionadas y sensibles, contrastan con la realidad de sus vidas, dominadas por las discusiones con su padre y el cuidado de su hermano menor.

by M. ( at April 22, 2014 12:23 AM

April 21, 2014

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion April 1814

This Morning Dress pairs with the previous plate.

Also from Ackermann's Repository for April 1814

A petticoat and bodice of fine jaconot muslin, finished round the bottom in vandykes and small buttons.

 The Rochelle spencer is composed of the same material, appliqued with footing lace down the sleeve, and trimmed at the edge with a narrow but full border of muslin. Double fan frill of muslin round the neck, very full, continuing round the bottom of the waist, where it is gathered on a beading of needle-work.

Bourdeaux mob cap, composed of lace, with treble full borders, narrowed under the chin. A small flower placed backward, on the left side. Hair much divided in front, and in full waved curls on each side. Necklace of twisted gold and pearl, with pendent cross in the centre.

Spring Greek kid slippers; and gloves of the same.
The beautiful cloak given in our last Number, as well as both the dresses in this, are from Mrs. Gill, of Cork-street, to whose taste and invention this work as well as the world of fashion are under continued obligation.

Until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at April 21, 2014 06:32 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Royal Ballet to Live Stream Alice Ballet in December 2014

For those of you who have not been able to see Christopher Wheeldon’s most excellent Alice’s Adventures  in Wonderland ballet, now you may get the chance.  In December the Royal Ballet will be live streaming the ballet to 283 locations.  So far most seem to be in the UK, but it may expand to other locations.  Check out this page for more details.

by Matt at April 21, 2014 04:00 PM


Charlotte Google Easter Doodle Birthday

Exactly what the title says. Google shows this Doodle on April 21st 2014 for honoring Charlotte Brontë on her 198th Birthday:

Happy Doodle Birthday, Charlotte.

EDIT: The Doodle has reached the newspapers with brief surveys on Charlotte Brontë's life and/or Jane Eyre synopsis: The Guardian, The Independent ("Reader, they doodled her"), The Irish Independent (Al Arabiya, The Tarboro TimesActuaLitté (France), România TV (Romania), Timlo (Indonesia), NotizieIN (Italy) ...

Nevertheless we don't know exactly which doodle The Mirror is commenting on:
The illustration shows a mum and her young son and daughter, all three of whom are putting the pedal to the metal. (Chris Richards)
And we have other websites who also celebrate her birthday: The Scotsman,  Mysaskصحيفة الاقتصادي (Yemen), 24СМИ (Russia), RTVSlo (Slovenia), Trollheims Porten (Norway).

by M. ( at April 21, 2014 12:01 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

A Caution to prevent Foot-pad Robberies during the Summer Season

A Caution to prevent Foot-pad Robberies during the Summer Season.

Whereas nothwithstanding the Number of Foot-pads who have lately been Apprehended, some of whom are already brought to Justice; Outrages of this Kind still continue to be committed in the Fields, and different Avenues to London, and 'tis feared that Robberies of this Sort will be frequent during the Summer (when Persons as well from Business as Pleasure are apt to be out late in the Evenings) except a Patrole, raised and kept up by Subscription, becomes general from all the Villages round this Metropolis, the Utility of which the Patrole lately fixed in St. George's Fields sufficiently evinces: It is therefore recommended that Patroles be fixed from the following Places, viz. from Kensington to Hyde Park Corner, which, at present, is only provided in the Winter Season; from Paddington to Islington, from Kentish Town to Southampton-row, Islington to furnish one from Sir John Oldcastle's along the New Road to Doghouse-Barr, Bow to Whitechapel; and Stepney to furnish one to patrole in Stepney Fields, and the New Road leading from the London Foundery to the Turnpike, the end of Cannon Street St. George's; and if this Plan be found imperfect, it is submitted to the Gentlemen and other Inhabitants in the above Neighbourhoods, to correct as they shall seem meet: But Experience shews, that unless a Plan of this Kind be immediately put Execution, it will be absolutely unsafe for Persons to pass and repass  near Town, on their lawful Occasions, especially for a Time, till the Men discharged from the Army and Navy are turned to the former employments.       J. Fielding

Public Advertiser 24 May 1763

by Lee Jackson ( at April 21, 2014 09:22 AM

April 20, 2014

Jane Austen's World

milk woman, william henry pyne, 1805

In Georgian London, milk maids sold fresh milk to customers from cows that grazed in St. James's Park.

by Vic at April 20, 2014 08:52 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Alice’s House for Sale for a Cool £1million

I bet if we all pooled our money we could buy this as our official residence and meeting place.  Ah well, I can dream can’t I?  Click me to see some actually quite nice photographs of the the house.  And if any of you Mimsy Minions do in fact buy it, I would love to visit!

by Matt at April 20, 2014 04:00 PM


One Hundred Years in the Heights

The Telegraph & Argus talks about one of the activities that will take place at the Brontë Parsonage Museum next month:
Keighley people are being invited to decorate Yorkshire-themed bikes with wool.
Artist Cassandra Kilbride will run a workshop in Haworth next month as part of her Woolly Bike Trail.
Participants will be inspired by Yorkshire literary greats as they decorate one of the ten bikes involved in the project.
They will draw on everything from the Brontë sisters’ work to Yorkshire-set novels like The Secret Garden and Dracula.
The Woolly Bike Trail is part of the Yorkshire Festival 2014, the arts festival that precedes the Grand Depart.
The bikes will be exhibited through the summer in Huddersfield and Sheffield, then will return to the places they were created for display for further 12 months.
The workshop runs at the Brontë Parsonage Museum on May 27 and 28 from 10.30am to 1pm, and 1pm to 3.30pm. 
The Austin Chronicle reviews the latest film version of Flowers in the Attic:
 It's undeniably Gothic, but in the same way that Twilight is – as a very fetish/masturbatory excursion. This is PG incest fap material, and it has such an anti-pay off (bar a phenomenal Bursytn shrieking melt down on a stair case) that it could be seen as a disaster. Instead, it's enthralling, because it's an insight into the thinking that says Jane Eyre is a great romance, or has made a disease vector like Count Dracula into a swoon-worthy leading man. (Richard Whittaker)
The Yorkshire Post interviews the Hebden Bridge Trades Club promoter Mal Campbell and how he attracted Patti Smith to play there:
 In his email to her agent, Mal recounted the history of the Trades Club and cannily mentioned the area’s literary heritage. “I knew she likes a good pilgrimage, so I mentioned the Brontës and Sylvia Plath. A couple of hours later her agent said, ‘I think this might work’. It was a proper drop your sandwich moment.” (Duncan Seaman)
The Economist pays tribute to the figure of Gabriel García Márquez and compares Wuthering Heights to Cien años de soledad:
The “magic” in his novels, especially his most celebrated one, really consists of highly imaginative tricks. His narrative structures and chronological drive actually resemble those to be found in “Wuthering Heights”—not a bad book to model yourself on, whatever tradition you are writing from. Emily Brontë's extraordinary mid-19th-century saga is partly about what humans cannot escape from, their family and biological “code”. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is also a drama of genealogy, relishing the successive patterns of desire and frailty passing through a single family. (J.W.)
Not everybody, nevertheless, is pro-García Márquez. Check this article by Kevin Myers in The Sunday Times, Brontë mention included.

Bianca Bosker in The Huffington Post is prepared for the imminent future:
 Yet another sci-fi scenario seemed more probable: Half of us are prepared for the dawn of artworks by computer Picassos, Brontës and perhaps even Baryshnikovs that can pass for human creations.
Diario XXI (Spain) interviews the writer Lena Valenti:
¿Has escogido el inicio del siglo XIX para ubicar la acción por un motivo especial?
Seguramente podría haber escrito otra historia distinta en otro escenario, pero me interesaba mucho ubicarla en ese momento histórico por toda la carga que acarreaban las mujeres de entonces. Además, estaba Jane Austin (sic) en vida, escribiendo ‘Orgullo y prejuicio’, las hermanas Brontë y es el momento en que surgen las primeras sufragistas y yo quería que esta novela fuese una oda al feminismo. (Herme Cerezo)(Translation)
Lise Huret on Tendances de mode (France) loved Jane Eyre:
Quel livre vous a le plus marqué ?
Jane Eyre. Découvert au tout début de mon adolescence, ce roman de Charlotte Bronté m'a totalement chavirée. Au fil de ses pages, j'ai appris ce que le mot "passion" signifiait réellement. Des années plus tard, ce livre fait toujours intrinsèquement partie de moi. Il me suffit de fermer les yeux pour me retrouver à Thornfield Hall en train de guetter le retour de Mr Rochester...  (Translation)
Avvenire (Italy) portrays the Italian edition of Jane, the fox, and me:
 Le Figaro l’ha definito “una piccola perla grafica tutta da scoprire”, il New York Times lo colloca “tra i dieci migliori libri illustrati del 2013”. In effetti con Jane, la volpe & io  - approdato nella collana Contemporaea di Mondadori (16 euro) – Fanny Britt per i testi e Isabelle Arsenault per le illustrazioni realizzano un romanzo grafico di grande leggerezza e poesia, nonostante il tema sia di quelli drammatici e urticanti come il bullismo. Helene, la protagoniosta, è una ragazzina timida e sensibile caduta del tutto senza motivo, gratuitamente come spesso avviene, nelle grinfie di una banda di bulle spietate.  Compagne di scuola che la sbeffeggiano pubblicamente dandole della grassona e della puzzona: le ingiurie più crudeli e dolorose che possano esistere. Invece di reagire Helene si rintana in se stessa, trovando sollievo nella lettura del suo romanzo preferito, Jane Eyre, con la cui protagonista sente di condividere il dolore di vivere. E non è poco in una quotidianità fatta di solitudine e mortificazioni. Cosa c’entra la volpe nel racconto - anche lei, come le pagine dedicate Jane Eyre unica nota di colore in una storia in bianco e nero tendente al seppia – lo si deve scoprire nella lettura, accompagnando la ragazzina nella fatica di affrontare una gita immaginata come un’ulteriore fonte di umiliazioni. Invece… Dagli 11 anni. (Rosanna Sisti) (Translation)
Unsocializedt is not very convinced by the Irish Brontë legacy tourist investments;  Books Tell You Why posts about Charlotte Brontë.

by M. ( at April 20, 2014 09:45 AM

The Little Professor

Sweet Thames

At some point in the twentieth century, the mediocre protagonist so beloved of Walter Scott and his immediate followers took a strange turn.  Scott's mediocrities, like the wavering Waverley, are decent sorts whose vices and virtues are supposed to miniaturize an epoch's most significant historical trends.   As Lukacs so famously argued in The Historical Novel, "[t]he principal characters in Scott's novels are also typical characters nationally, but in the sense of the decent and average, rather than the eminent and all-embracing" (36).  They are knocked about by forces beyond their control, but those forces flow through their bodies instead of against them; when Waverley regretfully settles down at the end of his novel, for example, he finds himself perfectly suited to his comfortably genteel location on an estate.  Scott's protagonists may not control the course of history, but they eventually grasp at least the fundamental governing principles of their age and understand how to work them to their own local advantage; more powerful (who, in Lukacs' terms, "grow out of the being of the age" [39]) or unique figures either direct the course of events or, like Rebecca in Ivanhoe, realize that they are somehow out of historical "place" and wind up displaced altogether.  

But at some point, the twentieth and twentieth-century mediocrity began to dramatize not just the way in which our very thoughts are shaped by historical contexts outside our conscious grasp, but instead how the social outsider is battered and shattered by forces he cannot begin to understand or influence.   Irony is the dominant note, as the neo-mediocrity, as it were, imagines himself in control (artistic, scientific, political, or otherwise), only for his schemes to collapse into cringe-comedy-type shambles, although sometimes the results are sinister instead of amusing.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, the neo-mediocrity is frequently his own unreliable narrator.)  Unlike the "decent" Scott mediocrity, the neo-mediocrity is overtly skewed, fanatical, exaggerated, or, at best, comical--often representative of the age's worst habits instead of its redeeming virtues.   The neo-mediocrity cannot aspire even to the limited agency afforded to Ivanhoe or Waverley, but is doomed to failure by the social, political, and economic powers wielded by his (or sometimes her, but it's usually his) betters--something he only partially understands, at best.  His performance runs the gamut from schlemiel to schlemazel.  Rose Tremain's Merivel in Restoration and Merivel: A Man of His Time, Jem Poster's Stannard in Courting Shadows, Anthony Burgess' Kenneth Toomey in Earthly Powers--to take some totally random examples--persistently fail at everything they attempt, take a terribly long time to understand why they fail (if they ever do), and ultimately arrive (or, in Stanndard's case, don't) at some rueful acceptance of their historical irrelevance.  Merivel's delighted laughter at his own ridiculous death sums up the neo-mediocrity's relationship to his "time": after a life of things going hilariously wrong, what better than to embrace the sheer ludicrousness of one's not-so-grand exit?

Joshua Jeavons, the obsessive narrator of Matthew Kneale's Sweet Thames (1992), is a case in point.  Kneale's novel, an example of neo-Victorian filth-fic* (Clare Clark's The Great Stink is another example), offers up a deconversion narrative liberally salted with critiques of Victorian capitalism and its attendant ideologies, not least the rhetoric of the self-made man.   The story inverts narratives about self-improvement and worldly success: Jeavons (himself of mercantile origins) begins as an engineer, a professional man, with an attractive wife, and an unassuming but stereotypically overstuffed household, complete with "tiny stuffed tropical birds" and "busts of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort Albert," neatly protected under glass (28).  The birds are stultifying reminders of a larger empire; the busts an equally ridiculous paean to nationhood.  But altough Jeavons and his wife Isobella come suitably equipped with all the tchotchkes of Victorian lower-middle-class existence, it soon becomes clear that all is not well: Jeavons suffers from cultural cringe, thanks to his discomfort about his origins; he seems to be a relatively unskilled engineer stuck doing drudgework at his father-in-law's business; and his wife refuses to allow him to consummate their marriage, for a reason that turns out not to be identical to the one in A. S. Byatt's Possession.  Moreover, he suffers from an overwhelming obsession with drainage, the passion that drives him for over 3/4 of the book.  Jeavons' perfect drainage scheme is a scatological Walter Scott narrative of sorts, intended to yoke a project "called into existence by a committee of a state" to the interests of "the most determined of entrepreneurs" (70)--an attempt to chart a unifying middle ground between collectivist government and individualist capitalists.  (As Jeavons is not named Bazalgette, readers will gather that he does not succeed.)

Jeavons' downward spiral from tenuous middle-class to poverty, from ostentatious middle-class comforts to slum resident with "shirt collar frayed, frock coat worn and shapeless" (181), is prompted by the deadly combination of his wife's mysterious disappearance and his ongoing obsession with his impractical drainage scheme.  Isobella's vanishing propels the narrative into incompetent detective mode, as Jeavons queries waiters, spies on former acquaintances, and attempts to decode Isobella's notes to herself.  The narrative ultimately subverts this project, as eye-witness testimony leads him to a dead end.  Meanwhile, obsessively working on his drainage scheme, Jeavons turns into a parody of a medieval scribe, "copying and copying again, until the phrases written became as some epic poem to me" (199).  But Jeavons' plans turn out to be mock-religious in their personal significance, invested with a quasi-Christian redemptive quality--a "double salvation for the metropolis" (21)--which does not so much suggest that cleanliness is next to godliness as it does that cleanliness serves as an adequate substitute.  A would-be prophet of the drains, living an ascetic life and walking the streets in increasingly tattered clothing, Jeavons regularly strikes other characters as insane (one woman is "somehow alarmed at my face" [190]); in his yearning to physically purify the city, he is the secular and fanatical version of one evangelist of the poor, the Rev. Rupert Hobbes (who, in fact, turns out to be reasonably helpful when the cholera strikes).  

The narrative unwinds Jeavons in a kind of upside-down mode, as Jeavons' collapse is matched by the parodic rise of a different self-made man, the young pickpocket Jem.  This decidedly glum carnivalesque, a sort of Book of Job without the God, pitches Jeavons through one humiliation after another, climaxing in his own attack of cholera.  Cholera strips Jeavons of his middle-class morality, leaving him mildly admiring of Jem's well-managed "new profession" (244) and his adolescent sexual proficiency.  At the same time, it is Jem who rescues him when the local Guardians refuse to allow doctors into the slum, pointing to the moral bankruptcy of the mid-Victorian state and, given the uselessness of his erstwhile backer Sweet, who parrots maxims about the dangers of "charity," the state's putative opposite, the non-Carlylean captains of industry.  In other words, Jeavons realizes that he cannot unify opposites when they are not, in fact, opposed at all.  Contemplating Sweet's "theory of pauperization," Jeavons realizes that it has become "some kind of holy doctrine: unquestionable, requiring nothing short of tribal obedience, to be upheld regardless of consequence" (261).   Jeavons' own "holy doctrine" of clean drains thus itself stands indicted; in the absence of any transcendent religious feeling, other absolutizing narratives sneak in to fill the gap.  If the slums hardly seem like a useful solution to Victorian crises, nevertheless Jem's spontaneous (and, even to himself, inexplicable) generosity stands counter to the "fever of belief" (268) from which Jeavons concludes he and everyone else has been suffering.  Jeavons' deconversion, then, is not just from his passion for drains, but from his desire for the ability to "banish all dissatisfactions, recasting the world, in the manner of some glistening miracle" (269).  It is, that is, a deconversion from utopian fantasy, and a conversion to local acts of goodness--destroying the pump that brings cholera-infected waters to the community, for example.  Or saving his wife, who finally manages to liberate herself from her own nightmare--itself yet another example of how Victorian patriarchy runs amok--at the cost of her sanity.

Although Jeavons ends by embracing his position as outcast, running with his wife to Italy and taking a new name--a traditional Victorian ending for those who have hit social dead ends--he also celebrates his new historical self-consciousness, calling on future readers to "[s]eek, instead, that most dazzling of prizes; to see through the delusions of your own time" (311).  The reader might well question if this is yet another grandiose project masquerading as a thorough-going skepticism.  More to the point, the novel's rejection of utopian "grand" narratives in favor of local intervention is, dare one say it, itself very Victorian--Middlemarch being the most obvious example, except that Jeavons is not Dorothea Brooke (an exceptional woman born at the wrong time).  This new project of intellectual self-cleansing thus seems to have defeated itself from the get-go.  Nor is it clear that there is any larger point to it, given that Jeavons is in likely permanent exile.  Despite his ongoing but fruitless correspondence about the cholera, it's clear that, like the other neo-mediocrities, Jeavons has nowhere to go but the historical dustbin.  

*--Although, given the title--an allusion to T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land--the filth in question has modernist as well as Victorian roots.  

by Miriam Burstein at April 20, 2014 01:52 AM


Postcolonial and Androgynous Sewing

New scholar Brontë-related papers:
Equal Partnerships: Ideal Androgynous Marriages in Jane Eyre and The Woman in White
Brianna Kuhn
The Victorian, Vol 2, No 1 (2014)

I stretch the denotation of androgyny and frame the characters from Jane Eyre (1847) and The Woman in White (1859) around a new connotation. Not only can androgyny be analyzed in terms of the individual, but I extend the term to the forms of marriage. I argue that the most optimal marriage in Victorian literature (and arguably today) is one in which both partners are androgynous, but also that the relationship is founded on friendship and equality, which I term an androgynous marriage. Unsuccessful marriages in the novel can be viewed as masculine when they rely solely on sexual intercourse for intimacy. Further, in the feminine marriage, the wife must be beautiful, obedient, passive, and perhaps obligated to marry her husband. Therefore, both Jane and Rochester, and Laura, (Marian) and Walter have a successful marriage, whereas Laura and Sir Percival and the Count and Madame Fosco have unsuccessful ones. Lastly, I argue that the character that dies in the unsuccessful marriages represents a gender polarity or abnormality, as well as serves in a male-dominant dutiful or sensual partnership.
Stitching a Life, Telling a Story: Sewing in Jane Eyre
Tracy Brain
Women's Writing. Published online: 28 Feb 2014

This essay begins by situating Jane Eyre (1847) within contemporary representations of sewing in canonical novels by the Brontë sisters and George Eliot. These texts depict the complex and contradictory nature of needlework. The essay reveals how sewing takes Jane from her girlhood at Lowood School to her deliberate auditioning for the role of Rochester's “lady wife” at Thornfield Hall. It is a journey that is aided and punctuated by Bertha Mason's destructive acts upon fabrics, each of them a coded and crucial message to Jane. The essay's argument is founded upon three linked points: that the pivotal moments in Jane's life and social journey are woven into the story of her stitching; that this story draws upon fairy-tale archetypes; and that Jane's increased skill in manipulating her needle is bound up with her control over her narrative and her theatrical self-presentation.
Postcolonial Life and Death: A Process-Based Comparison of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Ayu Utami's Saman
Tiffany Tsao
Comparative Literature 2014 Volume 66, Number 1: 95-112

This comparative study of Wuthering Heights (a mid-nineteenth-century British novel by Emily Brontë) and Saman (a late-twentieth-century Indonesian novel by Ayu Utami) examines the two novels' respective treatments of internal colonization — a shared thematic concern that only becomes apparent with critical attention to the similarities between scenes found in each work. Read together, the two texts expose the limitations that a unilinear model of the colonization process may impose on life for the colonized subject. Whereas Wuthering Heights figures pre-colonial and colonial modes of life as existing on a single chronological continuum, casting the former as an irretrievable thing of the past, Saman conceives of the two co-existing parallel to each other, the former continuing to exist despite the introduction of colonial culture. By proposing and deploying a process-based model of literary comparison that alternately analyzes the similarities and differences between texts rather than attempting to maintain a balanced view of both at once, this essay also hopes to contribute to recent discussions within the field of comparative literature on how to treat textual convergences and divergences.

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

April 19, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Indiegogo Project for Alice Inspired Stop Motion Animation Film

Animator Jennifer Linton want to make a film about Alice in contemporary Toronto using stop motion techniques.  Her Indiegogo campaign has be a huge success having already reached its goal, but its not too late to get in on the perks and contribute to what looks like a beautiful modern retelling.   Visit her Indiegogo page for all the details.

by Matt at April 19, 2014 04:00 PM


Forbidding Landscapes

Rallye-Info and many other rallye-related news outlets talk about the Brontë homeland leg of the Ireland Rally:
Day two consists of a further eight stages over a distance of 117.14 kilometres. The itinerary includes the 29.02-kilometre Brontë Homeland test, which runs through the area where Patrick Brontë, the father of celebrated novelists Emily, Charlotte and Anne, grew up. Another highlight will be the purpose-built stage through the streets of Lisburn, which is used twice in quick succession. (ERC Media)
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner lists reasons why Yorkshisre is better than Lancashire:
16) Known worldwide for Wuthering Heights, Jayne Eyre (sic) and Shirley, the Brontë literary family are one of Yorkshire's most famous literary exports, with fans travelling from all over the world to pay pilgrimage to their birthplace in Haworth - Lancashire has its famous authors, sure, but can it offer an entire family of them?   (Samantha Robinson)
Matt Stroh, chairman of the KWVR, writes in Keighley News about their partnership witth the Brontë Parsonage:
We are also looking forward to cementing our partnership with the Brontë Parsonage as we extend our very popular vintage bus service from weekdays during the main school holidays to a number of summer Sundays starting in June.
This will provide a much-requested heritage link between the station at Haworth and the Parsonage, which we hope will encourage visitors to enjoy both attractions as well as the shops and eateries on Main Street.
The New York Times discusses the history of the World's Fairs:
The greatest world’s fair of all, the one that became a model for most that followed, was the London Exhibition of 1851, which featured the famous Crystal Palace, an immense iron and steel pavilion, and drew some seven million visitors, or roughly one-third the population of Britain at the time. Dickens, Tennyson, George Eliot and Karl Marx all went. Charlotte Brontë visited twice and wrote that the multitudes were so staggered by what they saw — steam engines and locomotives, factory machines, carriages and harness work, chests full of diamonds and pearls — that they were subdued into near-silence. (Charles McGrath)
More NYT and the Vera Wang new fashion collection:
 “I don’t want to use the word goth, but certainly there was a sisterhood,” the designer said of the video, in which several female models stare into the foggy distance, entwine hands and twirl wanly, Lorde-like, in an abandoned manse. She intended to evoke not Dickens, but the Brontës. “I didn’t think we had to be literal with a groom and a tuxedo and all that.” (Alexandra Jacobs)
Fashion & Style interviews the actress Jessica Brown Findlay:
First is “Jamaica Inn,” a BBC adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel.
“The gothic side of Jamaica Inn excited me. I’ve always loved things like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre where you see the darkness of how people react in really forbidding landscapes,” Brown Findlay said.
The Sydney Morning Herald publishes a biographical article about the actress Patricia Routledge:
Both her parents loved language and music, but it was her mother, Catherine, who gave Patricia her first piece of serious fiction - Jane Eyre - and took her to see opera for the first time, La Bohème - and the theatre. (Stephanie Bunbury)
The American Prospect mourns the passing of Gabriel García Márquez:
 For young writers who thought literature fell off the edge of the world east of Moscow or south of Mississippi, it was a portal to Borges and Cortázar. Like anyone—be it Emily Brontë or Pablo Picasso or Orson Welles or Miles Davis—who makes something new out of bits of the old, García Márquez didn’t think he was inventing fabulism or “magical realism” and would have resisted the suggestion of it, as genius resists any categorization so reductive. (Steve Erickson)
The Telegraph inaugurates a new kind of Brontë reference: the place that almost was a location and the person that almost featured on a Brontë film adaptation:
 Out to the south is the disused farmhouse that nearly featured in the 2011 film version of Wuthering Heights. To his delight, Clive was offered a role in this film, but he had to turn it down when the filming schedule coincided with a local tup sale. (Olivia Parker)
Jane Eyre in Georgia, US? According to the Orlando Magazine you can find some places reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë's novel:
  After the tour, if time allows, hike to Dungeness. Another Carnegie creation, the eerie ruins evoke Jane Eyre, after Mrs. Rochester kindled a catastrophe. (Nancy Moreland)
Coronation Street Blog reviews one of the latest episodes of the soap opera and makes this Brontë reference:
 Sporting her new sporty do, Mary can forget the pains of “sweaty follicles” and throw herself into a workout at the gym, striding beside Gail, who apparently has the waist of a Brontë sister. (Emma Hynes)
Regió 7 (in Catalan) mentions the recent Spanish translation of The Professor:
 El profesor de Brontë tracta la història de Williams Crimsworth, un home que deixa enrere l'ambient opressiu de la família i s'obre camí a Brussel·les, on obté plaça de professor en un internat. Allí trobarà l'admiració i les atencions de dues dones, l'astuta directora i una òrfena que, com ell, vol sortir de la pobresa. (Toni Mata i Riu) (Translation)
The Westmoreland Gazette descibes a little mystery concerning a letter found inside an old copy of Charlotte Brontë's Villette;  Sunlit Pages Jane Eyre; kansassire posts a couple of pictures of Jane Eyre 1944; YA Book Shelf gives away a copy of Michaela MacColl's Always Emily; Poeira Literária (in Portuguese) reviews Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at April 19, 2014 11:26 AM

A Spanish Professor

A new Spanish translation of Charlotte Brontë's The Professor:
El profesor
Brontë, Charlotte
Alba Editorial. Collection: Minus
Translation: Gema Moral Bartolomé
ISBN: 9788484289739

William Crimsworth, en su voluntad de independencia, desprecia la tiránica protección de sus parientes y se embarca hacia Bruselas, donde consigue un puesto de profesor de inglés en un internado y debe elegir entre las atenciones de la brillante y astuta directora y la tímida admiración de una joven huérfana que, como él, lucha por superarse y salir de la pobreza.
La ética del trabajo articula el ideario de la novela, pero en ella destaca asimismo el solitario y doloroso empeño por conservar la fidelidad a los propios principios en un mundo opresivo y prejuicioso, regido por el disimulo, la vigilancia y la afectación.

by M. ( at April 19, 2014 09:07 AM

The Kissed Mouth

Easter Wishes from The Kissed Mouth!

Hello Chums!  I hope you are having a jolly Easter weekend with plenty of sunshine, chocolate and egg-related jollity all round. I spent yesterday with my lovely cousin-in-laws and families, and tomorrow we are off to Grampy's for church and lunch, for which I have to cook a chocolate bread and butter pudding.  Anyway, I digress, I am here to talk about Easter and our dear friends, the Victorians...

I'm guessing that for our nineteenth century ancestors, Easter was actually a bigger deal than it is for us.  I've noticed over the last few years that the shops are pushing more and more 'things' to help you celebrate the double Bank Holiday weekend, and much like Christmas the origins are somewhat sidelined in favour of commercialism and fluffy chicks. Gosh, the Victorians would have loved that.  Apparently by the turn of the Twentieth century, chicks were allowed to drive cars.  I'm not sure that's very safe to be honest, look at the difficulties the driver is having controlling the wheel.  A cautionary tale for us all, I feel.  Wait until your chicken is full grown before allowing him or her to operate machinery please.

The Morning of the Resurrection (1886) Edward Burne-Jones
Obviously, for the Victorians the religious message was far more welcome and necessary than we are comfortable with now.  Easter, as my father always tells me, was of course the biggest religious festival of the Christian year, being that it actually marked the moment that Jesus spectacularly gatecrashed breakfast.  Good work, that man/spirit/son of God!  Burne-Jones' rather sombre affair is subtle and muted, the only highlight being the halo around Jesus' head.  Surely a man rising from the dead would need a few more bells and whistles?

Christ and the Two Marys (1897) William Holman Hunt
There you go, Jesus would obviously turn up with rainbows, but then this is Holman Hunt.  His technicolour resurrection looks a little kitsch these days but I quite like the pizzazz that he lends to the moment, after all this is a fabulous moment for Christians.  This Christ is bringing the party with him.  Good on him.

Mary Magdalene (1877) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I'd never considered that this lovely Rossetti was an Easter image but the story goes that Mary Magdalene turned up to the tomb with some hard boiled eggs to share with the other mourners but when she saw Jesus, the eggs turned red.  This, therefore, is the mourning Mary holding on to her faith and about to be proved right.  That is quite a big egg she has there. They obviously have heroic-sized chicking in the Holy Lands...

The Angel at the Sepulcre
The Angel at the Tomb

This pair of lovelies are obviously by Julia Margaret Cameron and are the waiting angels at the tomb.  Again, they have the look of patient waiting, solemn and unmovable.  I love all of JMC's work but I think the clarity of the profile of our right-hand angel is so unusually sharp for her.  It is both soft and precise, I love it.

The Easter Bonnet Gustave Jacquet
Of course, Easter means Spring, and rebirth in terms of nature.  I remember my Nan taking part in Easter bonnet competitions and I think it's a very fun idea.  This young lady seems unwilling to shed her big furry coat, after all it is rather chilly in April, but she is sporting a rather pretty hat with some tumbling flowers.

Rolling Easter Eggs (1905) Edward Atkinson Homel
Mixing the religious with the jolly, we have these young girls rolling coloured eggs down a hill.  The act of rolling the eggs is a combination of the religious (rolling the rock away from the tomb) and the egg in nature (the Pagan goddess Eostre was associated with eggs as a symbol of the land holding rebirth inside it).  In England it is traditionally known as pace-egging (from 'Pasch', Old English for Passover) and happens all over the country, sometimes competitively.  Incidentally, the Easter bunny is a variation of Eostre's animal, the hare.

Easter Eggs in the Countryside (1908) Victor Gabriel Gilbert
I love the light in this picture, quite pale but strong and almost a match for what I can see out of my window this morning.  Now, this little girl has gone and thieved a nest full of eggs, which is not a good idea but I'm guessing was probably a former 'delight' of childhood.  I think her Mum ought to nip out to Waitrose and get her a chocolate egg to dissuade her from this practice, or at least go and buy some mini eggs and make rice-crispie nests like we did yesterday.  The goats look less than impressed by this and I don't blame them.

An Easter Holiday (1874) James Aumonier
The girls in this picture are from Bloomsbury Parochial school, out for a holiday trip in a wood in Watford.  They look happy to actually be outside, bless them.  A Parochial school is one affiliated to a church or religious organisation and so Easter must have been a big deal for them at school, probably why they got a treat.  I love how small they seem next to the massive trees and how their blue dresses compliment the pale yellow of the primroses that carpet the wood floor.  Beautiful.

Easter Morning Caspar David Friedrich
Back to Burne-Jones' notion of a quiet, comtemplative Easter, this beautiful canvas by Friedrich is about as far removed from Hunt's disco-Christ as it is possible to get.  These figures are walking in a misty landscape, presumably going to church like the other figures discernible in the distance.  There is no feeling of celebration, no merrymaking, just three women walking up a country road like their neighbours.  In some ways it might be just a rural scene, nothing special, but taking the title into consideration, the trees take on further significance.  The figures seem tiny and the trees appear to guard their way, as if the path has been opened to them, leading to the light in the sky.  The women are stood between the trees looking, like the disciples looking into the empty tomb as God looks down at them.  This painting forms a pair with another entitled Early Snow, showing a lush green landscape dusted with white. Both showcase the majesty and mystery of nature, the seasons and the magic to our eyes of the world we live in.

Well, happy Easter, my dears, I hope you eat yourselves stupid on chocolate and have a good time.  May the weather be pleasant and may you be as happy as chickens and rabbits dancing at some sort of cross-species shin-dig...

Look, I'm not a prude, but no good can come of this, surely?  Oh well, love to all and a happy Easter to you, whoever you dance with this weekend!

by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 19, 2014 03:24 AM

April 18, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Clara Mulholland, Kathleen Mavourneen (John Murphy, 1890).  US reprint of a short Catholic novel about the sufferings of Irish Catholic tenants and the men and women who try to enact reforms.  Clara was the sister of another Catholic novelist, Rosa Mulholland. (eBay)
  • M. A. Wallace, Well! Well! A Tale, Founded on Fact (Sadlier, 1855).  The fortunes of an Irish Catholic girl who emigrates to the United States.  (eBay)
  • Mary Hampden, The Girl with a Talent (RTS, [1894]).  Late-Victorian religious novel involing a suddenly-impoverished family, strange doings with a will, romance, and a young woman with a strong singing voice.  (eBay)
  • Evelyn Whitaker, Miss Toosey's Mission and Laddie (Roberts Brothers, 1888).  In the first story, a man is inspired by an apparently ridiculous spinster; in the second, a young doctor becomes alienated from his mother after he moves to London.  (eBay)
  • Emma Leslie, Teddy's Dream; Or, a Little Sweep's Mission (Robert Carther, 1874).  US reprint of a novel about an impoverished boy's sufferings in London (as a chimney sweep, among other things) before his eventual reward.  (eBay)
  • Diana Wallace, Female Gothic HIstories: Gender, History and the Gothic (Wales, 2013).  Studies how women writers appropriate Gothic conventions in order to trouble the waters of historical representation, from Sophia Lee to Sarah Waters.  (Amazon [secondhand])

by Miriam Burstein at April 18, 2014 09:49 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Amazing Photograph Evokes The Rabbit Hole

My acrophobia notwithstanding, this is a very cool photograph, well deserving of its win in the Clique Challenge in Sydney.  Read the full story.

The winner: Buildings and Monuments Challenge, Rodney Campbell, Queen Victoria Building titled Down the Rabbit Hole. Photo: Rodney Campbell

by Matt at April 18, 2014 04:00 PM


Jane comes out on top

Easter activities at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in The Telegraph & Argus:
Easter activities at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth include a celebration of the 198th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth on Bank Holiday Monday.
Visitors can find out more about her life with talks from members of staff throughout the Parsonage – including a talk from Executive Director Ann Sumner on the Brontë connection to the railways, which highlights the new display in Branwell’s Studio and follows on from our appearance on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys.
There is also a rare opportunity to view some of Charlotte’s possessions, letters and manuscripts up close, as Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale takes visitors behind the scenes in the research library at 11am, 12pm and 1pm (free to museum visitors, though numbers are restricted so booking essential – contact or call (01535) 640185.
Also in The Telegraph & Argus, Steven Wood presents his new book Haworth, Oxenhope & Stanbury from old maps:
Haworth historian Steven Wood has turned from photographs to maps for his latest book.
He has gathered almost 100 old maps revealing various aspects of the Haworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury areas.
The paperback follows Steven’s two previous books for the same publisher, Amberley, containing 600 historic photographs of the villages.
Haworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury From Old Maps features informative maps dating from 1610 to 1937.
They range from Ordnance Survey and County maps to Board of Health plans, the Haworth tithe map and church, waterworks, railway and road plans.
The Haworth Village House Repopulation Plan is republished over several pages, showing the names of every family in every household in the village in 1856, including the Reverend Patrick Brontë.
A spokesman for Amberley Publishing said the repopulation plan provided the most detailed view ever of the Haworth that the Brontës knew.
She added: “Between them, the maps and the accompanying text reveal many details of the history of Haworth and its neighbouring villages.
“They can also serve as a guide to the use of maps in local history studies.” 
The Telegraph publishes a travel guide to Yorkshire:
There is a hugely impressive arts scene, with the Hepworth Wakefield (01924 247360; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park (01924 832631; enjoying fabulous reputations, not to mention the annual film festivals in Sheffield and Leeds. Poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath stalked the moors of the Calder Valley while this, don’t forget, is Brontë country too. (Joe Shute)
The Mirror lists several interesting facts about the Peak District National Park:
Castleton, Baslow, Eyam and Hathersage are all worth a visit too, with the latter playing a large part in Charlotte Brontë's iconic novel Jane Eyre - North Lees Hall, which is on the outskirts, was used as the model for Mr Rochester's home Thornfield Hall. (Ben Burrows)
The New York Times reviews a NY performance of The Mystery of Irma Vep:
If Charlotte Brontë were to spend an afternoon bingeing on Hammer horror flicks, medicinal sherry and Jiffy Pop, perhaps she could dream up a tale as delirious as that of “Irma Vep.” Most likely not. This 1984 script, which originally starred Ludlam and his partner Everett Quinton, plays out on Mandacrest, a sinister and remote English estate. (Alexis Soloski)
TheaterMania adds:
With its joyful embrace of melodramatic theater and cinema, it's easy to see why. Irma Vep borrows freely from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Shakespeare, Victorian penny dreadfuls, and the entire canon of American vampire, mummy, and werewolf movies. (Zachary Scott)
Vulture discusses Val Lewton's horror films:
In Cat People, a woman is convinced that she has a curse on her that will turn her into a deadly panther whenever she has any strong emotions; I Walked With a Zombie is as much influenced by Jane Eyre as it is by anything to do with zombies. (Bilge Ebiri)
Philip Galanes recommends Jane Eyre against bullying in The New York Times:
Ignore your step-cousin when she’s mean (she may move on to another mark) and make a beeline for someone you trust. It helps to talk. And pack a copy of “Jane Eyre” for your trip. Jane was bullied as a girl, too. But, boy, does she come out on top.
The Burnley Citizen celebrates the repairs plan to save Spenser House in Hurstwood:
The house and hall were also used in 1996 by the BBC for the film version of Anne Brontë’s ‘Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, when the stair balustrades were replaced with painted plywood to resemble barley twist spindles. (Peter Magill)
Première (France) talks about ruins and books. And Top Withins is featured:
Le photographe Pete Barnes est l’un des rares professionnels à avoir photographié cette ruine pas sexy pour deux sous et qui pourrait être le bâtiment ayant inspiré le célèbre manoir des Hauts de Hurlevent, le roman star d’Emily Brönte (sic). Pour les fétichistes du roman, le lieu se situe en haut d’une colline baptisée Top Withens, à l’écart du petit village de Haworth, à proximité de Bradford. L’association du lieu au personnage d’Heathcliff a fait de Wuthering Heights (l’endroit) un lieu symbolique des passions romantiques et de l’aveuglement amoureux.
La maison est sombre, immense, délabrée, rendue sinistre par les ravages de la passion dévorante et de la haine meurtrière. (Benjamin Berton) (Translation)
A.V. Club interviews the musician Dan Wilson:
Do you have a favorite song of all time? (...)
Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush is amazing. I like songs that have operatic emotions. (Marah Eakin)
BuzzFeed interviews the actress Erika Christensen about her role as Cathy in Wuthering Heights 2003:
You were in a musical version of Wuthering Heights that was on MTV.
EC: You’re right. These are so random.
I know! With Katherine Heigl and Mike Vogel, who’s on Under the Dome.
EC: One of the things that I really liked about that is I got to sing, which I always hoped would come into play, because that’s how I grew up. (Kate Aurthur)
The Good Men Project has a Brontë mention:
 A third date was in the planning stage when I received an email, one I felt Charlotte Brontë might  have sent if computers were available in the 19th century. “My deceit has caught up to me, and I can never see you again.” (Al Deluise)
Motorsport (Germany) follows the Ireland rally that tomorrow, April 19, will pass through Patrick Brontë country:
The second leg on Saturday consists of eight tests. The highlight is the 29 km long "Brontë Homeland" route.
This test is named after Patrick Brontë, father of the famous novel writers Emily, Charlotte and Anne. (Gerald Dirnbeck) (Translation)
 Debiutext Magazyn (Poland) posts about Wuthering Heights; Aspirin and Boku-Maru reviews Jane Eyre; Litreactor thinks, poor fellow, that Jane Eyre sucks.

by M. ( at April 18, 2014 11:50 AM

Bessie aka Elsie the Cow

This story by Alex Thompson published on Gapers Block's Book Club contains a Brontë reference:
It was a night of this type of dreaming. Holly Golightly leaned suavely beside Jane Austen's Emma and a tortured Brontë character. Katniss Everdeen snacked on a raspberry parfait and reminded me to have a good time and not "think of all the people dying for your entertainment." Only Patrick Bateman seemed unnecessary, populated as the night was by smiling men in suits passing out business cards.
The Telegraph interviews the actress Jessica Brown Findlay:
“The gothic side of Jamaica Inn excited me. I’ve always loved things like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre where you see the darkness of how people react in really forbidding landscapes,” she says. “There is an incestuousness to the story. Joss wants to protect her deep down, but he’s also a sexual threat. Mary has to show him she’s no pushover and he sort of respects that. Ultimately she holds up a mirror to him, makes him see who he really is.” (Ben Lawrence)
Robert McCrum discusses some preliminary and collateral effects of choosing the 100 best novels for a list in The Guardian:
Another lesson from these first two centuries is that, as a contrast to the fallow years, we occasionally find intense bursts of creativity in which, as it were, the novels of the day become engaged in a vivid dialogue. The most intense occurs in 1847 and 1848: the years of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, followed by Vanity Fair.
Charlotte Brontë, indeed, paid tribute to Thackeray in her preface to Jane Eyre. At this mid-point of the Victorian novel, there was only one duty for the writer – and that was to entertain the reader. Thackeray is explicit about this. The idea of "literary fiction", that fashionable tautology, did not exist.
This article on Benefitspro has nothing to do with the Brontës but we have truly liked the anecdote and so we  would like to quote it fully:
I remember my high school career. I was a science and math guy through and through. I hated English. It made no sense. It was completely subjective. And, so, when it came time for this Physics and Astronomy major to take his required dose of English Literature as a college freshman, I attacked it with as much sarcastic rigor as possible. My intention was to mock the tomfoolery of literary analysis by pushing the envelope as far as possible. Every written assignment only escalated this. I was asked to review a Joseph Conrad novella (The Secret Sharer) and I handed in a report comparing it to a Star Trek Episode (“The Enemy Within”).
Next I was tasked with reviewing Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and came back with an analysis based solely on the names of the characters, including a purposely placed anachronism comparing the nursemaid to a Borden Dairy Company mascot Elsie the Cow (if you can’t see the connection, think harder).
But my professor zigged when I expected her to zag. Rather than berate my disrespect, she instead read it as something creative and gave me A’s for both papers. When I admitted to her the basis of my true deviousness, (i.e., science guys don’t like English classes) she blew it off with the simple suggestion I read C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. I did and it was a cold slap on the face. In it, Snow explains the cultural divide between the literary class and the science class and suggests neither can be considered a truly intellectual class unless and until it can comfortably understand the fundamentals of the other. (Chris Carosa)
The Northern Echo talks about yet another Tour de France-related event, the recording of the official song:
GIRLS Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh, Fame Academy contestant Alistair Griffin and a brass band immortalised by a movie have joined forces to record an anthem for Yorkshire’s Tour de France Grand Départ. (...)
“Being a Yorkshire girl myself means the event has a special resonance with me because it’s my home county and the race will go through my home city of Bradford.”
Mr Griffin said the video accompanying the song would have “a Wuthering Heights feel to it”, showcasing the dramatic countryside.
EDIT: MSN Music adds:
 While filming in the Yorkshire Moors, Kimberley is quoted as saying to Rex Features: "It's a bit different to anything I have done before and the moors give the video a Heathcliff and Catherine vibe."
USA Today talks about the upcoming new TV series, Salem:
WGN America is the latest to hop on the broomstick with Salem, premiering Sunday (10 p.m. ET/PT). Think of it as "Wuthering Heights meets The Exorcist," says co-creator Brannon Braga of the supernatural thriller, set in colonial Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials. (Patrick Ryan)
Expressen (Sweden) reviews Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs:
Egentligen är det en vändning värdig en såpa. Just som allt har löst sig för den unga Jane Eyre, Rochester har friat, de ska gifta sig, så visar det sig att det på vinden i hans hem finns - en annan kvinna. En galen kvinna, dessutom, och inte nog med det: Rochesters fru.
Han menar att han blev lurad att gifta sig med henne och att hennes galenskap har tvingat honom att hålla henne inspärrad. Jag brukar bli misstä   nksam när jag träffar personer som talar illa om sina ex, så ni kan ana storleken på varningsklockorna inför Rochester.
Jane Eyre drar, klokt nog, därifrån. (Hanna Johansson) (Translation)
Dantri (Vietnam) discusses one-hit-wonders in literature, i.e. Emily Brontë; What a Girld Nerd Says interviews the writer Bethany Hagen:
Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite books to read? Were they inspiration for your own writing career?
Bethany: Jane Eyre and Lord of the Rings were my perennial favorites, along with the works of Jane Austen and Gone with the Wind. They are absolutely inspirations for me — Austen, Brontë and Mitchell have this way of playing settings and characters off one another in a manner that I can only dream of doing (…but I try anyway). 

by M. ( at April 18, 2014 11:10 AM

A Brontë Walk for Good Friday

A Brontë walk for Good Friday:

Part of the Boroughbridge Festival of Walks:
Brontë Walk
3m / 5km
Good Friday 18th April
Start 10.00 am at Village Hall  Great Ouseburn

From 1840 to 1845, Anne Brontë was employed as a governess to the Robinson family at Thorpe Green Hall. Her brother Branwell was also employed there for some of that time.  The people and surroundings inspired literary work by both of them. Follow in their footsteps today, as you take the Brontë Trail.
Great Ouseburn is mentioned in the Domesday Book and it’s near here the Ouse Gill Beck rises and, where it joins the Ure nearby, forms the River Ouse. In 1840 around 30 retail establishments traded in the village supplying the day-to-day needs of Anne and Branwell.
Walk Information
The full walk is five miles (8km) long and should take around two-and-a- half hours at a steady pace. Start at the walk interpretation panel on Great Ouseburn Village Hall.There is ample parking.  Follow the route shown by the green waymarkers.Thorpe Green Lane can be busy at the start and end of the school day.
OS Map Explorer 299 covers the area.
More details here

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

Of Victorian Interest

CFP: Anxious Forms (5/15/2014; 8/22/2014)

Anxious Forms: Bodies in Crisis in Victorian Literature and Culture
The University of Glasgow
August 22, 2014 
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Anxious Forms is a one-day interdisciplinary conference which seeks to engage with the Victorian era as a period of anxiety manifested in physical form, be it the human body, national, ideological, and scientific bodies, or literary and artistic forms. Recent criticism of the long nineteenth century has viewed the period as one of crisis: a collection of critical moments which are framed as decisive, paradigmatic shifts. Criticism frequently considers the physical manifestations of anxieties surrounding industrial progress, imperial expansion, and scientific and medical advancements, as well as shifting concepts of gender, religion, race, class, and sexuality.

However, some scholars have started to question the basis of such a reading, asking to what extent this is a contemporary application of the concept of 'anxiety'. This conference intends to open up this debate and stimulate discussion across disciplines. 

Confirmed speakers include Dr Nicholas Daly (University College Dublin), Dr Christine Ferguson (University of Glasgow) and Dr Megan Coyer (University of Glasgow). Through this conference we wish to highlight the University of Glasgow as a major centre for multidisciplinary Victorian research and intend this to be the first annual nineteenth-century conference hosted by the University, with an accompanying published collection of papers.

Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to:
  • Bodies of publication
  • Narrative Forms
  • Identity crises
  • Objectified, pornographic or voyeuristic bodies
  • Bodies of commodification and consumption
  • Spiritual, supernatural and spectral bodies
  • Bodies politic, national and foreign bodies
  • Environmental, geological and archaeological bodies
  • Medicine and the medical humanities
  • Biological, mechanical and prosthetic bodies
  • Forms of cartography and travel writing
  • Art, illustration, film and photography
  • Collected and classified bodies
  • Neo-Victorianism
  • Bodies of knowledge

We welcome proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers, as well as from more established academics. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20-minute conference papers, together with an academic CV, to by May 15, 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of the following week.

The conference is free to attend for both speakers and non-speakers; please contact us (Abigail Boucher and Alexandra Foulds at to register.

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 18, 2014 12:28 AM

CFP: PAMLA 2014 "Literature and the Other Arts" (5/15/2014; 10/31-11/2/2014)

PAMLA 2014: Literature and the Other Arts
Riverside, CA
October 31-November 2, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Proposals for papers are invited on any subject relating to the session theme of literature and the other arts. PAMLA 2014’s special conference theme is “Familiar Spirits,” so papers that consider the familiar, familial, and the commonplace in relation to the paranormal, strange, and uncanny, or reference spiritualism, spirits, hauntings, manifestations, conjuring, or magic will be particularly appropriate, but proposals on any topic related to literature and the other arts are equally welcome.

Please submit your proposal via the PAMLA website ( For questions about the session, please contact Judy DeTar at

The 2014 PAMLA conference will be held Friday, October 31st through Sunday, November 2nd at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, California. More information is available at the PAMLA website, Conference guidelines and procedures and the answers many frequently asked questions can be found at

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 18, 2014 12:22 AM

CFP: MMLA '14 "The City and the Aesthetic" (5/31/2014; 11/13-16/14)

CFP for English II: English Literature 1800-1900
MMLA 2014
Detroit, MI
November 13-16, 2014
Deadline: May 31, 2014

Please consider submitting an abstract to the nineteenth-century section of the Midwest Modern Language Association's annual conference.

"The City and the Aesthetic"
From William Wordsworth’s “Upon Westminster Bridge” to William Morris’s horror at modern cityscapes, from the craze for Aesthetic housewares to debates over working-class access to art museums, the nineteenth-century city presented both aesthetic problems and aesthetic opportunities. How did urbanization transform both the aesthetic experiences that were available and the categories through which these experiences were understood? Implicit in this question is a recognition that the city may provide an especially fertile ground for exploring negative aesthetic reactions like distaste or disgust, which remain comparatively under-theorized.

Papers that approach “The City and the Aesthetic” through the lens of perception, affect, or pleasure are welcome, as are papers that connect aesthetics to politics, consumption, or class.

Send abstracts to Julia Bninski ( by May 31. Abstracts should be approximately 250-500 words. Please provide the following information: your name, institutional affiliation, email address, and paper title. For more information visit

by Felluga's Blog ( at April 18, 2014 12:17 AM

April 17, 2014

Regency Ramble

Return of the Prodigal Gilvry

In stores now. This is the last book in the Gilvrys of Dunross Series. Each book can be read alone but you may not want to miss each brothers story. I am sad to be saying goodbye to them, I must say.
The e-book will be able on May 1 and is available for preorder.

BEHIND THE HIGHLANDER'S SCARS… 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…. LIES A DARK PASSION! 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?

Don't forget to check my website to find out more. Until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at April 17, 2014 11:42 PM

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

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Being British, one of my favourite pastimes is talking about the weather (usually in a tone of complaint whilst drinking a cup of tea, of course), and I’ve always considered myself to be rather good at it — that is, until I moved to western New York. The Rochester snow makes a bit of British rain seem like a pleasant shower, a February blizzard makes London fog charmingly atmospheric and the dramatic temperature fluctuations make grabbing your coat in the morning as simple as remembering to brush your teeth. This week, for example, has seen alterations in weather from 80 degrees and sunshine to 25 degrees and snow (27° to -3° for our Celsius-loving readers). Anyway, as I was thinking this over, I started wondering what Blake thought about the weather.

So I searched the Archive for all instances of the word “weather” and found these results:

A letter from Blake to John Linnell in June 1825

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Another letter from Blake to John Linnell in the November of the same year

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And finally, a third letter from Blake to John Linnell at the end of March 1826


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What exciting facts did I discover? Well, not a lot really. Blake seems to have been more concerned about poor weather than praising a nice, sunny day. And he appears to believe that cold or wet weather has a direct effect on personal health, both his own and Linnell’s, which makes sense when we remember that travel was mainly unsheltered and waterproof outerwear had only just been invented. It’s a comfort to know that wet Novembers and cold Junes are not something that only I’ve spent time complaining about.

But while I look out of the window and hope for Spring, there’s a sadness in reading Blake’s words that I didn’t expect, especially the strange poetry of “that shivring fit which must be avoided till the Cold is gone.” As the Archive’s editors note, Blake’s letters often “start out to be one very ordinary thing and end up being another quite extraordinary thing.” It’s true.

If you missed our Day of DH posts last week, be sure to go back and read about a day in the life of the Blake Archive.

by Laura Whitebell at April 17, 2014 05:23 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Box Tale Soup to Bring Their Version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Brighton Fringe, May 4-June 1

Oh to be in Brighton next month.  Probably of more interest to our compatriots across the pond, this sounds wonderful.  I hope at some point there will be a DVD available.  From their page: “It features a cast of just two human performers, a dozen colourful handmade puppets and a beautiful set that unfolds from a vintage trunk, alongside a magical soundtrack of original music composed especially for the show. From the surprising appearance of the Cheshire Cat to the madness of the Tea Party, this is a constantly inventive and refreshing take on Carroll’s classic work.”  Click me for full details.

by Matt at April 17, 2014 04:00 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Registration is now open for Recoveries 2014: Reconnections – 1714-1914. A one day conference at the School of English, University of Nottingham. 23rd June 2014. Please follow this link to book and […]

by Jo Taylor at April 17, 2014 09:46 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Northanger Abbey, annotated ed. Susan Wolfson (Harvard)

Dear friends and readers,

On the NASSR-l listserv today, this new annotated edition of Northanger Abbey (yes, yet another!) was mentioned, prompting me to mention here that although I will be teaching Anthony Trollope: the first half this coming fall at OLLI at AU, I also submitted a proposal to teach Jane Austen: the second half, which unless the Poldark novels are screened in the US in spring 2015, I’ll teach then. As all my readers of course instantly recall, I’ve been teaching Jane Austen, The first Half, this season — still a joy to myself.

Well this will be the sequel eventually:

Austen II: Chawton, Gothic, French-influenced novels

This study group will read Austen’s last published and two posthumously published novels in the order they were published:  Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. We will contextualize them through her artistic development and life, and their particular literary contexts. To observe the French connection, we will preface Emma with Lady Susan, her letter novella about an adulterous widow, completed just before she moved to Chawton. To understand her central connection to the gothic we will preface Northanger Abbey with Anne Radcliffe’s Romance of the Forest. Persuasion will enable us to see her among the romantics Our epilogue will be a text that reveals her traveling years, Sanditon, a fragment she wrote while she was already fatally ill and shortly before she died. We will end on later close followers by viewing excerpts from Andrew Davies’s 2007 BBC films, Northanger Abbey and (from E.M. Forster) A Room with a View.

Henri Fuseli (1741-1825), Silence (1799-1801) —


by ellenandjim at April 17, 2014 03:06 AM


Bryony J. Thompson's Jane Eyre in Lewisham

The Bryony J. Thompson adaptation of Jane Eyre is now at the Jack Studio Theatre:
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
presented by the Rosemary Branch Theatre
adapted and directed by Bryony J Tho
Original Music by James Young. Lighting by Ned Lay.
With Lily Beck, Philip Honeywell, Helen Keeley, Hannah Maddison, Rob Pomfret, and Joss Wyre.

Wed 16 April to Sat 19 April at 7.45pm
Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH

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, eventually falling in love with him and he with her. This story surpasses mere melodrama and illustrates a passionate and tenacious woman’s search for a wide rich life.
Part ghost story, part Gothic romance, and part religious tract, this gripping new adaptation of a favourite classic remains faithful to the text. The book literally comes to life with imaginative staging and a cast of only six. Set in 1840s northern England, the early stirrings of feminism shine through the strict adherence to social structure giving this venerated novel its iconic status.
(Via News Shopper)

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

The Kissed Mouth

Short Film: Arterial

Just a quick post today because I wanted to draw your attention to a splendid short film by Christopher Ian Smith.  Using La Belle Dame Sans Merci as its starting point, it explores the relationship of a modern man with nature...

I do love it when people use the same inspiration as the Pre-Raphaelites as their spring-board and the tale of the young, urban chap and his encounter with the wild, floating lady is magical.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci Frank Dicksee
I found it surprising, intriguing, and beautiful and encourage you to go and take a look here.

I can think of no better way of spending the Easter weekend than being ruined by a beautiful woman.


by Kirsty Stonell Walker ( at April 17, 2014 01:11 AM

April 16, 2014


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

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