Planet Century 19

January 30, 2015


The table is home

The Yorkshire Post reports that the Brontë table is now back at the Parsonage.
The dining table where the Brontë sisters sat to write some of their greatest works has returned to its Yorkshire home to stay.
Staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth were on hand yesterday (Thurs) to welcome the artefact which arrived unscathed and on time - despite the extreme weather conditions sweeping the north of England.
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Brontë Parsonage, who has been at the museum for 26 years, said: “It was one of the most significant occasions during all my time at the parsonage.”
The table left the parsonage in the sale that took place when Patrick Brontë died in 1861 and returned on loan in 1997 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Jayne Eyre.
Thanks to a £580,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the table where classics such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights were written, has been secured by the Brontë Society for future generations to enjoy in its original setting.
Visitors can see the mahogany drop-leaf table from Sunday when the museum reopens.
Brontë Society & Brontë Parsonage Museum spokeswoman, Rebecca Yorke, said: “It arrived amid much excitement and anticipation. Because of the weather we were worried there might be hold ups on its journey. In 2016 we start celebrating the bicentenaries of the birth of the Brontë siblings. This is a really great start to the bicentenary celebrations.”
You can actually see the table arriving in the Parsonage in this picture shared by the Brontë Parsonage Museum Facebook page. It's oddly exciting!

The return of the table won't be the only new thing at the Parsonage when it reopens on Sunday. As The Telegraph and Argus reports,
An exhibition of poetry and photographs will be on display at Haworth's Bronte Parsonage Museum from the beginning of next month.
The exhibition, which is called Heathcliff Adrift, will run from February 1 to June 8.
A spokesman for the parsonage (pictured) said: "Heathcliff Adrift is a poetry collection by award-winning writer Benjamin Myers that follows the missing three years of Emily Bronte's enduring hero from Wuthering Heights.
"The poetry is accompanied by stunning landscape photography by Nick Small."
BBC Look North featured the Parsonage last night too.

Still locally, The York Press takes a walk along the Yorkshire coast and recalls that,
One famous person who visited Hornsea to take the waters was Charlotte Bronte, who resided there in 1853 for several weeks. (Brian Beadle)
Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair is one of Dagens Nyheter's (Sweden) 100 best novels. Too bad that the blurb includes quite a blunder:
Jasper Fforde
”Var är Jane Eyre?”
(”The Eyre affair”)
Övers. Ia Lind
Leopard 2006
Halsbrytande humor för den som gillar en oväntad kombination av fantasi, brott och böcker. Den litterära detektiven Torsdag Nästa (Thursday Next på engelska) arbetar med brott som begås i litteraturen, och blir inkopplad på fallet med Emily Brontës klassiker ”Jane Eyre”, där hjältinnan har blivit kidnappad. Den litterära världen går nämligen att ta sig in i, så Torsdag beger sig till bokens Thornfield Hall för att ta reda på vad som har hänt. Litterär och språklig humor (och en bedårande husdjursdront). Ia Linds översättning är lysande – men originalet är förstås ännu bättre. (Lotta Olsson) (Translation)
Voir (Canada) considers that,
Donna Tartt est plus Brontë que Dickens, si l’on veut. Si l’on veut s’en souvenir. (Marie D. Martel) (Translation)
Onto the stage now, as the Bristol Post looks back on the success of Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre, which will be staged at the National Theatre in London later this year.
It was one of the biggest successes on the Bristol drama scene last year and it is now being exported to London. The Bristol Old Vic's award-winning and acclaimed staging of Jane Eyre is to be staged at the National Theatre later this year.
The Old Vic has long had a reputation for staging ground-breaking and exciting work.
And its version of the Charlotte Bronte novel was seen as one of the highlights of last year.
The retelling of the classic story was directed by Sally Cookson, pictured, who has been working at the Old Vic for the last 15 years.
The announcement comes at the same time as the theatre revealed a record-breaking autumn season with nearly 60,000 visitors.
The theatre is gearing up for its 250th anniversary celebrations and is halfway through a revamp which will enhance the oldest and one of the most beautiful playhouses in the country.
Jane Eyre ran for eight weeks last spring and was watched by 13,500 people and received five-star reviews.
Sally Cookson also worked on Peter Pan, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Treasure Island. She co-founded Bristol Old Vic's Young Company and has also worked with Travelling Light and Tobacco Factory Theatres.
She said: "Tom Morris and everyone at Bristol Old Vic took an enormous risk by agreeing to produce Jane Eyre, they supported and guided me with total commitment and belief in the project.
"We had no idea when we were making the show whether it would work or not – we felt so totally up against it in terms of time and it was an enormous challenge in every possible way.
"But the blood, sweat and tears provided by the actors, the creative and technical teams paid off – and the show that emerged is something that we're all very proud of.
"The fact it has been invited to the National Theatre is not only a validation of the devising process but an affirmation that regional theatre is making exciting, risk-taking work.
"We're all tremendously excited about taking the show to London – but I think we're just as excited to be bringing it back to Bristol where it began its epic journey." (Michael Ribbeck)
Broadway World describes the play You on the Moors Now as
a grand theatrical examination of four well-known literary heroines of the 19th-century and their shocking rejection of the men who so ardently loved them. Gleaned from the pages of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Little Women, You On The Moors Now takes everything you've ever learned about love and puts it somewhere in the tall grasses, hidden from view, where only the truly brave will ever traverse to earn it. (Marina Kennedy)
Excelsior (Mexico) opts for the stereotypical view of Branwell:
La historia de las hermanas habla por ellas. Madres y padres preocupados porque ellas no destaquen y opaquen a su vástago, aunque éste sea un desastre ¿recuerdan a las hermanas Brontë y al pobre alcohólico que nunca “levantó cabeza”? (Clara Scherer) (Translation)

by Cristina ( at January 30, 2015 11:09 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Two Birds and a Brontë sister

The Kindle world has a new addition to the Brontë-related mystery genre:
Two Birds with One Stone (A Marsden-Lacey Cozy Mystery Book 1) 
Sigrid Vansandt

It’s a beautiful summer and the busy village of Marsden-Lacey, England, has murder on its mind. Someone just whacked everyone’s least favorite villager, Sir Carstons, on his villainous head. That’s when American expats, paralegal Martha Littleword and book expert Helen Ryes, find themselves knee-deep in Yorkshire murder. Spirited empty-nesters, they throw their newbie detective hats into the ring, only to discover that a murder mystery can quickly turn from adventurou
s lark into personal peril.

With a dash of Southern charm and humor, and the help of a few quirky villagers, the girls just might survive. They’ll also have to figure out how to handle the local catch-of-the-day, Piers Cousins, and the cantankerous Chief of Police, DCI Johns. Will they or won’t they? If they do, they might solve a murder, or two, along with a hundred-year-old mystery involving a Brontë sister and a famous piece of English history.

by M. ( at January 30, 2015 12:30 AM

January 29, 2015


Closed but busy

Keighley News has an article on the closed period at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum may be closed but for staff it’s the busiest time of year.
The historic rooms that originally provided a home for the famous writing sisters are a hive of activity.
Staff are carrying out hundreds of annual tasks at the Haworth museum in readiness for the public returning when the doors reopen next month.
They are not only carrying out general repairs, decorative and maintenance tasks that have built up during the previous 11 months.
They are also checking every one of the items on permanent display and preparing major exhibitions that will run for the whole of 2015.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is never open during January because there are always so many jobs that cannot be done while the public are present.
Collections manager Ann Dinsdale said: “There’s a huge amount of work that goes on. I think people imagine the winter is a quiet time for us, but it’s probably the busiest time.
“It’s the only time of year when we can do any maintenance work. Everything is cleaned. We check the entire collection for any deterioration, including the furniture.”
The staff are also preparing for the installation of a new exhibition of poetry and photographs in the foyer gallery area. (David Knights)
Southern Daily Echo reviews Maskers Theatre Company's take on Lucy Gough's stage adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
Using a strong element of physical theatre Maskers has created a fast-paced, highly visual production to tell one of the most enduring love stories of all time.
Through skilful stage combat, a cutting script and the use of the moors themselves as a tangible element the characters in Wuthering Heights transcend the boundaries of human emotion in this thrilling show.
The Austin Chronicle discusses illustrated books and states that,
You can't hurt a book by illustrating it, as evidenced by the website Jane Eyre Illustrated, which puts hundreds of editions side-by-side for comparison. Dame Darcy's wonderful Illustrated Jane Eyre is indispensable. (Amy Gentry)
The Daily Geekette shares her views on Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre. The Musical CD.

by Cristina ( at January 29, 2015 10:53 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Adolph von Menzel, horse's heads in 1848

 photo menzelhead_dead_horse_hi.jpg

 photo menzelpferdekopf_liegend_im_geschirr.jpg

These paintings were done from heads that were brought to him from an abattoir; at one level they were just continuations of studies that he had recently been making of living hosrse, but at another they clearly refer the events at Berlin in the year of revolution.

 photo Adolf_Friedrich_Erdmann_von_Menzel_005.jpg

The burial of those who had fallen in March in 1848; there were 183 coffins of people who had been killed at the barricades in conflict between citizens and the military. Menzel noted how the King, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, had been obliged to show his repect: 'Whenever a new coffin passed by, the King came out bareheaded and remained standing there until the coffin had passed by. His head shone from the distance like a white speck. It must have been the most dreadful day of his life.'

January 29, 2015 09:57 AM

William Morris Unbound

Project for a new Journal

So: the William Morris Society is advertising for a new editor for its journal. My feeling, however, is that matters are actually the other way round: it needs a new journal for its editor. So here is a proposal for a Society journal that would be contemporary rather than historical, political rather than antiquarian – and thus, in my view, much truer to the spirit of Morris himself.

Let’s borrow Morris’s title of his 1888 lecture collection and call the new journal, provisionally, Signs of Change: Journal of Contemporary Culture and Politics, to kick off in 2016. It would then divide up its field of concerns into three, roughly equally weighted sections. So 33% would address the issue of Morris in contemporary culture (currently, e.g., Deller’s Morris-Abramovich image and its political aesthetics, or the Oxford Morris-Warhol exhibition, as a way of posing questions about Morris and postmodernism). The second 33% would focus on contemporary utopianism and dystopianism, both practitioners (in literary, architectural, visual and cinematic arts) and theorists (Jameson, Bloch, Levitas, Moylan).

The third 33% tranche would tackle concerns of the contemporary Left, broadly conceived (i.e. green, feminist and anti-globalisation as well as socialist): analysis of changes in capitalism, exposition of important theorists (return of communist thinking in Badiou and Zizek, say), transformations of working practices, survey of important international political developments, examination of current initiatives in the UK (Left Unity, for instance) – so this section would be doing some of the work that Morris’s socialist newspaper Commonweal used to do.

The reviews section of the new journal would be organised on a similar tripartite model. The only way historical work on Morris would get in is if someone used his writings or activities to draw cultural and/or political lessons for our twenty-first-century present. I’d be inclined to cap essays at 3000 words to ensure both a range of coverage and that they don’t become too academic. A recomposition of the editorial board, with some more overtly political people, would be necessary to make this work. I commend the idea to you!

by Tony Pinkney ( at January 29, 2015 12:43 AM


Masculinity and the Relics of Death

New Brontë-related scholar books:
The Victorian Novel and Masculinity
Edited by Phillip Mallett
ISBN 9780230272323
Publication Date January 2015

'The old ideal of Manhood has grown obsolete,' wrote Thomas Carlyle in 1831, 'and the new is still invisible to us.' The essays in this volume explore the way Victorian novelists tried to answer the question of what it meant to 'be a man': how manhood was learned, sustained, broken, or restored, and how the idea of the manly was shaped by class, schooling, region and religion, and by scientific and medical debate. Topics covered include the playful subversion of gender roles in the early writings of Charlotte Brontë; changing patterns of working class masculinity in London and Manchester; Dickens and the nurturing male; boyhood and girlhood in Eliot's The Mill on the Floss; the challenge to patriarchy in sensation fiction; manhood, imperialism and the adventure novel; masculinity and aestheticism; Hardy's reluctant, failed, or damaged men; and Conrad's studies of men isolated or divided against themselves.
Includes: 1. Masculinity, Power and Play in the Work of the Brontës by Sara Lodge.
Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture
Deborah Lutz
Cambridge Univesity Press
Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture
ISBN: 9781107077447

Nineteenth-century Britons treasured objects of daily life that had once belonged to their dead. The love of these keepsakes, which included hair, teeth, and other remains, speaks of an intimacy with the body and death, a way of understanding absence through its materials, which is less widely felt today. Deborah Lutz analyzes relic culture as an affirmation that objects held memories and told stories. These practices show a belief in keeping death vitally intertwined with life - not as memento mori but rather as respecting the singularity of unique beings. In a consumer culture in full swing by the 1850s, keepsakes of loved ones stood out as non-reproducible, authentic things whose value was purely personal. Through close reading of the works of Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, and others, this study illuminates the treasuring of objects that had belonged to or touched the dead.
Includes :2. The miracle of ordinary things: Brontë and Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at January 29, 2015 12:07 AM

January 28, 2015


Wutheringly realistic

The Telegraph and Argus reports the visit of author Tracy Chevalier to the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Award-winning author Tracy Chevalier has visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth.
The novelist, whose novels include Girl With A Pearl Earring, discussed plans for the forthcoming Brontë bicentenary celebrations.
The celebrations will start in 2016, the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, and will run until 2020, to mark the births of Emily and Anne.
The museum, which is due to reopen on Sunday after its winter break, said further details of the celebration would be unveiled later in 2015.
The Millions reviews Silvina Ocampo's Thus Were Their Faces.
Like Emily Brontë, Ocampo was a younger sister whose literary vision takes its own unruly path away from that of her elder (in Ocampo’s case this elder sister, the revered writer and critic Victoria, was her first publisher). Love is as fearsome in an Ocampo story as it is in Wuthering Heights; emotion has a way of sealing us into a charmed circle that makes us incomprehensible to everyone who stands outside it. This kind of circle shrinks and shrinks until even the beloved is impossible to read clearly, and then finally we’re unable to even pretend to understand our own thoughts. (Helen Oyeyemi)
Reader's Digest reviews Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs:
Thornfield Hall works because it doesn’t rewrite the original, but reimagines it from another point of view – that of the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax. It is through her eyes that we see the full goings-on at Thornfield, from the moment she joins the household, widowed and penniless. Young Edward Rochester is away in the Caribbean, and he only returns when he inherits the estate after his father’s death. (Farhana Gani)
This columnist from The Hartford Courant discusses the concept of 'realistic romance'.
Is the new designation for books — “Realistic Romance” — a contradiction in terms? Is it a classic oxymoron right up there with “free gift,” “business ethics” and “adult children”?
Or will “Realistic Romance” now forever (another lovely oxymoron) be known as the category designed for readers who seek plots focused on the wild, unstoppable and inevitable merging of two soul mates who, despite all odds, face the world more bravely because their love has made them strong and also really good-looking?
That sure sounds like romance. What it doesn’t sound is realistic.
I’m saying this not only as a happily married woman but also as a fan of impossibly unrealistic classics such as “Wuthering Heights,“Gone with the Wind” and “The Princess Bride.” (Gina Barreca)
The Independent has an article on how books are interpreting reading as a 'social exercise'.
The rise of the BookTuber speaks volumes, pun intended, about how reading is adapting to suit our modern, socially obsessed lives. Both teenagers and adult BookTubers sit in front of their laptops and talk about their "TBR" (To Be Read) piles. They speak into the camera with impressively large book collections in the background, holding up gorgeous hardcovers. Whether they're talking about Jane Eyre or the Twilight saga, this fills me with optimism.
Today's young people interpret reading as a social exercise. It's not just about picking the book up and reading - it's about interaction.
As long as there are platforms for sharing, whether over a beer or through an iPhone screen, there will be readers. This is what libraries and bookshops would be wise to embrace. (Eleanor Dunn)
Nottingham Post recommends 'seven hidden gems' in the city.
If you're more of a book worm than a crate digger, Bromley House Library's 41,500 books and ornate wooden spiral staircase might be more up your street.
Librarian Carol Barstow said: "I like the term 'hidden gem', although we've been trying to make ourselves more well-known."
The library houses early editions of novels by the Brontë sisters in its Grade II* listed Georgian townhouse. The library is also home to one of just two walled gardens in the city centre. Fortnightly tours give non-members a chance to have a guided look around. (Ben Ireland)
Writer Santiago Posteguillo mentions Charlotte Brontë as one of his influences in this interview on Semana. Escritores looks at classics which received bad reviews when they were first published, such as Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. Celestial Timepiece posts an introduction to Jane Eyre by Joyce Carol Oates.

by M. ( at January 28, 2015 11:47 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Eight or Nine Wise Words about Email Writing

An article by Maria Popova in Brain Pickings, “How Lewis Carroll’s Rules of Letter-Writing Can Make Email More Civil and Digital Communication Kinder,” reminds us that the rules of epistolary etiquette have not changed since the days of the penny post.

by Mark Burstein at January 28, 2015 05:56 PM


Revisiting the Brontës at Liverpool

A new course begins today at the University of Liverpool:
Revisiting The Brontës (Wednesday 1.00pm-4.00pm)
University of Liverpool
28th January 2015 – 25th February 2015
Last Booking Date for this Event
9th February 2015

To commemorate the 160th anniversary of the death of Charlotte Brontë, we will be hosting a series of events exploring the extraordinary body of work produced the Brontë sisters. This will consist of two afternoon workshops, the first will look at the 1847 novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. The second will focus on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Villette, Shirley and The Professor.

With Dr Sharon Connor

by M. ( at January 28, 2015 12:30 AM

January 27, 2015


‘Welcome to Wuthering Heights on a withering budget’

Further news on the documentary showing the 'real' locations of Brontë novels, as reported by The Telegraph and Argus:
The team behind a documentary revealing the real locations which inspired the Bronteë sisters has offered walking tours to people who are willing to be filmed for the production.
The documentary is being made by Oxenhope resident Oliver Chapman and will present the outcome of research carried out by Ian Howard and Josh Chapman, who is Oliver’s brother.
Mr Howard, who is also from Oxenhope, said that a local theatre group and a school had come forward to take part in the Haworth tour and ultimately be featured in the documentary itself.
“The tour will be filmed as part of the documentary we’re making, so everyone should be prepared for the footage to be used on television,” he said.
He said that he did not require very many more people for the tour, though he added that a small number of additional individuals who were willing to participate could still be accommodate.
He said the recent snow had not discouraged him from visiting the remote locations on the moors being filmed as part of the documentary.
“No one else goes up there when the weather is like this, so it’s nice to have that solitude,” he said.
Den of Geek picks the 'Top 10 Must-See Scary Movies of 2015'. One of which is Guillermo Del Toro's much awaited
Crimson Peak (October 16, 2015)
Easily my own most anticipated horror film of 2015, Crimson Peak offers the prospect of a genre master attempting to summon some of the decadent dread of a bygone era. With a premise that could be pulling just as much from the writings of either Brontë sister as it could be from pulp magazines, Crimson Peak stands poised to be Guillermo del Toro’s ode to the gothic literature that birthed modern horror. In short, I’m hoping for more Dragonwyck or even Jane Eyre than simply Pacific Rim.
Set in the rural English county of Cumbria, Crimson Peak follows a young British novelist named Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) who has come to live with her enigmatic new husband Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) in his crumbling estate. There she will discover Sir Thomas’ macabre past, his mysterious sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and with any luck, the stuff of eternal nightmares. (David Crow)
Style has an article on magazine editor Isabella Blow and recalls that,
Issie had no grandeur about her whatsoever. You’d walk into her country house—Hilles House, in Gloucestershire—and she’d say, ‘Welcome to Wuthering Heights on a withering budget.’ (Mary Fellowes)
Finally, an alert for Thursday, as seen in the Solihull Observer.
A drama group is calling on actors to dust down their bonnets and bodices and join their production of Wuthering Heights.
SSA Drama are set to put on a stage version of Emily Brontë's classic novel and are asking budding thespians to join them on their adventure to Thrushcross Grange.
Auditions will be held on Monday, January 26 and Thursday, January 29 at The Edge Theatre, in Alderbrook School from 7.30pm. (Sarah Judkins)
The Stories of O. references Wuthering Heights in a curious post.

by M. ( at January 27, 2015 11:00 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

French Radio Program About Carroll and his Mathematics & Photography

For the Francophone members, a new radio show about Carroll, photography, and mathematics by Patrick Roegiers and Jacques Roubaud.  Originally broadcast on January 2, 2015, this program is available until September 27, 2017 so hurry! If the embedded player doesn’t work, direct link here.

by Matt at January 27, 2015 05:00 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

'The Misrule of Material London'

NEWSPAPER readers who have leisure to give attention to matters of less moment than the Fiscal problem, ecclesiastical controversy, political schisms and international strife, can hardly fail to have noticed the protests which from time to time appear in the public Press against what may be called, for want of a more specific term, the municipal mismanagement of streets, buildings, and places of public resort in this Metropolis. The excess of wheel traffic in our thoroughfares, the unnecessary speed of motor-cars, the occasional filth of roadways and pavements (especially in wet weather), the clumsily discharged functions of the dustcart, the insufferable noise of loud piano-organs, and the yelling of costermongers in districts where there is no demand for stale vegetables or dubious fruit, with innumerable other nuisances, form in turn the subject of a complaint which is indignantly raised by some unfortunate citizen, is supported by half-a-dozen sympathetic correspondents, and perhaps furnishes the theme for a leading article. The guileless public rejoice that a grievance which they have long endured has at last met with well-deserved exposure. They fondly trust that steps will soon be taken for its removal. Occasionally, and when the intricacies of official responsibility are unravelled, the 'authorities' who have power to check or mitigate the evil wake up from their lethargy, make a feeble effort towards reform, but, after the question at issue is forgotten, relapse into indifference.

A general impression prevails that such matters are managed better across the Channel, and among Londoners who have spent any time in France or Germany there can be little doubt that the local administration of many continental towns will compare favourably with that of our own capital.

It is true that in making such comparisons people are apt to forget some important facts which differentiate the conditions of municipal government at home and abroad. For instance, the prompt attention which streets in Paris receive after a fall of snow excites our admiration, when we remember the mass of half-frozen slush through which horses and vehicles have sometimes to plough their way during a London winter. But Paris, though it occupies an area of some 20,000 acres, is of small size compared with our capital, which, including certain suburbs, covers at least 122 square miles, or four times as much.

In spite of recent changes which have tended to decentralise control, and give a sort of 'home rule' to individual boroughs, this represents in the aggregate an enormous district for supervision, even assuming that the system of organisation is always the best, which it certainly is not. The labour supply of scavengers, even if it were recruited from our metropolitan reserve of 100,000 paupers and sufficed to meet such emergencies as might arise from a sudden snowstorm, could not be secured at a day's notice. Res magna est! The aediles of Babylon may have grappled with such a difficulty, but modern county councils must not always be held to blame if they fail in the attempt. London seems to have outgrown the possibility of an ideal self-government, at least so far as the cleanliness of its streets is concerned.

But apart from practical impediments, another obstacle to reform in the material condition of English towns may be recognised in that popular but much-perverted phrase, the 'liberty of the subject.' It embodies a national sentiment which we all reverence in theory. No free-born Briton likes to he coerced more than lie can help. On my first visit to Dresden I remember walking over a bridge on the Elbe and meeting two or three people on the pavement who muttered words to me as they passed. I was in a hurry, and did not at first notice that their remarks were addressed to myself. At last a man confronted me and sternly pointed across the road. It then for the first time occurred to me that I was infringing a police rule which required all loot-passengers going in one direction to keep on the same side of the bridge. The trottoirs were of ample width, and at that moment did not happen to be traversed by more than a dozen pedestrians, 'all told.' But I was in Germany, and being a law-abiding person I at once crossed over the way.

It is difficult to imagine the possibility of such a regulation as this being enforced—or even proposed—for Londoners hurrying over the Thames at Westminster, Blackfriars, or Battersea. We should hear a great deal about 'grandmotherly legislation,' and I am far from suggesting that such petty restrictions should be imposed in this country. Yet there are surely many directions in which our own police (to whose injunctions the man in the street. generally submits) might exercise more authority in the cause of public convenience.

For example, why should idle `loafers' be allowed to lounge about outside the doors of a gin-palace, obstructing foot-traffic and fouling the air with their cheap and nasty cigarettes?

Why should impudent little urchins, let loose from Board or parish schools (where they seem to learn everything but good manners), be suffered to run riot through adjacent thoroughfares, screeching, getting in everybody's way, and sometimes rushing along the pavement on roller-skates?

These are nuisances from which, sooner or later, Hooliganism is sure to spring. For ' liberty of the subject' we may here read 'licence of the street cad.' I have visited most continental cities, but for unchecked mischief and rowdyism among children of the poorer class, I have never seen anything equal to what prevails in London, and it has unquestionably increased within the last decade.

The presence of beggars and street hawkers, not only in the humbler quarters of town, but in streets lined with fashionable shops, is suggestive alike of misrule and mystery. And the mystery consists in the limitation of misrule. Here is an irregularity which is only tolerated because it has been allowed to become in particular instances monopolised. We may be quite certain that if all the mendicants and itinerant salesmen in London were permitted to do so, they would soon fringe the footways of Regent Street and Oxford Street from end to end. Why. then, is this privilege accorded to a few score of them denied to others? Pedestrians whose daily business or pleasure has made them familiar with those thoroughfares must recognise certain beggars, boot-lace vendors, &c &c., who have haunted thye neighbourhood for years. How do they come by a right from which their comrades are excluded?

An explanation, which discretion forbids me to repeat, is occasionally offered by cynics. Without believing idle gossip, we must all agree that the police would do well to discharge their duties impartially. If street begging and street hawking are to be allowed at all, there should be a fair field, and no favour, to all who follow those occupations. But if they are legally condemned as nuisances, they ought to be suppressed altogether.

In strictly residential neighbourhoods, the barbarous howling too frequently practised by vagrants under the name of street singing has long been defined by magisterial decision as a form of mendicancy disallowed by law; and if a constable is at hand, the offender can be moved on forthwith. But the police are not ubiquitous, and occasionally this sort of annoyance has to be endured for half an hour or more before any interference can be effected. Within the last twelve months or so these noisy intruders have taken to go about in gangs accompanied by a piano-organ, and, posing as specimens of 'the unemployed,' levy contributions from the slender purses of servant-girls and other simple women who, all unwittingly, give their pence to support an impudent fraud.

Not. long ago, through the mistaken lenience of our Government, lengthy processions processions of such men were allowed to parade the streets of London, rattling money-boxes in the faces of the public, and actually escorted by police on foot and horseback. It was only after many of them had been recognised as habitual idlers, and regarded with contumely by genuine workmen, that this unprecedented and highly inconvenient mode of soliciting alms was—with general assent—prohibited.

It has been repeatedly asserted, on conmpetent authority, that although there is unfortunately great distress arising from poverty in London and other English cities, the cases most deserving of relief are never those which are individually represented by street beggars. Most well-to-do persons subscribe to public charities; those who cannot afford to do so spare at least a shilling a week in casual almsgiving. Now if those coins were dropped into a carefully secured poor-box which could be set up here and there at street corners, the money under proper administration might be far more judiciously applied than for the support of habitual beggars, who, when once recognised as such, should be at once consigned to the workhouse.

The question of pauperism is, however, far too wide a one to be discussed in an article intended only to indicate urban irregularities which have long existed, which are wholly unjustifiable, and which might be speedily removed under proper legislation.

There is a spice of grim humour in the fact that London householders tolerate German street hands which would he execrated in Germany, and are plagued by Italian organ-grinders whom one rarely sees south of the Alps. Why are these aliens allowed to practise in this country a form of public annoyance which would not be endured in their own? The national taste for good music in England is no doubt exceeded by that which prevails in Rhineland or Italy. But there are cultivated ears at home to which the noise of ill-tuned brazen instruments and the barbarous strains of a hurdy-gurdy must be simple torture. Men engaged in literary or scientific pursuits, invalids lying restless on their beds, nervous patients for whom quiet is enjoined, are one and all disregarded, in order that perhaps a few children and nursery-maids may listen to a popular jig.

There is even less excuse for the intrusion about our area railings of the idle Italian boy with his unfortunate monkey and an accordion, on which he can only play a few dismal notes. This is a nuisance demanding repression on every ground. It is well-known that these boys are hirelings, sent into the streets by some disreputable impresario who lives upon their earnings. They are, perhaps, more to be pitied than the monkeys in their charge, but the whole business is a scandal. It means vicarious mendicancy of the worst kind, which has greatly increased of late years, but which, under proper police regulations, ought never to have been permitted to exist. We have beggars enough of our own nationality, without allowing their ranks to he supplemented by pauper immigrants.

An artificial and absolutely fallacious sentiment protects the itinerant costermonger, whose raucous yells are a disgrace to civilised London, from suppression. Cheap philanthropy fosters the idea that to put any limit to the exercise of his legs and lungs would he to interfere with the rights of industry, and so forth. The plea is absolute nonsense. By all means let the trade be plied where there is most demand for it, in the humbler streets of our Metropolis. But it is monstrous that householders who don't buy cheap fruit and vegetables at their doors should be daily annoyed, for hours together, in order that costers may pick up a stray customer among kitchen-maids and caretakers.

One of the most aggravating sources of offence to law-abiding citizens is ineffective legislation. We learn to endure evils which are called irremediable, or fly from those which we can avoid elsewhere. But when reform is promised and the agencies devised to secure it fail in their object, or are systematically defied, public patience is apt to give way. The highly dangerous and wholly unnecessary speed at which motor-ears and motor-bicycles have been driven through streets and roads for two or three years past evoked at length a storm of indignation in the Press, and after long and needless delay an Act of Parliament was passed which promised to deal with this pestilent mischief. But what has it really done? Owing to the lenience or apathy of local authorities the evil, so far as London is concerned, has scarcely been mitigated. The objectionable vehicles are indeed conspicuously numbered, but they career about much in their original fashion. Within the last few weeks I myself have seen scores of there dashing along frequented thoroughfares at a rate of fifteen or twenty miles an hour, to the terror of foot-passengers who happened to be crossing the road at the time, and at the imminent risk of colliding with any cart or carriage that chanced to be coming down a by-street.

In the name of common sense, what excuse can be offered for this perilous practice ? A cab driven furiously along Piccadilly would certainly be stopped by the police, although the  'fare' inside might be anxious to catch a train. A glance at the ordinary occupants of a motor-car will generally suffice to show that they have no such object in view. They are simply indulging in the vulgar amusement of 'going-ahead,'  like the ` galloping snob ' who formerly used to invade Rotten Row. His pastime was cut short by general execration. Why should greater licence be extended to the motoring cad ? [It is hardly necessary to state that these remarks do not apply to motor-broughams, which do not exceed the pace of any other private carriage, and are therefore under complete control.]

Notwithstanding the introduction of tramways and the 'Twopenny Tube,' omnibus traffic in London seems to be as busy as ever. The companies who provide this form of conveyance for the public have certainly done much to improve the comfort and appearance of the vehicles employed. They are cleaner and better ventilated than they used to be. Their roof-seats are far more convenient and accessible than the 'knife-board' of earlier days, though it must be confessed that their weight and that of the iron staircase leading to them, in addition to twenty-eight passengers, must sorely tax the strength of two horses. Paris omnibuses have often three stout well-groomed animals, which seem better fitted for their work than those seen in London streets, where, owing to a want of system, our hard-worked beasts are subjected to a constant and unnecessary strain. It is in vain that printed notices are posted inside, begging passengers not to stop  the omnibus oftener than can be helped. Ladies will insist on being set down at particular shops, even though they may he only twenty yards apart; and whenever there is a fresh start the poor horses suffer in lungs, heart, and sinew.

All this might be avoided if, along the line of route, halting- places were fixed at reasonable intervals, where passengers might be taken up or set down; and this should form the subject of a police regulation.

The omnibus companies themselves might remove one form of annoyance to the public by prohibiting conductors from shouting out the utterly unintelligible jargon which is absurdly supposed to indicate the destination of the 'bus. All Londoners know quite well, from the colour of the vehicle and the inscriptions on it, where it is going. But if a stranger were doubtful on this point it is certain that he could not possibly be enlightened by such ejaculations as 'Obun,' 'Stee-benk,' and 'Loophole'st Rarway' uttered in tones of angry remonstrance.

Conductors should be further instructed to use the bell-cord provided for communication with the driver instead of the abominably shrill whistle now commonly blown whenever the 'bus is stopped or restarted; as well as to refrain from the offensive habit of holding tickets and silver change iu their mouths before handing them—still wet—to the passengers. These may seem trivial irregularities, but they are unknown on the Continent. Why should we tolerate them at home?

It is satisfactory to find attention called in Parliament to the street danger involved by covered vans being driven by men who, from their position inside the vehicles, cannot look to right or left. But no attempt has yet been made to limit the hours during which heavy cartloads of timber, hay, straw, building-materials and even huge bales of dirty rags, may pass through the streets of London already overcrowded with lighter traffic. The manner in which carcases of beef and mutton are conveyed from market to butchers' shops is a standing disgrace to this Metropolis. It is not unusual to see them piled up and uncovered even by a cloth, in a carrier's van, while the driver is actually sitting on joints of meat which are to be served at table and eaten in respectable households. So far as I know, this disgusting practice is an exclusively English one. Many European capitals are familiar to me, but I have never observed in either of them anything approaching such indecency.

Not long ago the late Sir Henry Thompson, in an excellent letter to the Times, pointed out the sanitary dangers likely to ensue from the present objectionable mode in which dust and kitchen refuse are removed from London houses, and he made some useful suggestions as to the best means of remedying this evil. Here, again, we might take a lesson from foreign cities where—as in Paris, for instance—such refuse is removed not only more frequently, but under conditions which prevent the infliction of it needless and noxious nuisance.

The discharge of coal into our street cellars is effected in a way which leaves much room for improvement. The coal-cart is allowed to come at any hour of the day—often to the inconvenience alike of foot passengers and carriage folk; to empty its load, sack by sack, down the cellar-hole, and then to drive off, leaving the pavement for several yards round black with grit which adheres to the boots of everyone who comes into the house. The capacious wooden funnel—a usual appendage to every coal-cart in France or Germany—which might prevent this mess, is never seen here. But until it is introduced, householders who cannot rely on their servants to do the needful should at least spend a few pence in getting the coal-heavers, before they go away, to sweep up and wash down the flagstones of the footway outside. Yet this is rarely done except in 'smart' neighbourhoods. The average Londoner seems to care little for cleanliness out of doors.

The question of street-crossings offers it daily problem to most citizens. Whose business is it to keep them swept? The duty is at present undertaken by an army of irresponsible men and boys who, picketed at innumerable corners all over the town, stand holding their brooms and touching their hats to any pedestrian who is likely to spare a 'copper.' In wet and muddy weather they certainly render some service, and no conscientious foot-passenger likes to ignore it if he has a penny at hand. Now, supposing such it person in the course of it stroll goes over fifteen crossings and conies the same way back, his walk, if he is a liberal man, will have cost him half a crown! Of course no one actually incurs this expense. But as it matter of principle one crossing- sweeper deserves his fee as well as another. If they are paid at all, they ought to be paid uniformly. Sometimes an unsophisticated ratepayer asks why the parochial or metropolitan borough authorities who are supposed to keep our roadways clean do not extend that duty to street-crossings. The taxes levied for these and kindred purposes have increased enormously of late years, but if they do not suffice for their object, few householders would object to an additional charge of a few shillings if it would relieve them from an irregular and troublesome demand for daily gratuities.

Recent changes in the municipal government of London make it difficult for those who are unversed in such matters to understand which local bodies are responsible for the administration of certain districts, and why variations occur in its practical result. For instance, one would think that, after many years of experience qualified contractors might by this time have arrived at some definite conclusion respecting the best mode of paving urban roadways. Yet we find some laid with wood, others with asphalte, and others macadamised. On one point, indeed, there seems to be unanimity of opinion—viz., that, whichever plan is adopted, the roads and even footways may he broken up at inconvenient seasons for repair, or for the introduction of gas or electric light service whenever required, and whatever confusion it may entail. All this indicates a divided control and a general want of system.

Another mystery is presented by the remarkable disparity which exists in the roof levels of new structures often erected side by side in the same thoroughfare. No one wants exact uniformity of sky-line. But that one tenement should be allowed to tower two or more storeys above its fellows seems on every ground undesirable. Under the provisions of a former Building Act, the height of London houses was required to bear a certain proportion to the width of the street in which they were erected. Whether such provisions still exist I do not know, but if the colossal blocks of brick and masonry used as hotels and residential flats are to he multiplied, it is obvious that in course of time our capital will be covered with Brobdingnag lanes, or rather alleys, in which the distribution of light and air must be materially curtailed and effective sanitation rendered more difficult.

This is to be regretted all the more because in the busiest quarters of London considerations of expense. prevent the thoroughfares from being widened. To adopt such a course, for example, in Bond Street, where shop-rents are very high, might involve an outlay of millions. Yet through this generally congested carriage-way omnibuses and lumbering carts are permitted to run from Oxford Street to Piccadilly in the height of the season, with as much freedom as if they were rolling along a capacious boulevard.

The breadth of footways available for shopping-purposes would be none too great if they were occupied alone by pedestrians. But since the introduction of 'perambulators,' innumerable specimens of that domestic machine are wheeled up and down the trottoirs, apparently for the benefit of nursemaids who combine with their tender care of infant life a natural appreciation of attractive 'window-dressing.'

One may avoid some of these irregularities by turning from the streets of London into its pleasure-grounds. But even in the latter may be noticed much that requires strict supervision and careful reform. It depends, of course, to some extent on the direction in which we walk. I have often been puzzled to guess why, for instance, the south side of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens should receive so much more attention from their respective custodians than the north. It is to be presumed that the inhabitants of Lancaster Gate and Tyburnia are as regular in the payment of their rates as the denizens of Belgravia and Mayfair. But they don't get so much for their money. At Hyde Park Corner and along Rotten Row order and decorum prevail. But the Bayswater portion of Kensington Gardens presents a different appearance. It is enclosed by a dwarf brick well and coping-stone mouldy with age and damp. Dirty children are allowed to climb about the seats and railings, to pluck up grass by the roots and scatter it over the paths, to sweep up gravel from the paths and strew it. over the grass. On a summer's afternoon they leave the ground defaced with scraps of newspaper and dirty rags. In spring they pluck all the hawthorn blossom within their reach. In autumn they fling up bludgeons into trees to bring the horse chestnuts down. On one occasion I saw, not far from the Round Pond, a circular trench being dug out by boys who were indulging on the greensward in a pastime usually confined to the sea-shore.

In pleasant shady spots under the trees rounders' and peddling football have reduced the turf to the condition of a dry skittle-ground.

No doubt it will be urged that the children of the poor are entitled to recreation. But recreation of this kind means mischief, and it seems hardly desirable that the beautiful sylvan retreat afforded by Kensington Gardens, close to a Royal Palace and rich in historical associations, should be turned into a public playground for future 'Hooligans.'

Proper vigilance on the part of park-keepers might no doubt impose some restraint. But unfortunately those functionaries are not vigilant. During a long residence in the neighbourhood I do not remember a single occasion on which I have seen one of there voluntarily interfere to prevent such irregularities as I have described. Probably they take their cue from the laissez-aller principle which seems to distinguish their official superiors. For many years the picturesque old Orangery (supposed to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren) in the immediate vicinity of Kensington Palace was used as a potting-house for plants, and but for the remonstrance of a well-known artist would still have remained devoted to that ignoble use.

Early in October last a score or more of the old trees in the Gardens were blown down by a severe gale which wrought destruction in many parts of this country. The trees were torn up by the roots, presenting a dismal and unsightly appearance. it is almost incredible, but it is nevertheless a fact, that for a period of five months they were allowed to remain lying where they fell, the heavy timber, gradually saturated by the fall of recent rain, damaging the turf on which it lay, and affording a gymnasium for noisy urchins. Without inquiring who was to blame for this neglect, most travelled Englishmen must feel assured that it would not have occurred in any other European capital.

Within a bow-shot from the Marble Arch there stands a handsome Gothic drinking-fountain erected in 1867 at the expense of a generous Oriental potentate, the Sooltan Bahadoor of Vijianagram. Its base occupies an area some four yards square. A richly decorated canopy and spire rise above it to a height of forty feet. It possesses scarcely an ornamental feature within reach which has not been damaged. Stone finials have been knocked off, carved work chipped, and mouldings defaced. That this is the result of wanton mischief there can he no doubt, for the injuries are entirely confined to the lower portion of the monument. Youthful ragamuffins may often be seen sitting in the basins, tampering with the taps and drinking-vessels, splashing water down on the steps, and climbing over accessible parts of the structure. And all this disorder occurs at it few dozen yards distance from the park-keeper's lodge, where policemen are constantly stationed.

But this neighbourhood is notoriously selected for another objectionable practice. Every Sunday crowds of persons assemble there to receive open-air lectures on politics, theology, and what not, from fanatical dunces whose folly is only equalled by their assurance. Now, without discussing the moral effect of these diatribes upon that popular philosopher, the 'man in the street,' it is obvious that the place and the mode of their utterance must largely interfere with the comfort of the public. The parks are intended for physical recreation, not for the use of noisy demagogues who, in these days of cheap journalism and working men's clubs, can find ample opportunity for expressing their opinions elsewhere.

It would not be difficult to cite numerous other instances of neglect or indifference shown in various quarters of this capital respecting nuisances which might easily be repressed by a little firmness of municipal administration. It is strange that more irregularities and rowdyism should exist in Royal England than would be tolerated for a day in Republican France.

In order to disclose and deal effectively with such evils it is evident that the powers of our police force should be extended, or that the maintenance of order and the suppression of irregularities should be delegated to a small but vigilant body of men vested with special authority for that purpose. They might be responsible in each district to a chief inspector who could discharge many of his duties on horseback.

Such an expedient might suffice to ensure adequate supervision and to remove some of the grievances above mentioned. With respect to others in which structural questions are concerned, the problem to be solved assumes, no doubt, a more complex form. Where is the responsibility to lie ? The rights once exercised by the Metropolitan Board of Works have become absorbed in the powers of the County Council, but it is difficult to define their limit or to distinguish between borough administration and parochial rule.

Under ancient Roman law sometimes the AEdile and sometimes the Proctor Urbanus was supreme. But they were both, practically, magistrates, and in our day the functions of a magistrate are devoted to the consideration of moral and personal rather than local wrongs. In London we seem to require the more direct services of a modern 'Curator Viarum.'


Longman's Magazine, 1 July 1904

by Lee Jackson ( at January 27, 2015 03:30 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Wuthering Heights in Southampton

A new production of Lucy Gough's adaptation of Wuthering Heights opens today, January 27, in Southampton:
Maskers Theatre Company presents
Wuthering Heightsadapted by Lucy Gough

Director ... Paul Green
Cast ... Lydia Longman, George Attwill, Sarah Russell, Georgia Humphrey, Jonathan Marmont, Michelle Heffer, George Davies

The Nuffield Theatre
27 to 31 January 2015 at 7:30pm
Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is one of the most enduring love stories of all time. This vibrant and exhilarating adaptation uses exciting physical theatre techniques to bring the audience a thrilling theatrical experience.

Emily Brontë's Gothic tale of tortured love is brought to the stage in all its turbulent, passionate glory in this exhilarating and vibrant adaptation by Lucy Gough. Growing up together on the Yorkshire Moors, Catherine Earnshaw and the gypsy Heathcliff are inseparable after he is adopted into her family. But when Catherine marries the refined Edgar Linton, Heathcliff sets his mind to revenge. Their destructive relationship is one of the most enduring love stories of English literature. The story is told in its entirety, showing the doomed relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff and the consequences suffered by their respective children, Cathy and Linton. With a strong physical element, this highly visual production has the moors as a tangible character and Catherine's ghost is a constant presence. Don't miss what is surely one of the most famous and enduring love stories of all time. 

by M. ( at January 27, 2015 12:30 AM

January 26, 2015


'Ink blots, a large candle burn and a letter E carved into its surface'

BBC News and many others report that the Brontës' dining room table is going home.
A table at which the Brontë sisters wrote has been brought back to the family home in Yorkshire after being purchased with a grant of £580,000.
The Brontë Society at Haworth said the table was a "most evocative" 19th Century literary artefact.
It was sold along with other household effects from the Brontë Parsonage after the death of Patrick Brontë in 1861.
The mahogany drop-leaf table's purchase came after a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).
Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Haworth Parsonage, said "It is one of the most important literary artefacts of the 19th Century."
Among the novels written by the sisters in the parsonage were Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
The table has ink blots, a large candle burn and a letter E carved into its surface.
Others relaying the news are: The Telegraph (illustrated with an alleged  and quite contested so-called Brontë portrait) , The Yorkshire Post, The Telegraph and Argus, etc.

An article on snowdrops in the Daily Mail recalls that,
On her wedding day, the novelist Charlotte Brontë was described as looking like a snowdrop — appropriate for the writer who appeared so demure but whose heroines such as Jane Eyre were decidedly not. (Sarah Foot)
Página 12 (Argentina) features the book Cartas extraordinarias by María Negroni where she
elige a los que más y mejor han echado raíces en su propio planeta literario: Emilio Salgari, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Brontë, entre otros. ¿Hace falta decir que muchos de estos nombres venían reincidiendo en la obra de Negroni desde, por lo menos, Museo negro? La infancia, se sabe, es el país de las heridas y los amores que nos definen, y a los que regresamos recurrentemente.
Para reflexionar sobre y con estos autores, Negroni escribe una carta, que en la mayoría de los casos ficcionaliza la voz del autor mismo. A veces las cartas se dirigen a una persona importante del entorno b (Mariana Amato) (Translation)
iográfico del escritor; otras veces se dirigen a un personaje de su autoría (o al revés, un personaje le escribe al autor), y en otras ocasiones el escritor se dirige a otro artista, con quien puede o no haber tenido contacto en su vida real. Es decir, las cartas entretejen ficción y biografía para mejor indagar en los diálogos visibles e invisibles que una obra entabló con su tiempo y con otras obras.
While The Guardian reviews Rego Retold: Poems in Response to Works by Paula Rego by Owen Lowery, which includes the following poem:

Mr Rochester

by Owen Lowery

A forthcoming, from its pool of shadows up
by angles of covered bone, to her knowing
it would happen on a day like this, the supple

terror of a horse’s eye holding her. She slows
to the scream of being locked in the Red Room
with its reek of dying flowers, throwing

herself at the door with horror assuming
form behind her. Or not her recent uncle
at all, but the girl from school she warmed the tomb

for in the morning, she lay beside for as long
as it took for her to fade. The dark mass
of a horse balances and shies, hung

both with reins and their froth, sees her dazzled
to a stand-off. It’s the gloom’s rider who’ll crack
the silence first with his anger’s elastic

submission. To which she’ll fling a coolness back
at least as soft and hard as his, then hear him
sliding towards the relative distraction

of another scenario they’ll have shared
by the time they reach their destination, paths
leading to Thornfield Hall. It’s easy once the gears

click them more alive than standing for the halves
of the same mountain. He, in particular,
fixed to his finding her an evening after

she dreamt him there, looking down fro the flicker
of a blasted tree, from his top-hat’s coal-seam
and answer in his boots, his whip-hand’s friction.

Romancing History continues posting about Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at January 26, 2015 11:29 PM

Regency Ramble

Athelhampton Part VI

I am going to leave you with some external views of Athelhampton before we move on in our tour of Britain and some of its great country houses.

 These views show just how worth a visit to this lovely old house is.
And last but not least the River Piddle.

One cannot make this stuff up.

Until next time....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 26, 2015 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


A Wuthering Heights in California

Kirsten Brandt's adaptation of Wuthering Heights was going to be premiered a few days ago at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. Regrettably the theatre closed its doors last June. Therefore, for the moment, the closest thing to a premiere is tomorrow's staged reading that will take place in Solana Beach, CA:
New Fortune Theatre is proudly committed to producing Original Classics.
So  to follow our  opening of Henry V, a Shakespearean history, alongside readings of an original adaptation of Dorian Gray, and a world premiere of Cellar Door; we are proud to continue true to course with a reading of

Wuthering Heights
Adapted to stage by Kirsten Brandt,
From the novel by Emily Brontë
Directed by Kirsten Brandt

One night only: January 26, 2015: 7:30pm

At North Coast Repertory Theatre
987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive
Solana Beach, CA 92075

by M. ( at January 26, 2015 12:30 AM

January 25, 2015


By Name Only

The Telegraph should revise the pictures they use because their "Emily Brontë" picture has been contested numerous times. The article is about women that 'became men' to go ahead:
Much like George Eliot, the Brontë sisters passed themselves off as men by name only. In the early years of their career, Charlotte, Emily and Anne went by the names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Their first work under these names, simply entitled Poems, was published in 1846. The following year, Charlotte had Jane Eyre published under the name Currer Bell, while Emily continued as Ellis Bell for the publication of Wuthering Heights. (Siân Ranscombe
The Fandom Post reviews issue 16 of the manga Tegami Bachi  (テガミバチwhich contains a Wuthering Heights reference:
Story: Hiroyuki Asada
Art: Hiroyuki Asada. (...)
While looking for the Gaichuu, Zazie stays at an inn called Wuthering Heights that is managed by a young girl named Emil Brontë, I know, that name is too on the nose but the story doesn’t suffer from it. (Chris Kirby)
The Denver Post reviews Ted & I: A Brother's Memoir by Gerald Hughes (the brother of Ted Hughes):
This is very much an older brother's memoir. The Ted Hughes of popular imagination, a combination of Bluebeard and Heathcliff, is nowhere to be found. Ted emerges as a vulnerable character: curious, guileless, generous, more comfortable in the outdoors than anywhere else. (John Broening)

Hoodline alerts us to an event in Hayes Valley next week:
Even if you don't need glasses, now there's no excuse not to visit the new Warby Parker at 357 Hayes Street. This Tuesday, the retailer will host an evening with Mallory Ortberg in celebration of her new publication, "Texts from Jane Eyre." If it's anything like the cheeky lifestyle space that Warby Parker set up for Hayes Valley residents, it's sure to be a good time. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.
Books Are Another Dimension posts about Wuthering Heights.  The Sunday Times Magazine interviews Juliette Binoche and Wuthering Heights 1992 gets a mention.

by M. ( at January 25, 2015 11:41 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Alice150: UK Issues Stamps to Celebrate

UKAliceStampSo the Alice150 items keep rolling in!  Now the UK has announced a slew of stamps to celebrate the 150th.  Well, I guess it is *technically* a British book.  Check out all the designs here.  Let’s hope the USPS does something similar!

by Matt at January 25, 2015 05:00 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Victorian History

"March came in like a Lion," The Great Blizzard of 1891

If you had read the Meteorological Office's summary of observations for February 1891, you could hardly be blamed for assuming that spring would be sunny and delightful.  The weather in February had been exceptionally dry, although there was a more than usual amount of fog, particularly towards the latter part of the month. There was surprisingly little rain;  according to the Met, less than

by (Dr Bruce Rosen) at January 25, 2015 09:58 AM


The Dissolution of Percy and Songs of Arcady

1. Today and tomorrow, January 25 and 26, there will be a couple of stage readings of the new play based on Branwell's last years, The Dissolution of Percy,  in Salford, Manchester:
The Dissolution of Percy
The Kings Arms, Salford, Manchester
Play-4-Free! Festival
January 25, 26 at 7.30pm

 Lydia has never been interested in searching for love, but, gnawed by loneliness and physical frustration, and immobilized by her station, companionship and release must be had, and soon. Branwell, a young tutor and amateur writer, is haunted by a history of creative and vocational failures. He struggles to fulfill his duties, pursue his ambitions and maintain a hold of his remaining good sense due to a growing attachment to alcohol and an intense, obsessive infatuation with his master’s wife: Lydia. Glowing ecstasy and violent sorrows, real and imagined, batter the mismatched individuals each in turn, but, all the while, something secretive and wonderful is happening back at Branwell’s family home. His three sisters have begun work of their own. But perhaps that’s of no importance.
      The Dissolution of Percy tackles a notorious series of historical events reflecting the surprising lack of evolution in gender politics between the nineteenth century and the modern day. The pressure and emotional toll of high expectations dropped on young male shoulders, and the crippling effect of their comfortless sense of entitlement on in this “man’s world”, are exposed. Can a woman’s worth be measured by her relationships? Can a man’s be measured by any demonstrative display of masculinity? What is the definition of “success” or “failure” for a male versus a female? The Dissolution of Percy plunges its audience into a world balanced in stark counterpoint between high, violent passions, steady, grim pragmatism and gallows humour, to explore matters still fiercely debated today.
2.  New compositions by Ronald Beckett will be performed in a concert today in La Salette, Ontario:
Songs of Arcady
The program includes solo and ensemble performance opportunities, mentorship with seasoned professionals and Arcady’s very own director Ronald Beckett, and the opportunity to premiere new music by Beckett composed specifically with each Young Artist in mind.
Songs of Arcady will feature the premiere of these personally designed songs and will be accompanied by the composer himself. Soprano, Kristen English from Lindsay will premiere “Time is Sleeping” which is set to an inspiring and unforgettable poem by Canadian poet/composer Nick Peros. English will also premiere “Three Short Poems by Emily Brontë.” Bronte is a poet many composers enjoy setting to music as her poetry is typically short fragments capturing a brief image and emotional impression well suited for music. The program also includes two more contrasting settings of Emily Brontë to be performed by baritone Kieran Kane from Guelph.  (Tammy Whetham in Woodstock Sentinel)

by M. ( at January 25, 2015 12:31 AM

January 24, 2015

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

New Carroll Documentary on BBC Next Week

A new documentary by broadcaster and journalist Martha Kearney and featuring Morton Cohen will be broadcast on BBC 2 at 9 pm on Saturday, January 31.

by Matt at January 24, 2015 05:51 PM


The table is back

Keighley News reports that an important piece of Brontëana has been acquired by the Brontë Society:
The society has bought the simple mahogany drop-leaf table with a grant of £580,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
The society said the desk was one of the most evocative and significant literary artefacts of the 19th century.
The table at which the Brontë sisters wrote was the focus of domestic life in the Brontë household at Haworth Parsonage, and where the siblings gathered to write and discuss their stories, poems, and novels.
The table bears the marking of the family’s daily use with ink blots, a large candle burn in the centre, a small letter ‘E’ carved into the surface, and beneath the table are ownership markings, possibly in the hand of Charlotte Brontë’s husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls.
The table was also featured in an 1837 diary paper sketch by Emily, showing herself and Anne writing at the table with all their papers scattered before them.
The table was sold during the sale of the household effects of the Parsonage, which took place after the death of Patrick Brontë in 1861.
The table is listed as lot 154 in the hand-written sale catalogue, held at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which shows that it was purchased by Mr Ogden for the sum of £1-11-0. The Ogdens sold it to another family, within which it has been handed down as an heirloom, before the museum was approached for ownership.
Ann Dinsdale, the Collections Manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, said: “We are extremely proud and excited to be bringing the Brontës’ table back to its original home.
“It is one of the most important literary artefacts of the 19th century and displaying it in the Parsonage dining room marks a wonderful commencement to our programme of activity marking the forthcoming bicentenaries of the births of the Brontë siblings.”
The table was loaned to the Brontë Parsonage Museum for a short period in 1997 to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
Carole Souter the chief executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), said the Brontë sisters were internationally revered for their contribution to English literature.
She said: “Novels which have enthralled millions of readers were imagined and written at this table and seeing it brings to life the creative process behind the famous works.
“NHMF trustees felt it important that it should be saved for the nation so that it can be displayed to the public in its original setting.”
Heritage minister Ed Vaizey said: “The Brontës’ family dining table has a close connection with some of the most famous English literature written in the 19th century.
“The National Heritage Memorial Fund grant recognises the importance of keeping these literary artefacts on display and it’s wonderful that visitors to the Brontës’ former home in Yorkshire will now be able to enjoy it in its original setting."
The table will be displayed in its original position in the dining room at the Parsonage where it can be viewed by the public from the February 1, when the Brontë Parsonage reopens for the coming season. (David Knights)
The Daily Express asks the TV presenter Gaby Roslin for her favourite books:
Wuthering Heights.
When I was about 12 my mother was fed up with me reading “rubbish” and handed me this. It totally captivated me. You get the barren landscape and that heartrending love. I suddenly realised the depth and beauty of a book. (Caroline Rees)
Ham &  High talks with the writer Ben Markovits:
This relationship, Markovits continues, runs both ways. From an early age, he – like many American high school students – grew up on a literary diet of Dickens, Austen and the Brontë sisters. In particular, his love of Lord Byron shines through and has formed the backbone of his breakthrough in the industry, having penned three books loosely formed around the rambunctious Romantic poet.
Daily Mail list some of the locations of the new BBC series Wolf Hall:
Broughton Castle has had a large presence in period drama over the years, and was used in 2011 adaption of Jane Eyre, Shakespeare in Love in 1998 and The Madness of King George twenty years ago. (Simon Cable)
Indeed, Broughton Castle was Lowood School in the Cary Fukunaga's film. interviews the writer Joanna Rakoff:
[As a teenager] I didn't have a lot of friends, I was very, very shy, I was very unpopular ‒ I was chubby and my family was 'weird'. So my friends were the characters in the books that I read over and over, like Jane Eyre. (Shreya Ila Anasuya)
Gina Barreca discusses the 'realistic romance'  genre in the Savannah Morning News:
Is the new designation for books — “Realistic Romance” — a contradiction in terms? Or will “Realistic Romance” now forever (another lovely oxymoron) be known as the category designed for readers who seek plots focused on the wild, unstoppable and inevitable merging of two soulmates who, despite all odds, face the world more bravely because their love has made them strong and also really good-looking?
That sure sounds like romance. What it doesn’t sound is realistic.
I’m saying this not only as a happily married woman but also as a fan of impossibly unrealistic classics such as “Wuthering Heights,” “Gone with the Wind” and “The Princess Bride.”
This is a very doubtful statement by 9News:
How did Charlotte Brontë make it easier for everyone to breathe? She created Eyre.
If you laughed at that joke, then you should get excited. Friday marks National Reading Day. (Blair Shiff)
We have no words.

The Age discusses the VCE English text list:
Shakespeare has appeared on every single list for the last two decades, while works by Jane Austen, Emily Brontë and Charles Dickens, as well as more contemporary writers David Malouf and Tim Winton also crop up regularly. (Henrietta Cook)
Soester-Anzeiger reviews the Oberhausen performances of Wuthering Heights:
Wunderschöne Bilder für einen seelischen Vernichtungskrieg. Das Oberhausener Ensemble spielt wieder seine Stärken aus. Angela Falkenhan ist als Cathy eine grandiose Hysterikerin, die ihrem sanften und großzügigen Ehemann mit Betteln und Drohungen den Kontakt zu Heathcliff abringt. Mal liegt sie matt auf dem Sofa, dann entfesselt sie mit Schreien und Herumlaufen und Kissenzerfetzen einen Privatsturm. Dann wieder bestimmt sie Vögel nach den Federn, im Rückfall in das Kinderglück eine Wiedergängerin von Ophelia, unschuldig und wahnsinnig. Peter Waros gibt den undurchsichtigen und unberechenbaren bösen Liebhaber, der Unrecht erlitt und nun neues Unrecht begeht, manchmal ein gewandter Gesprächspartner, oft aber ein Wutbruder. Sergej Lubic spielt Edgar, anfangs als braven Bürger mit Machoanwandlungen, der mit einem Schenkelklopfen sein Frauchen zu sich auf den Schoß kommandiert. Bald aber spürt man seine Schmerzen, er ist überfordert von Leidenschaften, die er nie entwickeln wird. Und Henry Meyer gibt den Hindley erst als lebenslustigen Haustyrann, später als misanthropischen Alkoholiker.
Drei Stunden lang säuft hier eine Gesellschaft im englischen Hochmoor ab. Eine große Leistung. Aber man fragt sich schon, wo dieses so kunstvoll wie künstlich konstruierte Liebes- und Rachedrama unsere Gegenwart berührt. (Ralf Stiftel) (Translation)
Cinema Fanpage (Italy) reminds us of a curious piece of trivia of the 2003 film Cold Mountain:
C’ è una curiosità tutta “letteraria” nel film: i nomi dei figli di Sally Swanger (Kathy Baker) , Acton e Ellis, sono anche quelli che le celebri scrittrici Anne Brontë e Emily Brontë utilizzarono come pseudonimi per la commercializzazione dei proprio romanzi, precisamente Acton Campana e Ellis Campana, mentre la terza sorella, Charlotte, usò quello di Currer Campana. (Translation)
Cinefilos (Italy) interviews Toby Stephens about the second season of Black Sails:
CS: A proposito di letteratura, chi preferisci tra il Capitano Flint e Rochester in Jane Eyre?
T.B: Difficile a dirsi perché sono personaggi completamente diversi. Rochester è davvero un archetipo letterario. Ero nervoso all’idea di interpretarlo perché pensavo alle aspettative delle donne che sono davvero ossessionate da questo personaggio. Ma è un ruolo che mi ha dato tante soddisfazioni, ho adorato interpretare Rochester. Quanto a Flint, in un certo senso stiamo creando il personaggio, perché non è presente ne L’Isola del Tesoro. Viene menzionato, ma non sappiamo chi sia, quindi mi affido agli sceneggiatori. Creare il personaggio è una cosa bellissima. Non sto cercando di eludere la domanda, ma è difficile paragonare i due perché sono ruoli gratificanti in modo completamente diverso. Direi che sono appaganti nella stessa misura. (Raffaella Lippolis) (Translation)
El Litoral (Spain) talks about Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi:
¿Alguien podía concentrarse en sus tareas cuando lo que preocupaba a los profesores era cómo eliminar la palabra ‘vino' de una novela de Hemingway o si debía omitir a Emily Brontë del programa porque parecía excusar el adulterio”. (Enrique Butti) (Translation)
El Nacional (Venezuela) reviews Glennkill by Leonie Swann:
Eso sí, de contar relatos saben mucho y ellas no se cansarán jamás de escuchar a la nueva pastora, heredera del rebaño, leyendo la historia de Heathcliff al que tanto le gusta vagar por ahí. (Juan Carlos Chirinos) (Translation)
Sipse (México) discusses the works of Claudio Magris:
En el ensayo que dio pie a esta selección, titulado “Cuando la literatura golpea como un puño”, Magris resume que este sentido de lo terrible, como Cumbres borrascosas, radicalmente desagradable, representa una alta humanidad, porque mirar de frente a la Medusa es la única posibilidad de resistirse a ella. “El corazón”, decía Flaubert, “tiene sus letrinas, y sólo la pluma de un escritor verdadero es capaz de limpiar y pulir esa podredumbre”. (Alfredo C. Villeda) (Translation)
This interview in La Gazette du Sorcier (France) to Matthew Lewis is a bit vague about the present status of The Brontës biopic project:
La Gazette du Sorcier : Avez-vous de nouveaux tournages prévus prochainement ?
Il est toujours attaché au biopic The Brontës, mais il ne sait pas où en est le projet pour le moment. (Translation)
Vulpes Libris transcribes a Charlotte vs Emily debate;  Hic et Nunc reviews Wuthering Heights; herzenszeilen (in German) posts about Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at January 24, 2015 05:17 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Climbing Roses

 photo sorollaThe-Yellow-Rose-Bush-of-the-Sorolla-House-1920.jpg

Joaquin Sorolla

 photo Michael Ancher - Climbing roses.jpg

Michael Ancher

January 24, 2015 09:30 AM


More Italian performances of Wuthering Heights

The Italian theatre company La Sarabanda reprises its Wuthering Heights performances today, January 24, in Lomagna:
Cime Tempestose
Adapted from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
by Mara Gualandris and Loredana Riva

January 24, 21 h Teatro Oratorio Lomagna
February 14,  21 h centro Don V. Pedretti via molino Arese 15, Cesano Maderno
February 28, 21 h,   Madonna in campagna,  Gallarate
April 19, 15:30 h, Teatro Barbarigo via Bordighera 46, Milano

by M. ( at January 24, 2015 01:43 AM

'Vacuuming Mr Brontë’s nightshirt'

Brontë Parsonage Museum intern Alana Clague writes about her experience in The Telegraph and Argus.
The Parsonage has not been a disappointment!
Every day has been a different challenge, which I have really enjoyed. The beginning of my time here was quite daunting, with much to learn about the museum and the Brontë family history, and I spent a part of my time reading as much as I could about the Brontës.
The next task I faced was helping to catalogue books and other donations into the museum’s collection databases. There was a great range of material to catalogue and I have some personal favourites.
Wuthering Bites’ by Sarah Gray, a reimagining of the classic tale with Heathcliff as the orphaned child of a vampire and vampire hunter at war with his inner nature, is a story I think would please Twilight fans everywhere and one I have catalogued into the Parsonage library.
I have catalogued a copy of The Brontës by Flora Masson, discovered abandoned in a World War One dugout in 1918, a book fascinating and poignant for more than story written on its pages.
There have been books about the Brontës, stories inspired by their works, foreign language versions and film adaptations including a samurai Wuthering Heights and a Mexican version with Heathcliff as Alejandro.
Along with this I have been involved with researching objects, answering research enquires, uploading articles to the website and many activities in between.
At the moment, however, it is the museum’s closed period and we are busier than ever. Everyone is helping to prepare the museum for the visitors return in February.
I have been helping to move objects from display and to clean them, from waxing chairs to vacuuming Mr Brontë’s nightshirt. I help with whatever is needed and at the moment that means something different every day.
Yesterday I was researching the German first edition of Wuthering Heights but who knows what challenges today will bring!
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page tells about a lovely 'tradition':
Today, as in previous years, we've received flowers from an anonymous well-wisher in recognition of Anne Brontë's birthday, which was on Saturday. Thank you anonymous well-wisher! Come inside for a cup of tea and a sit-down next year.
There are a couple of Brontë-related projects in Dewsbury, as seen in the Dewsbury Reporter:
Young south Asian women with a love of literature are being invited to take part in a new project by Creative Scene.
Worlds Apart, inspired by the life and work of Charlotte Brontë, is part of the lead up to the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author.
The collaboration between Chol Theatre and Gomersal’s Red House Museum involves developing a theatre piece for the museum, which was once the home of Brontë’s best friend Mary Taylor.
Creative Scene is holding an open casting call to find a group of South Asian young women aged between 14 and 25 to work with Chol Theatre’s guest director Evie Manning and writer Aisha Zia.
Evie and Aisha recently made the critically acclaimed No Guts, No Heart, No Glory – a performance by young Muslim women.
A drop-in session in Dewsbury Town Hall takes place on Saturday, 10.30am-4pm.
Manchester is not all that far away from those places and, according to SuperBreak, it has been 'named top tourist destination for 2015'. The attractions of course now include
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Elizabeth Gaskell's novels including Mary Barton, Cranford, North and South, Ruth and Wives and Daughters have enjoyed an extended life in print form, on the radio and even on the small screen, with many admiring the charm of their period stories and strong female characters. Now, you can see where writer Gaskell crafted her storylines and developed her heroines, at the newly opened Elizabeth Gaskell's House on the edge of Manchester. The Grade II listed property is a rare example of the elegant Regency-style villas once popular in the city and it has just been restored thanks to a National Lottery fund of around £2.5 million. Few other places have such an incredible history - previous visitors include Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, the American abolitionist and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe and musician Charles Hallé.
The house is currently open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, from 11.00am to 4.30pm, although these opening hours are likely to be extended during the summer months. (Vikki Stathers)
The Chicago Tribune brings back from its archive a 1929 review of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.
"A Room of One's Own" is one of the most stimulating books of the year to any one really interested in creative writing, whether as an eager reader or as a mute and inglorious Milton or Emily Brontë. In it Virginia Woolf bares her mind about why women have and have not written books, and the processes of that mind, quite as much as the conclusions which it draws, are fascinating; for, to most of us, Virginia Woolf has one of the most alluring minds in present day literature. [...]
That women wrote nothing remarkable under such circumstances she finds not at all startling. In a later period, the common sitting room as a retreat and a life devoted to mending and stewing and brewing did not offer women much leisure, or independence, or quiet for creative work. It did, however, offer them unlimited opportunities for the observation of human relationships, and it made inevitable their writing novels when they came to write anything. Once woman had proved — it was Aphra Behn who first in the English speaking world earned money by writing — that she could be economically independent through writing, women of all sorts and kinds began it. They were afraid at first to sign their own names. They signed men's names in tremulous fear of detection. Currer Bell, George Eliot, George Sand are only the well-known names which fame rescued from the thousands. (Fanny Butcher)
This columnist from the Courier-Post comments on the proposed opening of a hardware library:
I'd suggest they consider the emerging field of tool literature, like my favorite adaptation of a Charlotte Brontë classic.
Jane Eyre Compressor. (Jim Walsh)
The Liverpool Echo reports the death of actress Pauline Yates who
made her stage debut, aged 17, playing Grace Poole in Jane Eyre. (Paddy Shennan)

by Cristina ( at January 24, 2015 01:05 AM

January 23, 2015

The Little Professor

This (Last Two) Weeks' Acquisitions

[Back in NY! There are books here!]

  • [May Ramsay], Maggie's Rosary, and Other Tales, ed. Mrs. Washington Hibbert (Burnes and Oates [c. 1871]).  Collection of Catholic didactic fiction for children about praying the rosary, telling the truth, working-class Catholics, etc.  (eBay)
  • Cecilia Mary Caddell, The Miner's Daughter: A Simple Explanation of, and Easy and Familiar Instruction on, the Sacrifice of the Mass (P. J. Kenedy, 1897).  A book for Catholic children and converts explaining (using a fictional framework) what the mass is, what the prayers are, and so forth; originally published in the UK in the early 1860s.  (eBay)
  • Simon Mawer, The Gospel of Judas (Little, Brown, 2000).  Catholic priest starts studying what appears to be a "fifth Gospel," with obvious consequences for his personal life.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Katherine McMahon, After Mary (Flamingo, 2000).  Historical novel about a young English Catholic woman who becomes involved in recusant politics during the seventeenth century.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Lori Marie Carlson, A Stitch in Air (Texas Tech, 2013).  Historical novel set in sixteenth-century Spain, following the goings-on in a somewhat unusual convent.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Robert Rankin, The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions (Gollancz, 2010).  Steampunk novel featuring a P. T. Barnumesque showman in a post-War of the Worlds universe.  (eBay)
  • Elizabeth Taylor, A Game of Hide and Seek (NYRB, 2012).  Reprint of Taylor's 1951 novel about an interrupted romance that is then resumed...sort of.  On a syllabus this semester.  (Barnes & Noble)
  • Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox (Riverhead, 2011).  Metafictional romance in which happily ever after has a bad habit of not happening in one author's work.  Also on a syllabus.  (Barnes & Noble)
  • Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr, eds., Ten Books that Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons (Duke, 2014).  Collection of essays examining how both imperialist and anti-imperialist works by a variety of authors (from Bronte to Gandhi) helped establish a "lively, empire-wide print culture."  (Amazon)
  • Elizabeth Elbourne, Blood Ground: Colonialism, Missions, and the Contest for Christianity in the Cape Colony and Britain, 1799-1853 (MQUP, 2008).  Uses the London Missionary Society's attempts to evangelize the Khoekhoe to examine the interplay between religious, imperial, and local politics in early 19th-c. South Africa.  (Amazon [secondhand])

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 23, 2015 11:15 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

John la Farge (American, 1835-1910), two watercolours

 photo johnlafargelsc_1.jpg

 photo John La Farge Crater of Kilauea and Dana Lake in Twilight 1890_1.jpg

Carter of Kilauea and Dana Lake in Twilight, 1890

His watercolours of flowers are particularly attractive:

January 23, 2015 04:46 PM

Regency Ramble

Athelhampton Part V

Athelhampton. I keep thinking how much I love that name. 

Much of the upstairs was changed during renovations in 1863, for example what is now called the library was then three bedrooms in the west wing. I did love these steps which would have brought one into the west wing added in the early 16th century, and would, in our time, have been the entrance to the corridor with the bedrooms leading off.

Here are some other little nooks that caught my fancy as I moved around the house.
 They are presented for atmosphere rather than any particular significance.

The next room we entered is called the King's Room traditionally the place where the manorial court would be held in the name of the king.

It is now a bedroom with lovely linenfold panelling.  The tester bedstead is Charles 1, the oak coffer  from James the first's time and the brass lantern clock  from the late 17th century and made in Dorset.

All of these items could have been found in a Regency dwelling, since they survived until now, but my guess is they would have been thought dreadfully heavy and old fashioned by our fashion-conscious heroes and heroines.

Until Next time.....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 23, 2015 11:00 AM


Charlotte's Poems in Japanese

The 1985 edition of the Charlotte Brontë poems by Victor A. Neufeldt has been translated into Japanese by Hiroshi Nakaoka ( 中岡  洋) (who has also translated previously other Brontë materials and has published several Brontë monographies):
シャーロット・ブロンテ全詩集 (The Poems of Charlotte Brontë)
Charlotte Brontë. Editor: Victor A. Neufeldt. Translator: 中岡 洋
Publisher: 彩流社 (2014/9/1)
ISBN978-4-7791-1982-8 C0098


by M. ( at January 23, 2015 12:07 AM

January 22, 2015



And so Valentine's Day season begins. Bustle wonders 'What These 12 Famous Historical Couples Would Be Wearing On Valentine's Day'.
For this gothic-romantic couple, Valentine’s Day would be spent by taking a lovely romp and chase through the Yorkshire moors where they spent most of their time growing up as children. Both would be dressed for the wuthering weather in wool peacoats. Cathy would wear a more feminine peacoat in a baby blue, a-lined and double breasted style, her hair loose and blowing wildly in the wind. Heathcliff would be dressed in a dark charcoal peacoat, his dark, long hair tied roughly back in a man-bun. (Courtney Mina)
That's not how we'd picture them but then again we don't see the as the Valentine's Day-celebrating kind of couple.

The Irish Times interviews writer Alison Weir:
Who is your favourite fictional character? Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. (Martin Doyle)
The Conversation enlightens us on what ekphrasis is.
There is, too, the set of practices we might call literary ekphrasis: a process through which writers collaborate with pre-existing texts, often written by authors who have passed away. American poet Anne Carson’s Nox (2010) is, in this sense, a collaboration between Anne Carson, Catullus, and Carson’s brother, Michael.
A more familiar ekphrastic collaboration is Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (a literary collaboration/conversation with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre). (Dallas J Baker, Jen Webb and Nike Sulway)
The Telegraph looks at what's coming at the The National Theatre: Sally Cookson's acclaimed two-part Jane Eyre adaptation will be performed in September (the play will return to Bristol in January 2016):
The theatre will also stage Shakespeare’s As You Like It, an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Farquhar’s The Beaux’s Stratagem. (Hannah Furness)
While on the other side of the pond, Asbury Park Press reports that,
Point Pleasant native John Kurzynowski will be directing Theater Reconstruction Ensemble's off-Broadway play "You on the Moors Now" by Jaclyn Backhaus.
This 90-minute, world-premiere production — an examination of four well-known literary heroines of the 19th century and their shocking rejection of the men who so ardently loved them — runs Feb. 13 to 28 at HERE, 145 Sixth Ave. in New York City.
Gleaned from the pages of "Pride and Prejudice," "Jane Eyre," "Wuthering Heights" and "Little Women," "You on the Moors Now" takes everything you've ever learned about love "and puts it somewhere in the tall grasses, hidden from view, where only the truly brave will ever traverse to earn it," according to a news release. (Bill Canacci)
It looks as if last year's Tour de France's Grand Départ left Yorkshire wanting more. And so this year we will have a Tour de Yorkshire! Also from The Telegraph:
Organisers have announced details of the inaugural three-day Tour de Yorkshire event at the start of May. [...]
Stage 3, Sunday May 3: Wakefield - Leeds, 167 km
A return to some of the roads used during last summer’s Tour. Starting in Wakefield, riders will travel south to Barnsley before heading to Holmfirth where they pick up the Grand Départ route, albeit in reverse. Cragg Vale, for instance, becomes the “longest continuous descent in England” rather than the “longest continuous ascent” it was billed as last year. Haworth, home of the Brontës, is ridden in the same direction as it was last summer, meaning there is another opportunity for snappers to get the iconic shot of the peloton ascending its cobbled streets. The finish is in Roundhay Park in Leeds. (Tom Cary)
Just a few days ago we saw a picture of a sunny Brontë Parsonage. Well, today it's all covered in snow, as you can see on the Brontë Parsonage Facebook Page. Athlete at Heart has read Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at January 22, 2015 11:49 PM

The Little Professor

Truth; Or, Persis Clareton

And now we return to our regularly-scheduled religious fiction.  For novelists trying to clothe current feuds in the garb of the past, the seventeenth century was a fertile hunting ground for all sorts of politico-theological problems: you have your Civil War, your Protestant infighting, your religious conspiracies, your deadly plagues.   And, of course, everyone could point to such-and-such or so-and-so in order to authorize their own practices (e.g., the well-known influence of Caroline theologians on the Oxford Movement).  At the same time, novelists, especially Protestant novelists, seemed more pressed to deal with the messiness of the era than did novelists writing about the Reformation (who could more easily retreat to a Protestant Us vs. Catholic Them--or vice-versa--narrative).    Charles Benjamin Tayler's Truth; Or, Persis Clareton (1853), while hardly as complex as some other Victorian fictional attempts to grapple with the era (Elizabeth Rundle Charles' work is a case in point), illustrates some of these trends.  Tayler, himself an Anglican clergyman, published Truth during the highwater decade for anti-Catholic political agitation, but while the novel is openly anti-Catholic, it is more specifically preoccupied with allegorizing one popular anti-Oxford Movement conspiracy theory--the belief that Oxford Movement clergymen were really Jesuits in disguise (really, secret Catholic priests were never enough, they had to be Jesuits)--and agitating against demands for Anglican uniformity.

Truth is a title that takes no prisoners, and it refers both to the true faith and to the Claretons' unfailing belief in the necessity of telling the truth at all costs.  (Unlike those nasty Catholics.)  The novel, although somewhat bizarrely structured--it opens with characters who turn out to be completely marginal, and has an anti-Catholic inset narrative appear out of nowhere (of which more anon)--follows the experiences of Persis and her Presbyterian father, Mr. Clareton, in the wake of the Restoration.  Despite the protection of an exemplary Episcopalian like Sir Ralph Cleveland, who during the days of Cromwell "had not shut his eyes to the improved state of morals throughout the country, whenever a godly Presbyterian minister had been placed over a parish" (71), Clareton suffers through a series of laws that turn him, in effect, into a fugitive: the Act of Uniformity (1662), leading to the Great Ejection; the Conventicle Act (1664); and the Five-Mile Act (1665).  Early on, Clareton muses, looking at a flower bed, that "who that looks upon these variegated flower-plots, and inhales the combined sweetness of their different odours, would wish for uniformity" (7), and this paean to the Church of England's potential spiritual capaciousness (differences harmonized within boundaries) embodies the tolerant attitude that the novel preaches, but generally fails to find.  Pointedly, while the novel celebrates its saintly Episcopalians, like Clareton's brother Gabriel and Persis' nurse Mabel, the Episcopalians in power are persecuting spirits, with a sorry penchant for "the enforcing of uniformity" (209).   Here's part I of the allegory: the Episcopalians ( = the Oxford Movement & its immediate descendants) falsely elevate conformity in adiaphora (things indifferent), such as wearing the surplice, over agreement in essential truths; meanwhile, the Presbyterians ( = the Low Church/evangelical wings of the C of E, as well as Dissenters) stick to the Bible.  Moral of this part of the story: ignore the conformist guys.

Then, of course, there are the secret Jesuits, without whom many Victorian religious novels would be far shorter.  As I mentioned, this is a lengthy inset narrative about an otherwise irrelevant family, the Avenels, who are--gulp--a mixed marriage.  (This, as I have also said before, is 99.9% of the time Not a Good Thing, unless the author is a liberal Protestant.)  Things are going swimmingly for the Avenels, both male (Catholic) and female (Protestant), until priest #1 (non-interfering, possibly a convert to Protestantism before his death) dies and is replaced by the this-could-go-either-way-named Father Foxe.  Alas, Fr. Foxe is not a Foxe of the John Foxe variety, but merely foxy.  Indeed, he encourages people to...wait for it...lie.    More specifically, Foxe's arrival enables Tayler to inject yet another iteration of what Maureen Moran calls the "Popish plot," in which Roman Catholic clergy seek to retake English soil not by violence, but by proselytization: Mrs. Avenel's daughter is to be a "great heiress," and therefore Foxe seeks to convert her so that the Church can control her property (132).*  Foxe's deception in the Avenel family turns out to miniaturize that of the purported Anglican clergyman Mr. Moleville, who is actually the Jesuit Father Monckton.  Foxe seeks to steal one Protestant family's property, along with their child, while Moleville sets out to subvert an entire parish's spirituality (and, presumably, their property into the bargain).  Roman Catholicism embodies the dangers of compulsory conformity to "ceremonies," as well as the threat posed to faith by the ardent "formalist" (56); it is the ever-present reminder that those who elevate the Book of Common Prayer above the Bible (that's how Tayler construes the situation, in any event) as the core of the C of E engage in what amounts to idolatry. It's just one step from compulsory conformity within the C of E to becoming a Roman Catholic, it seems.   Here's Part II of our allegory: the Oxford Movement is a fifth column within the Church, relying on performance (of rituals and of personality) to sway the English people from their Protestant allegiance to the Bible.  Moral of the story: um, again, ignore those guys.  (In case you're wondering, the only decent Catholics in the novel wind up converting to Protestantism, that apparently being the definition of a decent Catholic.)  

Snark aside, one of the genuinely interesting things about the novel is its interest in community-building via narratives of martyrdom.  One of Book Two's points is that the Victorians were obsessed by the prospect of Protestants forgetting their Reformation heritage; here, although Persis' faith emerges from Bible reading, it is reinforced by Mabel's many "true and heart-moving stories" (48) about Lollard and Reformation martyrs, many of them women.  This emphasis on the nurse's moral storytelling both offers an alternative to the kind of dangerous tales stereotypically associated with nursemaids and servants (as in Jane Eyre, for example) and associates the martyr narrative with mothering and feminized oral culture.   It also reinforces that women and men are equally called to witness for the truth (a point of obvious relevance for Persis' own heroic resilience).  In this novel, the nurse's martyr narratives are the counterpart to the portrait of Bishop Hooper above the fireplace, which symbolizes Clareton's own clerical priorities: in the end, "defenders of the truth" must rest on "points of real and vital importance" (12), not mere "ceremonies."  

*--I've written about overlaps between nineteenth-century Jewish and Catholic stereotypes before, but the intersection of financial stereotyping (both Jews and Catholics seeking control by acquiring Gentile/Protestant property) could perhaps use some more analysis? Hmm.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 22, 2015 06:38 PM


Brontës in Canterbury

A course beginning today at the Canterbury Christ Church University:
The Brontës: Novels by Three Sisters
Thursday 22 January 2015
Tutor: Geoff Doel
Length: 8 sessions
Time: 1.30pm - 3.30pm
Location: Canterbury Campus

Course description

The Brontë sisters were inspired by their bleak moorland environment, their passionate lineage and their love of Romantic literature inherited from their father Patrick (himself a poet of nature); their very isolation in Haworth bred a mutual intensity.

Despite their limited educational and social opportunities and their relative poverty, the sisters each produced a masterpiece - novels of great intensity, passion and power. We’ll study Emily’s Wuthering Heights , Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , exploring their literary impact in the mid-nineteenth century and their profound influence since. 

by M. ( at January 22, 2015 09:19 AM

January 21, 2015


Jane Eyre 2011 leaving Netflix

Bustle selects 'eight Netflix gems expiring February 1 that you should catch while you still have the chance' and one of them is
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is one of the best Victorian novels, and the 2011 adaptation featuring Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre and Michael Fassbender as the hard-hearted Mr. Rochester is fairly solid and true to the novel, although Jane is supposed to be homely and Rochester very severe looking. I guess Hollywood needed a beautiful Jane. (Maitri Mehta)
The film also makes it onto Slate's list of 'good watch' and is the object of a blunder on Fox 2 Now St. Louis.
Jane Eyre – When Jane is hired as governess for the ward of Mr. Rochester, a complex courtship begins in this miniseries adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel.
It looks as if the writer found the film a tad too long.

The Irish Times interviews writer Dacia Maraini:
Who is your favourite fictional character? First of all Antigone, whom I think is a beautiful character. But also Jane Eyre, Effie Brist and La Pisana (strong character of a girl in the novel Le Confessioni di un Italiano , by Ippolito Nievo, an author of the 19th century). (Martin Doyle)
Weekly Record has three people recommend a few books:
Laura O'Grady, Martin Library youth services librarian, recently read "We Were Liars" by E. Lockhart.
"It's a cool trend," O'Grady said, to see adults checking out books such as "The Fault in Our Stars" and "The Hunger Games."
But winter is also a great time to "revisit the classics," she said, like "Wuthering Heights" and "Great Expectations." [...]
O'Grady: "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë — the dark setting makes it feel like winter the entire book. . . (Jess Krout)
We are not sure this reader from Planet Siol (Slovenia) would agree:
Prevajalec in stand up komik Boštjan Gorenc - Pižama se pri branju knjig drži navodila, ki jim ga je na fakulteti razodela profesorica Meta Grosman, in sicer da je osnovna pravica bralca, da lahko knjigo odloži neprebrano. "Dokaj ironično je, da sem se te krilatice držal ravno pri eni od knjig, ki smo jih morali prebrati pri njenem predmetu o viktorijanskem romanu."
"V obup me je spravljala Emily Brontë s svojim Viharnim vrhom (Wuthering Heights), pri katerem sem po treh poskusih vsakič ostal v baznem taboru na nadmorski višini okrog dvajsetega poglavja. Ker sem knjigo vseeno moral predelati in se je vse to dogajalo v internetni juri ali kredi, torej v času pred wikipedijo, sem se do vrha prebil v navezi s Spark's Notes. Zmagoslavne zastave osvajalca v to knjigo tako nisem zabodel." (Deja Crnović) (Translation)
Bernard Ingham on Winston Churchill in The Yorkshire Post:
I used to have this vision of Churchill, the guerrilla leader, directing us in the war against a Nazi occupation from Wuthering Heights.
Scatterbook posts about Feminism in Wuthering Heights.

EDIT: The A3TV (Spain) gameshow Boom featured a Brontë-related question today:

by Cristina ( at January 21, 2015 11:10 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

New Illustrated Alice in the Netherlands

A newly illustrated hardcover Wonderland / Looking-Glass has been released in the Netherlands by artist Floor Rieder, translated by Sofia Englishman.  The illustrations are quite charming and I think will be of interest to many in our humble little society. You can order it (€25) here, or through various Netherlands bookstores through its ISBN, 9789025759179.

by Matt at January 21, 2015 05:00 PM

A Perfect Likeness – You Too Can Perform It

Those of you who attended the 2013 Spring meeting in Winston-Salem, NC will remember the wonderful play written fellow society member Daniel Singer that we all enjoyed as a part of the festivities.  It has recently come to our attention that you may now purchase a copy of the official script, and license it for performance!  I’m sure Daniel would love to see many performances of his play all over the world, and we would too!

by Matt at January 21, 2015 05:00 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


More Foreign Scholars

In  Turkey:
The struggle for woman’s place and voice in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and George Sand’s Indiana
Barbara Dell’Abate-Çelebi
International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 2, No. 6, 2014, pp. 252-257

Abstract: The aim of my article is to uncover the deep semiotic relation existing between Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and George Sand’s Indiana (1832), highlighting the proto-feminist elements that characterize both novels and drawing a comparative analysis of the two plots centered on the difficult journey of initiation of two young women physically and emotionally imprisoned by the laws of patriarchal society. Both novels follow a track of self-discovery through a progressive and circular development that shows below the surface plot, affirming social conventions, a submerged plot encoding rebellion. Through a semiotic analysis of the deep structure of the two novels my article intends to reveal a three-stage development of the protagonists, strictly connected to their progressive awakening to romantic and physical love. Moreover an analysis of the isotopic structure of the two texts will show how the dichotomy Nature vs. Culture undermines the two plots, from the micro to the macro levels of the texts. The conflict between Nature and Culture is at the origin of other thematic and figurative isotopies: love vs. marriage, physical vs. spiritual love, freedom vs. slavery, faith vs. religion, Creole vs. English, dark vs. light etc. These isotopies underline and support in both novels a distortion of the formalized conventions of love, highlighting the thematic conflict between woman’s individual desire and the limits set to her within a patriarchal society. 
In Romania:
On the Representations of Parent-Child Relationships in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Alina Bujor (Pintilii)
Cultural Intertexts, Vol 1-2, 2014, p.30

The paper aims at analysing the parent-child relationships in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, with special emphasis on the relationship between Jane Eyre, the protagonist of the novel, and her aunt, Mrs. Reed. For this purpose, it begins by presenting the traits of the domestic Victorian ideal as well as those of the so-called “transnormative family”, to ultimately show that the Victorian domestic ideal was not valid for everyone, which had a great impact on both parents and children in the process of upbringing. Then, the paper considers the representations of Victorian domestic
relationships in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, which the author of the novel uses to demonstrate that a strong character and an iron will, like those of the protagonist, can make a difference and change destinies.
In Ucrania:
Female Images of the Juvenile Work by Ch. Brontë "Stancliffe's Hotel" in Their Contrast and Variation
O. Besarab
УДК 82.09/801.73/82-27/821.161.2/82'06
м. Київ

The article deals with early unknown Ch. Brontë's juvenile creative work «Stancliffe's Hotel» (1838), one of the components o f the circle o f imaginary country of Angria. The study of this work will assist us in enlarging the gallery o f female images of the writer, will help us to see new variants of Brontë's woman.

by M. ( at January 21, 2015 12:30 AM

January 20, 2015

The Little Professor

To interview at conferences or not to interview at conferences, that is the Hamlet cliche

My work on a blog post about another novel nobody has read was interrupted by David Perlmutter's article in the CoHE, which argues that no, the conference interview should not die on the vine.  I think I remain under-convinced.

[As an aside: the argument against MLA interviews on the grounds of expense could be extended to conference-going in general for grad students, those not on the TT, junior faculty, &c.  Schuman et al. have been calling attention to MLA expenses because you have to incur them for interviews, but every domestic conference I've attended in recent years has cost $1K+ between travel, accomodations, registration, and not starving to death.  And by "not starving to death" I mean eating at cheap restaurants and, in some cases, packing breakfast in my luggage, not finding the swankiest eateries in town.  Some things can be finagled--finding a roommate to lower expenses being the most obvious--but travel often can't.  My college is generous with funding, but even so, our allowance usually covers no more than part of one conference; going to more than one means anteing up out of pocket.]

So, to go through Perlmutter's bullets:

"Expense."  There are some untested assumptions here. It is not a given that faculty will attend a big national conference "anyway": for me and many of my colleagues, the MLA is not necessarily a particularly relevant or useful conference, and faculty in other disciplines report having a similar relationship to their equivalent umbrella organization.  (Don't get me wrong: some years, the MLA has a lot that interests me; many other doesn't.)  And of course campus visits are pricey, but the whole point of phone/Skype interviews is that one can sort out the candidates beforehand, right?

"Up close and personal assessment."  The difficulty here in part derives from preparation--most graduate departments coach their students for the MLA interview (assuming they coach their students...) and not for phone/Skype interviews, which are a different skillset.  For example, someone Skyping needs to know some basic things, like where to position the chair and camera in order to simulate eye contact, how to neutralize the background so as to eliminate distractions, and so on, just as someone phoning has to learn how to compensate for missing physical cues (e.g., by erring on the side of concision in one's answers).  But, honestly, it's also a matter of taste, which is not an argument for or against.  I should also note that it's just as easy to make a bad impression during a ftf interview, so...

"Technological leveling." Now this, I think, is a legitimate concern: we cannot make cheery assumptions about candidates' access to a) high-quality internet connections, b) decent camera equipment, whether in a studio or on a computer, and c) suitable conditions.  A solid graduate program should be able to make all of these things available to their students, but contingent faculty (and, for that matter, faculty at resource-poor campuses) may not be able to muster all or even any of those things.  That being said, candidates should be given the opportunity to interview by Skype or phone, not just by Skype.  

"Comparisons in context."  Speaking of context, the comparison shopping analogy is perhaps not the best way of referring to people seeking jobs (although, in practice, goodness knows that candidates are objectified enough).  In any event, the idea that the conference interview serves as a neutral "shopping" site for all candidates does not engage with the class-based aspect of Schuman et al.'s critique, let alone the ways in which candidates have reported being positively disadvantaged by the conditions of conference interviewing (the dreaded hotel bedroom interview from campuses unavailable to afford a suite being the most notorious).  Perlmutter's suggestions for the advantages of conference interviewing seem somewhat up-and-down: yes, you can get practice "reading a room," but given that many candidates can now expect only a tiny handful of interviews, the opportunities for gaining this skill would appear to be minimal; "network," maybe; the magical "come and be interviewed right now," sure, unless your HR department wallops you hard for doing such a thing; and the "abandon all hope, ye who enter here" situation, also sure, except that in reality, that doesnt necessarily compute until you get to the campus interview.  


by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 20, 2015 11:20 PM


If Heathcliff wore a pair of Puma trainers

The Argus reviews Withering Looks at Connaught Theatre in Worthing last Saturday.
This award winning insight into the lives and works of the Brontë sisters was 90 minutes of inspired lunacy written and performed hilariously by Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox.
Appearing in the persona of volunteers from the National Institute For Bringing History To Life Society, the two actors embarked on a lecture with enacted biographical scenes and literary extracts. None of which were remotely treated with seriousness. Arts funding cuts meant only Emily and Charlotte appeared – Anne’s absences always ingeniously explained.
The writing was full of wit and invention with performances that never ceased to hit the mark as the writers and their creations were mercilessly caricatured.
Ryding provided great comedy as she morphed into Emily, forever going over the top about the wildness of the moors. She also got plenty of laughs in the minor roles as the cook and the mysterious neighbour, Mr Moorcock – innuendoes abounded.
Leading the fun stakes was the contribution from Fox – a true droll who came over as an amalgam of Joyce Grenfell fused with Miranda Hart.
The finale was a wicked send up of MGM’s Wuthering Heights and its stars, Olivier and Merle Oberon. (Barrie Jerram)
Beware of spoilers in this recap of episode 3 of season 5 of Downton Abbey on Houston Chronicle's Gray Matters.
There is nothing better for punching up a plot line than adding exotic foreigners, and luckily, the Russians are coming, and by that I mean for tea at the big house. Rose, whom I have underestimated, has read the Brontës and taken the Russians to their home on the boring moors, and Isobel knows all about them and Tolstoy and Gogol to boot. This is Wuthering Heights foreshadowing for the two stories of romance that hover over this episode, their truths starting to unfold: Baxter's confession ("the missing element of her story") that she stole for the love of a cruel cad, and that she "embraced it," and Lady Violet's seeming connection to Igor Kuragin--another reminder that the Baxters of this world, at least so far, pay and pay and pay, and the Lady Marys of this world get a tepid lecture and room service. I know: Not. Fair. (Doni M. Wilson)
And beware of spoilers too this recap of the latest goings-on in Coronation Street in the Mirror.
There was a tortured Steve, roaming the moors like he was Heathcliff, if Heathcliff wore a pair of Puma trainers and got told off a lot by his mum. (Caroline Corcoran)
Culturamas (Spain) reviews the novel Donde no estás by Gustavo Martín Garzo.
Las casas de antes estaban llenas de grietas así. En ellas se sucedían las generaciones y sus habitaciones se poblaban de secretos; zonas como las galerías secretas de El fantasma de la ópera, como el cuarto cerrado de Barba Azul, como la habitación de la mujer loca de Jane Eyre… zonas hurtadas a la razón donde realidad y sueños, adoración y violencia se confundían. (Translation)
A peek behind the scenes at the Brontë Parsonage Museum on their Facebook page: Patrick Brontë's sheets about to be laundered and his books being checked. The Daily Geekette enters on his third week Jane Eyre readalong.

by Cristina ( at January 20, 2015 11:16 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Jane Eyre: Creating an Imperial Commons

A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:
Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons
Editor(s): Antoinette Burton, Isabel Hofmeyr
Published: 2014
Duke University Press
ISBN: 978-0-8223-5827-5

Combining insights from imperial studies and transnational book history, this provocative collection opens new vistas on both fields through ten accessible essays, each devoted to a single book. Contributors revisit well-known works associated with the British Empire, including Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Thomas Macaulay's History of England, Charles H. Pearson's National Life and Character, and Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. They explore anticolonial texts in which authors such as C. L. R. James and Mohandas K. Gandhi chipped away at the foundations of imperial authority, and they introduce books that may be less familiar to students of empire. Taken together, the essays reveal the dynamics of what the editors call an "imperial commons," a lively, empire-wide print culture. They show that neither empire nor book were stable, self-evident constructs; each helped to legitimize the other.

Contributors. Tony Ballantyne, Elleke Boehmer, Catherine Hall, Isabel Hofmeyr, Aaron Kamugisha, Marilyn Lake, Charlotte Macdonald, Derek Peterson, Mrinalini Sinha, Tridip Suhrud, André du Toit.
(Via The Chronicle of Higher Education)

by M. ( at January 20, 2015 12:30 AM

January 19, 2015


'It would be great to get a copy of it'

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports that,
Oakwell Hall in Birstall will feature in the BBC’s new drama Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, due to be shown early this year. [...]
Eric Brown, heritage manager at Oakwell Hall, said: “The filming took place last year and they were here for over a month and I think people will be interested to see how they used Oakwell.
“There has been a history of filming at Oakwell for many years, the original silent version of Shirley was filmed here in the 1920s, and it would be great to get a copy of it.
“But since 2000 we have been a popular place for TV companies to film.
“We’ve taken images of how they’ve used the hall and we’re running tours to inform people about how Oakwell has been used for TV.” [...]
Being taken over by a film crew is nothing new for Oakwell Hall. A list of credits includes Wuthering Heights, The Secret Diaries of Anne Lister and Lost in Austen.
It was the location for the 1921 film of Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley and has also featured in Simon Schama’s History of Britain which was filmed by the BBC. (Joanne Douglas)
Of course, Oakwell Hall is said to have been the inspiration for Fieldhead in Shirley, so that would be the reason why they filmed the silent film there.

Speaking of houses, Radio Times has a 'Last Tango in Halifax travel guide' which includes
This elegant, ivy-clad, Grade II Jacobean manor on the edge of Brontë country features in a number of episodes in series two. (Jade Bremner)
RuhrNachrichten (Germany) reviews the Oberhausen stage adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
Gewalttätigkeit meist nur als Schattenspiele andeutend, gelingt Lily Sykes insgesamt eine sehr stimmungsvolle und einfühlsame Umsetzung, die durch die Kostüme von Ines Koehler eindeutig im viktorianischen England angesiedelt ist. Anja Schweitzer bringt als Erzählerin das Geschehen in Gang. Angela Falkenhan überzeugt als launisch-exzentrische, schließlich dem Wahnsinn verfallende Cathy. Peter Waros begegnet ihr als Heathcliff mit "Wild Child" von den Doors auf den Lippen, während Sergej Lubic als Edgar sie mit dem Vogelfänger-Lied aus der "Zauberflöte" umgarnt, natürlich auf Englisch. (Klaus Stübler) (Translation)
The Chronicle (Australia) features illustrator Sophie Blackhall-Cain and her exhibition Fanfiction at MARS on theGRID (Toowoomba).
Ms Blackhall-Cain has illustrated her life-long love affair with literature in her first solo exhibition Fanfiction, a reworking of her 20 favourite novels.
A few dead authors would probably be dancing in their graves at the digital artist's fresh and charming interpretation of their work.
Ms Blackhall-Cain moved to Toowoomba from Brisbane a year ago and always hoped for an exhibition at theGRID.
"It's such a unique space, there is nothing like it in Brisbane," she said.
Art and books are her two passions in life and Fanfiction gave her the opportunity to combine the two.
Her favourites, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to Wuthering Heights, have stuck with her for different reasons.
"They were resonant and beautiful. I'm a stickler for poetry and for me the story doesn't have to be amazing if the language is," she said.
"When I have nothing to illustrate, I illustrate whatever I'm reading.
"I realised that I would never have a chance to dedicate a lot of my time to illustrating many of my favourite books, so this show was a chance to breathe life into the select books which have helped me along my way." (Bev Lacey)
Another Brontëite in Torquay Herald Express:
Memory Lane continued to provide close-ups of many activities that coloured my past.
During lane treks I've bumped into lots of literary ghosts. And here are some on the list: William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Hazlit, Belloc, and Borrow; Edward Thomas, William Crossing, Housman, and Emily Brontë; Kilvert, Dafydd ap Gwilyn, Thomas Hardy, and Henry Williamson. (Brian Carter)
And yet another in The Hindu who feels compelled to add this warning:
This list of favourites is by no means complete. It is difficult to fit them all in here. But we also love you Brontë sisters, R.K. Narayan, Gerald Durrel, P.G. Wodehouse, Georgette Heyer… (Pankaja Srinivasan)
Vulpes Libris announces that this Friday will see another Charlotte vs Emily Brontë 'battle'. Ethili Yazar posts about Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at January 19, 2015 11:05 PM

News from Anywhere

The Reach of William Morris and Co.

Caricature of Morris by D.G. Rossetti, image via the Rossetti Archive (© The Trustees of the British Museum )

While searching through W. E. Henley’s Scots Observer lately for a conference paper on newspaper poetry, I encountered an anonymous satiric poem on Morris & Co. In the eyes of the satirist, clearly, Morris and Co. designs had spread everywhere. But the writer also zeroed in on what concerned Morris himself and continues to engage Morriseans today, the conflict between the ideal of beauty accessible to all and the high price of Morris & Co. goods. Here is the poem, from the 7 December 1889 Scots Observer (p. 65):

Playnte Dolorous

Who clothed my chairs with coloured chintz,
In arabesques of pear and quince
That make the very bravest wince?—
My Morris!

Who on my curtains told the tale
Of Arthur and the Holy Grail,
Yet built my bath of Chippendale?—
My Morris!

Who made my rooms (like chimney-shafts)
A mighty colony of draughts,
And then let loose the Arts and Crafts?—
My Morris!

Who smiled an earnest smile, and took
My one and only decent book,
‘That Saunderson* might have a look’?—
My Morris!

Who caused me such atrocious pain
With dinner plates (by Walter Crane),
The paint whereto no man may chain?—
My Morris!

Who built me in with painted glass
So that, by daylight or by gas,
My closest feres** do call me Ass?—
My Morris!

My couch me-seemeth full of stones;
Forth from my flesh protrude my bones;
Were we designed by Edward Jones,
My Morris?

Who sent me that preposterous bill?
And ah! who waiteth for it still?
Before you get it you may grill,
My Morris!

* T. J. Cobden-Saunderson (1840-1922), Arts and Crafts book binder
** An archaic word for friend or mate, here in keeping with the poem’s medieval title and reference to Arthurian legend

The poem responded not only to the popularity of Morris and Co. goods at this time but also, in part, to the second Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the New Gallery, which opened in October 1889. A number of papers reviewed the exhibition. The 12 October 1889 Saturday Review, for example, noted the book bindings of Saunderson, complaining that some were so tight “that some of the volumes will not close properly” but acknowledging that his “gold tooling is simply superb. In beauty of design and manipulative skill we have never seen anything like it” (p. 406). The Saturday Review also reported that Morris and Co. had 46 examples of textiles on display in the exhibition (p. 407).

The Scots Observer itself reviewed the show on 19 October 1889. It spent little time on the details of individual objects. Instead the review’s most telling remark was this: “Plainly, ‘None but Socialists need apply’ is the revered maxim of the Society of the Arts and Crafts, whose second Exhibition has been organised and manœuvred by Mr. Walter Crane and a few friends” (p. 602).

A conservative paper, the Scots Observer was resolutely anti-Socialist. In printing “Playnte Dolorous,” Henley could chaff middle-class readers who submitted to the fashionable taste inspired by Morris and Co. goods, only to rue the bills, and also snipe at Morris and other Arts and Crafts designers who advocated Socialism while reaping profits. If the poem is hostile to Morris, it nonetheless testifies to his influence—his “reach”—in 1889.

--Linda K. Hughes, Ph.D.
Addie Levy Professor of Literature
Texas Christian University

by Clara Finley ( at January 19, 2015 05:48 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Teefury Does it Again – This Time with Shoes!

We love Teefury, mostly because they love Alice.  And now they have sneakers!  With the Cheshire Cat!  Grab ‘em now!

by Matt at January 19, 2015 05:00 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion January 1815

Here we see a trend. Another wide trim around the hem for January

Unusually, we have the back view.

Here is the description from Ackermann's Repository for January 1815

Evening Dress

Light pink satin gown, trimmed round the bottom with a lace flounce, laid on richly, worked and headed with tufts of the same; short full sleeve, trimmed with lace. A shell lace tippet. 
White kid gloves, drawn over the elbow. An India fan of carved ivory. Slippers of white kid. Full crop head-dress, ornamented with flowers.
And a further tidbit of interest
The Fashions for this month, and those for the whole of last year, are from the designs of Mrs. Bean, of Albemarle-street. This lady, since her visit to Paris, has incorporated in her dresses, in the style of French costume, all that is to be admired in the exuberant varieties which that country produces; and has moderated the same by a fancy governed by a chaste feeling peculiar to herself. We were much delighted on viewing the splendid dresses in the Magazin des Modes of this lady.
I really like this gown, at least from this view. I think the shell lace tippet, shawl in s nice touch.
Until next time….

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 19, 2015 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


The Catalan Tenant

There are still languages in which the Brontë novels are first translated into. This is the first translation into Catalan of Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
La Llogatera de Wildfell HallAnne Brontë
Translated by Joan Antoni Cerrato
El Gall Editor
Col·lecció: El Cabàs, 2014
ISBN: 978-84-92574-96-4

La llogatera de Wildfell Hall conté una ironia tràgica i un enginy agosarat. Ens conta veritats d’una manera apassionada, a voltes tot fent ús d’ecos bíblics. Aquesta obra mestra porta l’indiscutible distintiu de les germanes Brontë. El llibre sencer és narrat en primera persona, cosa que fa més versemblants els sentiments dels personatges, que són retratats amb acurada precisió. Responen a una simbologia ben concreta, especialment pel que fa a Arthur Huntingdon, el marit cruel i viciós.
The publisher's blog interviews the translator here.

by M. ( at January 19, 2015 12:30 AM

January 18, 2015

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Alice150 Kicking Off the Year with a Big Article in the NYT

So great news for Carrollians, the larger world is starting to notice that this year is the 150th anniversary of AAIW.  And what better way to start than with a nice article in the New York Times.

by Matt at January 18, 2015 10:46 PM


Emotionally-charged masterpiece

The Yorkshire Post lists the cultural highlights of the year in Yorkshire. Including the revival of Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights production:
Wuthering Heights
With an original score by celebrated composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, known for his West End and Broadway hits Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, Northern Ballet brings Emily Brontë’s romantic and emotionally-charged masterpiece to life on stage. Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, March 18 to 21.
Paul Whitington in The Irish Independent disagrees with the selection of Wuthering Heights 2011  as one of the best films of this decade:
Of course, all 'best of' lists are ultimately subjective, but while I agreed with a good number of Mr [Peter] Bradshaw's choices [in The Guardian], I found some of them a little baffling. He was full of praise, for instance, for Andrea Arnold's 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, which started with the novel premise of casting a black actor as Heathcliff. But that turned out to be a right-on gimmick in a film that sucked all the poetry and Gothic splendour out of Emily Brontë's novel, and left us with something that seemed like a depressing episode of EastEnders.
dna (India) interviews Chinese writer Anchee Min, who remembers a curious fact from the days of the Cultural Revolution:
You worked in close proximity to Mao's wife, Jiang Qing or Madam Mao. Can you describe her?
We were sent to Beijing to watch Madam Mao's favourite Western movies to learn the technique of filmmaking. The movie was Jane Eyre and The Sound of Music. It surprised me that these were Madam Mao's favourite movies, for they were full of human emotions. I didn't have personal contact with Madam Mao, but people who did told me that she was quite a character, hysterical. She told everyone that she was Mao's "foot-soldier". She produced eight propaganda modern operas for a billion people to watch, to be brain-washed to worship Mao. She succeeded and the movies were an effective tool. (Marisha Karwa)
USA Today talks about women in tech works:
As if transcribed from Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, rallying behind "girls" at work, girl can connote a woman who has not yet secured a partner, especially past a certain age. If that woman is actually attractive, the tokenism language surrounding her performance has various daggers from which to devalue her work ranging from the example above to, if actually effective in the role – a bitch. (Jessica Gomez)
ScreenCrush talks about previous films by Cary Fukunaga:
 Fukunaga’s grasp of atmosphere is incredible, and it’s the biggest takeaway from his adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre,’ which nails a romantic but subtle and often disquieting gothic vibe. (Britt Hayes)
Shannon Rigney reviews  both Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice; eyeriss publishes on flickr several Wuthering Heights covers, including a 1964 one illustrated by Albert John Pucci.

by M. ( at January 18, 2015 11:46 AM

Portrait and Movie

Today, January 18th, at the National Portrait Gallery:
Portrait of the Day: The Brontë Sisters
18 January 2015, 12:00
Room 24
Gallery Talk

Charlotte, Emily and Anne were the authors of some of our best loved novels from the Victorian era, including Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Halland yet during their own lifetime they were criticised for their strong, independant minded female heroines. The portrait we have today, long thought lost, is one of the only surviving images of all three sisters and the story of its discovery atop a cupboard is almost as intriguing as the story of the sisters themselves. Join us to learn about them both.
And in Hamburg, Germany, Wuthering Heights 2011 will be screened at the Metropolis Kino, part of the New British Cinema  series:
Andrea Arnolds Adaption von Emily Brontës Klassiker ›Sturmhöhe‹ legt ihr ganzes Gewicht auf die Bilder. Jede Pflanze und jedes Tier, jeder Stein und jeder Regentropfen ist hier anders beschaffen und will von der Kamera genauestens untersucht sein. Der Sinnesrausch der Bilder ist aber nicht losgelöst von der Geschichte. Vielmehr erklärt die Intensität der Eindrücke – verstärkt durch ein exzellentes Sounddesign –, wie die Liebe zwischen der kleinbürgerlichen Catherine und dem Findelkind Heathcliff so fatale Ausmaße annehmen kann. Für laue Brisen und laue Gefühle ist hier kein Platz. Umgeben von dramatischer Landschaft und tosendem Wind scheinen die beiden keine andere Wahl zu haben, als sich gegenseitig zu verfallen.« 

by M. ( at January 18, 2015 12:22 AM

January 17, 2015

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

[I'm sure there are others, but they're on the other side of the country.]

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 17, 2015 01:53 AM


Jane Eyre in Telford and Withering Looks on tour

A couple of British theatre alerts for today, January 17:

In Oakengates, Telford, Shropshire, an amateur performance of the Gordon & Caird Jane Eyre musical:
Oakengates Theatre presents
Jane Eyre
17 Jan - 18 Jan
Venue: The Place

Jane Eyre is a musical drama with music and lyrics by composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and a book by John Caird, based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2000.A dramatic interpretation of the ever-popular novel, Jane Eyre is also blessed with a luxuriant score, haunting and memorable music, and crisp, intelligent lyrics which speak from the very heart of this tragic and romantic story.It promises to be yet another impressive winter production filled with the life and energy that TACT bring to all of their performances. By arrangement with Josef Weinberger.
And LipService Theatre  returns to their Withering Looks comic play with a brief UK tour:
An authentic insight into the lives and works of those three Brontë sisters (well, two of them actually, Anne's just popped out for a cup of sugar). Who is the Brontës' mysterious neighbour, Mr. Moorcock of Ravaged Heath House, and what does the maniacal laughter coming from his attic mean? Do unfulfilled souls really wander over the wild and heather-clad moors? Who should Cathy marry, Heathcliff or David Niven?
Directed by Noreen Kershaw
Designed by Kevin Wrench and Andrew Franks
Music by Ian Heywood
15th – 16th January,  Yvonne Arnaud Guildford
17th January,  Connaught Theatre Worthing
20th January, CAST Doncaster
21st – 24th January, Sale Waterside
25th Marc, Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
26th March, Blackwood Miners Institute, Caerphilly
27th March, Market Theatre, Ledbury
28th May,  Theatre Royal Bury, St Edmunds

by M. ( at January 17, 2015 12:37 AM

Brontë housemates

More on the Brontë Parsonage Museum figures for last year today in Keighley News.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth said its figures were still being finalised, but that there had been a slight fall in visitors.
"The first half of the year in particular was down a little," said a spokesman.
"We moved our admissions desk at the beginning of the year which meant we opened three weeks later than normal for the new season, so we started off on the back foot and were then playing catch up.
"Things picked up in the second half of the year and we anticipate that our admissions income will slightly exceed budget.
"The relocation of the admissions desk was a big improvement and also we've seen a significant increase in gift aid."
The museum opens for the new season on February 1. (Alistair Shand)
President of the Brontë Society Bonnie Greer has been appointed to the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for a one-year term according to this press release.

And still locally, The West Australian suggests a trip to Hebden Bridge:
North of Hebden Bridge, Bronte Country looms. You can explore the brooding landscapes immortalised in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights - and visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, set in the home that Emily shared with her writer sisters Charlotte and Anne. (Steve McKenna)
The Bristol Post features 'a spare bedroom in a Grade II listed building in Clifton'
with the deep tones and rich fabric redolent of a Brontë or Dickensian scene with a modern twist. 
The Brontë Parsonage Museum Facebook page shows Tracy Chevalier visiting the museum.

by Cristina ( at January 17, 2015 12:19 AM

January 16, 2015

The Little Professor

Daniel O'Thunder

Cross-country flights are, if nothing else, good for getting books read.  One of the novels I finished was Ian Weir's neo-Victorian Daniel O'Thunder (2009), which, like many neo-Victorian novels, draws heavily upon sensation fiction--most noticeably Wilkie Collins in this instance.  However, the narrative also owes something to Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and, more loosely, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (although, no doubt unintentionally, there's also a bit of True History of Joshua Davidson here as well).  Just as significantly, the novel owes something to the New Testament.  Five first-person narrators (one of whom appears only once) and one third-person narrator (whose bits are also written by one of the first-person narrators--more on that in a moment) relate their encounters with and the influence of the charismatic Daniel O'Thunder, a former Irish-pugilist-turned-quasi-Messianic-evangelist in early Victorian England.  All four of our main narrators--or, at least, the purported main narrators, of which more in a moment--are a bit on the scummy side, although less or more redeemable: there's Jack, a failed clergyman who comes to London to make his living in the theatre, and who turns out to be (understatement) a seriously unpleasant piece of work; Nell, a foul-mouthed adolescent prostitute; John Thomas ("Jaunty") Rennert, a conman who recruited Daniel into the army and later managed him as a fighter; and William Piper, a hack journalist with a taste for the sensational.  All of the narrators figure at some point in each other's segments, with Jack and Jaunty, the most egotistical and self-inflating characters, tending to fare rather poorly when they appear elsewhere; that being said, the narratives do not completely subvert each other, although Jack turns out to be excessively fond of the sin of omission.  (Less so once you realize that he also authors the "Devil" sections.)    

As I've said, one of the novel's most obvious intertexts is the Bible itself.  The illiterate Daniel, who takes on the aura of a Christ figure, consorts with the poor and downtrodden, gathers disciples, and at one or two points, appears to work miracles--most notably, raising the dead (well, possibly).   When he rescues some of his followers from a fire, he looks as though he "harrowed Hell" (320).  Nevertheless, he's also not exactly the pattern of forgiveness--he doesn't react well when Jaunty does him in during his trial, let alone when he thinks that William still believes in the guilt of an about-to-be-executed friend--and as Redeemer figures go, his pugilistic profession and disinterest in chastity make him an awkward fit for Christ.  What is more important, then, is how the other characters figure his exploits and charisma.  Piper is the most skeptical of the four, supportive yet, as he admits, still unable to make up his mind if O'Thunder's behavior derives from "madness, or something else" (310)--he's the novel's Doubting Thomas, a job he shares with one-time narrator Peggy Sherwood, who worries that "[y]ou cannot have this talk of raising corpses from the dead--especially when it might be true" (294).  Both Piper and Peggy understand and, to a certain extent, fear Daniel as the man who brings not peace, but a sword.  Jack, by contrast, thinks of his narrative as a "Book of Daniel," and links his sometimes loose way with the facts to "Matthew and Mark and Luke and John" (8); later, a physician compares Jack's (momentary) conversion experience to that of Saul on the road to Damascus (172).  Significantly, Jack refers to himself as "the disciple he [Daniel] loved" (257), associating himself with the Gospel of John.  Nevertheless, he misses Daniel's most potent claim to work miracles, the resurrection (maybe) of pugilist Hen Gully, which is witnessed by Nell and Piper, and certainly overstates Daniel's affection (which is actually reserved for Nell).  Nell, who eventually flees to America with Daniel, echoes Mary Magdalene, not least because she has a vision of Daniel after his death.   Jaunty, who betrays Daniel in court, is, as Piper says, Judas (336).  

In a way, Jack sets up the novel less as a parodic Bible and more an extreme reading of what he claims is already there: "Much of what we need to know can only come from the Devil.  Much of what we think we know already does, for the Devil indeed wrote crucial segments of the Holy Bible" (386). In this mockery of debates over Biblical authorship--an Abyssal rather than Higher Criticism, as it were--the Bible turns into one long thwarted bromance between the Devil, who yearned to be "God's special companion," and God, who "pushed him away"--with horrible results, of course (387).  This reading of the bromance between Good and Evil insists that Evil's behavior derives, not from anything innate, but from Good's petulant rejection of Evil's proffered love.  Jack's logic invokes the spectre of both the abuser (you made me treat you badly) and the stalker; even though, as we discover, he is the closest the novel comes to an embodiment of pure evil, Jack cannot see himself as anything but the thwarted, obsessed lover, both of Daniel and of Nell.  When, after the riots, Jack betrays Nell to her former madam, he sadly tells her that "I gave you the opportunity to love me, Nell.  All my life, I have given women just like you the opportunity to love me.  But all of you--you've always failed" (324).  Jack's perverse reading of the Bible thus reflects his own perverse reading of love, in which the man expects love as his due from women (it's telling that at one point, he sends Nell a gift of her own locket).   By contrast, although Daniel isn't Christ, other characters consistently experience his love in terms of giving, especially Nell.  As she puts it, despite being irredeemably tone-deaf, being with Daniel always made her feel "like this was the moment I'd finally be able to sing" (279).  Jack gives nothing, either as a lover or, one suspects, as a narrator.     

That is, in fact, one of the problems haunting our own reading of the book, since it's not clear to what extent Jack's symptomatic reading of the Bible extends to his own narrative method.  Jack is the dominant narrator; in fact, he may well be the only narrator, since he informs us at the beginning that although he has "collected" other narratives relating to Daniel, he has also on occasion "had to go beyond an editor's role and conjure the tale as the teller would surely have told it, had he or she the opportunity" (8).  As Jack does not do us the favor of explaining when he invents another character's voice, the novel calls its own plurality into question: are there really multiple points of view in this text, or--mimicking its own real-life authorship--a single author, who admits to a "vivid imagination" and "an instinct for the dramatic" (11),  "conjuring" up the pretense of different voices? When Nell, for example, notes that the transplanted Jack is "a bit dramatic" (40), is it an ironic echo, or Jack's inky signature seeping through her tale?   Just as murky are the apparenty confessional "Devil" sections, as Jack warns us in the beginning that "I am not the Devil" (7) and consistently objectifies the Devil as someone/something other than himself; if the reader plausibly objects that the Devil is obviously Jack's own evil nature, we're still left with some of the weirder claims that Jack makes for him (he's...on fire, in effect).  Far from being unitary subjects in their own right, the narrators start to fragment on close expection.   Much as Jack's fire-and-brimstone sermon at the beginning is, in part, patchwork "Calvin" and "Dante" (13), a single-authored speech nevertheless marked by other voices, so too do the narrators "themselves" possibly bear the signs of another, more inimical speaker.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 16, 2015 04:36 AM


Jane Eyre in Utah

In Washington, Utah, a new amateur production of Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre. The Musical:
Brigham’s Playhouse presents
Jane Eyre. The Musical
Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon. Book by John Caird.
January 16 through February 28, 2015

Boasting five Tony Award nominations, Jane Eyre tells the story of a young girl who longs for a better life than what she has been afforded. After losing her parents and being put in a horrific orphanage by her heartless Aunt, Jane becomes a governess in the mystical Thornfield Hall. There she meets the proprietor, Edward Fairfax Rochester, and begins one of the greatest romances ever written. Based on the epic novel by Charlotte Brontë and adapted by Paul Gordon and John Caird, this beautiful musical will captivate your heart and attest to the true nature of enduring love.
Complete cast here. More information in St George News or St George Independent.

by M. ( at January 16, 2015 12:03 AM

January 15, 2015


The earnest Brontës from Yorkshire

The Telegraph and Argus looks at the area's visitors figures from last year and while the Tour de France seems to have generally helped,
The Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth said its figures were still being finalised, but that there had been a slight fall in visitors. (Alistair Shand)
Coincidentally, the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page wonders when its followers first visited the Parsonage and points in the direction of this 1977 documentary of Joan Bakewell visiting the museum. Also, it's the closed period over at the museum, but look at this gorgeous picture of how the Parsonage was looking yesterday.

Still in Yorkshire, Ilkley Gazette reviews the book Yorkshire Wisdom, which is
filled with inspiring and insightful quotations from the likes of Alan Bennett, the Brontës, Jarvis Cocker and Dame Judi Dench — as well as “Gary from Leeds”, “Ian the plumber” and “database administrator Bob”. They include “You must plan to be spontaneous”, from Bradford-born David Hockney; and this from Isla, a full-time mum from North Yorkshire: “There’s something heartwarming about an old couple still in love, living as one and appreci
ating every last moment together – heartwarming and heartbreaking”.
Alibi has enjoyed reading Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre.
Recently I had the pleasure of reading the new book Texts from Jane Eyre—and, by doing so, of getting to spend some time with the mind of its brilliant, hilarious author, Mallory Ortberg. The book’s premise is simple: Literary characters and authors from throughout history had access to cellphones and text messaging—and here are their insanely funny texts. [...]
There's Mr. Rochester texting with Jane Eyre (“I KNEW IT / DID YOU LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY ATTIC WIFE / IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT” / “yes / Absolutely”). (Mike Smith)
Flavorwire features the book Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors by Sarah Stodola. One of the 18 authors mentioned in the book is Margaret Atwood:
During the first decade or so of her writing career, certain authors had a clear influence on Atwood’s own work. George Orwell helped inspire her taste for dystopias, along with Brave New World and Darkness at Noon. She read 1984 as an adolescent, a few years after it came out in 1949, around the same time she discovered Edgar Allan Poe, E. Nesbit, and Andrew Lang’s folktales. Sweeping English novels like George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights also had an early impact. (Elisabeth Donnelly)
The novel seems to have made an impact in this columnist from The Daily Star who was
just plain disturbed by Wuthering Heights. (Sarah Anjum Bari)
Actualitté (France) shares a wonderful infographic which shows how old certain authors were when they published their first book (and the rest of their books as well). Charlotte Brontë is there.
Rien d'illogique à ce qu'un auteur ait besoin de quelques années pour affûter sa plume – avec des contre-exemples fameux comme Charlotte Brontë, que Jane Eyre envoie dans les sphères à 32 ans, ou JK Rowling qui publie Harry Potter à 33 ans. Même scénario d'ailleurs pour Stephenie Meyer, qui à 33 ans sort Twilight, avec le succès que l'on connaît. (Clément Solym) (Translation)
The New Yorker has an article on the 'King of Weird Fiction', Jeff VanderMeer and his work.
The books, in other words, touch on all sorts of interesting subjects, and evoke many modern problems. Even so, topical resonance alone can’t account for their appeal. There are reasons to read novels beyond what they’re “about.” Just as only “Wuthering Heights” has the certain, special mood of “Wuthering Heights,” so these books show you scenes that you won’t find elsewhere. (Joshua Rothman)
Shirley Williams, daughter of Vera Brittain whose book Testament of Youth has just been adapted for the big screen, speaks about the adaptation and her mother in Spectator.
[Alicia] Vikander certainly captures the earnestness. By Williams’s admission her mother was no bundle of laughs. ‘I don’t know if I’ve got a great sense of humour. My mother had virtually none. The white crosses were so planted in her mind it was almost impossible for her to see the world as funny. You just couldn’t be a distinguished writer without being pretty earnest. Look at the Brontës.’ As the film enjoys showing us, Brittain channelled all her frivolity into fashion. She was quite the clothes-horse. ‘Don’t look at me as an example,’ says her daughter, decked out in a frills-free tweed twinset. (Jasper Rees)
The Monthly (Australia) reckons that
The lazy word for music like [Tim] Hecker’s is apocalyptic – what he reaches for, more particularly, is the sublime. Listening tonight, as low frequencies judder through the floorboards and skittering patterns of distortion mimic a strong wind, I picture the moors of Yorkshire, where I recently walked: the remote eeriness of the landscape, its slippage between somewhere inhabited and somewhere haunted, where noises manifest on the air that sound like human voices but are not. The Brontës would have understood music like Hecker’s – they would have loved it. (Anwen Crawford)
GrubStreet posts about Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at January 15, 2015 11:54 PM

Regency Ramble

The Regency Romance Turns 80

Can it really be 80 years since Georgette Heyer began our beloved and most popular genre? Apparently so.

My father introduced me to her books, the old romantic. He loved them and we used to fight to be the first to read the book brought home from the library.  I have read them all, many many times and along with those lovely stories comes lovely memories of home and family.

Join the Beau Monde Blog as we celebrate this event.  The first blog appears here. After today you will find at least one article a month discussing each of her books.  Mine will show up in June.

Until next time......

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 15, 2015 11:00 AM

The Little Professor

In case you're wondering

...An Academy Award really is a bit on the heavy side.  It's not like you want someone to go, "Hey, catch!" (unless you're prepared to experience serious bodily harm).   If nothing else, they must make excellent dumbbells.  I suspect my relative lack of upper-body strength disqualifies me from winning an Oscar at any time in the future--too much danger of my dropping the thing during the telecast (and you know how embarrassing that would be).  Someone needs to do a survey of Oscar-nominated performers' gym attendance in the weeks leading up to the ceremony.  

(No, I didn't win an Academy Award.  Yes, I did get to hold one this afternoon.)  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 15, 2015 05:18 AM

January 14, 2015


Haworth villagers for Council

Bonnie Greer continues her 'campaign' to make the people of Haworth feel included in the Brontë Society. As the Yorkshire Post reports,
Brontë Society president Bonnie Greer has called for local people in Haworth to consider running for leadership roles in the literary group.
In a new year address sent to members following a turbulent year, Ms Greer said she wants to see Society members who live in the village to stand for election for voluntary posts on the Society’s Council.
The American-born writer said: “We must engage even more with Haworth and we’re lucky and unique to be situated in a living and thriving village. I would recommend, for example, that villagers stand for Council.
“We must bring our membership age down in order to ensure that our beloved Society and Museum continue into the 21st century.”
Her comments follow months of turmoil which saw angry exchanges between Society members and the sudden departures of its executive director and chairman.
During the internal wrangling, critics called for Haworth’s Parsonage Museum to be run by a Trust rather than the Society’s council.
Ms Greer told members: “Personally I don’t want to see the Society become a Trust, separating the Museum from the members. The Museum belongs to you, and I will support your right to keep it and have it taken care of by a Council elected by you, the Members.”
She said “grievances” aired by some members last year had led to a “rather expensive” extraordinary general meeting in October.
She added: “Council and staff have done everything possible to alleviate reputational damage and to ensure the business of the Society and Museum has not lost momentum.”
Her letter contains nomination papers for election to the Council. The Society is seeking to fill the posts of three honorary officers, who are standing down, and at least one other post. Ballot results will be declared on June 6.
The Society is keen to receive nominations from people with skills in tourism/visitor attractions, press/journalism/marketing, IT/digital technology and publishing. (Andrew Robinson)
Still in Yorkshire, Dalesman features the 2015 Rugby World Cup advert where there
is a Yorkshireman high atop a moor, enjoying a cream tea and a copy of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, while accompanied by a tuba player, highlighting the area’s famed brass band legacy. (Colin Todd)
The Derry Journal claims to have found the real life inspiration for Wuthering Heights (one of many claims):
It’s perhaps best known for the story of tragic Half Hanged John McNaughton.
But a little known fact about the historic Prehen House in Derry is that it’s believed to have been the inspiration behind Emily Brontë’s epic novel Wuthering Heights.
The Wuthering Heights link and John McNaughton are just two of the subjects covered in a series of historic tours which will take place at Prehen House this weekend. [...]
And the story of John McNaughton remains the house’s biggest selling point, despite the various versions of his story which have been told down the years.
John McNaughton was a friend of the Knox family. In 1761 Mary Ann Knox who was just 15 became besotted with McNaughton and the two began a relationship. McNaughton convinced Mary Ann to marry him in secret. But her father Andrew Knox found out their plan and forbid it — he believed McNaughton only wanted her considerable dowry, to continue his gambling. When Mary Ann was travelling to Dublin with her father on November 10, McNaughton held up the carriage to try and elope with the girl. The shoot-out went wrong and McNaughton accidentally killed Mary Ann. McNaughton was sentenced to hang for his crime but on the gallow the rope broke. Local legend says he was offered the opportunity to escape but declined, as he did not want to be remembered as a half-hanged man.
Ironically McNaughton became infamous as ‘half hanged’ and his ghostly presence has been said to have been seen in Prehen.
Downstairs you can see the actual wheels from the coach in which Mary Anne Knox was shot.
“People know the story better than the house,” said Colin. “During the tours visitors will get to see practically all of the house and hear the entire history. We were very lucky that the year before last Queen’s University Belfast visited and dug up the old borne in the grounds. Amazingly they found an old fort out there and a tower.”
Colin explains how there’s a strong suspicion that Emily Brontë could have based her novel Wuthering Heights on the tragic love story of John McNaughton and Mary Anne Knox.
“Look back at that situation in the 1760s,” he said. “This was a love story, a great romance. He was brought into the family. Then she leaves him and he comes back and wreaks havoc and revenge. There was quite an outrage at the time. There were contemporary articles written about it all over England and news would have travelled very fast.
“Patrick Brontë grew up in County Down, he would have known all about it. He was a clergy man and a teacher and educated his daughters himself. It would be strange if he didn’t tell them this story. There are so many similarities between elements of the Wuthering Heights and what happened here,
“One imagines Emily Brontë must have heard the story.” (Erin Hutcheon)
Express Milwaukee reviews the Florentine Opera performances of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights.
After a long absence from the performing stage, audiences had a chance to hear Wuthering Heights, Carlisle Floyd’s unique 1958 incarnation of the Emily Brontë classic, in an exhilarating concert presentation by the Florentine Opera at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. Surprisingly, Floyd’s riveting score supplants sentimentality with a dramatically polyphonic, unflagging steam of music rich in dissonant, ear-catching harmonies.
Floyd creates a surprisingly sophisticated, contemporary musical intensity; without exaggerating the dramatic tension, the opera remains faithful to the original story. The emotional tensions are taut and never seem extreme. The score feels fresh and original, as if consciously independent of its famous source material, yet not particularly melodic in a sentimental sense. Whether or not this remains faithful to Brontë’s original conception of the metaphysical aspects of her love story remains a matter of conjecture. The emotional extremes in Floyd’s score leave little room for tenderness, but his characters have great dimensionality. The music’s impetus often resembles Samuel Barber in its sophisticated determination to identify itself as an original 20th-century work, and not a sentimental derivative of an English classic.
While the operatic stage cannot conjure up the moors, film buffs will be reminded that much of the libretto is directly derived from both the 1939 film and the novel. If truth be told, many lines are better served spoken than sung. However, the magnificent closing scenes of both film and novel are duly acknowledged in the libretto. Many will feel that the musical intensity, which defines Floyd’s commitment to the power of the conclusion of Wuthering Heights, is no small compensation.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under Conductor Joseph Mechavich played this complex score with an easy aplomb as if they had been long familiar with it. The cast was uniformly excellent. As Heathcliff, Kelly Markgraf cut quite a figure and would have been great in a staged production. His authoritative baritone resounded powerfully at all times. As Kathy, soprano Georgia Jarman tackled some treacherous high notes but remained steadfast. As Isabella, the neglected wife, the attractive Heather Buck performed admirably, as did Chad Shelton as Hindley and Matthew Burns as the elder Earnshaw. Suzanne Mentzer as Nelly the servant was equally effective. (Steve Spice)
While the Star-Telegram reviews The Book Club Play:
Like the page-turners that stubbornly end up being discussed in The Book Club Play, Karen Zacarias’ comedy is slight, cute and occasionally infuriating, but its area premiere at Dallas Theater Center is ultimately entertaining.
That might be the same reaction that serious bibliophiles — like some characters in the play — might have to books like Twilight or The Da Vinci Code. Hey, perhaps those who were among the first to read novels we now consider literary hallmarks, like Melville’s Moby-Dick or Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights or Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, might have felt similarly about those works. (Mark Lowry)
San Diego State University interviews Professor Mary Galbraith whose course, "Twisted British Novels" explores crucial literary periods including the Romantic and Victorian Ages.
My sense of a great author is someone who is masterfully articulate but who knows how to get out of their own way and let the selection process emanate from a layer of self not normally accessible to consciousness. Thus, in Twisted Brits, we will speculate about the ways in which the primal experiences of Mary Shelley, the Brontës and Charles Dickens find expression in their novels.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner features Kirklees Council's project on Mary Taylor.
She was a feisty, independent character who was a pioneer for generations.
Yes, there was certainly something about Mary.
Mary Taylor, that is, who as well as being a friend and inspiration to famous author Charlotte Brontë, attracted international attention in her own right for her unusually-independent lifestyle.
Mary was born and lived in Red House at Gomersal and is now to be the subject of a new project by Kirklees Council.
Seen as one of Britain’s first feminists, Mary Taylor flouted the accepted norms of 19th Century society to lead a life of travel and adventure.
Now visitors to the museum can learn about this extraordinary Victorian woman through a quiz, ‘There’s Something About Mary Taylor’, that will uncover her incredible story as they explore the house.
Mary Taylor, who was born and lived in the Red House at Gomersal, flouted the accepted norms of 19th century society.
During her life, Mary ran a business, led mountain climbing expeditions and advocated feminist views.
Born in 1817 into a woollen merchant’s family at Red House, Mary Taylor gradually grew away from her traditional West Riding roots.
She became a friend and inspiration to Charlotte Brontë and attracted international attention.
Challenging the strictures of the time she taught boys in Germany, she emigrated alone to New Zealand in 1845, and she wrote three books.
When she returned to West Yorkshire in 1860, Mary contributed to the history of the women’s movement by writing articles for a magazine called The Victoria.
In her articles Mary outlined her feminist views, for instance calling on women to earn money to look after themselves so they were not dependent on men.
The free quiz will run from this week until Sunday, March 29. Normal house admission charges apply: adult £2.50, child £1 and family £6.
The museum’s winter opening times are Tuesday to Thursday 11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-4pm. From March, the museum is open Tuesday to Thursday 11am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-5pm. Access is via stairs. (Neil Atkinson)
This columnist from The Huffington Post recalls spending her
adolescence locked in my room, angry and hopeful, reading about what love looked like, and felt like. Love felt cold sometimes, like when I kept my teddy bears close to me to make sure they stayed warm. It felt like my heart swimming in my chest when Anne finally professed and reciprocated her love to Gilbert on Anne of Green Gables. It looked like a puppet, as if there was a string somewhere under Mr. Rochester's left rib, tying him tightly to little plain Jane Eyre. (Madina Lawlis)
Côté Maison (France) has an article on Gravetye Manor in Sussex:
Des fenêtres du manoir, on s'attend à voir passer une héroïne de Jane Austen ou des soeurs Brontë se promenant jusqu'au lac, passant sous les chênes et tilleuls centenaires, panier et sécateurs sous le bras, cueillant dans le sous-bois des brassées de fleurs ou jouant sur les grandes pelouses. (Cléophée de Turckheim) (Translation)
Manuela Cappon has imagined covers for Brontë novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The Sunny Patch has read and Wordarts has reread Wuthering Heights. Daily Muse Books posts a Jane Eyre Flow Chart; Pages Unbound reviews Shirley; Paul Wake Baker reviews Jane Eyre 2011.

by Cristina ( at January 14, 2015 11:27 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Felix Bracquemond, some prints

 photo Bracquemondcorot.jpg


 photo BracquemondLeMontSaintMichel.jpg

Momt Saint-Michel

 photo BracquemondLesMouettes.jpg

Les Mouettes

January 14, 2015 09:23 AM


Scholars from all over the world

Recent Brontë-related papers published just all over the world. From Indonesia, China, India or Greece:
Cruelty in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights"Fansisko Ch. Manatar, Elizabeth Zuska Oroh, Olga Rorintulus
Jurnal Fakultas Bahasa Dan Seni - Kompetensi,  Vol 2, No 4 (2014)
This research is aimed at revealing cruelty, the cause and the impact in Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”, It is categorized as qualitative research because all the data used are in the form of words. They were collected from the primary source which is the novel itself and the secondary sources which are from books literary books and internet media used to support the analysis. The researcher used psychological approach to reveal cruelty in the novel. The result of this research shows  how Heathcliff’s cruelty is revealed in this story, what are the causes of Heathcliff;s cruelty and its impacts. Heathcliff takes his revenge to all the people that ever hurt him. He takes their happiness and destroys their life.
Devil or Victim-An Analysis of the Characterization of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights段丽芳
Overseas English 2014, (11)
The character Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights is a controversial character that has aroused severe debate among critics and readers long since it was published in 1847. He is considered is a cruel devil and his acts in this novel are too far beyond a nor?mal human’s moral acceptance. However, in spit of physical strength and his power of revenge, he is in a way also a victim of love and society. His destiny is doomed since he came into this world as the one who is“The Other”to take the revenge.
Feminist Literary Criticism and Wuthering HeightsBiswanath Mahapatra
European Academic Research, Vol II, Issue 9/ December 2014
Feminist criticism is the most outstanding discovery in the realm of theory as well as in the world of women. Feminist criticism comes in literary world in many forms and feminist critics have various goals. In them, some have been interested to rediscover the works of previous women writers who were over looked by male dominated society and others have started to review the books by male authors from a woman’s point of view. Now a days a number of contemporary feminists have turned to topics as various as women in post colonial societies, women’s autobiographical writings, lesbians and literature in the construction of feminine gender. 
Lord Byron and Wuthering Heights: Representations of the (Anti)-HeroineElli Karampela (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
9th International Student Byron Conference
Messolonghi, May 2014
After the death of the nineteenth-century literary lion, Byron’s authorial aura reached the Victorians in numerous ways. From Carlyle and Tennyson to the Brontë’s reading and fascination with Byron’s work and personality, one quick overview of Victorian literature can reveal striking influences; an instance is the posthumous fashion launched by the dark Byronic hero for equally charming and repulsive male protagonists who have become similarly notorious for their satanic and mysterious temperament. In the Turkish Tales, however, the deviant Byronic hero coexists and in fact acquires significance from different types of belles that have drawn the attention of the critics; it is interesting to note how Byron displays his ambivalent views on issues of gender by representing heroines in contrasting ways. This paper tackles exactly this contrasting portrait of the female in Byron’s The Corsair (1814) and examines how this portrait can be paralleled, even re-inscribed in the picture of a Victorian heroine like Catherine Earnshaw from Emily Brontë’s transgressing novel Wuthering Heights (1847). Specifically, I aim to focus on power relations in both kinds of writing and how these are transformed into coexisting conforming and dismissive comments on contemporary concerns. 

by M. ( at January 14, 2015 12:30 AM

January 13, 2015


The reason why the 17-year-old living in your road is now reading Villette

Praises for Ruth Wilson, who has just won a Golden Globe, continue. This columnist from Decider is definitely a fan of hers:
Now, some of you might not have heard of Wilson until last night, but we at Decider have been stanning for her since 2006; okay, I’ve been a fan since 2006.
One reason you might not know much about Wilson’s work is that some of her best early television work is not available to legally stream. That means we can’t point you to where you can watch her slay it in Jane Eyre, smolder in The Prisoner, or fall in love with a young and scrawny Tom Hiddleston in Suburban Shootout, but we can hook you up with some great Ruth Wilson performances. (Meghan O'Keefe)
Milwaukee Magazine reviews the Florentine Opera performances of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights:
It’s should come as no surprise that Wuthering Heights has been “opera-fied” several times (Bernard Herrmann also gave it a go). But Floyd’s vibrant style is a perfect fit for the heightened drama and rich atmosphere of the story. When Heathcliff (Kelly Markgraf) and Catherine (Georgia Jarman) take their first walk on the moors, Floyd’s orchestrations sweep over you like the stiff wind and inundate you with the damp heathery air. His melodic palette is full of ache and yearning, and Markgraf and Jarman colored them beautifully.
Markgraf and Jarman are front and center here, but the supporting cast is also fine. Heather Buck brings passionate colors to Isabella’s rapturous Act Three area, and Chad Shelton—making his Florentine debut—used his ringing tenor to capture the strident personality of Catherine’s controlling brother. Susanne Mentzer brings a touch of serenity and authority to her performance as Nelly, the housekeeper who watches the events unfold.
But the real star here is conductor Joseph Mechavich, who guided the orchestra and voices through Floyd’s often tempestuous orchestrations. He and the ensemble painted wonderful sonic pictures, but always in the service of the story and the drama. Brontë’s 1847 prose is still dramatically charged (if a little bit purple) if we read it today. But performed here, thanks to Floyd’s wonderful way with character, drama and musical textures, it seems as if it was always meant to be on the stage. And the recording should be a powerful representation of its place in American opera. (Paul Kosidowski)
The Irish Times talks about books with writer Kate Beaufoy.
What book influenced you the most? I was lucky that three of my prescribed A-level texts were Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen’s Persuasion. They took me to the next level, which was an MA in French and English literature at Trinity. (Martin Doyle)
While The Independent looks into former Education Secretary Michael Gove's apparent love of (free) pop culture.
This is the man who insisted that the syllabus for GCSE English literature must include at least one Shakespeare play, poetry from 1789 on, and one 19th century novel. It is down to him that the 17-year-old living in your road is now reading Villette, by Charlotte Brontë. (Andy McSmith)
And yet we can't blame him for that.

Quotidiano Giovani (Italy) comments on the outfits seen at the Golden Globes and apparently,
Katie Holmes in un abito di Marchesa dava l’impressione di essere Jane Eyre appena rimessa a nuovo da Rochester, e poco prima che il disastro li travolga. (Tamara Tampica) (Translation)
We don't see anything Jane Eyre about this, but whatever.

The Daily Geekette enters in his second Jane Eyre readalong week; Pages Unbound continues its Charlotte Brontë week with a post on "Jane Eyre: To Love Is to Be Vulnerable";

by Cristina ( at January 13, 2015 11:01 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


The Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies and the Northern Nineteenth-Century Network is pleased to announce a one-day colloquium, to take place at Leeds Trinity University on Friday 17th April 2015. The centrality […]

by letitbeprinted at January 13, 2015 01:11 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Cat's Meat Shop

The Architecture of Drinking Fountains

A contemporary article complaining about the architecture and location of the metropolitan drinking fountain, often installed as a charitable bequest ... 


The movement for supplying the people with a pure and refreshing draught of water must be received with unmixed approval. The philanthropic spirit which introduced drinking-fountains has spread, and the metropolis is now dotted with numerous little structures, from which all classes who need may allay their thirst, principally through the efforts of the "Association" that originated the movement here, aided and extended by benevolent individuals who, at their own cost, have added to the numbers scattered over the town. We are not sanguine enough to believe that it will do much for the repression of drunkenness, or that those who habitually indulge in stimulating drinks will fly the glaring dens of vice that choke up our public ways. Still it is an immense advantage for those "who labour and are heavy laden," not of necessity to be driven into the polluted atmosphere of the gin-palace and the public house to satisfy the cravings of nature, elbowed and jostled by the depraved and miserable beings who put an enemy into their months to steal away their brains, but may slake their parched throats with a liquid that neither destroys the body nor brings ruin to the purse. In this way we trust many will shun the plague-spots, and escape infection. The experiment was well worth trying, and only good can result from it ; but whilst we seek to raise the moral condition of those whom the drinking fountains are intended to benefit, it is worth while to consider whether the fountains at the same time may not be made, in the eye of taste, an ornament to the metropolis, instead of a blur. There is, perhaps, no class of objects open to so free and varied an expression in design, so completely under the control of the designer, so capable of adding a grace to our streets, and beautifying our thoroughfares, as fountains. Yet in those erected we vainly look for elegance of form or successful artistic adaptation. Some of them are elaborate enough, and no doubt rather costly structures, such as that recently opened in front of St. Mary-le-Strand, representing a miniature temple, with a little gilt figure of a boy at the top, reminding us of those ingenious devices which confectioners exhibit in their windows as the wonders of the sugar art. This temple seems to be a favourite with the fountain makers, for we observe the idea repeated in others of still more toy-like proportions.
      In several the utmost skill of the designer has never got beyond the general appearance of a monumental tablet, which, but for the feeble stream emitted from the centre might serve as appropriately to record the virtues of the dead within the sacred edifice as they do now the living honours of the donors against the churchyard-rails—witness that at St. Dunstan's upon which is set forth, in large obtrusive letters, the grandeur of a city knight, alderman of the ward—how he was Lord Mayor one year, and elected M.P. another —with the gaudily emblazoned arms at the top, to astonish the vagrant eye of the Fleet-street wanderer. We fear the grace of the gift is somewhat disparaged by this show of self-glorification. "Verily they have their reward." To do good by stealth is not the virtue suggested by the drinking-fountains. For the most part the donors seem to forget that the stream of benevolence never runs so sweetly as when flowing with modesty. In others, added to the meanness of the design, is the utter unfitness of the symbols employed in the way of ornament—fresh water running from salt sea-shells, or pouring from the mouths of marine monsters and heads of grotesque animals, such as we find at the waste-water spouts of medieval buildings: apart from the complete absurdity of streams flowing through animals, it does not accord with our notions of purity to drink from the mouths of beasts. The idea is simply disgusting, and should never be resorted to for fountains intended to supply water exclusively for drinking. As an example of the objectionable introduction of such ornaments, we may cite the fountains under the portico of the British Museum, which, in other respects, are extremely beautiful, formed of white marble," to which are appended elegant classical cups, "silvered o'er," that may well tempt the visitor to partake of the cooling draught. Yet in these the water flows from gasping mouths, and is given off from the protruded tongues of lions. In the wide range of nature, there are surely objects enough of beauty to supply emblems appropriate to the subject, and befitting the occasion—the graceful plants and flowers that that fringe our running streams, offer an endless variety for illustration and ornament. In less expensive structures simple rock-work might be adapted with advantage ; the water gushing from a crevice, as it is seen in the hill countries, forming natural basins in the stone. For more elaborate works, nymphs pouring the liquid current from elegantly formed vessels, or the great law-giver Moses, striking the rock, from which burst forth the living stream to slake the parched tongues of the children of Israel —the fittest and most suggestive, perhaps, of all for a fountain dedicated to the poor; but whatever class of subject is adopted, let us be rid of those puerile animal conceits that are scarcely less offensive to all delicacy of taste than the filthy sputterings of the notorious "mannikin" at Brussels.

      Another important consideration, which appears to have been entirely overlooked, is locality. We cannot think the skirts of hospitals and graveyards proper places for the erection of drinking fountains. The water flowing from the little Norman structure, the first drinking-fountain erected in London, by Mr. Samuel Gurney, within the rails of St. Sepulchre's, appears to come from the mouldering graves, by which it is closely backed; and the pump in St. Paul's Churchyard, to which has been added a drinking-cup, is similarly situated and equally objectionable; whilst the miserable contrivance at the railway termini of London Bridge, attached to gas-lamp, is in such close proximity to a repulsive structure, that the wonder is any degree of thirst can induce the passers-by to drink from such a source. Though it may not always be possible a in overcrowded neighbourhoods to surround the fountains with pure air, there can be little difficulty in placing them apart from offensive matters or offending associations. The enjoyment of a draught of water is increased by the brightness of the cup and its isolation from proximate impurities. The moral condition of the poor is not a little influenced by that which meets the eye. We desire them to drink, then let them do so under the most refreshing circumstances of sweetness and cleanliness, that they may be lured again and again to partake of the blessing that is offered them.
      The position of the fountain at the Oxford-street circus is better chosen, and offers an example for the placing of others in similar situations, where they might be erected under a covering that would afford shelter from the rain, as well as a place of refuge in the centre of thronged crossings. In our variable climate, shelter is so often needed, that it is surprising no attempt has been made to meet this deficiency. Light elegant structures, in ornamental iron, open at the sides, with a glass roof, would afford some protection from the weather, and be a boon to the public, who have so often to abide the peltings of the pitiless storm whilst waiting for a conveyance. In skilful hands, the combined requirements of a fountain, a place of refuge, and shelter, might be made a work of utility and beauty, and contribute to the adornment of the town. There is so little of ornamental attraction in London streets, that the opportunity of introducing and encouraging it should not be lost. Our public statues can scarcely be said to decorate our highways and squares, but are for the most part a disgrace and a laughing-stock. Unsightly indicators have got possession of our lamp-posts, advertising their supreme ugliness to the passers-by; and ungainly and tasteless structures greet us at every turn. We can understand that, in the early stage of the fountain movement, its promoters would be more solicitous to set the fountains going than regardful of architectural excellence or fitness of site. Now that the good work is in active operation, we would earnestly impress upon the estimable gentlemen forming the "Association for the Erection of Public Drinking-Fountains," the necessity of paying, in future, a little more attention to the choice of situation, propriety of ornament, and beauty of design.

The London Review, 1 December 1860

by Lee Jackson ( at January 13, 2015 08:29 AM


Pigeonholing Wuthering Heights

The Pigeonhole is a very special digital publisher (with a very clean IOS and web apps, not Android for the moment) which tries to enhance the reading with several extras:
Read one stave a week
Subscribe to a book and receive weekly installments to your bookshelf, which you can read with our iOS app or web reader. If you join mid-cycle, you’ll get instant access to all previous staves.

Get behind the story
Each week, we unlock one tile on the storyboard, featuring specially-crafted content related to the story and the creative process: videos, interviews, images and much more.

Discuss as you read
Post comments and questions on a dedicated discussion board – the author is also actively involved in the conversation. It's the coolest book club on the internet.
Now is Wuthering Heights turn:
 Set in the desolate and wild Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights is one of English literature’s best examples of a heart-breaking tale. Surrounded by love, loss, and revenge, Catherine and Heathcliff’s demonic love is one that will haunt and entrance you.
The first 'stave' is ‘The mind-forg’d manacles’: An Introduction to Wuthering Heights by Hila Shachar, De Montfort University.

by M. ( at January 13, 2015 12:30 AM

“A truly terrible adaptation of Wuthering Heights”

The Guardian and many others mourn the death of film producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr and quote him on his father's modus operandi.
In 1986, Goldwyn told the Los Angeles Times his goal was to appeal to sophisticated movie lovers.
“I was brought up in a tradition of patience,” Goldwyn said. “My father never made films that were instantaneous hits. Wuthering Heights was not a success the first time around. Neither was Best Years of Our Lives. They had to be nursed .... Basically, he was always waiting.”
Also in The Guardian, Peter Kosminsky speaks about his own take on Wuthering Heights. He says what many people think too:
He usually generates his own projects but had enjoyed Mantel’s study of the rise of Henry VIII’s consigliere Thomas Cromwell. “I love Hilary as a writer, I love her iconoclasm. She’s a true rebel and I admire her for it.” This was enough to trump what he calls “a bit of a confidence crisis about period drama” previously, as a result of having directed “a truly terrible adaptation of Wuthering Heights” in the 1990s – “It was pretty much the first film I made and I was totally out of my depth.” (Tara Conlan)
Hats off to him for speaking so openly about it.

Ruth Wilson has won a Golden Globe for his role in The Affair. She has an anecdote about her previous nomination for her role as Jane Eyre, as reported by Deadline.
Ruth Wilson’s win completes the dominance of freshmen shows tonight with her win for Showtime’s The Affair. She has a funny anecdote of her first Golden Globe nomination for Jane Eyre the year the Globes ceremony was cancelled because of the writers strike, with her watching the stripped-down winners announcement from the hotel bar. She lost then but won tonight for playing “a complex, should I say depressed character” on The Affair. Best line tonight to a co-star, addressed at Dominic West: “Dom, your ass is a thing of great beauty, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” (Nellie Andreeva)
Dallas News reviews the play The Book Club Play in which
Tiana Kaye Johnson and Sarah Rutan offer intricately realized portraits of rumbling rebellion. They explode with perfect timing not long after Ana’s nemesis, Alex, played with charismatic verve by Brandon Potter, arrives, pushing to explore Twilight — to Ana’s horror —and the similarities between Edward Cullen and Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff. (Nancy Churnin)
Entertainment Weekly's The Community has a recap of episode 2 of season 1 of Dawson's Creek:
At school, Pacey and Miss Jacobs are dealing with the aftermath of their kiss. Pacey struts around like the cat that got the canary, while she is understandably shaken. Lecturing on Wuthering Heights, she says, “Catherine was essentially a mess; Heathcliff was basically a decent guy who had a lot to learn about life.” I THINK there’s a double meaning in that. (Head Over Feels)
Glasgow Evening Times speaks to writer Maggie Ritchie:
 A title she always goes back to is Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, a prequel to Jane Eyre, which tells the story of Rochester's mad wife in the attic.
"It's another 19th century woman driven mad," says Maggie. "It is so evocative of the smells and colours of the Caribbean where she grew up and conjured up memories of my childhood in Africa and in Venezuela, and inspired me to write my second novel." (Angela McManus)
Picture Us Reading reviews favourably Jane F***ing Eyre by J.K. Really; Pages Unbound reviews The Professor.

by Cristina ( at January 13, 2015 12:03 AM

January 12, 2015

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Regency Ramble

Athelhampton Part 4

I cannot believe I have left you hanging around in the King's antechamber since November. Where did those last few weeks go. Thanksgiving and Christmas eating it all up. So let us return to our wanderings around this lovely old house, parts of which I used in Captured Countess.

We have moved on to the Great Chamber or drawing room, used in earlier times as a granery - hard to imagine.  Recall that only things that would have been around in the regency are covered in this blog, so despite the many beautiful artifacts to be found in each house, I focus on only a few.

 Here we have yet another heraldic window commemorating the owners of Athelhampton and their alliances.  If this is your thing, go on line and find out more. For me this would be a way of presenting the backdrop to my characters.

The panelling is seventeenth century and has Elizabethan carved panel over the fireplace in the "Italian" manner.  Something about all the wood makes it quite cosy.

A few pieces of furniture stuck out for me. The George I walnut bureau and desk from around 1720

 and the George II mahogany breakfront bookcase after the style of William Kent. The latter now displaying china. Each side of it leads back to the antechamber

 And this William and Mary japanned cabinet.

Until next time......

My latest novel, Captured Countess is still  in stores and can also be found on line at:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Chapters Indigo Canada

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 12, 2015 11:00 AM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Grotto Passage Ragged School

A while back, I came across the Grotto Passage Ragged School while walking (now, sadly, converted into office space) in Marylebone. Today, I happened across an article about its work ...


There is moral as well as military heroism. The undaunted African missionary, Livingstone, is the type of the one, and the noble Christian warrior, Havelock, fitly illustrates the other. Differently manifested as was their heroism, yet, as they were baptized into the same faith, they equally displayed that unblenching courage which springs from reliance on the purposes and help of the Most High. Nor are the founders of the Ragged School system less entitled to the appellation of heroes. For, solely constrained by love to the souls of perishing outcasts, they penetrated unguarded and alone into the crime-stained rookeries of the metropolis; where typhus or cholera decimated the population, and where the very air reeked of pestilence. From these moral wastes the Pharisee and the worldling shrank in utter disgust; and even the police only ventured into these wretched dens when the shadows of night fell thick, cutlass in hand. Yet it is to the moral courage thus displayed that the whole mighty movement must be ascribed ; and if 21,000 children and nigh 2,000 adults are now gathered in the Ragged Schools of London, the germ of this great work may be traced in the first Ragged School.
      True heroism is, however, never without its reward; and the history of Ragged Schools presents no exception to the rule. Not that the first workers have been decorated with Victoria crosses, or that their names have been blazoned abroad; but their fitter reward has been found in the knowledge that hundreds have been reformed who were once the pests of society; and by the spectacle presented by the seventy zealous Ragged School teachers, who were formerly scholars. It is thus seen that the gospel of Christ—the sole lever which has been employed to elevate the outcasts of London—is as potent now as it was found to be on the day of Pentecost. Reviewing then the Ragged School movement, we are led to perceive that the same Divine Teacher who, whilst He trod this earth, forsook the home of the rich or the noble to "preach to the poor," was the deviser of, as He has been the leader in, this great crusade against vice and misery.
      Amongst the earlier of the institutions for the reclamation of the depraved is the one of which we propose to give a pen-and-ink sketch. The Ragged School in Grotto Passage, High Street, Marylebone, was established in 1845. The district selected by the founders for their beneficent efforts is notoriously one of the most debased spots of London. The nest of courts midst which it is planted form an oblong square, so flanked by the residences of the aristocracy that a stone's-throw suffices to divide the homes of penury from the halls of luxury. In no part of London does the "great social evil," as it has been aptly termed, form it more prominent feature—the only distinction being that, whilst the reveller of the Haymarket flaunts in silk and satin, with brandied-eye and rouge-cheek, the wretched tenants of this place are too poor to disguise their vice, or too degraded to seek to hide their occupation, Jezebel-like, by paint. Night after night, and far into the Lord's-day morning, drunken men and dishevelled women are seen, under the influence of intoxication, raving and fighting like maniacs, or vainly seeking, with hoarse laugh and filthy song, to hide the misery of the heart. We recently visited the police court at the end of the passage, and found on Monday morning about 40 persons, for the most part chargeable with disorderly conduct, rather than with positive crime, awaiting the decision of the magistrate. Of these, 18 were loose females, and 7 lads, one only of whom had attended a Ragged School. Whilst we scanned the bloated countenance, bloodshot eye, and the haggard brow, which told that vice had done its hideous work of inducing age in extreme youth, never was there presented a more striking illustration of the sad tact, that, if we are anxious to efface all traces of physical beauty, an early indulgence in vice is the best course to adopt. Well then is it that a Ragged School is conducted in this moral waste, with the twofold object of rescuing the fallen, and of precluding youth from imbibing the poison vended gratis in the district.

      Although we purpose chiefly to describe the Refuge connected with this valuable Institution, a slight glance at the School department may be fitly introduced. In the day schools we found about 240 boys, girls, and infants assembled. Some of these are the children of thieves and fallen women ; others are the offspring of Irish Romanists; a most difficult class to manage, especially if an attempt be made to rule by fear rather than by love. But, seeing that on our entrance many a tiny infant hand was held out to greet us, we learnt by this simple freemasonry that, guided by loving teachers, they felt that every visitor must equally be a friend. Then how clean, how orderly, and respectful were they
sad how sweetly they sang of Him who on earth was, and in heaven is still, the children's friend! On a former visit, struck by the quiet demeanour of one girl, we inquired into her history, and found that she had been one of the most unruly that had ever attended the school. Not only was site disobedient to her teacher, but her great delight was to tease and quarrel with her schoolfellows; and expulsion seemed to be the only remedy; to prevent this she was, on one occasion, kept  back by the teacher when the school was dismissed, and prayed with alone. This softened the hard heart—tears fell like rain; and she, who had been the worst, became from that time the model girl of the school. So much for the omnipotence of love, when guided by faith.
      The night schools are attended by 60 elder boys and girls ; and the Sunday school, held thrice on the Lord's day, by 150 scholars. The evening Sunday school —the first and the best feature of the Ragged School movement—would doubtless attract a large attendance of "Roughs" were there more teachers. We regret to learn that many are excluded, night after night, simply because though "the harvest is plenteous, the labourers are few." Our Divine Master left but one message to his servants, "Occupy till I come." Surely then it is as positive an act of disobedience, as if any of the ten commandments were violated, for Christians to sit in a comfortable pew, and partake of gospel consolations, whilst perishing souls are crying out in vain, " Come over and help us!"
      Not many years after the boys' day and night schools were established, it was found that many attended, who if they had parents had far better been without such relatives; for, as the force of example is ever the most potent, so by their profligate habits they undid every lesson taught at school. Nor were these home-evils merely of a negative character; for many cases were discovered of fathers who did not hesitate to teach their sons to pilfer, that they might pass their days in idleness and their nights in the gin-palace. Again, many homeless or orphan lads attended, whose wan complexion and miserable attire did not require speech to tell of the destitution they endured. Others, too, had been imprisoned for petty theft; and friendless and characterless as they were, waged war with that society which had left them scarcely any alternative but either to thieve or starve. Many, alas! when the inquiry was made, "Have you any relations?" replied," None, as I knows of!"
     These painful cases - and private investigation revealed the sad fact that they only illustrated hundreds of similar cases - led the Committee to open a Boys' Refuge in January, 1849. It thus appears that this was the first Institution that copied the precedent set by the Ragged School Union, who opened a Boys' Refuge in Westminster in 1846. Since that period, about 280 lads have participated in its benefits; to the majority of whom it has not only afforded shelter, but become a true "place of repentance". One fact respecting those admitted deserves commendation and general imitation; namely, the readiness with which boys from other Ragged Schools have been admitted ; thereby manifesting that large-hearted, and truly catholic spirit which, not content with "looking on its own things," also " looks on things of others." For example, of the 26 lads who were admitted into this Refuge last year, no less than 21 were admitted on the recommendation of other Ragged Schools.
      The following cases will indicate the staple of the class who from the first have been received into this Refuge :-

No. 1.—Aged 17. Was born of parents in good circumstances, but who gave him over to the care of others at an early age. He began stealing at nine years old; was imprisoned in the north of England ; and on his discharge tramped to London. Ho soon became the associate of thieves, and entered upon a course of crime which must have ended in transportation, had he not entered this Refuge. He has been in prison nearly twenty times.
No. 2.—Aged 15. Both parents are dead. Exposed at an early age to the influence of bad companions, he began by stealing, and ended by gaining a livelihood by passing counterfeit coin. Has been imprisoned two or three times.
No. 3.—Leaving his home from ill-treatment, he got an honest livelihood for some time; but at length, yielding to temptation, he stole, and was imprisoned. He afterwards wandered about from place to place; being sometimes honestly employed, but oftener getting committed to prison for small offences.
No. 4.—Was left, at the death of his parents, without a friend in the world ; and got his living, and often his lodging, in the streets. He was found by a member of the Committee, at five in the morning, sitting on a doorstep, half-starved.
No. 5.—Father dead, and probably mother. He was deserted when three years old, and sent to the workhouse. Being turned out from thence, he obtained a precarious living by odd jobs. Was found half-starved in the streets by one of the Committee. He bad lived, like too many of his class, under arches, in mews, under carts, &c.

     It may be further intimated, as showing that this Institution includes the criminal as well as the destitute class, and hence that it presents the twofold aspect of being reformatory as well as preventive, that of the 280 lads admitted since the opening of the Refuge, no less than 100 had been imprisoned 297 times. Of the bulk of these, it is reported that they have either entered the royal navy, the merchant service, or emigrated, and that the majority are known to he thoroughly reclaimed.
     The time-tables suspended in the office show that the hours are not allowed to run on drearily, for it appears that four hours and a half are daily devoted to secular and religious instruction, and seven hours to industrial training. In addition to tailoring, and domestic work, the following branches of industry are carried on, namely, shoemaking, mat-making, hair and wool-picking, church-hassocks, which serve as hatboxes and Bible-holders; firewood, and carpenteries. Some of the boxes of the Shoe-black Brigade have also been made by the inmates. At our visit we found 23 boys employed in the two workshops. Of these, 16 were inmates of the Refuge; the remainder belonged to the day school, and, selected for their destitution, are formed into an industrial class, and receive dinner daily, as the reward of their industry. These lads we found busily employed as follows:-5 in mat-making; 8 in wood-chopping; 7 at hair-picking ; 1 in tailoring ; 1 at shoemaking; and 1 at carpentering.
     Very pleasant was it to hear the mat-makers and hair-pickers lightening their labours with a hearty strain. It forcibly recalled the noble weaver's song of Barry Cornwall:—
"Sing, brothers, sing and weave;
'Tis better to work than be idle;
'Tis better to sing than grieve.
There is not one, from Britain's king
To the peasant that delves the soil,
Who knows half the joys the seasons bring
Who hath not his share of toil"
As we personally knew several of the inmates whilst attending another Ragged School, we can testify to the wondrous change which has taken place in their habits, nay, in their very physiognomy. There were "Roughs" of dissolute life, to whom theft and imprisonment were normal states. Many a night, too, had these British Pariahs passed in the casual wards of workhouses, or under the dark arches of the Adelphi. Under the influence of this roving life, they had contracted a defiant or suspicious look, as if they fancied every man an enemy, and that every step was tracked by the police. But now, the lack-lustre eye had brightened into intelligence; their arms, whilst at work, worked with the precision of a steam-engine; and the frank, manly glance of most was an apt illustration of the words of a reclaimed Ragged scholar, " I can look any peeler in the face, now!" Yes, there is nothing like wisely directed love to tame the wild human soul ; at least, it dues not treat men as if they were demons, and then expect them to act like angels!
      That the inmates are not idlers in the great workshop of the world, an inspection of the work done last year fully proves. For, in addition to mending their own clothes, cooking their rations, and cleaning the Refuge, they made 53,209 bundles of firewood, and delivered them at the residence of purchasers. They also, by means of the 3 upright and the 3 smaller looms, which form so conspicuous an object in the upper workshop, made 284 large and small mate, most of which were sold. They also picked 8,445 lbs. of wool and hair last year; this being the first industrial test to which an applicant is submitted.
     A charge has been recently made against Reformatories, that the inmates are so unduly petted that many criminals enter them, not because they repent of past transgression, but simply because they wish for an easy life, with every want provided, and where they become the object of a morbid hero-worship. But it must not be forgotten that, from the unruly habits of this class, the heaviest item in the costly expenditure necessarily consists, not in food, but in management. It is this alone which causes the painful contrast between the wages of the honest labourer and that incurred by the inmates of many Reformatories. But one question ought to be considered before the question is decided; namely, What would these men cost were they allowed still to prey on the public, or were confined in prison ? But be the charge true or false, it assuredly does not apply to the Refuges affiliated to the Ragged School Union. For example, the total cost of the Refuge and Industrial class of this Institution is about £400 per annum. If, then, the cost of the industrial class, which amounts to £50 per annum, be deducted, it would seem that £22 covers the annual cost of each inmate, for food, rent, management, working materials, and outfits. Yet, even from this sum must be deducted their share of the united earnings. As, during last year, goods were said amounting to £81, we cannot, considering their superior aptitude and skill, reduce the share of the inmates below £65. Hence it follows that the total cost of the Refuge is £287 ; or, as there are 16 inmates, about £18 per head per annum. As few remain in the Refuge longer than one year, it thus appears that the trifling sum of £18 suffices for the reformation and enrolment among the working bees of society of each inmate. Viewed, then, merely from the economical stand-point, how encouraging the result; and what a contrast it presents to the expense which their career would have cost the country had they not been grasped by the strong hand of Christian kindness. The striking language of Inspector Pearce pourtrays what their fate must have been:- "I never see a boy at the bar of a police-court but I think, Well, you will cost the country £300 before we have done with you!"
      Nor has this Institution been without results. We think John Bull is too inclined to expect immediate results from any scheme of social amelioration, instead of asking, Is it right to try, or is the plan suggested adapted to the emergency? It is the very same principle which makes him so often a worshipper of success, rather than a venerator of the true and the good. Yet, still there has never been a work of faith—whether it be of John Howard, the prisoner's friend, or of George Muller, the orphan's father—which has not reaped a rich harvest even in this world. Nor has this Refuge been an exception to the rule that "in in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Since the opening of this Institution, 262 boys have been permanently provided for; and none as sailors have been more successful in obtaining that graduate symbol of thorough seamanship, A.B., attached to their names, than these pour lads. Of the 262 reclaimed outcasts who have thus entered on the busy scenes of life during the past nine years, their employment may be thus specified :-
62 Destitute Boys have been sent to Australis.
44 Canada.
82 " " " the Royal Navy.
51 " " " Merchant Ships.
23 " " " various kinds of service at home.
[total] 262

     The gratitude and success of former inmates is attested by many letters; for we rejoice to find that the fatherly hand that rescued them is not withheld now that they are called to fight the battle of life in the broad world. Two brief specimens we have culled from the letter-book, - one from a party of emigrants, the other from a sailor:-

" On board the Troubadour off Plymouth.
" Before quitting our native land, allow us to return our sincere and united thanks for your kindness to us while in Grotto Passage School, for the good books and comfortable clothing you so kindly supplied us with. We feel it our duty to thank you for the same, and also to express our gratitude to all the kind friends which the Father of the fatherless and the Friend of the orphan raised for us in that school. We hope and trust that we shall by our good conduct always show the use and value of the instruction and kindness received there. We are very comfortable on board, in good health, and enjoying every comfort we wish for.
" Portsmouth, H.M.S. Victory.

" It is with great pleasure that I now take up my pen to address your lordship [Lord Kinnaird]. I received your kind letter and books, and am very much obliged for such a kind letter. I have seen the admiral, and he sends me to school every day. He also told me that you sent a letter to him respecting me. They pass Sunday very different here to what I did at school — they curse and swear, instead of keeping the Lord's day holy. I am very much obliged to you for what you have done for me while I was about the streets. I find that the way of transgressors are [sic] hard, and by keeping God's commandments I prosper. I hope that the instruction I learned will do me good, not only in this world, but in the other and brighter world."

There are, however, few pictures true to nature which have not a back-ground of gloom; and this sketch would not be a correct photograph, were the shadows omitted. For, notwithstanding strenuous efforts have been made to liquidate debts formerly contracted, nearly £200 is unliquidated. We more especially regret this fact, because it not only forbids any experiment, but precludes an alteration in the premises which would prove very serviceable to the Institution. A front entrance is required in Paddington Street, and a house, whose back premises adjoin the Refuge, might he obtained for that purpose, did the funds permit. By this alteration the indefatigable master would be enabled to display the mats and other articles manufactured by the inmates, and so obtain a readier sale for the dead stock—visitors could enter the Institution without being annoyed by the wretched girls infesting the court; and the inmates would be preserved from the allurements to vice to which they are now exposed.
     Reviewing then the history and present aspect of the Grotto Passage Ragged School, we consider enough has been presented to indicate that it did not spring from the mere instinct of philanthropy. We could well desire that there were more benevolence in the world, seeing how greatly its aspect would be thereby improved. Yet, after all, that philanthropy which only thinks of man's body, and forgets that he has a soul, is ever subject to fits and starts, and can scarcely sustain the test of continuous labour, or bear the ingratitude of unworthy recipients of their bounty. But this institution, springing from a holier source, attests the truth that love to Christ is best shown by love to man, and that true love to man dictates that we feed the soul as well as the body. Hence, it has told many an outcast that, as time is but the vestibule of eternity, as they are now so must they be for ever. It is not strange then that many criminals, whom the bars of a gaol failed to intimidate, have been conquered by strong faith and Christian love. Fully then as this work for God has been rewarded in this world, it foreshadows the period when every faithful servant of Christ shall be crowned. For the words of the apostle are applicable to every missionary,  "What is our crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?"

Ragged School Union Magazine, March 1858

by Lee Jackson ( at January 12, 2015 07:40 AM


Madness and the 19th-Century Novel

A course with Brontë-related content begins today, January 11, at the Bishopsgate Institute in London, UK:
Madness and the 19th-Century Novel

Monday 12 January - Monday 23 March
Time: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Course Code: WR15220

Tutor: Sarah Wise
Max students: 16
Number of Sessions: 6
Status: Available/A
Cost: £60.00 to £80.00
Notes: This course takes place on alternate weeks.
Mental illness – real or alleged – is a major theme or plot device in many 19th-century novels. This course examines a number of works, some well known, others less so, and will analyse the variety of Victorian views of insanity. Books include Jane Eyre, The Woman in White and The Fall of the House of Usher.

by M. ( at January 12, 2015 12:30 AM

January 11, 2015


Following Charlotte's clues

Historical Novel Society talks with Jane Stubbs, author of Thornfield Hall:
“I did not choose to retell Jane Eyre,” she says. “It chose me.” In her years teaching Jane Eyre in secondary schools, Stubbs says that the relationship between Jane and Mrs. Fairfax puzzled both her and her students. The childless housekeeper is so motherly toward the orphaned governess, yet she doesn’t warn Jane that Mr. Rochester’s marriage proposal is a sham. “Mrs. Fairfax’s behaviour shows she’s in turmoil when the engagement is announced,” Stubbs explains. “She fails to congratulate Jane, she has to consult her bible and she suddenly talks of her late husband, the parson. I felt that Charlotte Brontë was giving the reader a series of clues and I could not resist following them.”
Although Thornfield Hall delves deep into the mystery of Bertha Mason, the first Mrs. Rochester, it is utterly different in tone and scope from Jean Rhys’s haunting novel, The Wide Sargasso Sea. “Jean Rhys took liberties with the original I would not dare to take,” says Stubbs. “She moved the characters to Dominica, she changed their names. Her book drips with sensuality and tropical heat. It’s a long way from the bracing air of Yorkshire.” (Mary Sharratt) (Read more)
The Sunday Times describes some new trends for heroines in novels to be released in 2015:
Last year, Samantha Ellisearned warm reviews for her nonfiction book How to Be a Heroine (Or, What I’ve Learnt from Reading Too Much). Melding memoir, travelogue and criticism, its character study of literary heroines romped from Wuthering Heights in Haworth to LA’s Valley of the Dolls. (Patricia Nicol)
Gaffa (Denmark) talks about the song Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding, included in the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack:
Ellie Goulding har skrevet en sang til den kommende film "Fifty Shades Of Gray", en filmatisering af husmor-smæk-i-måsen-romanen som har taget verden med storm. Det er måske ikke Kate Bushs "Wuthering Heights", når det kommer til beskrivelsen af stormfuld kærlighed, men det er dog Goulding, når hun er bedst. (Kristoffer Veirum) (Translation)
An Outside Review  reviews Jane Eyre; Abrazando Libros (in Spanish) posts about Wuthering Heights; Pink Indle didn't love Jane Eyre 2011;  My Suicidal Tendencies has curious posting: Jane Eyre 1944 reduced to 24 seconds.

by M. ( at January 11, 2015 10:40 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


“I could not do without a Syringa, for the sake of Cowper’s line” — Jane Austen to Cassandra

“… the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?” — Jane Austen to James-Edward Austen-Leigh

A still from a film, Dyke Pussy (2008) where Allyson Mitchell’s sculptures are seen whirl

Peter Firmin’s woodcut illustration for winter for Vita Sackville-West’s georgic, The Land and the Garden (1927, 1946)

Dear friends and readers,

I’ve been reading and looking at visual, concrete, and written art by a small group of elite women (known to one another, friends or associates, read from or about afar) cited and studied by Lisa Moore (Sister Arts) from which she posits or carves out a lesbian erotic aesthetic. Moore’s book might be considered a companion volume to Emma Donoghue’s Passions Between Women: Donoghue teases out and identifies clearly too some patterns of social and writing behavior that she argues were typical of lesbian spinsters in the 18th century, recognizable to one another (which we observe are found in Austen, her sister, Cassandra, their friend, Martha Lloyd, and other single and also married friends, a kind of female community).

One difference is Donoghue has so many candidates and verbal explicit demonstration from their writing; in the first 4/5ths of her book, Moore seeks to make do with four and three of them with very little written documentation: Mary Delany and her employer-patroness-mistress-lover(?), Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland; Anna Seward (she provides reams of writing); Sarah Pierce, an educator in the US; in each case, Moore finds other women who work in the same artistic media to create the same kinds of images (mostly botanical, but also sewn, glued as in shellwork, built, lacquered and scissored). Her method is to show that in landscape, garden, botanical, sewing, craft, landscape and house design, these women continually project images of a woman’s sexual organs.

Moore brings forward some (to mainstream ways and tastes) strange and beautiful and obsessive artwork which through her grouping achieves a context in terms of others very like it and no longer seems so odd:

Mary Delany, Passion flower, one of 900 scissored out accurate paper flowers pressed against a lacquered black background sheet and then placed into volumes – click to make larger.

About Delany’s art Moore waxes graphically descriptive at length of female private parts she sees in it. A kind of Rorschach test is repeatedly applied.

I never thought about how maps drawn in the era by women in their novels (the famous Tendresse one) are themselves expressive art; and I just love the delicate picturesque drawings the book is filled with. She reveals great pathos in thwarted lives, as when Anna Seward carried from room to room a painting by George Romney of a young girl reading which Seward declared an image of her dead beloved, Honora Sneyd. Seward spent most of her life alone, lame, writing letters to others. I almost forgive her her snobbish spiteful attacks on Charlotte Smith’s revelations of another kind of deprived existence. Legend (Moore has to rely on hearsay) credits Seward with designing part of a Litchfield Park in imitation of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Walk:

The first is an engraving by W. Schmollinger, the map for Hyde Park; the second a photo of a lake in a Litchfield Park (no dates)

It does not seem to me that Moore proves her case altogether; maybe it’s not provable: the idea these images she finds in these women’s work are necessarily lesbian only becomes convincing when she shows their behavior like that we might think lesbian. Margaret Bentinck had numerous children by her husband, and used the women she enforced service to herself from; Chicago lived only with men; Delany and Frida Kahlo were bisexual. I remembered Stella Tillyard’s group biography of the Lennox Sisters, The Aristocrats, and then the Companion volume to the mini-series film adaptation by Harriet O’Carroll, where there are plates of art that fit right into Moore’s scheme. Only one of these women was a lesbian.

The Lennox sisters shell cottage at Goodwin house — much of the pre-mid-20th century work in Moore’s book could only be done by women with a lot of leisure time, some power over their doings and space, and much money

Moore has a tendency to see vaginas where there are only arches:

A picturesque drawing by Mary Delany: View of Beggar’s Hut in Delvile Garden (1745); she lived with her husband Patrick at Delvile (I wonder if she installed a beggar in that hut?)

Moore will mount a full-scale relationship (friendship, influence) from the tiny twig of the woman’s ideas: such as Mary Delany) knew of the work of the other woman (we think), or visited a salacious place (like the Hellfire Club’s Venus Temple) she is said to have imitated — with no proof of visit, no proof she built or even drew a drawing for a given attributed building. I would love to think Moore’s candidates were architects but proof is needed.

There is a distasteful reactionary justification of her chosen subjects elitism, racism, and ignoring how they used their power over one another and did not fulfill obligations: the Duchess of Portland did not leave a penny to Mary Delany after decades of devoted service, including reading aloud long hours into the night — Betty Rizzo in her Companions without Vows suggests we know which person is the subject one by looking to see who is doing the reading). Sarah Pierce is just fine with slavery and Moore attempts a softened portrait — true that I could see in the Litchfield Academy Pierce set up characteristics of a girls’ school which works that I saw in Yvette’s Sweet Briar (as older girls appointed sister-mentors to younger ones).

In the last fifth of her book, Moore attempts to fill out her theory by citing exemplary women artists from the 19th through 20th century. I thought immediately of Judy Chicago, and indeed her Dinner Party is discussed in the last part of Moore’s book. Moore tells of these women’s lives; she demonstrates quiet partnerships with other women, describes, reprints, quotes their art. I include a few images of this later art, and some snatches of poetry, and passages in lives not well-known.

A photo of one of many fancifully shaped buildings in her book:

Jane and Mary Parminter’s house in Devon; Victorian unmarried sisters, one died 38 years before the other, but managed before that terrible parting for so long to fill the place with paintings, shellwork, feather decorations, decoupage (scissored stuff), semi-precious stone inlay — how lonely all those years must’ve been

Moore enables us to see the feminocentric slant of some repeating absurdities in 19th century women’s art, such as a subject I have seen done by women in the 19th century: they paint Moses among the bullrushes — the point seems to be to view the relationships among the (for the moment) powerful women picking the baby up and caring for him. Otherwise, he would have died. No ten commandments.

Moore says that Emily Dickinson admired the botanical illustrations of a contemporary, Fidelia Bridges. This one belongs to the many picturesque garden, flower and landscape images of the book. According to Moore, these resemble Delany’s and several other lesbian women flower artists, but I see an austerity which is lovely because it does not lend itself to a Rorschach description:

Fidelia Bridges, Calla Lily 1875 — click to make larger

I did not know the story of the 19th century black sculpturess Edmonia Lewis’s experience of betrayal by white women. Lewis’s genetic background included New England black and Ojibway Indian people; her mother feared she’d be kidnapped into slavery so sent her and her brother to Canada to live among Ojibway. After the civil war was over, due to her brother’s efforts, she attended Oberlin College in 1860s. It was a staunchly abolitionist place, and she seemed at first to thrive, but she was accused of poisoning two white girls on sleigh riding date with 2 white boys; she was exonerated but dragged out into February night and beaten severely by thugs. The headmistress prevented her registering for last semester lest this provoke the local community again, so Lewis never graduated –- well her sculpted women figures are women seen as sexual outcasts; she was part of a community in Italy surrounding Charlotte Cushman.

Hygeia, commissioned by a woman physician, then terminally ill

After Lewis returned to the US and experienced the post-civil war backlash, she returned to Italy where she drops out of historical record — she was last seen by Frederick Douglas living with Adelia Gates, a flower painter.

Turning to the 20th and 21st century, Jim and I saw an exhibit of Mickalene Thomas’s paintings the last time we were in NYC together and he in good health; I am aware of Frida Kahlo’s bisexuality and use of flower, botanical, craft imagery; landscape installation art of contemporary women (Ana Mandieta, Alma Lopez, Tee Corinne), Alice Walker’s silhouettes. I did not know for sure that Georgia O’Keefe had a long-time woman lover (though she is depicted this way by Suzy McKee Charnas, in her Dorothea Dreams). Jane Addams belongs here.

Appropriate for the season, from Vita Sackville-West’s The Land and the Garden, “Winter” poetry for which Peter Firmin drew the woodcut illustration (above):

You watcher at the window, you who know
Life’s danger, and how narrow is the line,
How slight the structure of your happiness,
— Think on these little creatures in the snow,
They are so fragile and so fine,
So pitiably small, so lightly made,
So brave and yet so very much afraid.
They die so readily, with all their song.

There are equally moving lines across “Winter:”

It is not the Winter, nor the cold we fear;
It is the dreadful echo of our void,
The malice all around us, manifest …

Fabulous flowers flung as he desires.
Fantastic, tossed, and all from shilling packet
— an acre sprung from one expended coin, –
visions of what might be.
     We dream our dreams.
What should we be, without our fabulous flowers?

Homesick we are, and always, for another
And different world …
     And so the traveller
Down the long avenue of memory
Sees in perfection that was never theirs
Gardens he knew, and takes his steps of though
Down paths that, half-imagined and half-real,
Are wholly lovely with a loveliness
Suffering neither fault, neglect, nor flaw;
By visible hands not tended, but by angels
Or by St. Phocas, gentlest patron saint
Of gardeners …. Such wisdom of perfection
Never was ours in fact though ours in faith,
And since we live in fabric of delusion
Faith may well serve a turn in place of fact.
Luxury of escape! In thought he wanders

Down paths now more than paths, down paths once seen.
Gold is their gravel, not the gold that paves
Ambition’s highway; velvet is their green;
Blue is the water of the tide that laves
Their island shore where terraces step steep
Down to the unimaginable coves
Where wash on silver sand the secret seas.
Above such coves, such seas, he strays between
Straight cypresses or rounded orange-trees,
And sees a peasant draw a pail from deep
Centennial well; and finds a wealth in these.
Across the landscape of his memory
Bells ring from distant steeples, no cracked bell
Marring the harmony, but all as pure
As that spring-water drawn from that clear well.
What time the English loam is bare and brown
Elsewhere he roams and lets his reason drown
In thought of beauty seen. There was a key
Opened an iron door within the wall
Of thee thick ramparts of a fortress town
Where the great mountains sudden and remote
Like clouds at tether rose,
But the near larkspur seemed as tall
Dashing her spire of azure on their snows;
And, wandering, he might recall
Another garden, seen as in a moat
Reflected, green, and white with swans afloat,
Shut in a wood where, mirrored sorrowful,
A marble Muse upon her tablets wrote.
Look, where he strays!
Images, like those slow and curving swans,
Sail sensuous up, and these drab northern days,
This isle of mist, this sun a shield of bronze,
Melt in the intenser light away.

As sensitive natures seek for comfort lest
Th’assault of life be more than they can bear …

do all you can to protect your landscape and garden. Sackville-West’s poem is Cowperesque and reminded me of how Austen loved Cowper’s poetry. There are telling lines of convergence in Moore’s choices.

Finally, I was drawn to the mixed-media work of Toronto artist, Allyson Mitchell — as in the above sculptures of cats from a film and below from a film, Oxana, again we have what we see all book long: carpets remnants, rug hooking, fringe, needlework, bits of lace (seen in all sorts of European women’s art and their metaphors for their art):


The above reminded me of the runners in Judy Chicago’s place settings; below the real treat of Mitchell’s art is not in imposed supposed sexual fantasies prompted by the art, but a delicate playful allusion to motherhood:

Allyson Mitchell — Moore describes this image from a film solemnly — it’s a Teddy Bear substitute for a well-cared for cheerful young child


by ellenandjim at January 11, 2015 04:32 AM


Charlotte shooting in Oakwell Hall and Red House

Glass Cannon Films is shooting these days a short interpretive film (The Story of Oakwell Hall. The Brontë Story) showing the association of Charlotte Brontë with Oakwell Hall and the Red House. The film features Ellen Nussey (played by Jo Ellis) and Mary Taylor (played by Lara Bradban) too. Charlotte's role is played by Samantha Mesagno who in her Facebook wall says:
I am excited to announce that I have been offered to play the role of English Novelist and Poet Charlotte Brontë for a short film project in conjunction with Oakwell Hall and Red House in Yorkshire and Glass Cannon Films  Really looking forward to playing this petite literary powerhouse!! 
Including an Instagram picture, of course.

EDIT: More pictures can be seen on the film's director (Stewart Sparke) Twitter's account:

by M. ( at January 11, 2015 02:55 AM

The frantic sounds of a storm on the moors

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews the Florentine Opera concert performance of Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights:
The Florentine's performances, led by conductor Joseph Mechavich and accompanied by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, featured soprano Georgia Jarman in the role of Cathy and baritone Kelly Markgraf as Heathcliff.
The singers stood at music stands, moving to onstage chairs or leaving the stage when their parts in a given scene ended.
Jarman melded tremendous vocal clarity and color with subtle body language to create a headstrong, demanding, self-absorbed Cathy. Markgraf sang with great power and presence, while creating a dark, brooding Heathcliff.
Mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer brought vocal finesse and warmth to the role of Nelly, Cathy's nurse/servant. Tenor Vale Rideout used vocal power and musical subtlety to create a sympathetic Edgar Linton.
Soprano Heather Buck moved from light, facile passage work to soaring power in the role of Isabel Linton. Tenor Chad Shelton brought vocal power and musical depth to his portrayal of Hindley Earnshaw. Matthew Burns was a powerful, impassive Mr. Earnshaw.
Tenor Frank Kelley was a bit uneven in the role of Joseph. Tenor Aaron Short gave a solid performance as Lockwood.
Part of the success of this concert performance came from Floyd's orchestral writing. His score is more than just accompaniment and support for the singers; it's an integral element in conveying the drama of the story, providing everything from the emotional tension, tenderness, angst and anger to the frantic sounds of a storm on the moors. (Elaine Schmidt)
Keighley News reports the release of the trailer of Ian Howard and Josh Chapman's documentary Brontë. Ask The Locals:
The trailer, produced by documentary maker Oliver Chapman, who is Josh's brother, can now be viewed on the Wuthering Hikes Twitter page.
Mr Howard and Josh Chapman say their own research and the information contained within the novels themselves suggests previously unrecognised locations around Haworth inspired the books' content.
Mr Howard, of Oxenhope, began investigating the topic more than a year ago, helped by Josh Chapman who provided him with the memoirs of his grandmother, Joanna Hutton, the first female curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in the 1960s.
Included amongst the memoirs was an unpublished manuscript by a woman called Dorothy Van Ghent. She died in 1968 and had also been trying to identify the actual locations associated with the Brontës' novels. (Miran Rahman)
The Stoke Sentinel interviews the writer Katherine Frank who has a confession to make about her 1990 Emily Brontë biography: A Chainless Soul:
Katherine travelled the African west coast for three years on the track of Kingsley. Little wonder then that her next book, on Emily Brontë, felt a little ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’. “My heart wasn’t in it,” she admits. “She never went anywhere. It was just Haworth.”
Well, not really. Maybe she didn't travel very much, but she was in Brussels for almost a year.

This week's New York Times Paperback Row includes
A True Novel, by Minae Mizumura. Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. (Other Press) This is a masterly cross-cultural adaptation of “Wuthering Heights,” set in Long Island and postwar Japan. Taro is a brooding, ambitious immigrant in 1960s New York; flashbacks reveal his impoverished boyhood, his rise to wealth and success, and his obsession with Yoko, who cannot overcome their class differences despite her love for him. (Ihsan Taylor)
Brontë Crater (top right corner).
Image taken by the Messenger spacecraft
(December 12, 2011). Source.
Also in the New York Times, an article about Mercury, the planet:
All the craters are named for artists. Shakespeare, John Lennon and Walt Disney are there. Alvin Ailey is too, as are Bach, Basho, the Brontës, Hemingway, Faulkner, Kahlil Gibran, Michelangelo and 361 others, all cataloged in “The Gazetteer and Atlas of Astronomy.” (Kristin Dombek)
Read more here:
Belfast Telegraph interviews the author Martina Devlin:
Fantasy dinner party
My first guests would be the Brontë family, including the father. I visited their house last year and I love the story of the family. (Kerry McKittrick)
Dagbladet (Norway) describes like this the song Delirious by Susanne Sundfør:
Med sine militaristiske skarptrommer, røyksoppske bass, cinematiske strykere og lyse insisterende, drepende vokal framstår låta som en blanding av Emily Brontës litteraturklassiker «Stormfulle Høyder» og Nicolas Winding Refns neonglitrende «Drive».  (Sigrid Hvidsten) (Translation)
Empty Lighthouse Magazine lists  the ten books every woman should read:
 9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre, orphaned and living in the home of her cruel aunt, is sent to Lowood charity school where she continues to be abused by adults. Jane eventually becomes a governess at Thornfield and falls in love with Mr. Rochester. Although she finds love, she still faces struggles beyond imagination. This story is tragic, yet romantic at the same time.  (Kassondra)
The Monitor publishes another list, the 12 greats of the UK. Wuthering Heights is on it:
Reeling from her sister’s death (and the passing of two other family members) Charlotte Brontë (whose own Jane Eyre had also been published under a pseudonym) edited and rereleased the novel under Emily’s real name in 1850. In doing so, she arguably unseated her own work as one of the 12 greats of the UK, as the passing of time has convinced critics that Wuthering Heights is a psychological and literary tour-de-force. (...)
People who dislike Wuthering Heights are typically repulsed by the monstrous and irrational behavior of the characters, especially the two protagonists. But I can think of few works of tragedy that are as apt for our present self-absorbed age of “me.”
Coupled with the pervasive sense of doom that arise from the dark moors and the ghastly winds that howl across the heather, this exploration of mad and jealous love leaves an indelible mark on the reader, and those wuthering gusts sweep across the last 170 years to be felt in every gothic cranny of literature since.  (David Bowles)
The Free Press Journal reviews the latest Tim Burton film, Big Eyes:
Sexism and gender inequality forced Mary Ann Evans, Amantine Aurore Dupin, the Bronte sisters and Louisa May Alcott to adopt male pen names (George Eliot, George Sand, Currer/Ellis Bell, A. M. Barnard). Critics ignored female artists or treated them with disdain.
Maddie Crum in The Huffington Post chooses several 'warm' quotes to help you through winter:
"I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots." -- Charlotte Brontë, Villette (Chapter XXXI)
We found this passing reference in a review of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle slightly unfair. In The Guardian:
In such circumstances, an author could so easily hae struck a sentimental note, offered a dose of stiff upper lip stoicism - or struck out for Wuthering Heights-ian hysteria. But Smith knew her family better. The setting might be pure Brontë, but the dialogue is down-to earth. (Nicola Davis)
Toonzone reviews the 2009 anime Sweet Blue Flowers 青い花):
An accidental enrollment in the Basketball Club, a production of Wuthering Heights, and even the admiration of a teacher can all cause troubles for this teenage pair. Sweet Blue Flowers brings a bit of Lifetime to the cartoon world, but how does the series survive in the era of Ellen, Glee, and Modern Family? (Chad Bonin)
And Bustle gives you possible readings if you have liked Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries:
Jane Eyre. Walter Moody essentially stumbles into the action of The Luminaries — the guy just wanted some gold! — and eventually becomes its catalyst for change. Although you’ve probably read Jane Eyre before (most likely for its still-stirring romantic storyline) why not approach it with a new view? Jane, continually bounced around, from orphanage to Thornfield Hall to the Rivers’ family home, is constantly an outsider, a position that affords her the ability to bring major change to everyone around her. (Kate Erbland)
20 Minutos (Spain) talks about the dark side of the Victorian era:
Del lado negro de la realidad emergieron los crímenes de Jack el Destripador en 1888, la miseria narrada en las novelas de Charles Dickens o el romanticismo oscuro de las hermanas Brontë.  (José Ángel González) (Translation)
The Daily Express also is eager to one of the most awaited 2015 releases, the Claire Herman's Charlotte Brontë biography; Gozar de la lectura (in Spanish) reviews Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at January 11, 2015 12:23 AM

January 10, 2015


Jane Eyre in Bratislava

A new Jane Eyre adaptation returns to Bratislava, in Slovakia:
Jane Eyrová
Charlotte Brontëová

Slovenské národné divadlo, SNC, Bratislava, Slovakia

Saturday 10. January 2015 - 19:00
Wednesday 18. February 2015 - 19:00 Thursday 26. February 2015 - 19:00
Saturday 7. March 2015 - 19:00 Sunday 22. March 2015 - 18:00  
Premières: 1 and 2 February 2014 New Building, Drama Stage

Novel translated by: Beáta Mihalkovičová
Staging: Marián Amsler, Anna Saavedra
Directed by: Marián Amsler
Dramaturgy: Darina Abrahámová, Marie Špalová
Set: Juraj Kuchárek
Costumes: Martin Kotúček
Music: Ivan Acher
Stage Movement Instructor: Stanislava Vlčeková

Petra Vajdová
Zuzana Fialová
Robert Roth
Ľuboš Kostelný
Jana Oľhová
Gabriela Dzuríková
Kamila Magálová
Ivana Kuxová
Richard Stanke
Alexander Bárta
Milan Ondrík
Dominika Kavaschová
Anna Nováková, ako hosť
Alexandra Palatínusová, ako hosť
Dominika Zeleníková, poslucháčka VŠMU
spevácky zbor Canens
pod vedením Gabriela Rovňáka

The novel Jane Eyre written by English writer Charlotte Brontë under her pen name in 1847, has been constantly fascinating the viewers in many of its film, TV and theatre adaptations. It is definitely not accidental that the strong story of a fatal love of two people, who could not have been accepted as a couple in their time, became a bestseller to countless number of generations. We are still thrilled how the amiable, naturally humble, but at the same time strong Jane overcomes those rigid limitations of the Victorian conventions. In the harmony of her outer and inner beauty she presents a positive counterpart not only against the repressive greyness of the regimented society, which has been trying to deform her, but also against those darksome secrets and the spontaneity of Rochester, the man she truly loves in spite of seemingly invincible obstacles. The topic of consciously and resolutely chosen sacrifice, as the only way leading to a purge and to meet the goal is surprisingly inspiring also today, or right just today.

by M. ( at January 10, 2015 02:56 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear, rural peace

 photo edward-lear-landscape-painting-art-artistic.jpg

A scene from old England, it would seem, rather than one of the Greek and Middle Eastern landscapes that he is best known for.

January 10, 2015 09:20 AM

January 09, 2015

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

[There may be others, but I'm on the opposite side of the country at present.]

  • Miranda Miller, The Fairy Visions of Richard Dadd (Peter Owen, 2013).  Historical-cum-fantasy novel, second in Miller's "Bedlam tragedy," about, yes, the fairy painter Richard Dadd (institutionalized after murdering his father).  (eBay)
  • Kamila Shamsie, A God in Every Stone (Atavist, 2014).  Several people from Turkey, India, and England collide in their search for a circlet (and love) during the WWI era.  (Lift Bridge)
  • Emma Tennant, Travesties (Faber & Faber, 1995).  Three novellas, including a gender-flipped rewrite of Jekyll & Hyde.  (AmazonUK [secondhand]).  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 09, 2015 09:41 PM


Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights in Wisconsin

A most waited event happening today in Wisconsin:
Wuthering Heights
by Carlisle Floyd

The Florentine Opera brings American Opera Composer Carlisle Floyd’s operatic masterpiece to the stage. Jealousy and vengefulness, reign through this live concert performance of Carlisle Floyd’s classic American opera, based upon the classic novel by Emily Brontë.

Performance Dates And Times
Friday, January 9, 2015 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 2:30 PM
Performance Location:
Harris Theater, Sharon Lynn Wilson Center for the Arts
19805 W Capitol Dr, Brookfield, WI 53045

Georgia Jarman ... Catherine
Kelly Markgraf ... Heathcliff
Susanne Mentzer ... Nelly
Vale Rideout ... Edgar
Heather Buck ... Isabel
Chad Shelton ... Hindley
Matthew Burns ... Mr. Earnshaw
Frank Kelley ... Joseph
Aaron Short ... Lockwood

Composer and Artistic Advisor ... Carlisle Floyd
Conductor ... Joseph Mechavich
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Project Director ... William Florescu
And tomorrow, January 10:
An evening with Carlisle Floyd

Join us at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music for an evening with a living legend, Carlisle Floyd, composer of the opera Wuthering Heights. The evening’s discussion will circle around on the life and compositions of Carlisle Floyd with a panel of speakers including Joseph Mechavich, Bill Florescu, and Carlisle Floyd himself. Questions will focus around Conducting, Directing, Singing, and Being Carlisle Floyd. Musical selections will be performed by the Florentine Opera Studio Artists.
RSVP today for this free event by calling 414 291 5700 ext. 224.

Date And Time
Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 7:00PM
A TV interview with Rick Clark,  Director of Marketing and Communications of the Florentine Opera Company, can be watch here. Urban Milwaukee Dial also has an article about it.

by M. ( at January 09, 2015 10:01 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


What would a re-read teach you?

Keren David  picks the 'top 10 books about adopted and fostered children' for The Guardian, including Wuthering Heights.
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
When Mr Earnshaw returns from a trip to Liverpool with a “dirty, ragged black-haired child” that he has found starving on the street, his family react with horror at the intrusion of this “gipsy brat”. Heathcliff might have had a chance if Mr Earnshaw had survived longer, but he is vulnerable to abuse when his foster father dies, and this unleashes a passionate story of love and hatred that tears a family apart.
The Times Literary Supplement also mentions the novel:
Some things stick with you from school lessons. I can still remember my elderly English teacher explaining to us, aged 14-ish, that when Cathy in Wuthering Heights said " I AM Heathcliff", she was expressing what it was to be truly in love. If so, I still haven't quite got it. (Mary Beard)
Novelicious interviews Jane Stubbs, author of Thornfield Hall:
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I plead ‘not guilty’ to using famous real people. I stand convicted of using famous fictional people such as Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre. The whole of Thornfield Hall is built on Charlotte Brontë’s characters. In Jane Eyre there is one mention of a footman called Sam. In Thornfield Hall I have made him a gruff ex-sailor who takes up with the French maid. When Charlotte Brontë has portrayed a character in depth I have looked at their behaviour from a different viewpoint. Jane decides Blanche Ingram is an unworthy rival for Mr Rochester’s affection. Mrs Fairfax sees how Blanche’s prospects of marriage are damaged by Rochester’s cruel manoeuvre of pretending a flirtation with her in his pursuit of Jane.
Real people are too complicated to be ironed flat into a novel.

What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
My favourite women's fiction book of all time has to be Jane Eyre. I had a very happy childhood but I managed to identify with poor, mistreated and unloved Jane, especially when she was cold and hungry. Schools used to be very chilly places and most children can manage a snack, whatever time of day it is. We all have times when we feel the whole world is against us so it is reassuring to read that such moments can be survived. As a young woman Jane struggled against many disadvantages; she was poor, she was not pretty and she had no one to help make her way in the world. Her triumph was not in marrying Mr Rochester, but in taking control of her own life and in valuing her own worth very exactly.
KQED Arts recommends reading Jane Eyre in March:
It’s Women’s History Month and what better time to re-read a classic text? Past favorites this month have been the essayists Joan Didion and Nora Ephron, along with novelists Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen. 2015’s pick? Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I read it in high school and hated Jane for returning to Rochester. I learned to appreciate Jane’s strength in college, but a re-read in my mid-twenties made me truly appreciate the complex choices that Brontë constructed for Jane. What would a re-read teach you? There’s only one way to find out. (Maria Judnick)
Macleans features Alan Bradley's Flavia De Luce's book series:
So when he began crafting Flavia’s first adventure, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009) in Kelowna, B.C., after retiring as director of television engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, he turned to a storehouse of images drawn from British Golden Age mysteries of the 1920s and ’30s, “especially Dorothy Sayers,” whose Lord Peter Wimsey stories, as much novels of manners as mysteries, suffuse the chronicles of Flavia. Thomas Hardy, Evelyn Waugh and every last Brontë, to name a few, have also left traces in the child’s DNA, but the crime writers are dominant in her setting. (Brian Bethune)
Find out about the Brontë Parsonage Museum garden in December on the Brontë Society website. Fantasy is more Fun reviews Sheila Kohler's Becoming Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at January 09, 2015 12:23 AM

January 08, 2015

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


‘The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things — not merely industrious, but to love industry — […]

by Jo Taylor at January 08, 2015 02:12 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion January 1815

egency Full Dress January 1815 Ackermann's Repository

Full Dress, Ackermann's January 1815

Such a demure blushing lady.  I like the hem of this gown.

Here is the official description

A Celestial blue crape frock, over a white satin slip, ornamented round the bottom with a deep border of tull or net lace, embroidered with shaded blue silks and chenille; short full sleeve, trimmed with tull or net lace; the dress trimmed entirely round the top, to correspond. 
Hair parted in the centre of the forehead, confined in the Grecian style, and blended with flowers. 
Necklace of pearl; ear-drops and bracelets to correspond. Slippers of blue satin or kid. 
White gloves of French kid.

A pretty start to a new year of Regency Fashion.
Until next time…...

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 08, 2015 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Wuthering Heights on Joan Didion's list

Alert reader Monica has pointed us to this list of favourite books by the celebrated writer Joan Didion as published on Brain Pickings:
A living anatomy of influences, from Brontë to Baldwin.
Having long lamented the dearth of reading lists by female cultural icons — amid a wealth of excellent but chromosomally skewed ones by such luminaries as Leo Tolstoy, Alan Turing, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Stewart Brand, Carl Sagan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson — I set out to find a worthy counterpoint. And what worthier addition than Joan Didion, one of the most singular and influential writers of our time, whose reflections on self-respect and grief are nothing short of life-changing? (Maria Popova)

by M. ( at January 08, 2015 12:30 AM

January 07, 2015


Swapping with the Brontës

The Brontë Sisters. Image: Beth Walrond
The Skinny talks about the Brontës with the excuse of the upcoming University of Liverpool workshops: Revisiting the Brontës (28th January 2015 and 25th February 2015):
So where do the Brontës come in? Well, while the sisters weren’t dying their underarm hair turquoise or tweeting against misogyny, modern feminists might find a surprising amount in common with the sentiments of the literary trio.
Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë grew up in Yorkshire in the early 19th century. Middle-class women were then expected to marry well, reproduce, and oversee the household and their progeny – all while sitting primly in corseted subservience. Intellectual and physical pursuits were deemed the preserve of men, as were strong emotions and passions. For the Brontës, writing provided a release from this stifling environment, as the independent heroines of their novels resisted or succumbed to passions and fought to control their own destinies.
Such was sexism ingrained in the 19th-century publishing industry that all three women wrote under male pseudonyms – as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, respectively – to increase the chances of their manuscripts being published. Two centuries later, feminists are still railing against sexism in publishing, pointing out – rather accurately – that ‘women’s writing’ is not a genre. (Read more)
The latest episode of Last Tango in Halifax (Season 3, Episode 2) featured a discussion about the first US edition of Wuthering Heights attributed to the wrong sister, courtesy of the writing of Sally Wainwright. Pictures of the library scene here.

Bustle tries to guess whether you are a bibliophile:
8. You would love to travel far and wide to look at books and the homes of the people who write them.
I’ve gone far, far out of my way to visit places like Haworth (home of the Brontë family in West Yorkshire) and Prince Edward Island (home Lucy Maud Montgomery and the Anne books). There is something powerful in seeing where my favorite books were written, and in seeing great authors’ own books. Because, naturally, great writers tend to be bibliophiles themselves. (Lara Rutherford-Morrison)
Carrick Times interviews a local entrepreneur who says:
If you could swap places with anyone who would it be and why?
I don’t know that I would want to swap with anyone however there is an eclectic mix of people I admire for many reasons. This list would include the singers Sarah McLachlan and Eva Cassidy; the writers Victoria Hyslop and of course Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.
In USA Today, William Morrow describes the novel Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova like this:
In this enchanting and darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers, and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of Twilight, The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches.
BBC Radio 5 interviews the photographer Gered Mankovitz:
From the Rolling Stones to Kate Bush, photographer Gered Mankovitz has captured some of the most iconic images of rock and roll stars.
He was also the man who persuaded the "exquisite" Kate Bush to wear the famous pink leotard on the cover of 'Wuthering Heights'.
We rather like this list of the things that Lesmarie Velez, the marketing director for the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, loves as published in Florida Today:
"I'm a music nerd, a Whovian, a steampunk, anything pretty much sci-fi I love," the avid cosplayer tells me.
The list of things she likes goes on: Marvel Universe, movies, classic books, "Jane Eyre," Jane Austen, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," comic book conventions, "Star Trek," "Star Wars" ... (Jennifer Sangalang)
Intelligo (Italy) announces some of the most awaited exhibitions in Rome:
Alle Scuderie del Quirinale, Roma, adottobre, arriverà Balthus: genio del Novecento, le influenze nel suo lavoro sono innumerevoli: gli scritti di Emily Brontë, (ha illustrato con disegni a penna su carta il romanzo Cime Tempestose), gli scritti e le fotografie di Lewis Carroll, e poi i dipinti di Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Joseph Reinhardt, Ingres, Goya, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Courbet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, ecc. (Orietta Giorgio) (Translation)
The memories of a nude model in Svenska Yle (Finland):
Det var ett tungt jobb minns jag. Jag stod sex timmar per dag, fem dagar i veckan. Ett pass varade tjugo minuter, jag vred upp en äggklocka. Sedan var det paus i tio minuter. Då drog jag på mig morgonrocken och läste vidare i Wuthering Heights eller någon annan roman. Jag läste ganska mycket skönlitteratur det här året. Kanske var det tack vare det dödstråkiga ståendet jag började studera litteraturvetenskap? (Charlotte Sundström) (Translation)
The Scotsman is also considering Claire Harman's upcoming Charlotte Brontë biography as one of the books of 2015;  La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre (in Italian) contains a story which makes a reference to Heathcliff and Catherine; The Storyteller didn't like Wuthering Heights;  Books, Yo has a more positive opinion with a quite original review; The World of my Green Heart has re-read with great pleasure Jane Eyre. And don't forget to take a look to the last memes, like this one, of fuck yeah jane eyre's Jane Eyre month. Nuvem literária (in Portuguese) reviews Shirley.

by M. ( at January 07, 2015 04:41 PM

January 06, 2015

The Hoarding

John Savarese

The latest issue of the Byron Journal, 42.2 (2014) has been published. To become a member of the Byron Society of America, and receive a subscription to the journal as part of your membership, please visit the BSA website. The issue contains: Jonathon Shears, Editorial (DOI: 10.3828/bj.2014.13)   Timothy Webb, Catullus and the Missing Papers: Leigh Hunt, Byron and John Murray (DOI: 10.3828/bj.2014.15) Michael J. Plygawko, ‘The […]

by John Savarese at January 06, 2015 01:41 PM


Bertha Mason, baddie?

Samantha Ellis, author of How to Be a Heroine, writes in The Guardian about Bertha Mason:
I don’t know if Jane Eyre’s Bertha Rochester really is a baddie. Charlotte Brontë does give her a classic villainess’s evil laugh – Jane hears it echoing around Thornfield Hall in the dead of night, “demoniac” and “strange” – and her attic is a sort of lair. She does bad things, like setting fire to Mr Rochester’s bed, ripping up Jane’s wedding veil and attacking her brother. “She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart,” he says, haemorrhaging and horrified. She’s certainly villainised – she’s called a “clothed hyena”, a “tigress”, a “figure”, “some strange wild animal”, a “goblin”, a “vampire”, a “demon”, even, simply and inhumanly, “it”.
But this furious woman has a point. Why should her husband lock her in an attic, while he flirts with other women right in her own house? Of course she wrestles him. Of course she breaks into the bedroom of the shameless man-stealing hussy he is planning to marry and tears up her veil. She’s an avenging fury. And she knows she can’t rely on anyone else. Her well-meaning brother visits, and he does stop her husband marrying someone else, but he barely raises an objection to her imprisonment. (Read more)
The Northern Echo interviews Juliet Barker, author of The Brontës among many other things:
 It was her love of research that started her own writing career. Her first and only “proper” job after leaving Oxford, where she studied history, was as librarian and curator at The Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. “I would see writers coming in and researching for their books, but most of them them just looked at what other people had written. They ignored all that mass of original material we had there just waiting to be looked at.”
In the end, she was driven to write her own – much acclaimed – biography of the Brontës, which turned previous accounts pretty much on their head. “We’ve all bought Mrs Gaskell’s version of this isolated family living miles from nowhere, but Haworth is just four miles from Keighley. By the time the Brontës were there, it was a busy industrial area with 15 mills.”
As part of her decade of research Juliet spent read two years reading local newspapers of the time. “Addled my brain, but gave me so much information about the Brontës in the community that no one had ever bothered with before,” she says.
The Brontës ended up as a stonking great book, winning awards and establishing her as a writer who really knew her stuff. Despite its scholarship, it’s wonderfully readable. (Sharon Griffiths)
Peter Bradshaw lists in The Guardian the top 50 films of the demi-decade:
Wuthering Heights (dir. Andrea Arnold)
This visceral and challenging adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel divided opinion at the time, but its sheer audacity is thrilling. It has a pre-literary reality: it looks like the raw series of events on which the book might have been based.
More good news concerning conservation of heritage buildings in The Telegraph & Argus:
An historic Oxenhope church with links to the Bronte family will share in a £550,000 funding payout from the National Churches Trust to 30 churches and chapels in the UK The funding from the National Churches Trust includes £15,000 for Oxenhope’s St Mary the Virgin Church.
Custodians of the Grade II-listed building, in Hebden Road, will use the cash to help fund urgently-needed repairs to the church tower as part of a £120,000 project.
St Mary’s Oxenhope priest Reverend Nigel Wright said: “I’m absolutely delighted.”
The Brontë link?
Until the 1840's Oxenhope was part of Haworth parish and Anglicans who wished to attend church had to take the long walk up to Haworth for services. As the population grew it was decided that Oxenhope needed its own church and the then vicar of Haworth, Patrick Brontë, sent his curate Joseph Brett Grant to establish the new parish.
And Rev. Joseph Brett was the inspiration of Shirley's Rev. Joseph Donne.

The writer Clare Furniss discusses labels in literature in The Guardian:
Thing is, that book is The Secret Garden. Sick lit? No, it’s a Classic. Classics don’t have labels, other than ‘Classic’, do they? It’s interesting to think about what those labels might be if we did apply them though. Pride and Prejudice – Chick Lit? To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye and even Henry IV Part I –Young Adult? Macbeth – Fantasy? Wuthering Heights – Paranormal Romance? It’s a fun game, but there’s a deeper point. Why don’t we classify classic literature in this way? Perhaps because it is taken seriously. And I think there is often a subtext to labels that get applied to books. The subtext says: This is just another one of THOSE kind of books. Don’t take it too seriously.
The Blackpool Gazette announces the new season of outdoor theatre at Lytham Hall:
Opening the season – and their own national tour – will be Chapterhouse Theatre Company, on Sunday, June 16, presenting Richard Main’s production of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre, adapted for stage by Laura Turner.
 Screen Rant describes the very anticipated Guillermo Del Toro movie Crimson Peak:
The filmmaker has also spoken in length about the influences for Crimson Peak, which (as he discussed in a recent interview with Empire) includes literary classics such asJane Eyre and the fairy tale Bluebeard - both featuring a protagonist who discovers the new man in her life has a dark (and disturbing) secret – and the collective works of Emily Brontë and Gothic literary genre pioneer Ann Radcliffe.  (Sandy Schaefer)
The Herald of Everett recommends books for 2015:
 Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
Synopsis: Hilariously imagined text conversations--the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange--from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O'Hara to Jessica Wakefield
Why I want to read it: A book that fictionalizes electronic communication between some of my most beloved literary characters, from Sherlock Holmes to Nancy Drew. How could I skip this one? (Carol)
Le Figaro's Madame (France) traces a profile of the writer Anna Todd:
Pour noyer son ennui entre ses petits boulots de maquilleuse et serveuse, Anna s'évade par la lecture. Dans le monde de cette jeune femme aux joues rondes et à la chevelure blonde en cascade, Les Hauts du Hurlevent côtoie Hunger Games, et Jane Eyre, Fifty Shades of Grey. (Lucile Quillet) (Translation)
The Starving Artist reviews Shirley;  The Love of a Good Book reviews Jane Stubbs' Thornfield Hall; The Daily Geekette is on the first week of her Jane Eyre readalong.

by M. ( at January 06, 2015 11:36 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Little Professor

In League with Israel: A Tale of the Chattanooga Conference

It's time for our first bad religious novel of the year! 

[pauses for applause]

Unlike most of the authors I discuss on this blog, Annie Fellows Johnston actually has name recognition for something entirely different: the "Little Colonel" novels, set in turn-of-the-century Kentucky (and the inspiration for the Shirley Temple film of the same name).  In League with Israel (1896),  published right after the first of the Little Colonel series, is, by contrast, the sort of thing I tend to read, set at an exceptionally specific moment in time: in and around the second (not the first, but the second!) International Conference of the Epworth League in Chattanooga, TN at the end of June, 1895.  The still-extant Epworth League is a Methodist organization, and, not surprisingly, In League with Israel is a brief for Methodist activism, both in terms of philanthropy and proselytization.  Specifically, this is a philosemitic novel invested in Methodist missions to the Jews, although it also takes on such issues as hymns (really not vulgar at all!) and professional women (not always unfeminine!).  

The plot, to the extent that there is a plot, is simple.  A young Jewish lawyer, David Herschel, member of a Reformed congregation (like most evangelicals, Johnston doesn't like Reform Judaism), goes off to get his sister, whom his rabbi fears may be falling into the hands of...gasp...Christians. He travels in the company of Frank B. Marion, a big, booming Methodist shoeseller (but emphasis on the Methodist part), and, among others, the beauteous (albeit not yet truly converted) Bethany Hallam, complete with "halo" of "golden hair" (21).  There are hints of romantic tension between David and Bethany, none of which go anywhere (he's engaged, she's being pursued by a Methodist preacher, and the novel ends without wrapping up the characters' futures).  As a result, David sees part of the Epworth League conference, where he is struck (psychologically, I mean, not physically) by a converted Jew, Isaac Lessing.  Lessing had been converted by a predictably annoying--er, I mean, angelic--little girl, whose prayers in church led to him "joyfully confessing the Christ he had been taught to despise" (67).   David does not quite repeat that experience, although Bethany's disabled brother Jack, a proud member of the Junior League, certainly influences him.  Bethany, meanwhile, has a different cross to bear: a formerly wealthy girl, the death of her father has left her virtually penniless, and she must resort to stenography in order to earn a living.  As she discovers, though, trusting to God brings her a job and renters in short order, promptly alleviating her financial worries.  (After reading so much Victorian Catholic fiction of late, where divine providence is just as likely to reward you with more suffering as it is more bread, it's hard not to notice that God's will works  Sure, her father is dead, but she gets over it, as does Lee, another orphan later on.)  It is Bethany whose urgings finally lead David to read the New Testament closely, as an earnest inquirer, and prompt his final conversion to both Methodism and a self-sacrificing life as a missionary to other Jews.

As always, it's possible to find at least a couple of things worthy of note.  First, the novel's relentlessly domestic vision of Methodist community (which speaks in part to the arguments recently made by Claudia Stokes, among others).  This domesticity is not simply spatial, linked to the oh-so-familiar concept of a private sphere, but potentially global; it is a quality of affect and joint belief.  Frank B. Marion, the oversized Methodist,  offers a "warm welcome" (180) to all his visitors, incorporating them into his nuclear family; similarly, when David attends a Methodist service, he feels as though "he had stumbled by mistake onto some family reunion" (257).  The Methodists are marked throughout by their homeliness, their willingness to incorporate almost random people into their community, and their love of all forms of productive home labor (farming, candy-making, sewing, etc.).  Moreover, drawing on earlier nineteenth-century theories of female influence, the novel detaches home-making from any one space--hence its praise for the Deaconesses, women who go out to nurse in some of the region's most horrifying neighborhoods, as well as for Bethany's belief that "we carry our own atmosphere with us" (121).  In League with Israel thus makes both genders instrumental in shaping a potentially global Christian community that has, as it were, no "outside." 

In theory.  In practice, the reader notices that the novel's vision of Methodist community excludes African-Americans entirely, even though they were in fact present at the Chattanooga conference.  Whether the novel notices that is another issue.  What the novel does notice is that Methodists insist on constructing Jews as racial and religious Others who are "outside" their otherwise domestic spiritual community.  (It also notices in passing that converts face "Christian distrust" [138] alongside their rejection by the Jewish community, an acknowledgment found more commonly in narratives by converted Jews than those authored by Christians.)  Like most philosemitic texts, In League with Israel defines prejudice in terms of some combination of ignorance of Jewish history and general dislike for Jews as a race, but nevertheless relies on a supersessionist understanding of religious history.  Significantly, the prejudiced characters redeem themselves by undertaking a thorough study of Jewish history, even somehow backdating Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto to "the early days of the century" (141).  To the extent that Judaism has a current function, it is as what Stephen Haynes calls a "witness-people": the existence of Jews proves that there is a God and that the Biblical prophecies are true.  Frank tells David that Rabbi Barthold is "trying to rekindle the pride and zeal and hope of an ancient day" (187), resuscitating an effectively dead faith, while clergyman George Cragmore, attending a service, has a sudden vision of "the Old Temple" in the "modern" synagogue (192).  Modern Judaism can thus at best embody the past in the Christian present, but Jews are disbarred from full "presentness" until they turn to Christ.  According to Lessing, the convert, Jews apparently regard Christian disinterest in their conversion as a "glaring inconsistency" (75)--which, I fear, made this Jew sigh and say, "oi gevalt."  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 06, 2015 04:18 AM


Ireland in Villette

Ireland in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette
Julie Donovan
Irish University Review. Volume 44, Issue 2, Page 213-233, ISSN 0021-1427, Available Online November 2014 .

Ireland has been examined as a focus in Charlotte Brontë’s oeuvre, but not in a sustained discussion about how Ireland pertains to Brontë’s 1853 novel, Villette. This essay seeks to address an oversight in the current scholarship by analyzing how Ireland insinuates itself into the more obvious continental setting of Brontë’s text, taking as a starting point a significant encounter between Brontë’s heroine, Lucy Snowe, and an Irishwoman named Mrs Sweeny. As Lucy vanquishes Mrs Sweeny in order to rise, Brontë sets in train a number of oblique narratives demonstrating how Ireland remains contiguous to Villette's preoccupation with the probing of national allegiances.
And some recent reviews of Scholar Books recently published:
Claire Bazin, « Ian Ward, Law and the Brontës », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 79 Printemps | 2014, mis en ligne le 16 octobre 2014
Emmeline Burdett, «Rodas and Donaldson, The Madwoman and the Blindman: Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability», H-Disability (December, 2014)

by M. ( at January 06, 2015 12:30 AM

January 05, 2015


Lots of bluebells

The Telegraph discusses the second season of Broadchurch (which airs in the UK today, January 5):
What’s all this about bluebells?
One of the trailers shows Ellie Miller holding a piece of card containing a pressed bluebell. Towards the end of the clip we see a field of bluebells being trampled underfoot by a mystery figure. A caption then flashes up which reads “new secrets”. In English literature, the bluebell symbolises solitude and regret (although they cheered up an ailing Anne Brontë no end). It is also worth noting that Thorncombe Woods, which leads the way to the home of Dorset’s most famous son, Thomas Hardy, are lined with bluebells in the spring. (Ben Lawrence)
What's on Stage lists the 2014 South West theatre highlights:
Best Actress: (nominated)
Madeleine Worrall (Jane Eyre)
As bright, as wilful and as independent as the books heroine, Worrall had the difficult task over the plays two parts to be the only actor to play the one part. As actors multi-tasked around her she was the audience's guiding hand. There is no bigger compliment then to say we would have followed her anywhere. (...)
Bristol Old Vic had a strong year with noteworthy performances of Jane Eyre, Swallows And Amazons and my production of the year Dead Dog but it also produced a so-so revival of Juno And The Paycock and a not very good World Cup Final 1966. (Kris Hallett)
The Times mentions Charlotte Brontë in an article about Charles Dickens's unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood and  Escritoras Inglesas (in Portuguese) posts about her; Alumnus posts about Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at January 05, 2015 11:25 AM

Regency Ramble

New Year's Resolutions

First let me wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year. I also wish that you prosper in all that you undertake.

And so, here we are, the start of a new year and the opportunity to look back and look forward as if standing at the top of a hill after a long climb.

This year, for me, saw the final book in the Gilvry's of Dunross Series, The Return of the Prodigal Gilvry. I am going to miss my whisky smuggling Highlanders. It was a fun series to write, and I look forward to visiting Scotland again at sometime in the future.


In 2014 I returned to Beresford Abbey with a spy story Captured Countess, to be followed in 2015 by the last of the three Beresford Abbey stories, The Duke's Daring Debutante.

 It also marked my first toe in the water of Indie publishing with my short story Remember.

On a more personal note, there have been ups and downs. My little dog is slowing fading, but still game, so we carry him in and out of the house. His appetite is good and he is pleased to see us, so we keep him happy. I lost a dear family member early in the year, and so the year's blessings are mingled with sadness. Once more I joyfully travelled to Europe for research for this blog as well as to catch up with family members. 

As for my resolution: Be More Organized.

I have some ideas about what that entails, more lists, a strategy, and so on. The trouble is that I am a dreamer, and those dreams appear on the pages of my books, and so organizing is not natural for me.

We will see how it goes.  Have you made any new year resolutions? Are they doable or merely a wish list? Do you have a strategy in place to help you accomplish your goals?

I will be interested to hear.

 Until next time.

by Ann Lethbridge ( at January 05, 2015 11:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Little Professor

When automatic pricing software goes haywire

Really, I could retire on the proceeds of selling just one copy of Book One.  Who knew?

This was the special gold-plated edition, in case you were wondering.  

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein at January 05, 2015 03:32 AM