Planet Century 19

August 29, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6.45 ― arranged for painting &c. ― till 8.

Nice letter from Taylor ― very. He encloses Beale’s bill ― & his own ― & a cheque for 6£ over & above his own account paid. The 7 cases were shipped by the “Crimœan” ― 18th or 20th. ― Would I had left all my things there! ―― Letter also from Gussie Bethell, asking me there on Saturday; & from F.L. ― whose wife is not so well.

Worked ― mainly ― all day ― tho’ not always successfully ― at the Campagna of Sir S. James (2nd day.)

At 5. went out, to various places ― Robersons, Lee’s ― &c. &c.

Dined μοναχῶς at 8 ― penned out old Campagna drawings afterwards ― & now bed at 11.

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

by Marco Graziosi at August 29, 2014 08:00 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Marie Heineken (1844-1930), flower paintings

 photo Marieheinekenorchids.jpg

Marie Heineken lived in Amsterdam and was a niece of the famous brewer Gerard Heineken; she seems to have painted almost nothing apart from flowers. This watercolour of orchids is very attractive.

 photo marieheinekenprimroses.jpeg

 photo Marieheineken.jpg

August 29, 2014 03:00 AM


Brontë Society Conference: The Condition of England

Today, August 29, opens the annual Brontë Society Conference at the Warwick University:
The Brontës and the Condition of England

The next Brontë Society conference will take place on 29, 30, & 31 August 2014, at the Scarman Conference Centre, Warwick University.

In the nineteenth century the term ‘Condition of England’ was applied mainly to the economic and commercial problems of the nation. For this conference we would like to broaden the meaning to include, if possible, some of the other major national concerns of the day, which would have impacted on the Brontë family and possibly influenced their works. Some of the
most obvious examples are: development of the railways; controversy over home-rule for Ireland; abolition of slavery; Catholic emancipation; Law reform; and the Chartist movement. The last topic is particularly pertinent, as Haworth was at the very centre of the rapid industrialisation of the former cottage industries of wool-combing, spinning, and weaving.

The aim of this conference is to give meaning and depth to the anxious national concerns of early 19th century England, ones which would have impacted the young Brontës both in their lives and works. We hope to create an overall picture of what the world looked like to the passionate young inhabitants of Haworth’s Parsonage.

We are greatly privileged to have some of the leading scholars in this field to address us. The key-note speaker will be Juliet Barker, the author of the closest thing to a definitive biography of the family, The Brontës. Other speakers include Rebecca Fraser biographer of Charlotte Brontë, Dr Robert Logan, Chairman of the Irish Brontë Society, whose understanding of the young Patrick and the influences on him growing up is exceptional and Marianne Thormählen, author of The Brontës and Education and editor of The Brontës in Context. Our President, Bonnie Greer OBE, will be present and will give the after-dinner speech at the conference dinner on Saturday.

The conference location this year is at the purpose built Scarman Centre, Warwick University, just eight miles from the ancient county town of Warwick, which lies on the River Avon, and boasts the country’s oldest school (Warwick School, established 914), as well as a castle dating back to 1068 and The Norman Conquest. To the South, and a little less than seventeen miles from the University is Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.
More information here.

by M. ( at August 29, 2014 01:09 AM

August 28, 2014

The Little Professor

Secularization narratives and historical fiction

The historian Alec Ryrie, after praising Maria McCann's The Wilding (of which I wrote briefly here) for its attention to religion, wonders:

I was beginning to wonder if the novel, as a genre, is capable of dealing effectively with characters who genuinely hold to and draw strength from their religion. Or is there a cult of individualism so deeply ingrained in it as a form that we can only construe adherence to truths beyond the self as a form of oppression? I struggle to think of many modern novels whose characters' religion is simply part of them (aside from those like Susan Howatch's Starbridge series, where that is the point).

In the case of historical fiction, I think that many Anglo-American novelists who come out of a Christian tradition are still wedded to a secularization thesis that historians, philosophers, sociologists, theologians &c. have been critiquing for quite some time.  That is, they assume that traditional religious life-narratives somehow give way, in "modernity," to alternative ways of making sense out of human experience--science being an especially popular example, but also environmentalism, the occult, artistic endeavor, other forms of self-expression (from writing to sex), politics, etc.  Very macro- to micro-narrative, in other words. John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman is an obvious example of this thinking in action, but it crops up everywhere--even in Dracula knockoffs, of all things.   Protestant Christianity in particular tends to come under siege for being hostile to otherness: characters flourish inasmuch as they dump it in favor of something (anything) else, whether it be Catholicism or curling.  (As a Victorianist, I find that fascinating, since Victorian Protestants were very insistent on thinking of themselves as both timeless and modern, unlike those anachronistic Catholics, Jews &c. over there.)  

by Miriam Burstein at August 28, 2014 11:34 PM


Book Traces: In the Leaves

As we start to get a critical mass of submissions to Book Traces, we can start to notice some interesting trends among clusters of submissions. A number of the posts note plants pressed between their pages:

In some cases, the plants might have made an easy bookmark when reading outside. In others, they must have made handy reference materials to correspond with the scientific discussion on the pages. What other reader behaviors might the practice suggest? And what other trends have you noticed among the many submissions that we’ve started to collect?

by Brandon Walsh at August 28, 2014 06:49 PM


The Brontës on Pen stylus

Keighley News reports the local concerns about the application for the building of a barn near Ponden Kirk:
Opposition is mounting to plans to build a livestock building on a scenic spot outside Stanbury.
More than 50 objections have been submitted to the application for the new barn and access track at Ponden Kirk, Ponden Lane. (...)
Christine Went, trustee of the Brontë Society, comments: "This structure's excessive size, which is out of scale with existing buildings in the area, and the materials from which it would be fabricated, would render it highly and inappropriately visible in a landscape valued for its literary and historical associations.
"The building would be situated midway between Ponden Hall, a grade two listed building, and the natural feature known as Ponden Kirk, both of which have long-standing associations with the Brontë family and their works."
Dursley Gazette talks about the upcoming Brontë season by the Butterfly Psyche Theatre & Livewire Theatre:
Whether you're a hard-core Brontë fan or if you've never had the pleasure, these fresh new adaptations of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by West Country theatre companies Butterfly Psyche Theatre & Livewire Theatre are sure to invigorate, inspire and melt hearts around the South West this autumn.
Performed in rep, with only one and two actors, there's a chance to mix-and-match an old favourite along with a new acquaintance, as well as the chance to see all three in omnibus performances at most venues.(Jayne Bennett)
The Telegraph celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sheridan LeFanu and reminds us of the possible influence that one of his stories might have had on Charlotte Brontë:
His story A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family (1839), the tale of a madwoman in the attic who attempts to kill her husband’s new bride, may have guided the hand of Charlotte Brontë.  (Matthew Sweet)
You can read it here and judge for yourself.

Digital Spy, Pocket-Lint and others talks about a curious initiative by Microsoft to promote the release of its new Surface Pro 3 tablet:
To celebrate the launch of its Surface Pro 3 tablet, Microsoft commissioned renowned ballpoint pen artist James Mylne to recreate three of the famous paintings hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London, using just the tablet and its included Pen stylus.
He chose to render The Brontë Sisters [in the video -->] by Patrick Branwell Brontë, Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright, and William Shakespeare, associated with John Taylor. All three are iconic works, and Mylne opted to reproduce them in black and white on the Microsoft slate. (Rik Henderson)
The Independent (Ireland) mentions a curious side effect of climate change. What about weather-inspired literature:
From the cold, wet and foggy streets of Dickensian London in Oliver Twist, symbolic of the underbelly of crime in the city, to the classic Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, the weather is a constant and pervading feature.
I wonder would this tragic love story be as compelling if not set amidst the misty, dark, desolate and bleak Yorkshire Moors?
Connecticut Post talks about Susan Elizabeth Phillips's novel, Heroes Are My Weakness:
With her new book, the author has attempted an homage to the stories she loved as a young reader.
"It's my take on the gothic, Daphne DuMaurier. `Jane Eyre.' Remember those book covers with the house on the cliff and the heroine in her nightgown running away? I wanted to use all of those elements," the novelist said. (Joe Meyers)
Now Daily has some facts about Kate Bush's career:
She wrote the song Wuthering Heights as a tribute to the best novel ever...
...(no, we're not debating it) and the chorus goes, ‘Heathcliff - it's me Cathy. I've come home. I'm so cold. Let me in-a-the window.' Genius. (Obviously this topped the charts.) (Jo Usmar)
Le Nouvel Observateur (France) is devoting a series of articles to famous siblings. Now is the Brontës' turn:
 Noël 1827. Dans le presbytère de Haworth, sur cette lande écossaise et venteuse qui échauffera bientôt leurs âmes romanesques et solitaires, sont assises au coin du feu Charlotte, Emily et Anne Brontë. Elles ont entre 11 et 7 ans.
Il y a là aussi leur frère Branwell, moins choyé par la postérité mais qui n'en fut pas moins influent dans la construction d'un univers commun. Le garçon s'ennuie. Charlotte, dont l'esprit gambade sans cesse, a une idée: «Supposons que chacun ait une île à soi.» Immédiatement, le fertile quartette entre dans un jeu de rôle. Ce n'est pas leur premier. Les mondes qu'ils imaginent à quatre, pleins de magie et de surnaturel, sont une échappatoire à un contexte funèbre. (Read more) (Translation) (Anne Crignon)
We have to point something out, however. Patrick Brontë was not 'un méthodiste austère et autodidacte'. No doubt Methodism was a strong influence on Patrick Brontë's background but he was loyal to the Church of England all his life.

Libération (France) reviews Madame by Jean-Marie Chevrier:
De vieilles anglaises, se dit-on, à égrener les phrases de Madame. Comme dans «éducation anglaise», une tendance au fouet et au corset, un manoir genre Hurlevent ou Rebecca. (Eric Loret, Claire Devarrieux and Thomas Stélandre) (Translation)
Buxton Advertiser talks about the upcoming Wuthering Heights performances of the ChapterHouse Theatre Company at the Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre; Dictionopolis reviews Wide Sargasso Sea.

by M. ( at August 28, 2014 05:05 PM

Unrest within the ranks of the Brontë Society

It seems that tomorrow's opening of the annual Brontë Society Conference will be anything but quiet. According to Museum's Journal, there is saber-rattling in the Society's ranks:
Members of the Brontë Society have expressed serious concerns about the organisation’s governance and are seeking to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in order to elect a new council of trustees.
Following a meeting of more than 20 members in July, a letter was sent out to the society’s membership last week detailing a number of allegations about the conduct of the council and asking members to support the calling of an EGM.
It said: “It is essential and urgent that we gather 50 signatures of paid-up members to requisition an [EGM].”
The letter, which a source has shown to Museums Journal, said it was necessary to elect a new council in order to “modernise” the organisation and bring “higher levels of professionalism and experience to the society”.
It described a “difficult” situation for staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which is run by the society, and raised concerns about the council's lack of action following the departure of former executive director Ann Sumner in June.
The letter stated: “The post of executive director remains unadvertised. Financial reporting both of the society and its trading company, Brontë Genius, is months behind schedule...
“This is extremely serious for a business dependent on seasonal income and requiring up-to-date information to facilitate decisions that can improve performance during the busiest months of trading. (Geraldine Kendall)

by M. ( at August 28, 2014 12:03 PM

Regency Ramble

Perseverance - Writer's Friend or Foe

When asked about success as a writer, I often mention perseverance as key.

Persevering to the end of a story is certainly something that every beginning writer needs to accomplish. There is nothing more satisfying than writing the end even if it is the first draft.

It certainly requires a huge measure of steadfastness to write book after book when no one is buying what you write.

Submitting those books to editors and agents despite the pain of rejection is a special kind of perseverance.

It's all good right?

Well, I have come to realize that sometime perseverance can be a bad thing.

For example, writing and re-writing to perfect prose, so that it is never finished, is a problem.  Some blame it on perfectionism, but I have come to realize that the same dogged determination evidenced above is part of this too.

And what about sitting hour after hour staring at the computer to meet a deadline or finish the word count set for the day. There are serious health aspect to this kind of perseverance. The body was built to move.

And what about the hours you spend never talking to anyone while you finish the manuscript. Even a writer needs to speak to real people one in a while.

So, persevere by all means, but in moderation. The goal isn't everything. How you get there is important.  And definitely have fun along the way.

The Gilvrys of Dunross

Until next time….

by Ann Lethbridge ( at August 28, 2014 12:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Cloudy ― cold ― dry ― gleamy. Medicine.

Wrote lots all the morning ― to G. Cocali, Mrs. Francillon, Clark (W.G.) & others. Then I drew in & ruled all the Acqueducts & the Tower in Sir W. James’s Campagna ― after which I suddenly commenced 6 of the 3rd size next year Watercolored drawings ― & actually outlined all 6. ― At 5 then, I went to call on Sir H.J. Storks ― but he was not in. Yet Cecil Lane was ― by a lucky chance, calling there also. (Giorgio ― Constantino’s brother opened the door ― for Sir H.J. has brought the Palace servants here: “being a kind-hearted man.”) So, C. Lane walked with me all to Brompton, & kindly waited for me which I went in at 1, Trafalgar Square. Poor Fanny Coomber really did break the knee tendon yesterday, & is in bed for 4 or 6 weeks ― if ˇ[even] the lameness is not for always. I saw Fanny Catt (Willett, ― & Marion Morse: how odd![)] C. Lane walked back with me to Assley House, & then I cabbed home. At 7.30 ― taking “Parrots” & “Knowsley Menagerie” I went to 61. Eaton Square where also I dined this day last year. ―


Always delightful[.]

Cabman, who went wrong, said, “Please Sir excuse me, I am a beginner.” Home by 11.30.

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

by Marco Graziosi at August 28, 2014 08:00 AM


Food, Elizabeth Gaskell, Sarah Waters and Contemporary Female Bildungsroman

Tomorrow is not only the opening of the 2014 Brontë Society Conference but also of this confernce in Slovakia with several Brontë-related talks:
12th ESSE Conference in Košice, Slovakia
Friday 29 August – Tuesday 2 September, 2014
Department of British and American Studies, Faculty of Arts and SKASE (The Slovak Association for the Study of English)

Agata Buda, University of Technology and Humanities in Radom, Poland,
Food as the Representation of Gender Roles in the Victorian Female Novel

The aim of the paper is to analyse the idea of cooking/eating in two Victorian novels: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Both works present the idea of food as one of the major points of reference in human relationships. One of the aspects worth analysing is family eating. The meetings are preceded by careful preparation of meals (e.g. preserves by Mrs. Tulliver or Nelly’s dishes). The food often becomes the major topic during these meetings, showing in this way the gender roles in the nineteenth-century England: females are irreplaceable in preparing food but men very often ignore the final product of cooking. This idyllic space of collective eating (according to M. Bakhtin) can be frequently destroyed by refusing; men refuse to eat either because of sadness (Mr. Earnshaw) or being fussy (Linton); women do not eat due to the fact they are busy taking care of men (Cathy) or are more interested in reading (Maggie). Both sexes are aware of the demands society poses to them. Neither Cathy and Maggie are allowed to read books, but expected to be mindful about meals.

María José Coperías Aguilar, University of Valencia, Spain,
The Reception of Elizabeth Gaskell in Spain

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865) was a prolific and well-known Victorian writer who enjoyed great popularity during her lifetime and sold a comparatively high number of copies of her books. However, after her death, her work seems to have fallen into oblivion in the minds of most readers and critics, except for her novel Cranford and her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Although an incomplete collection of her works was published in the early 20th century and some occasional critical studies were also published in the first half of that century, it was not until the 1950s, with Marxist criticism, and in the 1970s and 1980s, from a feminist approach, that she was rediscovered. In this paper we will try to analyse how her work has been received in Spain, especially in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Despite the few translations we have managed to find for the first half of the 20th century, in recent decades there appears to have been a great increase in popular interest in reading her work. However, this great interest in Elizabeth Gaskell does not seem to exist in the academic world.

Soňa Šnircová, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Slovakia,
Girlhood in Susan Fletcher’s Eve Green and Tiffany Murray’s Happy Accidents: Contemporary Transformations of the Female Bildungsroman.

Published in 2004 as debut novels by contemporary writers, Eve Green and Happy Accidents share some important similarities. Fatherless and abandoned (for different reasons) by their rebellious mothers, the young heroines have to move from cities to the rural setting of Welsh farms to be brought up by their maternal grandmothers. Both authors place the coming-of-age stories into the context of the female Bildungsroman tradition, using allusions to Jane Eyre as important structural elements of their narratives. My paper will claim that these two texts represent a new stage in the development of the female Bildungsroman since their appropriation of the tradition can be defined as postfeminist: Susan Fletcher, who makes the romantic motif of Jane Eyre central to her novel, appears to support the new cult of (almost idyllic) domesticity, while Tiffany Murray, whose images of domesticity are, on the contrary, interwoven with grotesque elements, uses the mad Bertha motif in the way that challenges victim feminism.

Eileen Williams-Wanquet, University of La Réunion, France,
Reviving Ghosts: The Reversibility of Victims and Vindicators in Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger

I would like to pursue the conclusion Susana Onega comes to, in her answer to George Letissier, concerning the identity of the “little stranger” in Sarah Waters’s fifth novel (2009), showing how Waters associates the use of the Gothic and of psychological realism to “plumb the psyche” (Robert Heilmann) and express the unspeakable trauma of the mixed feelings involved in British class relations. Although the novel is set in the context of the class crisis of the postwar period, the trauma transcends time and space. The transtextuality with Jane Eyre shall be developed, in order to suggest that the “phantom” unconsciously carried by the narrator-focaliser, Faraday, is also that of Bertha Mason and of Jane Eyre herself, revived with a vengeance in The Little Stranger. Haunted by the ghost of a ghost of a ghost of a past text that itself keeps spectrally and anti-lineally returning, Waters’ novel, typical of postmodern romances that “create doubt” (Elam) and blur temporality, rethinks the relation between victims and vindicators, offering a reflexion on the ubiquitous and elusive nature of evil, and on its origins: if a victim cannot exist without a tormentor and if a traumatised victim returns to take revenge, where do vulnerability and responsibility ultimately lie and how can the endless repetition of the same, the repetitive spiral of violence, be broken?

by M. ( at August 28, 2014 01:05 AM

August 27, 2014

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

Group writing: Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The funny thing about digital projects is that in addition to their online presence, they also exist in the real world. We’ve spent a lot of time over the past year increasing our web-based activity (this blog, twitter, participating in Day of DH and so on) but as we approach the start of the new academic year, I find myself confronting problems that are real, tangible, material. For example, how on earth can I find a time when twelve busy people are all available to meet? And even if that’s possible, where are we going to meet? Is the summer construction around the office going to be finished in time for the new semester? And why is the carpet in our office permanently wrinkled (a question I lose sleep over because I’m worried that someone’s going to trip over and do themselves a horrible injury)?

The point of this post is not to complain about my problems, but to talk about the real-life work that goes into creating and maintaining the Blake Archive. The photo that accompanied Megan’s post last week reminded me of the amount of stuff that is necessary for effective proofing, and the same is true for transcription, planning, blog-post writing and all of the tasks that comprise our days at BAND. And it’s not just about stuff, but people too: our group meets once a week in order to update each other on our progress, to ask questions and share solutions; we make sure to hold office hours at similar time s to bounce ideas around and offer comfort while weeping over Blake’s more illegible bits of handwriting; and communication between distant members of the Blake Archive is kept up daily, thanks to the project’s listserv.

Increasingly, DH projects are celebrating the everyday work behind their online faces. Blogs like this one (some of my favourite reads here, here and here), the publication of technological and editorial documentation and information about future plans are now a standard in the world of DH, and I’m glad that the Blake Archive is doing this too. More than a gimmicky “extra” I think that glimpses of behind-the-scenes work is increasingly important, especially in the Humanities where suspicion of the digital still lingers.

Group writing: Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

by Laura Whitebell at August 27, 2014 04:21 PM


No Wuthering Before the Dawn

Kate Bush's first comeback concert is, of course, all over the news. Regrettably she didn't included Wuthering Heights on her setlist:
Certainly, her voice still sounds terrific – although she no longer includes Wuthering Heights, her first and biggest hit, on her set list. (Jan Moir in Daily Mail)
It is not difficult to realise why Kate Bush made such a startling impression when, in 1978, at the age of 19, she burst upon the scene with Wuthering Heights, cartwheeling in her weird dance moves to No 1 in the charts – the first woman to reach the top with a song she had written. Everything about it was rich and strange: the swooping soprano, the musical progression and the words! Even in the hippy Seventies lyrics based on Emily Brontë’s mad fantasy seemed far-fetched: “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home. I’m so cold!” Then there were her looks: unusual but stunning. (The Telegraph)
The singer shares a birthday, July 30, with novelist Emily Brontë. Kate's birthday is known as Katemas and it is celebrated by devoted fans all over the world.
Kate's debut single, Wuthering Heights, is based on Emily Brontë’s novel of the same name but the singer hadn't actually read the book at the time. (Emma Pietras in The Mirror)
 In 1978, a 19-year-old doctor’s daughter from Kent mimed her way through Wuthering Heights on Top Of The Pops. Scary yet sexy, romantic and other-worldly, Kate Bush’s wild-eyed rendition of a song she wrote after catching the last ten minutes of a BBC adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel (she didn’t read the novel until later) was a life-changing, generation-defining moment in pop culture. (Will Hodgkinson in The TImes)
The aftershocks of punk and new wave were still rolling across the cultural landscape, disco was in its pomp,Jeff Wayne had just unleashed his musical version of HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds”, and then suddenly there’s this girl singing a song about an old Emily Brontë  novel in a strange, witchy voice. (Fraser McAlpine on BBC America)
Yelena Akhtiorskaya remembers why she disliked English class in New Republic:
Imagine my shock then, when we began reading novels and taking apart the characters and events as if they were real, trudging laboriously through Steinbeck and Brontë, answering the equivalent of who, what, where, how, and why. My literary identity fractured; I loathed the assigned books and dreaded analyzing them, but loved my secret books, which I’d never defile by deconstructing (or thinking about too hard).
SBS on Spring fashion(s):
After a 150 year hiatus, Victorian era skirts are back, and shorter than ever! More titillating than their 150 year old predecessors, these skirts reveal an entire ankle (so racy), and make a great costume should you ever choose to attend a party dressed as ‘Sexy Charlotte Brontë’ or ‘Sexy Emily Dickinson’. Long and flowing, these skirts are also great for sneaking people and things in and out of places. (Nina Oyama)
New York Daily News makes a list of great books to bring along this Labor Day:
"Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys.
Rhys takes the done-to-death story of "Jane Eyre," flips it and reverses it. By exploring that "crazy woman in the attic," she opens up a story about love, identity and destiny. Could a woman who is told she is crazy over and over again learn to believe it? Heartbreaking and sad, this book taught me in college about how the ability to express vulnerability gives us strength.
North Devon Gazette presents the Wuthering Heights performances at the Tapeley Park Gardens by the ChapterHouse Theatre Company; Quite as Mouse reviews Jane Eyre; Tony Walker uploads some recent pictures of Top Withins.

by M. ( at August 27, 2014 12:30 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 5.30. ― Arranged for painting, & various matters ― (sticking pins into canvass &c. &c. &c. &c. ―) which took me to 8. ―― No letters.

Began Sir W. James’s Campagna outline. At 1. came Mrs. Coombe. (I had asked her & her ) 3 daughter & Walter to lunch ― because I could not go there by day ― & she had written, “Yes.” ― But, in coming here, she had hurt her knee very badly ― & could hardly walk at all. Laura Coombe came later, ― & later Walter Coombe, who seems to be by far the best son poor Fanny has. ―

She was calm & quiet ― when still: ― & we 4 had Lunch very pleasantly ― Fanny Catt=Willett & Marion Morse not being able to come; & then we got Mrs. C. down stairs & into a cab.

I worked on till 5, when Cecil Lane came, & at 6, when I was ready to go out, F.L. So we 3, the Giudice,[1] A.D.C. & Artist of 1856 ― walked merrily moonily back to F.L.’s house: & C. Lane & I back to Stratford Place, ― where we parted.

Dined μοναχῶς.

Eh but I think I shall return gradually to Greece.

[1] Judge.

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

by Marco Graziosi at August 27, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


From the Emma discussion in The Jane Austen Book Club (Robin Swicord, all the principals gathered together over their books)

Dear friends and readers,

I’ve decided to blog about my long-term book project, A Place of Refuge: the Jane Austen Film Canon. I started it an embarrassingly long time ago now: 2007. Since this past March or so (when I taught a course on Jane Austen novels at the OLLI at AU) I’ve been keeping it up intermittently, sometimes consistently for a couple and more hours a day for a week or so or more, and then again, less so when I’m writing a review or (as I did last week) helping to referee a paper for a peer-edited journal (on a 17th to 18th century woman writer, Catherine Trotter Cockburn). I’m returning to using this Austen reveries blog for working out thoughts.

Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood when she thinks she will spend her life alone (long a favorite still with me for the strength of endurance she manifests) (2008 JA’s S&S)

I began the study with the goal of enabling myself and other readers of women’s novels and lovers of film to understand Austen’s Sense and Sensibility better, in some circles still underrated and her first published novel. I wanted to raise the status of this book generally too; following Roger Shattuck’s Forbidden Knowledge, its relevant dramatization of male and female sexual awakening and coming of age. My method has been to examine how and what elements in the text were transferred to a group of film adaptations of it and then compare the transference of these elements between these films. It’s been my experience that close comparative film adaptation studies enable the reader to reach deeply into the archetypes and workings of a text more than any other method. I also value the Austen film canon as a subset of two important kinds of movies combined: romantic and costume drama: it’s a rare coherent body of work which uses female narrators, looks at life from a woman’s perspective, and contains a number of film masterpieces and a variety of kinds of films. So I have also studied the six Sense and Sensibility films as works of art in their own right to bring out the peculiar set of cultural meanings conveyed by each film.

Alan Rickman as the enthralled melancholy Brandon (1995 S&S)

Basically I managed to write a Prologue to Part Two showing that one important source for Sense and Sensibility was Isabelle de Montolieu’s Caroline de Lichtfield and that uncannily some of the archetypes underlying S&S as found in Montolieu’s work show up: such as the Brandon figure as someone the Marianne character falls in love with and for whom she is a revenant. I wrote about the 1971, 1983, 1995 Sense and Sensibility Heritage films, and the 2000 I Have Found It. So 5 chapters. I got bogged down when I got to the 2008 Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility because I couldn’t manage to contextualize Davies’s film in a small enough compass (a 6th unfinished chapter), and then I was defeated by a life crisis of overwhelming dimensions during which time another very successful appropriation of S&S was brought to the theaters, From Prada to Nada, about which I did write blogs at least. I hope to finish the 6th chapter and write a 7th on the Hispanic S&S. There has been yet another S&S film, an appropriation which I’ve seen, Scents and Sensibility which moves the material into a fable about the commercialization of romance. I have not begun to watch it often enough to say more.

As I studied the S&S films, I realized in order to make these films and this book significant beyond a still stigmatized and to some extent ghettoized readership, the Janeites, and groups of viewers who like costume drama, soap opera, TV serials based on classic books, I would have to place my study in the context of central issues debated in film studies in a consistent thorough way. The central section of this book rather simply allows Austen’s novel, one of its important literary sources and then the films themselves to set the agenda and structure of what is discussed.

It is my view that the screenplay adapted and worked up into a visual and auditory experience capable of absorbing an audience has been paid insufficient attention to, is wrongly overlooked, its role underrated. Most of the time they are not published anywhere or presented in such a doctored form (as a novelization of the film) as to be unusable as a basis for comparison. The exceptions are individual cases where the film has been such a success or its eponymous novel is so respected or the scriptwriter him or herself gained attention as an artist in his or her own right. yet many of them are literary works of value in their own right, or at least enough of them. We are very lucky when it comes to studying scripts in the Austen canon: she is a cult figure with a world-wide following, a number of the script-writers and directors of her films are respected film auteurs with a recognized body of film work studied in its own right. It is therefore possible to study a number of the scripts in the Austen canon in the context of film work outside Austen, and romantic and serial drama. Some are appropriations drawn from an intermediary analogous novel to the Austen one limned and that may be compared.

Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth and Matthew Rhys as Darcy discussing how they should view Georgiana’s desire to marry a young lawyer, Henry Alveston (Death Comes to Pemberley)

Talking together in bed

So I’ve spent much of my time on this book in the last few months first reading about screenplays, then sampling non-Austen ones, and finally taking down with great delight every word of Death Comes to Pemberley and The Jane Austen Book Club while I watched. I’ve now gone on to read the published screenplays or shooting scripts of Metropolitan, Ruby in Paradise, and Andrew Davies’s Emma.
I’ve asked myself what features these have in common, how are they distinct from non-Austen romance and mini-series or comic movies.

This book could be a triptych, with an opening part having the aim of understanding how the key instrument of the script repeated across the body of film work that makes up the Austen film canon is turned into a movie. I was interested to see what happens when in appropriate films there is no intermediary analogous novel (Lost in Austen and Metropolitan), where there is one (Death Comes to Pemberley and The Jane Austen Book Club), and how these compare to those screenplays-films where the immediate source is an Austen novel (however inflected by film genre and intertextualities of all sorts). What about a film like Davies’s 2007 Room with a View where he has read back into Forster’s novel its source material in Northanger Abbey and allowed the later character relationships to comment on Austen’s own. I would be answering the question, Is there a subgenre, the Austen films and how does its underlying material (the novels, the letters, favored ideas about Austen herself comprise itself.

I hope to post some of the material I gathered about the individual screenplays. I especially enjoyed all the discussions of the Jane Austen novels in Robin Swicord’s The Jane Austen Book Club, the way Juliette Towhidi reworked P.D. James’s maturation and darkening of the characters of Darcy (he is made more understandable, more consistent) and Elizabeth (she hurt and disillusioned by the experience of how she is treated by others) after a few years marriage in Death Comes to Pemberley. I had surmized that direct violence inflicted on women was not seen in Austen films, but attempted rape is central to Ruby in Paradise, and (piquant to me) that Aubrey Rouget in Stillman’s Metropolitan is modeled on Audrey Hepburn (from the 1957 Love in the Afternoon (a weak late romantic screwball comedy). Films alluded to in these films (watched by the characters too) include the 1966 Un Homme et Une Femme, and Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (in two of the films), which I admit I once fell asleep on.

Ashley Judd as Ruby and Todd Field as Mike McCaslin (1993 Ruby)

I discover that some of these screenplays really stand on their own as poetic texts (Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise), that the effect of reading them is different and enrichening in ways that experiencing their realization in film loses (Davies’s Emma is a visionary text, things are constantly dissolving into dreams and we can’t always tell whose the dream is; Stillman’s literary thoughtful Metropolitan). I want to do justice to their peculiar typical cyclical structures. The beauty of the portraits of fleeting moments is unobtrusive in Nunez’s (surprising perhaps in western impoverished Florida, even junkyards) but there, and there in all the best of those on the evocative romantic end of the Austen spectrum.

Olivia Williams as Jane Austen very pleased to see three of her books set up by Clarke in the Prince Regent’s London home (Miss Austen Regrets by Gwyneth Hughes and Anne Pivcevic)

A last problem is the snobbish devaluation of these films, one writ large in Austen film studies: the legitimate question would be, why are a set of books concerning a small sub-set of privileged people who experience hardly any violence, minor losses, and where the author displays an unawareness, even indifference to central issues or norms maiming the larger society upon which the community of characters depend endlessly discussed, rated almost hysterically high, filmed and re-filmed continually? One would have to study frankly the flaws and problems in her books, by studying the struggle film-makers have had turning her last three published full novels into films: Emma goes on to long and too little literally happens for a film theater; two of the books are partly unfinished or truncated books, named by her brother Henry, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. There are fissures in P&P, S&S and MP from all the years of revision. I want to see what are the assumptions film-makers make about the reading experience audiences have had with an Austen novel and expect to have analogously in watching an Austen film.

Amanda Price (Jemima Hooper) reading Pride and Prejudice (Lost in Austen)

The strange film Austenland, a creditable failure, ia intended as a kind of commentary on romance readers of Austen: I’ll make a separate blog on this. film-makers try to counter what they think makes many contemporary readers, especially women uncomfortable when they read Austen (Austen’s Fanny Price, anyone?) and what have the film-makers done to compensate, erase, replace these elements in Austen’s texts. The biopic, Miss Austen Regrets, based on Austen’s letters and Nokes’s biography is important here.

So next up in this series of blogs will be the discussions of Jane Austen’s novels found in The Jane Austen Book Club — whence my opening still. I hope to carry on the Austen Papers though few are now joining in: the book is insufficiently annotated and there are no texts by Jane Austen, and return to blogging about my Valancourt edition of Smith’s Ethelinde which is coming along now: completely typed and annotated up to near the end of the fifth and final volume.

Of course I’m now trying to make the time of my bereft life (without Jim) as endurable I can. I derive some pleasure watching, studying, reading and writing about this ever-increasing subset of movies. They help me to forget where I am, how silent this house, to yes escape.


by ellenandjim at August 27, 2014 01:28 AM


Auditions in Edmonton

Auditions for a Jane Eyre. The Musical (Gordon & Caird version) production in Edmonton, Canada:
Theatre Alberta

We are presenting this musical in an in-concert, semi-staged setting (like we did with Titanic back in 2012) at Myer Horowitz Theatre. Those cast in the production need to be available for a daytime technical rehearsal on November 18th and a school matinee on November 19 at 10am, in addition to the 2 evening performances on November 18 and 19.

There will be two evening rehearsals and one Sunday afternoon rehearsal starting in September.

Show dates and tech details:

Tech rehearsal from 8am – 4:30pm on November 18th.
November 18th at 7:30pm
November 19th at 10am and 7:30pm


Thursday, August 28 from 7-10pm
Friday, August 29 from 7-10pm

Saturday, August 30, 6-10pm

Location: 5951-103A Street (use 58 Ave for access, the studio is located between Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulverad, first bay in an orange roof industrial bay complex)

Director: Linette Smith
Musical Director: Daniel Belland
More information.

by M. ( at August 27, 2014 01:14 AM

August 26, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Sir Hubert von Herkomer, Portrait of John Ruskin

 photo herkomermezzotintruskin.jpg


 photo herkomeruskin.jpg

This the painting from which he made the print, but I prefer the print, it is more sensitive in the portrayal of Ruskin's features.

 photo Oldman_Herkomer.jpg

Portrait of an old man, wash

August 26, 2014 05:36 PM


Grumpiest Plaque Award

The Telegraph & Argus talks about last Sunday's BBC Radio 4 programme Open Book who was devoted to the moors as literary landscape:
The trio discussed the sense of freedom the moors provided for the Brontë sisters, and how these authors personified the wild landscape in some of their own literary characters.
John Bowen, a professor of 19th century literature, who took part in the programme, said Haworth Moor during the Brontë's time would have seemed relatively untouched by the modern world, despite being on the edge of a village that was being rapidly changed by the Industrial Revolution.
Mrs Frostrup joked that the Brontë Society plaque at Top Withens, which explains that this building has no resemblance to the Earnshaw Home in the novel Wuthering Heights, could qualify as a winner of the "grumpiest plaque award". (Miran Rahman)
Vanora Bennett discusses Kate Bush songs in The Guardian. Wuthering Heights is not her favourite one but, nevertheless, she says
For instance, her 1978 No 1 single Wuthering Heights rescued Emily Brontë’s novel from languishing dustily on school exam syllabuses, unloved by unmotivated teenage readers, and gave it a new generation of admirers. The plaintive refrain, “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home,” brought chillingly back to life the uncanny nightmare episode at the start of the book.
Les inRocks (France) has something to add about the song too:
Dans ce décor sur mesure, Kate Bush cultiverait à l’abri des regards sa psyché torturée de demi-sœur Brontë, elle dont la chanson talisman s’intitule Wuthering Heights (“Les Hauts de Hurlevent”), improbable premier single qui attira vers elle tous les projecteurs lorsqu’elle avait à peine 19 ans. (Christophe Conte) (Translation)
USA Today features a conversation between writers Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz:
JAK: It's the fact that the reviewers are comparing Heroes Are My Weakness to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and even to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre that made you go out and buy a new one, right?
SEP: A girl can't have too many tiaras, and it was the perfect excuse. Heroes is a modern take on those classic Gothic novels we loved.
The Mirror talks about a recent survey about Britain's most popular childhood holiday destination. Scarborough is the fifth most popular:
I haven’t mentioned the magnificent Rotunda Museum housing Gristhorpe Man, a Bronze Age local, the Stephen Joseph Theatre where Alan Ayckbourn’s plays are premiered, writer Anne Brontë’s grave in St Mary’s churchyard, or the spa where the waters have been taken for 300 years, or the shows or the brilliant pubs like the Alma Inn. (Paul Routledge)
Augusta Magazine has an article about TB:
When we think of tuberculosis, we think of Old West outlaws, novels set in 19th-century Europe and afflicted geniuses. We think of Doc Holliday, the Georgia-born dentist and gunfighter who went to the Southwest in hopes of extending his life. We think of Marguerite Gautier, the heroine of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Lady of the Camellias. We think of Emily Brontë and George Orwell. (Lucy Adams)
A column in The Herald (Ireland) about why women like helpless guys:
The mismatch between capable, get up and go women and less-than-motivated men is the theme of countless romance novels and even romantic comedies.
Stubborn Mr Rochester, who finally recognises Jane Eyre's love for him when he is blinded and needs a carer.
On Vibe Ghana we read Kwesi Atta Sakyi chronicle his school days:
We had abridged versions of novels by Shakespeare, Emile [sic] Brontë, Charles Dickens, Arabian Nights, Daniel Defoe, Enid Blyton, Sheila Stuart, and of course, our Fante Fie na Skuul Readers by J.A. Annobil, and the Fante Grammar of Function or Mfantse Nkasafuwa Dwumadzi by C.F.C Grant, Nana Bosompo, Prama, and the Nkwantabisa Weekly newspaper.
Novostia (Serbia) talks about an exhibition in Belgrade by the photographer Tomislav Grujičić Ravanjac:
Pomalja se Radnička ulica, simbol Stare Čukarice, sa iščezlim kućercima, "Lazarevački drum sa Đurinom pekarom", fotografija koja ima istorijsku vrednost, dok "Stara zgrada u Zimonjićevoj ulici" kao da je ilustracija za neki roman Emili ili Šarlote Brontë. Na ovom mestu srela su se dva sveta, dva veka, dva načina života. (Translation)
El Diario de Huelva talks about the essay Marco Antonio en Actium by José Orihuela:
Por el ensayo circulan los pensamientos y la palabra escrita de Homero, Plutarco, Pompeyo, Cátulo, Aquiles, Hector, Shakespeare, Hegel, Dumas, Julio Verne, Charlot [sic] Brontë, Pascal, Kovaliov, Fuller, Rostovtzeff, Gracia Alonso, Jordi Cortadella, Margaret George, Massie, Antonio Aguilera, Vicente Picón o el cineasta Joseph L. Mankiewicz entre otros muchos. (Paco Huelva) (Translation)
Che Donna (Italy) lists disastrous marriage proposals:
St. John Rivers e Jane Eyre: pur volendo mettere da parte la consapevolezza che la protagonista del romanzo è destinata a sposare il ricco e affascinante Mr Rochester, l’impacciata proposta del missionario, totalmente priva di qualsiasi romanticismo, può, nel migliore dei casi, limitarsi a strappare un sorriso al lettore e, nel peggiore, far nascere in lui serie perplessità sulla presenza di anche solo un grammo di fascino nell’uomo. Il sunto della proposta sona infatti come “sto per partire missionario e ho bisogno di una compagna, Dio vuole che quella donna sia tu”: ma non era meglio un bel mazzo di fiori e una semplice “vuoi sposarmi”? Almeno rimaneva il dubbio di un sincero sentimento. (Francesca) (Translation)
Nos Folies Littéraires (in French) and Luke McGrath post about Wuthering Heights; Little Miss Trainwreck reviews The Poetic World of Emily Brontë by Laura Inman.

by M. ( at August 26, 2014 06:00 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Alice Ballet at the Lincoln Center, NYC

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we’re huge fans of this ballet.  We’ve posted on it numerous times, and there is going to be a live stream of it this December (see this post for details).  BUT, if you live in New York City and act quickly you can see it live Sept 9-14, 2014 at the Lincoln Center.  Don’t be late!

by Matt at August 26, 2014 04:00 PM


Hospitality and Treachery in Wuthering Heights

An alert for tomorrow, August 27, from Dorset, Vermont:
Green Mountain Academy of Lifelong Learning
Hospitality and Treachery in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 4:30-6 pm
Equinox Village

Description: In a lecture drawn from his new book, Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature, James Heffernan re-examines two famous nineteenth century English novels. By showing what hosts and guests do to as well as for each other in these two novels, he aims to shed light on what they can tell us about property, possession, and power.

James A. W. Heffernan is Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College since 2004. He is the founding editor of Review 19 an online review of books on nineteenth-century English and American literature. He is the author of several books including the forthcoming, Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature, Yale University Press, 2014. 

by M. ( at August 26, 2014 02:06 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Position open: BAVS Postgraduate Representative 2014-16 This is a two-year position and involves maintaining and updating the Victorianist website and Twitter account, feeding back comments and questions to the Committee […]

by Jo Taylor at August 26, 2014 09:17 AM


Hosted by the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada The Manteo lakeside resort, Kelowna, British Columbia Conference dates: April 10-11, 2015 Publication Workshop: April 9 and 12, 2015  The Victorian […]

by Jo Taylor at August 26, 2014 09:09 AM


We’re happy to announce exciting updates for the upcoming The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Solutions and Resolutions conference on 20 September 2014 at Senate House on Charles Dickens’s final work. […]

by Jo Taylor at August 26, 2014 09:04 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine, but cold. Sad, & depressed. ―

Rose at 6. They are new=fronting the house (No. 10) opposite so the noise wakes me. There was “also” sunbeams. (One has not been badly off for sun this year.)

Painted all day at the Janina ― not very well ―but not very badly. At 6 ― came Mrs. Douglas Galton & Mrs. Cameron Galton.


Dined alone at 7.30.

& wrote a bit afterwards.

But it is now, 10.30, ― ὰς εἶναι καιρός νὰ πηγαίνω εἰς τὸ κρεββάτι μου.[1]

[1] It’s time for me to go to bed (NB).

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

by Marco Graziosi at August 26, 2014 08:00 AM

August 25, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Public Performance of 1915 Silent Film in Fairfax, VA with Live Accompaniment

I can’t believe we’re going to miss this, hopefully some of our DC-area Carrollians will get to go.  The Arts Council of Fairfax County and Virginia Friend is hosting a performance of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.  As their website puts it “A family-friendly evening in Strawberry Park combining orchestra and film, based on the 1915 silent movie adaptation, this hour-long program includes musical interludes between sections of the film as well as underscoring of the entire film with new arrangements of familiar children’s songs.  Bring your own blanket and picnic.”

Sep 6, 2014 – 6:00 PM – Strawberry Park


by Matt at August 25, 2014 04:00 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Teodor Axentowicz (1859-1938), portrait of his daughter Jadzia

 photo axentowiczdaughterjadzia.jpg

This Polish-Armenian artist seems to have specialized in pretty pastel portraits, this is a very pretty one of one of his daughters. An admirer has collected together a good selection of his work here:

August 25, 2014 02:21 PM


Heathcliff after a Tesco trip

Lucy Mangan in Radio Times talks about her Radio 4 programme Literary Solutions to the Economy:
I’ve always loved reading. From the back of the cornflake packet at breakfast, to the newspapers, websites and books I read for work, to the 3ft pile of to-be-reads waiting for me on my bedside table at night, I always have something on hand. My bookshelves are crammed with everything from Jane Eyre to Jack Reacher. The only thing I had, until recently, never touched were the newspapers’ economic and business pages. Impenetrable, I thought, and nothing to do with me.
Rowan Pelling in her Daily Mail sex column:
I have no doubt your husband would be highly agitated if you told him your plan. Who could blame him? You don’t reflect on what would have happened, had the relationship run its course. Would you still feel like Cathy and Heathcliff after 20 years of Tesco trips and TV suppers?
EuroSport reminds us of the mythical Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost rivalry:
That Wuthering Heights-esque grand passion, though, is very different to what we see at Mercedes at the moment.  (Carrie Dunn)
Les inRocks (France) interviews the actress Adèle Haenel:
Travailler avec [André] Téchiné, de toute façon j’aurais dis oui direct sans lire le scénar. J’avais vu Les Témoins, Les Roseaux sauvages, Ma saison préférée, Les Sœurs Brontë, et je me suis dit que j’avais intérêt à envoyer. (Serge Kaganski) (Translation)
We think that La Jornada (México) exaggerates a bit too much when it comes to Jane Eyre's influence:
Si Charles Dickens logró cambiar con su Oliver Twist las leyes que martirizaban a los inglesitos pobres y Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë, hizo que las mujeres de Inglaterra se convirtieran en propietarias de tierras, así como García Márquez puso a América Latina en el escenario del mundo con Cien años de soledad, ojalá Ladydi [by Jennifer Clement] consiga cambiar la condición de las niñas mexicanas y centroamericanas robadas y traficadas sexualmente. (Elena Poniatowska) (Translation)
daeandwrite posts about Jane Eyre; the Brontë Parsonage tweets a 1844 drawing by Branwell Brontë.

by M. ( at August 25, 2014 02:06 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine ― but cloudy. Rose before 6 ― & wrote till breakfast. Afterwards, from 9.30, to 5.30, worked pretty constantly at the Jánina ― improving it very much; at 3.30 ― Cecil Lane having come in, he sate with me till 5.30 ― when we walked as far as the Z. Gardens & back.

To 61. Eaton Place to dine.


Very pleasant, but it is too early for fires ― albeit it is really colder then I like. The R.s are kindly thorough-good people. Home by 11.


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

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

The Little Professor

A Catholic Story: Or, Four Months' Residence in the House of a Convert from Protestantism

This 1845 novel ("novel") by the not-very-prolific Catholic author Mary C. Edgar is not remarkable in and of itself: our protagonist, Jane Swinton, leaves her ultra-Protestant Scottish aunt's house to spend four months with her cousin Elinor, who, along with her mother, had converted to Roman Catholicism.  Jane, under pressure to marry a Mr. Robert Scott, nevertheless remains with cousin Elinor and, as one might expect, learns all about Catholicism; in the meantime, Scott's father preys on Jane's aunt until she agrees to leave him all her property.  Not a nice chap.  The novel ends with a spectacular deus ex machina (actually, we're supposed to read it as divine providence in action):  a lawyer crops up, informs Jane that her aunt could not alienate the property in this fashion, and then...the book ends, before Jane gets around to converting.  Instead, the novel leaves Jane on the brink of her spiritual transformation, promising instead that "perhaps, at some future time, I may describe the method she pursued, and relate the result of her examination" (108).  This was not a good plan on the novelist's part, as the world clearly did not demand a sequel.

However, A Catholic Story is a good example of why making pat literary-historical generalizations can be a bad idea.  ("A Catholic Story: Or, Why Literary Historians Need to Read Lots of Stuff.")  One of the formal problems facing Catholic novelists who wanted to write religious fiction was the influence of the Protestant model, which emphasized prooftexting, transformative individual encounters with Biblical texts, and so forth.  That is, Protestant religious fiction often dramatizes conversion in terms of a largely private quest for spiritual transformation--the characters may argue with each other, but the religious Big Bang normally comes when the characters are alone in a quiet room with only their Bible for company.  And the Bible in Protestant fiction glosses itself, so that outside authorities are unnecessary; anyone who reads the Bible with the aid of the Holy Spirit will understand it. Catholic novelists, for obvious reasons, had problems with this strategy, and frequently attacked it (arguing that it's difficult to interpret the Bible, that prooftexting is incoherent, and so forth).  So from the late 1820s to early 1840s, we see Catholic novelists attempting to figure out ways of countering Protestant claims without simply inverting Protestant narrative strategies (you say prooftext tomato, I say prooftext to-mah-to).   Edgar, though, goes the inversion route: A Catholic Story consists almost entirely of prooftexts, just deployed on the Catholic instead of the Protestant side.  In that sense, it's very close to one of the earliest Catholic controversial novels, Charles Constantine Pise's Father Rowland (1829), which Edgar could have seen after it was reprinted in Dublin in the late 1830s.  But A Catholic Story is also very out of step with a trend visible by 1837, in which Catholic novelists simply refuse to prooftext and instead emphasize exemplary behavior, miracles, and/or the experience of the Mass.  A Catholic Story does feature divine intervention (a prophetic dream, for example), exemplarity (Elinor's good behavior after her conversion), and an influential Mass (participating in ritual reorients the mind), but most of the book is prooftexts.  

by Miriam Burstein at August 25, 2014 02:25 AM


Brazilian Nails

Apparently these are not the only Brontë-inspired nail varnishes.  In Brazil we have found a couple more:

Granado Pharmácias

Esmalte Charlotte
Descrição da cor: bege acinzentado. Enriquecido com Vitamina E, cálcio e proteína da seda, fortalece as unhas, deixando-as saudáveis e protegidas, evitando assim a quebra e descamação. Não contém tolueno, parabenos, formaldeído, cânfora e DBP, ingredientes que podem causar alergia e o ressecamento das unhas. Produto de alta cobertura com brilho extra e secagem rápida.

Esmalte Emily
Descrição da cor: violeta vivo

by M. ( at August 25, 2014 02:15 AM

Bloody Amateurs

Julie McDowall in The Herald on Sunday talks about the latest installment of Dr Who and, in general, about fans:
But perhaps that's the way the fans like it: they want their own tight-knit community packed with in-jokes and references which we outsiders won't get. And that's fine. I respect that. I get the same sense of exclusivity when my resident geek confuses Emily and Charlotte. I can stroke my laminated Brontë Society membership card and think 'Hah! Bloody amateurs.'
The Greenville News reviews a local production of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep:
 The magic involves two actors portraying eight characters, male and female, in this farce by Charles Ludlam that zestfully satirizes Victorian melodrama and dark-hued films such as “Wuthering Heights” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca.” (Paul Hyde)
Sheila Kohler's Psychology Today article talks about why are we fascinated about celebrities:
 In my own case I was fascinated by Charlotte Brontë, another heroine from my youth who had first written a book, “The Professor” which few people have read, which was turned down by publishers again and again and even humiliatingly rejected when her two younger sisters’ books, “Wuthering Heights” and “Agnes Grey” had been chosen. Yet she then went on to write “Jane Eyre,” sitting in a darkened room beside her bedridden father when he had his cataracts removed. What enabled her to go from this first novel, written from the point of view of a rather unsympathetic man, to “Jane Eyre” where she dared to write in the first person, as a woman, a governess, taking on a persona nearer to her own?
Points Communs (France) highlights the importance of John Irving's The World According to Garp:
 "Le Monde selon Garp est le roman qui fit le plus de bruit dans les années 70 et apporta à son auteur un succès plus que mérité. Un des quelques livres que je relis épisodiquement sans me lasser (avec Le livre qui fit le Jane Eyre… eh oui !). (repassera) (Translation)
Kölner Stadt Unzeiger reviews a concert of the band Get Well Soon:
Zufällig ist an diesem Abend nichts. Selbst der Song, der läuft, bevor das Light im Saal gedimmt wird, ist mit Bedacht augewählt. Es erklingt "Wuthering Heights" von Kate Bush, und sofort  ist man noch besser eigenstimmt auf das, was kommen wird. (Martin Weber) (Translation
The Daily Telegraph describes as 'winsome' Juliette Binoche's take on Cathy in Wuthering Heights 1992; Reading Bukowski vlogs (not a typo) about Brontë Country.

by M. ( at August 25, 2014 12:06 AM

August 24, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6 ― & wrote to Mrs. G. Clive.

The Cretan labour is done.

Si I set to work on the Janina ― at the Jumerka Mountain.

When I woke ― one of those absurd ideas which are the nearest approach I ever have to dreams, & which come as I wake in fits of laughter, ― presented itself. What, thought I, if Lady W., Sir F.G. ― Mr. Morrison & Mr. Tipping all come at once & each buying one or two pictures ―clear off all my study? ― At 2 ― absurdly enough Sir G. Goldsmid actually did come: & just after, Lady W. & C.F. But neither bought anything ― so the prophetic bosh was not all foolfilled. Lady W. absolutely looked younger than C.F. who seemed very harassed & nervous. Worked on at the Janina till nearly 7. Then dined alone ― reading ― & now, 9.30 ― Ἔτοιμος εἷμαι νὰ κοιμιοι δῶι.[1] ― But, while writing to F.L. ― came Holman Hunt: ― from Cambridge [last]. Much talk of the Fairbairns ― & the portrait. Poor Daddy is very much altered in many ways ― but no wonder. I wish he would go abroad. He left at 10.30.

[1] I am ready to sleep.

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

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


Buffy's Phrenology (and more)

Recent Brontë-related talks at different conferences and workshops:
Nineteenth-Century, Energies Annual Conference Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies
March 27-30, 2014
University of Houston

Moderator: Melissa Gniadek, Rice University

Written in the Schoolroom: Charlotte Brontë’s Unpublishable Schoolgirls” | Ashly Bennett, Haverford College

Moderator: John Kucich, Rutgers University

“‘The Toad in the Block of Marble’: Animation, Petrification, and Imprisonment in Charlotte Brontë’s Figures in Stone” | Susan B. Taylor, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Moderator: Ashley Miller, University of Texas, Arlington

Subversive Phrenology in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of  Wildfell Hall” | Shalyn Claggett, Mississippi State University
Children's Literature Association. 41ts Annual Conference
University of South California
June 18-21, 2014

14D.Reading from the Canon
Chair: Marilyn Bloss Koester, University of Memphis

C. Anita Tarr, Illinois State University (retired)
Jane Eyre for Children?”
University Writing and Research Conference
The George Washington University, Washington DC
February 27-28, 2014

Panel: From Books to Film, From Landscapes to Lessons

Veronica Hoyer –"Just an Old Wives’ Tale" Nominating Professor: Katherine Howell
This essay compares the use of British folklore in Brontë's Jane Eyre and Cary Fukunaga's 2011 film adaption. It analyses the film adaption's interpretations of British folklore within the novel Jane Eyre with conclusions that speak of the harmony between the adaptation and the historians who have traditionally recorded the stories with disdain—scorning the druid, pre-Christian enlightenment beliefs as mere superstitions—and not as Brontë incorporated them within her plot and characters. The essay explores theories of filmic adaption to compare the two pieces and to understand the aim of the partial integration of the different Gothic elements setting the mood of the film, focusing on the legend of the Gytrash and the appearance of Mr. Rochester as expressed in both mediums.
The 6th Biennial Slayage Conference on the WhedonversesCalifornia State University-Sacramento
19-22 June 2014
T.4—Love, Romance, and Vampires in Classic and  Contemporary Texts
Eva Hayles Gledhill, Chair

Eva Hayles Gledhill, “Wuthering Revello Drive: Eroticism, Romance, and Time in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight and Wuthering Heights

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

August 23, 2014

The Little Professor

Beginning once again (or, Book Three and One Half, Now in Process)

I think most academics (and, in all likelihood, most writers) are familiar with the bizarre letdown one feels after a project is completed and published.  It's done! what do I do? The strange deflation of self one feels after filing a doctoral dissertation, for example, is just the first harbinger of a series of strange deflations to come.  (John Stuart Mill would no doubt have something to say about this.)  Luckily, if you're an academic involved in research, that next project is always on the horizon.  

So.  This year, I start what I've jokingly dubbed "Book Three and One Half" (the Robert Elsmere edition counting as the half), previously known here as "Expensive Book" (it requires travel to finish it).   As some of you may have observed, this blog frequently concerns itself with religious fiction.  (Ahem.)  Book Three and One Half is--drumroll, please--a new history of nineteenth-century religious fiction in Britain.    "In Britain" because it is not about fiction written by British authors, but fiction circulating in Britain during the nineteenth century--that is, it takes into account the American, French, German &c. novels that were imported, translated, and sometimes completely rewritten for a British readership.  It's difficult, for example, to talk about the state of Catholic fiction in nineteenth-century Britain (strictly speaking, not that many people are talking about the state of Catholic fiction in nineteenth-century Britain, barring some exceptions, but never mind...) without mentioning that a lot of it comes from places that are not British.  "Nineteenth century" because religious fiction did not magically spring into being with the Victorians, although the Victorians spent considerable time trying to define what it was (and, depending on the critic, hoping that it would either spread or quietly disappear).  

"Hey, this sounds kind of...long?" Yes.

"Are you really going to write a book like this on a 3/3 load?" Why ever not? 

"Is this project going to, like, completely take over your waking existence?" I expect there may be some detours into writing about neo-Victorian fiction (hello, twentieth and twenty-first centuries!), but...

"Does this mean more posts about religious fiction of dubious quality on your blog?" Excuse me while I rub my hands with villainous glee.  

by Miriam Burstein at August 23, 2014 09:13 PM


Pretty Addictive Plot

Jeanette Winterson is a Kate Bush admirer as she confesses in The Guardian:
Every young woman I knew at Oxford was listening to Kate Bush – even the chemistry students. For an English student the fact that a new singer could hit No 1 with a cover version of Emily Brontë was proof that poetry, music, feminism and lo-fi would rescue the world from boy bands and electro-pop, dead white males and money.
In the Washington Post we found another writer, Siri Hustvedt, wondering what she would like to ask Emily Brontë if it was possible:
Siri Hustvedt asks Emily Brontë:
How did you devise the diabolical form of “Wuthering Heights?” Did you say to yourself, I will lock up my first narrator, Lockwood, in a piece of the dead Catherine’s furniture, which resembles both a book and a coffin, and in that cramped space, he will read her name on the walls and her diary written in the margins of another book, and there he will dream or hallucinate or actually see the young woman’s ghost? Did you plan to write a book about the ambiguities of the act of reading itself? I am happy to receive messages from beyond the grave.
More writers. The Globe and Mail interviews Penny Vincenzi:
Which fictional character do you wish you’d created?
Oh my goodness, that’s a tough one. So many. All those romantic heroes – but not just romantic, dark and difficult – Mr. Rochester; Max de Winter (in Rebecca); Heathcliff… I was in love with them all in my teens. 
The New York Times Magazine lists writers that used pseudonyms:
The Brontë sisters
Charlotte, Emily and Anne produced their masterworks of Victorian literature under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. They chose these androgynous monikers because of “a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice,” an impression shared by at least two other great “authoresses” of the day, George Eliot and George Sand.
In the same magazine we find an interview with Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen's designer:
 In her fall show for Alexander McQueen, Burton set all this to life, like a magician of selfhood. A strange, misty moorland — not unconnected to the landscape of her childhood — was the setting for the combination of beautiful tailoring and wild imaginings that characterize the house. There was a sense of romanticism-in-crisis, of the Bronte sisters, of Heathcliff haunted by the cold hand of death scratching at his window, of owls, dreams and the poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom Burton cites. (Andrew O'Hagan)
Visit Britain announces that the number of foreign tourists visiting Yorkshire has increased by 37 per cent last summer. The Telegraph & Argus reports:
Ann Dinsdale, of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, said: "It is good news, especially for a museum like the Parsonage because we are independent. We are dependant on visitors coming here.
"And we are unique. We are the whole Brontë thing. We are the centre for anyone visiting Yorkshire for literature."
She added: "We get a lot of visitors from Japan." (Rhys Thomas)
Radhika Sanghani lists books you should read beforing leaving college. In Pubishers Weekly:
 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - This book taught me to grow up. It has a pretty addictive plot, but more than that, it’s the story of Jane’s journey from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. She learns to let go, to adapt and finally, that there are some things you need to just accept. I can’t think of any better time to read this book than when you’re learning to do the same.
The Australian reviews The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters:
With the intricate plotting of Dickens and the gothic textures of the novels of the Brontë sisters, Waters blurs the lines of Victorian fiction by bringing the hidden sexual world into the light, reframing erotic secrets in marvels of pseudo-Victorian crafting.
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the Leoš Janáček's String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters",
As love stories go, this is definitely a slow-burner. Seven hundred letters, spanning 11 years, resulting in one chaste kiss, suggests way too much ambivalence for Czech composer Leos Janacek and his muse to join the ranks of Romeo and Juliet, Cathy and Heathcliff or Tristan and Iseult in the annals of star-crossed romances. (Kathy Evans)
Malorie Blackman retraces her own personal literary history in The Guardian:
 Later on she dabbled in westerns and eventually found science fiction, through John Wyndham's book Chocky. "By then I had worked my way through the children's library," she says (she was 11),"so the librarian gave me Jane Eyre and Rebecca, then all of Agatha Christie."
What is a Wuthering Heights night? The Toronto Star says:
 In Toronto, on one of those Wuthering Heights nights, you’re on your own, braced to be crushed or munched, which is one thing, but you are defenceless, which is another. (Heather Mallick)
Dagens Naeringsliv (Norway) reviews The Prime of Miss Brodie by Muriel Spark:
Romanen er på sitt morsomste når denne forestillingsverdenen smelter sammen med elevenes drømmer og gryende seksualitet. Flere av dem lever dobbeltliv i fantasien, befolket av romanfigurer fra «Jane Eyre» og tenkte brevvekslinger med høytidelige vendinger mellom frøken Brodie og den mannlige tegnelæreren, som er gift på annet hold. (Susanne Hedemann Hiorth) (Translation)
The Brussels Brontë Blog posts about a (very complete) visit to Patrick Brontë's Ireland birthplace.

by M. ( at August 23, 2014 05:44 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Stanisław Wyspiański (1869-1907), Self-portraits

 photo wyspianskispinsaphphireblue1894.jpg

Self-portrait in Sapphire Blue, 1894

 photo Wyspianski1902.jpg

 photo wyspianskiSelf-Portrait-drawing-1907.jpg

 photo wyspianskisp1903.jpg

He was evidently an interesting and rather remarkable character:

 photo wyspianski-jozio_feldman.jpg

August 23, 2014 08:16 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Wet ― all day pretty well ―at least till 5.

Rose at 5 ― & instantly began colouring the last 2 Dozen of Cretan drawings ― which I worked at terrifically all day ― & actually finished the last at 6. P.M. ― 75 in one Dozen ― & 42 in the other!! ― I can hardly believe all are done! ― Just as I was completing the very last, Cecil Lane! Came ― & staid till 7.15. Good fellow. ―

Eh! the days that are no more!

Dined alone. Mrs. Cooper & the little Girl have gone to the Country, but T.C. works very well.

Afterwards, arranged & packed all the rest of the drawings, & now 4 Dozen are ready for mounting.

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

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


Liberal but Deathly

Two recent scholar papers about Wuthering Heights:
Liberal Anguish: Wuthering Heights and the Structures of Liberal Thought
Anat Rosenberg
Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 69, No. 1, June 2014, pp 1-25

After decades of sustained academic critiques along established lines, liberalism has recently attracted renewed evaluations. These readings treat complexity as inherent in liberalism, and proceed to explore its structures beyond suspicious hermeneutics. This essay argues that Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) constitutes an early and sophisticated argument about the structures of complexity in liberalism. Not only does Brontë’s novel merit entry into the discussion as a conceptual contribution, but it also offers an aesthetic enactment of the anguish that liberal structures of complexity were to evoke for generations to follow, an anguish experienced already at its troubled reception.
Spaces of Death in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Albert Myburgha
Journal of Literary Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2014, pp 20-33

In this article I explore the idea expressed by philosophers and social geographers such as Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, and Henk van Houtum that “space” is a social construct; that the space in which a society exists and of which it consists is shaped by that society itself, and that specific locations are assigned to each of the members of the community. I discuss how the dominant spaces in society are shaped by those in positions of authority according to their own ideologies so as to ensure social order and their continued empowerment within the social structure. Additionally, I suggest that it is possible for those who do not conform to social norms, and who are consequently cast into dominated spaces, to undermine the authority of those in positions of power by embracing their marginalised state, and thereby to generate new spaces they can inhabit. I explore these ideas in relation to Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and its depiction and examination of central nineteenth-century ideas and anxieties about death and the different areas allocated to the dead.

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

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • John Williams, Augustus (NYRB, 2014).  Reprint of Williams' historical novel about the career of Octavian, from kid to Roman emperor.  (Amazon)
  • John Harding, One Big Damn Puzzler (Harper Perennial, 2006).  Satirical novel about Anglo-American colonization in the South Pacific, aftereffects, and do-gooders.  (Amazon [secondhand])
  • Ian Weir, Daniel O'Thunder (Douglas & McIntire, 2009).  In Victorian England, an ex-boxer takes on...Satan? (Amazon [secondhand])

by Miriam Burstein at August 23, 2014 12:05 AM

August 22, 2014


Women on their own

Nashville Scene explains the origins of the David Olney song, Millionaire:
And when he set out to write a love song for his eventual wife Regine, a German immigrant who was married to another when she began dating Olney, what came forth was "Millionaire."
At first blush, it seems impossible to imagine the song as a romantic overture. But Regine's favorite book at the time was Wuthering Heights. To impress her, Olney wrote what is essentially a missing chapter that supposes how Heathcliff might have accumulated his wealth before returning as the novel's antihero. The tactic proved effective. The pair married 27 years ago and have two grown children.
After ghost-writing Emily Brontë, what remained but the ultimate Nashville mission impossible: a co-write with Shakespeare. (Skip Anderson)
Sarah Paretsky, in The Independent, vindicates George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss as a great story of siblings. A Brontë reference slips in:
The sibling bond isn’t written about often in English or American fiction. We’re more engaged by the loner hero, by Pip or Huck Finn’s voyage of self-discovery. Even the heroes of the close-knit Brontë sisters are for the most part women on their own.
Another vindication comes from The Huffington Post. The subject now is Kate Bush:
Much of her oeuvre defies definition but through her work, one could discover what it means to be human. Who else had the ability for such diverse narrative viewpoints in their songs, and with such astonishing aplomb? She was a mix of Brontë, Keats, Kubrick and Mozart rolled into one; a musical auteur in an industry of vapid puppets and one-dimensional mundanity. (Robert Ince)
And The Herald more or less agrees with that:
If untutored, you might only recall something about Kate's high notes, along with images of a lassie in a long white dress warbling aboot yon Heathcliff out of Wuthering Heights.
Fair enough. It's what set her, in 1978 at the tender age of 19, on the road to stardom. But it also set her on the path to creative freedom and an extraordinary body of work that means such a lot to so many people. (Robert McNeil)
Yahoo Movies quotes Chloë Grace Moretz saying:
So, what are Moretz’s favorite teen love stories? “Wuthering Heights,” she said without blinking. “I’m super dramatic — when I was younger, especially. I kind of love the tragedy of it and the drama.” (Meriah Doty)
Nora Roberts's Inn BoonsBoro features once again in the news. We read in The Baltimore Sun:
On the other side of the state, the Inn BoonsBoro in Western Maryland is owned by best-selling author Nora Roberts, who undertook a restoration of the historic building. Many of the inn's eight graciously appointed rooms and suites bear the names of literary lovers. Think Elizabeth and Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice," Jane and Rochester from "Jane Eyre," as well as Shakespeare's Titania and Oberon from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (Donna M. Owens)
Carolyn on Autostraddle seems to have liked Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
I got an advanced copy of Texts From Jane Eyre and at one point laughed so enthusiastically that I sustained bruises.
Keighley News publishes the monthly Brontë Society activities article by Hermione Williams:
Throughout August we have enjoyed a busy summer programme. There have been craft workshops where children have created miniature moorland gardens and felt landscapes.
We have also been holding talks about aspects of the Brontës’ lives and took walks onto Penistone Hill. The visitors were thrilled to see the landscape which inspired the famous Brontë novels, and to have an opportunity to walk in the sisters’ footsteps.
Der Spiegel (Germany) reviews Jane, le Renard et Moi :
Wer würde schon die ehrwürdige literarische Figur "Jane Eyre" mit Mobbing in Verbindung bringen? Nicht unbedingt jeder. Und doch macht die Autorin Fanny Britt in ihrer zauberhaften Graphic Novel "Jane, der Fuchs und ich" genau das. Ihre Protagonistin Hélène entdeckt als begeisterte Leserin den Klassiker der viktorianischen Romanliteratur und findet dort Trost. Sie steht nämlich seit kurzem auf der einsamen Seite ihrer Schulklasse. Die Mädchen, die einst ihre Freundinnen waren, kichern jetzt hinter ihrem Rücken und schreiben fiese Sprüche über sie an die Klowände. (...)
In der Bücherwelt findet sie Trost und Schutz, ausgerechnet die leicht angestaubte Jane Eyre wird zur ihrer einzigen Verbündeten im täglichen Spießrutenlauf durchs Klassenzimmer. In ihr entdeckt Hélène ein Vorbild für den Umgang mit aussichtslosen Situation. Es sind die einzigen Farbausflüge, die Arsenault den Lesern in den vorherrschenden Grau- und Brauntönen des Buches gönnt, oft Naturskizzen oder Auszüge aus "Jane Eyre" in Hélènes Worten nacherzählt.
In der gebeutelten Jugend der Romanheldin erkennt sich Hélène wieder. Aber auch Charlotte Brontës feministische Ikone ist auf Dauer kein Ersatz für echte Freundinnen. In kleinen, feinen Sätzen wie diesem gelingt es Britt, die ganze Verzweiflung des gemobbten Mädchens unterzubringen: "Ich habe selbst eine blühende Fantasie, aber trotzdem bin ich immer wieder überrascht, wenn ihr eine neue Gemeinheit eingefallen ist." (Moritz Piehler) (Translation)
Another review can be found on An Education in Books Blog.

Life in the Classroom talks about Jane Eyre and several of its film adaptations;  A Culpa Dos Livros (in Portuguese) posts about Wuthering Heights. Lancashire Evening Post presents the ChapterHouse Theatre Wuthering Heights production at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster. Helena Fairfax discusses literature inspired by the Yorkshire moors after listening to the recent BBC Radio 4 programme Open Book. Charlotte Blackwood reviews Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at August 22, 2014 09:55 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Awake from 2 to 4 ― but slept, & rose feeling better at 8.

A letter from the Suliot ― very long, & very nice: the furniture is sold, & the cases are to come. Spiro, who is at Athens, is to see to the roba left at Pirœus.

As yet they have decided nothing as to going from Corfu, or staying. G. says, all is very quiet. It is a comfort to hear from that good man. He says ― “let us go again to Crete ― Gitzo, zitzo.” ― There was a note also from Mrs. Tipping ― very kind & pleasant.

No news yet of the upper room, & M.D. Santos. I worked very hard all day ― no one calling ― at coloring the penned-out Cretans, & actually completed 2 of the 4 Dozen: 39 in one, & 40 in the other! At 7. went to the Blue Posts & dined. The day has been gray & cloudy. Wade-Browne, with whom I was to dine, sent to say don’t come, along of his cook being away. I could find in my heart to go back to Corfû.

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

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


Haworth Bis

The Brontë Parsonage Blog posts a curious initiative by the Haworth Municipal Library... in New Jersey.
Our library here is trying to reach out to Brontë fans everywhere to get some help for its expanding library.   I figure anyone who's read and appreciated Jane Eyre or Villette or Wuthering Heights or Agnes Grey must have a soft spot for a place named Haworth.   Haworth, New Jersey, is, in fact, named for Haworth, England - in 1872 a railroadman and land developer named John S. Sauzade named this little station stop Haworth in honor of the Brontë sisters' hometown.  Sauzade was himself a novelist, and, obviously, a huge admirer of the Brontës.

Within our new local history room, we hope to have a plaque on the wall, honoring the sisters - and the British town - that gave us such a special name.   We're also going to have a new children's room and a meeting room.

The new addition will have a glass 'Donor Wall' with names honoring the people and groups that have donated to our expansion, and it occurred to me that it would be meaningful to have the Brontë Society listed as a donor, because without the Brontës, we wouldn't be a Haworth.   And a library in a town called Haworth is a very relevant place to remember the Brontë sisters.

If you'd care to help, there's a Paypal "Donate" button on the library website,  We sure would appreciate your support.   Small donations from lots of people add up to a large donation!  And come visit us sometime...  a lot of folks from here have visited your Haworth and had a grand time.  (Beth Potter, Friends of the Haworth NJ Library)

by M. ( at August 22, 2014 01:30 AM

August 21, 2014


Willy-nilly Brontës

Many websites talk about the upcoming concerts by Kate Bush and of course her Wuthering Heights signature song is mentioned. Not all of them write as sarcastically as The Sydney Morning Herald:
But you don’t need to be a fossil who remembers all the words to Wuthering Heights to have a sense of why Bush, who pointed out she’d chosen a modest theatre holding about 3000 rather than an arena or stadium for these shows, said eschewing the now ubiquitous camera phones would “allow us to all share in the experience together". (Bernard Zuel)
CinemaRetro reviews the Cohen Collection Blu-Ray edition of Les Soeurs Brontë 1979:
I approached the 2013 Blu-Ray edition of André Téchiné’s “The Brontë Sisters” (1979) with mild interest, (...) But I was pleasantly surprised. Relating the formative events in the lives of the three sisters and their brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory) in straightforward, episodic form, Téchiné’s interpretation is first-rate: excellently acted, emotionally moving, and visually striking with starkly beautiful cinematography by Bruno Nuytten on the Yorkshire moors where the Bronte siblings lived their sadly short lives. (...)
In addition to the making-of documentary, the Cohen Film Collection Blu-Ray includes two trailers and an excellent audio commentary track by film critic Wade Major and Brontë scholar Sue Lonoff de Cuevas. If you’re as unfamiliar with the subject matter as I was, I might almost suggest that you listen to the commentary before playing the movie, since Major and de Cuevas illuminate many details about Brontë history and about the production aspects of the movie that deepened my appreciation of the film. Although the making-of documentary doesn’t include Adjani or Huppert (Pisier died in 2011), many of the other key cast and crew are interviewed. This is an excellent Blu-Ray package, highly recommended. (Fred Blosser)
Margaret H. Laing discusses the expression 'willy-nilly' in Chicago Now:
Willy-nilly in English originated from "will you, nil you" -- if you don't believe me, check Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre." It's a way of saying "whether you want to or not" if you take it literally. Using my French-English and all-French Larousse dictionaries, I found it defined as at random  in English -- but n'importe comment (it doesn't matter how) in French.
Well, we have checked Jane Eyre and, as far as we know, Charlotte Brontë doesn't use the expression in any of its variants. We wonder if the confusion comes from here.

The Times and The Telegraph publish obituaries of the actor and writer Neal Arden (1909-2014) where among his credits a touring production of Wuthering Heights in which he played Heathcliff is listed.

The Scotsman celebrates Emily Brontë's anniversary today. It seems that they have the dates a bit mixed. On August 20th, 1818, Emily Brontë was baptised. The Parsonage Twitter remembers it here. April Lindner's Catherine appears in paperback. The author talks about it on Novl and on Goodreads you can win a copy. TeenInk has a review of Jane Eyre. Ruth's Walking Blog has visited Top Withens. K.M. Weiland, editor of the Writer's Digest Annotated edition of Jane Eyre posts about it on Romance University.

by M. ( at August 21, 2014 04:40 PM

The Madwoman and the Beetles

The Northern Echo talks about the upcoming opening to visitors of Norton Conyers, but from a different point of view, the insect's point of view:
A project to tackle a deathwatch beetle infestation at the historic house which inspired Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre has unearthed 1,000 years of history at the site.
Sir James and Lady Graham said eight years' work to conserve their family's home of 11 generations, Norton Conyers, near Ripon, had revealed Viking pottery beneath the floorboards, a Tudor painted screen hiding a door behind 18th-century plaster and rare 18th-century wallpapers.
The couple said after experts revealed the property's timbers had been infested since it was built in the 17th-century and that some rooms could cave in within five years, they launched a £300,000 scheme which saw them having to live at bed and breakfast guesthouses for a year.
Sir James, whose family moved to the house in 1642, said he felt duty-bound to preserve the property, where they had found a secret staircase and room which inspired mad Mrs Rochester's room in Jane Eyre. (...)
Although the couple say they will never rid the property of the beetles and are currently restoring the King James Room, the Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s have awarded them the 2014 Restoration Award.
Harry Dalmeny, chairman of Sotheby's, said: “The Grahams have achieved an heroic restoration. Their passion, extensive research and great attention to detail have lifted the veil on over 1,000 years of history, while retaining Norton Conyers’ impenetrable mystery.
"Almost 200 years after Charlotte Brontë, visitors will with no doubt be mesmerised by this fascinating house”.
The property will be reopened to visitors next July. (Mark Foster)
Carolyn Bass in The Huffington Post talks about death and how to deal with grief:
My unpublished novel, The Sword Swallower's Daughter, is sliced so full of death the pages have slits. Prowling about my work in progress are the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine, along with the death of a newborn baby in a derelict manor set on the moors of Yorkshire.
Tips to visit the literary London on Fodor's Travel:
What better place to begin a literary tour of London than at a library? Originally part of the British Museum, the [British] Library moved to its current location on Euston Road in 1998, transferring its collection to the 1.2-million-square-foot space. (...) Literature fans should make a beeline for the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, just to the right of the main entrance, to view the Library's stunning archival collection, which includes the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, original copies of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Jane Eyre,and Shakespeare's First Folio, and select works from Jane Austen to the Beatles.
Total Film lists the hottest horror movies. Among them I Walked with a Zombie 1943:
If you can squint past the voodoo and Caribbean heat, I Walked With A Zombie is a sort of adaptation of Jane Eyre. But you’d really have to squint, because so much of the film’s ambience comes from the oppressive climate and elaborate rituals. (Sarah Dobbs
The New Yorker editor William Maxwell asked Salinger who his influences were in a 1951 interview for Book of the Month Club NewsRTV Slovenia quotes from it:
A writer, when he's asked to discuss his craft, ought to get up and call out in a loud voice just the names of the writers he loves. I love Kafka, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Proust, O'Casey, Rilke, Lorca, Keats, Rimbaud, Burns, E. Brontë, Jane Austen, Henry James, Blake, Coleridge. I won't name any living writers. I don't think it's right.
Guidone (Italy) has a post about Haddon Hall ('il maniero di Jane Eyre');  K.M. Weiland continues her blog tour promoting Jane Eyre: Writer's Digest Annotated Classics and has a guest post on The Writers Alley about Jane Eyre and the weather; Ode to Jo & Katniss reviews Jane Eyre 2011; WK Dowden reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

by M. ( at August 21, 2014 02:30 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Took medicine. Too ill to go out. Sent Thomas with notes to C.F. & Lady W. Great thunder-storm at noon.

Penned out, & wrote up some days of journal in May & June.

In the afternoon it cleared up ― & I went on until I had penned out the very last of the Cretan tour ―― 196 drawings ― & a vast number of small bits. So now there is only to color the 4 Dozn. for remaining moments. I tried some drawing on wood also. ― At 5 ― Wade-Browne came ― & staid till near 7. I read the rest of Enoch Arden to him.

Dined alone ― but am less dreadfully depressed than χθὲς.

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

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

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


NPG x90255; Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh by Elliott & Fry
Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh (1872-1961)

Dear friends and readers,

On Austen-l and Janeites, with copies to my yahoo listservs:  Eighteenth Century Worlds and Women Writers through the Ages (for those who for whatever reason prefer not to join in on the two major Jane Austen listservs on-line), a group of us have embarked on another long-term reading and discussion of Jane Austen texts. We are for now reading and discussing the letters and documents RAAL (the abbreviation I will use) gathered together and published in 1942 (Spottiswood Press) in the first two privately-printed volumes of what he called Pedigree of Austen: Austen Papers, 1704-1856. We have been enabled to do this because some of us took the books out of the library (there is a 1990 reprint by the Bath Thoemmes Press), others have xeroxes of RAAL’s volumes, and Christy Somers sent those who asked for them, the pages of the first volume as we read them as attachments from copies she scanned in, and Ronald Dunning is putting on his website, also from the 1942 edition, the chapters of the first two volumes as we go through them.

RAAL was the 2nd son of Cholmeley Austen-Leigh (1829-1899) and his wife, Melesina Mary (also with a pedigree, one linking her to a Dean and Archbishop); and thus a grandson of the James-Edward Austen-Leigh and Emma Smith. JEAL wrote the first memoir of Jane Austen that began the cult of Austen’s life and books, from which we can date the widening knowledge and reading of her books and then watching of film adaptations, with accompanying ever increasing scholarship to the point the subject becomes a life’s work; JEAL’s book included the texts of Lady Susan and The Watsons. We saw in going through Austen’s letters how fond she was of him and how much he loved her.  His sisters, Caroline Austen and Anna Austen Lefroy (both beloved by Jane, if at times with Anna genuinely estranged) contributed letters; Anna prepared an edition of Sanditon with her own attempts at a continuation from what she knew of her aunt’s aims, and Caroline her Reminiscences, separately printed. All three were the children of Jane’s oldest brother, James, the poet of the family.

In the preface to the 1990 Bath Thoemmes press reprint of RAAL’s effort in four volumes (which includes JEAL’s Memories of the Vine Hunt, books on Jane Austen and Bath, Constance Hill’s nostalgic work on where Austen lived, and a judge’s notes on the case of Jane Perrot-Leigh’s shoplifting), David Gilson provides a brief review of the successful business and socially elite life of RAAL as well as RAAL’s publications apart from those on Jane Austen (Eton college, architectural, a history of his printing firm): Gilson’s few words are valuable. He gives a brief but full enough account to give us a sense of what kind of man RAAL was through reviewing R.A. Austen-Leigh’s business life, his professional memberships. RAAL spent his life as a publisher, Spottiswood was the family firm; he was successful (reminding me of Samuel Richardson) and was the head of a number of printers’ councils, boards, chairman of this and that. He was also a literary man and member of the Society of Antiquaries, Royal Society; he married twice in the way the family approved, upper middle class daughter of military and university people, once within the same family his father had. He never had any children by either wife. His writes on architecture, Eton, the story of his firm, JA and Lyme Regis, JA and Southampton. Gilson has a joke at the conclusion of his preface where he says someone in Notes and Queries found one error in R.A. Austen-Leigh’s various articles and books — it was Elinor not Marianne who drank the constantia wine.



After Gilson’s introduction (in the 1990 reprint) ,there is a long detailed pedigree (got up by RAAL) — it is worth having because you can see the family were clothiers in Kent in the 15th, 16th, 17th century; they also become surgeons (a few sons) and stationers (so get involved in printing and state papers). By the later 17th century Austen men are going to university, holding fellowships, getting positions. One can identify Elizabeth Austen as the wife of John Austen IV. The calamity of her life is her husband (John IV) predeceased his father (John III), and their eldest son John was given everything contrary to what she said were her husband’s John IV’s express wishes. Why was John III so very mean to all the other children (refusing to give them any help) and his daughter-in-law? It’s said he didn’t like her. It’s sometimes implied there is something extraordinary here, but I’d like to suggest this was how primogeniture could work. The law was set up to allow the behavior of John III if he felt like it.

Then starting with Elizabeth’s 4th son, William, we see George Austen’s parentage (and how he was orphaned more than once as were of course his full sisters, Philadelphia and Leonora). We also see the other sons who were the uncles Henry sometimes mentions — especially Francis Motley who Henry was wont to say (it’s apparent more than once) sat down on a chair as a lawyer and just grew rich — very rich. It was not quite so easy or simple or innocent.  Francis became a moneylender — banking was ever a place to grow rich through money changing hands and investments. Henry followed in this uncle’s footsteps.. But with no safety net, no regulations, most people did crash if there was a depression or recession (and there was a bad once when Napoleon was defeated and the armies sent home) — unless very well wadded by family connections.

The genealogy is very long and one might say Deirdre LeFaye imitates it in her biographical index to her edition of Jane Austen’s letters. She gives us little genealogies when she should give us accounts of individuals. But she cares not for them in the way she does genealogies. A younger daughter (or “sister” as Austen is said to have first titled her Watsons) would not have been particularly valued, was not because it would not have been seemly (conforming to respectability) until well after her death, until after 1870 when JEAL broke ranks and began to publish what he felt he could about her private life, what he believed to be truth about her.


Cass reading Jane's letter

Anna Maxwell Martin as Cassandra when younger reading one of Jane Austen’s letters (Becoming Jane, 2008)

RAAL’s preface comes next. He strikes a modest tone. He asks, why should such family papers be of interest — he is aware somehow that the Jane Austen connection is not quite enough, though the primary function of the book is to shed light and information on her. Chapter 2 ends with Austen’s birth. He says the letters of this and other chapters are representative – – and they are of a family, some of whose members made good — with great difficulty some of them, luck (the adoption of Edward Austen) and marrying well (JEAL and several others). He hopes their ordinary upper middle classness will be instructive.  He also thinks of his material as a kind of story and sets his book up as one — rather like Charlotte Barrett did for her great-aunt, Fanny Burney.

He has a great deal of material from Eliza Hancock de Feuillide Austen, and it’s clear will handle it discreetly. Hancock, her legal father, is described early on as a “sour and disappointed” man. Warren Hastings is only mentioned once in the chronology, but it is interesting to see that Daylesford (which Hastings purchased with his “ill-gotten gains) was not far from Adelstrop Rectory where some of the Austen cousins lived (and Jane visited) and the manuscripts of Eliza’s letters were found in the hands of a Hastings descendent. RAAL shows an awareness of how Mrs Leigh-Perrot will emerge as a deeply unpleasant figure, and has included what material he could by JEAL to tell about her candidly.


Chapter one contains the slightly astonishing and important narrative by Elizabeth Weller Austen and a long letter from Henry Austen to James-Edward Austen-Leigh dwelling on how Francis Austen (one of Henry’s uncles, one of Elizabeth’s sons) became so rich, and how particular people in the family came to inherit this or that


Imitator of David Teniers the Younger, An Old Woman Reading (17th century)

Elizabeth Weller Austen’s narrative is a story of the workings out of primogeniture when held to super-strictly, except for a defiant daughter-in-law. Usually it’s said something would be allowed for schooling and prospects of younger sons and perhaps a small dowry for a daughter. But this mean (in all senses of the term) man (John III) would not give a penny unless someone else forked out an equal amount and even then not always. Elizabeth acknowledges her husband (John IV) left her badly in debt but says not unreasonably that though he had debts before he married and as he accumulated debts over the marriage, they were the members of a very rich family and lived in a way commensurate with that. Probably John Austen IV was a bad businessman, did not attend to his rents, farming and the clothier business — if you look you find people like Thomas Jefferson worked as businessmen, taking on debt to run a place being the great problem they ever had to cope with. The meanness in the father-in-law is also seen in his first refusal to pay even for a funeral (10 pounds was fought over fiercely): I assume John III detested something his son had done, or was a person, and was determined to get back or not give over any money to John IV’s whole family. He would himself educated John III separately from them. Elizabeth says the way she was treated in her father-in-law’s will (for he died not long after his son) made her into an enemy, someone not part of the family. It was not that she had nothing for her father is applied to for half to make up a sum and he is willing, but he dies too. She says her husband would have written out something for her, but was told that there was no need, his father (JA III) promising to actually care equally for all his grandsons. He reneged on promises several times in the course of this narrative, and I expect everyone feared that he would.

Were this sort of truth and candor practiced by people regularly how much more would we know of the realities and workings of our world and human nature. I stopped reading at page 8 for at that place the narrative drops into the present tense for a page or so. Elizabeth is left nearly destitute with 5 of her sons (all but the eldest) and a daughter after the death of her husband, then the death of her father, and then of this very tormenting father-in-law who more than once she said “all feared to displease.” She does not know and is writing out of immediate distress and perplexity:  what she shall do? She projects intense anxiety, bewilderment yet determination not to sit down and live penuriously while her children grow up to be laborers.  It’s clear no one will help them and this will be their fate unless she can get a job that pays well enough and houses them decently herself. She does not put it this way, but that is what she goes out and does.

The use of the present tense at this transition point in the narrative (p. 8) suggests the manuscript was not written all at once at the end of her life but rather in pieces, some of it later after an event, and other of it at the time of happening, as an outlet or vent, a kind of diary. Then at the end of her life or when she put this together some parts show the diary nature of some of the material. This helps explain the exactitude of the amounts she cites in the early part of the story and again the later: how much at each juncture was paid or not paid after her husband and then father-in-law died, and the bargaining over each item. The narrative also shows how central is money to these people. Auden professed to be shocked at Jane’s concern with money; Elizabeth Weller Austen would not have been.

Elizabeth is casting about what to do and writes in the present tense for a couple of paragraphs. She laments that she is treated as an enemy in the will and talks of how her husband feared his father would disinherit the younger children as severely as he did and insists all her children are dear to her as they were to her husband. The next page is pathetic dealings with her in-laws (as we’d call them) her husband’s siblings who she is hoping will (in effect) set aside the will and obey her husband’s desires – share some of the money and property for the younger ones. This part seems to be written as an argument she is going to present to them. She says she does not have enough to give her children an education they will not be ashamed of, to apprentice her children, has no prospect of saving money (as she has none).

Elizabeth writes to expose what happened, to tell, and to justify what she did — becoming a housekeeper is a come-down and some of the apprenticeships she took were also come downs from gentlemanly positions like in the military or clergy or law (law was not as respected) for which Jane Austen’s father fitted his sons. She can write – -so the talent of the family comes out here. A typical phrase: I were loathe to appear ridiculous” about her lack of proper mourning clothes for her husband’s funeral. We learn that her husband kept the debts he brought into the marriage and the larger debts accumulated “private” from her. She says that John III did not perform a promise made at the marriage to pay the debts upon the marriage — so they did not begin with a clean slate (rather like US students today who begin life with large college debts hanging over them). After John IV’s death, John’s real unkindness over the furniture and household goods (reminding me of how Jane Austen had to give up her few things,but then she had only herself, was not going to be dumped and had not been given promises at all — galling itself). All the deaths raise curiosity and she gives some details — for example her own father’s fatal illness (Weller his name) “seized his brains” so he was not able just before his death to perform promises to the father-in-law. I wonder if the man had brain cancer or some sort of dementia (how old was he at time of death?)

What happens then is her biological father dies and then John III himself. Now it is the siblings of John III who refuse to ignore the will, to help her, to make good on promises she says she had. She mentions a biological brother of her own, Stringer. The case is that is by word of mouth her father promised 200 pounds for her household goods, to pay her husband’s debts, and leave enough money for her younger sons, but as it was not in the will the promise was not honored. Her “brothers” (she may mean brothers-in-law) insisted as it was not in law, as “it could not be answered in law, and they must be just to the heir.” In other words, they’d be sued by this heir or later on when he grew up or his close relatives who thought to gain.

Elizabeth’s narrative is more than courageous and poignant; it’s defiant. To bring in that trivializing word “feisty” at this point is to show how it’s usually used for behavior which does not threaten or expose the system. Elizabeth Austen’s narrative exposes the system which would have destroyed her — Anna Austen Lefroy allowed the system to destroy her, did not fight back after her husband died, but lived off other relatives penuriously. Granted it’s hard to fight, hard to see past the views of everyone around you that can hold you in an invisible prison. All around Elizabeth probably disapproved publicly and some privately when she became a housekeeper. Housekeepers ended up the mistresses of the men in the houses they worked in if the men didn’t have wives (or if they did) been able to read the latter pages. She was smart too: she took a job at Sevenoaks, a boarding school so her sons could be educated as part of her payment.

She was a woman and the system ignores her and expected her to do nothing, to live in a hovel or beg and plead to no avail.

She first takes over two years to cope with her debts; her purpose was to give up as little as she could, take what she could away with her, and she managed to borrow some of what she needed. Taking a job as a housekeeper in a boarding school shows cleverness: her boys would naturally be educated among the others — crumbs from the table on what was going. This was part of the deal I imagine. Then we get a picture of a subsidence life — before the middle 19th century almost every one lived that way in Europe (and now again in the US a huge population does again). Tiny sums accounted for — I’m sure Jane Austen saw this kind of thing. Elizabeth does provide for her daughter differently — trying to get her clothes to be decorated out. Francis has small pox at one point and the doctors’ bill is a whopping 29 pounds plus. She tells nothing of her relationship to her employer.

Now and again she writes placatings of God, especially when she is doing something unconventional as when she takes the job at Stevenoaks. I gather the way you could pressure on someone to stop them doing something unconventional (and against say your interest or pride) was to identify the hegemonic opinion with God’s and frighten them that God would not approve.

This is material which requires annotation and these two editions (1941 and 1990) provide none. In her narrative, Elizabeth Austen’s narrative she does not differentiate clearly her father-in-law (John III) from her father (Weller) and sometimes one has to work to make sure she is talking about her husband (John IV). She does not refer to John III as her father-in-law but either father Austen or father, or my husband’s father. To call hiim father is to use the same word as for her biological father. (I note a reluctance today to use the term stepfather so that someone’s father becomes their biodad and the stepfather they live with their father. Biodad is a back formation as father means biological father.)

In his brief introduction RAAL talks of all this in the mildest terms and emphasizes how by the time her boys needed it, Elizabeth had the money to apprentice each, where he was apprenticed and in the case of Francis (who was a lawyer who went into lending, a banker in effect) what great success he had. This provides that optimistic non-questioning stance so necessary (I speak ironically), but RAAL does bring out how as the whirligig of time proceeded the eldest branch died off, and after all it was Francis’s grandson who became heir to the large estates. And he prints it. He knows that the relatives at the time or even a hundred or so years later would have been mortified to see the real family behavior and resorts so exposed.


The 1995 film adaptation of P&P: Mrs Bennet (Alison Steadman) telling Mr Austen (Benjamin Whitrow) a man of good fortune has come into the neighborhood: they need this as the Bennet property will go to a distant male cousin, Mr Collins

Elizabeth’s narrative relates directly to central themes of P&P and S&S. P&P: The workings of primogeniture is made into a joke over Mrs Bennet’s lamentations: and she says how ridiculous further of relatives should by chance inherit — but it’s the whole system. Francis’s grandson finally got the property from the line of JA IV’s eldest son when there was no son. Towards the end of Henry’s letter, Henry talks of someone who deserved a property by feeling and abilities and yet it was given to the heir and points to primogeniture. He’s not amused and his complaint is really something in the spirit of Austen’s Mrs Bennet. He is at pains to explain each turn in the family too because (he says) it’s not always clear which is the line to inherit, and then people end up litigating (what nearly happened over Stoneleigh Abbey).


In 1995 film adaptation of S&S, Fanny Dashwood (Harriet Walter) discourages John Dashwood’s (James Fleet) idea he should give his step-mother an annuity in lieu of a big lump sum to furnish interest: Just think she could live more than 15 years!

S&S: second powerful famous chapter about how a promise is not worth the air it took to utter it. Henry Dashwood has no power in law to offer anything to his second wife and daughters. Austen might have said what he asked was not permanent property but a one time gift; however we see in Elizabeth Austen’s letter how her brother Stringer would not budge for gifts either: maybe he’d be sued. Well maybe he would have been. We do not fell Mrs Austen and the girls had any case; Elizabeth Austen actually talks of going to a lawyer but says she “had no pocket to know ye opinion of my Lord Chanceller.” (p. 11)



Francis Austen (1698-1791)

I found Henry’s narrative letter clearly written as information to JEAL — perhaps when working on his aunt’s biography. It is insightful, calmer than most of Jane’s letters to Cassandra. He give a positive portrait of the uncle Francis: smart in lots of ways, including getting along with people. The tone of the whole is pleasant — he likes his nephew and liked his uncle. Henry feels comfortable telling of all these properties too. Francis rose through an initial 800 pounds (we are not told how he put that together) and then marrying a widow whose property he was defending from further rapacious heirs. Henry says this widow was a decently natured as Francis. Henry says it was a privilege to have known this generation.  Henry is at some pains to explain who inherited various properties after Francis Austen died and why to his nephew, JEAL.

We see why the Austens had a certain pride: they do have properties, they do have “ownership” of fellowships, with all the connections all this brings. The letter to be understood needs a family table nearby to see all the relationship. Henry refers to George Austen as JEAL’s grandfather and says Francis left George Austen 500 pounds though he had three married sons and at least a dozen grandchildren. The implication is such moneys are not usually given to people at that time of life as they are not so (desperately) needed as at other times.

Now although it might seem George Austen did not need it, this 500 would have come very handy (as Francis may have known) when George Austen was in Bath. He has a wife and two daughters and they are struggling to afford a decent place to live. With this 500 they escaped living with Mr and Aunt Leigh-Perrot and lived near Queens Square; later they went “down” to Green Park Buildings. I imagine they just spent what they had until it ran out with a small amount put in the funds (and small interest there).

Throughout it’s only sons that are paid attention to by Henry unless a widow is left money or property. The idea that later in life money is not needed is the idea that the moment of the career, the education for it is what counts. Girls were not included in all that, only for a dowry, and again that’s the same point in a life.

Later life matters when the people grow old and fight over these wills. Leonard Wolf has a savagely ironic novel about the litigation he saw in Sri Lanka as families fought over bits of property and I daresay people on this listserv have seen similar fights over large and small properties. I have been lucky never to have participated personally in anything like this.

I am convinced Jane Austen saw Elizabeth Weller Austen’s letter — from Henry’s letter he seems very familiar with the details of Elizabeth Weller Austen’s later doings for her sons. What Jane Austen thought of al this is indirectly seen in her novels and what’s left of her letters by her ways of talking about primogeniture (mostly ironically), her powerlessness, her desire for money from her novels. It must have hurt as she grew near death to have gained so little on MP and Emma. Years later Henry and Cassandra got what little they could when they sold the copyright for the sets of novels printed across the century.



Sevenoaks, Kent — now a boarding independent school

A few thoughts on the significance of Elizabeth Weller Austen’s narrative beyond its relevance to Austen’s novels. RAAL thought his material could have larger relevance.

What happened to Elizabeth’s children and then their children (where we find George and Philadelphia Austen) beyond its poignance. First and foremost it is a protest large and clear against primogeniture. It’s often said that people accepted the system as a whole to keep property together for a family: not so if you look at the first reform movements of the 1780s through early 1800s (when these were crushed). As the immediate thing all French cahiers sought was to end lettres de cachet and the English in the 1790s to make real reform of their parliament and its laws. We find people in the corresponding, liberty and other reform societies want an end to primogeniture (I know it will be said the parliament didn’t have the power, but people often ask institutions to create or find the power), then equal representative (no rotten boroughs) and universal suffrage for men.

Primogeniture was in fact disliked intensely by those who lost out — even if they dared not say so in front of the powerful single individual they now needed. Some families did soften the blow, did help the younger ones — but the important truth to keep your eye on is they didn’t have to. When terrible things are permitted men to do to women in a society, that does not mean that all men do it: what it does mean is those who want to can, and people use power. It’s often said to subdivide the property would have destroyed but that is to leave out of account the effect of time. It takes time for each generation to grow up and as that is happening (as in stocks and bonds), the property if well managed can grow and provide for all. Inheritance of large properties is not a zero-sum game; they bring patronage at the time (not later), rents, natural resources on the property.

We do see Jane’s despair and some of the bitterness of her cousin, Edward Cooper over the betrayal that the other Austens all felt that James Perrot-Leigh inflicted on them show the Austens angry at the workings of inheritance customs — in this case Perrot-Leigh had no sons and his property was not entailed so he gave the impression (and more than that to his relatives) he was going to leave the immediate legacies and this made them treat him better — that we see here is felt so egregiously and is part of the results of this primogeniture system.

So although the originating story of the family as told by Elizabeth Austen was well-known to them all, what is so remarkable here our first document is a real protest that tells us the real feelings of people in the era. Also that it was unthinkable not to try to hold onto your status, that people would do almost anything to — the ancien regime was a tough place. Many a Trollope novel hinges on a person doing some illegal or wrong thing in some way in order to provde a son or daughter (or self) with gentlemanly or the status of a lady. In the 17th through 19th century and today still the way to hold onto your status is education for a middle to upper class niche. So John III’s behavior was egregiously unjust.


The way Brenda Blethyn as Mrs Austen is dressed in Joe Wright’s 2005 P&P is probably close to that of Elizabeth Weller Austen

To return to Austen’s novels, among other things to be extrapolated from this document is that Mrs Bennet’s complaints are not to be dismissed. So many people defend her for the way she openly goes about trying to get husbands for her daughters — which in the novel are shown to be mostly counter-productive. Many readers unfortunately dismiss the way Mrs Bennet discusses the entail on Mr Collins because Austen herself sets up a context which ridicules her. Ridiculous woman to keep repeating what cannot be helped. And of course the heir will take all. I take it that’s part of the conservative stance her family would have been comfortable with and the ridicule allowed her novel to get past their censuring eyes. I’m inclined to defend Mrs Austen’s indignation even if expressed in ways that allow for ridicule — and think readers at the time would have felt the sting strongly of the girls being turned out when the father dies.

In Austen’s S&S the uncle did have the power to leave much more to his nephew — if you read carefully you find the entail had ended for a time. But the way of thinking was to leave the huge amount to one, the oldest male; Austen’s irony is that in fact the old man left it tied up (set a new set of restrictions) so as to make sure it would end up in he hands of a child (boy) when he grows up. 

As to the workings of primogeniture with males counting in Jane Austen’s immediate family, George Austen leaves his vicar’s position and salary to his eldest son, James, discarding a lifetime’s posssesions which included those valued by his daughter, Jane who became a wanderer, spent hated time in Bath and only was able to resume equanimity when her brother, Francis, provided a temporarily stable place to live in Southampton. It was a lucky adoption (of Edward by the Knights) that provided Chawton after the death of his wife, Elizabeth.

if you look at Elizabeth Austen and then study what happened to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — Henry a fourth son (see my portrait of him) — the reality is not to be surprised he ended up nearly broke except for a curacy patronage got him but how far he got. In his wife, Eliza Hancock de Feuillide Austen’s immediate family: we see her mother, Philadelphia, driven to go to India and marry where she could. No education for her the way one was provided for her brother George. She took crumbs from the table of Warren Hastings after he impregnated her with Eliza (see my portrait of her) – not a happy position — or one Henry could work to his advantage later in life when he married Eliza. 


by ellenandjim at August 21, 2014 01:29 AM


Five-Book Bundle

What could have in common novels like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Portrait of a Lady and Lady Chatterley’s Lover? In our opinion maybe that all of them are written in English, but HarperPerennial Classics thinks otherwise:
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by M. ( at August 21, 2014 02:07 AM

August 20, 2014

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

Megan's Command Station

At the Blake Archive, we strive for god-like workmanship. As such, proofreading for sinful mistakes is an important step in our process. Currently, we have several publications “on-deck” for publishing, but this means that several eyes have to pass over those documents. I am currently proofing a typographical work called Poetical Sketches. The original transcription of this work was created by Ali McGhee. I am now proofreading her transcription as well as checking our reading against several standard sources.

The process sort of looks like this:

Megan's Command StationNote the necessary caffeine and hydration containers. I think everyone at the Archive has their own “process” when proofing. As you can tell, I like to have everything open, analog and digital, as I proof. I like to cross-reference every reference, especially when I find information that differs slightly from one source to the next. I also like to make changes to our digital files one thing at a time, then save and check for errors. If I make all my changes at once I am more likely to really screw up the entire document. I am also super grateful for our double monitor set up in the office, because I can have several different windows open at once. I’d also like to thank the Keurig in the English Dept., without whom I would be useless.

The steps for proofing can vary depending on the type of work the original Blake content is: manuscript, illuminated book, typographical, letter, etc. Still, there is a basic process that we follow in order to catch any mistakes in our work before we publish on I begin by comparing our transcription of the work against the original. Sometimes we find typos or the proofreader will disagree with the reading done previously. In the latter case, the proofreader works with the transcriber to come up with a solution, and often times marking the text as “unclear”. Next, I usually compare our transcription to our standard sources, which can be found here.  At this point I am also looking at the our “Editors’ Notes” for each object and the “Work Information” pages. After proofing other things on our check list, I like to finish by looking at the images and making sure that they are working properly in “Lightbox.”

And there you have it! While proofing isn’t the most glamorous part of the job, it is very important to the Blake Archive. Personally, I like proofreading, because as a student myself, I understand that our users want their experience to be easy and go smoothly. Blake scholars already do enough work figuring out Blake; they shouldn’t have to decipher our slip ups as well. Well, now I am extremely paranoid that this post has a bunch of mistakes in it . . .

by mwils31 at August 20, 2014 06:00 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


Sustaining a Career Beyond the PhD: A Half-Day Professionalisation Workshop for Postgraduates and Early-Career Researchers As part of this year’s BAVS conference at the University of Kent, a half-day workshop […]

by Nicole Bush at August 20, 2014 10:20 AM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Fitzrovia to Euston Walk

A walk through central London again, including a derelict hospital ...

by Lee Jackson ( at August 20, 2014 11:19 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Dull cloudy ― all day = only one gleam of sun about 10 or 11. I worked horribly all day at Cretan pennings. No letter: nobody came.

Μονη ― Μονος ― Μοναχῶς.

Towards afterìnoon, awful annoyance from putting down carpets &c. &c. in Santos’s upstairs room.

Dined on a sole ― at 7.30.

Reading Lady D. Gordons queer tour.[1]

Penned out till 10 ― nay ― 11 ― at the Αποκόρονα sketches.

Grim, dim, useless sad speculations. A cleft stick ― & how to leave it?

Better to give up 1 or 200, & be free ― but wholly in the dark, & life=beginning again? ―― or to be chained here ― risking loss & certain of no liberty?

To be, or not to be?

dined alone.

& penned out till 11.


[1] Lear probably read Lucie, Lady Duff-Gordon’s “Letters from the Cape” from the collection in which they were first published, Sir Francis Galton’s Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel in 1862-3, London and Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1864. 119-222.

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

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


A Togolese Attic in Brussels

Babelia (El País) (Spain) talks about the exhibition Where we’re at. Other voices on gender  (Summer of Photography) at Bozar in Brussels. The series of photographs La Folle dans la Mansarde by the Togolese artist Hélène Amouzou is obviously related to Charlotte Brontë's madwoman in the attic:
O bien los retratos fantasmagóricos de la togolesa Hélène Amouzou, que se reapropia del estereotipo victoriano de la madwoman in the attic (“la loca encerrada en el ático”), que tan bien ilustró Charlotte Brontë en Jane Eyre. (Álex Vicente) (Translation)
Actuphoto (Belgium) interviews the exhibition's commissary, Christine Eyene:
Il faut d’ailleurs préciser que ces chapitres – et en fait l’ensemble de l’exposition – ont été inspirés par l’oeuvre des artistes. ‘La folle dans la mansarde’ fait à la fois référence aux photos d’Hélène Amouzou prises dans son grenier; à la ‘folle’ dans Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë (1847), repris à l’écran par Robert Stevenson (1943) et convoquée par Maud Sulter dans Plantation (1995); ainsi qu’à Mad Woman (2009) de Mwangi Hutter. (Capucine Michelet) (Translation)

by M. ( at August 20, 2014 01:18 AM

August 19, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Important Reminder to Toronto Meeting Attendees

Canada-Maple-Leaf-2For all US citizens who are travelling to Toronto for our fabulous meeting the first weekend in October, this is a reminder that despite certain similarities of speech, Canada is a foreign land and you will be required to possess a valid passport to board a plane or cross the border. If yours is not valid, better hurry to get one. “Routine” applications take 4 to 6 weeks; the pricier “Expedited” 3 weeks, and “Expedited at Agency” (based on need; restrictions apply) 8 business days.

by Mark Burstein at August 19, 2014 07:31 PM


King Lear and Heathcliff

The Guardian's Children's Books interviews E. Lockhart, the author of We Were Liars:
It is often said that nothing today is original and partly this is true. However, We Were Liars takes advantage of this by combining well-known stories, such as King Lear and Wuthering Heights, and beautifully morphing them into something completely new. Why did you choose to intertwine these stories with your own and how did you think it would impact the reader? (CaraErica)
I started with the King Lear idea because sibling rivalry over money and love is a universal topic I wanted to explore, but I realized We Were Liars was connected to Wuthering Heights rather late in the game. I have read Emily Brontë's novel many, many times, but I didn't see that I had brought it into my own work until I had done several drafts of my story.
The new Brontë Parsonage Museum IOS app is presented in The Telegraph & Argus:
Mobile phone users [not all, only Iphone ones] can now take a tour of Haworth's Brontë Parsonage Museum without setting foot in the building.
Bosses at the parsonage, one-time home to the legendary literary sisters, have introduced their first ever phone app.
The initiative gives people a close-up look at some of the rooms and exhibits within the museum.
And it provides background information about the Brontë family and their former residence.
"The idea for the app follows on from the touch-screen virtual tour kiosks we have upstairs at the museum," said library and collections officer, Sarah Laycock.
"The app highlights some of the important features of the parsonage and selected objects from the collections, such as Patrick Brontë's magnifying glass, as well as providing general details.
"It will mean that people who can't get to the museum for whatever reason will still be able to experience it.
"I'm sure it will be extremely popular." (Alistair Shand)
Business Insider lists inspirational quotes. One of them by Charlotte Brontë:
"I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward." —Charlotte Brontë
This quite popular quote comes from a rather poignant letter by Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey (January 15th, 1849).

Oliver Kamm's Notebook section in The Times includes a comment about the upcoming opening of the Norton Conyers attic.
Unwelcome Embassy guests; Jane Eyre; magpies: my Notebook today. 
Writergurnly reviews Libby Sternberg's Sloane Hall;  the Brontë Parsonage Facebook Wall posts a reminder of tomorrow's activities at the Museum:
Get creative this summer holiday and make a wax landscape like the one below, Wednesday 20 August, 11am - 4pm

by M. ( at August 19, 2014 05:26 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Certainly ― we fall. ―

And the dreary penalty comes on ― weariness ―sadness ― apathy ― foreboding ―misery. X. at 2 P.M.

I penned out all day ― no one came, & no letter but one from C.F. ―I am to go there on Sunday: wo is me!

I have done all but one dozen & fout lots of the Cretan drawings ― & perhaps it is best to get thro’ the whole slavery at once.

Dined alone at 7.30 ―

penned out till near 11.

Delightful letter from Mrs. Clive.

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

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


Brontë Studies. Volume 39. Issue 3

The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2014) is already available online. We provide you with the table of contents and abstracts:
‘Felicitations to the Brontëites’: the 1895 Inaugural Volume of the Brontë Society’s Transactions and Other Publications
pp. 165–177 Author: Pike, Judith E.
The inaugural volume of the Brontë Society’s journal sheds light on the complex relationship the founders had with Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë. While Gaskell played an integral role in the Brontës’ legacy, the founders took issue with her disparaging portrayal of Yorkshire, its inhabitants and her austere rendering of Charlotte. The article, ‘Haworth: Home of the Brontës’, acts as a centrepiece for the volume, creating a new composite image of the Brontë Country that invites the Victorian public to see England as not only the birthplace of Shakespeare and Wordsworth but also of the Brontës and to represent Yorkshire as alluring as the Lake District.

Jane Eyre: Jane’s Spiritual Coming of Age
pp. 178–186    Author:  Sexton, Kristi
No doubt Jane Eyre may be characterized as a romance with gothic elements within its pages, but it is also a coming of age story that begins with a young orphan girl and ends with a happily married woman. Other critics see Jane’s journey as a woman’s conflict against an unjust male-dominated world. Although these interpretations are credible, they do not take into consideration Jane’s spiritual condition; but from Gateshead to Thornfield, Jane’s spiritual awakening is foremost in the novel. Through her journey, Jane realizes that she alone must account for her spiritual condition. She no longer needs to rely on man’s authority for her relationship with God. Jane Eyre is novel of one woman’s spiritual pilgrimage.

Supplementary Annotations to Jane Eyre
pp. 187–190       Author: Stenning Edgecombe, Rodney
This article offers annotations to Jane Eyre designed to supplement those provided by Sally Shuttleworth, Stevie Davies and Richard Dunn, the respective Oxford, Penguin and Norton editors of the novel. It advances, inter alia, two Byron quotations relevant to the characterization of Rochester, and also suggests a possible source for Blanche Ingram’s ‘Corsair-song’.

The Presentation of Isabella in Wuthering Heights
pp. 191–201   Author:  Tytler, Graeme
Amid the attention they have bestowed on Isabella in Wuthering Heights over the years, a good many Brontë scholars have tended to regard her simply as a foolish young thing. Such a view of Isabella has doubtless been sustained by knowledge of the humiliations she is subjected to not only by Heathcliff and Catherine but also by some of the other characters portrayed in the novel. That all this, however, argues a somewhat narrow interpretation of Isabella’s presentation derives from our awareness of the development of her character and personality through, among other things, her ability to overcome her anguish as a neglected bride, to associate with her fellow residents at the Heights, and to live her life as a single mother. By way of Isabella, then, we are told a remarkable tale of a naive but fundamentally decent girl of privileged upbringing who eventually turns into a seemingly strong and independent woman.

Family Complexes and Dwelling Plight in Wuthering Heights
pp. 202–212  Author:  Wing-chi Ki, Magdalen
This essay argues that central to Wuthering Heights is the connection between troubled homes and unresolved family complexes — namely, the weaning, intrusion, and Oedipus complexes, leading to the rise of neuroses, psychosis and perversion. Men and women build different spaces in order to dwell, but they often create dwelling plights to perpetuate their ongoing problems. Old Earnshaw negates the paternal custom to construct a house of equity, and this directly prompts an insecure Hindley to establish a house of tyranny. To sideline paternal dominance, Catherine creates for herself different anti-oedipal spaces, only to be bound by a co-dependent love and a love of individuation, and to end up drifting madly in a liminal non-place. To deal with peer rivalry, abandonment rage, and castration threat, Heathcliff becomes a vengeful sadist bent on destroying happy places. Within this overall context, Emily Brontë intends that the new family should seek new ‘contrarian’ ways of thinking and dwelling.

Bringing Portraits Alive: Catherine Paula Han Interviews Andrea Galer, the Costume Designer for Jane Eyre (BBC, 2006)
pp. 213-224  Author:  Han, Catherine Paula
A prominent costume designer, Andrea Galer has contributed to several Brontë adaptations and Brontë-inspired works, most notably Jane Eyre (BBC, 2006). In this interview, she discusses the adaptation and her other work, relating her screen projects to her activism supporting contemporary craft and ethically traded fashion. She recounts her research and design process, offering insights that shed light on costume drama more generally. Her perspective elucidates the theoretical debates surrounding the genre’s authenticity and its representation of the past.

The Brontës in Turkey
pp. 225-231  Author:  Berg, Temma
The Brontës never went to Turkey — but an important conference entitled ‘The Brontë Sisters and their Work’ was held in Ankara in December 2013. Spurred on by the hospitality and intellectual excitement of the event and by the way other sites in Turkey reflected back on the three sisters and their work, I was motivated to write a short essay about the experience.

Mr Lockwood and Mr Latimer: Wuthering Heights and the Ghost of Redgauntlet
pp. 232-238  Author:  Emberson, Ian M.
This article stresses the paramount importance of Sir Walter Scott’s novels to the Brontë family. It goes on to consider the resemblances between the opening scenes of Scott’s Redgauntlet and of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, noting in particular the way in which the characters can be matched up with each other. Finally, it is argued that these opening scenes show a similar combination of humour and mystery.

Ian M. Emberson: a Personal Appreciation
pp. 239-241   Author:  Smith, K. E.

pp. 242-248

by M. ( at August 19, 2014 03:47 AM

August 18, 2014

The Little Professor

Gold-plated little toe UPDATE

I just received a check from the insurance company, which I assume means that I am about to owe the hospital some more money.  (The check doesn't have anything to do with the previous bill, so it must relate to a bill I'm about to receive.)  That brings the bill for stubbing my toe to over $3K.  

Moral of the story: do not stub your toe.  

by Miriam Burstein at August 18, 2014 11:26 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


The People Needed Jane

Nanaimo Daily News informs of a grant received by a future Brontë scholar:
Vancouver Island University graduate Elizabeth Bassett won a $17,500 scholarship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to begin her Masters of Arts at the University of Victoria.
The Nanaimo resident, who graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an English major and psychology minor, will begin her studies with a project she began while at VIU.
She received the scholarship based on her application to pursue a project focused on the novel Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë.
Working with a small group of students under the guidance of English professor Dr. Sandra Hagan, Bassett analyzed the classic 'governess' of the novel, which was first published in 1847.
"What really strikes me about the novel is that it has a kind of tension between the protagonist's individual self and her public working self," Bassett said in a release. "I think it's a tension that's still really relevant today."
Bassett plans to use autobiographical theory to examine how interior lives can be expressed or suppressed by narrative forms.
During her group studies on the works of the Brontë, Bassett made a presentation on Agnes Grey that encouraged her interest in pursuing a Master's degree.
Detroit Free Press analyses the webseries based on classic literature phenomenon:
 “One of best and worst things in (our) project was how much people needed Jane,” said Alysson Hall, the star of “The Autobiography of Jane Eyre.” “People always ask me if she’s going to come back. But every story has an end.” (...)

The Autobiography of Jane Eyre
Perhaps the most dramatic of the literary Web series thus far, “The Autobiography of Jane Eyre” tackled issues like abuse, mental illness and unhealthy relationships. While tonally imperfect, the star of the show, Alysson Hall, infused Jane with a deadpan wit and sympathetic gawkiness that made it easy to swallow even the most outlandish of the original book’s plot twists. ( (Hoai Tran-Bui)
The Huffinton Post gives 17 reasons to visit Yorkshire. One of them is, of course:
Yorkshire was also once home to the Brontë family.
You can visit the Brontë family's lifelong home and learn more about their legacy at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, located in Haworth, West Yorkshire. (Lisa Miller)
The Irish Independent reviews the Shakespeare's Globe production of Much Ado About Nothing which includes... Brontë connections?!:
Throw together a mischievous fascination with contemporary Gothic, add in a tale within a tale of Victorian Gothic with references to and extracts from both Emily and Charlotte Brontë, as well as a definite nod towards Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, and you've got quite a sophisticated mix. (Emer O'Kelly)
The List talks about the latest novel by Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests:
Whereas Waters' earlier novels were a mad swirl of Dickens, Wilkie Collins and the Brontës, here she draws inspiration from queer female novelists of the early 20th century, most clearly Radclyffe Hall, author of the notorious lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, with maybe a dash of Du Maurier and Woolf. (Kaite Welsh)
Sioux City Journal interviews North Sioux City Community Library director Deb Matthys:
Describe the type of book that will always draw you in.
"I've always been a fan of scary Victorian novels, complete with castles surrounded by waters with crashing waves. I love (Emily Brontë's) 'Wuthering Heights' and anything similar will instantly capture my imagination." ( Earl Horlyk)
3FM (Netherlands) lists songs inpired by novels:
Kate Bush - 'Wuthering Heights'
Een klassieker op de Engelse boekenlijst: Wuthering Heights, de enige roman die Emily Brontë schreef - naast nog wat gedichten. Het nummer volgt dezelfde verhaallijn als het boek, over een stel dat ondanks verschillen in klasse en families bij elkaar blijft. Emily Brontë en Kate Bush delen trouwens dezelfde verjaardag: 30 juli. (Translation)
El Comercio (Perú) reviews the novel La Mujer de Bellocq by Patricia Villanueva:
Tras cinco años alejada de las galerías, la artista retoma su investigación en torno a la búsqueda de la identidad profundizando en marcadas influencias: el oscuro erotismo propio de las fotografías del estadounidense Ernest Bellocq, su obsesión por el cuervo como personaje mutante, sus lecturas de las novelas de Jean Rhys y Charlotte Brontë. Todos esos referentes son procesados para luego ser devueltos en una propuesta personal y oscura, que tiene que ver con el amor y el deseo de sentirse vivo en los ojos del otro. (Enrique Planas) (Translation)
El Rincón Perdido (in Spanish) talks about Wuthering Heights; Ipswich Spy gives away some tickets to see Red Rose Chain's Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at August 18, 2014 06:20 PM

Regency Ramble

Montacute House Part VII

I frequently find myself gazing out of the windows when visiting one of these great houses.  Here is another view showing the garden and at the end of a wall, one of two pavilions which were designed as extra bedrooms.

I would love to have been one of the guests assigned to one of these rooms. Imagine the quiet. Though it would be a hike for breakfast.
A huge feature of Montacute is its Long Gallery. An important room, used for exercise by the family in inclement weather and I would guess, the odd ball.

It is in a room like this that I imagined Merry playing battledor with Caro's young son Tommy in More than a Mistress, though I had invested that gallery with suits of armor. I needed something for them to tie a string to.

Interestingly enough, several bedrooms lead off this gallery.

I took this picture to show the length of the gallery. These days I would think a gym would be pleased to have such a space for a running track.

At the southern end of the gallery there is an oriel window. It is hard to see it because of the drapery.

But here it is from the outside. Just beautiful

And here is another view. Not all of these gardens are as they were in the Regency owing to the the vagaries of fortune, but they are still beautiful to see.

Until next time....

by Ann Lethbridge ( at August 18, 2014 12:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Ever the same lovely weather.

Slept well & rose before 6.

Penned out Cretan work all day ― (when working,) & have now penned all but the drawings for 2 dozen mounts. Whether to go thro’ all at once or not?

C. Fortescue came at 1 ― & staid an hour.

Later Wade-Browne & an uncle Pennefather.

Dined alone at 7.30.

& penned again from 9 to 9.45.


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

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

William Morris Unbound

Corncrakes on the Thames

If you head off into the Oxfordshire countryside this summer, are you likely to hear the sound of corncrakes in the fields? Dick Hammond eagerly anticipates doing so in News from Nowhere. In ch.XXII he announces how much he wants to ‘lie under an elm-tree on the borders of a wheat-field, with the bees humming about me and the corncrake crying from furrow to furrow’; and we know his wish will be fulfilled, for as the rowers arrive at Kelmscott in ch.XXX they hear ‘the ceaseless note of the corncrake as he crept through the long grass of the mowing-field’.

Those other late-Victorian rowers, the anti-heroes of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889), imagine what it will be like to camp on the river bank, when ‘only the moorhen’s plaintive cry and the harsh croak of the corncrake stirs the awed hush around the couch of waters’. In an 1884 article on ‘The Birds of Oxford City’ in The Oxford Magazine, W.W.F. announces that the ‘Landrail or Corncrake’ is ‘a summer migrant, visiting the Parks occasionally, but preferring the safe side of the Cherwell. I have heard it in Merton Meadow and elsewhere’. In the early twentieth-century Midlands, D.H .Lawrence’s poem ‘End of Another Home-Holiday’ announces that ‘In the valley, a corncrake calls/ Monotonously,/ With a piteous , unalterable plaint’; and a particularly pesky corncrake pops up in his first novel, The White Peacock, too. The bird features regularly in Samuel Beckett’s fictional Ireland, with Belacqua hearing ‘crex-crex, the first corncrake of the season’ in More Pricks than Kicks, and the ‘awful cries of the corncrakes that run in the corn’ turning up again in Molloy.

Plenty of corncrakes around once upon a time, then. But my Larousse Field Guide declares, sadly enough, that they were ‘once widespread, now decidedly scarce’, and it doesn’t show Oxfordshire in its map of their current UK distribution at all. So Dick Hammond in 2014 could well be disappointed on the upper Thames, but if he ventured a little further afield – ‘still relatively numerous in Ireland and Hebrides’ – he might have better ornithological luck after all.

by Tony Pinkney ( at August 18, 2014 01:29 AM


Blurred Lines

Erin McCarthy has (digitally) released the first two novels of her Blurred Lines series. The first, You Make Me, was more or less inspired by Wuthering Heights and the second one, Live for Me, has Jane Eyre as its source material.
You Make Me (Blurred Lines) (Volume 1)
April 15, 2014

The guy she wants…
Growing up on the coast of Maine with a revolving door of foster siblings, Caitlyn Michaud spent one intense and passionate year falling in love with her foster brother, Heath. Then he left without a word. The betrayal devastated Caitlyn and made her vow to forget the compelling bad boy. But forgetting his sensual tou
ch and their deep all-consuming friendship is easier said than done.

Isn’t the guy she needs…
Determined to move on, in college Caitlyn has risen above her small town impoverished roots and has joined a sorority, reinvented her appearance, and landed the right boyfriend. Pre-law major and frat president, Ethan, is thoughtful and always laughing, and he makes her feel happy, calm. He also gives her the social acceptance she craves.
But the perfect world she tried so hard to attain is ripped apart when Heath appears one night out of nowhere. Caitlyn remembers all the reasons why she loves him, even if they don’t make sense to anyone but her. Out of the military, Heath is as brooding and intense as ever, and he is determined not only to win her back, but to exact revenge on everyone who kept him from her…
And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?

Live for Me (Blurred Lines) (Volume 2)
June 24, 2014

The solace she sought…
In and out of foster care her whole life, Tiffany Ennis has never had space or privacy, so housesitting a mansion on the coast of Maine with only the absentee rich owner’s dog for company is pure bliss. But her peace is shattered when the injured owner returns to his compound unexpectedly. Tiffany finds him to be sexy and intriguing, showing an interest in her that must be mocking, given that everyone’s always told her she’s plain, nothing special.

Becomes an affair she never expected…
Devin Gold, known in the music industry as Gold Daddy, is usually in New York City attending drop parties and having men and women alike throw themselves at him, and Tiffany wishes he’d stayed there. There’s no reason for a top producer to hole up in Maine in the dead of winter, and every time she turns around he’s asking her prying questions. She finds herself starting to enjoy their intellectual conversations and clever sparring matches, and in a hot minute she’s falling for him. Even knowing that he’s a decade older, filthy rich, and could only want her for his momentary amusement. Yet even when he hosts beautiful and confident guests from the city, he still seems to prefer her company, and is protective when odd things start happening around the house, threatening her safety. But how far is Tiffany willing to go with a man who is still very much married, estranged wife or not, just to feel special?
And all the lines between past and present and right and wrong are blurred…
The don't know the plot of the next novel of the series (September 2014) but its name says it all, Let Me In.

by M. ( at August 18, 2014 01:23 AM

August 17, 2014


Attic Women

Keighley News reports the news of the acquisition of the Wuthering Heights 1920 script by the Brontë Parsonage Museum and gives some more details:
Sarah Laycock, library and information officer at the parsonage, said this week: "It is fantastic that we have this. It is unique.
"It is not a script in the usual sense because it was a silent film but they're directional notes and provide fascinating reading.
"The film itself is lost, which makes these notes even more important.
"The script will go on display in the museum after the winter closure. It can't be exhibited immediately because we will need to get new labels produced and reorganise the displays." (Alistair Shand)
The Sunday Herald wonders what Walter Scott would vote in the upcoming independence referendum in Scotland:
He was also the most influential Scottish writer there has ever been or is ever likely to be. Novelists as diverse as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Balzac, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy were happy to acknowledge their indebtedness to him. For without Scott it is debatable whether the novel as we know it would have enjoyed the success it subsequently did. (Alan Taylor)
Four writers discuss for The Independent the impact, influence ... of Kate Bush's music:
"Wuthering Heights" drifted through the house and I became word-perfect. I wasn't allowed to wear multiple skirts or crimp my hair but I practised the voice that soared from high squeals to low moans in front of the mirror, along with the slightly deranged movements. I had the album cover of The Kick Inside on my wall and gazed at the exotic creature on a Japanese kite with a giant eyeball. What did it all mean? (Lisa Markwell, IOS editor)
What makes Kate Bush special in my eyes is that she is absolutely, unequivocally an individual. Her first single on EMI was "Wuthering Heights", an ode to Emily Brontë. What balls (oh, to be a fly on the wall when that label meeting was had). (Lauren Mayberry, Chvrches vocalist)
But is there a Kate Bush image? Yes, absolutely. It's her drifting about in a nimbus of white chiffon for the "Wuthering Heights" video, hair crimped to kingdom-come, arms tremblante, lots of backlighting, like a 1970s album cover come to life. (Alexander Fury, IOS fashion editor)
Also in The Independent, a review of the paperback edition of A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland:
His is not a challenging or revolutionary history: you will find no Marxist dissection of Heathcliff as a working-class anti-hero here, for instance, and in that sense, it is ever the establishment view, for all its awareness of women’s issues and race and colonialism. (Lesley McDowell)
Ramona Depares in The Times of Malta remembers the actor Robin Williams and, in particular, the film Dead Poets Society:
When I saw the film on Italian television, a couple of years after its cinema release, I was one moody teenager in the full throes of a love affair with authors like Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Simone de Beauvoir, Emily Brontë, Flaubert, Oscar Wilde and the like.
The Guardian has an interesting article about, among other things, bibliomemoirs:
Others published this year deal in titles that are popular, well-loved and regularly dramatised (in this country, at least) on television and radio. Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch is devoted to George Eliot's masterpiece; Samantha Ellis's How to Be a Heroine is a fond re-examination of the stories she loved as a girl, among them Wuthering Heights, The Bell Jar, Pride and Prejudice and Gone With the Wind; among the 50 great books Andy Miller includes on his List of Betterment in The Year of Reading Dangerously are Catch-22, Lord of the Flies, Crime and Punishment and The Code of the Woosters. (Rachel Cooke)
The Burlington Times News reviews the novel The Quick by Lauren Owen:
The story is told through multiple characters’ perspectives as well as letters and diaries, making this novel reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Kostova’s “The Historian.” Even Owen’s writing style resembles the style of great Victorian novelists like Mary Shelley and the Brontë sisters. (Kathryn Lallinger)
The Daily News lists several recent sequels or retellings of classic novels:
Flight of Gemma Hardy,” by Margot Livesey. “Jane Eyre” is one of my favorite novels of all time and so I would judge any reinterpretations very closely, and probably harshly. However, Livesey has done a wonderful job of bringing Jane into the 20th Century with a well-written book that creates a modern Jane character worthy of the original. (Chris Skaugset)
El Universo (Ecuador) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the reading club Mujeres del Ático:
Entonces había que explicar nuestro nombre. Nos llamábamos así porque una lectura de cierta novela inglesa –Jane Eyre, para ser más precisos– introdujo una inteligente interpretación: en un ático, el poder masculino había encerrado a una mujer para silenciarla, mientras una modosa heroína captaba admiración por su acatamiento y solidaridad. La “loca” prisionera era una víctima, pero a los ojos del lector quedaba como el signo de la mala fortuna de un buen hombre bloqueado por la existencia de esa mujer inútil.  (Cecilia Ansaldo Briones) (Translation)
The Adroit Journal questions the feminism in Jane Eyre;  Redrosechain uploads a trailer of their Wuthering Heights production at Jimmy's Farm in Ipswich.

by M. ( at August 17, 2014 04:57 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


(X9) ! !

Took medicine. Fretted.

Penned out Cretan drawings all day: only Mrs. Robinson & Miss Louis came ― & later friendly Wade-Browne.

Dined alone on mutton broth.

Τι Ζωῆ![1]

A note from Gush, saying, that when M. Dos Santos returns, he will propose his occupying a room at No. 17. ―

Bene sarebbe![2]

[1] What a life!

[2] That would be good!

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

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


Slovak Professor

A new translation of The Professor has been published in Slovakia:
Charlotte Brontë
ISBN: 9788055611884
Translator: Mihalkovičová Beáta
Year: 2014

Charlotte Brontë, autorka nesmrteľného románu Jane Eyrová, napísala veľké príbehy plné citov a vášní. Jej nezameniteľný štýl rozprávania jej priniesol celosvetovú popularitu a uznanie. Dnes zaraďujeme jej diela už do svetovej klasiky, ale je až neuveriteľné, ako si dokáže stále podmaňovať ďalšie generácie čitateľov. Hlavným hrdinom jej románu Profesor je William Crimsworth, ktorý hľadá vo svete svoje miesto i blízku dušu. V detstve stratil rodičov, ujala sa ho rodina a tá ho poslala na štúdiá, ale zaobchádza s ním ako s nesvojprávnym a menejcenným jedincom. William túži byť nezávislý, vzbúri sa proti ujcom i násilníckemu bratovi a odíde za prácou do Bruselu. Neznáme prostredie je voči nemu, ako voči cudzincovi, nevraživé. Napokon až vďaka povolaniu učiteľa angličtiny si konečne ujasní, čo od života očakáva.
More information in Pravda. A review can be found on Books - parts of my life.

by M. ( at August 17, 2014 03:45 AM

August 16, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Thomas Collier, watercolours of moorland

 photo thomascolliermoorlandlsc.jpeg

A quite accomplished piece of work, but I have really made this post for the sake of the wonderful watercolour under the cut; we have had it here before, but this is a bigger and better scan.

 photo thomascollierlge.jpg

August 16, 2014 07:56 PM


In My Mind, I Was on the Moors

The Telegraph & Argus talks about the walks and talks which the Brontë Parsonage offers to its visitors (and publishes several pictures of the Brontë Parsonage Museum learning assistant Hermione Williams walking the moors)
Free guided walks taking in landscape which inspired the literary sisters are being held every Wednesday afternoon throughout this month.
And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, free talks are covering topics ranging from Patrick Bronte's role in the village to early responses to the siblings' writings.
There are also family workshops, which focus on Moorland in Miniature tomorrow, and wax painting on Wednesday, both from 11am to 4pm.
Sue Newby, education officer at the museum, said: "Like everyone else, we were really proud here at the parsonage to see Yorkshire looking so beautiful when the Tour de France arrived.
"This inspired us to focus on the landscape as a theme for our summer and autumn activities. These include craft workshops for families and short guided walks up on to Penistone Hill every Wednesday in August.
"As well as looking at the history of Haworth in the Brontës' day, we are also enjoying the heather coming to bloom upon the moors and exploring the impact the local landscape had on the sisters' writing." (Alistair Shand)
The news of next year's opening of the Norton Conyers attic, allegedly the source of Thornfield's Hall attic in Jane Eyre, is discussed by Judy (without Richard) in The Daily Express:
For me, it's the perfect women's novel; the tale of a poor orphan despised and bullied by her rich relations and then sent away to an horrific charity school for parentless girls. (...)
Hurrah! Jane Eyre is a wonderful, passionate and deeply sexy novel, all the more so because of its understated nature, adhering to the conventions of the time. I always think the Brontë sisters novels make Jane Austen's seem bloodless, witty though they are.
And now it has emerged that Brontë was inspired to write Jane Eyre after a visit she made to an ancient stately home in 1839. The mansion was Norton Conyers in North Yorkshire. (...)
At the top of this narrow and precarious stairway is a tiny stone garret with a single porthole-shaped window. The space was nicknamed Mad Mary's Room. It looks appropriately sinister and austere and Charlotte Brontë was said to have been "very taken" with it.(...)
I love to think of her travelling back to the vicarage she shared with her siblings in Haworth, fleshing out the details of my favourite novel in her head. I do wonder about Mad Mary, though. Who was she? Why was she locked away in the attic? What did her family (her husband?) have to hide? Next year, Norton Conyers will be open to the public. I can't wait to see that gruesome garret. was told the story of a mad woman who had once been kept in a secret attic in the house.
Harvard Magazine celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library:
Librarians are helping faculty discover and deploy letters penned by Lord Byron, ornamental maps of 19th century Japan, the papers of the Beecher-Stowe family, miniature books by Charlotte and Branwell Brontë—and are facilitating online access to these collections to learners across the globe. Libraries are home to a goodly company that grows greater by the day—happy 100th birthday, Widener. (Drew Faust)
Jonathan Kay on Postmedia News recalls some of his favourite audiobooks:
In some cases, a great narrator can breathe so much energy into a true literary classic that it grips you as much as any bestselling potboiler. One of my all-time favourites is Patricia Routledge's 14-hour, unabridged reading of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, in which she summoned up the windswept Yorkshire wilderness with dark undertones and a stunning range of accents. The highway stretched in front of me. But in my mind, I was on the moors.
We wonder if the writer Alena Graedon will do as we says in The Globe and Mail and if her opinion about Jane Eyre will change:
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
I have a love-hate relationship with Jane Eyre, which I had to read several times in college even though I wasn’t an English major. What a tour de force it is, maybe especially given the social and cultural context in which it was written. But I get a little frustrated with it, too – this formative, paradigmatic example of a literary trope that I have a hard time with: the wounded woman rescued by a man. It’s a much more complicated story than that, of course. I should probably give it another try.
The New Yorker on the eternal question. Genius is made or born:
The debate over the nature of creativity is an old one: Is creative talent, be it novelistic, musical, or artistic, something that you’re born with, or is it something that anyone, with practice and dedication, can acquire? Anecdotally, the first option presents a strong case. The Waugh family produced three generations of novelists: Arthur, then Alec and Evelyn, then Auberon (Evelyn’s son). From the affair between H. G. Wells and Rebecca West came the novelist Anthony West. There are the Dumases (Alexandre, père and fils), the Rosettis (Gabriele and children Christina and Dante Gabriel), the Brontës (Emily, Charlotte, and Anne), the Jameses (Henry and William), the Amises (Kingsley and Martin), the Millers (Arthur and Rebecca)—the list continues to the present.  (Maria Konnikova)
The Pakistan Daily Times explores the figure of the composer Lata Mangeshkar. One of his credits (with Mohammed Rafi and  Asha Bhonsle ) is Dil Diya Dard Liya 1966:
Director AR Kardar then went for the movie ‘Dil Diya Dard Liya’ adapted from ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1965. Personally I was very sorry that this beautiful Dilip-Waheeda Rehman, Shyama and Pran starrer movie did not meet commercial success despite that it was a beautiful movie. Though Muhammad Rafi’s ‘Koi Saagar Dil Ko Behlata Nahin’ based in Raag Janasamohini/shubha Kalyan stands out as the best song of the movie but I like ‘Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aai’ by Lata better as it is a haunting melody. A lovely song with modern treatment ‘Kaya Rang-e-Mehfil Hei Dildaram’ by Lata needs mention. (Dr Amjad Parvez)
This is a new kind of modern journalism. Let's go to an online forum (not even from your newspaper, any would do) and look for some really angry people about no matter what. Daily Mail comments on Mastermind's alleged gender bias and quotes from the BBC’s own Points of View Messageboard:
‘You should take a look at the works of Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson and the Brontë sisters if poetry is your thing, and just to get you started.’
Regrettably the Emily Brontë portrait displayed on the article is not really Emily, no matter what Google Images says.

Focus Taiwan quotes Yunlin County Magistrate Su Chih-fen saying about a new local museum:
She touted the museum as the Taiwanese version of the remote moorland farmhouse named "Wuthering Heights" that serves as the backdrop of the novel of the same name by British writer Emily Brontë.
Equally as isolated as Wuthering Heights, the Taiwan Taisi Haikou Life Museum rises up on the seashore in a beautiful panoramic setting, Su said. (Yeh Tzu-kang and Lee Hsin-Yin) lists the best movies based on 'novels you had to read in school'. Among them, Jane Eyre 2011:
On paper, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is a moving mysterious romance that paints a fascinating portrait of the title character as she discovers both love and herself. For the most part, director Cary Joji Fukunaga follows those beats pretty closely, but he smartly shoots the whole thing like a horror movie. Layering mood and atmosphere on top of this frequently told story feels electric. There's no need to update the setting or radically change the characters to make Jane Eyre feel completely fresh. All it takes is a filmmaker with a vision. (Jacob S. Hall)
An alert from Austin, TX:
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Slaughter Lane
Afternoon Tea with Jane Eyre 2011
Saturday, Aug 16, 2014
Theater #7

All tea is organic and provided by Austin's own Zhi Tea.

When Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, girlfriend was not messing around. This 19th century masterpiece explores everything from feminism to religion through the eyes of Jane Eyre, a girl who has known great suffering and poverty. Fortunately for her, she also gets to know the tortured Mr. Rochester, and an epic, thrilling romance ensues.

Your ticket includes tea and treat service.
Fox Home posts about Shirley;  Teen Vortex and Give a Hoot, Read a Book review Jane Eyre; Crowdfunding Case Studies analyses the success of the webseries The Autobiography of Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at August 16, 2014 03:39 PM

The Brontë Parsonage App

The Brontë Parsonage Museum has launched a new app. It's only available for IOS users  (no plans for an Android release as far as we know).
Brontë Parsonage Museum
By Heritage Interactive Ltd
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Category: Education
Released: Aug 14, 2014
Version: 1.0
Size: 77.6 MB

Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

A virtual tour of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, home of the world’s most famous literary family. The rooms once used by the Brontës have been historically and scientifically refurbished and the tour provides information about the new decorative scheme as well as the family’s furniture, clothes and personal possessions which are displayed throughout the house.
Basically the app gives the same information as the virtual tour touch screen kiosks that have been installed at the Brontë Parsonage itself:
We [Heritage Interactive Ltd] developed the virtual tour to give visitors extra insight into the lives of the Brontë family. It contains facts aimed at both adults and children, accompanied by high resolution images of the rooms and artefacts.
The tour is available at the museum via two touch screen kiosks, iPad and iPhone apps were also developed to allow greater access to the information. The apps are available on the app store, with proceeds going to the museum.
The information is pretty basic but with some interesting content particularly concerning the recent redecoration. Furthermore, the Keeper icon hides some fun facts for the young ones. The app is strictly BPM-centered (no information about books or literature).

by Cristina ( at August 16, 2014 02:12 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


“We are going back again.”                Alas!

No letters ― save from Sir W. James, desiring me not to order a frame.

It was impossible to work, either in my study or in the room upstairs along of workmen & noise.

So I penned out in the little room next my bedroom. Later, Gush shewed me a note from M. Dos Santos ― “not knowing what to do” about the giving up the room. Meanwhile ― papering & painting go on. ― I write to him ― politefully on the subject.

Lunch ― & ἔπειτα, sleep. (X8B)

Penned again till 7. Then, went out, ― to call at F.L.’s intending to dine at Blue Posts afterwards. ― But returning ― met F.L. (Mrs. F. & the Boy are going on well ―) & talked long ― & it was too late to dine at Blue Posts, & I came home, & dined μοναχῶς, on cold beef ― greengages ― beer, & wine.

Since the “Portugese [sic] times” I find the Cooper’s never get out on Sunday at all ― in no manner.

Ὦ Χριστέ! your blessings are all after death!! ―

(Which is hard. ―

Cosa dura!)[1]

[1] “A hard thing.”

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

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

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Francine Prose, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 (Harper, 2014).  In Paris between the wars, characters meet, fall in love, pursue careers, and eventually become attracted to the Nazis.  (Lift Bridge)
  • Brooke Conti, Confessions of Faith in Early Modern England (Pennsylvania, 2014).  Analyzes the complexities of representing confessional identity in a period in which such identities were, to say the least, considerably vexed, politically and otherwise.  (Gift from author)

by Miriam Burstein at August 16, 2014 01:57 AM

Confession: A Tale of the Stars and Clouds

"Is this a novel about astronomy?" asks my reader, puzzled.  Well, no: it's about the evil of not confessing a sin--the realm of sin being "the clouds."  That's settled, then.  The novelist is S. J. Hancock, also known as Selina J. Hancock, who appears to have spent much of her life in New Zealand before returning (it seems) to London, where she died around 1906.  (Note the qualifiers--I'm not exactly swimming in biographical data here.)  Confession is built according to the kitchen sink blueprint for plots, and features, in no particular order, fallen women, hypnotism, Jesuits, Dominicans, Priscilla Sellon, sex,  illegitimate children, forgery, blackmail, murder by poisoning, attempted murder by drowning, Congregationalists, Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, Methodists, aggravating religious children, insanity, nefarious plots, not-always-correct references to the United States, people with multiple names, seamstresses, prisons, slums, eye-popping "providential" coincidences, a summation scene that wouldn't be out of place in Agatha Christie, and vengeance.  Oh, and confessions.  As this somewhat excessive hodgepodge suggests, it is not always possible to figure out who is doing what to whom, let alone why.  Nevertheless, one soldiers on.  

Although the novel's plot and style are equally cringe-inducing--Hancock has a thing for High Melodrama--there are actually reasons for people other than me to read this novel.  (Shocking, I know.)  First, the novel takes a strikingly radical approach to the fallen woman narrative, far more radical than that on offer in Elizabeth Gaskell's Ruth (where the heroine dies) or even Wilkie Collins' The New Magdalen (where the heroine and her new husband sail off in search of acceptance).  Clarice, although a "child of the Cross" (16), is seduced by our mesmeric and moustache-twirling villain, Morris Vernon  (among other names), and they have sex amidst a sea of asterisks: "She was powerless now to withdraw from it, and it became fixed, until his eyes seemed to sink down into her soul, and a strange shivery torpor began to creep over her frame. * * * * * * She woke from her mesmeric trance" (23).  For the modern reader, this "fall" reads as rape--Clarice is hypnotized at the time--which makes the rest of the plot morally incoherent to us, but not to Hancock, who (through Clarice) argues that she had "cowered to that fearful influence, as if there had been no God to save her from it, and that God, too, her God" (24).  (TL; DR: Clarice should have prayed.)     In any event, Clarice finds herself pregnant, runs to England, bears twins, and undergoes many Trials and Tribulations because she refuses to confess to her sin.  Each time she manages to establish herself, things go awry.  Hancock takes us on a grand tour of the employment options available to single women in mid-Victorian Britain, including sewing (fine sewing and slopwork), teaching, and writing (despite Clarice's supposed brilliance as an author, we are not treated to any samples of her work).  Each time Clarice is discovered, whether by Morris or by an emissary of her relatives, she runs, thereby enmeshing herself in further sins (in particular, the sin of lying) and endangering her children, whom she eventually cannot afford to feed.  This behavior is in stark contrast to that of a lower-class woman whom Clarice meets, Ellen Moss, who also "falls" and has an illegitimate child, but eventually elects to make a full confession to her community instead of continuing to hide; by the novel's end, she has married, had two more children, and fully forgiven her betrayer (who, of course, goes insane as his providential punishment).  

Ellen Moss' plot, in which the fallen woman converts and is both spiritually and socially redeemed to the fullest, is Hancock's rejoinder to novels like David Copperfield or Ruth, in which the fallen woman must die, emigrate, and/or remain unmarried before she can be figuratively cleansed of her sin.  Confession insists on the radical power of Christian forgiveness, on the part of both society and the victim, to achieve a comic ending.  Clarice's sin lies, in part, in her unwillingness to forgive Morris, preferring to wallow instead in her "exceeding hatred" and "wild loathing" (274).  Despite her heartfelt Christian faith throughout, which even converts a couple of other characters, Clarice is incapable of either surmounting her own passion or braving social stigma; only when she elects to confess and forgive can she be united with the worthy Brian Anderson, a physically disabled man reclaimed from his misanthropy through faith, and providentially reunited with her kidnapped daughter (a long story we won't go into here).  Similarly, Clarice's opposite number, the mysterious Zaphie St. Colmar, who was secretly married to Morris when he was Pierre (another long story...), must herself undergo a long (and anti-Catholic) series of trials before she can bring Pierre/Morris/Col. Smith/etc. to justice...and then to faith, eventually forgiving him herself and ensuring his release.  (Modern readers will no doubt balk at her decision to move back in with him as his legal for the last months of his life...)  The novel's argument, then, is that forgiveness transforms not merely the victimized self, but also the wrong-doer--to be forgiven and to accept that forgiveness constitutes the beginning of the road to redemption.   And, on the flip side, that a truly Christian society believes that all sins can be wholly forgiven--meaning that no truly repentant sinner should be ostracized by society, polite or otherwise.  Fallen women need not spend their lives in masochistic abjection, in other words, but can get on with it ("it" including marriage and children).  

Of course, Confession is also about confessing, and here I think the novel rewrites a much better-known Victorian novel on the same subject: Georgiana Fullerton's controversial Ellen Middleton (1844), the only novel Fullerton published while still an Anglican.   In Ellen Middleton, the title character accidentally kills her cousin, refuses to confess it, and is then haunted the rest of her life by a mysterious blackmailer.  When the novel begins, Ellen is on her deathbed, and we read her life story along with the Anglican priest who has come to visit her; like Clarice, Ellen refuses or avoids every opportunity to confess, destroying her marriage in the process.  By the end, she has confessed to the priest, her blackmailer has confessed to the priest, and while neither Ellen nor her blackmailer gets to live happily ever after, all misconceptions have been cleared up.  Significantly, the priest, Mr. Lacy, tells Ellen's husband Edward that "God has, through my mouth, absolved her" (350)--making it clear, in other words, that the novel understands confession as part of a sacramental act.     In Confession, however, the saintly Protestant clergyman Mr. Moore insists that "[i]t does not matter to whom--to how many, or how few--confession itself is made," and is overtly contemptuous of "auricular confession" in the Catholic mode (146, 147).  For Moore, a clergyman is a "teacher and guide" (147), not someone capable of conveying divine absolution.  Thus, the novel's big, Poriot-ish summation scene, in which Morris brings charges and then first Clarice, then Zaphie utter their confessions, makes a point of staging the confession in front of a cross-section of the local Christian community, which in turn reintegrates the two women.  Both Clarice and Zaphie reap providential rewards that signify their absolution by God, but no man serves as mediator in that respect.   Unlike Ellen Middleton, who exits her sensation novel only by death, Clarice and Zaphie get to enjoy a full-fledged transition to a life in sentimental domestic fiction, dying (in Zaphie's case) only when their mission has been fulfilled.  

by Miriam Burstein at August 16, 2014 01:49 AM

August 15, 2014

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Dear friends and readers,

Just now I’m reading and studying Victor Nunez’s screenplay and film, Ruby in Paradise, a powerful profound truthful (all that) appropriation of Northanger Abbey. After a moment of tension over very different world views,



Ruby quotes from what was Mike’s Christmas present to her, The Poems of Emily Dickinson:

She dealt her pretty words like Blades -
How glittering they shone -
And every One unbared a Nerve
Or wantoned with a Bone -

She never dreamed – she hurt -
That – is not Steel’s Affair -
A vulgar grimace in the Flesh -
How ill the Creatures bear -

To ache is human – not polite -
The Film upon the eye
Mortality’s old Custom -
Just locking up – to Die

Ruby will not accede to conventional Christian morality as imprisoning and painful no matter if it costs her Mike; he cannot but hold to it. Is this a poem about being one’s self at the cost of being alone. Which is it to lock the self up: when you pretend to what you are not, or when you are true to your beliefs, act them out? Dickinson paid a high price and here she expresses how the hurt feels. How others might see her choice. (see Pilgrim Soul)

How do you read this poem? 


by ellenandjim at August 15, 2014 09:33 PM

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


Continued from Wednesday’s post, Part 1 Recap of Blake Camp 2014. Also see Morris’s Brief History of Blake Camp.

DAY 2, Friday 14 June

Session 5

E-books, Search Terms, and New Image Sources

We begin with a long discussion of the pros and cons of issuing e-book editions of works in the Archive—focusing perhaps on developing Blake’s most popular and widely studied works in responsive portable formats. Among many other issues discussed are the thorny problems of copyright.

Bob Essick leads a discussion of “search terms” (the extensive list of keywords that are basic components of our image-search capability). As new works are added to the Archive, the list of terms grows. The question is always how to keep the list up to date, clean, and consistent.

We discuss the possible uses of image sources such as ArtStor but couldn’t see any in the short term. Too many problems stand in the way.

Session 6


Archive bibliographer Mark Crosby calls our attention to the Wikipedia entry on the Archive that was initiated earlier this year by students at Kansas State. Of course we don’t and can’t control the entry, but we want to monitor it to see that it accurately reflects the Archive.

We continue to explore the potential of social media—the Cynic Sang blog (“Unofficial Blog of the William Blake Archive,” run by the BAND group at the University of Rochester), the Twitter feed initiated by BAND, and other possibilities, such as a Facebook page.

We continue the discussion of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly that was begun yesterday. Discussion centers on the congruence between the current online version and the version that will appear in the Archive: how similar should they, and can they, be? Again, we need an XML export of our files from Open Journal Systems format to see what problems we’re facing. Managing editor Sarah Jones will supply those files.

Session 7

Publication Schedule 2014-early 2016

We decide, as an experiment, to try doubling the rate of publication. We come up with a provisional list by month:

  • July: Thel N / “Enoch” / Cincinnati collection list (note: now published)
  • September: Blake’s illustrations to the poems of Thomas Gray with complete illustration descriptions for searchability
  • November: Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 2000+
  • January: Four Zoas (preview)
  • February: The Song of Los copy F (completes the set)
  • March: Blake’s illustrations to Dante with complete illustration descriptions for searchability
  • April: There is No Natural Religion copies A, D, M (completes the set)
  • June: Blake’s Notebook (preview)
  • July: Visions of the Daughters of Albion R
  • August: A decade unit of pencil drawings (Bob Essick supplied a list of possibilities shortly after Blake Camp)
  • September: Tiriel, the manuscript and several drawings
  • November: Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly 1990s
  • January 2016: a group of Blake’s illustrations to Shakespeare
  • March 2016: Blake’s illustrations to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (water colors and engravings, well over 500 objects)

As always, our projected publication list is tentative at best. For many different reasons, we frequently substitute other works for those in the schedule.

We end day 2 of Blake Camp 2014 with brief discussions of possible acquisitions of new images in all categories, including (among others) drawings, manuscripts, typographic works, and paintings the painful but intriguing problems of editing Blake’s marginalia, a task that falls to BAND at Rochester the possibility of incorporating into the Archive a history of Blake’s reception, which would take advantage of the increasing availability of 19th century books on the web.

Blake Camp 2015 will happen later than usual—in September?—because Joe Viscomi will be away in London and Madrid all year.

Done. Two decades + 1. That’s a lot of Blake Camps.

by Morris Eaves at August 15, 2014 04:08 PM


It brings me out in goosebumps

The Times reviews the latest episode of BBC One Who Do You Think You Are? with Brian Blessed and mentions his truly moving reciting of No Coward Soul is Mine at the end of the episode in front of the grave of his 'really great!' great grandfather's grave.

The Daily Mail (of all places) complains that romance has been kidnapped by sex in modern popular culture:
Whatever happened to romance? You remember romance, don’t you? (...)
Back then, romance was always in the air - on the radio, in books and at the pictures, magnifying emotions that everyone seemed to share.
While a few curmudgeons might argue that such feelings were just repressed sexual desire — lust tied up with a pretty bow — think only of Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Puccini’s La Bohème, Ella Fitzgerald or Simply Red singing Every Time We Say Goodbye, and you’ll know it doesn’t matter what such people think. (Ray Connolly)
Empire remembers that Boom! Studios in partnership with Fox 2000 has a Rochester film project in development, adapting a still unpublished comic illustrated by Ramón Pérez (and written by Aline Brosh McKenna):
Boom!'s deal with Fox already has projects based on James Wan's cancer hero Malignant Man(which Wan will direct); the post-apocalyptic Rust; and the Brontë-riffing Rochester in development. (Owen Williams)
Downton Express talks about some of the things seen at the New York International Fringe Festival:
Three productions use good old Willy S. as a key ingredient or jumping off point. “Wing to the Rooky Wood” is a multi-media production by Brooklyn’s Renaissance Now Theatre & Film company, which incorporates elements of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” (Scott Stiffler)
The Mirror is, of course, following closely Cliff Richard's alleged sexual assault accusation and quotes from Kiss FM (Portugal) interview with the singer where he said:
At one point the singer is even asked if he wears a wig.
He joked: "I have actually ... but I don't wear it," before adding that he wore it for his starring role in the musical Heathcliff. (Sam Rkaina)
Changing People interviews the novelist Lucy Atkins:
You’ve said Jane Eyre is your favourite chick noir book. (Not sure what chick noir is exactly- women’s Gothic?) What is it about the character of Jane Eyre that attracts you? For years I saw Jane as a bit of a wimp despite loving the book, and took some time to realise her spirit. Aided I must say by an excellent production I saw in Bristol, which really drew out her feminist qualities.
Yes, the ‘chick noir’ point is to show how belittling that term is – if a book like Jane Eyre falls into that category (psychological suspense written by women) then it’s absurd.
My love of Jane Eyre is really simple: it brings me out in goosebumps – physically – every time I read it. It’s a deeply moving story and the madwoman in the attic is archetypally disturbing. I love that Jane is subversive – she’s not pretty, not charismatic, but she’s clever and loyal and stronger than everyone else. I wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out with her but she’s a wonderful character.
The author Lia Riley gives three reasons why she adores Rochester on Heroes and HeartbreakersCinemaburn and El Blog Perdido de Laura (in Spanish) review Jane Eyre 2011; Youth Ki Awaaz marks five life lessons to be learnt from Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at August 15, 2014 03:12 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6. “Packed[”]. Breakfast at 7 ― & to rail at 7.30. Waterhouse there ― & Mr. Hodgkin. Waterhouse was capital company to Victoria.

I ― home by 11 ― train one hour late.

Found the Portuguese new-papering the upstairs room ― & making a row. Robinson moving out. Paid him 13£ for carpet & rug & druggett. Talk with Gush about upper room, & offer £210 for the whole.

Arranged studio ― but dreadfully worried by overhead noise.

Went to Foord’s at 6.30 ― & at 7 to D. Wyatts.


Most pleasant evening.

Home by 11.30. Letter from C.F.

Tennyson’s new vol.[1]


[1] Enoch Arden, Etc.. London: Edward Moxon & Co, 1864.

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

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


Luxury Jane

A luxury Jane Eyre edition avalaible at Oxford Exchange:
Oxford Exchange Library Collection
Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
284 pages. Hardcover.
Size: 8.5" x 5" x 1.75"
Second print. First edition.
Green ribbon marker.
Genuine leather binding.

As part of the Oxford Exchange’s mission to celebrate the beauty of the physical book, we have created our own deluxe, leather bound collectible edition of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, Jane Eyre. This edition has been designed by the Oxford Exchange to offer an authentic, heritage feel, and is the first of what will become the Oxford Exchange Library collection. Oxford Exchange Library editions bring luxurious books back into the home library.

by M. ( at August 15, 2014 02:57 AM

August 14, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Fall Meeting: Full Plans Announced!!

The full plans for our upcoming Fall 2014 meeting in the lovely city of Toronto are now online. Read a summary on the Events page or go directly to the announcement. Check out the fun, plan your travel and lodging, and pay for things, all at one convenient location!

by Mark Burstein at August 14, 2014 10:16 PM


Hit-Girl Comes Home

USA Today interviews Chloe Grace Moretz, another Brontëite:
Books. "I love Wuthering Heights, The Bell Jar. I prefer paperback." (Gayle Jo Carter)
Houston Press reviews the exhibition by Allison Rathan at the Archway Gallery:
I've Come Home Now echoes the dark power of Wuthering Heights as a man inside a castle embraces a woman through an open window. (Jim J. Tommaney)
Indeed. On the artist's Facebook we can see the painting (on the right) with the well known quote from Wuthering Heights: “He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

The Independent remembers the Tamasha Theatre production of Wuthering Heights in 2009:
Their other big successes include a visually breathtaking Wuthering Heights set in Rajasthan, India and A Fine Balance based on Rohinton Mistry's novel about poverty and injustice in India, which got glowing reviews. (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown)
Magic, Dragons and Other Fantastic Dreams interviews the author A.L. Butcher:
Which authors or books influenced your writing the most?
Oh gosh, as I’ve said I read a lot, in many genres so it would be hard to name them all. I suppose if I have to pull names out of hat –Alexandre Dumas, Gaston Leroux, Brontë sisters, Janet Morris, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, David Gaidar, Ellis Peters, Richard Adams, Douglas Adams, E. A. Poe…. The list goes on.
Later in the interview she mentions Wuthering Heights as one of her favourite novels.

ArtInfo carries the news of the Norton Conyers restoration award and its forthcoming opening to the public next July 2015. No ves q estoy leyendo and Janet Gaspar (both in Spanish) review Wuthering Heights; Mesh Movie Freak posts about Wuthering Heights 1992; the Brontë Sisters explores the life and times of Joseph and Elizabeth Carne, a contemporary and a second cousin of the Brontës; Thomas Baden Riess reviews Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at August 14, 2014 01:59 PM

Regency Ramble

There's an App for That

Novel EngagementSo exciting. Romance Writers of America has put together a new app to help readers find their favourite authors and new romance novels.  The link to the app is in the logo.  I have also added it to the right margin in case you need to find it again.  This is a new venture and still a work in progress, but check out your favourite romance author or genre. Find new books.

Try it, and let me know what you think.  I'll pass along any comments.

Until next time

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


Another Life

Endemol Italia is finishing the shooting of a new drama series for RAI1 (Italy), Un'Altra Vita, which will be aired this autumn. Apparently the series is a contemporary reading of Jane Eyre. These are the details:
Un'altra Vita (Six episodes, 100 minutes each)
RAI1. Autunm 2014
Director: Cinzia TH Torrini
Writer: Ivan Cotroneo, Stefano Bises and Monica Rametta
With Vanessa Incontrada, Daniele Liotti, Loretta Goggi, Cesare Bocci and Francesca Cavallin

Sono terminate da poco, dopo le ultime settimane sull’Isola di Ponza (LT), le riprese di “Un’altra vita”, la nuova fiction di Rai Uno prodotta Endemol Italia per Rai Fiction. (...) “Un’altra vita” è una storia originale che racconta come una donna possa cambiare la sua esistenza. Ma racconta anche tre generazioni di donne che vivono la contemporaneità, scegliendo uno stile di narrazione che parte dal medical drama per mescolare insieme commedia, romanticismo, dramma psicologico, racconto familiare e a legare tutto un mistero che si ispira a un grande classico letterario, Jane Eyre, ripensato dagli autori in chiave contemporanea.
Protagonista della storia è Emma, interpretata da Vanessa Incontrada, una donna costretta a rimettersi in gioco per far fronte agli avvenimenti che travolgono senza preavviso la sua vita e che le impongono una scelta coraggiosa: abbandonare gli agi e le comodità della vita borghese per trasferirsi da Milano, insieme alle tre figlie, sull’Isola di Ponza, un luogo inizialmente ostile, sconosciuto, nel quale però lentamente riuscirà a ritrovare se stessa.
Un’altra vita” parla di una seconda opportunità, di un cambiamento. Emma (Vanessa Incontrada) vive a Milano, è medico, e l’ospedale dove lavora è una struttura d’eccellenza. Suo marito, Pietro (Cesare Bocci), ne è il primario di chirurgia e il direttore sanitario. Emma lavora alle sue dipendenze come radiologo. Quando Pietro viene arrestato per corruzione, travolta dallo scandalo, decide di partire, di trasferirsi altrove e di rifarsi un’altra vita lon
tano da Milano, dalla sua grande e bella casa, dalle amicizie e dalle abitudini, per pudore, protezione e ribellione. Così Emma parte con le sue tre figlie e arriva in incognito nella piccola Isola di Ponza. Lì nessuno la conosce, e lei stessa non conosce niente di quel posto, i paesaggi aspri, i mari in tempesta, la calma struggente e i tramonti spettacolari. Non conosce le diffidenze degli abitanti del luogo, che non vedono di buon occhio quella dottoressa piombata dal nulla nel piccolo presidio medico del paese e le sono ostili. (Translation)

by M. ( at August 14, 2014 10:51 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7.30. Walk before breakfast with B.H.H. in Garden. Breakfast & “penned out” by myself while they were at church. Lunch ― & sitting in the pleasant shade in the garden ― no fairer summer than this hath been ever. ―

Reading ― (C. Pagets books, Vicar of Roost &c. ―)[1] & quiet, till at 4.30, B. & I walked onto the lovely downs; & sate, till we returned at 6.

Dinner ― “very peculiar”=ly good ―― grouse, champagne &c. &c.

Evening quiet.

Bed at 10.30.



[1] Actually Francis Edward (not “C.”) Paget, The Curate of Cumberworth: and the Vicar of Roost. Tales. London: Joseph Masters, 1859.

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

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

August 13, 2014

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


Blake Camp 21, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Highlights Part 1

I began with a brief history of Blake Camp—a bit of how-we-live-and-what-we-live-for to explain why it’s such a durable institution, marking the end of one Blake Archive year and the start of the next, BBC to ABC.

This year we met at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the lounge of the English department—on Thursday and Friday, 12-13 June. As always, attendees varied from session to session depending on the subject. They included editors Morris Eaves, Bob Essick, and Joe Viscomi; bibliographer Mark Crosby; project manager Joe Fletcher; our new technical editor Mike Fox; special projects consultant Ashley Reed; and project assistant Adam McCune. Laura Whitebell, the project coordinator at the University of Rochester, attended via Google video chat.

DAY 1, Thursday 12 June

Session 1

Year in Review

The Project Manager’s Report: Joe Fletcher revealed that the congruence between projected and actual publications for 2013-14 had been 50%. That is, we published the number of works we projected, but only half of them were the works we had listed in our projections. Happens every time to a greater or lesser degree; it will almost certainly happen again this year.

The illustration markup for Blake’s Dante and Night Thoughts illustrations, among other works, is going well. Project assistant Katherine Calvin has taken over the list of search terms. (Explanation: Learning how to describe every detail of an image—postures, objects, animals, architecture, landscapes, personifications, etc.—so that it can be made searchable is hard, and we have learned that not everyone can learn. So when someone is introduced to the art and science of illustration markup for the first time, we hold our breath until the many strict conventions we’ve developed start to fall into place in the initiate’s work. “Search terms” are a rigidly standardized list of terms that we use in image description; they make it possible to search the content of images in great detail.)

What we call the Essick Catalogue—Bob Essick’s very useful personal catalogue of all things Blakean—is partially encoded. Progress continues. We plan to publish it eventually.

We study Joe Fletcher’s list of our unpublished works—in various states of production. There’s the possibility of publishing a group of Blake’s illustrations to Shakespeare—probably in 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (see tentative publication schedule for 2014-15 below). Because the illustrations are in various media, and the Archive is organized by medium (illuminated books, color printed drawings, water colors, typographic works, etc.), the Shakespeare group would be scattered across the main table of contents (cf. the illustrations to Blair’s Grave.) But a possible redesign of the Archive might incorporate a dynamically generated table of contents that could be viewed by medium, theme, date, collection, etc.

The discussion moves from possible publications to possible acquisitions, and we highlight the works we want to pursue next, or sooner rather than later, and how we might best go about that. We pick up on this discussion later. Round and round we go.

BAND Report (Google video chat with Laura Whitebell, Project Coordinator, University of Rochester): (Explanation: BAND is the Blake Archive Northern Division. It’s a running joke started by the group at Rochester, but it has stuck and spread, so now we also have BATS, Blake Archive Team South; BAWD, Blake Archive Western Division [one-man division Bob Essick]; and BAKD, Mark Crosby’s new moniker for the Blake Archive Kansas Division.) Laura reviews the BAND publications of 2013-14, including the second large installment of Blake’s letters. The letters team is headed by project assistant Nick Wasmoen, who has been working on the next installment this summer.

BAND has been active in social media, spurred on by Eric Loy, who has set up a system for regular tweeting and blog posting. Laura reports on some of Eric’s suggestions for increasing traffic to the blog, particularly by harnessing the power of Google Images.

Laura raises key questions that have surfaced during our editing of typographical works—which are in many respects simpler than manuscripts but present tricky problems of their own.

Morris explains the intersection of BAND with the new Mellon Digital Humanities Graduate Program at Rochester. BAND is one of the “digital humanities labs” that Mellon fellows—Ph.D. students in the humanities—can work in.

Team Color Code—the BAND group that focuses on the handling of Blake’s Four Zoas manuscript—will expand in the next couple of semesters to intensify work on that daunting document.

Session 2

Site Redesign

Bottom-to-top site redesign is the goal—a major and costly effort but long overdue. Mike Fox (our new technical editor) is in charge. Many small changes have been made during the past year to improve existing features such as Compare, Supplementary Views, and Related Works. A work plan has been developed for the overall redesign. We’ll pursue it as one of our primary goals in 2014-15.

Session 3

Site Redesign and Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly

Project assistant Adam McCune joins us to present a demo of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly. We plan to publish the first installment—several years—of Blake back issues in the Archive this year. The design for those issues offers a workspace for thinking through the redesign of the Archive as a whole, for mastering some useful software, and for establishing a Git repository.

One problem to be solved: how to move current issues of Blake, now online via the Open Journals System platform, into the Archive most efficiently. Sarah Jones, managing editor of Blake, will supply some sample electronic files of current issues for examination.

We have a long open discussion of the interface for the redesigned site. How do we incorporate all the features already available and add new ones but streamline the look and make the functions more obvious at a glance and immediately accessible? Mike Fox proposes a “gallery” model that treats copies of works more like rooms in an exhibition than like images on pages.

Session 4

Site Redesign, continued, and Other Projects

Technical editor Mike Fox proposes a new Rotate feature that will allow users to turn images in order to read Blake’s writing or view his images from any angle. (Note: The Rotate feature is now up and running—just push the Rotate button near every image. Rotate is also available for the high-resolution enlargements.)

We decide to publish Preview versions of The Four Zoas and Notebook manuscripts (both British Library) without transcriptions and illustration descriptions so that users will have access to high-resolution images and basic metadata while we continue to solve the deep problems presented by those exceptionally complex manuscripts. Team Color Code at Rochester—charged with solving those problems—has been experimenting with adaptations of the Text Encoding Initiative’s genetic-editing module. The next steps are to reexamine Justin Van Kleeck’s original basic XML encoding of the text of FZ; consult with other projects dealing with difficult manuscripts; and establish an explicit workflow.

Next time: Day 2 of Blake Camp 2014

by Morris Eaves at August 13, 2014 08:06 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Victorian Trading Company Offers Many Alice Themed Items

Amongst the many nouveau-Victorian decorative items offered by the Victorian Trading Company are a few Alice items, including jewelry, garden statuary and clothing.  Certainly worth a look.

by Matt at August 13, 2014 04:00 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 5.30 ― those lovely trees! ―― penned out till 7. “Packed.” Breakfast. Afterwards looked at more drawings, & walked with Mrs. Tipping & John T. ― latterly to Sundridge church. At 11 ― left these pleasant places & people, & came in the family Omnibus to Sevenoaks with Miss Blake & Mr. Waterhouse. At the Junction ― change: Lord De Tabley in carriage. Left them at Beckenham. Washed there, & lunched till 1. Rail on to Norwood Junction, & waiting there till the Train came from East Croydon. Ditto again there, for the train to Lewes. Tired & bored by crowding & waiting. At Lewes by 4.15. The Hunts out. ―




Bed at 10.

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

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


Writer's Digest Annotated Jane Eyre

We have mentioned this new Jane Eyre edition several times in our news roundups:
Jane Eyre
Writer's Digest Annotated Classic

by Charlotte Brontë
Foreword by Diana Gabaldón
Annotations by K.M. Weiland
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; annotated edition edition (July 24, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1599631448

You’ll Love This Book If:
You’re interested in learning the craft and techniques used by the author
You’re interested in understanding plot, character, setting, voice, style, and dialogue of a classic novel
You love Jane Eyre and would like the opportunity to go behind the scenes

About the Book:
Jane Eyre, first published in 1847, has persisted as a classic, beloved romance and remains extremely popular among modern readers. While other annotated versions of this novel do already exist, no annotated version to date explores the techniques and craft used by the author. Best-selling writing instructor and author K.M. Weiland addresses issues of plot, character, setting, voice, style, dialogue and other craft-related topics. K.M. Weiland is a lifelong fan of history and the power of the written word. She mentors other authors and shares the ups and downs of the writing life-sharing tiny ideas that bloom into unexpected treasures.

This annotated classic also includes a workbook filled with exercises and prompts for aspiring writers to apply their newfound knowledge. Jane Eyre is a novel that transcends time. With elements of social criticism, morality, sexuality, and spiritual sensibility, Jane Eyre was a novel ahead of its time -a novel to be studied and understood at great depths. Join K.M. Weiland to dive in and explore! 

by M. ( at August 13, 2014 01:49 AM

August 12, 2014

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


A scene on a Sevres portrait of 1764: a little girl and her pet parrot (from Dorinda Outram’s intelligent picture book, Panorama of the Enlightenment)

A sonnet by Mary Hays (to sleep, wishing for peace in oblivion):

Ah! let not hope fallacious, airy, wild,
Illusive rays amid the tempest blend!
No more my soul with varied feelings rend,
Soft sensibility—refinement’s child!
May apathy her wand oblivious spread
Steeped in lethean waves, with poppies twined,
And gently bending o’er my languid head,
To long repose beguile a wayward mind.
While keen reflection throbs in every vein,
Thy aid oblivion, vainly I implore!
This heart shall tremble with the sense of pain,
Till death’s cold hand a lasting peace restore.
Ah! say can reason’s feebler power control,
The finer movements of the feeling soul?

Dear friends and readers,

I have been wanting to link in two review-summaries I wrote on a crucial decade of the 1790s but put on Ellen and Jim have a Blog, Two, because I thought its importance demanded I place the text on the blog where I have the most subscribed followers and daily hits & visitors.

There is also an excellent review by John Barrell, “To Stir up the People,” , London Review of Books, 36:2, 23 January 2014, pp. 17-19. Unfortunately it’s behind a pay wall except for the opening where Barrell refreshingly questions the usual presentation of Pitt the younger as having been a great (=worthy) prime minister. I link in his reply to an obdurate comment on his review.

I was hoping to make it part of another review-summary of a book on this era on Pitt the Younger, but have only managed to read Derek Jarrett’s Pitt the Younger, which has the merit of picturing the elitist and corrupt Parliament Pitt ran, his duplicitious politics, and why he seemed to be for reform early in his career as prime minister only adamently to destroy individuals, groups, and what liberties had been understood as allowed to all males under the British regime, putting in place harshly punitive and repressive laws, making sure the courts enforced these, and conducting a war whose purpose was to put back on the French throne the Bourbon regime. Pitt’s aim was to repress any reform of Parliament whatsoever. At one point Garrett describes the gargantuan meals Pitt and his buddies would eat (and drinks drunk) and a subsidence and starvation diet documented during the years of the wars abroad for huge number of people. There seems little about Pitt from the angle that exposes him; some time ago I wrote about David Powell’s spirited and important biography of Charles James Fox, Man of the People, and I can now recommend three more good particular biographies I’m reading just now as a result of Johnston’s book: Winifred E. Courtney’s Young Charles Lamb; Duncan Wu’s William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man, and Johnston’s own The Hidden Wordsworth.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man, 1793: it begins: the purpose of society is the common good. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Also an essay which shows the results of the repression in the 1820s: Gerald Newman’s “Anti-French Propaganda and British Liberal Nationalism in the Early 19th Century: Suggestions towards a General Interpretation,” Victorian Studies, 18:4 (1975):385-418: Newman’s is essay about how anti-French feeling was whipped up into effective hegemonic control as they say and people (not Godwin, but people like him) were tried for sedition and some imprisoned, at risk of hanging; Hannah More (whose didactic pious novel Austen was nagged by Cassandra to read) turns up as someone who in her work overtly would connect Gallicism with sedition. Someone who goes out of her or his way to assert Englishness is showing patriotism to the present order — Austen does this. Newman’s essays puts a different spin on British identity vis-a-vis the French than Linda Colley’s (who seems to take what appears in surface media as the underlying reality). Jarrett’s The begetters of Revolution: England’s Involvement with France, 1759-89, which shows the real state of the continual interaction politically and ideologically between the two groups of people speaking & reading French and English.

Instead I’ll be content to use suggestive pictures of physical, economic and other changes in the era, and point to underlying veins of thought and feeling that produced the revolutionary ideas.

From Rousseau’s Emile: we see Sophie too learning carpentry (to help Emile of course) — it pictures the interests of new education of the era

One could try for a comfortable home, more kinds of clothes were available

At its core this transformation of values coming out throughout the long 18th century was an exploration of the self relativistically. Pope:

    Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds,
Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds?
On human actions reason tho’ you can,
It may be reason, but it is not man:
His principle of action once explore,
That instant ’tis his principle no more.
Like following life through creatures you dissect,
You lose it in the moment you detect …
    Nor will life’s stream for observation stay,
It hurries all too fast to mark their way:
In vain sedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take.
Oft, in the passions’ wide rotation tost,
Our spring of action to ourselves is lost:
Tir’d, not determin’d, to the last we yield,
And what comes then is master of the field …
(Moral Essay No 1)

Fuseli’s gothic watercolor of Kreimhild (Wagner’s Brunnhilde) seeing the dead Siegfried in a dream

and in a blog intended to emphasize women’s art, end on the little known Susan Evance who lived through this era. Three of her poems:

To Autumn

Mild pensive Autumn! How I love to stray
At thy sweet season through the woody vale;
And when the western orb’s declining ray
Tinges thy varied foliage, hear the gale
Of evening sigh among the lofty trees,
And watch thy mists obscure the mountain’s height;
While sportive swallows, tossing in the breeze,
Collect, preparing for their distant flight.
As lovely Autumn! on thy charms I gaze,
Thy soften’d charms which I so dearly prize,
A thrilling tender melancholy sways
My raptur’d heart, and tears suffuse my eyes.
These feelings, which thy pensive hours employ,
Who would resign for all the world calls joy!

To Melancholy

When wintry tempests agitate the deep,
On some lone rock I love to sit reclin’d;
And view the sea-birds on wild pinions sweep,
And hear the roaring of the stormy wind,
That, rushing thro’ the caves with hollow sound,
Seems like the voices of those viewless forms
Which hover wrapp’d in gloomy mist around,
Directing their course the rolling storms.
Then, Melancholy! Thy sweet power I feel,
For there thine influence reigns o’er all the scene;
Then o’er my heart thy “mystic transports” steal,
And from each trifling thought my bosom wean.
My raptur’d spirit soars on wing sublime
Beyond the narrow bounds of space or time!

Written during a Storm of Wind

Cease your desolating sound,
O ye furious winds! forbear
Every gust that swells around
Chills my shuddering heart with fear.

Ah! the thoughtless time is past
When I mark’d the rapid flight
Of each wildly rushing blast,
With romantic gay delight.

When in sportive frolic dance,
With the gale I skimm’d the plain,
Or would breathlessly advance,
Laughing at its fury vain.

Often too, in graver mood,
I have heard the tempest roll,
While a joy sublimely rude
Has possess’d and charm’d my soul.

But I cannot listen now
To the wild, the dreadful sound;
Sad I see the forest bow,
Mournful mark its groans around.

Fanciful I seem to hear
Ocean roaring in the storm:
And behold the bark appear,
Which contains a Brother’s form.

Hope had pictur’d scenes of joy
When he reach’d his native shore
Should the tempest these destroy!
Winds, in pity blow no more, (wr. 1807; pub. 1808)

In the Keats-Shelley Journal, IV (2006):199-225,”Female Poetic Tradition in the Regency Period: Susan Evance and the Evolution of Sentimentality,” Claire Knowles introduces her as a follower of Charlotte Smith, Mary Hays, Helena Maria Williams. In the above poems, heroine climbs high on a cliff and looks out across a windy wintry rocky landscape; she fears for her brother out at sea. She reminds me of William Lisle Bowles and I see Radcliffe’s poetic vein in her

“Sonnet Written in a Ruinous Abbey:” “I love to watch the last pale glimpse of day … Fancy, thy wildest dreams engage my mind.” Some of her poems present a real self, no wobbly assertions to defend, e.g., her “Sonnet to a Violet,” “Unseen, in wilds where footsteps never trod/Find unadmir’d, unnotic’d …,” and “So the scatter’d flowers of genius rise;/Thesebloom to charm — that, hid — neglected, dies”; and her “Sonnet to the Clouds,” “All desolate and gloomy is my heart./As could I but from this sad earth depart/And wander careless as the roving storms/Amidst your shadowy scenes — born by the wind,/Far would I fly, and leave my woes behind.”

No suspect she. She published Poems, selected for her earliest productions to those of the present year in 1808. Evance is careful to tell little of her private life, so beyond knowing she had a brother in the navy, and evinces socially progressive sentiments, we can glean she knew the author Maria Barton. She later wrote a poem for the princess Charlotte who died so miserably in childbirth, and (according to Knowles) married a Mr Hooper between 1808 and 1818. A line in a poem to Queen Charlotte suggests she had a child or children. So, in contrast to her better-known reformist sentimental female contemporaries, no one has as yet denied she existed; or suggested if she did, she was a sexually promiscuous, nor was she ridiculed or castigated. But then no one mentioned her: by being so careful, she was forgotten.

Francis Towne (1740-1816): The source of the Arveiron (1781) whose work could have illustrated Evance’s poetry


by ellenandjim at August 12, 2014 04:02 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Beautiful Postal Covers Recently Auctioned

A series of beautiful postal covers with lovely Alice themed illustrations has recently been auctioned off by Robert A Siegel Auction Galleries.

by Matt at August 12, 2014 04:00 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


A Rich Literary History

Business Insider gives some of the reasons behind Yorkshire being awarded the Best European Destination in 2014:
There’s a rich literary history here. You can visit the village of Heptonstall and find Sylvia Plath’s grave, or visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum in the town of Haworth. (Jill Comoletti)
Tim Parks in the New York Review of Books expresses his concerns about that common idea that it doesn't matter what you read, because if you read there is a chance that someday you will read something good. Quoting from an essay by W.H. Auden where he tells about his addiction to detective novels, he says:
Auden, it should be noted, does not propose to stop reading detective novels—he continues to enjoy them—and expresses no regret that people read detective novels rather than, say, Faulkner or Charlotte Brontë, nor any wish that they use detective novels as a stepping stone to “higher things.” He simply notes that he has to struggle to control his addiction, presumably because he doesn’t want to remain trapped in a repetitive pattern of experience that allows no growth and takes him nowhere. 
The Telegraph reviews Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born, Ian Fleming's Jamaica by Matthew Parker:
Parker’s highly readable account of Fleming’s Jamaican life is less Thunderball, and more Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Bond himself might have been a touch jealous. No matter how self-destructive and agonised Fleming’s later life seemed, there was still love (even if filled with anger) and fulfilment of sorts, both of which 007 was always denied. He was never allowed to retire to Goldeneye. (Sinclair McKay)
The Guardian has an interesting post on the origins of the expression Spoiler Alert:
 The "plot" kind of spoiler, though, goes back at least to 1971 and a piece in the satirical magazine National Lampoon which noted that "the average American has more excitement in his daily life than he can healthily handle" and, as a public service, offered "a selection of 'spoilers' guaranteed to reduce the risk of unsettling and possibly dangerous suspense" (spoiler alert):
JANE EYRE (Charlotte Brontë): The madwoman upstairs is Rochester's wife. (Alan Connor)
Deal Sharing Aunt interviews the writer Diana Cachey:
What books have most influenced your life most?
Wuthering Heights, the first novel I couldn't put down, romance!
Lyn Gardner in The Guardian thinks that you cannot go far wrong with 'the all-male Wuthering Heights' at the Summerhall in nowadays Edinburgh Fringe. ArtDaily discusses the opening of the Norton Conyers attic; Screengrabsaz is making caps of Jane Eyre 2011.

by M. ( at August 12, 2014 11:00 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 5.15. Sunrise & Morning calm! ― all gold & green & long shadows. ― Penned out Cretan drawings till 7. ― 7.30 ― to 8 ― walked in the grounds: ― the beauty & dryness & warmth being delight to me, tho’ all here are sad & praying for rain! ― Breakfast ― (8) all 4 sons ―: ― pleasant & jovial. ― Afterwards ―talk & music till 10 or 11 ―: looking at Tipping’s drawings, which are really most remarkable ― for number & excellence of quality. Then walked with him to a hill ― Foy’s Hill, ― a lovely view of vast fertility ― & so back home by 1. (Fern ― green ― & wild thyme!) Lunch: (bitter beer & ice!) ― always pleasant. Ἔπειτα ― penned out a small drawing before Tipping ― & at 3.30, with him in 4 wheel dogcart to Chevening & Sir S. Handcocks. Sir Samuel & “Dora” ――: the old Woolley Cabinet! The Waterton Birds! ― the Caricature book! & the birds & feather drawings done by me there in 1828 at Wilton Crescent ――! The “Dora” of 36 years ago ― & the Lady Hancock of this! ……… Then I went to Bessell’s Green, & found Sarah Markham only ― kind heart ― good woman: ― (Edwd. M. is there but ill. Harriett ― out,) The room is full of paintings ― P. Williams many. I ― 2 ― both ill hung ― one done for Mrs. Robert Martineau ― Villa D’Este. Sarah M.  is very much aged: ― but the pines & bright garden made the visit less painful than it might have been. ― Walked back ― at 5 ―  to Brasted ― 6-6.15 ― lovely evening. ― Dinner


Bed at 11.

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

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

August 11, 2014

The Little Professor

Random reflections on the writing and revising of syllabi

  • Teaching the same honors composition class, only with five more students, can wreak havoc with one's scheduling, especially when there are only fifty minutes per session.  Five more students = at least one more group for group presentations = at least two more days for whole-class draft workshops = at least one more day for presentations = wait, from whence do I acquire three more days? (Ah, if only we could do what we did at the University of Chicago, where our courses sometimes just kept on going into the next semester.  Not officially, you understand.) 
  • Thanksgiving break is really annoying. Not because it's a break, but because it a) happens in the second-to-last week of classes and b) makes it extremely difficult to keep up the momentum of any ongoing assignment.
  • I hope the Victorian students don't mutiny over Mrs. Sherwood.  Then again, they might have fun (we're reading only two chapters, the gibbet chapter and the God-as-Eye-of-Sauron chapter).   
  • With any luck, I am not accidentally scheduling myself to have three papers due on the same day.  One never knows, however.  (See under: professor, absent-minded.)
  • Then again, I've doubled my reading pleasure by making drafts mandatory in the two courses that emphasize skills, composition and intro to lit analysis.  The drafts carry a substantial enough point value that students are now motivated to do them, at any rate.
  • Do I dare not hand out syllabi in paper format, and just point everyone to ANGEL?
  • It occurs to me that most of the books I'm teaching this semester are actually available on Kindle.

by Miriam Burstein at August 11, 2014 11:30 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Locations Now Available for Streaming Alice Ballet

As we mentioned back in April, the brilliant Alice ballet by Christopher Wheeldon will be streamed to movie theaters around the world on December 16.  American theater locations are now available here.  I urge you to see this if you can.

by Matt at August 11, 2014 04:00 PM