Planet Century 19

October 01, 2014


Who was Charlotte Brontë, really?

The Independent reviews the episode devoted to Jane Eyre on BBC4's The Secret Life of Books:
A perennial favourite of teenage girls, Jane Eyre had been an inspiration for the self-described "baby novelist" when she published her first book, aged just 18. Now in her thirties, Bidisha is no longer so impressed by the hunky Mr Rochester's "considerable breadth of chest" and moody temperament. "I now see the relationship between Rochester and Jane as an extremely abusive one," she told us. Bidisha and Brontë biographer Rebecca Fraser had a fiery disagreement about the "masochistic" undertones of Eyre's love story. What better way to remind us of the continued vitality of a classic than nearly coming to blows over rival interpretations? Love letters Brontë wrote to her Belgian teacher Constantin Héger, said to be a model for the character of Mr Rochester, were enough of a hint at the novelist's own passionate nature to set us imagining at other biographical parallels.
Who was Charlotte Brontë, really? That was the question that also underpinned Bidisha's other concern, with the descriptions of "madwoman in the attic", Bertha Mason, which can strike a modern reader as both racist and sexist. For some reason, Bidisha never referenced Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys's famous post-colonial take on Mason's untold story, but she did meet up with literary theorist Professor Terry Eagleton on a boat in the old slavers' port of Liverpool. It was his suggestion that gave Bidisha and any other uneasy Jane Eyre fans a new way into loving their controversial favourite. Charlotte Brontë was the Tory daughter of an Anglican clergyman, but perhaps a novel can be radical despite the conservative background of its author? (Ellen E Jones)
ElyNews talks about the programme.

Windy City Times reviews the LifeLine Theatre Jane Eyre production performed in Chicago:
It works very well, in fact, in part because those familiar with Jane Eyre will fill in the blanks themselves, and in part because it sets its own terms from the get-go. Leading lady Anu Bhatt crisply holds attention, conveying Jane's moods with eyes darting or downturned as required, and sometimes somehow both at once. John Henry Roberts' Rochester is not the usual dark, athletic figure but fare and lithe, and yet he easily conveys Rochester's unsettled heart and edginess. As is necessary, his Rochester is a man you wouldn't wish to cross. This Jane Eyre suggests the dangers of the contemporary world, with ignited passions among those dangers. (Jonathan Abarbanel
The Skinny video interviews the writer Linda Cracknell:
We spoke to Linda Cracknell at the Edinburgh International Book Festival about the presence of voice in literature and the writing process.
Cracknell also reveals the early influence of Emily Brontë on her literary career.
A reader of The Times makes a pertinent commentary on one of the Brontë most repeated clichés:
Sir, Susan Hill (Thunderer, Sept 27) repeats the canard about the Brontës using aliases “in order to be published”. Charlotte Brontë — in her foreword to her sister’s novel Wuthering Heights — explains that she and her sisters were trying to avoid the prejudicial comments of critics. Publishers had for many years been happy to publish female writers under their own names, for example, Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe and Maria Edgeworth. (Andrew Dickens)
Vulture reviews the latest episode of the TV series Sleepy Hollow:
Meanwhile, Abbie achieves Wuthering Heights levels of mushiness in some of her dialogue. Like when she tells Crane about seeing his demon double in Purgatory, “I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in my life.” And then later tells him, “My faith in you is my greatest weakness.” Coming from Abbie, this sounds almost creepy. (Rose Maura Lorre)
Aargauer Zeitung (Switzerland) talks about a local series of screenings of British films:
Liest man Filmtitel wie «Jane Eyre», «Ladies in Lavender» oder «Sense and Sensibility» denkt man automatisch an eine Welt der Vergangenheit. Die 18-jährige Jane Eyre tritt beispielsweise eine Stelle als Gouvernante auf einem entlegenen Landsitz an. (Elisabeth Feller) (Translation)
Bibliofreak, Claire Thinking and Push to Talk review Jane Eyre; The Frugal Chariot in is second week Jane Eyre readalong.

by M. ( at October 01, 2014 04:41 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Toilets at the Great Exhibition

Regular readers will know that I have a long-standing interest in Victorian public toilets ... indeed, public loos are a crucial chapter in my forthcoming book Dirty Old London (look right, if you want to order a copy).

It's often said that the public toilet originated at the Great Exhibition, which is something of a myth (a point I'll be addressing in a blog over at Yale Books next week) but there were toilets there - and many of the 'shilling day' people may not have seen one before. I've always wondered what the experience was like.

So, a little belatedly, I went today to the archive of the 1851 Commission that ran the Exhibition, which still resides in 'Albertopolis' - within Imperial College. There wasn't much on the toilets themselves (the official 1852 government report on the Exhibition does, at least, contain a whole page on the subject) but there were some very detailed plans of the building.

The toilets (aka 'Retiring Rooms') were located at the three 'Refreshment Rooms' - this much I knew.

The Refreshment Rooms were basically snack bars where it was intended (according to the Commission's tender for the food and drinks contract) you might buy the following:

Area No.1 (in the centre of the building): For Ices, Pastry, Sandwiches, Patties, Fruit, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Cocoa, Lemonade, Seltzer and Soda Water

Area no.2 & 3 For Bread, Butter and Cheese, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Cocoa, Ginger Beer, Spruce Beer, and similar drinks 

[click here for a full list of what was actually sold at the Exhibition]

The idea was that there would be no cooking (not least for danger of fire); no alcohol (for danger of rowdiness); and no seats (to keep people circulating within the building).

It's always said that toilets were an afterthought, prompted by the inquiries of the Royal Society of Arts (if anyone has detailed citations for correspondence between the RSA and the Commission, let me know - there were, certainly, some letters in the newspapers which suggest this; but I think I may be missing some other source).

Here's how they related to the refreshment areas:

image courtesy of Royal Commission for the Exhibition

image courtesy of Royal Commission for the Exhibition

image courtesy of Royal Commission for the Exhibition

There was one toilet superintendent, presumably responsible for good order in all three places, and 25 attendants, who - if this was like other Victorian toilets - ensured good conduct, cleaned seats after each flush and offered toiletries and towels for freshening up (although, note, handwashing was not seen as a hygienic necessity in this period; no-one knew about bacteria).

The curved lines in the refreshment rooms are presumably the bar areas, and you can see the dimensions of the spaces quite well - the ladies' retiring room in the Central Refreshment Room was about 24x24 feet or thereabouts; the men had lots of space devoted to urinals.

Some small facts gleaned, then - nothing world-shattering, but interesting enough?

by Lee Jackson ( at October 01, 2014 01:26 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Of course ― δυστυχῆς.[1] Did not work all day, for Dickenson’s men came, & hung up the Beirût ― putting up rods in the back room, & hanging the Civitella, & various prints. Cecil Lane came about 3 & staid till I went to the Rail: ― fly from Weybridge to Ockham, The tall pine=stem scenery & the long lanes where used so often to walk at the end of 1860, & the first days of 1861 ―!! ― Several children at the Doctor’s ― whose family is always a model of kindness, order, & simplicity, ―besides high culture & natural superior intellect.

Great explosion of Powder mills at Erith today.


The Doctor, now past 82 ― is more wonderful than ever, & told endless currents of anecdote. Some I really thought I should remember, but do not. Of the uncle of Coke of Leicester, (who only recognized Mr. C. when he had no hopes of family) ― he sent Mr. S, as his representative to a country ball in a coach & 6, with a lot of ladies he might dance with, & v. versa.

The evening was altogether pleasant.

[1] Miserable (NB).

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

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


British Women Writers 2015 Conference

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, June 25th -27th, 2015. The conference theme is “Relations” in British women's writing of the long 18th- to 19th-centuries. The submission deadline is January 5th, 2015. The CFP can be accessed at

by Unknown ( at October 01, 2014 08:24 AM


Wuthering Heights in Brisbane

A new Wuthering Heights production opens today, October 1, in Brisbane (Australia):
shake & stir theatre co and QPAC present
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë
created & adapted by shake & stir theatre co
Cremorne Theatre, Queensland Performing Centre
1 to 18 Oct 2014

Adaptor & Director Nick Skubij
Costume Designer Leigh Buchanan
Set Designer Josh McIntosh
Lighting Designer Jason Glenwright
Sound Designer Guy Webster
Projection Designers optikal bloc

Cast Includes Ross Balbuziente, Julian Curtis, Nelle Lee, Anthony Standish, Melanie Zanetti and Gerry Connolly

Love is a dirty word.

Brontë's gothic masterpiece storms into QPAC in a new adaptation from the company behind the critically acclaimed productions of George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984.
When Heathcliff, a mysterious boy is rescued from the street and brought to Wuthering Heights, he develops a passionate bond with Cathy Earnshaw and a repulsive distrust of her brother Hindley. As time passes, Heathcliff and Cathy's relationship deepens to the point of dangerous obsession, until one day, Cathy marries another man. Overcome with jealousy, Heathcliff flees the Heights only to return, years later, ready to exact revenge on those he believed ruined his one chance at happiness.
Featuring a breathtaking design and a stellar cast including Australian star of stage and screen Gerry Connolly, shake & stir invites you to drop by the Heights and settle in for this classic story, retold.

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

September 30, 2014

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

Illustrations to Gray's Poems, object 55, "The Bard"

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of a fully searchable electronic edition of Blake’s 116 water color illustrations to Thomas Gray’s poems. The Archive first published these designs in April 2005 in our Preview mode. This republication substantially increases the number and range of Blake’s pictorial motifs available for searching on the Archive.

The designs for Gray’s poems are among Blake’s major achievements as an illustrator. They were commissioned in 1797 by Blake’s friend, the sculptor John Flaxman, as a gift for his wife Ann, to whom Blake addressed the poem that ends the series. The commission may have been inspired by the Flaxmans’ seeing Blake’s water color designs to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, begun in 1795. The Gray illustrations follow the same basic format. Blake cut windows in large sheets of paper and mounted in these windows the texts of Gray’s poems from a 1790 letterpress edition. Blake then drew and colored his designs surrounding the printed texts. Although listed by William Michael Rossetti in his catalogue of Blake’s drawings and paintings, published in the 1863 and 1880 editions of Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake, the Gray illustrations were virtually unknown until their rediscovery by Herbert Grierson in 1919. They are now among the Blake treasures at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

Illustrations to Gray's Poems, object 55, "The Bard"

Illustrations to Gray’s Poems, object 55, “The Bard”

Blake’s illustrations respond to Gray’s poems in a variety of ways, but always with respect for the specifics in the text. Many motifs are visualizations of Gray’s metaphoric images. The Gray illustrations share iconographic and stylistic similarities with the Night Thoughts designs; both series are indebted to the pictorial imagery Blake developed in his illuminated books of the early- and mid-1790s. For the more comic passages in Gray’s poems, Blake deployed a broad, almost caricature-like style. Many of the designs emphasize the imagination at work in the world through inspired acts of reading, writing, and performing music.

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

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

by Andrea H. Everett at September 30, 2014 05:39 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Russian Artist and Filmmaker Valeriy Kozhin

We love discovering new talent, even more so when they seek us out! Valeriy Kozhin reached out to us with his short film “The Gardeners Dream”, and had this to say:

I was born in Moscow in 1983. I  studied in VGIK (Russian filmmaker’s institute).  I’m a member of Russian Artists Union.  My degree work was “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.  It was 13 pictures for animated film.  But a film wasn’t shot.  

003 kenguru-01 008 001

I began to learn Carroll’s works in 2003 from the moment that I learned English.  The nonsense style is very close to me.  I love it.   

I found “The Mad Gardener’s song” in my child’s book.  But it was in Russian.  When I read it in English I found a large  difference.  And I decided to make a short film based on original poem.  At first I wanted to use a motif from Sylvie and Bruno, but when I read The Game of Logic, I understood one very interesting thing, that The Mad Gardener’s Song and Game of Logic share one motif.  It’s a game and ‘A SYLLOGISM’.

The Gardener’s Dream was shot in 2013 in Russia.  It was my second film.  I shot this film during one year.  I connected puppet and cut-out animation.  The voices from the film are my friends from England.  I want to show Carroll’s logic or nonsense logic.  And don’t forget that It’s just a dream, Mad Gardener’s dream. 

There is no interest in Russia because very few people know Sylvie and Bruno and The Mad Gardener’s song.  The film was on MMKF festival in Moscow and Susdal’s animation festival in Russia.”

by Matt at September 30, 2014 04:00 PM


The Secret Life of Jane Eyre

The Guardian highlights the broadcast tonight (BBC4) of the The Secret Life of Books episode devoted to Jane Eyre:
The Secret Life Of Books
8.30pm, BBC4
This engaging series of personal critiques of canonical British literature gets around to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Bidisha, who presents this episode, says that as a teenager she regarded Brontë’s heroine with admiration: Eyre comes from nothing and gets the life (and the man) she wanted. Now, the journalist finds the novel “more disturbing”. Bidisha delves back into Jane Eyre via the archive of Brontë manuscripts and letters and finds a more ambiguous protagonist, still capable of starting illuminating arguments. (Andrew Mueller)
Radio Times adds:
When broadcaster and novelist Bidisha first read Jane Eyre as a teenager, she was taken in by the romance between the novel’s forthright heroine and the brooding Mr Rochester. However, on returning to the book as an adult, her reaction was one of frustration. Why was Jane so happy to submit to Rochester’s every whim? And is author Charlotte Brontë’s attitude to race, explored through the “dark-skinned” character of Bertha, problematic for a modern reader?
Bidisha’s search for answers takes her to the British Library, where she pores over Brontë’s original manuscript and learns of the real-life heartbreak that may have inspired her most famous work. Bidisha’s thoughtful and eloquent conclusion will leave even the most ardent Jane Eyre fan reconsidering the literary classic. (Ellie Austin)
The Mary Sue follows the Peter Nunn harassment on Twitter and casts the following curse:
May your days be full of the Brontë sisters moaning about the moors, Mister. May Shelley interrupt your amorous passions for all of eternity. (Carolyn Cox)
The Star-Observer presents a new production of Wuthering Heights that will be premiered tomorrow, October 1, in Brisbane, Australia:
Shake and Stir Theatre Company are raucous on stage: loud, bright and visceral. This year’s earlier production of George Orwell’s 1984 showed how far society might go to control its citizens. This time they’ve slipped back a few hundred years to retell Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Nothing is safe on this moor.
It doesn’t matter where you are starting from — Kate Bush incanting the title as a chorus, one of the myriad television or film adaptations, or even its origins as a novel — the story of Wuthering Heights has a point of entry for every generation.
Yet the love story between Heathcliffe and Cathy isn’t the only thing driving this story along.
So what makes Shake and Stir’s version different?
“Their courageous choice to cast a man. I just relished the idea, the offer of investigating a Georgian housekeeper,” Gerry Connolly says.
“The staff of these big houses were uneducated and superstitious, and they influenced the children of the estate with their stories of ghosts. Heathcliffe believes in ghosts, and there is a sense that this is a ghost story.” (...)
“This production has a narrative style with a masculine frame and a feminine centre. I play her completely asexually,” Connolly says.
“She is, as a housekeeper, a completely neutral figure. I have played many female roles before: housekeeper, nursemaid, mother. But I suppose I haven’t played many feminine women. Having played the Queen and Margaret Thatcher, I haven’t had to use any female sexuality.
“Yet the femininity is present in Nelly as it is in any gender: a caring, nurturing side.” (Andrew Blythe)
Transformation gives tips to make your Internet experience more empathic:
According to a recent study, people who read fiction tend to have a greater ability to empathize. This may have to do with readers’ skill at understanding characters’ thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s Twilight or Jane Eyre, works of fiction require this ability—granted, some more deeply than others. (Liz Pleasant and Jim McGowan)
David Clarke reviews in Broadway World the OCR of Tess of D'Urbervilles (Stephen Edwards):
Songs like "Birds of the North Star" and "River of Regret" will dance in my head from time to time much like "Sirens" and "Farewell Good Angel" from Jane Eyre once did. Then, after seeing Tess on stage, I'll find this album much more satisfying and that will perfectly mirror my experiences with Jane Eyre.
The Buffalo News presents a local performance of the Béla Bartók opera A kékszakállú herceg vára (Bluebeard's Castle):
The naive young woman and the man with secrets are a couple who have haunted artists through the ages. “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Phantom of the Opera” give the pair a supernatural edge. “Rebecca” and “Jane Eyre” were both about young women in love with men with forbidding mansions and closed doors.
Bluebeard’s bride, in Bartók’s opera, longs to be his sunshine, to light his castle and his life. It’s easy to think of “Wuthering Heights,” and Isabella Linton’s desperate plea: “Heathcliff, let me love you. I can make you happy.” (Mary Kunz Goldman)
Isabella never said such a thing in the book, by the way.

Stixs has suggestions for Halloween:
You and your partner may be fond of books and like a couple from one of them. For example, Harry Potter; the series includes a lot of couples to choose from. They are witches and wizards, so you can go for a traditional Halloween makeup. If you want to go something more serious, then choose classic characters such as Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. (Catherine Streams)
Christian Book Review Blog interviews the author Brenda Anderson:
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Jane is such an unusual heroine. She isn’t attractive, wealthy, or athletic, attributes that seem to draw the reader, yet she is a true hero. She’s gutsy, intelligent, wise, and passionate. The story is dark, yet it offers hope.
The New Dork Review of Books posts about Jane EyreIn the Forest Clearing... reviews Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at September 30, 2014 04:30 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Cecilia Beaux, portraits

 photo beauxmancat1998.jpg
Man with the Cat, 1898. A portrait of her brother-in-law, Henry Sturgis Drinker.

 photo beaux-1adetail.jpg
Detail from the previous. The sitter was a railway executive from a Quaker family.
Another portrait by her with a cat here:

 photo BeauxAmericanpainter1855-1942CynthiaSherwood1892.jpg
Cynthia Sherwood, 1892.

 photo beaux-admiral-lord-beatty-1919-1353821799_b.jpg
A dashing portrait of Admiral Lord Beatty, from 1919.

September 30, 2014 08:46 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose before 7 ― “clearing rubbish”  from studio & “selling palette” till 8. Letter from poor Cromek. ―

Worked till 1 or 2 at snatches of alteration in the Jánina, which is an unfinishable picture. After a large luncheon slept & read Bates’s Amazons till 3. This transition or interregnum state between work is a sad time.

At 4 I went to Mrs. Slingsby Bethell, & found her & poor dear Amma Parkyns ― the latter very poorly. sate some time. Walked to Grosvenor Place ― but the Stanleys were fled. Then to Coventry St. ― paying bills & ordering drawers ― & home.

At 7.30 ― came Thomas Wyatt ― & nothing could be kinder or pleasanter than his manner & converse all the evening ― after last nights “fiasco” a great consolation.


We looked at Φώτογράφς ― & went at 10.15.

Bed at 11.

Very pleasant evening.


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

by Marco Graziosi at September 30, 2014 08:00 AM


Peripheral Child

A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:
The Peripheral Child in Nineteenth Century Literature and its Criticism
Neil Cocks
ISBN 9781137452443
Publication Date September 2014
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Established accounts of the child in nineteenth century literature tend to focus on those who occupy a central position within narratives. The first part of this book is concerned with children who are not as easily recognised or remembered as Alice, Kim or Oliver Twist; the peripheral or neglected children featured in works by Dickens, Brontë, Austen and Rossetti. The return of the overlooked child to these texts acts like 'a return of the repressed', overturning accepted narratives concerning their structure and meaning. In the second part of the book, some of the more sceptical accounts of the nineteenth century literary child are challenged. 'Ethical' and 'historicist' approaches are shown to be resistant to the text-focused analysis offered in the first part of the book, resulting in an investment in a child that is knowable, 'real' and non-discursive.

Includes: The Child and the Letter: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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

September 29, 2014

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

Image from Robert N. Essick.

Milton copy D, pl. 36. Library of Congress (image from the Blake Archive).

Blake was full of optimism and sea air when he wrote to John Flaxman after he and Catherine arrived at the cottage in Felpham (though he did remark on the amount of luggage—mostly his stuff, not hers). He immortalized it in Milton pl. 36 and is now immortalized in turn by a blue plaque on the wall. A postcard from the early twentieth century shows the house surrounded by cruciferous vegetables in a scene rather more prosaic than that depicted by Blake.

Image from Robert N. Essick.

Image from Robert N. Essick.

The cabbages have gone now, but the cottage still stands. In 2013 it went on the market for the first time in many years at a price of £650,000 (see the listing and some lovely photos here).

Now the Blake Society of London is spearheading an effort to buy the property for the public good, so that we will have the opportunity to visit Blake’s cottage just as we can Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage or Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top. It’s a crowdfunding venture and £520,000 needs to be raised in the next five weeks, by the end of October.

If you would like to make a donation, the Blake Society’s page on the effort includes a link to the JustGiving site, as well as lots more details on how the property would be managed and what happens to the donations if the goal isn’t reached or if more than £520,000 is raised.

by Blake House at September 29, 2014 07:18 PM


Charles Bronson, Closeted Egghead

The Yorkshire Evening Post talks about the new edition BBC Two quiz show Eggheads:
Eggheads is on BBC Two on weeknights at 6pm. To apply to be a contestant on the show email
Test yourself against the questions Lisa faced on ‘Revenge of the Egghead’. How would you have fared? (...)
8. Who was the eldest of the three literary Brontë sisters?
Now, a puzzle from WSPU (Penn State):
Last week's challenge: Name a famous actor best known for tough-guy roles. The first five letters of his first name and the first four letters of his last name are the first five and four letters, respectively, in the first and last names of a famous author. Who is the actor, and who is the author?
Answer: Charles Bronson / Charlotte Brontë (Will Shortz) reviews the midseason finale of Outlander:
This moment was very different in the book; Claire only headed in the direction of the rocks. The screen version heightened the drama by having Frank be amongst the Standing Stones in 1945 as Claire raced toward them in 1743, both of them yelling each other’s names in a very Jane Eyre fashion. (Lily Sparks)
La Stampa (Italy) reviews  the Italian TV series Un'altra vita:
Strano che non si sia identificata con Vanessa Incontrada. «Con lei è scattato subito feeling sul set, con la sua naturalezza ci ha aiutato a rendere una donna sfaccettata presa da mille dubbi e sentimenti: la coppia, il lavoro, la famiglia, gli uomini e un mistero che come in Jane Eyre fa da tirante all’intera vicenda. (Simonetta Robiony) (Translation)
Le Magazine Littéraire (France) publishes the obituary of the publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert:
Jean-Jacques Pauvert est une figure faussement marginale de l'édition littéraire française du XXe siècle. Identifié à la maison qui porte son nom, il sera non seulement l'éditeur mais aussi souvent l'ami de ses auteurs, de Bataille à Pierre Klossowski en passant par Guy Debord. Découvreur de génie, féru d'indépendance, il publiera André Breton, René Crevel, Topor, Raymond Roussel, Tristan Tzara, Boris Vian, Albert Camus, Albertine Sarrazin, Jean Genet, mais aussi Emily Brontë et le Dictionnaire de Littré, Françoise Sagan et l'Histoire de l'art d'Élie Faure.  (Alexandre Gefen) (Translation)
Economy (Serbia) talks about literary tourism:
Ništa manje nije slavan ni Havort, mesto u Zapadnom Jorkširu gde je dom sestara Brontë pretvoren u istoimeni muzej koji svake godine pohodi ogroman broj turista, onih „literarnih“. (Translation)
The Bi-College News informs that the Jane Eyre is the favorite book of the new President of the Bryn Mawr College, Kimberly Wright Cassidy.

by M. ( at September 29, 2014 02:53 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Always fine. So lovely a year I cannot quite remember ―― but one sees it chiefly thro’ chimney tops.

Dickenson came ― & took order about the paper to be mounted for the 1865 drawings: also 2 small wings of bookscase.

T 12, I walked to Coutts’s, & got good king Fairbairn’s cheque for 157.10 ― changed. Cab back. Then paid endless bills ― & walked to the Westminster Deanery, but A.P.S. being away at 6 Grosvenor St. I walked there, but they were out. Back ― wholly tired & sad ― by 5 ― slept & played till 7. ˇ[Met Boyd.] At 7.30 came Wade-Browne ― in a foolish mood. After all, with all his cheeriness, he is silly, or seems so at times, ― & too fine.


[Since writing this journal, I have read of this day last year’s ― at Dudbrook ― & far more miserable parà τουto.]

But the dinner was a mortle failure! ― All the Oysters might have been good, by Brown took one he said was bad, ― (the first he ate,) & ate no more. ― The cutlets were not as good as usual; ― the hare was really good ― but mancava[1] stuffing: & the partridges were totally horrid, & had to be sent away ― tho’ B. ˇ[had] said they ought to be good at just this day. And to crown all, Cooper hadn’t got a fresh apple pie ― but had “warmed up” that of yesterday, so that I saw the poor Guardsman shudder. ― I, being tired & unwell couldn’t throw fun into all this, but had to let things take their way. So I played, & shewed “Roberts’s Holy Land,” ― & at 11. B. elapsed. I shall not ask him to dine again: ― the arrangements do not fit ―[2] [“]how can my (notions) longer mix with thine?” ― B. said, ― Craven, when he heard that he, (W.B.) was going to dine with me, used to say ― “O! then you will have a very Pre-Raphaellite dinner ― very minute.” But Craven was a pig & an ass. Q.E.D.

[1] There wasn’t enough.

[2] The entry continues at the bottom of the facing page, for 30 September.

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

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


Unfinished Novels in Poland

A collection of unfinished Charlotte Brontë novels (we suppose the same ones that appeared in the 1993 collection published by Alan Sutton Publishing)  has been published in Poland:
Niedokończone opowieści
Charlotte Brontë
Translator:  Maja Lavergne
ISBN: 978-83-7779-216-2 Paperback
ISBN: ​978-83-7779-219-3 Ebook

Charlotte Brontë jest bez wątpienia autorką trzech niezwykłych książek: Jane Eyre, Shirley i Villette. Do dziś nie wyjaśniono, czy pozostałe powieści sygnowane nazwiskiem Brontë (Wichrowe Wzgórza, Agnes Grey oraz Lokatorka Wildfell Hall) wyszły spod jej pióra czy też rzeczywiście całe rodzeństwo było na równi utalentowane i mamy do czynienia z twórczością trzech sióstr.
Niewątpliwe jest również to, że Charlotte zostawiła w swoich papierach cztery Niedokończone opowieści. Jest to równie niezwykła proza, jak wszystko co wyszło spod jej pióra. Dlatego też dziś proponujemy czytelnikom i miłośnikom geniuszu Brontë te cztery niedokończone utwory, wierząc, że dalsze ich wątki rozwinie Wasza wyobraźnia.
Sekretu osobowości autorki Charlotte Brontë nie sposób do końca wytłumaczyć, można jedynie snuć przypuszczenia. Obserwując jej życie, decyzje i drogę twórczą, trudno nie zauważyć, że Brontë kapitulowała przed samą sobą. Rozwój jej talentu wyznacza właściwie dążenie do samopoznania. Jego eskalację odzwierciedla zaledwie rozpoczęta powieść, Emma, urywająca się po dwóch rozdziałach. Tu można postawić pytanie: dlaczego Charlotte odłożyła tę pracę, skoro nie zadecydowały o tym żadne gwałtowne okoliczności? Może dlatego właśnie, że przeczuwała, iż dojdzie w niej do samookreślenia?
                                                                                        Eryk Ostrowski
With Mr Ostrowski, we are always on the verge of conspiranoia.

A review of this edition can be read on Z pasją o dobrych książkach i nie tylko...

by M. ( at September 29, 2014 01:29 AM

September 28, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Series of Clay Sculptures by Florida Designer Dave Kellum

We came across this site quite by accident, but thought these sculptures quite nice indeed.  I’m particularly fond of the Mock Turtle.  Florida artist Dave Kellum created these seven sculptures based on the original Tenniel illustrations.  Well done indeed!

by Matt at September 28, 2014 04:00 PM


Assuming Brontë

The Independent announces the re-opening of the house of Elizabeth Gaskell in Manchester next October 5:
Thanks to a £2.5m renovation, visitors will be able to experience for the first time the suburban villa and its re-established Victorian gardens as they might have appeared during Gaskell’s lifetime. (...)
The restored drawing room houses a piano similar to that on which Charles Hallé, the conductor and founder of Manchester’s Hallé orchestra, gave music lessons to Gaskell’s daughters. It is in the same room that a shy Charlotte Brontë hid behind the curtains to avoid seeing guests. Other esteemed visitors over the years included Harriet Beecher Stowe, the American abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the art critic John Ruskin, not to mention Gaskell’s editor, a certain Charles Dickens. (...)
She lived in Plymouth Grove between 1850 and her death in 1865, a period during which she wrote the popular novels Cranford, Ruth and North and South, the lesser-known Sylvia’s Lovers, and the unfinished Wives and Daughters. She and her husband, William, a Unitarian minister at the city’s Cross Street Chapel, wanted space and fresh air for their four daughters and, when they moved in, the house lay near open fields. Brontë remarked in a letter, in 1951, to her publisher, George Smith, that it was “a large, cheerful, airy house, quite out of Manchester smoke”. (...)
As soon as she had finished writing the biography of her friend, Brontë, in 1857, for instance, she escaped to Rome and so it was William who had to pick up the pieces and deal with the ensuing libel case. (Kate Youde)
Leftlion interviews the writer Joanna Walsh who probably takes too much for granted:
Recommend five female authors to our readers...
I'm assuming everyone's at least tried Austen, Eliot, the Brontës... 
This journalist of El Mundo (Spain) seems under the spell of a Brontë novel when describing  the actress Ana Escribano:
Su mirada profunda y melancólica nos remonta a la literatura de las hermanas Brontë. (José Aguilar) (Translation)
We wonder where on Earth the journalist of this piece in El Periódico (Spain)  read that Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights always petting a cat:
Como los que enamoraron a Julio Cortázar, Hemingway (llegó a tener 57 en su casa de La Habana) o Emily Brontë que escribió Cumbres borrascosas con uno enroscado en sus piernas.  (Ana Hevia) (Translation)
El Diario (México) talks about marriage, family...
El noviazgo tiene una razón de ser: que un hombre y una mujer se traten y se conozcan con la intención de formar una familia, de ser esposos y padres. Usted ya avizoró el problema. Tal vez tenga usted hijos e hijas de doce y trece años que ya viven tórridos romances que, ríase usted, de Cumbres Borrascosas. (Presbítero Hesiquio Trevizo Bencomo) (Translation)
As Chelsea Clinton's newborn will be named Charlotte, several news outlets list famous Charlottes, including our very own Charlotte Brontë, of course.  Isabell Serafin posts about Wuthering  Heights 2011.  The True Lystria reviews the original novel. Books Buyer talks about Jane Eyre and its meaning for the author.

Finally, Jorie Loves  a Story posts the first entry of her Septemb-Eyre project.

by M. ( at September 28, 2014 04:28 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Did little but fuss ― & arrange paper for mounts, till at 4.30 ― Fairbairn really came, & paid £157.10 for the Joannina, with which he was greatly pleased. This is a thund’ring big pleasure.

At 5.-5.30 ― walked to Foord’s, to order Matters about mounts &c. &c. &c. Back by 7 ― & at 7.45 ― E. Drummond came. We had a really pleasant evening, ― 2 soles, cutlets, & Lady Goldsmid’s Hare being the dinner ― beside an apple pie.

Afterwards, we looked at Cretan sketches, & so on ― till 12.


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

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

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Emma Thompson, with her mother, Phyllida Law

Dear friends and readers,

Last night I watched on PBS Great Performances Emma Thompson steal all attention in a concert performance of Sweeney Todd from Lincoln Center (I have yet to discover who was the director) with Byrn Terfel as Sweeney, astonishing if you consider his extraordinary voice against her comic caterwauling. Entertaining (vivid, full of a sense of witty there-ness), it nonetheless did not match the dark and somber — and wildly exhilarating version I saw years ago (16 years ago now, Signature Theater’s opening show) directed by Eric Schaeffer where Todd is a man in an insane rage over what the world has done to him, and the magnificent Donna as dark and saturnine as he is mad, and somehow wildly comic, with blood everywhere, and continual death — but this version does make sense of all the music equally. The darker versions don’t know what to do about the lyrical couple. This Lincoln Center director had re-conceived the piece to be more like a Victorian music hall, partly to accommodate Thompson’s vein of quizzical nervous comedy. The lovers’ duets are done in a analogous vein of an ironic comedy that defuses deeper disquiet, and leaves Sweeney more humanly accessible. It was striking too how Lucy now the mad beggar also emerged as more important, a kind of opposite to Mrs Loveit. You might say this was a woman’s Sweeney Todd as Todd’s daughter became an icon of escape on the stage.

Emma Thompson as Mrs Loveit in the Lincoln Center production of Sweeney Todd: her nervous comedy reminded me of other of her performances and was made to fit perfectly

All this to introduce a transcript of selections from an interview about screenplay writing between Thompson and Charles Brock, a central topic of which is her screenplay for the 1995 Sense and Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee.

Jeremy Brock began by asking about her father, Eric Thompson who wrote the playlets for the Magic Roundabout. She said her father would watch the pictures of the Magic Roundabout – and write words for pictures. In screenplay writing you write words for the moving pictures. He did not write for children as if they were separate human beings but for adults and children as of one species.

The Magic Roundabout (Jim and I have watched these together; they are intelligent children’s entertainment, piquant to an adult)

She started writing and performing sketches when she was 16: monologues and sketches from Footlights was what she grew up with. Andy LaTour and she were doing stand up comedy – musicals in Australia – Al Fresco in Manchester – earning money doing sketch shows – and they then went to Edinburgh.

She got a commission to write a sketch show in the 1980s (1986), which she regards as an important signal in her life because it was such a massive failure –- yes it was all political, against that right de seigneur as practiced in modern film-making, against dieting (auto-cannibalism). No one seemed to watch and the reviews said “this is very man-hating.” She felt she loved men, and told herself this is what it feels like to be here writing shooting scripts as a woman now. So she never wrote another monologue or another sketch. It was a violent experience: she had wanted to be Lily Tomlinson.

She: men’s jokes are something this lead to an ejaculation at the end. Women’s comedy is more circular: big laugh, little laugh her, and then big laugh. Goes hand in hand with orgasmic nature.

She then suggested that screenplay writing is a kind of negotiation with a film industry.

On her two best-known successful screenplays become films:

Branagh and Thompson in a typical moment from Dead Again

How did Sense and Sensibility come to her? “It came to me because of that sketch — the sketch she was so attackd for: they showed that series in the US on some obscure channel.” Lindsay Doran produced Dead Again, and as Emma’s friend, Doran thought that’s the woman I want to adapt a Jane Austen novel. Thompson said she’d have preferred Persuasion. “I’ve never adapted anything … I’ll have a go.” She is told to begin by dramatizing the whole book, see what works, and then take out what she wants and link everything together through tiny connectives. Thompson’s first script was 600 pages long and the task was to distill.

“You end up with an imaginative invention of your own. First you adapt the whole thing and much of the language in S&S is arcane.” Thompson said several times she writes her first drafts by hand. She went through 17 drafts over five years for the 1995 S&S. She was not doing this all the time –- she produced one draft while they were shooting Much Ado About Nothing affected by experience. Doran said throw it out and go back to the one before. Everyone needs a good editor – really good at knowing what’s good and what isn’t – editing in film is highly regarded . She, Emma, couldn’t write a decent screenplay without a good editor. Unless you are in conversation with someone you can’t get to final draft – it’s a collaborative writing.

What was nature of Elinor emotionally as seen by Austen and then translated by Thompson, realized by Lee – “Emma’s language is arcane [she kept saying this], late 1700s. What Elinor comes to stand for is the honor of a man,” not the same as virginal intactness. “Elinor Dashwood holds to honor and duty;” Ang Lee has the same line (as above scene), in Eat Drink Man Woman: “What do you know of my heart?” meaning also, “How does a woman act to be honorable? What is honor to her? What her methods?” (Is integrity to tell the truth is about it? yes, I think so.) What’s interesting here is Thompson gives weight and gravitas to Elinor’s decision to keep Lucy’s secret, to support Marianne. They become not just steps in a romance.

Thompson with Kate Winslet as Marianne

Emma Thompson went from there to ask and to answer the question, What is a female hero? Where is she? What does she do? She suggested we need to define and see female heroism existing in the ever flowing river of human behavio … in details Detail of human life acts of heroism stitched into last flow. This reminds me of George Eliot’s praise of Dorothea’s life at the close of Middlemarch, but she went on to say for her it’s not enough to know you’ve protected others and helped them by your little acts of heroism. She’d also to be the one who goes out and be the active hero – she instanced Clint Eastwood.

On the Jane Austen society: “she’s very protected,” and her adherents easily “excited.” They had been no picture since 1940: she means movies, reinforcing this idea that what’s on TV doesn’t count. Thompson told someone in the JASNA organization that she had cut Nancy Steele and the person walked away – the woman was so appalled.

She then talked of Elinor and Edward as characters and said she saw in them the potential for a connection to contemporary relationships. Edward and Elinor (she and Hugh Grant) had to lay in a deep humorous understanding of one another, a shared sense of honor. There is a frisson of sexuality embedded in Austen indirectly and as screenplay writers you write it into the script directly. The script is the muse for the performer; you leave open for such a thing to have happen offstage: our problem is how little we know of Austen from her letters since so many were destroyed: I did like how she said “I want to kill Cassandra for burning much of JA’s correspondence. The books show selfish people getting what they want, they stay selfish, Lucy is extremely selfish and carries on; that is the realism of Jane Austen.

So how do you approach a classic novel: you must bring your own feeling to the work. The way it’s done is dramatize the book. Go through it dramatizing as you go, and then start to cut. You eventually recognize some keystone, some central crucial incident or theme and build a structural integrity around that. This keystone enables the director to navigate the filming the film, or it’s a loadstone attracting everything to it like a magnet. You build around keystone if it’s taken away, the arch of the film’s arrangement of scenes will fall. It has these angles to it. The screenplay holds water like a balloon – a good one will carry on holding its water, some water might move and change shape but not burst.

Great screenplays – making a screenplay to film — after dramatizing the whole book, you take out the bits that don’t work. You have to cut the bits that don’t work. Essential in screenplay you’ve adapted it to film, I can see it, it’s implicit, there already, so I don’t need to have that scene

In thinking of her screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, she remembers Howards End where Margaret talks so famously of only connect. Everyone said and Jim Ivory too, we’ve got to have it in. Well theye shot it, and in the movie it wasn’t there. We didn’t need it; the idea of only connecting was watched all movie long.

Adaptation process is double: there’s book to screenplay and screenplay to film. Editing is the final rewrite of the film where people see what the film doesn’t need. Now when you excise something you can make juxtaposition of the two remaining scenes much more powerful. That is key to power and effect.

About ellipses, it’s a matter of taking out everything; then what’s left really pings out because of whaty ou have taken away. And performance art all to do with energy

The ending of a film should ideally be like a magnet — scenes, characters and words – all are piles of iron and then pulled to end into the magnet. All the odd filings have gone whosh and you go out filled up with energy – magnet’s your ending.

Elinor’s last scene with Edward is the last scene of S&S for real (so she discounts that marital montage orgasm the studio insisted on) – she’s all about withholding, well I wrote it all first and saw how much you can withhold. Now sometimes people take out too much; you must be able to follow – she’s accused by sister of having no feeling, but she’s nothing, she can do about it nothing as everything having do with being active is against what she has been taught. Thompson said that “every time I read it, I cried so I didn’t change it.” That last scene was written quite early. When Grant began to rehearse it with her, he asked “Are you going to do that cry all the way through my fucking speech. She answered “Yes, because it’s funny, it’ll work I promise you it’ll work. He all right, I’ll do it,” and it did work.

Long languors, they can be written or just performed. This is not to deny that stage directions are very important –- they need to be witty, well written – cursory or banal. “Then I am willing to read bloody dialogue — every single word must be the most beautiful things. It has to be as perfect as it can be and then you do hand it over to other people’s art” (acting, production design, costume, directing).

Later she was asked, Where do you keep the box of drafts? In the attics – she does not go back and reread – she ddid find the box of drafts for S&S and was asked by Jeremy to bring them to the interview. She begins by writing by hand, and goes through 3 or 4 drafts by hand. She becomes more neat – nearer all the tie –- you have to copy by hand so you get to know your text when you barely do copying and pasting.

Turning away from Sense and Sensibility gradually Brock asked her, “To what extent do you bring actors’ antenna to writing and the journey. She referred him to her comments on the DVD feature accompanying The Remains of Day. She will tend to act all the roles as she writes. She will not write something that cannot be spoken. You test that continually. “You can learn bad writing. Good writing goes into your system. Such a joy, such a pain. When it’s good, you are so grateful.”


She turned to her other well-known script: Nanny McPhee. How did she come to write a screenplay for this child’s book? Well, hovering in the room which has got best of the books in my house, Matilda by Christiana Brown, she came to read it again and came to think Brown was writing for herself: the book was about an anarchic change from an ugly to a beautiful nanny. She phoned Lindsay Duncan (who had suggested S&S to her). Thompson thought it’d be so much easier: 9 years later she had a script which took 7 years in development. When you come to make it into a film, you realize there’s no story. You also you can’t have 32 children. It was hell to adapt.

They had thought it would be this lovely simple story – “we’re going to be so happy” … instead it was “I can’t go on … “ Thompson says “You want to make something good and precious and good for an important audience — children — and find there is no story in them, no structure.” It was while she was staying in the Hotel Avalon – “Hitler’s favorite hotel by the way” she says, she began to see that it was a western about a kind of war. Nanny McPhee is about subversion. In the conversation she keeps bringing up Clint Eastwood who seems to me irrelevant; but she does have the archetypal pattern of the western right: the hero comes into a situation where order has broken down; he restores order and has to leave as he is the outsider. She made Mcphee into this cowboy-like character; she subverted a children’s film genre to allow Nanny McPhee to say what it is and then leave. So she was repeating her father’s ploy: again her father wrote for people not for special breed of human beings. You don’t want children to drown themselves or open a vein but you want to show them some truths.

Thompson as P.L. Travers in Saving Mr Banks: she wrote stories for children which had some truths


Asked what is the relationship between screenwriting and acting, she answers “There is no science,” and quoted choreographer Agnes de Mille, “Living is a form of not being sure not knowing what next or how. The artist never entirely knows; we guess we may be wrong but we take leap after leap in the dark. Good,huh?”

Exurberantly drunk one year at the Golden Globes

The audience applauded and then they took questions.

A woman identified herself as a playwright, and explained she was trying to get her screenplay realized. How do you approach production companies? (Can she invite you to her new play? — this was ignored.) Thompson: “There’s no science. You have to be in the context – and then resilient, persistent and solipsistic. You have to send it to people and turn up. You also need to be sure it’s good.” Thompson said “I have had scripts rejected – and later seen the underlying material she wrote up made with another script.”

A woman said, “when you want a strong female character, at some poin tyou have to make it a male; where do you stop to keep the character a female?” Thompson denied her central assumptions: first of all, great dialogue won’t necessarily tell you if speaker is a man or woman. Thompson said there is not this hard and fast difference at all; our brains not sufficiently different; then education and nurture starts to twist and beat us out of our shapes. We are gendered through culture and culture changes.

A woman asked, “How do you know when your re-write is finished, “It” — all done. Thompson: “It changes with each project. You can have a situation and a director drops out and hey suddenly say this actor or that needs to be a man – there’s that. “You get your studio notes – good and bad, irritating; you must buckle down and suck it up and make compromises I think. That’s as far as I can get it for now … leave it to cook and go back to it a month later …” Thompson said “I edit, I am a fierce editor; I like getting rid of things. You can only know up to to a point and then you have to leave it.” She has to earn a living between drafts and she can as an actress (and celebrity – she did not mention that.) She doesn’t write a screenplay for 7 years and do nothing else, she can’t afford to do that.”

No good questions from audience so Brock said “Tone, pace, touch and feel; you to apply all of that, and it is an educated process; you learn while doing. Advice is “don’t panic. Let it be.”

“Who’s her role model?” Says Thompson, “You must be honest in these things. My role model is my mother (Phyllida Law), a great writer, my first editor. I did my first stand up for her in Croyden (age 25, 60 quid). “I would do pieces for my mum in the kitchen and she edit them.” Long after her father died. Both parents could and can write.

How do you find balance of what to keep in and out. She says you can’t know. She told of a recent film about a miscarriage of justice. A father wrongly imprisoned and has died – many scenes cut; only when editing was it seen the cutting of playlets would only make the script better.

Brock made an effort to find a male questioner and found one. I don’t remember if he or the next questioner asked, “Do you go in knowing how story will end … or is it during flow that you get the ending? Thompson said most adaptations end with the ending of the book (it’s remembered by audiences). You have to have this writer’s stuff to work with, do the knitting, spin the wool, if you have nothing to work on, just write. Just sit and write – this is the only advice that works for her. (I can’t do that, I must make each section as good as I can before going on to the next, even when I have break throughs and suddenly write and write.)

Someone asked, “How often do you write a character with an actor in mind,”and “how does that work? Thompson replied that she “never gets the actors she wants.” She pulled back from that joke to saye sometimes she does – she sometimes does write with a specific actor in mind. “It’s very helpful; ” in the case of Hugh Grant, she knew he would be able to do Edward, so 90% of work of directing was achieved; directing is also done in casting. But then “Not always she does not always have people in mind.”

I omitted from my transcription how Thompson came back several times to say her mother was her best reader and inspiration. How she read her early writing to her mother, how her mother accompanied her sometimes early in her career, how her mother is still there for her and her sister, Sophie Thompson. Phyllida Law never remarried.

Emma’s sister, Sophie Thompson, also a superb actress, with their mother

Thompson’s close: William Wyler said “your screen play needs to be all good scenes, no bad scenes and one great scene.”

I hope readers find this as instructive as I have.

by ellenandjim at September 28, 2014 03:24 AM


Bradford Brontë Heritage (and more)

An alert for today, September 28, from the Bradford Literature Festival:
Christa Ackroyd
Historical Bradford Tour: Brontë Heritage
Sunday 28 September10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Meeting Point – National Media Museum

There is so much more to the story of the Brontë sisters than simply being the literary daughters of a clergyman. Like their father, they were social pioneers, recording the difficult times they lived in and writing under masculine pseudonyms because the subjects they wished to embrace would never be, in Charlotte’s words, considered positively feminine.

If their books continue to fascinate generations, then the story of these three incredible women is surely as exciting and passionate as anything which flowed from their pens. Tragic yet invigorating, their lives and passions continue to inspire today and their spirits live on through the subjects they wrote about; fairness, equality of class, race, gender – each as relevant now as it was then.

Join Brontë enthusiast Christa Ackroyd on our classic vintage bus for this unique tour, taking in the most important Brontë heritage sites in the district, to discover the untold story of the country’s most famous literary family:

• Learn about their visionary father, sent to the West Riding by William Wilberforce and the Clapham set, to help the poor amidst the Luddite uprisings.
• Travel to Thornton village where Patrick Brontë preached and where his famous daughters were born.
• Take in breathtaking views of the moors now immortalised in Wuthering Heights and stop for lunch in Luddenden at the Lord Nelson Inn, one of Branwell’s favourite drinking spots.
• Spend the afternoon at the Parsonage in Haworth, where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote their classic novels. Enjoy a personalised tour of the museum, including an exclusive private visit to the museum library to view close up some of the treasures of the collection.
This is an unrivalled opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Emily, Anne and Charlotte. The tour includes expert guide, pick-up and return from Bradford city centre in a classic vintage tour bus, lunch at the Lord Nelson in Luddenden, readings from the famous works of the Brontë sisters, as well as entry to Brontë Parsonage Museum.
And a very different one in Voorheesville, NY:
Old Songs: 37 S. Main St., Voorheesville. 469-0202 Sunday Four Poetry Open Mic, hosted by Dennis Sullivan, Edie Abrams and Mike Burke, featuring Barbara Ungar reading from “Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life” 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28. (Via Troy Record)

by M. ( at September 28, 2014 03:48 AM

September 27, 2014


Emily Wuthering Bell

The Guardian follows The Pennine Way:
From here head north on Hebden Bridge Road to Haworth and leave the car in the village for the walk up to Top Withens, the lonely ruined farmhouse said to have been the inspiration behind local lass Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. It’s a short drive to Skipton, gateway to the Dales, from here.
The Elm (Washington College) is concerned about the disappearance of a program who takes students to North Yorkshire:
For 17 years the Kiplin Hall Program successfully took a group of Washington College students on a hiking adventure to discover the landmarks of literature. Unfortunately the program, led by Dr. Richard Gillin, director of the course and the Ernest A. Howard professor of English literature and Barbara Gillin, lecturer of English, may not continue for its 18th year.
Deep in the countryside of Northern England lies the historical house built by the forefather of Maryland, Lord Baltimore, and then restored by the University of Maryland. Kiplin Hall is centrally located around the national parks of England and points of interest of some of the most established poets and novelists.
Poets like Emily Brontë & Charlotte Brontë, William Wordsworth, and Seamus Heaney have close ties to the area. Dr. Gillin took advantage of the rich literary history of Northern England and decided in 1998 to take the classroom outdoors and stay in Kiplin Hall, upon the suggestion of then Board of Governors Chair and present Interim President Jay Griswold. (Emma Way)
To describe Emily Brontë as a poet is unexpected but not untrue. But Charlotte Brontë is clearly a novelist, although she wrote and loved poetry.

Vocativ looks for George Clooney's successor as Hollywodd's golden bachelor:
But the closest the Irish-German actor has come to a knee-weakening Clooney role is Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, perhaps literature’s only romantic hero who boasts both a horrible temper and a mentally ill wife hidden away in the attic (not that we don’t love Mr. Rochester, because of course we do). (Molly Fitzpatrick)
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune interviews the writer Maureen Corrigan:
Q: Are there other books that have captivated you in this way? Other books you reread?
A: Oh, I reread a lot of books. Many of the novels I love to reread are the 19th-century British classics: “Jane Eyre,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “David Copperfield,” “Great Expectations,” “Bleak House.” I’ve never read any other novel, though, anywhere close to the number of times I’ve read “The Great Gatsby.” (Laurie Hertzel)
The Belfast Telegraph discusses the novel The House Where It Happened by Martina Devlin:
The House Where It Happened is told from the perspective of the maid from said haunted house (Wuthering Heights springs to mind) and asks why the pious and pretty 18-year-old newcomer Mary Dunbar almost immediately started complaining about being tormented by eight local women she claimed were witches.
Wall Street Journal talks about the philosopher and psychologist (and brother of Henry James):
William James was, of course, the 15-months-older brother of the novelist Henry James, and the eldest of the five children—four sons and a daughter—of Henry James Sr. and his wife, Alice. The Brontës produced three sisters who all wrote remarkable novels, but no family that I know of, other than that of William and Henry James, produced two brothers who were geniuses in their own right yet vastly different from one another in the nature and style of their thinking. Which of the two brothers one admires more may tell a great deal about the cast of one's own mind. (Joseph Epstein)
Deseret News explores the modern concept of family on TV:
"If you're worried about what kids are going to take away, you need to talk about media literacy," [Philip] Sewell [ TV historian] said. "If you're reading 'Wuthering Heights,' you're hoping they don't come away just thinking that Heathcliff is all brooding and cool." (Chandra Johnson)
Sun-Sentinel South Florida gives voice to a high school student who has loved reading Jane Eyre:
A coming-of-age novel, “Jane Eyre” is not one to Spark Notes (coming from a girl who loves them), but a book to spend time with. Full of complexities and details that the overviews skip, “Jane Eyre” has rich scenic depictions, character development and a wonderful ending.
There are few school books that are actually enjoyable, most being mandatory reads, but “Jane Eyre” is one of them.
So when your school teacher tells you to pick up that heavy 500-plus-page book, grab a copy, start annotating and enjoy a great read.  (Maya Lubarsky)
(Which is the opposite view of thisrAchmass, by the way).

Susan Hill in The Times talks about the importance (or not) of gender in literature:
When it comes to classics and to literary fiction, gender is even more irrelevant. I read English at King's College London in the early 1960s, and as  far as i can recall no mention was made of the gender of the author. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, there were three Brontë novelists, George Eliot was a woman writing under a man's name, but no reference was made to any of this. We read book as books. 
Jornal Dia Dia (Brazil) talks (with a priceless blunder) about the II International Grand Dourados Neuroscience Symposium, where the inaugural conference was no other that O Morro dos Ventos Uivantes, a Neurobiologia do Amor e a  Metafísica Da Paixão (Wuthering Heights, a Neurobiology of Love and a Metaphysics of Passion) by Dra. Elisabete Castelon Konkiewitz.
Ao longo da palestra, a professora ainda analisou a obra literária "O Morro dos Ventos Uivantes", de Wuthering Heights, pseudônimo de Emily Brontë (!!!!!!!!). Para Elizabete, o romance lançou um questionamento às convenções da sociedade vitoriana. Emily Brontë coloca o amor como um imperativo urgente e pungente da natureza – e o desfecho trágico da obra aponta para a ideia de que quando a racionalidade trai a natureza selvagem do amor, há um preço a se pagar. (Translation)
The Huffington Post reviews The Fame Lunches by Daphne Merkin.

by M. ( at September 27, 2014 03:36 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


A one-day participatory workshop concerning the emergence of the museum professional in the nineteenth-century, to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on Tuesday the 21st April 2015. Current […]

by Jo Taylor at September 27, 2014 12:59 PM


We are delighted to announce that REGISTRATION is OPEN and the PROGRAMME CONFIRMED for: ‘The Artist and the Writer’ (a Romantic Illustration Network event) 29 November 2014, 10am – 5pm […]

by Jo Taylor at September 27, 2014 12:49 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Slept well ― extremely ― but rose at 6.30 anxious about Fairbairn’s coming. But no Φαίρβαιrn came at all. So I wrote letter, & worried & fussed ― & looked out paper to mount for the imaginary prospective 240(!!!) drawings of 1865: ― & fussed & worried ― & read Bates’s Amazon ―― but the day ― ever fine ― wore away ― & no one called.

So, at 5 ― I walked straight on end to Gresham St. & there dined with poor Will N.


Allan is grown immensely tall ― an awkward, but quiet, & I think intelligent lad. I wish anything could be done for him. ―

Cab home ― by 11.

Found a letter from Fairbairn ― he comes tomorrow at noon: ― & a very nice letter from Wade-Browne. And 2/2 brace of Grouse from someone anonymous.

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

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


Echoes of nature

A musical alert from Moers, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany:
September 1719.30 h
Moers Kulturzentrum Rheinkamp
!SING spezial
Premiere of Echoes of nature (Composer Dr. R. Thöne).

Der diesjährige Konzerthöhepunkt rückt näher. Beim diesjährigen dritten !SING - Day of song 2014" am 27.09.2014 treten wir zunächst ab 12:00 Uhr im Rahmen des ruhrgebietsweiten Mitsingens in der Moerser Innenstadt auf.
Am Abend führen wir dann das eigens für uns komponierte Werk Echoes of naturevon DR. Raphael D. Thöne auf.
In sieben Bil¡dern befasst sich das Werk mit dem Thema Natur und Klimawandel. Mit uns musizieren die Moe
rser Blechbläser und das Niederrheinische Kammerorchester. Zitat unseres Chorleiters: "Wir sind stolz, ein so schönes Stück einzustudieren und aufzuführen, es ist eine neue chorische und musikalische Erfahrung - und eine dicke Herausforderung."
More information on the following press release.

by M. ( at September 27, 2014 01:30 AM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

(It is possible that some books from the Strand entered my possession when I was there a couple of weeks ago.)

by Miriam Burstein at September 27, 2014 12:16 AM

September 26, 2014

News from Anywhere

Gerald C. Siordet: To the Dead

Portrait of Siordet by Glyn Philpot, via Leicester Galleries
The remarkable appearance on ebay of an Earthly Paradise volume signed by Jane Morris to one Gerald C. Siordet raises a question for some of us: who was Siordet?

Siordet was an aspiring poet, artist, and critic when he died in Mesopotamia in 1917, becoming yet another victim of the "Great War."

Before he died, he'd befriended many London artists, including Glyn Philpot, John Singer Sargent, and Brian Hatton, all of whom created portraits of him. His most lasting legacy, perhaps, is his bittersweet poem, "To the Dead." 

To the Dead

By Gerald Caldwell Siordet (Killed in action February 9, 1917)

ONCE in the days that may not come again
The sun has shone for us on English fields,
Since we have marked the years with thanksgiving,
Nor been ungrateful for the loveliness
Which is our England, then tho' we walk no more
The woods together, lie in the grass no more.
For us the long grass blows, the woods are green,
For us the valleys smile, the streams are bright,
For us the kind sun still is comfortable
And the birds sing; and since your feet and mine 
Have trod the lanes together, climbed the hills,
Then in the lanes and on the little hills
Our feet are beautiful forevermore.
And you — O if I call you, you will come
Most loved, most lovely faces of my friends
Who are so safely housed within my heart.
So parcel of this blessed spirit land
Which is my own heart's England, so possest
Of all its ways to walk familiarly
And be at home, that I can count on you,
Loving you so, being loved, to wait for me,
So may I turn me in and by some sweet
Remembered pathway find you once again.
Then we can walk together, I with you.
Or you, or you, along some quiet road.
And talk the foolish, old, forgivable talk.
And laugh together; you will turn your head,
Look as you used to look, speak as you spoke,
My friend to me, and I your friend to you.
Only when at the last, by some cross-road.
Our longer shadows, falling on the grass,
Turn us back homeward, and the setting sun
Shines like a golden glory round your head.
There will be something sudden and strange in you.
Then you will lean and look into my eyes.
And I shall see the bright wound at your side.
And feel the new blood flowing to my heart.
Your blood, beloved, flowing to my heart,
And I shall hear you speaking in my ear—
O not the old, forgivable, foolish talk.
But flames and exaltations, and desires.
But hopes, and comprehensions, and resolves,
But holy, incommunicable things
That like immortal birds sing in my breast.
And springing from a fire of sacrifice.
Beat with bright wings about the throne of God.

by Clara Finley ( at September 26, 2014 07:20 PM


Celtics of Brontë

The Herald publishes the obituary of the Scottish footballer (and also teacher) John Divers (1940-2014). He played for Celtic and Partick Thistle and has another passion:
He played football for 12 years, nine with Celtic, before a career in education beckoned and he went to Strathclyde University. He'd been a teacher for more than 30 years, much of that time at Our Lady and St Patrick's High in Dumbarton, formerly St Patrick's High and Notre Dame High, where he was principal teacher of guidance and economics - "And nobody ever wants to talk about that time." He was also a member of the Brontë Society, along with Elizabeth, and a regular visitor to Yorkshire. Life was sweet and the crises were small.  (Michael Tierney)
The Bookseller publishes the results of a survey questioning more than 900 young people in the UK about their book habits.
[Luke] Mitchell [director of Voxburner] also asked the respondents to name their favourite book. Big name children’s and YA writers came up several times, including Roald Dahl, Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Anthony Horowitz and Malorie Blackman. However, adult novelists such as Nicholas Sparks and Cecilia Ahern were listed several times, as were classic writers Charlotte Brontë, George Orwell, Jane Austen and F Scott Fitzgerald.
Mitchell revealed the results of the survey at The Bookseller Children’s Conference taking today (25th September) at the Southbank Centre in London. (Charlotte Eyre)
The Weekly Standard remembers that Charlotte Brontë was not a Jane Austen fan:
But for all the fanfare and elation, and the intense reactions—E. M. Forster said that he read Austen with “the mouth open and the mind closed. Shut up in measureless content”—there have been those who don’t comprehend what the fuss is about. Charlotte Brontë’s criticism is scathing:
"I had not seen Pride and Prejudice till I had read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses." (Judith Ayers)
The Las Vegas Review-Journal follows the singer-songwriter Lorde tour and compares her single Royals with Charlotte Brontë:
Lorde’s ubiquitous No. 1 single “Royals” overruled any concerns about a spring break throwdown centered around a teen with a spare sound and a mysteriously elegant air, a modern goth girl fused with a Charlotte Brontë O.G. (original Goth). (Mike Weatherford)
The Times talks about the dead of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the Mitford sisters:
In literature, only the Brontës have formed a similarly intense and creative family atmosphere. (Ben Macintyre)
Also in The Times, Kevin Maher criticises those stupid pseudoscientific approaches based only on the power of statistics like the ones discussed in his column:
Well, like the the child who didn't do vocabulary lessons with his parents when he was an infant (I didn't), I am almost lost for words here. In fact, while we're on the subject, I had no interest whatsoever in words, vocabulary, reading, books or literature until I was lucky enough to have a passionate teacher who managed to transform Hardy, Brontë and Keats into living, breathing things. But, hey, the professional-childcare-industrial complex says that it all happened when I was an infant. So who am I to argue?
The Tufts Daily is delighted with the new season of Sleepy Hollow:
While enjoyable on many counts, the second season has a continuing weak link: Ichabod’s wife, Katrina (Katia Winter), who is trapped in purgatory. The first season of the show hardly took any steps to establish Katrina as her own character beyond Ichabod’s wife. While she is described as being a very powerful witch, all evidence points to the contrary; Katrina can often be seen crying out for her lost husband while wearing a dramatically cut black dress with her hair blowing in the wind, looking like a lost extra from a bad adaptation of a Brontë novel. (Grace Segers)
Around the Town Chicago reviews the LifeLine Theatre production of Jane Eyre:
Highly Recommended **** (...)
Given all this, TimeLine Theatre’s production of Christine Calvit’s play is a remarkably successful and faithful production of Brontë’s classic. Ms. Calvit captures all the dialogue and dramatic tension, and really draws out the gothic. (Lawrence Riordan)
The Guardian interviews the actor Andrew Lincoln:
I read books like Wuthering Heights out loud to my mum’s mother in her flat while she smoked a cigarette. I remember her being very enthusiastic about me going into acting. (Roz Lewis) (Translation) (Germany) remembers the dangers of hyperemesis gravidarum:
Bis zu neun Monate lang Übelkeit und häufiges Erbrechen: Hyperemesis gravidarum ist die Extremform der Schwangerschaftsübelkeit. Englands Herzogin Kate litt bereits während ihrer Schwangerschaft mit Baby George darunter, Schriftstellerin Charlotte Brontë soll sogar an der Krankheit gestorben sein. (Petra Lichtenberger) (Translation)
vozpópuli (Spain) lists Emily Brontë as a one-hit-only writer:
Publicada en 1847 con el pseudónimo Ellis Bell, la novela de Brontë se considera actualmente como un clásico de la literatura. En el comienzo btuvo duras reacciones de los lectores y los críticos, que vieron en sus páginas una historia deprimente. El tiempo sin embargo hizo justicia. (Karina Sainz Borgo) (Translation)
Librópatas (Spain) chooses Jane Eyre as the book of the week;  D.N. Aloysius posts about Wuthering Heights. The Brontë Parsonage tweets a picture of the Haworth graveyard.

by M. ( at September 26, 2014 07:10 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Interactive Alice Event in Andersonville, IL

Starting tomorrow and ending November 2nd, Upended Productions is remounting its interactive Alice show in the Chicago suburb of Andersonville.  As their website puts it

“Taking place over an entire city block in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, this ambulatory, multi-disciplinary show doesn’t seek to retell the story of Alice in Wonderland (that’s been done and done again) but, instead, gives the audience the opportunity to BE Alice.”

Originally produced in 2004, this new production looks to be better than ever.  Weekends starting at 1p and running every 15 minutes.  Tickets here.  Part of Chicago Artists Month.

by Matt at September 26, 2014 04:00 PM


NINES Offers Partial DHSI Scholarships

We are pleased to announce that Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship will be partnering with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in order to offer opportunities for members to participate in the series of DH courses at the University of Victoria, June 1st-5th 2015, June 8th-12th 2015, and June 15th-19th 2015.

Registration for DHSI is now open. This year will see an expansion from the regular 1 week institute to 3 weeks of courses, in part to support those enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities at U Victoria. Participants may choose to attend 1, 2, or all 3 week-long workshops. In 2015, 40 courses ranging from old favourites to exciting first-time ventures will be on offer. Each week of DHSI will include a week long training workshop, and the core week (June 8th-12th) will also include morning colloquia, lunchtime unconferences, and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions. Throughout the institute, keynote lectures will be led by Malte Rehbein (U Passau), David Hoover (NYU), Claire Warwick (UC London), and Constance Crompton (UBC Okanagan). Tuition scholarships are available for students, and NINES members can register at a discounted cost of $300.00 for students and $650.00 for non-students (for registration before April 1st 2015).

For a full list of courses, to register, to apply for a tuition scholarship, or for more information, please go to Make sure to register with a NINES discount code (NINES-Student or NINES-Non-Student).

by Brandon Walsh at September 26, 2014 01:30 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Dull gray ― & ἔτζι εἶμαι ἐγῶ.[1]

A Dies non ― other than for penitenza.

Sent to procure an Abruzzo volume at Maclean’s ― & got one ― which later I forwarded to Wade-Browne. ―

Did no work ― but arranged ― or rather selected drawings for possible winter work.

No Fairbairn.

At 5 ― went to Ampthill Square.


Quiet & not unpleasant evening. Home before 11. ―

[1] So am I (NB).

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

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


Adapting the Brontës and Reviews

Some new Brontë-related papers:
Auteurs and Authenticity: Adapting the Brontës in the Twenty-First Century
Shelley Anne Galpin
Journal of British Cinema and Television. Volume 11, Issue 1, Page 86-100

This article examines two recent adaptations of Brontë novels and how they relate to discussions surrounding the adaptation of literary texts into film. The position of Cary Joji Fukunaga and Andrea Arnold as auteurs is considered, as is the way in which this was used in the marketing of the films prior to release. Fukunaga's Jane Eyre (2011) and Arnold's Wuthering Heights (2011) are evaluated as examples of British film-making in terms of heritage/anti-heritage discourses, concluding that while they both reject aspects of the traditional ‘heritage film’, overtly in Arnold's film but more subtly in Fukunaga's, neither can escape the notion of authenticity which is central to discussions surrounding adaptation of classic literature. Although apparently more ‘faithful’, Fukunaga's film stops short of the adherence to source material that was emphasised in the pre-release publicity, ironically suppressing Fukunaga's auteurist vision, while Arnold's more overtly auteurist vision is shown to present difficulties over the issue of authorship when adapting a ‘literary great’. Finally, the article considers the commercial and critical success of both films, noting that the status of both directors as auteurs is a selling point prior to release, but that when tackling period material it can be something of a hindrance in terms of both the commerciality and the artistic style of the piece.
A couple of reviews:
Romanticism. Volume 20, Issue 1, Page 88-91, April 2014
Rebecca White, University of Durham, UK
Christine Alexander (ed.), The Brontës: Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal. Selected Writings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Victoriographies. Volume 4, Issue 1, Page 93-95, May 2014
Helen Goodman, Royal Holloway, University of London
Eithne Henson, Landscape and Gender in the Novels of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy: The Body of Nature (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2011)

by M. ( at September 26, 2014 01:30 AM

September 25, 2014


Spoiler Moor

Robert Colvile explores in The Telegraph the Mitford sisters new mythology, now that the last Mitford sister, Deborah Devonshire passed away yesterday:
The Mitford graves? I’d known, in a fuzzy sort of way, that the Mitfords had grown up nearby. But I wasn’t aware of their new status as the west Oxfordshire equivalent of the Brontë sisters – the people with whom our neck of the woods was implicitly identified.
Boston University talks about one local trivia night:
After the answer sheets were tallied, we were tied for second place. The tiebreaker (What is the name of Batman’s car?) was by far the easiest question of the night. We shouted, “the Batmobile” first to come in second (thus earning a free hardcover book). After careful deliberation, we chose a special edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and walked out onto Newbury Street excited by our surprise victory and satisfied with a Friday night well spent. (Samantha Pickette)
USA Today interviews the writer Sarah Brees Brennan:
Favorite gothic romance story?
Sarah: The Secret Garden.
... No, no, wait, hear me out!
Nobody loves Jane Eyre more than me: I wrote an affectionate parody of it!
When reading The Secret Garden, though, I realised how like Jane Eyre and other works of Gothic fiction it was. A shadowy ancestral manor full of shadowy ancestral secrets, marked by tragedy. A hidden place. A hidden and trapped person, who sometimes screams the place down. Moors, obviously. There are always more moors in these books. (...)
Favorite villain?
Sarah: I would say Heathcliff (of The Postman's Sexy Adventures. No, OK, of Wuthering Heights). He's so interesting because culturally we think and talk about him as the hero. Kate Bush sings about being Cathy and coming home to him. He gets romantic monologues, and initially he is very sympathetic — he's hard done by, and the world is cruel to him, which makes him cruel. But the book actually engages with that: on how far someone can lash back at being victimised before becoming a villain, and Heathcliff does. By the time he's hurting innocent people, he has clearly become a toxic person and for the last half of the book he is the major — the only — antagonist. The book poses some really great questions by showing us Heathcliff's changing position in the narrative: How far do you go before you are irredeemable? What if you do not even want to be redeemed?
Heathcliff kidnaps Catherine Linton (our heroine since her mother, Cathy Earnshaw, is dead) and he keeps her from her dying father until he can force her into marriage with his own cruel (and dying! Those moors, not healthy places!) son, in order to get her inheritance. This is classic villain stuff: depriving the innocent young girl of her liberty in more ways than one, regarding her as chattel and a means to the end of greed. More classic villain stuff — he hits his wife and he hangs a puppy. I'm just saying. PUPPIES. How can Emily Brontë make herself clearer?
The villain of the Lynburn Legacy series is based on Heathcliff, in a way that isn't made clear until the last book, so: spoiler manor. Spoiler moor. (The Gothic equivalents of "Spoiler city.") (Jessie Potts)
The Philippines Sun-Star talks about the Batan island:
Its rugged landscape and obvious isolation are often compared to the setting with which Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights was based. But if you are not a certified literati (or presume to be one), and if you haven't read the novel, you will have no sense of what this otherworldly, oft-overlooked little piece of Eden really is. (...)
Anyhow, Batanes should not be just a footnote. It deserves more than just a comparison to a literary pieces' setting. Maybe, had the British Empire laid claim to the islands before the Spanish Crown did centuries ago, it would have figured prominently in Brontë's work. Who knows.
Siobhan Thompson, from the YouTube channel Anglophenia, is interviewed on BBC America:
Q: What other British lit are you interested in?
A: I love all British literature! I don’t really like modern literary fiction. I love the Brontës. I read a lot of plays. I love George Bernard Shaw. Contemporary playwrights are great.
Keighley News remembers the artist Joe Pighills:
Haworth Parsonage produced a postcard showing one of Joe’s paintings of the access to the Brontë Parsonage. The copyright is that of local photographic artist Simon Warner, who photographed the image. (David Knights)
Wall Street Journal reviews The Fame Lunches by Daphne Merkin; Les Manuscripts Ne Brûlent Pas (in French) reviews Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at September 25, 2014 02:52 PM

Regency Ramble

Montacute House Finale

A few farewell pictures.

Another view of Montacute's amazing oriel window.

And yes that is me.  And finally, the Gate House

Until next time....

by Anonymous ( at September 25, 2014 11:58 AM


Civil Wars, Black Sabbath played by Emily and Jane Eyre by Victoria Lucas

The Brontë Society dissenters and the Council are not looking for common ground and understanding according to The Yorkshire Post:
A bid to oust members of the ruling council of the Brontë Society in an on-going row over the literary society’s future direction looks set to fail.
A group of the society’s members have forced an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) which will be held in Haworth on Saturday October 18.
Members Janice Lee, a retired deputy headteacher, and John Thirlwell, a TV producer, gathered 53 signatures to force the meeting to take place.
Around 1,700 members are receiving details this week of the EGM.
The agenda includes a resolution “to elect a new Council, comprising, if possible, some existing members (to provide continuity) but also new members to bring further levels of professionalism and experience to the society.”
The resolution will not be voted on, according to the society letter, although it may be subject of a discussion. According to letter, the resolution is “ineffective in law since it does not comply with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 relating to the retirement and appointment of specific directors.”
The letter goes on to say that the ruling council had previously identified “skills gaps” within its ranks which it “has taken and is taking steps to fill”.
It is understood that the group which forced the emergency general meeting is now seeking legal advice on the attempt to block voting on the resolution.
Last night Christine Went, chairman of the Brontë Society, said the EGM was requested “by a small number of members, most of whom have joined the society relatively recently.”
She added: “We welcome the interest and support of these members and the fact that they are keen to be more involved with the running of the society.” (Andrew Robinson)
Just a thought. We are not in a position to take parts here as we don't really know what's going on. But... is the Brontë Society such a powerful and mighty institution that can afford to spend resources, time and efforts in civil stupid wars?

Chicago Theatre Review talks about the LifeLine's production of Jane Eyre:
I’ll confess, dear reader, that I like my gothic plays gloomy and ghost-filled as anybody, pitting the world worn hero or heroine against all sorts of horrors, both the unearthly and the all too human. Where I draw the line though in the cultivation of spooky atmosphere is a soundtrack that relies upon thunderous drums, electric guitars and whole flocks of “shwarp” sounds (as though something huge and winged was hopping about in the rafters). The decidedly metallic taste of Christina Calvit’s adaptation of Jane Eyre certainly brings this beloved tale of courage and conviction into the modern age, but pays for its passage with the intimacy and immidacy of the world it is supposed to exist in. One cannot push out the image of Charlotte Brontë scribbling away in the old drafty house, heavily made-up around the eyes, banging her head back and forth to the chords of Emily playing Black Sabbath on the piano forte (while Anne stuffs her ears with cotton and retires to another room). (...)
Where both Calvit and Milne are in luck, and where the production really comes into its potential, is in their Eyre. Bhatt does far more than any amount of diresome rock to show us Jane’s modern sensibility. Her voice is clear and carrying, her rejoinders. (Ben Kemper)
Another review can be read on Sheridan Road.

The Guardian reports several cases of wrong  questionable grades for students in the GCSE and A-level papers:
“One particular incident that springs to mind took place a couple of years ago. A student who had clearly not prepared at all, had an extremely poor work ethic and had actually considered not sitting the paper at all that very day, came out with an A grade.”
After requesting a copy of the paper, she found that the paper was hardly deserving of an E. “It opened with: ‘Jane Eyre, written by Bronte, under her pseudonym Victoria Lucas …’ Even a layperson would know this was not Charlotte Brontë’s pen-name, even if they were not aware that it was Plath’s. The entire essay was littered with inaccuracies, made-up content, ridiculous arguments.” (Rebecca Ratcliffe)
Bustle lists not boring books that can help you fall asleep:
Brontë’s gothic novel — with ahead of its time commentary on class, race and feminism—is mysterious and slow; paired with the inherent spookiness of early 19th century England and the romance at the center of the book, Jane Eyre is a perfect night cap when you’re cozy under the covers. (Molly Labell)
The Huffington Post talks about literary pilgrimages:
I've been to some of the biggies -- at Haworth, the Brontë's home, I wandered the moors as they did, but the signposts are in Japanese as well as English now -- young Japanese girls are cultish over the Brontës, apparently. I swooned with them over the sofa (black, appropriately) on which Emily died. (Chrysler Szarlan)
We could agree with Alexandra Petri in The Washington Post but please, do not use again this stupid story about Branwell Brontë:
True enough. The only person I know who died standing was Branwell Brontë, who died leaning on a mantelpiece because he wanted to prove that he could do it. But we can all agree that this was stupid.
Do we want to become a nation of Branwell Brontës and die standing up, like idiots, just to show we can?
No. No, we don’t.
El Universal (Venezuela) interviews the artist Edgar Sánchez:
El paisaje no se ha tratado dentro del hecho dramático. Es decir, lo vemos en el cine. Lo vemos en la literatura. Ahora mismo pienso en Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brontë. Pero en la pintura, salvo en algunos ejemplos holandeses, no es usual. (Simón Villamizar) (Translation)
The Dutch writer Mensje van Keulen talks about her passion for Emily Brontë in NOS; The Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Boston Globe review  The Fame Lunches by Daphne Merkin; Reading 2011 (and Beyond) posts about Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at September 25, 2014 11:08 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 8 ― pooh pudor!

At breakfast ― reading Bates’ Brazil,[1] with very gt. delight.

Afterwards ―― looked over unpenned sketches ― selecting those I should take abroad to make drawings from.

At 1. came Wade=Browne & lunched ― so to speak. ― So I gave up my “professional life” ―― & went with him in a cab to Victoria Park ― not so lovely as I was told it was by any means. Ἔπειτα ― by omnibus & cab ― to Battersea Park ― (about 5. P.M.) & those Gardens are really wonderfully lovely. Climbing Rails &c. &c. ― & so we walked to Bond St. together ― I was to dine with W.B. at the [Jemion] but, that being shut, ― at Long’s. So I walked home & dressed, & at 7.30 was again at Longs. Dinner profuse & excellent ― but most costly. Much ˇ[(of wine &c.)] was added perhaps thro’ my own gauche stupidity. After all ― W.B. vanished ― & I, (tho’ I waited for him some 10 minutes ―) came home by 10.30.

Whereby I am at home at 10.30. But, δὲν θέλω ἒτζι γευματίσω [illegible Greek word][2] ―


[1] Henry Walter Bates’s The Naturalist on the River Amazons. 2 vols. London: Murray 1863; or the abridged 1-volume edition of 1864.

[2] I do not wish to dine thus [] (NB).

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 15.47.38

As Eric discussed last week, a group of us have been working on Vala, or The Four Zoas : a project that has been occupying a large chunk of my emotional and intellectual energy lately. It’s pretty intimidating to tackle a work that is notoriously difficult and the realisation that our early transcription attempts break the way that the Archive currently handles and displays text has been disheartening. However, looking on the bright side, pushing a system to its limits actually helps you to understand it more fully, which not only affects future work but has helped me to think more deeply about past and current projects.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, our conversations about the <zone> element have made me realize that we usually encode Blake’s works from top to bottom, from left to right. This may seem obvious, and generally makes sense since he is often writing in English, but it does uncover a basic principle of the Archive that I had never thought about. Of course, The Four Zoas is not the first work to complicate our understanding of how text gets organized spatially: take a work like Laocoön where the words wind and weave around the central image, or Blake’s letter to George Cumberland that includes a note written by Cumberland himself and an attached calling card that Blake produced for him. Indeed, the way that we describe images in the Blake Archive also resists left-to-right directionaility by dealing with the image as a whole, before breaking it down into smaller sections.

This leads me to be more careful about the assumptions I make when creating a transcription, and to ask the question, do I transcribe what I see (the Most Important Rule of the Blake Archive) or do I transcribe what I read? Take Object 3 of The Four Zoas as an example. Here, Blake has written two columns of numbers to the left of the central body of the text: 1, 2, 3 to the far left and then 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 4, 5.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 15.47.38

As a reader, I am inclined to view these digits as line numbers that show the order in which I should read the text and as a result, I had planned to encode them as part of each line of verse. But now I’m asking myself, how I should deal with them as a viewer, transcribing what I see and not what I read? Do they actually belong to a different, marginal zone of text that just happens to lie adjacent to the central verses? Or am I over thinking what are clearly line numbers? And most importantly, what messy implications for future transcription will I get myself into after jumping one way or the other?

by Laura Whitebell at September 25, 2014 12:35 AM


Jane Quote Bracelets

Jane Eyre quote bracelets on The Author's Attic:
I didn't discover Jane Eyre until I was 44, all those wasted re-reading years! Some quotes of Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" are captured here in sterling silver cuff bracelets with delicate filigree ends to encase them. Jane's most powerful quote "I am no bird..." encircles the shiny surface of a sterling bangle to wrap around your wrist, much like Rochester was wrapped around Jane's finger.

by M. ( at September 25, 2014 01:30 AM

September 24, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Important Update for Toronto Attendees

The meeting announcement for Toronto has been significantly updated. The Maxine Schaefer Reading venue has been announced, the Board Meeting venue has changed, as has the schedule. There are also transit maps and advice. Please click here and print out a copy for yourself. See you all soon!

by Mark Burstein at September 24, 2014 10:33 PM

Hugh Laurie Narrates ‘Alice in Wonderland’-Themed Ad for EasyJet

easyJetVery fun ad with narration by Hugh Laurie for easyJet, featuring a very tardy bunny singing a very familiar Disney song.  Enjoy!

by Matt at September 24, 2014 10:24 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


The election is now open for the BAVS Postgraduate Representative, 2014-16. Current postgraduate and early career (3 years post-PhD) members of BAVS are eligible to vote. We encourage all BAVS members […]

by Nicole Bush at September 24, 2014 04:04 PM


2015 VSAO/ACCUTE Panel: Victorian Inheritance University of Ottawa, 28-31 May 2015 In Book Five of Middlemarch, titled “The Dead Hand,” Mr. Casaubon’s will acts as a “promise” by which he […]

by Nicole Bush at September 24, 2014 03:59 PM


Who wouldn’t be wooed into a visit to Haworth?

This season's activities put Haworth 'in prime location to welcome a new surge in tourism' in the opinion of The Telegraph and Argus.
With breathtaking scenery and quaint cobbled streets, who wouldn’t be wooed into a visit to Haworth, for long stay or just a stroll?
Haworth was one of many places throughout Yorkshire beamed around the world as the Tour de France Grand Départ peloton weaved its way around the county in glorious sunshine, illuminating the village’s dramatic moors and rambling landscape.
Already a popular magnet for tourists from around the globe, Haworth is an appealing destination. It is, of course, world famous as the home of the Brontës - the moorland, bleak and brooding, inspired the Brontë siblings to put pen to paper and produce their classic novels. For those eager to find out more about the family, the Brontë Parsonage Museum is the place to visit. The museum, maintained by the Brontë Society, sets the scene for the siblings’ domestic life and provides a range of information and artefacts.
With its cobbles and quaint old shops, this village is brimming with character. Along the cobbled Main Street, where a global audience was treated to the spectacular scene of the Tour de France peloton making its way through the village, a mix of retailers are plying their independent trades.
Boutiques selling beautiful clothes dwell among places offering lifestyle inspiration. Cafes and restaurants whet your appetite with tasty things to eat and there are places to turn your hand to pottery painting too.
In Haworth you are more likely to find unusual gifts you wouldn’t necessarily find on an urban high street - a draw for any discerning shopper.
According to Sarah Howsen, senior tourism development officer for Bradford Council, the village has seen a surge in new businesses showcasing more niche products from artwork to hand made chocolates. That, along with the many calendar occasions which take place here are proving to be a real draw for tourists and visitors alike.
It is such a quaint traditional place,” says Sarah. “In the last 12 or 18 months we have seen a real surge in new businesses, some really unique high end businesses are coming back in. You get the experience of Main Street and all the literary heritage as well.”
Steam enthusiasts bound for Haworth can be transported back in time along the Keighley and Worth Valley heritage railway, giving passengers a stunning view of Brontë country during their travels. From October 10 to 12 the railway hosts its popular Autumn Steam gala and real ale lovers can look forward to the Beer and Music Festival from October 23 to 26. [...]
From October 25 to December 20 the Haworth craft fairs will be pitching up at the Brontë Schoolroom, offering unusual gift inspiration in time for Christmas.
Following on from last year’s success of Haworth’s inaugural Steampunk Weekend, the event, combining science fiction with Victoriana, returns from November 21 - 23.
November is also the month when festivities really begin in Haworth. The traditional ‘Scroggling of the Holly’, with parades and entertainment, runs from November 29 - 30. The Victorian Christmas, running on December 6 and 7, sees traders sporting period costume and the torchlight procession on December 13 and 14 weaves its way down the Main Street, an atmospheric event, complete with carol singers, that promotes Haworth as the place to visit during the festive period. (Sally Clifford)
Stage and Cinema reviews Lifeline Theatre's take on Jane Eyre:
Director Dorothy Milne shows her impressive ability to build mood by combining William Boles’ set, Danny Osborn’s lighting and Christopher Kriz’ music to turn the noble estate where Eyre works as a governess into a true haunted house. The home is seemingly built from the skeletal white branches of birch trees and segmented into cell-like panels that provide glimpses of the secret workings within. John Henry Roberts’ Mr. Rochester serves as the perfect master of the house—his haughty and mischievous bearing gives way to moments of deep horror and vulnerability. His nuanced performance is sorely missed when he largely disappears during the play’s second act. [...]
Unfortunately Bhatt herself isn’t quite sympathetic enough as Eyre. She’s perfect at tight-lipped emotional constraint: Her finest moment occurs when she discovers her love interest is engaged, and sentences herself to draw her own flawed portrait as a reminder of her unworthiness. But Brontë’s tale is one of emotional release and redemption; even when Bhatt tells us she’s happy, fulfilled, and free, she doesn’t quite manifest those emotions with the passion the character deserves.
Nonetheless, with a violent madwoman, a creepy dead girl, and some grotesque makeup, Jane Eyre has a lot of the trappings of a modern haunted house, proving that the darkest fears are the ones you carry with you. (Samantha Nelson)
Time Out Chicago adds:
If Lifeline’s great strength is in its staging, its occasional weakness is being too committed to the text. Aside from the ghosts of childhood past, Jane Eyre settles into a straightforward translation of the book. While parts are cut, what remains is not altered significantly. It leads to idiosyncrasies, like the origin of Rochester’s ward (played by the wonderfully bubbly Ada Grey) being unexplained; eventually she disappears from the play entirely. Other plotlines are rushed to include everything.
When Lifeline’s particular vision for the classic is emphasized, Jane Eyre becomes a proper literary experience: All the complexities of Jane’s life and the atmosphere of the novel are translated into sights, sounds, and emotions in front of us.  (Kevin Thomas)
Another review can be red on The Fourth Walsh.

The Guardian Books Blog includes Henri-Alban Fournier in
the ranks of the novel’s one-hit-wonders, together with authors such as Emily Brontë, Harper Lee and JD Salinger. (John Dugdale)
While The Herald looks at the history of Chekhov's Three Sisters and reminds us of the fact that,
In 2011, Blake Morrison wrote a version of the play for the Northern Broadsides company which brought out the parallels with the Brontës.
Librópatas (Spain) lists the books mentioned in Friends:
- Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brontë, y Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë
¡Otro episodio literario! Phoebe se apunta a clases de literatura en la universidad y Rachel decide copiarla. Y todos intuimos desde el minuto uno que no va a salir bien. Leen a las hermanas Brontë. (Raquel C. Pico) (Translation)
An interesting way of talking about the weather in the New Zealand Herald:
Thank goodness it was a beautiful day - what could they have done if the weather was bad enough for a Wuthering Heights imbued vision of Haitian economic sorcery. (Anna Wallis)
The Huddersfield Examiner has an alert for today, September 23:
Enjoy a bit of Brontë at the LBT - Lose yourself in Charlotte Brontë's much-loved novel Jane Eyre at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. The Huddersfield venue is showing the film version released in 2011, starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, and Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell. The film starts at 7.30pm - book tickets here. (Samantha Robinson)
The Sofia Globe mourns the death of leading Bulgarian translator of English Zheni Bozhilova
Zheni Bozhilova, translator of more than 60 novels and several collections of short stories from English into Bulgarian, has died on September 21 2014 at the age of 86.
Among the works that Bozhilova translated into Bulgarian were Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, Robert Graves’ I, Claudius and The Divine Claudius, Virginia Woolf’s essay collection Death of a Moth and Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Death is a Lonely Business.
Thoughts about Books posts about Wide Sargasso Sea. Daring Damsels compares different Wuthering Heights cover (but they seem not to know who Humphrey Bogart is - from the cover of the Pulp! The Classics edition); Artes y Cosas (in Spanish) posts about Wuthering Heights. Bookriot reviews Jane Eyre.

A Night's Dream of Books and The Frugal Chariot participate in the Babbling Books Jane Eyre read-along.

by Cristina ( at September 24, 2014 04:23 PM

Om Illustrated Brontës

A couple of new child adaptations of Brontë novels for the Indian markets:
Om Illustrated Classics: Wuthering Heights
By Emily Brontë)
Publisher : Om Kidz
EAN : 9789383202959
Binding : Hardback
Published Date : July 2014

Popular classics like Jane Eyre, The Jungle Book, Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and The Invisible Man have captured the imagination of readers across generations from all over the world. However, the language and the complex plots of the original stories can confuse any child; hence, the classics have been abridged, adapted and illustrated in a way that children understand and enjoy them. These classics instill a love of reading in them.
The Om Illustrated Classics are ideal for the young readers to start their personal libraries..

•  The adapted edition of  well-known classics written in simple language make them accessible to young readers
•  The detailed illustrations on almost every alternate page add to the reading experience of the reader
•  Author’s biography, character sketches and questions at the end of each classic help make the reading experience more informative

Om Illustrated Classics: Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë
Publisher : Om Kidz
EAN : 9789383202836
Binding : Hardback
Published Date : July 2014

by M. ( at September 24, 2014 03:45 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


In almost a reactionary response to New Criticism and a development from Historicism, literary researchers are using archival research more and more to develop textual analysis. Whether this research is […]

by Jo Taylor at September 24, 2014 01:28 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7. Rainy night ― but fine all today ―

I never knew so many consecutive months so very pleasant in England ― quâ climate.

Worked at the Jánina ―& still improved it. It is however no awfully bothering picture.

Saw Gush’s drawing of dear Ann ― which is very like ― tho’ not quite like. Wrote to Sarah, Mrs. F.S. ― & Fairbairn.

Walked out at 4.30. To the Z. Gardens, & back by 7.15.

Ἐγευμάτισα ― ὥς πάντοτε ― Μοναχῶς.[1]

The Ouran Outan, eating bread & butter, & “propping” herself up in a shawl ― is a sight to see.

[1] I dined ― as usual ― alone (NB).

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

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

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


The fake come-on (Jane Seymour) with which the film opens

The innocent heroine (Keri Russell) taken in — note the trope of the heroine as narrator and writer of diaries (something seen thoughout the Austen film canon)

Dear friends and readers,

I’ve been meaning to write about this film for some time; I saw it a couple of months ago now when I was watching several new Austen movies since I had had to put down my book project down two summers ago now. I try to keep an open mind on the Austen film canon, but find that most of the time either Austen is kept to sufficiently or the intermediary book or script is sufficiently intelligent and kept to so there is much worth while in the movie — as long as to some extent they keep crucial aspects of the original book. This is true of the 2013 Scents and Sensibility. They keep a lot of the original story and character oppositions and themes. Clueless, the Bridget Jones movies, the Jane Austen Book Club and Death comes to Pemberley are of the second kind. Without an intermediary book, Lost in Austen while apparently departing from the P&P radically, when watched with attention is clearly a critique of some of Austen’s attitudes in Pride and Prejudice as well as showing up gaps or difficulties in the book itself. I suggest Austenland meant to do the same and is a daring kind of venture.

Here Keri is meant to evoke Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz — before she leaves Kansas
The problem with Austenland (I decided tentatively) is it’s at that stage of production you sometimes hear about in franker features. In discussing how it took 6 (!) years to produce From Prada to Nada, the directors and screenplay writers said at one point they had a completed movie but knew it was very weak; their fundamental idea had not worked in the way they thought it could dramatically and they felt they had to reconceive the work, this time with far more emphasis on the Hispanic background of the appropriation. Funding was needed and to get all the actors back together again, but they managed it.
This is a movie released at a stage when it is a draft. Until the romantic abject coda ending which made nonsense of all that had gone before that Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale (director and screenplay writers) had a movie like Lost in Austen in mind. All the decor in the movie identified as “Austen” like was absurd, rather like some Hallmark card at Christmas time by someone who knows little of Christmas objects (what they are for). The idea a sarcastic one: the ignorance of the vast fan base about the 18th century is the point. The problem here was to come out clearly on this you have to insult the audience. The second important inference is that if you went to a theme park and had any brains you would soon see you are being fleeced and all around you actors who despise you and are using you. That’s what happens when our heroine Jane Hanes (Keri Russell, a popular “good girl” ingenue) shows up.

Jane’s incorrectly dressed: her poke bonnet belongs to an American cowboy movie

The problem here is these ideas are tough (tougher than critiquing an 18th century novel and romance as is done in Lost in Austen) and the film-makers also wanted light and screwball comedy. 

Georgia King as pouting Lady Amelia Heartright (her heart’s in the right place) flooring Darcy as she tries to pretend she’s got a cell phone
A further complication is what movie-makers think is comic in our anti-feminist pop culture so one of the two actresses, Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming, who takes this tour is dressed like some version of Dolly Parton and enacts the stupidity of Judy Holiday’s characters: to soften this she is made good-natured if occasionally sullen since she realizes she is not enjoying herself.

Her clothes way too tight

Pretending “perfect unconcern” like Austen’s Lydia

The result is imbecility. The movie is racialist too because Ricky Whittle as Captain East was done up as a very sexy African-American or African-English man hired to be a Willoughby or sexy-male taking advantage of the secondary comic kittenish heroine, Lady Amelia

She’s not altogether against being beat up

Behind this was the myth that black men are sexier.
A few good actors were wasted. JJFeild who can speak older English and can do romance was Mr Henry Nobley a cross between a feeble version of Mr Knightley (as he has nothing to do) and a withdrawn Darcy figure:


James Callis who can be very funny (in the Bridget Jones movies he is the male friend) was thrown away as an effete gay (homosexual) man, again pandering to stereotypes — the weak sidekick to Darcy.


Jane Seymour who has impressed me as having brains but never seems to hold out for sharp roles she might enact was the crook-woman, an utter snob, running the establishment, and there were whiffs of a Lady Catherine de Bourgh imitation but it never quite came off since she was not a character who super-respected herself.

Martin (Wickham character) and Jane (Elizabeth-Jane Austen?) kiss and tumble about in the grass (Keri Russell and Brett Mackenzie)

The wet-shirt scene is Martin or Wickam’s

The secondary romance of Martin as a stable groom, with Jane (a la Elizabeth Bennet fooled by Wickham in P&P) gradually emerges. Martin is a sort of romantic refuge from say the really tough or gritty depiction of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the gamekeeper on the estate – he turns out to be an actor and is exposed as far more phony than Mr Henry Nobley because Mr Nobley does not try to hide that he is a hired actor while Martin does. Martin is the closest the movie got to Wickham. Last seen he is promiscuously chatting up someone in an obligatory end-of-movie festival scene — not explained what this was all about, it seemed suddenly a circus had come to the vacation estate from a nearby English town. Here Lost in Austen had courage in its convictions: like several of the recent Austen films, it was openly sympathetic to Wickham.

Alas as I said, the faux festival scene was not the end of the movie. It might have had some bite if at least it had left Jane to go home utterly disillusioned, knowing that what she had dreamed of was nonsense, based on no knowledge, fake through and through ideas about men and sexual romance. But no suddenly there is Mr Nobley dressed in ordinary 21st century dress and we have a reprise of abject romance reminding me of the tacked-on nature of the ending of Joe Wright’s 2005 P&P. And we have to have poetic justice so the actor playing Wickham is exposed at the airport (waiting for his plane):

Certain details in the film suggest a draft stage — unfinished. For example, Jane’s friend, Molly (?Ayda Field) at home in the US who tells Jane she is a fool and says that she hopes the big sum and time Jane has thrown away upon this “vacation” will be will spent if Jane comes home and throws all the cutesy little girl junk out of her room — is pregnant. This is slowly revealed in the opening segment and the travel agency.


But we never see her again, her pregnancy is never explained, or what she is doing living with Jane. She is the equivalent of the vestigial Margaret in Austen’s own S&S, only that there is nothing brought into the film worthwhile to justify keeping her. 
One telling detail — common among the earlier and still most of the Austen film canon — marking it as a Jane Austen film is no woman loses her virginity during the film; there is no overt sexual act at all. Rare films to break this taboo include Maggie Wadey’s 1986 Northanger Abbey; Victor Nunez’s 1993 Ruby in Paradise (Ruby fights off an attempted rape by the John Thorpe character) and Angel Garcia’s 2011 From Prada to Nada (Mary’s Willoughbhy immediately betrays her by deserting and then shows her he was married, a double twist since she was wanting to marry him partly for his money).
Jerusha and Hale needed to put the film in the can, wait a couple of years, hire everyone back, re-write, re-think and try again. The premiss is not bad — women are allowing themselves to be fleeced. I note the screenplay writer, director and three producers were all women. Shannon Hale wrote Austenland as a book too. But the film is worked out wholly inadequately or with shallow commercial pandering where thought and effort were needed.
And then I watched it a third time — this time much earlier in the day and going slow capturing stills and taking down dialogue – -and I discover it’s much better than I thought. I still think it needed much work, still conclude it has weaknesses, but taken as a kind of mad absurdity, especially a play within the play which is witty and clever

Nobley dressing for play within play


The extravagance of the costumes and their parody of romance types was intriguing; I wish the film-makers had worked harder on this — revised and revised the way Austen herself might have done. It wasn’t daring enough to stay with its burlesque. The witty dialogues were not brought out sharply enough.

Count the anachronisms

by ellenandjim at September 24, 2014 03:09 AM

September 23, 2014

Edward Lear's Diaries


We rise at 6.30. We prepare colors, & painting & answer some notes. Breakfast. Letter from Sarah ― a good woman thro’ a long & trying life.

Worked at the Jánina ― improvingly ― tho’ it never seems to come nearer finish.

Dickenson came ― about the Betterhanger frame, & the blinds are being put up ― & we are altogether altogethery. Later ― Sir H.J. Storks came: one may talk now of his going to Malta.

Went out at 6 to buy a Lamp ― for £3.10.

Dined at home μοναχῶς.

The Piano is a comfort.

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

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


Spirit Becomes Matter

A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:

Spirit Becomes Matter
The Brontës, George Eliot, Nietzsche
Author: Henry Staten
Edinburgh University Press
ISBN: 9780748694587
Series: Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture
Publication Date: Jun 2014

Traces the development of critical moral psychology in the central novels of the Brontës and George Eliot

This book explains how, under the influence of the new 'mental materialism' that held sway in mid-Victorian scientific and medical thought, the Brontës and George Eliot in their greatest novels broached a radical new form of novelistic moral psychology. This was one no longer bound by the idealizing presuppositions of traditional Christian moral ideology, and, as Henry Staten argues, is closely related to Nietzsche’s physiological theory of will to power (itself directly influenced by Herbert Spencer). On this reading, Staten suggests, the Brontës and George Eliot participate, with Flaubert, Baudelaire, and Nietzsche, in the beginnings of the modernist turn toward a strictly naturalistic moral psychology, one that is 'non-moral' or 'post-moral'.

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

September 22, 2014


Living, breathing things

The Yorkshire Post continues following the Brontë Society's inner battle:
A group of Bronte Society members unhappy with the direction of the literary society has submitted its bid to force an extraordinary general meeting.
Janice Lee, a retired deputy headteacher, said the group had gathered the required number of signatures to request an extraordinary general meeting and said the Brontë Society’s response was now awaited.
Critics are campaigning for the ruling council to step aside “to bring higher levels of professionalism and experience to the society,” according to a letter from two members earlier reported in the Yorkshire Post.
Brontë Society members John Thirlwell, a TV producer, and Janice Lee, have written to some members calling for fresh leadership.
They claim the society’s council has “lost its way” and was guilty of “micro-managing” the running of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, owned by the Society.
Earlier this month Bonnie Greer, president of the Brontë Society, rejected claims the literary group had “lost its way” saying the Society and Brontë Parsonage Museum were well run.
She said: “The Society is run in a professional manner by a diverse team of skilled individuals. Business strategies are in place and outcomes are continuously monitored.”
Ms Greer rejected claims that council members were “enthusiastic amateurs”, saying they had extensive professional experience. It was “surprising” none of those criticising the Society had stood for election at the annual meeting.
But back to the actual books, according to Click at Life (Greece), Jane Eyre is one of the 10 best books of all time.
7. Το θρυλικό βιβλίο “Τζέιν Έιρ” της Charlotte Brontë μιλά για μια νεαρή, φτωχή αλλά γεμάτη συναισθήματα γυναίκα, που βρίσκεται αντιμέτωπη με τη σκληρότητα και τον πειρασμό της κοινωνίας. (Translation)
Writer Eleri Stone would seem to agree, as she mentions Jane Eyre among her favourite rereads in USA Today's Happy Ever After.
Eleri Stone, author of Gun Shy
I like to reread books I loved as a child, the ones that made me fall in love with reading in the first place. The Chronicles of Narnia (which I read with my children), Jane Eyre and The Count of Monte Cristo are some favorites. (Veronica Scott)
In The Times, Kevin Maher tells about how his interest for literature began:
I had no interest whatsoever in words, vocabulary, reading, books or literature until I was at least 13 years old, and that interest only began because I was lucky enough to have a passionate teacher who managed to transform Hardy, Brontë and Keats into living, breathing things.
Artist Edgar Sánchez discusses using landscape as more than just a background in paintings in an interview for El Universal (Venezuela).
Y en la historia del paisajismo venezolano no parece existir ese contenido dramático. 
-Exacto. El paisaje no se ha tratado dentro del hecho dramático. Es decir, lo vemos en el cine. Lo vemos en la literatura. Ahora mismo pienso en Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brontë. Pero en la pintura, salvo en algunos ejemplos holandeses, no es usual. (Simón Villamizar) (Translation)
There's a recap of this year's Brontë Conference over at the Brussels Brontë BlogDelirious Documentations posts about Dame Darcy's illustrations for Jane Eyre. On Facebook, Haworth Brontescapes compiles all of photographer Mark Davis's pictures of Haworth and Brontë-related places. Victoria Hislop mentions Wuthering Heights in an article in The Times.

by Cristina ( at September 22, 2014 11:14 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Regency Ramble

Montacute Continued

I have this odd interest in ice houses, perhaps because these houses are underground to the keep the ice from melting and are always an adventure to find.  The one at Motacute was no different.

This ice house was thought to have been built in the late 18th  or early nineteenth century. So definitely in our period of the Regency.  It was, of course quite far from the house and half way to the ice ponds in the grounds.
This is the path we walked along to reach it and yet through that narrow little gap in the wall and then down.
and around. A great deal of thought and effort went into this. Clearly ice was deemed important.

I would not have wanted to be the one delivering or retrieving this ice.

 There is a latin inscription above the entrance Glacies frondeat atque Nives

Freshness springs from the ice and snow.

Ice was carried to the kitchen, washed and used in wine coolers and ice pails to cool drinks. It was also used to make ice desserts. Fish, game and fruit might also be placed directly on the ice to keep them fresh.

 This view on the left looks directly down into the bottom of the circular house. Poor person who had to go down there to chip out the ice on a regular basis.

They would have had a bucket and pulley system to removed the chipped ice, which would have been packed down to form a solid mass.  The ice could sometimes last as long as two years in such a deep house, and well packed with straw.

The second view is of the ceiling which is also circular and domed.

Okay so that is my ice house fix for a while. Hope you enjoyed the adventure too. One day I will find a way to feature an ice house in a book.  Dead body perhaps, frozen for two years. Hmmm. I will have to think about that one.

by Anonymous ( at September 22, 2014 12:00 PM

William Morris Unbound

A Bollocking for Beowulf

For William Morris’s translation of Beowulf, that is, not the Anglo-Saxon epic itself, which I am ancient enough to have had to learn to read in the original Old English on my undergraduate English Literature course at Bristol University in 1975-6. Morris’s translation has always had a very lukewarm press, despite one or two bold attempts at critical redemption (by Robert Boenig, for example). But its most contemptuous dismissal ever may well be that of Kevin Jackson in his Invisible Forms: A Guide to Literary Curiosities (1999). For he there refers witheringly to ‘Morris’s dismal version of Beowulf, written in collaboration with [F.J.] Furnivall’s junior colleague A.J. Wyatt. The glossary for Morris’s Beowulf gives some indication of what a Teutonized form of twentieth-century English might have sounded like: in the hands of Wyatt and Morris, “disregard” became forheed, “mansion” or “dwelling-place” became wickstead, “curiosity” became witlust, “brave” became moody, and “poured out” became skinked‘ (p.105). And as for F.J. Furnivall’s own project of Teutonising the English language, that, Jackson neatly remarks, ‘was largely forheeded’. Are there, I wonder, any still nastier treatments of Morris’s version of Beowulf lurking out there?

by Tony Pinkney ( at September 22, 2014 10:27 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7. (Rain at night)


Tarrant sent home the last of the Crete drawings ― mounted on 126. mounts in all.

F. Lushington & “Zillah” came. (he asked me to be proxy for G.S. Venables ― as Godfather to his boy: tho’ I could nto do.) Z. is very pretty & sweet looking.

Painted a good bit, & certainly greatly improved the Jánina, ― tho’ even now, it seems scarcely any nearer to “finish.” ―

Went out at 5 ― calling on Wade-Browne, & on Mrs. Hankey ―: & looking out for a Moderator Lamp. See by papers ― that there are riots in Turin, which cuts & grieves me dreadfully.

Read Babbage’s “Passages &c.”[1] ― a curious book ― but not altogether satisfactory.

Met Mr. Prince in Oxford St. ― a good little man. Afterwards ― met poor W. Nevill ― & walked about with him up & down: ― a sad & unhinged affair. ― concerning his sending Hugh to see R. Smedley ――― the man who took out a writ against W.N. before any one!!!!! ― Billy’s ideas of right & wrong are queer indeed ― but he has much to suffer, & that is very sad. ― Percy Coombe came & dined with me. The Thomson Hunkeys & Edgar Drummonds both asked me. ― Evening very tolerable.



[1] Charles Babbage’s Passages from the Life of a Philosopher. London: Longman, Green, Longaman, Roberts, & Green, 1864.

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

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

The Little Professor

Savage Magic

Writing of A. C. Doyle's The Sign of Four, Leslie Haynsworth argues that "imperial problems are not merely felt by those who have imperial experience--they can also sow the seeds of domestic turmoil."1  This troubling interplay between imperial conquest and domestic trauma has been at the core of Lloyd Shepherd's historical-cum-Gothic novels about Constable Charles Horton, a proto-modern detective in early nineteenth-century England who keeps finding the aftershocks of empire on his own beat.   In Shepherd's novels, characters who reap the spoils of colonial adventure bring back other things to the English metropolis, usually as a form of indigenous vengeance.   And yet, the violence that results is not "other" to the English character, merely enabled and released by those whom the English sought to exploit.  In effect, the empire inadvertently devours itself.  Savage Magic, the most recent entry in the series, founds its plot on the cycle of exile and return faced by the men and women who went to Australia, either willingly or not.  Unlike the earlier novels, however, Savage Magic spends much more time on structures of exploitation within England itself--especially the oppression of women.

Savage Magic is told from several points of view, from that of Horton's wife Abigail, who has consigned herself to an insane asylum, Brooke House,after the events of the previous novel, to that of Dr. Bryson, the head of the asylum, who decades later writes up a scientific narrative of the strange events that took place in 1814.  (As we quickly realize, Bryson is, to say the least, unreliable.)   Its plot is influenced by (but does not follow) Mary Wollstonecraft's fragmentary novel Maria; Or, the Wrongs of Woman: Maria Cranfield, a deeply disturbed young woman in the asylum, turns out to be somehow connected to the serial murders of "the Sybarites," hedonistic (and sadistic) upper-class gentlemen whose tastes ape those of the eighteenth-century Hell-Fire Club.  Maria had been left unexpectedly penniless by the death of her foster parents and, driven to prostitute herself, was raped (and impregnated) by multiple Sybarites.  Her mother, the mysterious Maggie Broad, had conceived Maria before going to Australia, where, forced to marry a worthless husband, she nevertheless prospered by learning farming lore (and other types of lore) from the Aborigines; now back in England, Maggie seeks to avenge her daughter.  But how, exactly, does she do it?  Meanwhile, Horton investigates a series of bizarre events at Thorpe Lee House in the countryside, where something or someone appears to be driving the residents mad--perhaps murderously so.  Country and city horrors turn out, in the end, to be connected: the novel vibrates between Brooke House and Thorpe Lee House, two spaces that ought to be distinct and yet turn out to both embody the dysfunctions of England at the beginning of the nineteenth century.  

Like the other novels in the series, Savage Magic's plot suggests a tension between the "disenchanted" world of post-Enlightenment, post-Reformation Protestant England and the "enchanted" world of both non-Western peoples and, in this case, folk traditions.  As the Rev. John Leigh-Bennett (one of the historical characters) warns Horton, in rural areas, "[t]hey believe in witches and fairies, in spiritualists and fortune-tellers, in cunning-folk and sorcerers.  It's a day-to-day fact of life to them" (96).  An irate Horton later declares that witches cannot exist because "[t]here is a law" (273), and his belief that the power of the state can simply override folk practices highlights the irresolvable gap between two very different forms of thinking.   But Horton's insistence that modernity is very much marked by a "decline of magic," as Keith Thomas so famously put it, leaves him facing an England that does not make any temporal sense--is the country as "now" as the city? What about the colonial peripheries? (Johannes Fabian's Time and the Other comes to mind.) From the opposite end, Horton's superior, Aaron Graham (another real person), who does believe in supernatural powers at work, sees the possibility of weaponizing Maggie's and Maria's mesmeric abilities, of turning magic to the needs of the state.  Graham, in a sense, wishes to colonize the supernatural as well as the natural realms.  While this novel, like the others in this series, associates the supernatural with resistance (national, sexual, class-related, and so on), it also suggests that such magical forces are neither easily contained nor, necessarily, politically aligned.

Graham's sense of this super-mesmerism's political potential turns out to be just one more turn of the screw of the novel's larger interest in systems of surveillance, confinement, and crowd control.  This series is, after all, an alternate history of the police (who stand in opposition to the self-imposed, albeit also potentially dangerous, local remedies of "rough music" and worse).  Bryson's proto-Freudian experiments at Brooke House, for example, are based on the work of Dr. Willis, George III's famous physician, who "achieved his success by asserting his will over his patient" (128).  But Bryson complains that women resist his treatment, and the only successful mesmerists in the novel are women like Maggie and Maria, who can not only influence others, but actually rewrite their memories.  It's no wonder that Graham becomes fascinated by Maria's possibilities--her disruptive behavior could easily be turned into total mind control.   Or, to put it differently, the subversive, properly "trained," might become something very different.  Similarly, both Graham and Bryson are obsessed by the need to control what Bryson calls "a kind of perversion of moral sense which is visible wherever one looks" (130)--a perversion that, for Bryson, culminates in the spectacle of prostitution.  Graham, more conscious of the financial imperatives driving women to commodify their own bodies, thinks that "tolerat[ing]" the prostitutes is "the only possible balance left to the chaotic, disordered mechanism that is London law and order" (180).  Both men take a "conservative" position--Bryson in terms of morality, Graham in terms of maintaining the stability of the social order.  Neither one is particularly interested in ameliorating the underlying conditions that give rise to prostitution in the first place.

The trade in female bodies turns out to be one of the novel's dominant figures for oppression.  Women going out to Australia become sexual chattel for the sailors; women in Bryson's asylum become experimental subjects; women in London are part of an "illicit trade" (316) that shadows the licit capitalism at work everywhere else.  The sadistic justice meted out to the Sybarites, sometimes to the point of literal emasculation, strikes back on the basis of both gender and class--the upper-class men who exploit their social and sexual "inferiors" find themselves destroyed by their own victims.  But, as in the other novels, the violence ultimately spends itself: once Maria has been avenged, the serial killings come to a halt.  Brutal resistance, if not quite futile, spends itself and dies; the social order, minus a few of its members, remains sturdily intact.  The ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft, however, suggests other forces at work.  

1 Leslie Haynsworth, "Sensational Adventures: Sherlock Holmes and His Generic Past," English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 44.4 (2001): 469.  

by Miriam Burstein at September 22, 2014 02:44 AM


Aquila Theatre's Wuthering Heights US Tour

Today,  September 22, Aquila Theatre premieres a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights in Lexington, VA and begins a US national tour:
Wuthering Heights
Adapted and Directed by Desiree Sanchez
Cast: James Lavender, Kali Hughes, Calder Shilling, Lizzy Dive, Dale Mauthurin, Michael Ring

Aquila Theatre brings to life Emily Brontë’s classic story of all-consuming passion with its new production of Wuthering Heights.
The novel, one of the most famous works of world literature, was first published in 1847 under a pseudonym and is Emily Brontë’s only work. Wuthering Heights recounts the tale of ill-fated lovers on the lonely moors of northern England. Heathcliff and Catherine meet as children when Catherine’s father brings the abandoned boy home to live with them. The two grow up together, living freely on the moors while Heathcliff is tormented by Catherine’s brother. When Catherine’s parents die, her brother turns Heathcliff out, forcing him to live among the servants. Catherine marries and the crushed Heathcliff disappears. Years later, a wealthy Heathcliff returns, but is it too late for them?
Wuthering Heights is a deep and wide story of passion, revenge, family, class, and the supernatural. Over a century and a half later, Brontë’s magnum opus remains incredibly moving.
Bringing its signature style and dynamic approach, Aquila re-imagines one of the most famous love stories ever told with this heart wrenching new production. Aquila Theatre is renowned for its ability to adapt works of classical literature into enthralling and mesmerizing live performances. Impeccable design and a unique physical style combine with a marvelous cast to make Wuthering Heights an exquisite and captivating theatrical experience.
07:00 PM
Lexington, Va
The Lenfest Center for the Arts; Washington & Lee University
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:00 PM
Orono, Me
Collins Center for the Arts; University of Maine
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
12:00 AM
Orono, Me
Collins Center for the Arts; University of Maine
Wuthering Heights (Guided Tour)
Buy Tickets »
10:30 AM
Reading, Pa
Miller Center for the Arts
Wuthering Heights (Guided Tour)
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Reading, Pa
Miller Center for the Arts
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:00 PM
Fairfax, Va
George Mason University Center for the Arts
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
West Long Branch, Nj
Pollack Theatre at Monmouth University
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Galloway, Nj
Stockton Performing Arts Center
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Notre Dame, In
O'Laughlin Auditorium; St. Mary's College
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Interlochen, Mi
Corson Auditorium; Interlochen Academy
Wuthering Heights

03:00 PM
Clinton Township, Mi
Macomb Center
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
10:00 AM
Clinton Township, Mi
Macomb Center
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:00 PM
Platteville, Wi
Brodbeck Concert Hall
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Fremont, Mi
Dogwood Center for the Arts
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Whitewater, Wi
Young Auditorium; University of Wisconsin
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Idaho Falls, Id
Idaho Falls Arts Center; Colonial Theatre
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
03:00 PM
Albuquerque, Nm
Popejoy Hall Center for the Arts; University of New Mexico
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
10:15 AM
Albuquerque, Nm
Popejoy Hall Center for the Arts; University of New Mexico
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
10:00 AM
Pasadena, Ca
Beckman Auditorium; Cal Tech
Wuthering Heights (Guided Tour)
Buy Tickets »
08:00 PM
Pasadena, Ca
Beckman Auditorium; Cal Tech
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
07:30 PM
Tucson, Az
Center for the Arts; Pima Community College
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »
03:00 PM
Tucson, Az
Center for the Arts; Pima Community College
Wuthering Heights
Buy Tickets »

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

September 21, 2014


Book Traces Interview on CBC

NINES Director Andrew Stauffer recently gave an interview about Book Traces for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Check out the interview here, and be sure to upload any exciting finds you find in your circulating library at Book Traces!

by Brandon Walsh at September 21, 2014 09:06 PM


The Space where the soul slips through

Liberty Voice recommends reading to reduce stress:
Looking for ways to relieve stress? Some contemporary stress releases are Ken Follett, Daniel Silva, Walter Isaacson, Sue Grafton and J.K. Rowling or her alter ego Robert Galbraith. Some old tried and true ones are Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë or Fyodor Dostoevsky. Even some chick lit or vampire novels. Research shows someone can improve their concentration and reduce stress levels if they curl up with and read an engrossing book for at least 30 minutes of slow reading enjoyment. (Dyanne Weiss)
The Billings Gazette reviews Little Raw Souls by Steven Schwartz:
The title of the book comes from “The Glass Essay,” Anne Carson’s haunting poem about heartbreak, creativity and Emily Brontë, which finds complex humanity in the unobserved “space where the little raw soul/slips through.” (Danell Jones)
Daily Mail's You Magazine has an article about this year's WellChild awards. The winner of the inspirational Young Person Aged 12-15 award was able to face the most devastating moments with a smile:
Days later, however, Cecilia-Joy was being rushed back to the UK in an air ambulance after being taken ill with excruciating headaches – an emergency scan had shown she was suffering from a brain tumour.
‘It was the biggest shock. We just couldn’t believe it,’ says Jo. ‘But Cecilia-Joy said: “Don’t worry, Mummy, we’ll get through this.” And within half an hour, she was cracking jokes and asking: “Does this mean that I don’t have to read Jane Eyre for my English homework?”’ (Catherine O'Brien)
Nora Robert's Inn BoonsBoro always finds a place in the local press. This time in The Morning Call:
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. Owen)
The Irish Independent interviews the chef Rory O'Connell:
The book that changed my life
Wuthering Heights for my Leaving Cert - I never knew at the age of 15 that such passion existed.
Diario de Cádiz (Spain) interviews the Spanish film director Gonzalo García-Pelayo:
En el imaginario popular la copla siempre ha estado asociada a una época y un régimen político determinado. ¿Cómo va a ser tratada en su película?
-Es un argumento falso porque la copla nace en la República con temas como Ojos verdes que no representan esa ideología. El género tiene gran éxito en la Dictadura y ésta intenta domesticarlo; se hacían coplas como Mi Jaca y se quedaban tranquilos. No pretendo tratarla desde una perspectiva histórica sino desde los elementos universales que se hallan en ella: el amor fou, las perversiones como el sadismo o el masoquismo. Lo que siempre les gustó a los surrealistas, el concepto de volcán, el ambiente de novelas como Cumbres borrascosas. "Ser esclavo por ti" o "Llévame por calles de miel y amargura" son letras que pertenecen a la copla más marginal a la cultura del Régimen, que no tienen que ver con la estética que por entonces imperaba. (Julio Sampalo) (Translation)
Diario Progresista (Spain) considers that Emily Brontë died in poverty (!) and Charlotte Brontë apparently in opulence (!!).
 Volviendo a las escritoras del desván podemos decir que algunas autoras no tuvieron éxito en vida porque eligieron escribir lo que querían a pesar del riesgo de ser malinterpretadas o incluso acusadas de “masculinas”, “soeces” o “poco delicadas” como ocurrió con el que sigue siendo el más célebre libro salido de la familia Brontë, que murió en la semipobreza salvo en el caso de Charlotte. Hablo claro está de Cumbres borrascosas, admirada un año después por los surrealistas y que ha conocido versiones complejas donde se ponen en evidencia algunos de los códigos de género, raza o clase de la época. El héroe romántico Heatchliff es un gitano, la heroína se salta todo lo que la familia patriarcal espera de ella. Y unos y otros no ocultan un odio feroz hacia esas buenas maneras que ocultan la violencia del capitalismo de la época, y las formas cada vez más variadas y complejas de mantener a las mujeres en roles pre-determinados. (Eduardo Nabal Aragón) (Translation)
The Pen & Muse interviews the writer Lin Scheller:
What do you like to read?
I read everything that I consider well written and compelling. Just to mention a few of my favorite books: the Count of Monte Cristo, the Hunger Games, Bonjour la Tristesse (sic) (Hello the Sadness), Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, and so on, and so forth.
The Philadelphia Enquirer interviews the interim president of Bryn Mawr College, Kimberly Wright Cassidy who chooses Jane Eyre as her favourite book. A Wuthering Heights reference onan article about the new house of the comedian Alexander Armstrong in The Sunday Times. In the same newspaper we also found an article about the artist Paula Rego where her Jane Eyre-inspired paintings are mentioned.

by M. ( at September 21, 2014 03:50 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Fine all day ―

Certainly ― 3 more beautiful months never were.

Rose at 6. Wrote to Sarah ― Ellen ― & others: ― later, having sent T. Cooper to Drummond’s for 20£ ― forwarded £15. Thereof to Mrs. F. Street.

Painted pretty hard at the Jánina from 9.30 ― to 3.30.

At 4. Called at the Slingsby Bethell’s, & Thomas Hankeys ― out ― both.

Then to 37. Tavistock Place: but having eaten “crust” for lunch, was not what I might have been quâ health.


Afterwards sung & played ― passed the evening very happily. Ἐπερπάτησα ‘ς τὴν οἰκίαν κατὰ τὰς ἓνδεκα.[1]


[1] Walked home around eleven o’clock (NB).

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

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


A Read-Along an a Course

A read-along and a course, both starting next Monday, September 22:
The 2014 Jane Eyre Read-Along
is brought to you by the blogs A Night's Dream of Books & Babbling Books!

When Maria of A Night's Dream of Books and myself began to discuss doing a read - along the first question that came to mind was what book to choose.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte became the apparent choice very early on. Maria and I have been discussing it lately and it is one of her favorites. Thus, this will be reread for her. For my part I have wanted to read this novel for a long time.
We have a schedule planned that will allow ourselves as well as other participants to engage in what I expect to be lively and stimulating posts and discussions. 
Details here.
Madness and the 19th-Century Novel
Bishopsgate Institute
Monday 22 September - Monday 01 December
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Tutor: Sarah Wise
Notes: This course takes place on alternate weeks
Mental illness – real or alleged – is a major theme or plot device in many 19th-century novels. This course examines a number of works, some well known, others less so, and will analyses the variety of Victorian views of insanity. Books include Jane Eyre, The Woman in White and The Fall of the House of Usher. 

For more information about this course and what you will learn, see the course outline

by M. ( at September 21, 2014 01:30 AM

September 20, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Jacob Philip Hackert, a hare, 1802

 photo jacobPhilipHackert1802.jpg

 photo JakobPhilippHackert1775FeuxDartificeChacircteauStAngeRomeKlassikStiftungWeimar.jpg
A firework display at the Castel Sant'Angelo at Rome, 1775

September 20, 2014 08:55 PM


The courageous Jane at the Wild West (or the kitchen chair at Salvador Dalí's cottage garden)

The Daily Mail gives some curious piece of trivia taken from the TV show QI (Quite Interesting). Apparently:

Charlotte Brontë was the first person to use the terms ‘cottage-garden’, ‘raised eyebrow’, ‘Now, now!’, ‘kitchen chair’ and ‘Wild West’.
To be found in the following novels and chapters:
cottage gardens: Chapter XXXVII Shirley
raised eyebrows: Chapter XIII Jane Eyre
Now, now :Chapter XVIII Jane Eyre
kitchen chair: Chapter  XVIII Jane Eyre  
Wild West: Chapter XXXVI Shirley

The Independent's football section talks about the Burnley Premier League team:
Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers has made a big statement of belief too, of course, and Southampton will probably field four Englishmen at Swansea. But it is in the surrounds of Gawthorpe Hall on the banks of Lancashire’s River Calder, where the Brontë sisters were once regular visitors, and where Sean Dyche’s players now train, that some of the English talents cast aside by billionaire owners are setting out in the top flight with something to prove. (Ian Herbert)
As a matter of fact, it was only Charlotte Brontë who visited Sir James and Lady Kay-Shuttleworth at Gawthorpe Hall. Hardly a regular visitor, though. She was there only twice, in March 1850 and after her marriage in January 1855.

Today's Brighton performance of Peter McMaster's all-male Wuthering Heights adaptation is discussed in Sussex Express:
Spokeswoman Emma Robertson said: “McMaster’s all-male, award-winning interpretation of Emily Brontë’s seminal text re-visits the iconic landscapes and characters from Wuthering Heights and places them alongside the stories of the male performers to consider how, almost 200 years after the book was published, the lives and aspirations of men are now different.
“Featuring overly-high drama, romantic violence, a touch of Yorkshire bleakness and a few alternative endings, the performance focuses particularly on Heathcliff’s mysterious disappearance from the moors, and his subsequent return as a man.
Meira Bienstock lists in The Huffington Post courageous literary characters:
Jane Eyre -- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre always has the odds against her throughout the novel. An orphan living with her tyrant aunt and terrible cousins, she is ridiculed daily. After being sent away to school, she becomes close friends to a girl named Helen. However, when Helen becomes terribly ill, Jane sleeps in the same crib, holding her before/as she dies. Staying strong, Jane takes up a position as a governess to the little Adèle at Thornfield Hall. The novel twists as she falls in love with her employer Mr. Rochester, and throughout the novel, their relationship becomes intimate intellectually.
Only, in comes the stunning and snobby Miss. Ingram, and Jane must watch as Mr. Rochester and Miss. Ingram court one another. To cope with the pain and to keep calm, Jane sketches two portraits with crayons: one of them Miss. Ingram (drawn as a lovely woman) and one of herself with the words written underneath, "Portrait of a governess, disconnected, poor, and plain." (Jane Eyre, page 191) She keeps them as a reminder as how she views herself in the face of Mr. Rochester. With this fierceness to keep her love for Mr. Rochester at bay, she holds her head high and keeps her lips sealed tightly unless spoken too. When the word of Miss. Ingram's and Mr. Rochester's marriage reach Jane's ears, she remains composed.
Daphne Guinness in The Independent recalls her days in Cadaqués:
Guinness grew up between the Midlands and Cadaqués, the Spanish town frequented and immortalised by Salvador Dalí. "We lived in a chapel up the mountain – we still do – and he lived in Port Lligat, which was down by the sea," recalls Guinness. "My mother, her first husband was his only pupil, and he was her great mentor. There was also Man Ray, there was also Duchamp – he died when I was one, I wish I had met him... So, there was this idea of there being a kind of haven, away from the dealers, the galleries, all of these things. It was tough then, it is really tough now. It is a fantastic place because it is very difficult to get to, our house is about... it takes about half an hour up a very, very, very winding dirt track and it is a chapel. No water, no electricity, no toys, nothing. So, it was great. Spanish Wuthering Heights." (Alexander Fury)
Ben Bromley describes his play Fishwrap in the The Dunn County News:
Of course, as my nine loyal readers no doubt suspected, “Fishwrap” is hardly a hard-hitting drama. It’s rife with puns, as well as jokes about booze and sex. Hey, it takes place in a newsroom: What do you think we talk about around here, the Brontë sisters’ collected works? (Ben Bromley)
The Huffington Post UK interviews the author Kate Mosse:
My women, I suppose, are a type of woman – but they are a fictional type, they’re not based upon anybody in the real world. I suppose you could say they’re inspired by characters from Emily Brontë, Daphne du Maurier, H. Rider Haggard – these great adventure and gothic heroes are the people who inspire my women. (Natasha Hinde)
Gawker talks about Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca:
But jealousy, not love, is Rebecca's subject. It’s Jane Eyre if Rochester mattered much less, and the mad wife in the attic much more (and if it turned out that poor Bertha Mason had, in her day, given some amazing dinner parties). (Carrie Frye)
Sheila Kohler insists on the parallelisms between Rebecca and Jane Eyre in Psychology Today:
I was struck too by the similarities between this novel and Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.” Du Maurier’s shy timid young wife simply steps in for the governess, Jane Eyre. The narrator in Rebecca even starts out as a sort of governess or anyway companion when Max de Winter meets her in Monte Carlo. The mad wife in the attic from “Jane Eyre” is portrayed by the dead Rebecca. Or is it rather the housekeeper, Mrs Danforth, who seems particularly and madly obsessed with Rebecca, who terrifies us the way poor Bertha, the wife who is kept hidden in the attic, frightens the reader? The master of the manor, Mr Rochester at Thornfield is played by Max de Winter in Rebecca in his mansion, Manderley. They are both similarly paternalistic and condescending with their young paramours. Both great houses go up in smoke, literally, at the end, burning not only their properties but also the sins of the masters conveniently for both these female authors: Charlotte Brontë and Daphne du Maurier.
Laura Maw complains of the absence of female authors in GCSE set texts in The Huffington Post:
At GCSE, I studied Steinbeck and Priestley. My first year at A-Level, I studied Browning, Auden, Fitzgerald and Hosseini. It was only in the second year that I studied Carter and Brontë as well as Marlowe. Work by female authors took up less than a third of my secondary education space - and unequal gender representation is set to increase.
We read in Hello! Magazine and other news outlets we know how Anne Brontë's Farewell poem was read at the funeral of Dr Antony Kidman (Nicole Kidman's father) yesterday in Sydney, Australia. Book in the Bag reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. nFold posts about Emily Brontë. Finally, Oubliette Magazine (in Italian) posts a life after death interview with the Brontë sisters themselves (who, by the way, could have said something about the arguable choice of portraits used in the post:  the usual spurious suspects and Ann Mary Newton's self portrait passing for Anne Brontë).

by M. ( at September 20, 2014 03:51 PM

Fire at Thornfield Plus Emily's Poetry

Two new compilations with Brontë-related content:
Opening Doors to Famous Poetry and Prose. 
Ideas and Resources for Accessing Literary Heritage Works

by Bob Cox
Crown House Publishing
Format: Paperback with CD Rom
Published: September 2014
ISBN 13: 9781845908966

Opening Doors provides 20 units of work covering poetry and prose from our literary heritage. Each unit comes with exciting stimulus material and creative suggestions for ways in which the material can be used for outstanding learning possibilities. Illustrations and innovative ideas to help pupils access the meaning and wonder of the text add to the book’s appeal.
Pupils are encouraged, throughout the units of work, to engage with language, invent questions and write with flair and accuracy, bringing literature from the past to life and opening doors to further reading and exploration.
Also included is an introduction to the concepts used in the book and suggestions for a range of methods and pathways which can lead to language development and literary appreciation. Although the units are diverse and have a range of poetry and prose for teachers to use, the book presents cohesive methods for engaging children with a variety of different literary texts and improving standards of literacy.
Opening Doors both informs and excites. It contains everything you need for outstanding English lessons, including a free CD full of resources for primary English, including extracts from the literary works and activities to get started with. Let’s begin.
For teachers of 7–11 year olds.
Part 2: Opening doors to prose
14. Fire at Thornfield – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
100 Poems To See You Through
by Daisy Goodwin
Published by Ebury Press
ISBN: 9780091958176
Published: 4 Sep 2014

When times are tough - whether because of illness, bereavement or receiving bad news - it can be hard to find the right words. Help comes in the form of this beautifully packaged gift book, comprising 100 life-affirming poems handpicked by an expert on poetry. Grouping the poems by theme - from 'Hearing Bad News' to 'How To Carry On' - this gem of a book features contributions from classical poets such as John Keats, Emily Brontë, W.H. Auden and Christina Rossetti alongside lines from more contemporary poets such as Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Jennings, Raymond Carver, Carol Ann Duffy and Wendy Cope. It adds up to a wonderful pick-me-up - a self-administered drug guaranteed to make a dark day brighter and act as a great lyrical crutch.

by M. ( at September 20, 2014 12:59 PM

News from Anywhere

Special Exhibition Tour: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy

Join exhibition curators Constance McPhee, Curator in the Department of Drawings and Prints, and Alison Hokanson, Research Associate in the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum for a tour of the exhibition, The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Friday, October 10that 10:30am.

The exhibition,The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design,brings together some thirty objects from across the Museum and from local private collections to highlight the second generation of the Pre-Raphaelites, focusing on the key figures Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Paintings, drawings, furniture, ceramics, stained glass, textiles, and book illustrations from the 1860s through the 1890s, many united for the first time, demonstrate the enduring impact of Pre-Raphaelite ideals as they were adapted by different artists and developed across a range of media. At a time of renewed appreciation for art of the Victorian age, the installation directs fresh attention toward the Metropolitan's little-known holdings in this important area.

Over the past century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired a varied group of objects, ranging from lengths of fabric to signature works which represent the accomplishments of this extraordinary trio and their circle.
The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Designfeatures 26 objects from the Museum’s holdings and four loans from local private collections—including paintings, drawings, furniture, ceramics, textiles, stained glass, and book illustrations—highlighting the key period when the Pre-Raphaelite vision was adapted and transformed.
The tour is free to William Morris Society members, but is limited to 20 persons due to the small size of the gallery. 

Friday, October 10th, 10:30am
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

Please RSVP to Margaretta Frederick,, (302) 351-8518 if you wish to attend. Participants will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. As always, donations are gratefully accepted.

by Clara Finley ( at September 20, 2014 12:12 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries



Arranged more drawings for mounting ― & then shaved the Jánina ― for a last trial for completion.

Worked at it, & wrote a journal=description of it till 4. Then, across the Park to Fanny Coombe’s, where I dined.


Came away at 9. & Percy walked to Hyde P. Corner with me.

Bed by 10.

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

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


Independent Brontës

The Telegraph looks at other parts of the UK wishing to break away such as:
Devolutionary credibility: 7/10
The Yorkshire devolution movement may be fairly small but my, is it feisty. The largest historic county in the United Kingdom has a population the size of Scotland and an economy twice the size of Wales – and some residents feel Yorkshire’s identity doesn’t get enough recognition as just one part of Great Britain. A nation state of Yorkshire would already have a national cuisine (Wensleydale cheese and Yorkshire puddings), a strong literary culture (the Brontë sisters), and perform well at the Olympics – Yorkshire would have come 12th in 2012 if it had competed as its own country. Geoffrey Boycott could be a strong contender for state figurehead, but let’s not encourage this trend – Yorkshire’s flat caps are at the heart of Britishness, and there they should remain. (Olivia Goldhill)
The Huffington Post lists five books that celebrate Scotland.
The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter ScottIt doesn't get more Scottish than Sir Walter Scott. Although he may be best known for his other works like Ivanhoe and Waverley, the Bride of Lammermoor is one of his more entertainingly bizarre works. It is a Wuthering Heights style story of brooding men and obsessive love and fallen families, but the conclusion is more absurd than anything the Brontës offered. (Lauren Sarner)
The Independent reviews Gwendolen: A Novel by Diana Souhami, which features Gwendolen Harleth out of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. This of course warrants a mention of Wide Sargasso Sea:
The novel re-costumes Gwendolen as the latest in a line of resurrected protagonists. Jean Rhys opened this terrain with Wide Sargasso Sea. Since then, heroines out of the Brontës, Austen and du Maurier have all made comebacks – even Virginia Woolf, if you count Michael Cunningham's The Hours. This sub-genre calls for a tricky blend of pastiche, homage, critique and re-imagining. (Boyd Tonkin)
The Guardian looks at the way some poets have written about death.
Rupert Brooke wanted some part of him to be “forever England”. Keith Douglas asked to be simplified when he was dead. Emily Brontë pleaded for death itself in Death. Emily Dickinson “heard a Fly buzz” when she died. Sylvia Plath assidously courted death in Lady Lazarus, and the poem made a conscious performance of it. (George Szirtes)
The Craven Herald and Pioneer tells its readers about the use of the long s:
Taking the easiest first, part of the answer lies in the use of the "long s", very similar to today’s "f", which was once standard with words that would now use a double "ss".
It went out of favour and fashion in the 1790s, but continued in more formal use for at least another 60 years. Charlotte Brontë writing to a friend in 1848 referred to the novelist Jane Austen as "Mifs Austen". (Lindsey Moore)
France TV Info features Coco Channel's apartment as seen by Sam Taylor-Wood.
De la bergère tendue de satin blanc sur laquelle Chanel fut photographiée par Horst en 1937, des paravents de Coromandel aux miroirs vénitiens, des murs recouverts d’éditions reliées de Shakespeare, Voltaire, Byron et Brontë, aux lustres en cristal de roche du salon sur lesquels un oeil attentif pourra déceler une floraison de camélias, sans oublier le chiffre 5, le double C, et les initiales G pour Gabrielle et W pour Westminster, aucun détail n’a été omis. (Corinne Jeammet) (Translation)
The latest on-screen Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester are mentioned in two different articles today. Here's how the Wall Street Journal describes Mia Wasikowska's portrayal of Jane:
In Cary Fukunaga's screen version of "Jane Eyre," she played Jane with calm, transfixing purity. (Joe Morgenstern)
While Stuff (New Zealand) shares an instagram image of a ferry passenger with Michel Fassbender. The passenger accompanied the pictures with a bit of fangirl gushing:
A-list actor and X-Men star Michael Fassbender is in in Marlborough.
"The Fass", as he is sometimes referred to, was spotted by fans on the ferry from Wellington to Picton yesterday.
One woman took to Instagram, a social media platform where you can share photos, posting a picture of herself with Fassbender on the ferry about noon.
She posted the photo with the caption: "Life is complete, met Michael Fassbender aka Mr Rochester [Jane Eyre] on the Wellington to Picton ferry!! #starstruck #michaelfassbender #newzealand."
People began commenting on the photo, to which the woman said she was "giggling like a school girl" after meeting him. (Chloe Winter)
The Big Issue interviews Amanda Owen, known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess. Her farm is described as
heather moorland – very Wuthering Heights. It’s all drystone walls and barns. The heather has started to flower so it’s got a purple hue. (Vicky Carroll)
An alert from Davis, California:
Jane Eyre,” a 1996 multi-national film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, will be screened Friday, Sept. 19, as part of the International Film Series.
The series is co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of Davis and International House. Doors at I-House, 10 College Park, open at 7:30 p.m. and the film begins promptly at 8 p.m. (The Davis Enterprise)
The two latest screen adaptations of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are the subject of two posts: Film Intel gives 3 stars out of 5 to Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights Blu-Ray release and Cinema de novo writes in Portuguese about Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre. 

Finally, via the Brontë Parsonage Twitter, here's a clip of The Secret Life of Books episode on Jane Eyre featuring Ann Dinsdale and Bidisha. The programme is to be broadcast at the end of this month.

by Cristina ( at September 20, 2014 02:10 AM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests (Riverhead, 2014).  In interbellum England, a woman and her mother take in lodgers (or, to use the more genteel term, "paying guests") with ultimately disastrous results.  (Amazon)
  • Authentic Report of the Great Protestant Meeting, Held at the Shire Hall,  Hereford, on Wednesday, 9th Sept. 1835, by the Hereford Protestant Association, for Making Known, from Authentic Documents, the Real Tenets of Popery, as Now Held by the Roman Catholic Bishops and Priests of Ireland, Contrasted with the Principles of Protestantism, as Maintained by the Established Church of England and Ireland (C. F. Cock, 1835).  The title says it all, really.  Report from an early meeting of the Protestant Association in Hereford, which had been founded in July 1835; the organization died in 1843 after the bishop got grumpy, apparently.   (eBay)

by Miriam Burstein at September 20, 2014 12:59 AM

September 19, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


10am – 5pm Institute of English Studies, University of London Supported by the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) and the University of Roehampton. Part of the activities of the […]

by Jo Taylor at September 19, 2014 08:35 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Pleasant fine morning. Walk in Park.

Breakfast at 9. At 10.30 ― T.F. walked thro’ the Park with me. His is a kindly nature; I dropped 2 of Daddy’s letters, given me to post ― wo is me! ― but happily they were picked up & posted.[1] ―

Rail 11.10. & to Victoria by 1.46. Stratford Place by 2.15.

Wrote many notes & letters ― & dined at 3.30. Afterwards wrote about Piano, & had my hair cut.

Then walked across the Park to F.L. whom I saw. & home by 7.

Some supper & bed by 10.

[1] There is a note from Lear to William Holman Hunt explaining what happened.

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

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


Wuthering Heights in Brighton

A new chance to catch the Peter McMaster adaptation of Wuthering Heights:
Peter McMaster
Wuthering Heights
Sat 20 Sep, 7pm & 9.15pm
Studio Theatre, Brighton Dome

Four performers explore their experiences of being men in Peter McMaster’s bold, award-winning, all male interpretation of Emily Brontë’s seminal text. As they recall the dark expanses of the Yorkshire moors, they sing together, full-throated, and dance optimistically to the howling tones of Kate Bush.
They ask, almost 200 years after the book was published, are the aspirations of men very different now? The energy of this brave new performance is not to be missed.
Presented by The Arches, Glasgow

by M. ( at September 19, 2014 01:30 AM

September 18, 2014


Somewhat recommended Jane Eyre

The Chicago Tribune gives 3 stars to Lifeline Theatre's Jane Eyre.
Charlotte Brontë's best-known novel, as adapted by Christina Calvit, makes its third appearance since 1991 on Lifeline's stage. But this production, directed by Dorothy Milne, marks my first visit to Calvit's version of Thornfield Hall. In Lifeline's hands, Mr. Rochester's gloomy home provides a suitably disquieting environment. While the show could afford to take bigger emotional risks, it succeeds at setting off the original story's Romantic-era notions of psychic duality through some stark but effective staging choices. [...]
Much of Jane's back story before she goes to Thornfield as governess takes the form of a hallucinogenic prelude. We get fragmented visions of her cruel treatment at the hands of her rich Aunt Reed (Kyra Morris) and the Dickensian (or Bronte-ian, really) privations she suffered at Lowood School, run by the vicious Mr. Brocklehurst (Anthony Kayer). Most piteously, Jane's dead school chum, Helen (Maya Lou Hlava), appears and reappears as a hollow-eyed specter in a blood-spattered white shift, repeatedly telling her "You think too much of the love of human beings, Jane."
Given how little of that love Jane has experienced, it's no wonder that she should yearn for it.
Jhenai Mootz's Bertha — Rochester's first wife and the original Madwoman in the Attic — fittingly haunts the upper levels of the stage, foreshadowing Jane's difficulties just as Aunt Reed, Helen and Brocklehurst remind her of her painful past. There is a bit of a steampunk feel to costume designer Jana Anderson's deconstructed corset dresses that works well with the movable stark slats of set designer William Boles' skeletal representation of Thornfield — a world where secrets hide in plain sight and the underlying social structures provide puny support for a new love. Or for a mentally unstable first wife.
Among the adult cast members, only Bhatt and John Henry Roberts as the tormented and sardonic Rochester (more sepulchral than Byronesque) handle solo roles. (Young Hlava is joined on the juvenile team by winsome Ada Grey — Roberts' daughter — as Adele, Rochester's ward.) Clever double-casting underscores the story's dualism, so for example Mootz also plays brittle and haughty Blanche Ingram, the presumptive fiancee of Rochester, and Joshua Moaney is both Bertha's brother, Richard, whose revelations send Jane out in the cold from Thornfield, and St. John Rivers, the stiff-necked clergyman who gives her shelter. [...]
Meantime, Lifeline's production offers us a "Jane Eyre" that streamlines the complicated plot while still providing compelling glimpses of the psychological demons and moral deformities haunting its lovers. (Kerry Reid)
Showbiz Chicago reviews the production as well although not so positively.
For a classical theatre company celebrating 30 years I found this production (as I do many of Lifeline Theatre’s productions) sloppy in dramaturgical and period details. Most glaring were Jana Anderson’s haphazard costumes (they did not have zippers in 1844 England nor rayon). Men did not wear short sleeve button down shirts either. Jane Erye wore one basic costume with a modern stripe patterned skirt and a leather looking top that had a zipper which was definitely not period. I don’t know if they are trying to be hip and give a modern flair to this Jane Eyre but I found it highly distracting and it took me out of the 1844 English world of the play. If you are going to define an era specifically in the program (which Lifeline does) then set it in the era and be consistent with the details.
This may not bother much of the Chicago theatre-going audience as they have been fed this for years but, through this lack of attention to detail me as an audience member, was never transported to Brontë’s England of 1844. What bothers me even more is that they are teaching young kids about the classics and owe it to them to be historically and dramaturgically accurate. I think too many theatre companies play fast and loose with historical accuracy which makes for sloppy and untruthful theatre.
Lastly I wish to address the pros and cons of blind casting with classic theatre. I will admit that I am not a proponent of it as I believe it is the job of a theatre to establish truth on the stage and transport me into the world of the play and casting is paramount in achieving this. The pros are that it provides some very talented African American actors an opportunity with classic text. And I will commend Lifeline in their handling of this with Jane Eyre; I did not find the blind casting in this production to be that distracting. However I found it jolting when two African American actresses voice their excitement about whether or not another African American actor’s character owns a plantation. I found this in bad taste. They also made the comment on several occasions about how pale and flushed Jane is when the actress is not Caucasian. This is an instance where the script should have been altered to accommodate the casting choices. (James Murray)
It is 'somewhat recommended' by Chicago Critic, which seems to take the middle ground:
I can say that I had some issues with the highly theatrical take on the  19th Century Gothic novel. While the color-blind inter-racial casting works fine, the use of such accurate RP British accents was so dominate that the cast got so overwhelmed with their sounds that their characters came off as period-dressed costumes living in their RP speech at the expense of being believable real characters. Add much screaming and, at times, rapid-fire talking and  many important plot details got lost in the over emotional over-the-top performances. The only natural performance that impressed me came form Anu Bhatt as Jane Eyre. She played the title character with a empathetic, determined and focused persona that nicely made the lonely, damaged soul strive for new life purpose as she struggles to free herself from the ghosts from her past.  Along the way, Jane realizes that her only hope is to find love on her own terms. [...]
In the present Lifeline production of Jane Eyre, the characters came off as unreal, almost caricatures,  that became caught up with the stylized movements and revolving patterns that came off as 1960’s avant-garde theatricality that played as puzzling action that did little for the story and only seemed to be the whim of the director. This sprawling epic didn’t need the frantic movements and the long-wooden slab set that moved often also became a mystery element. Sometimes, in search of a fresh concept, creatives get carried away with the theatrics that renders a distraction from the story being told. That was the case here.
But, intimately, Jane Eyre’s journey toward love and independence reaches as a workable stage event once we get over all the clutter. Fans of Charlotte Brontë will have a challenge with this production.
The Seahawk's number one recommendation for the fall is reading classic novels:
Dracula” by Bram Stoker, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë and “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger are all excellent choices to read this fall. A book you read as an assignment in high school can take on a completely different feeling now that you’re choosing to read it outside of the academic environment. So try curling up with a classic under a throw blanket on a stormy day. Or perhaps try reading while sitting under a tree that’s just started to turn gold and red. You can even carry a book around like an accessory while wearing a button-down sweater and your tortoiseshell-framed glasses, and see how much smarter it makes you feel. (Autumn Rose Rankin)
Speaking of autumn, this Times Higher Education article might be our first sighting of the year of a quote of Emily Brontë's poem 'Fall, leaves, fall'. We are pretty sure it won't be the last.

Global Post (via Reuters) finds a Brontëite in writer Jessie Burton.
Q; Who are your three favorite authors?
A: Of all time? Charlotte Brontë, Hilary Mantel, and Margaret Atwood. (Verity Watkins)
Seven Days goes off on a tangent while reviewing the book Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian.
Caulfield-inflected narrators have not been exactly rare (see CJ Hauser's The From-Aways for another recent spirited Caulfield exemplar). They are legion in young-adult fiction, whether well realized or not — but that is exactly the thing about Holden, isn't it? He's a character whose incarnations always were bound to multiply, his enduring popularity prefigured by his belief, similar to Jane Eyre's, in an audience who will see his actions and rationalizations as making perfect sense, the embodiment of a certain moral integrity widely extinguished from a fallen world. Well, Holden was right. Regardless of whether we conflate him with author J.D. Salinger (tempting but misguided), the number of people who saw themselves in the runaway teen was evinced by the near-constant stream of enraptured pilgrims to Salinger's wooded driveway, minds set aglow by the novel. (J.T. Price)
Flavorwire complains that jealousy and envy just aren't what they used to.
And why is envy so dry these days? It’s a topic that’s had resonance in the history of 19th- and early-20th-century literature — the works of Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth in particular; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; even Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and her specific brutality in depicting the dynamic between Jo and the youngest March, Amy. It’s the driver for so many great literary plots. (Elisabeth Donnelly)
PopMatters lists '12 Essential Songs for the Kate Bush Novice'. You can guess the first one:
1. “Wuthering Heights
(The Kick Inside, 1978)
Bush’s first hit single, “Wuthering Heights“ is an ode to the famous novel of the same name by Emily Brontë. In the BBC documentary, Bush said she got the idea for the song while catching the last five minutes of the 1967 TV series based on the book, in which the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw stood outside the window of Wuthering Heights, begging to be let in. Bush then read the novel to capture the mood of the song. Her efforts, after reportedly only a few hours of writing, earned her a number one hit that stayed at the top of the British charts for almost a month during the spring of 1978. The song takes quotes directly from the novel, including “It’s me, I’m so cold“, and is the first Bush tune to make references to literature, which she does again on later albums. Bush’s haunting vocals float over the twinkling piano and a guitar solo by Ian Bairnson (who worked with Alan Parsons), making the song a splendid example of Bush’s sonic wizardry. (Jennifer Makowsky)
Polskie Radio (Poland) has a podcast by Eryk Ostrowski, author of the controversial book on Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë i jej siostry śpiące. Andra reviews Jane Eyre (in Portuguese).

by Cristina ( at September 18, 2014 11:28 PM

Brontë Society Gazette. Issue 64

The latest issue of The Brontë Society Gazette is now out (Issue 64. September 2014. ISSN 1344-5940).

Letter from the Editor by Helen Krispien
Letter from the Chairman by Sally McDonald, Retiring Chairman,The Brontë Society Council
Members June Weekend 2014
     A transantlantic treat for the annual church service by Christine Went
     Thornton to Haworth Walk by Susan Aykroyd
     A night at The Old White Lion by Sally McDonald
     Excursion to Liverpool by Sally McDonald
Marigold, to his friends by Alexandra Lesley, ALS representative for the Brontë Society Council
Miss Brontë, why don't you ... by Christine Went
Poetry Corner: Emily's Moorland Ghost by Carolyne Van Der Meer; Miscellany of Thoughts on Brontëana by Marilyn Nickelsburg; The Crows by Yvonne THomas
A Bassompierre link restored by Akiko Higuchi
Review of The Professor by Claire Blanchard
Membership News: Brontës in Brussels by Helen MacEwan; Announcement; In Memoriam.
Letter to the Editor: In defence of Heathcliff by Bernice Rippingale
The Merlin by Andy Mydellton
Shirley in context. Nicholas Shrimpton at the Brussels Brontë Group, 29 March 2014 by Charlotte Mathieson
The Brontë Birthplace by Angela Crow-Woods.

by M. ( at September 18, 2014 11:09 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Very lovely day. Up by 6.30. Walk in that most beautiful Park ― 8 to 9. Breakfast. To church in break at 11 ― & back. ― Sitting with Daddy. His picture is very beautiful so far. Lunch. Afterwards, T.F. ― Gordon & I ― walked to Bignor. The Howkins’s house ― no one there ― long long years ago!!!! ― yet how well I remember all. Back by Sutton ― very pleasant walk ― by 5 or 6. & more walking with Daddy (lame,) & T.F. Dinner as yesterday ― only Mrs. T.F. was sill & left the table. Bed 11.30.

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

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

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Death Comes to Pemberley: the coloration of the film

Dear friends and readers,

My proposal has been accepted:

The Eighteenth Century on Film: A proposal for the coming ASECS in March 2015: “What work does a screenplay or shooting script perform?

The argument of my paper will be that using the screenplay or shooting script to close read a film yields far more accurate and instructive information and insight about the film than comparing it directly (as is often done) to its eponymous novel. I will have three examples where the sources (beyond other films and other intertextual references) and types of films are usefully different.

Humming (1)

Humming (2)
Death comes to Pemberley: one of the many scenes in the wood near Pemberley; a group scene (script calls for lines interacting over scenes juxtaposed)

First I’ll present my findings from an analysis of the final shooting script by Juliette Towhidi for P.D. James’s Death comes to Pemberley against the 2013 romantic mystery thriller mini-series. In this first case we have an intermediary novel, P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley, and, as it is close sequel, a specific originating Austen novel (Pride and Prejudice) with its underlying material literally important to the film but strongly changed first by P.D. James and then by Towhidi. We will be able to see three levels of transference: Death Comes to Pemberley, the film from its shooting script; then the shooting script’s transference from Death Comes to Pemberley, the novel, itself a close sequel to Pride and Prejudice in the way the characters are developed from the original novel.


Metropolitan: Individual and group debate over ideas central to this film

The second part of the paper will tell my findings from an analysis of the screenplay for Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. I choose this film because it’s a realistic novel of manners done within 2 hours and there is no intermediary novel. In this second case also the originating novel (Mansfield Park) however recognizable through analogy is far from the literal movie story line and characters and yet is there transformed. I hope to make visible the direct transference which still makes the novel newly available with the contemporary slant of an appropriation. I will bring up Victor Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise briefly as it too has no intermediary novel and yet a recognizable Austen novel as its underlying material (Northanger Abbey). One sparrow does not a summer make so a few comments on this second poetic shooting script is there to make more convincing the perspective and argument I made about a film made directly from a script.

Jonny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley walking away from Emma after a strong spat

Agasin from Emma (2009): after Box Hill, Romola Garai as Emma to Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse: to his query doubting the good time, she says she doesn’t think she’ll do it again soon, as “one can have too much of a good thing …”

If it’s just 15 minutes I keep to a brief coda bring the 2009 heritage mini-series adaptation of Emma by Sandy Welch. (I’ll omit Andrew Davies’s 1995 Emma film; after all it’s been analyzed elsewhere). What I was to show is the shooting script of a mini-series shows how the cyclical nature of such a film changes the novel fundamentally in the way we experience it even if impressionistically viewers and film critics alike talk as if we have a close “faithful” transference.

Ruby in Paradise: New Henry Tilner in Mike McClasin (the 2008 JJFeilds the same type out of Andrew Davies scripts) an environmentalist who has opted out for a time, playing his horn in the wood outside his cabin-house

2008 Northanger Abbey: JJ Fields as Tilney appealing to Catherine Morland his vulnerability

It is still common for film criticism to ignore or not use centrally the screenplay or shooting script for close readings of films. With the popularity of adaptations, increasingly film-makers use sequels of famous books as well as previous film versions as part of their terrain. So, the purpose of my paper is to show how much more effective a study of a film can be if we use the shooting script or screenplay whether there is an intermediary novel, no intermediary novel or just an originating novel. One reason for the use of the novel rather than the screenplay or shooting script is they are often not made available. For Austen films they are more often than many other classic books because she is such a cult figure and attracts respected film-makers. My hope is studies like mine will help lead to more publication of screenplays and shooting scripts which are valuable works of literature in their own right.


by ellenandjim at September 18, 2014 01:34 AM

September 17, 2014


South of Scotland, North of Wuthering Heights

The Huffington Post wonders, 'Why Do Women Read More Novels Than Men?'
In the murky definition where the literary crosses swords with the popular, note the names of these authors: Dickens, Balzac, Brontë, Tolstoy, Lessing, Hemingway, Sands, Eliot, Austen, Proust, Shelly, Faulkner, Joyce, McCullers, Fitzgerald, Cather, Stowe, Wharton, etc. -- some female and some male. Their stories have been told from the point of view of both genders; stories that are about the human species and not confined merely to an isolated gender.
The gender of a novelist is irrelevant to their creativity. The criterion is talent, a mysterious and extraordinary gift that does not discriminate. A talented female author can find her way into the mind and heart of her male characters just as a male writer can do the same with his female characters. If there is some mythical dividing line between the insight, wisdom, and literary skill between men and women, it is not apparent to me. As for the reasons women dominate the reading market or perhaps the writing profession, I don't have the answers -- I can understand economic and opportunity parity, but not intellectual and artistic parity. (Warren Adler)
This made us think of Charlotte Brontë's own words, from an 1849 letter to William Smith Williams.
I am reminded of the 'Economist'. The literary critic of that paper praised the book if written by a man--and pronounced it 'odious' if the work of a woman.
To such critics I would say--'To you I am neither Man nor Woman--I come before you as an Author only--it is the sole standard by which you have a right to judge me--the sole ground on which I accept your judgement'.
The Economist separates what belongs to Scotland from what belongs to the rest of the United Kingdom. So:
A less great Britain loses a quarter of its territory and almost all of its mountains. Scotland lays claim to the ski resorts (and, sadly, a bit more of the rain). It gets some of the oil in the North Sea. But for actors, athletes, tourism and treasure, the kingdom comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland holds a generous lead. Among inventors, Scotland gets John Logie Baird who devised the first television, while England lays rights on Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. The 18th century poet Robert Burns goes north, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontë sisters and others stay south. Among politicians, the Scots can claim Gordon Brown; the rest of Blighty gets Churchill. In music, Annie Lennox and the Bay City Rollers have to hold their own against England’s Bowie, Beatles and Stones. (P.K., D.D.M. and K.N.C)
Bustle also uses a north-south example to explain where actor Charlie Hunman comes from in England:
Not only is Charlie Hunnam a Secret Brit like Andrew Lincoln, Damien Lewis, and Michael Sheen, he comes from a small town in the North of England. He’s from lake country like… north of Yorkshire, meaning north of Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden and Downton Abbey. (Leah Thomas)
Jarvis Cocker scans the letter B in bookshops, but apparently skips the Brontës, as he writes in an article for The Independent:
Whenever I'm in a bookshop, I go to the "B" section and compulsively scan the shelves murmuring "Bradbury… Brontë… Burroughs…' I am, of course, looking for the name Richard Brautigan. I seldom find it. It's a nervous habit that dates back to the time when all his writing was out of print and the only places to find his novels and poetry were second-hand booksellers and charity shops.
The Deccan Chronicle, however, does find a Brontë reader in writer Rasleen Syal.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have grown up reading classics like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, which define love as pure, everlasting and all consuming. With time, I realised that in this age of technology, the old world love has lost its charm. The invariable link-ups, break-ups, betrayals, crumbling marriages, is the truth of today. India has witnessed so many cases of love gone awry, resulting in acid attacks, rapes, murders and other such heinous crimes. My book reflects this techno-crazy society we live in and the sham world of romantic love it endorses. (Garima Nagpal)
Female First interviews another writer: Kate Horsley.
The book has been compared to Jean Rhys and Valerie Martin, so how does this make you feel?
It’s lovely to hear comparisons like that, because I’m a huge fan of Wide Sargasso Sea and Mary Reilly. The former is the classic example of a literary response. Rhys takes a marginal character who is blamed and hidden away in Jane Eyre and pushes her into the centre of the narrative. She rewrites the book from the perspective of the 'madwoman', giving her a story so compelling that it's impossible to go back to the original in the same light. In Mary Reilly, Martin rewrites Jekyll and Hyde from a maidservant's perspective and my novel is very much in that tradition. Like Mary Reilly, Oona is female and working class. She's an intense person, a brave one too, and feels equal to the tasks of tackling the doctor and unraveling the island's mysteries. A lot of the gothic elements of Frankenstein are still there in The Monster's Wife, but I think my focus was on emotion more than on science, psychology more than philosophy. If Rhys's book is told from the perspective of the 'mad', then mine is from the perspective of the 'monsters', people whose experience of illness and disfigurement has made them outcasts. To me the monster and his bride represent everyone who is rejected by society for being different. The so-called 'normal' people are the ones who create all the horror in the book. (Lucy Walton)
Breathless Blog interviews yet another writer, A.J. Llewellyn.
I’m guessing that like most writers you’re also a passionate reader.  What is you favourite book?
Of all time? Oh my goodness, how do I answer that? I’d have to say Jane Eyre. It was the first romance novel I ever read, and I still worship it. [...]
Here’s a nice simple one - your favourite hero and why?
Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. He was so proud and loved her so deeply he was willing to let her go. Sob! And when she did come back and found he was blind, he was humbled by her love. And love gave him his eyesight back. Aaahhh…I love this story. (Domino Lane)
The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses some paper topics:
Back when I was in grad school, though, I found myself going nuts. You want me to write a dissertation on Victorian literature? Just Victorian literature? Why?
I’d just spent five years studying Victorian literature, creative writing, composition and rhetoric, multicultural theory and pedagogy. The idea of suddenly developing a laser-thin focus on some esoteric topic—Brontë’s use of the word “hitherto,” say, or Charles Dickens’s obsession with his sister-in-law’s big toe—seemed peculiar to me. Wasn’t the point of the study of literature to jump from idea to idea, following connections, discovering distinctions, unwinding the strands of thought to see where they took you?
Apparently not. Following the oral defense for my three qualifying exams, I was left standing in the hall for an uncomfortably long period while my three area professors debated with each other. (Paul Hanstedt)
Neil Turner's Blog features the new Brontë Garden at Sowerby Bridge Station.

by Cristina ( at September 17, 2014 08:34 PM

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

Screenshot of Shelley-Godwin Archive manuscript pages

A few of us at the Blake Archive are working on new markup strategies for the infamously difficult Blake manuscript known editorially as Vala, or the Four Zoas. There’s a great (great, great…) deal to be said–and will be said, eventually–about that project specifically, but first a note on some recent collaboration.

Our group was working on some new XML tags for Blake Archive manuscripts to account for FZ‘s multilayered, disparately laid-out composition. Just take a look:

Manuscript of William Blake's Vala, or the Four Zoas

We’re trying to construct a schema that can describe layered revisions in one location without necessarily connecting them to revisions in other areas. Our earliest attempts involve a combination of <stage> and <zone> definitions that Hardeep drafted. Laura then looked for precedent in the use of zone in recent projects.

Here’s where the collaboration comes in. Laura found some excellent examples of <zone> in the Shelley-Godwin Archive‘s markup of the Frankenstein notebooks. We particularly like <zone type=””> attributions, as we’re not sure at this point if we want to encode specific coordinates or link areas conceptually (or both). Either way, looking at the S-G examples helped us understand how <zone> was being used “in the wild” and how we might customize its usage for our project.

Screenshot of Shelley-Godwin Archive manuscript pages

So it struck me that S-G became another partner in our group project simply by making their XML markup easily accessible as a display option on their site. Transparency of technology itself can be collaboration for DH projects, beyond useful content. Of course, “open-source” and “collaboration” are often preached as tenets of practicing DH–and there are ways of revealing digital markup through a variety of web tools–but S-G offers a useful example of how those philosophies can be incorporated into the actual design and function of a digital project.

by Eric Loy at September 17, 2014 06:41 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 7. Fine.

A letter from T. Fairbairn ― they are going off to Rome, & ask me there ˇ[for] tomorrow: all things duly weighed I resolve to go. ―

So I painted a good bit of Sir W. James’s picture, & afterwards of the Jánina somewhat ―― but even now I really half despair of that picture.

Then I wrote to Gussie, Ellen, Mrs. Wyatt ― & F.L.

At 4 ― went to Victoria Station, & at 4.55 ― off ― at Petworth by 6.50. Fairbairns Brougham waiting. Restive horse ― so, walked partly. All very kind & pleasant[.]


Daddy has hurt his leg badly. Evening very cheery & pleasant.

Bed at 11.30[.]

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

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


The Brontë Season

One of the highlights of the Brontë year begins tomorrow, September 17. The West Country-based Live Wire Theatre and Butterfly Psyche Theatre Companies begin a Brontë Season:
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
Adapted by Dougie Blaxland
Directed by Jazz Hazelwood
Starring Alison Campbell

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Adapted by Dougie Blaxland
Directed by Jazz Hazelwood
Starring Alison Campbell and Jeremy Fowlds

Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Adapted by Alison Farina
Directed by Shane Morgan
Starring Madelaine Ryan and Tom Turner.

The theatre performances consist of the three adaptations created to work as a whole. The idea is to feature each of the Brontë sister’s work to show their differences in tone, style, and storytelling as well as support their literary value as individual female writers as well as that of a collective (“The Brontës”).
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 (with breaks, obviously!) at Omnibus Performances on the Saturdays.
More information on The Fine Times Recorder.
Dates and venues:

RONDO THEATRE, BATH: (More info and booking)
Weds 17th Sept: Wuthering Heights
Thurs 18th Sept: Jane Eyre
Fri 19th Sept The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Sat 20th Sept: Wuthering Heights / Jane Eyre / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Weds 24th Sept Wuthering Heights
Thurs 25th Sept: Jane Eyre
Fri 26th Sept: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Sat 27th Sept: Wuthering Heights / Jane Eyre / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

VICTORIA HALL, RADSTOCK: (More info and booking)
Sat 4th Oct: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Wuthering Heights
Sun 5th Oct: Jane Eyre

ARNOS VALE CEMETRY, BRISTOL (More info and booking)
Weds 8th Oct: Jane Eyre
Thurs 9th Oct: Wuthering Heights
Fri 10th Oct: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Sat 11th Oct: Jane Eyre / Wuthering Heights / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

REDMAIDS, BRISTOL (More info and booking)
Weds 22nd Oct: Jane Eyre
Thurs 23rd Oct: Wuthering Heights
Fri 24th Oct: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Sat 25th Oct: Jane Eyre / Wuthering Heights

BARNFIELD, EXETER (More info and booking)
Thurs 30th Oct: Jane Eyre
Friday 31st Oct: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Sat 1st Nov: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Wuthering Heights

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

"Reader, I did not marry him."

Picture source
The Independent (Ireland) reports that,
Five leading Irish authors have put a twist on some of the world's best-known novels to raise awareness of a medical condition that can lead to blindness.[...]
Bestselling authors such as Sheila O'Flanagan, Sinead Moriarty and Colm O'Regan have reworked the endings of famous classic novels for AMD Awareness Week 2014.
Ms O'Flanagan turned 'Jane Eyre' on her head while Ms Moriarty gave 'Little Women' a more satisfactory ending. [...]
Ms O'Flanagan's reimagining of Charlotte Brontë's 'Jane Eyre' was inspired by her first impressions of the book as a younger woman.
"I always felt that it ended badly. I thought that Jane was far too good for Mr Rochester and she should never have married, so in my version she doesn't," she said.
She said she found the task of writing in somebody else's voice a "really interesting challenge".
"It is completely different but it was really enjoyable; hopefully if you read my ending it still sounds like it is the same voice and not like somebody has just tacked on something different." (Michael Staines)
The Irish Times carries the story as well, written by Sheila O'Flanagan herself:
When I first read Jane Eyre I remember disliking the character of Mr Rochester intensely and hoping – despite Jane’s obvious feelings for him – that she’d come to her senses and get over him. He’s vain, arrogant and self-centred (as well as being the kind of man who shut his mad wife away in an attic) and definitely not good enough for Jane.
On re-reading it recently, I took a slightly less belligerent view towards him, but I still thought Jane was far too clever and smart to have spent the rest of her life with him, and I liked having the opportunity to change her story.
She goes on to share her new ending for the novel:
Jane Eyre: Reimagined by Sheila O’Flanagan.
Reader, I did not marry him. I said yes when he asked me but my assent was based on a surfeit of emotion brought on by our conversation. I knew that I had been mistaken in yielding to him. My regard for him remained warm, but I was a very different woman from the Jane who had slipped out of Thornfield Hall on what should have been my wedding night, penniless and bereft.
Then I had nothing except the excessive embarrassment that Mr Rochester had caused me for asking me to be his wife when he had another still living, although quite mad. But he had not seen fit to share that information with me and he had allowed me to think that we would have a happy and lawful life together.
And although I forgave him, because the heart behaves differently to the head and because his circumstances had been changed by the actions of that same wife in nearly burning him to death, I had changed too. When I left, I had neither family nor money. And although I had some fortitude borne from a life first with aunt Reed and then at Lowood School, such fortitude was only augmented by having to sleep in the open air and go without food, but still survive.
And, God giving me reward for such fortitude, also rewarded me by bringing me to my family. There can be no luckier person in her cousins than I. My Maker rewarded me too with my fortune, which every woman knows will make her free.
And so, Reader, I was a free woman with means of her own who had survived an ill-fated start to life and the trials and tribulations visited on me. (Read more)
Lotta Olsson in Dagens Nyheter (Sweden) defends the reinterpretation of the classics:
Man ska absolut omtolka litterära klassiker. Självklart! Annars skulle ju till exempel inte Jean Rhys ”Sargassohavet/Den första hustrun” ha blivit skriven, om den galna kvinnan på vinden i Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”. Det finns massor av begåvade, underbara omtolkningar där man utgår från det litterära verket men vänder på perspektiven. Som Jo Bakers ”Huset Longbourn” som kom på svenska i våras, en version av Jane Austens ”Stolthet och fördom” sedd ur tjänstefolkets synvinkel.
Varken Jean Rhys eller Jo Baker låtsas skriva en spännande fortsättning, och de påstår sig inte skriva som vare sig Charlotte Brontë eller Jane Austen. De skriver som sig själva, och de skriver inte ”Jane Eyre – återkomsten” eller ”Systrarna Bennets senare öden”. Snarare vill de få oss att läsa en redan högt älskad roman med andra ögon. (Translation)
However, a February 18, 1991 article now republished by New Republic argues that, 'You Should Absolutely, Positively Read the Canon in College'.
Your list of classics includes only dead, white males, all tied in to notions and values of Western hegemony. Doesn't this narrow excessively the horizons of education?
All depends on how far forward you go to compose your list of classics. If you do not come closer to the present than the mid-eighteenth century, then of course there will not be many, or even any, women in your roster. If you go past the mid-eighteenth century to reach the present, it's not at all true that only "dead, while males" are to be included. For example—and this must hold for hundreds of other teachers also—I have taught and written about Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Katherine Anne Porter, Doris Lessing, and Flannery O'Connor. I could easily add a comparable list of black writers. Did this, in itself, make me a better teacher? I doubt it. Did it make me a better person? We still lack modes of evaluation subtle enough to say for sure. (Irving Howe
If you want to work out how long reading the canon will take, you may want to take a look at this infographic shared by Bustle.
It also reveals quite a few unexpected details, like the fact that George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is now longer than the Bible, or that Little Women and Jane Eyre are almost the exact same length. (Emma Cueto)
Fast Company takes a look at the 15 most-highlighted passages from classic novels on Kindle. Jane Eyre has made it to number 14 with
"It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.”
Ebook Friendly shares another infographic, this one on the 'love DNA of famous classic novels'.

And more for bookworms, as The Millions has an article by writer Chloe Benjamin 'on fiction and sleep'.
Charlotte Brontë had so powerful an imagination that she referred to her characters as her “inmates.” 
Here's the actual quote she is thinking of. 

A columnist from The Plainsman shares some of the items of her very own  'museum of wonder'.
There are snatches of quotes from great books and lyrics from all the songs I’ve ever heard. There are movie stills and paintings and faces and buildings — Versailles, Harold and Maude, The Clash and Jane Eyre are all on equal footing. (Becky Sheehan)
The Good Men Project mentions seeing Peter McMaster's all-male take on Wuthering Heights. Jessica Rules the Universe posts about Luis Buñuel's film version of the novel. Un libro entre mis manos writes in Spanish about Agnes Grey. 

by Cristina ( at September 17, 2014 01:03 AM

September 16, 2014

The Little Professor

If Social Media Counted Toward Tenure


"Eating Pizza at Giordano's."  Facebook 4.1.2014.  

A five-paragraph review of Giordano's stuffed spinach pizza, accompanied by a high-res photograph of the pizza in various stages of consumption.  The review applies Bourdieu's theories of cultural capital to the act of eating Chicago-style stuffed pizza, a controversial comestible that pizza aficionados insist is obviously inferior to the New York variety.  There are six comments on the review, including one by someone who claims to be Slavoj Zizek (see my "citations" list in Appendix E). 

"Untitled Passive-Aggressive Venting."  Facebook 6.12.2014.

An essay in which I denounce various unnamed members of a prominent academic organization, although while providing enough clues for an attentive reader to identify said individuals.  The essay articulates its critique through a deconstructive rereading of Foucault, productively melded with a Lacanian interrogation of Horkheimer and Adorno.  It has thirty-nine comments and eight shares; it has also been reposted to Tumblr, where it has garnered 531 notes.  One of the unnamed individuals has informed me in private that s/he intends to sue for defamation, which I consider proof of this essay's subversion of sociopolitical boundaries in elite academic circles (see my supporting documents in Appendix G).  

"Untitled Cat Photo Shoot."  Facebook 8.2.2014.

Six high-res photographs of my cat Twinkums, a Siamese-Scottish Fold mix.  The photographs are accompanied by several fragmentary reflections on the role of cats in the construction of postmodern subjectivity, written in a style intended to evoke a combination of T. S. Eliot and Judith Butler.  This post has nine comments and two shares; in addition, one photo of Twinkums lyingin a sunbeam has been reprinted on CuteOverload.


"Untitled tweet on hot fudge sundaes." Twitter 1.3.2014.

A 118-character tweet devoted to a peanut butter and dark chocolate fudge sundae, with the hashtag #OmNomNom.  Part of an extensive discussion devoted to the cultural implications of eating hot fudge sundaes at the MLA instead of going to the cash bars.  This tweet has twelve favorites and thirty-nine retweets, and has recently been linked on Buzzfeed (see "citations" in Appendix E).

"Untitled tweet on television."  Twitter 7.3.2014.

A 39-character tweet in which I insist that serious academics do not watch CSI, with the hashtag #OMGLosers.  A social experiment in which I performed the role of cultural contrarian.  This tweet has eighty-six favorites, ninety-four retweets, and two-hundred-plus responses, including eight responses accusing me of elitism, thirteen insisting that I am a dangerous leftist radical, and four proclaiming me a right-wing fanatic.  The tweet has been the subject of serious discussion in Slate, the Chronicle of HIgher Education, and Reddit (see "citations" in Appendix E). 

"Untitled tweet on The Phantom Menace."  Twitter 10.31.2014.

A 128-character tweet in which I celebrate the radical aesthetics of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with the hashtag #AnakinForever.  Although this tweet has no favorites and no retweets, I have been informed that it will be reprinted in an upcoming book on Star Wars as cultural phenomenon--according to the author, I am the only person to have ever said anything complimentary about this film (see "citations" in Appendix E).  


"Comment on The Hobbit trailer." "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Teaser Trailer."  Youtube 8.3.2014.

A denunciation of Peter Jackson's effects on twenty-first century cinema, with reference to the work of Kracauer.  At the time of writing, it has received sixty-eight downvotes (and is therefore invisible on the page), but the strength of this response testifies to the power of its intervention in popular discourse on the cinema.  

"Comment on Matterhorn POV video." "Super Matterhorn Vid!"  Youtube 9.12.2014.

A critique of the video's insistence that rides at Disneyland are fun, pointing instead to the ride's use of the Yeti as a means of sublating contemporary cultural anxieties about ethical tourism.  Incorporates multiple references to Baudrillard.  At the time of writing, it has received ninety-four downvotes (and is therefore invisible on the page), but has also sparked a serious conversation on academic blogs about whether or not YouTube comments inherently support the status quo (see "citations" in Appendix E).

"Comment on Schoolhouse Rock Mashup."  "Schoolhouse Punk Rocks."  Youtube 11.6.2014.

A lengthy (equivalent to an entry in The Explicator) argument that contemporary transnational appropriations of Schoolhouse Rock enact an urgent critique of English grammar in an age of globalization, with extensive references to Linda Hutcheon.  At the time of writing, it has received three hundred and six downvotes (and is therefore invisible on the page), but it is the subject of articles in Slate, Inside Higher Ed, and the Huffington Post on the possibility of serious theoretical interventions in a medium privileging comments that take the form of acronyms (see "citations" in Appendix E).  


by Miriam Burstein at September 16, 2014 11:48 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The lizard on the door

 photo avenuerapp4.jpg

 photo Jules-Lavirotte-29-Avenue-Rapp-Lizard1.jpg

From 29 Avenue Rapp, Paris, an art nouveau building designed by Jules Lavirotte.

September 16, 2014 07:35 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Illustration Portrait from Reader’s Digest

Just listed at Complete Auctions, original illustration of Carroll from Reader’s Digest. Bid before Thursday and it could be yours!

by Matt at September 16, 2014 07:03 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rainy & dark morning ― afternoon fine.

As might be expected ― a day uneasy. Could not paint.

Passed the morning in arranging drawings in the 4th Cabinet.

At 4 ― walked straight to Holloway ― a queer dreamy duty, ――: Walking on the same side of the road as the house ― it seems all pulled down ― as there is only a row of shops to be seen: but on the other side, you see the upper part is still existing ― only divided into three, the inside windows of the spare; & mother’s room, being cut in half ― quâ stair lights. So ―


So much for Bowman’s Lodge!

Walked back to the Angel, & in a Nomnibus home by 7.

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

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


You on the Moors Now

A Kickstarter project with Brontë-related content you can be interested on. A new theatre play You on The Moors Now by John Kurzynowski

An original Off-Off Broadway play that draws on the works of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Louisa May Alcott.

In a 19th-century world where marriage is the only acceptable path, four women refuse proposals from the men who love them. Why do they do it? What will become of them?
For the past two years, Theater Reconstruction Ensemble has been developing You On The Moors Now, a grand theatrical experiment that draws inspiration from the characters and romantic plots of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Little Women. We're giving these incredible characters the contemporary theatrical life they deserve. After numerous work-in-progress showings and private workshops with the cast and creative team, we are thrilled to announce that You On The Moors Now will premiere February 13th - 28th, 2015 at HERE Arts Center in Lower Manhattan as part of their SubletSeries@HERE.
Your pledge funds the full theatrical production of You On The Moors Now. Pledge now and ensure the growth of one of the most promising and exciting young companies producing work in New York today. Pledge now and become a part of our family of supporters and audience members. Pledge now and join us on the MOORS.

by M. ( at September 16, 2014 01:30 AM

Jane survives

Picture source
The Sheffield Star reports that artist Sarah Sharpe 'has received award-winning recognition at the 2014 Great North Art Show'.
Narrative artist Sarah Sharpe’s exploration of the orphan child Jane Eyre, entitled ‘The Red Room’, has scooped the prestigious ‘best in show’ title.
The Great North Art Show, which is held at Ripon Cathedral, is an annual exhibition of contemporary art featuring the work of around 50 painters, etchers, printmakers and photographers.
Sarah, who is also a long-standing member of Peak District Artisans, said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this recognition for a series of paintings that emerged from a set of etchings which I first created exploring the significance of Jane’s doll.
“This work is my interpretation of a very lonely, motherless child, emotionally neglected, who very much has to rely on her own inner resources to survive.
“Jane does survive, but not without being marked psychologically.”
The judges said the piece was a ‘deeply felt and meditative painting’.
The Great North Art Show runs until September 21.
All the artwork is for sale, and entry is free.
The exhibition is open seven days a week from 9.30am until 4.30pm.
Here's something else you can do not far from there, as read in an article in The Telegraph and Argus.
Visitors and locals can now raise their glasses to a new Ale Trail.
Nearly 30 real-ale pubs across Keighley and the Worth Valley are featured in a guide.
The booklet – produced by Visit Bradford, in association with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – also spotlights breweries, beer festivals and the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. [...]
The Ale Trail guide and map are available from the visitor information centres at Bradford, Saltaire, Ilkley and Haworth, and can be downloaded from [...]
In the section titled Haworth and the Worth Valley, pubs mentioned include the Cross Roads Inn, The Bronte Hotel, Haworth Old Hall, Fleece Inn, Black Bull, Kings Arms, Gascoigne's Haworth Steam Brewery, Old White Lion, Old Sun Hotel, Dog and Gun, Lamb, Bay Horse, Wuthering Heights, Friendly, Old Silent, Grouse Inn, and the Golden Fleece. (Alistair Shand)
A columnist from The Age discusses helping your children with their exams and claims that,
Personally, I feel more comfortable with the novels of Jane Austen, and a good round of symbolism in Wuthering Heights. I am certainly relieved that my own child has chosen English literature for final year. (Margaret McCaffrey)
The Brontë Parsonage Blog has a post on Poet Simon Zonenblick's video on Branwell Brontë, a preview of which was shown yesterday afternoon at Thornton. Finally, an alert from Milford, IN:
North Webster Library - Monday, Sept. 15, followed by R.E.A.D. Book Club, discussing Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, at 5:30 p.m. Lose It @ The Library will also meet at 5:30 p.m. for weigh-in and walking.

by Cristina ( at September 16, 2014 12:17 AM

September 15, 2014

The Floating Academy

title page from 1850 edition of David Copperfield

Review of Leah Price, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain (Princeton University Press, 2012; 350 pp.) Two of my favorite marginalia examples from my local rare book library show annotators doing unexpected things with books, both very much in the spirit of Leah Price’s innovative approach to the topic. In one example […]

by alangaley at September 15, 2014 04:05 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


The reading group on Pseudo/Sciences of the Long Nineteenth Century is a collaborative venture between Newcastle University and the Literary and Philosophical Society. The group is open to scholars, students […]

by Jo Taylor at September 15, 2014 01:05 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Quite fine all day ― but rain from 9 to 11.

Rose at 7. ― Wrote. ―

Worked at the Lady James’s Campagna ― interrupted by Nicòlas’s men bringing home the 4th cabinet.

Worked on ― foreground. At 3 ― T.G. Baring came ― poor dear good Baring: than whom I hardly know a better man.

Worked on till 5.30 ― & placed drawings &c. &c. &c. ― till 7.30[.]


Very pleasant evening.

News of Viscountess Harding’s death. Talk with T.G.B. till 11.30.

Cab home by 12.


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

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


Connell's Jane

New academic year, new guides are published:
The Connell Guide to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre  by Josie Billington (Author), Jolyon Connell (Editor), Katie Sanderson (Editor), Pierre Smith-Khanna (Editor), Paul Woodward (Editor)
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Connell Guides (1 Sep 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1907776175

An instant popular success when first published in 1847, Jane Eyre was everywhere praised for its riveting power. But, says Josie Billington, it is easy to forget just how shocking the novel was to its 19th century readers. One of the most romantic of stories, it also challenges at every turn the stereotypes on which it rests, not simply in having a plain, rebellious heroine and a hero who is neither young nor handsome nor chivalrous, but in the way it suggests sensual love can be a force for good and in its passionate commitment to depicting the struggle of an individual towards fulfillment.

by M. ( at September 15, 2014 01:30 AM

September 14, 2014

The Little Professor

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Wheeldon/Talbot)

I broke my rule about non-business-related travel to trek down to NYC for the National Ballet of Canada's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  (It''s sort of Victorian.  Right?)  When I've discussed Alice before, I've noted that it's unbelievably difficult to adapt: Alice's plotless adventures, in which she stumbles again and again into situations where the characters simply have no interest in her arrival and even less in her departure, work magically on the page but frequently become inert on stage or film.  I've come around to thinking that the most successful "straight" adaptation is Jonathan Miller's relatively short black-and-white version for the BBC (1966), which is all the more eerie because there are no funny animal costumes, no special effects, and no attempt at a plot--just Alice wandering through a landscape populated with genteel Victorians doing utterly bizarre things.  The NBoC's Alice, a joint production with the Royal Ballet (which I'd originally planned on seeing this winter, before I had to reschedule my UK trip), tries to compromise between the novel's seriality and the dramatic demand for a plot.  The plot in question is, not surprisingly, romantic.  In both the Victorian prologue and the dream itself,  Alice falls for Jack/the Knave, who is, of course, on the run due to some misunderstandings about tarts.  This is about it for the romance, which is easy to forget (Alice keeps doing so, so why shouldn't the audience?), and is not helped along by the Knave's utter blankness as a character (and uninteresting choreography, to boot).

Ironically, then, that leaves the serial set pieces, which tend to be far more interesting than the main plot.  The ballet's pacing is somewhat bizarre, and some of the pacing problems are far more evident in the theatre than on video, where editing choices and close-ups accentuate aspects of the choreography or mime that get lost on stage.  This is most obvious in the Hall of Doors sequence and the Caucus Race, both of which are long on film and really, really, really long on stage--one wishes that the axe-wielding Executioner would walk on and perform some impromptu editing.  Then matters (and, at the performance I attended on Saturday evening, the audience) quickly pick up in the eye-poppingly short Act II, with the introduction of the extremely clever Cheshire Cat puppet, a 3D Tenniel sketch animated by multiple dancers, and the Mad Hatter's tap-dancing Tea Party.  (Both scenes garnered the first applause of the evening.)  Finally, Act III has the evening's only taut narrative action, as Alice and the Knave have to deal with the evening's walking ballet parody, the Queen of Hearts.  The Queen's Jam Tart adagio, which, along with the Tea Party, is by now the ballet's best-known scene, had the audience laughing uproariously, but there are certainly more giggles along the way than one might expect from a ballet (Alice trying to reach a doorknob, or experiencing the aftereffects of the Caterpillar's mushroom; the prissy King of Hearts' ineffectual attempts to handle his wife).  

Wheeldon has repeatedly compared this Alice to a musical, and I think that the grumbling about the sometimes minimal choreography misses the point of what he's trying to do here--this is not really targeted at the audience for William Forsythe (let alone Swan Lake), and it does succeed as a show, not least because of some exceptionally beautiful costumes and nifty video projections.  (Until Act III, there's actually not all that much physical set.)  Once we got beyond the interminable Act I, I was definitely enjoying myself.  That being said, as I mentioned before, some of the scenes do work better on video than on stage: this is especially true of "Pig and Pepper" and the moment where things go haywire in the courtroom, both of which look coherent when filmed (thanks to the aforementioned editing) and are incredibly difficult to watch live (where there's no logical place for the audience to focus).  Similarly, unless you know it's there, it's easy to miss the Cook's little love affair with the Executioner.  By contrast, the dance for the Cards in Act III is even more effective live, where you can appreciate the "2D" effect and the geometrical shapes.  In general, the video projections work better in the theater than when they've been mediated by yet another layer of video.  

If you've seen the Royal Ballet's filmed versions, the 2011 DVD and the 2013 live cinema broadcast, then most of the characterizations will be familiar.  At the performance I attended, only two performers reshaped the characters in strikingly different ways from their RB counterparts.  Wheeldon has repeatedly said that he thinks of the Mad Hatter as "demonic," and the RB's original Mad Hatter, Steven McRae (to whom this role is pretty much vacuum-sealed at this point), is all thousand-yard stares, his lips curling into perpetual sneers, scowls, and snarls.  A visitor to the Tea Party might want to watch out when the Hatter gets too near the knives.  McRae also has extremely intense chemistry with his usual March Hare, Ricardo Cervera, which occasionally tips over from buddy-buddy into something slightly homoerotic; in general, his Mad Hatter provides the evening with one of its sharper edges.  By contrast, Robert Stephen dumps the demonism and instead plays the Hatter as a blissful pothead--one does wonder what's in the baked goods--and his affect is less insane and more stoned out of his mind.  His March Hare, Jon Renna, is correspondingly dottier, and the Tea Party trio are overall more overtly comic than at the RB.   (Stephen, unlike McRae, is not a life-trained tap dancer, and he doesn't try to do any of McRae's fancier tricks, but although he seemed to be getting some help from the pit--the Hatter normally provides most of his scene's percussion effects--his tapping was comfortable and clearly articulated.)  Similarly, the RB's original White Rabbit, Edward Watson, is tall, rangy, and more "mature" than most of the other characters, a bundle of nerves about to explode every which way.  Besides the Knave, he's the only character to be consistently interested in (albeit frustrated by) Alice.  Dylan Tedaldi is Watson's physical opposite, small and compactly built, and he's visibly far younger; he was less avuncular guide, more Alice's and the Knave's contemporary, but also more self-assured.  And, quite frankly, much cuter--he looked a bit like a teddy bear, and one did want to give him a hug.      

by Miriam Burstein at September 14, 2014 11:26 PM


Brontë's soap opera

The Telegraph's Fashion section has an article about the designer Sarah Burton:
In her autumn/winter show for Alexander McQueen, Burton set all this to life. 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 characterise the house. There was a sense of romanticism-in-crisis, of the Brontë 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. The dresses came with capes, fur hoods, bell sleeves and delicate, small embroidery, frilled and frayed hemlines.
Also in The Telegraph a story about morning sickness, aka hyperemesis gravidarum:
Sufferers, who typically lose up to five per cent of their body weight (at 16 weeks, first time round, Burner had lost a stone and a half and at term she’d only gained a stone, though in her second pregnancy steroids made her “balloon”), are at increased risk of dehydration and malnutrition, a severe build-up of toxins in the blood and urine and even kidney or heart failure. The condition killed the novelist Charlotte Brontë in 1855. In her letters, she described how she had “strained until my vomit was mixed with blood.” (Julia Llewellyn Smith)
The Raleigh News Observer traces a profile of the Professor Elliot Engel and his English literature lectures:
Elliot Engel spins a tale of England’s Brontë sisters that feels more like a soap opera than a lecture on 19th century literature.
Emily’s long hours staring at drawn window shades. Charlotte’s unfortunate homeliness. Anne’s short career as a governess, ended by her brother’s affair with the child’s mother. Their improbable success as female authors and tragic early deaths.
By the end of the talk last week at N.C. State University, some of the hundreds of freshmen in attendance lined up to buy a $20 DVD of Engel’s lectures – thanks in part to a sales pitch as effective as his talk is engaging. (Marti Maguire)
The Sunday Express interviews the actress Hermione Norris:
The first record I ever bought was… Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. I thought she was magnificent. It was actually a record, too – one of those seven-inch vinyl singles that would scratch if you danced to it – so we’re going back some years. (Rachel Corcoran)
Another cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights was performed at Portmeirion's Festival No 6 in The National Student:
Laid-back vibes with the gypsy jazz of the Gypsies of Bohemia set the day up nicely with swinging versions of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. In the first instance number six throws out an unexpected, and delightful musical highlight. (James Thornbill)
mid day lists several not very well paid actor roles:
When James Howson became the first black actor to be cast in the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (2011), he was commended for his work. But he took home only $13,036 for his role. (Shakti Shetty)
Ohmynews (South Korea) reviews the performances of the Hangzhou Theatre production of Jane Eyre as a Yue Opera at the Sejong Center in Seoul:
지난 9일부터 11일까지 세종문화회관 M시어티에서 공연한 '제인 에어'는 소설을 원작으로 중국에서 제작된 창작 뮤지컬이 국내 첫 선을 보였다는 점이 큰 의미로 다가왔다. 현재 '별에서 온 그대' 등 드라마와 연기자, 드라마세트장 등이 중국 관광객들에게 선풍적인 인기를 끌고 있는 이때, 중국의 뮤지컬의 국내 공연이 앞으로 양국 간 문화예술 교류를 더욱 활발하게 할 것이라는 전망도 나오고 있다.
중국 국가 1급 감독인 왕쇼우잉이 총감독을 맡았고, 왕제난 중국연극원 감독이 연출을 한 대형 창작 뮤지컬 '제인 에어' 공연 마지막 날인 11일 저녁 한국인터넷기자협회 임원과 동료 가족들이 함께 관람을 했다. 전통적인 시나리오 서사구조인 기승전결 구조에다 도입 발단 절정 순을 따랐다. 먼저 뮤지컬 첫 장르 도입(발단)부문을 보면서 언어 문제에 부딪치기도 했다. 모든 출연 배우들의 중국어 대사가 중국어에 익숙하지 않은 나에게 문화적 충격으로 나가왔기 때문이다.
물론 무대 양 옆에는 한국어 자막을 사용한 번역 프로그램이 있었다. 중국 영화는 화면 안에 나타나 그런대로 익숙한 편인데 공연은 번역프로그램이 따로 떨어져 있어 익숙하지 않았다.
차츰 뮤지컬 공연이 절정부분으로 향하면서 주인공과 조연 배우들의 열정적인 연기에 몰입이 됐고, 차츰 번역을 읽고 무대를 보는 것이 자연스레 해 졌다. (김철관) (Translation)
The Buffalo News reviews The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, The Brontës and the Importance of Handbags by Daphne Merkin; The Times interviews the author Jacqueline Wilson who mentions Jane Eyre as one of her heroines; Pusat Sumber Seseri and beckiedoyle post about Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at September 14, 2014 01:38 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Gray early ― then gleamy ― then pouring rain ― from 4 till 9.

Worked at the foreground of Sir W. James’s picture ― having some fresh brambles brought me by the Coopers ― & also some I took from Hackwood. (The Coopers are “joyful,” ― having brought back their recovered little girl.)

Worked till 5 or 6 ― when ἒξ αἰτὶας νεφέλων, σκοτεινήν ἣτο.[1]

No one came. At 8. to E. Drummond’s. My! how it rained!


Remarkably pleasant evening. ― talk of Colenso &c.: ― & later ― & pleasanter, of Greece & Turkey.

Walked home ― by 11.30.

[1] Because of clouds, it became dark (NB).

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

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


A Humble Station

An alert from Thornton for today, September 14:
'Remembering Branwell' event takes place on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 11.30am, South Square Gallery, Thornton BD13 3LD.

The event will preview the film 'A Humble Station' written and narrated by Simon Zonenblick with a discussion and a buffet (£5) For further details call 01274-830788 (Via Brontë Parsonage Facebook Wall)
The film was previously presented in Sowerby Bridge in June and here you can read the description by the author himself:
The evening will also feature a locally-produced film, A Humble Station describing Branwell Brontë’s years in Calderdale, with footage of the local area and thoughts from with local writers and community figures, as well as an interview with Ann Dinsdale, Collections Manager at The Brontë Parsonage, and author of The Brontës at Haworth. Produced and filmed by photographer and cinematographer Darren Fleming, with a specially written score by Isolde Davey, the film will shine a light on the two influential years in Branwell’s life when, attempting to establish himself in poetry and painting, he worked in the railway stations at Sowerby Bridge and Luddendenfoot. The film includes Branwell’s paintings and excerpts of his poetry, as well as an exclusive musical setting of one of his poems. Written and narrated by myself, A Humble Station? is very much a Sowerby Bridge film and brings to life one of the area’s more unsung residents. I told the Halifax Courier that “The sad story of Branwell’s eventual decline is well documented - but I want to look at Branwell’s many strengths and skills, and in particular the influence of the Calder Valley on his poetry and art.” With this short film, which features interviews and readings from poets Freda Davis, Gaia Holmes and Genevieve Walsh, local writer Jean Illingworth, historian David Cant, artist Richard Gray and many more, viewers are invited to come and learn something more about the much-maligned brother to Yorkshire's favourite literary sisters and discover his links to the area.

by M. ( at September 14, 2014 03:48 AM

William Morris Unbound

Go for it, Scotland!

‘We discourage centralisation all we can’ declares old Hammond in News from Nowhere (ch.X), a statement which we may take as giving his positive endorsement to the current Scottish independence campaign. As the Westminster, banking and business establishments go into panic mode in the final days before the referendum, what is at stake in all the turmoil?

Of course, Scotland will not get socialism if it votes ‘yes’ next Thursday, but it will think at least some new political thoughts (booting UK nuclear weapons out of the country, for one). And new thought is ultimately what this campaign has been all about. Live without ideas, the neo-liberal establishment tells us all; just get on with your shopping, for docile consumerism is life. Never mind grotesque and growing levels of inequality, the accelerating trashing of nature all around you, or US and NATO military adventurism across the globe – just go to Sainsburys or Topshop and get on with it.

So we must hope that Scotland holds its courage and lives up to the recent YouGov poll that gave a one per cent lead for the independence campaign. If it does so, it will have shown us what life lived in the light of an Idea looks like, even if, as I concede, this is not a socialist Idea as such. And that example will mobilise others, stirring us from consumerist slumbers into becoming militants of utopian Ideas of other kinds. So, invoking the memory of my beloved Auntie Edna from Aberdeen (pictured below, circa 1985) as well as Morris’s old Hammond, I heartily say: go for it, Scotland.

by Tony Pinkney ( at September 14, 2014 02:51 AM

September 13, 2014


Mr Rochester and Mr de Winter are still not talking

Melissa Coburn imagines a conversation between some literature leading men in the Brisbane Times:
I turn again in this cosy saloon of mine and heave an inward sigh. Mr Rochester and Mr de Winter are still not talking. Dark scowls mark their features. Brooding, they sit in silence, lost in thought. I see the problem, of course. The most innocent social inquiries are likely to lead by one route or another to Mr Rochester's wife up there on the third storey of Thornfield Hall, in that room without windows whose entrance is so carefully concealed behind the tapestry wall hangings. Casual inquiries of Mr de Winter may lead to his wife, the beautiful and cruel Rebecca, condemned to a watery grave in her scuttled boat. Definite conversation dampeners. Even a discussion about property, comparing the dimensions of Thornfield Hall and Manderley, the number of bedrooms, the quality of the gardens, is not entirely without risk. They are impressive properties, yes, but hardly cosy, not when one must resist the impulse to check under the bed and in the cupboard before going to sleep. I really can't blame Jane Eyre for running away and poor Mrs de Winter, Wife Number Two, whose name we never learn, if only she knew what fate awaits her in Susan Hill's sequel, Mrs de Winter, she would be well advised to do the same. But this is a social gathering and I am the hostess, so I keep my thoughts to myself as I move among my guests.
Cape Cod Times vindicates the author Mercy Otis Warren:
Local historian Marion Vuilleumier wrote that “she had to write under a pen name in the beginning because women weren’t supposed to be writers.” So long before George Eliot and the Brontë sisters, Mercy Otis was forced to mask her femininity in order to get her message across to a wider audience. (Robin Smith-Jones)
A Wuthering Heights vindication from the heart of Africa. In The Daily Nation (Kenya):
If there is a book that is timeless, then Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is it.
The dislike for one another, the waiting until that opportune moment that it becomes optimal to hit back, the calculations, the threats and the supposed sweet revenge (even in death) that turns out to be misplaced elation and imagined victory is all very much alive in society today.
We despise rude people, arrogant persons, leaders in the other camp, our institutions, the other tribe, our polity and just about anything that seems to stand in our way of growth.
Seen how we (young and old) enjoy video games? Especially the violent ones where we vaporise — with machine gun fire — that which comes at us?
No book captures the universality of man’s vengefulness than this particular Victorian novella.
The we-versus-them or the me and them way of living.
The book, which took the author just under 12 months to pen (October 1945 to June 1946), was published posthumously in 1947. (Anthony Wesonga)
NME asks Anna Calvi how she'd celebrate if she won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for her album One Breath:
Asked how she’d celebrate if she won, Calvi said: “I’d try singing karaoke for the first time. I’ve never done it before, and it would be an apt time to try. I’d sing ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush, it seems appropriate.” (John Earls)
Elegance of Fashion reviews Jane Eyre 2006; auditions for a Jane Eyre. The Musical production at The Arts Centre Telford, Shropshire.

by M. ( at September 13, 2014 12:53 PM