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Friday, July 29, 2005

Rose Ann's Grave

Grave of first cousin to the Brontes found in Yorkshire.

The umlauts will not work today.

Richard Wilcocks recently shared some very interesting news about a relative of the Brontes that I have not heard very much about at all: Rose Ann Heslip. Mr. Wilcocks's post can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BRONTE/message/17727 although you will not be able to view it without a membership at the yahoo group, I believe. He posted some material which will eventually be on the front page of the Bronte Gazette for September. Here are some excerpts:

Rose Ann's mother was Sarah Bronte who was the only sister of Rev Patrick Bronte to marry. Sarah married a Simon Collins and had ten children. Rose Annwas the only one to marry and carry on the line. Rose Ann was the niece ofPatrick Bronte and his children's cousin, yet they never met. CharlotteBronte once mentioned an 'Aunt Collins' to Ellen Nussey of whom she said 'sheknew little to her regret'. That was long before Rose Ann came to live in theSpen Valley, West Yorkshire.


The story of how Rose Ann was found by the literary world is one worthy of theBrontes. A Dr William Wright wrote an article entitled The Brontës in Irelandin McClures Magazine, extracts from which were published in the Bradford DailyTelegraph. Rose Ann read them and was very displeased, thinking that certainparts were deeply insulting to her family, so she sent her son-in-law down toLondon to seek out the author. This led to a newspaper interview with Rose Annwho until then was quite unknown. Dr Wright visited her at home, where she toldhim what she thought of his writings about her family in no uncertain terms. Hethen changed what he had written in the second edition of his book.

Rose Ann visited Haworth for the first time on the fourth of November 1893through the kindness of Dr Wright. Haworth church was open for the party tolook around. The church warden commented to the family on the likeness of RoseAnn to Charlotte Bronte, her cousin. She was taken to the Black Bull wherelike so many visitors she sat in the chair in which her cousin Branwell Bronte used to sit. There was no evidence that she visited the Parsonage.

I hope I will be able to read the full article when it comes out in the Gazette! I don't how to get a copy of it, but I would like to know more about the relatives of Patrick Bronte.

Above: Rose Ann's Grave Churchwarden Joan Pinder with grave of Patrick Brontë's niece Rose Ann Heslip in Cleckheaton

Buzz, buzz!

News, news! Lots and lots of news... Firstly, the home of Ellen Nussey, Charlotte's close friend, is up for sale. Pity I have barely enough to cover my textbooks for next semester, and really can't afford to live there. But we can all check out the link for free, and be jealous: http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=55&ArticleID=1093385

Also, it appears that July is international Read Villette month, or something. A surprising number of my friends are reading Villette right now. It's very surprising! Once again, I am glad there is such a thing as the internet... None of my friends in town have even read Jane Eyre. The other day I managed to get my mother to read some of Villette. She has not read a word of Jane Eyre. We were talking about how she used to live off of her reading, and I remarked that she didn't read at all anymore, and handed her one of my antique editions of Villette from the 20s.

"What's this?" she said.
"My second favourite book."
"It's French!"
"...Not all of it!"

And that was the end of that. But she read some of it! That's... progress.

One last word- it seems that the Radio JE post has posted correctly, but the one after that was erased entirely! I can't explain it, but that worries me. I still haven't mastered blogger. Well, I am extremely tired, and so I will leave you. Now, go and read Villette while there is still time!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Oh dear, I lost my blogger password. I should try to be less clever in future. ;)

So, as you can see from the title of this post, I intend to say a few words about a radio broadcast of Jane Eyre. I really don't know very much about this particular one, since it has only just come my way via a new friend from Brazil (the internet is a wonderful thing sometimes!). I will soon try to write up a complete cast list, and post it here, but so far I know that the leads are Meg Wynn Owen (also credited as Megwynn Owen, according to imdb.com), and Patrick Allen- a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I can only guess that it is a BBC production because nowhere does the announcer say who produced it. The adapter was Barbara Cooper, I think. (I will verify this later).

I know it is late, and perhaps I should wait to discuss this, but it has been so long since I updated Brontëana...

In short, I am very impressed with this production. The entire cast is superbe, and the abridgement is cleverly done, retaining much of the artistry of the text. I believe that a good adaptation should do this, but an excellent adaptation has to go beyond simply repackaging the text. An excellent adaptation will encourage the viewer to see the text differently. Okay, so perhaps I am being too intellectual. I do enjoy some adaptations which are simply good fun and are otherwise not very insightful, but I get far more satisfaction from adaptations which make me want to re-read the original novel.

Only two adaptations have had this effect upon me. The first was the version with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, already mentioned below. Eventually I shall properly speak of it, in all of its glory, but not now. ;) This radio production has had the same effect. Like many of my fellow readers, I have found the chapters featuring St.John Rivers to be difficult to focus on. I still do not know why that was, but I have undergone a change now. The actor playing St.John is this adaptation does a marvelous job with the role. I have always found St.John to be terrifying, and here he is, capable of 'killing [Jane] without extracting a drop of [her] blood' or staining his 'crystal conscience' with guilt.

I listened to that episode many times over. And then, I smothered chapter 35 in annotations! A whole new appreciation for this section of the novel has been opened to me, thanks to a radio program. I also want to write another paper (which is not what I should be doing right now but it already has a title, so I suppose I'll just have to write it :-\ ).

I know some of my readers have heard it as well. What are your thoughts on it? Did it make you see the novel differently as well?

Lastly, while looking through the catalogue at http://www.amazon.com, I came across this book on Brontë studies, due to be released not long from now. Reading the Brontë Body. It is about illness, disease, and 19th century medical practices. I'm not sure how much of it delves into the texts, the lives of the Brontës, their society, or the interplay of all of the above. It seems weighted towards the societal context of the Brontës. I suppose we will just have to wait and see! :)

Monday, July 11, 2005

I've been so busy lately- all in a good cause I assure you. Blogger is doing strange things this evening and will not allow me paragraphs or umlauts. I am most seriously displeased (well, I have learned something from Miss Austen ;) So- What have I been up to? I've been reading a lot of essays on the Brontes, including the selections I have of 'Myths of Power' by Terry Eagleton. He makes some valid points, but the absurd things he says distract me, and in no small measure annoy me... especially how he hates Charlotte Bronte. Now, it's fine to say that in some particular way she doesn't live up to your standards. And it's okay to say that her sisters were better writers... if you must (but really, what is the purpose of ranking them in that way?). But, please, when you are supposed to be talking about Anne, or Emily, don't suddenly break in with the Charlotte bashing. I'm pretty sure that my indignation is not only the result of the fact that I ADORE Charlotte's work. I am not unreasonable, but it is simply bad critical practice. That is my major objection to this piece. The second is that his arguments about Charlotte are so unsubstantiated as well. He completely fails to prove to me that Anne's religious characters are humble while Charlotte's are self-agrandising. I see no such indications of self-agrandisement in the text. If he reads the text and envisions Jane, truly, gloating in her mind about the misfortunes of the Reeds he is free to do so, but if he expects me to accept it as part of his argument he had better prove it to me. I have so much more to say, but the lack of proper paragraphs is driving me crazy! I meant this to be far more coherent. I blame the heat.

Friday, July 08, 2005

This post is utter silliness.

...Where do I start? Well, something ordinary, I think. I finally figured out how to create a links list on this blog by stealing the codes from my good friend, Glaukopidos! ha ha! And so, now you can find the best Bronte related links that I have stumbled upon, on the left. The umlauts are not working today. I am very sorry for that.

Last Christmas my sister sent me a gift certificate for a website where you can download audiobooks. After a friend recommended the Emma Fielding audiobook of Jane Eyre, I bought that one, as well as their unabridged Pride and Prejudice. I have been having a really tought time appreciating Miss Austen. I have never liked Neo-Classicism in any form. And yes, I know that I am a Classicist- but shut up. I don't like it. It's not the same thing as Classicism. I wanted to tear my hair out while reading Emma, and even with this very good audiobook of P&P I still not only fell asleep several times, but I also zoned out, and once I caught myself reading Jane Eyre. I kid you not. I keep it close by me, and I must have sought it out for comfort.

Anyway, several of my friends who appreciate Austen's works told me that it might be a good idea for me to see the A&E adaptation first. I did. And it was very good. It did help me to stay focussed, I think, but when I came to the scene where Mr.Darcy and Elizabeth meet suddenly at Pemberley, I couldn't help but notice that he had not been swimming in a pond a few minutes earlier. While I was telling my friends my feelings about this, I remembered something. I remember how odd it seemed to me that Austen would include such a scene. It seemed like something Charlotte might do- I mused. And then I realised that she had.

Several times.

4 times, if I remember correctly.

Mr Rochester gets soaked 4 times in Jane Eyre: once when Jane so liberally baptises him in bed, once when he and Jane are caught in the rain after the proposal under the Chestnut tree, once while he is riding home in a storm, and once while he stands outside of Ferndean! I really have been ruined by my education... all I could think about was whether or not this solved a sticky point in one of my papers on the novel. *sigh*

"In the name of all the elves in Christendom..."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

'Dear Charlotte...'

I did not feel like posting today, after the horrible attacks in London. My personal thoughts have already been shared, and now it is time for me to try diverting the thoughts of my friends. And so, I've decided to go ahead with this post- which I have been planning since last night, when I first stumbled upon this.

I wanted to see if my blog would be found through keyword searches, and found that it is not yet. But I did find something very interesting- a play called 'Dear Charlotte'. The main website can be found here: http://www.dearcharlotte.com/index1.html I had come across one other play about the lives of the Brontës (behold! There are umlauts! :D ) but something about it had left me cold. I can't remember what it was exactly- and I never got to see the play. Really, this play sounds like just the sort of thing I would enjoy.

"Dear Charlotte weaves the biography and writings of Victorian author Charlotte Brontë into imagery, movement and drama, telling both the story of a woman finding her voice; and also how the world of imagination can save a life from the confines of repression, grief and hardship."

I really enjoy theatre, especially when it involves more than the usual arts of acting and the voice. It sounds like it could be a very interesting production! But... as you know, I must have the absurd too:

"Charlotte literally stuffs her imagination - the person of an androgynous character from her stories named Zamorna - into a trunk, silencing her writing altogether...Charlotte hits on her great project: to recreate the conventional romantic heroine in her own image. "I will show you a heroine as small and as plain as myself who shall be as interesting as any of yours," she says as Zamorna reappears, transformed now into a young governess, a Jane Eyre to come."

Now, did I read that correctly? ...Zamorna... transforms into... Jane Eyre. I have got to see this play! Also, I would really love to see Charlotte trying to stuff the Duke into a hamper!!!
Duke of Zamorna is Jane Eyre?

I am still reading on... there's also some slapstick. Brontean slapstick?! FABULOUS!!

"Dear Charlotte moves through moments of chorally spoken poetry, movement sequences, dramatic scenes and slapstick farce, punctuated by poetic stage imagery such as falling cascades of paper, or books which emit rays of light when opened."

Hmmm... Those books remind me of the giant death ray cookie tin that they had at the art gallery a few years ago. It was a big metal tin with a laser inside. I was approaching to get a better look when my friend ran across the room shouting "nooooooooo!" and shoved me aside. Books don't generally have the same special effects- theirs are much sweeter and less disco-tastic.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

At last! The idea for this blog, a blog about the Brontes (and I learn now that my settings will not allow umlauts- ;) had been in my thoughts for a few weeks. What will I write about? I have no idea, but my personal blog is so full of posts about the Brontes that this really seems like a small step to take. I will find something to talk about, I'm sure!

Today, for example, is a special day. Thisbeciel- a good friend of mine, and fellow Bronte enthusiast, has just recieved her 1 000th hit at her website. This website is dedicated to the 1973 BBC adaptation of Charlotte's Jane Eyre. http://www.geocities.com/thisbeciel/janeeyre.html

I only came across this version last year, after a visit to http://www.imdb.com . After doing a search for Jane Eyre I discovered that there was a message board on that website devoted to this mini-series. It was there that I met someone who was kind enough to send me a copy of a recording she had made when it aired 20 some odd years ago. I took in all of the praise that was heaped on it by those at the board, and was excited but skeptical about what would arrive shortly. I had already seen all of the films of Jane Eyre as well as a production of the Gordon/Caird musical.

My first reaction was shock. Pleasure followed, and what I can only describe as bliss. When I say that my reaction was shock, I am not exaggerating because at one point I noticed that my mouth was open in shock at what I was seeing. I cannot say enough about the performances of Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, and so I will leave that for another time. But I will say, I am still astonished that the BBC have not released it. I cannot understand it. Not only is the acting of the leads as well as the supporting cast is superb, the screenplay is also excellent. It has a power over those who see it- as is attested by fans of the series who have last seen it 30 years ago but still remember being so moved that they long to see it again.

One last note- I think that there has not been any recognition of this series by those journals compiling adaptations of the Brontes' works. I recently bought a copy of the 3rd Norton Critical Edition of Jane Eyre (edited by Richard J. Dunn) which has an excellent article on adaptations- "The Pleasure of Intertextuality: Reading Jane Eyre Television and Film Adaptations" by Donna Marie Nudd. It states, however, that there has only been one version produced which includes the Gypsy scene. Not so. The scene appears in the 1983 BBC adaptation (with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton in the leads) but it is also in the 1973 adaptation. Here's evidence enough, I think:

Michael Jayston as Mr. Rochester

There, I knew I would find something to say! :D Congradulations, Thisbeciel! ...And BBC? ...Release the 1973 Jane Eyre! (Don't make me gather my friends and start picketting- we already have our catchy war cry).