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Saturday, July 29, 2006

More News on Biopic 'Bronte'

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At last we have some idea of what this long- very, very long-awaited biopic of the Bronte Sisters will look like thanks to this article from the Observer:

Among the Morris dancers and Bronte tea towels, there is little today in the Yorkshire village of Haworth to dispel romantic images of Charlotte, Emily and Anne strolling on sunlit moors, gaining inspiration for tales that would one day busy the costume drama industry.
It is harder to imagine dungheaps and foul drains, the open sewer in the street and the cholera and typhoid that killed most children before their sixth birthday. It is this dark vision of Bronte country that will be evoked in the first major British biopic of the literary household.
Bronte, likely to be filmed from October in a Yorkshire village that has yet to be chosen, will not replace chocolate-box images with black clouds and tragedy. The £6 million movie will argue that what the sisters achieved in spite of the death and disease was a miracle of imagination and nothing short of heroic.

Charlotte, best known for Jane Eyre, will be played by Michelle Williams, the American actress who starred alongside her partner, Heath Ledger, in Brokeback Mountain. The role of Emily, author of Wuthering Heights, has gone to Nathalie Press, who appeared in the recent BBC adaptation of Bleak House and the critically acclaimed film My Summer of Love. Anne, who with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall never matched the literary reputation of her siblings, will be portrayed by New Zealander Emily Barclay, who was in the film In My Father's Den.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, seen opposite Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen's Match Point, plays Branwell, a failed artist who turned to alcohol and opium, while Ben Chaplin plays the Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls, who married Charlotte nine months before her death. Brian Cox, the veteran film actor currently appearing in Tom Stoppard's Rock 'N' Roll on the London stage, plays the family patriarch, the Irish-born Rev Patrick Bronte, who outlived all his offspring.
The film seems to be a safe bet for producer AMC Pictures because of the world's seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Bronte.

'There was terrible disease in the town and burials in the ground around the Brontes every day,' said Angela Workman, the film's writer and director. 'Yet within this trauma they created and turned it into a heat and a life force.'


'There's a fear of telling this story because there's a fear it will be too depressing,' added Workman. 'There was great tragedy in their lives and they died young, but the lifespan for women in that region at that time was 25, and it occurred to me that the Brontes lived beyond that. For me, the story is about the way they defied death and created.'

From the suppressed emotion between Jane and Mr Rochester to the wild passion of Heathcliff and Cathy, many readers have speculated on the Victorian writers' sexual lives. Workman, a Canadian of British descent who spent four months researching at Haworth, said: 'Everyone talks about how passionate the books are. I think writing became an outlet for them. That will be in the film: a sexuality that emerges out of them in the way it does for people who can't express it, who are physical and temperamental. It comes out in their fantasies as they're playing, in the dirt, wind, rain, cold.'

Brian Cox said of his character, Patrick: 'He lived until his eighties and saw them all off - he was an extraordinary man. Haworth was one of the wettest places in the world: they were living in a permanent state of damp and were doomed from the start.'

ETA: The imdb.com page for 'Bronte' .

Confirmation of Jane Eyre on PBS

From today's press release from PBS, we have confirmation of our earlier information that the BBC's new mini series of Jane Eyre will appear on Masterpiece Theatre in January 2007:

MASTERPIECE THEATRE "Jane Eyre" (two two-hour programs, January 2007) A new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's beloved gothic novel about the passionate courtship between a governess and her tortured master. Directed by Susanna White ("Bleak House"), the cast includes Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) and newcomer Ruth Wilson as the young and grown Jane respectively, and Toby Stephens (son of Maggie Smith; The Queen's Sister, Cambridge Spies) as Mr. Rochester.

Apparently some readers feared it would take years for the series to reach the US. You can all rest easy now. This synopsis gives me a new sense of pity for Toby Stephens. His first credit to his name is that his mother is Maggie Smith? And each interview I have found so far concerning this project has had much to say about the size of his sideburns (another reference to the man's sideburns. In fact, none of the interviews I have about his part in the series do not mention them). Poor man.

Photo is of Cosima Littlewood as Adele in the new BBC production of Jane Eyre.

In Which the Brontesque Returns with a Vengence

In the course of keeping this blog I have come across a huge number of films, books and and 'other' which are branded 'Bronte' or rather 'Bronte-like.' Things have been quiet for some time, but now Brontesque has broken out again. I am a little confused about this pair of Bronte references in a book review for Kept: A Comedy of Sex and Manners by Y. Euny Hong. The book is described thus:

The trouble with the aristocracy these days is that they just don't sell as well as celebrities. With only middling beauty and brains, staggering debt, and a marked disdain for reputable employment, Judith "Jude" Lee—a descendent of Korean royalty with an utterly bourgeois fixation on class—is finally forced to turn herself over to a madam so upscale she makes Heidi Fleiss look untouchable.

And now, the Bronte references:

The secret, it turns out, to surviving in a city full of beauties and brains but few graces is a surfeit of sitcom-ready charm. This, for Jude, comes second nature, if not from her royal ancestors then from the ones she name-drops with far greater frequency—Becky Sharpe, Elizabeth Bennet, and Jane Eyre, and all the rest of those proto-capitalist players. With a flawless ear for hyperliterate one-liners ("Jung's unchecked early years had made her untamed and feral, like a female Heathcliff") and a sharp eye for a good deal (the adorable Kasporov double she chooses), Jude overcomes at least two dozen plot-breakers, easy as starving a peasant.

I am just trying to imagine someone who is at once like Becky Sharpe, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre and Heathcliff... The Amazon.com summary is far more comprehensible.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Quint and Nola in Wuthering Heights

Biedroneczka has found a site where you can view the Wuthering Heights fantasy of Nola. We saw Nola's Jane Eyre fantasy earlier this week. Here's the synopsis for both:

Nola was well known for her movie fantasies. In one of them, she dreamt she was Cathy to Quint's Heathcliffe from the movie "Wuthering Heights" based on the novel by Emily Bronte. While Nola was in the hospital after giving birth prematurely to her daughter Kelly Louise (name later changed to Anastasia Louise), Quint brought Nola a bouquet of heather. Nola found this gesture to be very romantic, thus triggering her fantasy, as heather was significant in the movie. All the movie fantasies were beautifully performed by the actors. This particular video is included because it is exceptionally romantic and the actors look especially beautiful and the angles are flattering. Also heather was a significant symbol for Quint and Nola's romance that was used repeatedly up through their honeymoon. Sadly after that, the powers-that-be seemed to forget about the significance and Quint never presented Nola with heather again.

Jane Eyre (Dec, 1981):
Nola's first romantic fantasy about her future husband, she dreams that Quinton wants to make her mistress of the manor.

You can watch the Jane Eyre fantasy here.

All pictures are courtesy of www.quintnola.com

Bronte News

Jane Eyre: The Musical will be playing at the Edmonton Fringe Festival:

The festival contains a few small changes. The Fringe Website (www.fringetheatreadventures.ca) will have a page where patrons can review the shows they've seen - complete with a five-star rating system. Pre-seating is also being offered to patrons with reduced mobility.
Hi Yo Fringe - Away! runs Aug. 17-27 in and around Old Strathcona. The Performers' Parade is at 7 p.m. Aug. 18; opening ceremonies are at 7:30 that same night in McIntyre Park.
Advance tickets go on sale Aug. 10.
For more information, check www.fringetheatreadventures.ca or call the festival information hotline at 448-9000.

Our list of other upcoming productions of Jane Eyre: The Musical can be read here.

And we have a compendium of views on the gendered education issue which seems to have taken Jane Eyre in its teeth once again:

“Why would any self-respecting boy want to attend one of America’s increasingly feminized universities?” asks George Gilder in National Review. “Most of these institutions have flounced through the last forty years fashioning a fluffy pink playpen of feminist studies and agitprop ‘herstory,’ taught amid a green goo of eco-motherism and anti-industrial phobia.” Christina Hoff Sommers, another conservative scholar who has hyped the “boy crisis” for half a decade now, chimes in as well and blames anti-boy feminists, who believe that “so-called male behaviors – roughhousing and aggressive competition – are not natural but artifacts of culture.” Her solution? Enforce discipline; stop making boys read Jane Eyre; and if they “don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about their feelings,” let them be!

While I fail to see the connection between Jane Eyre and a decrease in aggression, I do feel a little less placid after reading this paragraph.

PBS to Carry Jane Eyre in 2007

As previously reported, the new BBC Jane Eyre will air in the US. Now we have more details regarding the schedule. According to Chrom.com, PBS will air the four-part Jane Eyre mini-series in January of 2007, just as I had surmised- which is nice to know. What's even better, my birthday is in January so now not only can I plead that I won't be needing the residence TV for anything else the whole year, and that I've been keeping this blog for ever so long... but it's my birthday!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Correction on Preview of Jane Eyre

In this previous Bronteana post, I reported that the leads from the BBC's new production of Jane Eyre would be present at the British Film Institute screening. Diederick Santer, producer of Jane Eyre, has written to inform me that they cannot be precise about which actors or members of the production team will in fact be present. At this point, the most definite statement that can be made is that: 'the screening will be followed by an onstage Q&A with key members of the cast and production team.' I apologise for any confusion I might have caused.

He also writes that post-production is going very well:

You'll be pleased to hear the post-production is going very well, and I hope there will be plenty to delight, surprise and stimulate Bronte fans and those who are new to the book when the show is transmitted on BBC 1 in the autumn.

And I am very sure that there will be- especially given what we have already seen!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Confirmation on Preview of Jane Eyre

Richard Wilcocks, recently elected chairman in council of the Bronte Society and editor of the Bronte Parsonage Blog has confirmation of our news from earlier this week that there will be a special preview of the first two episodes of the BBC's new production of Jane Eyre at the National Film Theatre in London:

Thanks to the British Film Institute for providing the information that there will be a special preview of the first two parts of the new BBC Jane Eyre on Saturday 16 September, beginning at 5.50pm.

This does not yet appear in their publicity (www.bfi.org.uk) so it might be wise to check the time nearer the date.

Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens and other cast members are booked to be on stage after the showing. Try getting hold of your tickets early. The BFI box office number is 020 7928 3232

So, does any kind soul out there in the UK want to do some reporting for a poor Canadian blogger?

ETA: CORRECTION: At this point there has been no confirmation on which cast members are booked for the screening at the British Film Institute.

Filming of New Jane Eyre at Haddon Hall

Well, this spring we had tips and even an on the ground report of the filming going on at Haddon Hall- the location for Thornfield Hall in the BBC's new 4-part mini-series of Jane Eyre with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. After combing message boards today, I came across these photos taken in April while filming was about to begin at the hall. These gorgeous photos taken by NickyG:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Jane Eyre 1973 Available from Netflix

You can now rent the BBC mini series with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston from Netflix.

This BBC adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel stars Sorcha Cusack as the plucky Jane Eyre, an orphan who muddles through harsh conditions to find love in the arms of her moody employer (Michael Jayston). After being raised by an abusive aunt, young Jane survives six years in a strict, humorless school and later becomes a governess. But within the walls of her new home at Thornfield Hall, a strange and terrible secret lies in wait.

I highly recomend it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

London Screening for New BBC Jane Eyre

The following information is currently unconfirmed. An anonymous Bronteana reader sends us this tip that the BBC's new Jane Eyre, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens will have a screening at the National Film Theatre, London on September 16th, 2006. The first two hours of the production, which we hear is 4 hours long, will be shown at the theatre followed by a question period with the members of the cast and production team. I have been unable to confirm this in any way, the NFT's September schedule has yet to be posted online. I will keep an eye out for any further references to it.

Thanks, anonymous and bluebell!

ETA: Also, more news on the new Thursday Next novel, here.

Quint and Nola!

Ages ago I posted a little bit on the Bronte fantasies that appeared in the 1980s soap opera Guiding Light. Slightly before my time, but apparently Nola was fond of literary daydreams. In this clip she has cast herself and Quint as Jane and Rochester. She also had a Wuthering Heights fantasy about Quint. Hopefully a clip of that will turn up as well.

Someone has taken the trouble to make a clip of a fake silent film of Jane Eyre. It's very cute. The music makes me envision St.John Rivers tying Jane to some railroad tracks until Mr Rochester rides up on Mesrour to save her. Actually, in one of my favourite musical JE clips (from the York/Williams production) the background music sounds precisely like something Snively Whiplash would have in his scenes! And it was the scene when Mr Rochester was trying to convince Jane to stay with him- which was superbly acted but... the music.

Bronte-Lite News: New Thursday Next Novel?

There isn't a whole lot on the wire this weekend, I'm afraid. And thus, 'Bronte-Lite.' Last week Bronteana reader Pennyforyourdreams informed us that Jasper Fforde has a fifth book in his Thursday Next series planned! So far there is no further information on the book other than that it is entitled The War of the Words. Mr. Fforde's website contains no mention of it, however, according to wikipedia the book is listed in the back of his recently published book The Fourth Bear. Now, those of us who read his books know too well how fond he is of textual practical jokes but I think this would be too cruel. I have hopes that we'll soon be hearing more about it. The book is also listed as being proposed for a July 2007 release. The first book in the series was the best-seller The Eyre Affair in which a literary detective enters the novel to repair the damage when Jane is abducted abruptly by a crazed English professor/evil genius. Mr. Rochester also features in one of the other novels, as do the entire cast of characters in Wuthering Heights (and we have a very interesting explaination for where Heathcliff has been for all those years. My professor wasn't impressed, but you can never know...). The Bronte references run through all of the books, if only in scenes like this from Lost in a Good Book:

'Hi!' squeaked the girl, 'I'm Adie. So pleased to meet you!' She grasped my hand and told me repeatedly what a fantastic honour it was.
'I don't want to bug you or anything,' she said shyly, 'but was Edward Rochester really drop-dead gorgeous to die for?'
'Not handsome,' I answered as I watched Flakk slink off down the corridor, 'but certainly attractive. Tall, deep voice and glowering looks, if you know the type.'
Adie turned a deep shade of pink.

But I think my personal favourite- besides the scenes where the actual characters run amok, would have to be when Thursday is trying to explain to her befuddled partner that she had gone inside Jane Eyre and met Mr Rochester, remarking off-handedly that she has his coat at home (and she discovers that her partner never read Jane Eyre- he had opting for Villette instead). There's even a Gondal reference if you look sharply!

ETA: From the FAQs of Mr. Fforde's website, thanks to Pennyforyourdreams (again):

What is your next published book?

The fifth in the Thursday Next series. Yes, she's back. Facing possibly the greatest danger to the bookworld since the abolition of the Net Book Agreement. And a few grammersites. And the replacement Miss Havisham. And Friday. And Jane Austen. And the end of the world (again). Thursday Next: First Among Sequels will hit the bookshops in July 2007.

Is that really going to be the title of the next Next?

No. We ran it past marketing and they said it might put people off who were new to the series. So I'm calling it War of the Words instead. At least, that's what we've put in the back of The Fourth Bear, so it's semi-official.

Will we see a new Jasper Fforde book published every year?

Indeed you shall. When I was first published I personally committed myself to a new book every year for ten years, and -publishers willing- this shall be so. If I'm still here in ten years, we'll see if I can't commit myself to another ten in another ten.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Win Tickets to Polly Teale's Jane Eyre

From Hampstead and Highgate:

THE Ham&High has five pairs of tickets to give away to Shared Experience's acclaimed production of Jane Eyre.Charlotte Bronte's classic tale of a plain governess, her volatile employer Mr Rochester, and his mad wife Bertha, runs at Trafalgar Studios 1 in Whitehall until August 26.Directed by Polly Teale, and hailed by critics as "a masterpiece" and "wildly rich and unexpectedly funny", it draws subconscious links between Jane's repressed passion and the imprisoned Bertha.

Teale's theatrically potent production has toured internationally since it originated at The Young Vicin 1997.To win a pair of tickets, simply send your name, address and telephone number to bridget.galton@hamhigh.co.uk or write to Bridget Galton, 100A Avenue Road, NW3 3HF, by August 4.

Those unlucky enough not to win a pair of tickets can buy the best available seats for all performances of Jane Eyre - except Saturday nights - for £20, a potential saving of £17.50 on top ticket prices.Best available seats can be booked by calling the box office on 0870 0606 632 quoting "Jane Eyre Offer".A booking fee of £2.50 will be taken for each transaction.

The BBC Has Been Holding Out on Us

Just like I told you! There are more pictures from Jane Eyre 1973. Bronteana reader Thisbeciel stumbled across this one today- it is not included in the photo gallery on the recently released DVD:

The 1973 series was evidently very popular at the time as I have come across no less than three books which use stills from it as cover art, and one (which I have at home) is illustrated with stills as well. Some of these stills were also not included in the photo gallery (which is only available on the region 2 DVD). I believe, all of the stills Thisbeciel and I have gathered over the years are available on her website here.

Free Day at the Bronte Parsonage Museum

This article is also by Bronte Society PR consultant Diane Benn:


The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth were delighted to welcome the 7th millionth visitor through its doors on Saturday 24 June 2006 and plan to celebrate with an open day which will be free to local people.
The lucky visitors were Mr. & Mrs. Derek Stringer from Bowness-on-Windermere who were visiting Haworth to take in the atmospheric home of the talented Brontë family whose novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights won them international acclaim.
Alan Bentley, Brontë Parsonage Museum Director, surprised the couple with a bag containing a selection of Brontë gifts, including a collection of the Brontë novels. The couple also received a year’s free membership to the Brontë Society and were invited to be guests of honour at an open day at the Museum on Saturday 29 July 2006.
The Parsonage Museum has enjoyed buoyant visitor figures over the years with the highest visitor figures of 221,000 recorded in 1974. This figure was attributed at the time to the popularity of a TV mini series, The Brontes of Haworth, and the recent success of the Wuthering Heights film staring Timothy Dalton. Soon after it was decided that the large numbers of visitors were damaging the 200 year old building .
Alan Bentley said "to celebrate the 7th millionth visitor is a real honour for the Parsonage Museum. Although there have been many additions and alterations to the Museum since 1928, it remains a place of pilgrimage for thousands of UK and overseas visitors. Our aim at the Parsonage is to extend a warm welcome to all and to provide an authentic interpretation of what life was like for the Brontës in the 1800s". He added "I would like to extend a personal invitation to all members of the public to come and join us on the 29th July and to learn a little more about the world’s most famous literary family".
The planned open day on Saturday 29 July 2006 will be free to local residents within the BD20, BD21 and BD22 postcode areas with normal admission charges applicable to other visitors. Some form of identification will be required for local people to gain access. The fun-filled day will include drama, free guided walks, short talks on the Brontës and a chance to visit the house where the Brontës lived and worked.

New Chairman Has Strong Opinions

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The following is an article by Diane Benn, PR consultant of the Bronte Society who kindly sent us the release:

Richard Wilcocks, the new Chairman of the Brontë Society, has strong opinions on the way that classic literature is taught in English schools.
Recently-elected by the Council of the Brontë Society, which runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, Richard Wilcocks said, "Young people are given insufficient time in the classroom for in-depth study of texts. This is often in spite of the best efforts of teachers."
Mr Wilcocks should know what he is talking about, because for many years he worked in the world of education, as a teacher and as an examiner with the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance. He has also been a journalist, has lectured for the British Council at the University of Poznan in Poland and, amongst other qualifications, possesses a Master’s in Drama and Theatre Arts.
Strong interests apart from the Brontës include the theatre and music - he sings with the Leeds Festival Chorus. A family man, he lives in Leeds. He continued:
"Many more people are drawn towards the Brontës by forces outside schools, for example by new adaptations of novels like Jane Eyre by the BBC.
"A series of Government initiatives in schools - with the admirable objective of improving standards of literacy - has led to a situation in which love of reading and literature generally is being rather neglected in favour of a rigid ‘framework’ approach.
"For at least the last decade the definition of English as a subject has been increasingly prescribed. The emphasis on capital L Literacy is becoming a significant encroachment on English as a creative and humanistic domain, because it does not appear to give more than a token acknowledgement for the value of literature.
"I believe in the sharing of ‘real’ texts, whether described as classic or popular. This enables personal growth and the study of literature to come together. This sharing - through reading, creative writing and improvised drama - was the feature of the Brontë children’s early educational experiences which led to the great works which followed later.
"The forces which drove them in a nineteenth century parsonage are universal, and can be harnessed in many other environments including that of a twenty-first century classroom.
"Currently-prescribed practices in the official literacy strategy require pupils to focus on fragments of text, seldom on whole texts which might elicit a ‘whole’ response. This discourages the formation of a profound personal relationship with a work of literature.
"The best teaching is based on the stimulation of the imagination, of course, and teachers can get plenty of advice on that from the Parsonage, which is rapidly developing into a regional centre for the Arts."

Mr. Wilcocks is also the editor of the Bronte Parsonage Blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Voice of Fandom or 'The Handsome Mr. Rochester'

Well, now that the new pictures from the BBC have rolled in and everyone has had a chance to take it all in, the reactions are starting to crop up all over the internet. Yesterday I had some thoughts about a very swift change in the direction of some of the internet discussion on this 2006 production. Now, a news source is hinting a the issue. From The Stage:

Jane Eyre. A nicely lavish BBC costume drama ticks several boxes before it’s even in the can, but the spectre of the hit-and-miss Toby Stephens as Rochester has me furrowing my brow in consternation.

I think this means it looks good. I don't quite understand the can imagery. Anyway, Toby Stephens. I have never seen him act before. I have said so in the comments, and some kind soul sent me a link so that I could see him play Hamlet but I thought better of doing that. I don't want to have any expectations. That said, I was very disappointed when I heard that he had been cast because I knew that he had already been in a Bronte film before, and also I really wished to see an unknown actor play the part. Several of my friends, on the other hand (who really really wanted Richard Armitage to play Mr. R...) were less than impressed as well for the same reason cited by the author above. In fact, the vast majority of discussion on the topic was centered around a feeling that he was an odd, perhaps a bad choice.

And then... two days ago, the BBC release this picture (posted earlier) and it all changed. Suddenly, one photograph convinced more and more people that not only could he play the part, why, he would be the very best! I am surprised there aren't bets out there for whether or not he can act better than Timothy Dalton... And this really surprises me, because I am naive and believe that, surely, we would have to see his performance first before we made claims like that.

Some time ago, Bronteana reader Mysticgypsy began a discussion about how we judge actors on their performance as Rochester, whether or not a large part of our decision is based on their appearance. Those who spoke up were unanimous that appearance should not be a factor. But, I think that we now have to admit that quite a lot of it is based on appearance- in practice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Highlights of Upcoming Productions of Jane Eyre

Thanks to Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall for the tip. These are highlights of upcoming productions of Jane Eyre: The Musical.

NORTH VANCOUVER, BC CA From 12/15/2006
Until 12/15/2006

OBERLIN, OH US From 7/18/2006
Until 7/22/2006

BALTIMORE, MD US From 11/3/2006
Until 11/12/2006

EDMONDTON, AB CA From 8/18/2006
Until 8/26/2006

PITTSBURGH, PA US From 11/30/2006
Until 12/23/2006

BALTIMORE, MD US From 11/17/2006
Until 11/19/2006

SEATTLE, WA US From 8/25/2006
Until 8/26/2006

Anne Bronte is a Work of Art

A project is underway to establish the Bronte Parsonage Museum as a site for contemporary art. The project has been lauched with an exhibition by Cornelia Parker called Bronte Abstracts. The image below- an image of Anne Bronte's hair- is part of the exhibit.

She has been exploring the Museum's collection, viewing original Brontë manuscripts in the British Library and working with the University of Bradford analysing samples of Brontë hair, using electron microscope imaging technology. The exhibition will include a series of images of Brontë artefacts, including samples of hair produced using this method.

“By capturing images of the Brontës' relics through a microscope,” she explained, “I have been using the tools of science to try to understand the power of the myth. Whether it is a split end of Anne's hair or pinholes made by Charlotte or the tines of a comb burnt by Emily, they are abstractions made by them, unconsciously.”

To learn more about this exhibit read this fascinating and informative article by Diane Benn, on the Bronte Parsonage Blog. The exhibit runs Saturday 16 September to Sunday 31 December 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Jane Eyre 1944 Makes List of Best Adaptations

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Tash Robertson from the A.V. Club has made an interesting list of film adaptations that live up to the source material, and the 1944 film of Jane Eyre starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles has made the cut:

Jane Eyre is one of those classics that gets remade for every generation, sometimes multiple times, but while there have been more faithful adaptations, none has quite captured the book's spirit like Robert Stevenson's 1944 version, in large part because of Orson Welles. Most filmed versions seem to forget that Jane is supposed to be a plain woman, and her explosive employer Edward Rochester is supposed to be scary and ugly as well as compelling, but Joan Fontaine fits the Jane Eyre bill reasonably well, while Welles could have been born to play the storming, brooding Rochester. Their performances carry the film version more than the elided script does.

While it is gratifying to see the merit of this film acknowledged- it is truly a cinema classic- there are a few things wrong with the picture this paragraph paints for us. Firstly, this is the first time I have heard Joan Fontaine referred to as a plain woman! And most often than not, people would not term Orson an ugly man. But that's not really what troubles me. Here, again, is this strange idea that Mr Rochester is something ferocious- 'scary,' 'storming' and 'explosive'. Who is afraid of him, I would like to know? He asks Jane if she is afraid of him because he 'talks like a sphynx' but that's as close as we get to scary. As for explosive, the word is 'changeful' and he's 'abrupt'. I mention all of this because it seems to be an issue lately.

All of this reminds me of a late Victorian work, Henry Brocken in the Strange, Scarce-Imaginable Regions of Romance (or something of the sort- the entire work is available on the side bar of this blog) which gives us a picture of Rochester after his marriage with Jane. Somehow, Rochester taking his tea reminds the narrator of storms at sea. Or, to quote myself in a bit of fanfiction I wrote: 'He frowned a bit and, somewhere, lighting flashed in Greenland.'

BBC Jane Eyre 2006 Press Pack Released

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Why wait to hear about it in the newspaper when you can download it all from the BBC? The Press Pack is available for download from this website, thanks to Biedroneczka!

Ruth Wilson, as Jane Eyre, and Toby Stephens, as Edward Rochester, lead a stellar cast in a compelling new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's much-loved novel Jane Eyre.

Orphaned at a young age, Jane is placed in the care of her wealthy aunt Mrs Reed, who neglects her in favour of her own three spoiled children. Jane is branded a liar, and Mrs Reed sends her to the grim and joyless Lowood School where she stays until she is 19.

Determined to make the best of her life, Jane takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, the home of the alluring and unpredictable Edward Rochester. It is here that Jane's journey into the world, and as a woman, begins.

Writer Sandy Welch (North And South, Magnificent Seven), producer Diederick Santer (Shakespeare Retold – Much Ado About Nothing) and director Susanna White (Bleak House) join forces to bring this ever-popular tale of passion, colour, madness and gothic horror to BBC ONE.

Producer Diederick Santer says: "Sandy's brand-new adaptation brings to life Jane's inner world with beauty, humour and, at times, great sadness. We hope that her original take on the story will be enjoyed as much by long-term fans of the book as by those who have never read it."
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The serial also stars Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram, Christina Cole as Blanche Ingram, Lorraine Ashbourne as Mrs Fairfax, Pam Ferris as Grace Poole and Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Reed. Georgie Henley, who starred in the Christmas blockbuster The Chronicles Of Narnia, plays young Jane.
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ETA: More pictures from the press pack here. You can view a large close up of the image above here. And a lovely big closeup of Mr Rochester being broody here (larger version of the picture above.

ETA: Fixed broken link (hopefully)

BBC1's Autumn Schedule Just Released

We have confirmation that Jane Eyre will be included on time in the BBC's autumn schedule. The program has still not moved up on the BBC's Coming Up Drama website, but this has also been confirmed elsewhere. The schedule itself is currently elusive, however, schedules from last year have been available as early as the first week of August so we should have some airdates soon. Other productions slated for the same schedule already have their webpages running on the BBC website. We'll be keeping an eye out for that as well. The BBC often post clips from their upcoming productions, as they did with North and South.

ETA: Here's an example of what we can expect in terms of a website. This is the website for BBC One's Autumn production of Robin Hood which has been developing alongside Jane Eyre. I'm guessing that when the site does go online, it's adress will be: http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/janeeyre/ Just a guess, you know.

So, no 1940s Detective Treatment for Jane Eyre

From the Saginaw Times, detective novelist Mickey Spillane has died at age 88. In this memorial article we find a quirky reference to Jane Eyre which is pretty amusing:

"Spillane was the first one to produce sexy novels," Russell said. "From that point on, everyone else followed suit."
Spillane's violent, titillating prose made eager readers out of many a 1950s-era young man who lived vicariously through the Hammer character, Russell said.
"Mike Hammer was the guy who was always getting beaten up, who was always broke, and a lot of guys could relate to that," Russell said.
"Yet Hammer always got the woman, the glamorous, movie starlet-type woman. The bombshells. Spillane's women were much different from the women you found in books like 'Jane Eyre."'

Perhaps not, but since the 1960s an idea has been circulating that Rochester would make a great secret agent, which is similar to the thrilling detective I suppose. Someone once said that James Bond was a literary descendent of Heathcliff and Mr Rochester, for his byronism. And at least two of the most aclaimed actors to play Mr Rochester did play secret agents: Timothy Dalton was Bond, of course. Michael Jayston was considered for the part as well and he played Quiller a secret agent who never carried a gun but used his wits alone. And, I've always thought that Jasper Fforde's rendition of the character was very secret agent like.

Monday, July 17, 2006

He's Back

This is one of my very rare off topic posts. It has nothing to do with the Brontes. But I really feel that if I can make some people laugh or feel happy when there is so much misery in the world, just now especially, it is worth a little post. Here, then, is Disco Darcy. We who knew him and loved him were shocked when he disappeared over a year ago. We all thought he was lost, but Kristin has found him once again and he's still dancing! Cheer, cheer the world, dancing disco Darcy!

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The irony is that now that Disco Darcy has returned our Dancing Mr Rochester is gone.

Okay, I suppose I'll have to find something Bronte related... my conscience won't let me get away with this... No, there's absolutely nothing on the wire or the blogs. And quite rightly, with so much dire news. I can only say that the Falmouth, Massachussetts run of Jane Eyre: The Musical is opening tomorrow, details from last week's post.

Ye Brontee Blogge

While looking through some recent blog posts on the Brontes I came across this one about which famous authors would keep blogs if they were alive today. The blogger thought the Brontes wouldn't be keen on the idea:

11. Jane Austen - I'm going to get shit for this, and let it be known that I absolutely love her books, and can't think of a writer I admire more, but I just don't think I'd read her blog. Am I wrong? Maybe.

12. The Bronte Sisters - Same deal as with Austen. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

It seems to me that Anne and Emily (especially Emily) would not keep personal blogs, although Anne might be tempted to comment on current affairs and sway public opinion on matters that concerned her. Charlotte, on the other hand would dive right in. She loved debate, and was a tremendous snark (ie, a wit especially a playful or sarcastic one). Her letters are awesome. I think I enjoy reading them more than reading some of her novels, like The Professor...

This seems the perfect opportunity to mention one of my favourite blogs: Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. I first heard about it through a friend of mine who is a Ph.D student studying Shakespeare. It is written by Geoffrey Chaucer. Yes, the Medieval English poet known for his lewd tales and frustrating habit of writing in Medieval English (well, it was all they had back then you know- besides Latin). Yt Ich kanne saye Ich dide ivir love ye poetrie of maister Chavcer. Especially to rede off ye parlement of birddes. May it pleaseth you to rede of maister Chaver's web blogge, here ben somme exempli:

Oone outtake from ye 'Canterbury Tales':

Did marche togedir in fraternitee
Al thogh thei were of varyinge lyveree.
Thei knewe sum auncient magicke remedye
For “Y M C A” dide they ful loude crye,
And lifte ther armes lyk vnto menne gone woode.
And eek yt semede their mappe was nat too goode:
Thogh Canterburye-warde we headede Est
In unison thei seyde to us ‘Go Weste.’

Thees ben myn moste beloved postes from Chavcer's blogge: Hot Courtlie Accioun! (Chaucer gets spam. By the way, BSL mean 'by Saint Loy!'), and The Cipher of Leonardo (Chaucer's version of the Da Vinci Code).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Evolution of Jane Eyre: The Musical Part Five- Broadway
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We have seen the musical through its demo stage, previews in Witchita, productions in Toronto and La Jolla, and now we're at the end of the professional run. I meant to upload some clips from footage I have but my computer will not co-coperate. So, here are some stills instead.

Previously the show was not accepted because it was too faithful to the novel. This time around, it was not accepted because it was not faithful enough. It might anger a purist, but honestly, if adapting a novel for television is difficult the stage must be far more demanding, and it is. But the show does succeed in what it wishes to do. This is not a traditional rendering of the book, it is a dreamscape. This version puts the audience into Jane's mind as she thinks back over the events as she writes her memoir. Jane is always present, but there is no fixed set whatsoever. A church is constructed by fragments- windows, light pouring into them and casting their colours on the floor, objects fly in and out of view as scenes change and as Jane comes to new memories.

Some changes do not seem to have a purpose, however. The most glaring example is the rearrangement of scenes in the second act. The Gypsy scene occurs well after Mr Mason's accident and is followed directly by the proposal. Mr Rochester barely puts down his bonnet and takes off his skirt before he asks Jane to take a stroll with him in the garden. When Jane leaves him she stumbles across the moors to- Gateshead, where St.John Rivers is tending her aunt. Which brings me to the next point: changes to character. The previous versions had some excellent character development. This St.John is a nice guy, a little silly perhaps but alright. Blanche is also just a little silly, not very bright but she means well. I can't see why this change was brought about when these characters had been so well drawn in the previous versions!

Probably the most interesting facet of this particular version, for me, is Bertha. Seeing this version on film has left me with a lot of questions. Firstly, Bertha's first appearance is in Jane's bedroom. She reaches over and sees a sketch Jane has been drawing of Mr Rochester. Throwing it from her, she darts out of the room, through a passage and into Rochester's room where she sets the blaze. Throughout the show she is wearing a long Victorian wedding dress complete with veil (I think she loses the veil at the end...). Jane's connection with Bertha is considerably played down compared with the La Jolla production, but there are still some interesting points of contact. For example, the scene after the wedding.

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I really like the staging of this scene. Because of the dream like quality of the setting we can go directly from the church to the attic. Rochester invites everyone to see his 'lovely wife!' and instantaneously the audience is plunged into the darkness of the attic- from the point of view of those within it. In the fleeting light of the windows we can see a shape moving, and sobbing. The wedding party enter to face us and Bertha. She is dragging a book around with her, and as Rochester encourages us to sympathise with her she seems frustrated by something in the book, or perhaps she cannot read it. She rocks back and forth, holding her fists to her head as she looks over it, then takes it to Grace Poole. Soon afterwards she recognises Rochester and attacks him- but, really, she barely touches him before she is restrained. In this particular performance I thought Rochester looked cruel in his treatment of Bertha. While he narrates his past for everyone, he runs his hand along Bertha's face. She seems to lean towards it, and when he moves off she looks stricken. At some point her bonds are released. Jane notices a rag doll- like the rag doll she had in previous versions- lying on the floor. She takes it to Bertha. The two- both in their wedding clothes- curtsy to eachother before Bertha leaves with Grace.

From here you can watch: The Proposal, Sirens and Farewell Good Angel, Secret Soul being recorded in the studio.

These are just a few of the things hidden away in the Bronteana archives:

Article on the show's innovations in stage lighting, Neofitou's costuming, interviews with Anthony Crivello and James Barbour on playing Mr Rochester (part of a larger series). Footage from the La Jolla performance comes to light, 'Vision, Flame, and Flight: Adapting Jane Eyre' by John Caird, and 'Jane's Journey' a series of interviews with all of the major cast members from the Broadway run, as well as John Caird and composer Paul Gordon- in 6 parts: one, three, four, five, six. (I can't find the link to four). And, finally:the highlights CD of the Broadway cast can be purchased from Amazon.com here.

ETA: The promised stills: ('Does my forehead not please you?' And at bottom, Mr Rochester does a little dance in his gypsy skirt for Jane's amusement)
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Writing Life to Feature Poems about the Brontes

A new book about Canadian writers will feature poems by Jane Urquhart about the Bronte sisters:

Urquhart offers are poem about the Bronte sisters, who have influenced her writing -- especially her second novel Changing Heaven.

The book is a collection of pieces written by prominent Canadian authors about the act of writing. The list of authors is impressive indeed, including many of Canada's most celebrated authors of all time: Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, John Berger, George Bowering, Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, Lynn Coady, Michael Crummey, Bernice Eisenstein, Camilla Gibb, Charlotte Gray, Elizabeth Hay, Michael Helm, Sheila Heti, Wayne Johnston, Annabel Lyon, Alberto Manguel, Anne Michaels, Rohinton Mistry, Lisa Moore, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Eden Robinson, Marilynne Robinson, Peter Robinson, John Ralston, Saul Shyam Selvadurai, Russell Smith, Rosemary Sullivan, Susan Swan, Madeleine Thien, Jane Urquhart, M.G. Vassanji, Alistair McLeod, and David Young.

WRITING LIFE, edited by Constance Rooke (McClelland and Stewart, 450 pages, $24.99).

Changing Heaven is described thus: Two worlds are intertwined in this hauntingly beautiful story as it moves from Toronto to the English moors and to Venice, Italy. The time frame shifts between present and past, linking the lives of a young Brontë scholar (a woman in the throes of a troubled love affair), a turn-of-the-century female balloonist, and an elusive explorer with the ghost – or the memory – of Emily Brontë. Urquhart reveals something about the act of artistic creation, the ways in which stories enter our lives, and about the cyclical nature of love throughout time. This is a novel of darkness and light, of intense weather and inner calm.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wuthering Heights Shocker!

From a review of Far from the Madding Gerund a book derived from essays from the blog Language Log:

Pullum has special vitriol for Elements of Style, which he calls a "horrid little notebook of nonsense," and debunks a number of Strunk and White's dicta. Take, for example, their insistence on using "that" in restrictive clauses and "which" in nonrestrictive ones. (Say "The house that Jack built is nicer than the one I built," but "The house, which Jack built, is white.") If you substituted "which" for the "that" in the first example, the Elements of Style, Microsoft Word, and the Slate stylebook would flag your choice as an "error"—even though your point would be perfectly clear. Pullum argues that the prohibition is unnecessary. With the help of some electronic book searching, he shows that Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and, yes, E.B. White all use "which" with restrictive clauses—often. (White, for example, does so in the second paragraph of Stuart Little.) If great writers break a rule frequently and naturally in writing, everyone else follows suit in speech, and doing so creates no confusion, that rule is a waste of everyone's time.

Watch the linguistic smackdown here.

Travelling the Moors, Jane Eyre: The Musical for Falmouth, MA., and Jane Austen and the Brontes as Medieval Scottish Freedom Fighters

News has been relatively slow this week. The wire is packed with summer reading lists. It looks like everyone is reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights this summer. There is another meme as well which lists 100 books one should read in one's lifetime- including JE and WH. Each blogger makes a notation next to the titles detailing, if they have read them, what they thought of them, or in some cases why they didn't finish them. This has made some interesting reading...

If you are still thinking about your summer reading list, why not try Agnes Grey or Tenant of Wildfell Hall?

There are a few items today:

Falmouth, Massachusetts is preparing for a performance of Jane Eyre: The Musical, produced by the College Light Opera July 18 to 22, according to this article about the troup's other works.

JULY 18 – 22 AT 8:00 THURSDAY MATINEE AT 2:00 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë’s classic 19th century novel provides the story for this 2000 musical tale. With an original score of twenty songs by Paul Gordon and book by John Caird, the show is perfect for an ensemble cast. The show captures the soul of this epic story of triumph and beauty and brings it to life as it was truly meant to be seen and heard.

Highfield Theatre, 50 Highfield Dr., Falmouth. 508-548-0668

I could not find a poster but there's a photo montage from the entire current season, photos of the production should be in there somewhere, although I haven't been able to pick out any (although I would like to think that the one of a man lying on the floor with a bride leaning over him is probably our dear Bertha and Rochy).

The Boston Plan for Excellence, in conjunction with Boston Public Schools, awarded the educators with travel grants from the Fund for Teachers foundation:

Another grant recipient, Danielle Murray, has taught at Brighton High School for the past five years. Her focus has been American Literature, but plans on teaching English Literature for the first time this year. Murray feels the best way to grab her student’s attention is through connecting the literary works with real world places and people. "It gives them something they can relate to," she explains.

Murray said she hopes to add a real world perspective with the help of her trek through Europe, where she will visit England, Ireland and Scotland. She said she hopes to witness the remnants of Shakespeare’s culture as well as other authors who lived between the 1400s and 1800s. Murray said she is especially excited to see the moors that inspired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

And lastly:

I read somewhere that you're a big Jane Austen and George Eliot fan. Some people might be quite surprised to hear that.

I've kind of outed myself recently with that. What I hate is that when we think of Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, people think about Emma Thompson and costume dramas and people talking in these stupid *CENSORED* voices. But it was *CENSORED* all like that. They're England's equivalent of Braveheart: Scots dressing in *CENSORED* tartan. It's edited exploitation for the American market. People wouldn't have talked like that, they wouldn't have looked like that, dressed like that, they wouldn't have acted like that, flounced around like that. It's *CENSORED* offensive *CENSORED* marketing, to sell to gullible Americans.

...Exceedingly diverted, that's me.

ETA: Ah, missed one. Should be family-friendly now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bronte News

Here we have a slightly lopsided review of Milwaukee's Acacia production of Jane Eyre: The Musical. The review is substantially positive but apparently the reviewer's personal vision of Rochester wasn't met and so the review ends on a sour note (they were anticipating 'a raging Titan like Heathcliff'). Well, personally I would laugh at a raging Titanesque Heathcliffy Rochester. Tastes differ?

Paula Rego's famous prints of Jane Eyre go on exhibit in Yorkshire.

A new club for 'Bronte enthusiasts' in the North Kirklees area, lead by Imelda Marsden who has been compiling information on the Bronte's extended family for a book recently published. Anyone interested in attending this appreciative club can contact her at: 01924 519370

Monday, July 10, 2006

From Some Missing Posts

I confess that a last week I wrote two or three posts which I mistakenly deleted when I meant to clear some drafts I had written! The following items were included in the posts:

I found this very amusing: A quotation out of context is a fortune cookie's content. "Miss Brontë, Miss Brontë," chanted the Career Girls of Mike Leigh's 1997 film, each blindfolded and flipping a worn copy of Wuthering Heights before pointing to her destiny. This ritual produced a satisfying outcome for one ("Must come!"), but their interpretation of that phrase was far different from what Brontë must have intended.

Do you remember the Askmen romance novel test? Open a romantic book carefully balanced on its spine and just watch as your girlfiend's secret fantasies reveal themselves to your unbelieving eyes! The book will open to the pages she has read most often, and you are told to be sure to imitate whatever it is the man in these scenes is doing. I don't believe that I ever posted properly about this... But I tried this with Jane Eyre and the result was very silly (the Hay Lane scene). I shall now try it with Wuthering Heights. Ahem. Silence, please...

Apparently I have either a deep seated desire to tote hot cinders or to teach grown men to read.
Another interesting Bronte reference comes from a political blog:

Until the 1960s, most people brought up within Western culture believed that its literature, its art and its music were among the glories of its civilization. Today, much of the academic debate about the Western literary heritage claims that it is politically contaminated. Some of these charges are well known because they offended against the ideological triumvirate of gender, race and class: Othello is ethnocentric, Paradise Lost is a feminist tragedy, Jane Eyre is both racist and sexist.

Is Jane Eyre a victim of anti-Westernism?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

First Scene of Jane Eyre 2006

M from Bronteblog has received more information from Seven Films about the Maspalomas sequence of Jane Eyre. This, then, is an image from the opening of the series- a dream sequence of some kind.
This is Georgie Henley as Jane Eyre. Personally, this image only deepens my confusion!

So, Maspalomas is not Jamaica Afterall

In a previous post, and its comments, we pondered why the new BBC mini series of Jane Eyre was shot partly on location in Maspalomas, in the Canary Islands. M, of Bronteblog has found the answer in a local newspaper and this answer is rather surprising:

From this Spanish article.

Seven Island Films has recently being succesful in bringing Georgie Henley - the child actress of the moment due to her role as Lucy Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia - to shoot on the dunes of Maspalomas the beginning of a four-episode TV series for the BBC based on the novel Jane Eyre. The film opens with the young protagonist dreaming of a desert of orange dunes and blue sea which the director of the production, Susanna White, located in San Bartolomé de Tirajana.

It is tempting to imagine that this sequence would stand in for the arctic daydream Jane has evoked by the pages of Bewick's. However, I'm not entirely sure how well sand dunes would fit with a book on 'British Birds.' No, it is probably something else- something that will surprise all of us, I'm sure!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Kudos to make Wide Sargasso Sea for BBC4

I must confess that I had a hint that this production was planned but as I could not find confirmation I chose not to post about it. And now, here it is! From the Guardian:

BBC Wales has commissioned independent producer Kudos to make a BBC4 TV movie based on Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys's 1966 prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.
The film has been adapted by Stephen Greenhorn, whose other work includes the BBC1 dramas Glasgow Kiss and Derailed, and will star Rafe Spall - last seen on the channel in The Chatterley Affair - and Rebecca Hall, alongside established stars Michael Maloney and Victoria Hamilton.

Set in the lush landscape of Jamaica following the emancipation of slaves in the 1830s, Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of the arranged marriage between Bertha Mason, a white Creole heiress, and Mr Rochester, who became Jane Eyre's lover in Bronte's book, which was published in 1847.

The BBC4 controller, Janice Hadlow, said: "It's great that Jean Rhys's captivating prequel to Jane Eyre is being adapted for BBC4 and with such a fantastic cast."
Filming is under way in Jamaica and in locations around the UK by Kudos, the company behind Spooks, Hustle and Life on Mars.
The drama is being is produced by Elwen Rowlands and directed by Brendan Maher.

This is not the first time the book has been adapted for film. It was made into a movie in 1993 starring Nathaniel Parker and Karina Lombard. Generally thought of as a very pretty looking pornographic film, and a poor adaptation of Rhys' novel.

ETA: NB: I have just read over the Guardian's synopsis again and have several errors to address. It is not the story of the marriage of Bertha Mason and Mr Rochester. It is the story of the marriage of Antoinette Cosway and her husband (who is not named).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bronteana is a Year Old!

The internet's first Bronte blog began on this site one year ago today. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this blog so much over the past year, and to my readers especially. Thanks to Thisbeciel, Kristin, Monica, Biedroneczka, Thais, Alisa, Aidan Brack, Lousie in Manchester, Vaire, Lillieoz for the many tips and files you have sent in as well as helping with uploading links- my computer is notoriously slow. Thanks also Paul Gordon, composer of Jane Eyre: The Musical for allowing me to pester him from time to time.

Now, the story of Bronteana! A little more than a year ago a friend of mine started a Classics blog on blogger (Classics as in Homer, Classical Greece and Rome etc.). You will notice it is the only non-Bronte-related link on this entire site: Glaukôpidos: An Anachronism in Modernity. I keep a personal blog, and often felt that the Bronte content had long ago taken over so I decided to follow her lead. At first I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I would try some literary criticism but I couldn't come up with something every day! There are also early illustrated posts- such as Edward Bulwer Lytton in Petticoats. Eventually I discovered the wonders of google and other search engines. So there's news and a bit of everything besides debating and sharing my huge collection of... well, Bronteana. Which brings me to the name. Glaukopidos wanted me to name this blog 'BronteBlog', but I didn't like the name (no offense to BronteBlog ;).

This year has been incredible, very interesting and a lot of fun. Within the first few months I had emails from some very interesting people, including someone who believed they are a direct descendent of Constantin Heger, and someone who really is a cousin of the Brontes. Writers have written in, publishers have sent me their manuscripts (I got to see a preview of Branwell- which I reviewed unfavourably, much to the publisher's annoyance...). I enjoy hearing from my readers, because it lets me know that you are having as much fun as I am. I am gratified also, that my efforts caught the attention of the Bronte Society Gazette early this year. It has been a most wonderful year!

And now, the apology. I meant to have a lot of fun stuff prepared for this occasion but nothing has come through. The archives are still a horrendous mess, I have not been able to finish moving the resource site to Dalhousie, and the media files I meant to post are not uploaded... even this post is almost an hour late.

For the future. Well, the first post was a demand to the BBC that it release its 1973 production of Jane Eyre. That came to pass in the fullness of time (ie, this past spring/early summer) so, I think I'll start demanding their 1970 production of Villette!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

British. Bronte. Brontish?

This Bronte mention in today's Guardian was rather quirky, I think. I'm not sure what to make of it.

With the Moroccan police arresting four British men in Rabat last week in the course of the investigation into the £53m Securitas robbery, the question arises as to what sort of a British community exists there these days.
The English Bookshop in the centre of Rabat seemed a good place to start inquiring, and the responses there were revealing about the British abroad.
"The words "British" and "community" don't go together, do they?" said a teacher called Netzha who was buying second-hand books in the shop, which has been a little landmark in the capital for the past two decades. "There is an Indian community and an African community, but the British - they don't integrate, do they? They don't open up, like French people. I know the British from their literature, from the Brontes. They are phlegmatic and secretive ... and mysterious." And she smiled.

Any comments from the British readers? I don't know what to say, except that there is also no British community here- at least where I am from, despite the fact that the area has a long British history. There are a series of multicultural festivals through the summer, including ones for the Irish, and Scottish cultures. So far I have yet to hear of a British one although I have seen the 'Anglo' clubhouse from the outside. I suppose this would count as 'secretive' and 'mysterious' enough!

Monday, July 03, 2006

More Locations for Jane Eyre 2006

M, from BronteBlog draws our attention to the imdb.com page where the filming locations for the BBC's new Jane Eyre mini series have been updated. In addition, as for the 13th of June, the production status is in the post-production phase. We have been following the locations ever since an informant in Derbyshire tipped us off that Haddon Hall would be the location for Thornfield. The locations kept increasing- now we have a few more, and interesting locations to ponder:

Hathersage- one of the locations credited with inspiring Charlotte Bronte's novel. I had dearly hoped that they would film here or at Norton Conyers- the another hall credited with being the inspiration for Thornfield Hall, with its madwoman's room (and a master bedroom known as The Peacock Room which is shown to visitors as 'Mr Rochester's bedroom'). Hathersage's moor and village are thought to be the inspirations for Morton and Lees Hall, an inspiration for Thornfield.

Wingfield Manor- Some weeks ago, we published an exclusive behind the scenes report from Louise from Manchester. In it, among other things, she intimated that the ruins of Thornfield would be real. It would be safe to assume that Wingfield is our ruined Thornfield. It is also interesting it its own right- Mary, Queen of Scots was once kept in the house.

Lastly, the series was filmed in Maspalomas, in the Canary Islands. We assume this is for some sort of scene in the West Indies but the images I have found of the location do not remind me much of Jamaica.

A Difference of Opinion

Jane Eyre was dropped from a school honours reading list. I really cannot understand why administrators would think this is a good idea?

Jane Eyre recently got the boot and was replaced with Pygmalion on incoming Niles West sophomore honor students' list for another reason.

"We were getting a lot of complaints from the moms of boys who said they just couldn't get into it," Firer said. "They [the boys] thought it was too girlie."

So, there is such a thing as a 'girlie' and non-girlie classic? They ought to be challenging such notions, not confirming them in this way. I have many complaints about my high school education, but we certainly never supposed that some material was for one or the other gender- ever. And it was never an issue. To me, it seems like a backwards notion. Was it too much trouble to have a class discussion about how the class recieved the book? Or were they only expected to mark off imagery lists and make plot diagrams?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Marry into Fiction

Mags at Austenblog has just married Henry Tilney from this website. Some of our favourite characters are waiting to be married as well:

From Jane Eyre:

Edward Fairfax Rochester (married to 17 people)
John Reed (unmarried)
Richard Mason (unmarried)
St.John Rivers (married once)

From Wuthering Heights:

Catherine Linton (unmarried)
Hareton Earnshaw (unmarried)
'Harton' (unmarried...)
Heathcliff (married to 15 people)
Linton Heathcliff (married to 3 people)

Looks like Jane should have checked the pantry and the cellar, and the shed, and under the bed... in the closet, behind the curtains...