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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A brief notice that there might not be any posts tomorrow (August 31st). I cannot say for sure if I will have access tomorrow. I am setting out for Halifax to begin my graduate studies. I should have internet access tomorrow evening, and I hope to post then. The second thing is that the internet access I will have upon arrival will cause a few changes around here. There will be a lot of downloads for everyone! I will have a lot of time on my hands at first, so I hope to get the archives in some sort of order too.

There will probably be no further posts this evening either: I'm busy with checking, double and triple checking everything for the venture. It's a 1000 mile trip!

Duty calls (already!). Until tomorrow, or Friday!

Clips from the First Production of Jane Eyre: The Musical, in 1997 at Wichita, Kansas.

Here they are so far:

Opening Song
Naughty Girl
Another World
Silent Rebellion

The Governess

The Most Amazing Thing Ever

At least for me. I did not know, until I interviewed Anthony Crivello that this recording existed. And now, Paul Gordon the composer of Jane Eyre: The Musical has put up one clip from it- a recording of the show's very first production in Wichita. Yes, this is a video from its pre-Toronto run! With Anthony Crivello. I never thought I'd see this day! And he promises to add more clips in the coming weeks so stay tuned. Believe me, for anyone studying JE adaptations, especially stage productions, this is very exciting.

Here is the video clip from 'Naughty Girl.'

A very big thanks to Paul Gordon!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Toby Stephens on Jane Eyre 2006

Two pages of interview plus some interesting info. There's a lot to take in, and a few things to snerk at (Jane's 'mysterious lust object'?!!). Perhaps the most surprising thing is that this article only begins and ends with material about Jane Eyre while the bulk is a bio of Mr. Stephens to make sure we're caught up, I suppose. And do we have confirmation of the sneer? Aidan, our Cornish correspondent had promised to set up a sneer counter. Oh dear. I give you now some relevant excerpts:

This could be the Mr Darcy moment for Toby Stephens. Eleven summers ago Colin Firth was just another good-looking British actor. Then came the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. Firth, as Darcy, dived into a lake and emerged, wetly, in a clinging shirt, a star. In a few weeks, the BBC begins its four-part adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Toby Stephens plays Rochester, the heroine’s mysterious lust object. Stephens is 37 (Firth was a year younger), a master of the classical stage who has teetered on the brink of movie fame. Obviously, he is going to be all over the media this autumn, soaking up the adulation, posing for magazine covers, and batting calls from Hollywood casting directors.


The contradictory aspect of this is that Stephens knows what Jane Eyre could mean for him. He says he grabbed at the chance with both hands. He then worked extraordinarily hard filming it, mainly at Haddon Hall, over a particularly cruel Derbyshire winter. “I remember sitting in the main hall thinking: ‘This is f***ing torture.’ My face was frozen in this kind of rictus and I thought: ‘This is going to be Rochester’s expression. I can’t move anything.’ It was horrible for about three, four weeks and then it slowly started thawing out. By the summer it was the most beautiful place on earth.”
He appreciates that, rictus grin or not, his Rochester will not satisfy all of the book’s devotees. “Every woman has their own idea of Mr Rochester. I’d had this image in my head of him being this rather remote, enigmatic, taciturn figure. And I read the book again and, actually, he never shuts up. He just grinds on and on and on, and he’s actually quite theatrical.”


I doubt that Brontë lovers will be objective about his Rochester. Controversy may also surround Ruth Wilson, the unknown whom White chose to play Jane. At least, however, having met her briefly on location in the spring, I can confirm that she looks the part. But is the world ready for a ginger Rochester? “Oh, he looks very different from me, I promise. I wore hair extensions and have black, curly shaggy hair. In the book the both of them are quite plain physically. At the time, what was seen as attractive was somebody slim and fair in a cavalry uniform; he was this shaggy, dark, blue-chin, person. But she finds him handsome.”
My bet is that viewers, like Jane, are going to fall for him too, and big time. Let’s hope the news filters down to the other side of the world.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Harrowing Tale of an Extra in Jane Eyre 2006

"Should that horse be doing that?" This is quickly followed by: "Shut the gate. Quick!" We detect panic.That lippy Lippizaner obviously hadn't given up!

Thanks to Alison for pointing me towards this amusing story of an extra in the BBC's new production of Jane Eyre. Not much happens but it is told with great humor. Here are a few exerpts:

After several date and time changes, I trundled up to the film base for my costume fitting. We tried two dresses; the first looked lovely but was declared "too young". Thank you. The second, a sober black silk crinoline, had been recently used at a funeral and was deemed suitable for an old bag like me.

I cheered up a bit when told that the shawl chosen was used in the BBC's award-winning Bleak House and worn by Ada, the main character.


Your abundance of hair, so prized for period television, is wrenched back in a knot and hidden under the bonnet. This is the sum total of "make up". You, your age, and your naked face, are on display for all to see. It's a cruel business! Surveying my bulk in the mirror, I remark to Saffi, the wardrobe assistant, that this is one fashion that won't come back.


My fellow passenger looks better than me. I discover she is more than 20 years my junior - and has mascara on. I point this out to her and she flutters her lovely lashes in a slightly sheepish, 'I've been caught out', way. I can't flutter mine because they are almost non-existent.

But she's nice and I laugh at her audacity. The make-up woman notices later on set but lets it go. You can't have two ugly women in a carriage can you? As it turns out, we are to be atop the carriage, which I discover from the coachman, is an authentic mail coach. We have four beautiful grey horses; a Lippizaner and three Andalusians. The Lippi is, by nature and historically, a dancing horse from Vienna. He lives up to his reputation and is an obvious show-off. He likes to go his own way - tricky when pulling a coach with three uppity Spaniards.

Hilariously, we are invited to "hop up" on to the carriage. Hopping up isn't really an option when attired in crinoline and petticoat but with the willing and chivalrous help of two frock- coated and top-hatted gentlemen (my, they look devilishly handsome), we make it. It's very high up there and decidedly unsafe with prancing ponies vying for leadership.

The only real worry we have now is whether Lippi might pull us into the pond on the left or the one on the right as we traverse the narrow track between. I consider my escape as we rattle over potholes feeling the lack of suspension with each one. How high, I wonder, can I hoick my dress and will all the crew laugh at me as I try to leap clear in woolly tights and funny boots? Would the corset let me leap anyway? I decide on a better course of action and start to pray. The man next to me mutters that he's glad he's insured and that his wife and children would be all right.


I turn to look at him. He is stony faced and pale, perfect for a Victorian. In the event, they change the horses around and the nippy Lippi is put behind another, more sensible horse. By the sixth take we are, indeed, hopping up and down on the carriage like, well, women in crinolines - very ungainly.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jane Eyre 1957 (with Joan Elan and Patrick MacNee)

I have finally had the pleasure of seeing the entire production myself and it has taken me some time to come to conclusions about it. It is one of the stranger adaptations I have come across so far. It is difficult to describe. I suppose there are two approaches going on at once: an attempt to be faithful to the novel and a complete revision of it. That doesn't make much sense. But it is more or less true. Firstly, most of the main plot elements are removed or changed. Especially anything hidden is revealled- except for Bertha. But the audience is let into the secret before Jane. As soon as Rochester arrives he debriefs Mrs. Fairfax and we learn that Mr Mason is already around, and that 'he's her brother' although we do not yet know who 'she' is. Jane is annoying- constantly whinning about Grace Poole and waxing poetic at strange times and always to Mrs. Fairfax.

Character-wise, Rochester has been reduced to a drunken letch and I really don't see what is so attractive here. Even Mrs. Fairfax seems to admit to a little attraction to him (a little! A very little! But, still...). All of this is balanced by a surprisingly substantial farewell scene which includes several elements entirely missing from all other adaptations. And yet, it still fails to evoke sympathy. Rochester is simply such a boor, and he becomes even more boorish in this scene that I am not sure what the purpose of including it is. (Examples of his boorishness include drinking brandy as if from a fishbowl until he's so drunk that he very nearly rapes Jane on the stairs when she comes to fetch Adele's doll- he also may or may not have groped her in the same scene, depending on how charitable you are or upon close examination of angles. Bertha's attack also looks more like something kinky... and then, in the farewell scene he doesn't simply muse on how he could crush Jane (but that it would be no use, and he wouldn't want to do so)- he goes on about how he would completely 'dominate' her).

As a consequence of this revision of Rochester, Jane seems extremely stupid and naive. During the attempted rape Jane is pushed up against the banister giving the panting Rochester a lecture on drinking and morality with perfect composure. Her constant declaration 'I don't understand you' is ridiculous, especially if he had just groped her a moment before. But I suppose this all explains how she could return to him in the end.

From this brief outline, you can see that some of it was pretty hilarious. Other parts were too. Especially Mr. Mason. He falls down the stairs all bloody and holding a knife, and tells all of the guests what happened. Rochester runs over and says it was just an accident and everyone believes him! This doesn't work as well during the proposal. The instant Jane and Rochester kiss, Mason pops up behind them with a sort of 'what's all this?' air and Mr Rochester tries in vain to shoo him away even while Mason is telling Jane all about how he's married. I think there's even a Wizard of Oz reference when Jane's at Lowood and appears at Thornfield (there's an arial-like shot of a painting of Thornfield, so it appears that she flies in Mary Poppins style) after saying 'Thornfield, Thornfield, Thornfield!' (and maybe clicking her heels off-camera).

I think this proves it: loads of text from the book does not a good adaptation make.

BBC Jane Eyre 2006 Tie-In

This is the cover of a new edition of Jane Eyre due after the premiere of the new BBC mini series with Ruth Wilson (seen on the cover).
Thanks to Bronteblog and Thisbeciel (for the tip).

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Janian Media Presentations

I am overwhelmed by the amount of media handed to me this week, mostly thanks to Thisbeciel. Since my earlier post about the Doyle/Harris musical I have been offered a DVD of the production- so watch out for a review of that sometime later. Off the top of my head, there are the two television films from 1957 and 1949 with Patrick McNee and Joan Ilan, and Charleton Heston and Mary Sinclair. There's the renown Bloom/Quayle audiobook, an opera, a Romanian audiobook (perfect for a family friend...), perhaps a dozen radio adaptations? One of these features Ingrid Bergman as Jane, another has Michael York as Mr. Rochester. On top of this, there's the BBC radio adaptations of Wuthering Heights, Villette, The Professor, Shirley, and Jane Eyre (with Sophie Thompson and Ciaran Hinds).


And that's just what is relevant to Bronte studies. In addition, there's this Multimedia Presentation for the BBC's 1973 mini-series. It is described as a 'teaser' of sorts. I have not seen it yet, since I am still on the old dial-up connection but others have complimented it. From the same site there are also three video clips from the 1944 Jane Eyre with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Anthony Crivello Talks About Jane Eyre: The Musical

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I have long thought it a pity that there were no substantive interviews with Anthony Crivello, who originated the role of Mr. Rochester in the Gordon/Caird musical (earning a Dora nomination- a Canadian theatre award), currently playing the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom Spectacular' in Las Vegas. With the help of his assistant, I was able to ask him a few questions (although there were many more things I wished to know!). Anthony is one of my favourite actors to play Mr. Rochester in any medium, so this was a real treat for me to interview him. Thank you, Mr. Crivello! Also, if my readers would like to hear this version of Jane Eyre: The Musical, you may listen and download it here.

How did you go about preparing for playing Edward Rochester?

It was a lovely, 'building block' process. About six months after working on the first demo I read "JANE EYRE." While reading, I searching for those characteristics in Rochester I could relate to... and envisioned (in my minds eye) location, environment, clothing ... and the other principle characters (with the descriptions Bronte described. I began to structure all while gathering the author's (Bronte) intent. I watched the films "Rebecca" (1940) and "Wuthering Heights" (1939 version.) for research purposes. Through "JANE EYRE's" work shops, "try-outs"and creative journey (which for me was nine years), I continued to build the character, with director John Caird and composer Paul Gordon's help. I researched the period, appropriate accent ( I did not want to pronounce words accented in a stilted way, and have them not match my singing... so I leaned on the standard Mid-Atlantic accent.)I researched 'blindness' and it's effect on behavior. I am 'Method' trained, so I continually try to "stay open" to the spontaneous and see where it might lead me. That lead to some lovely character discovery along the way.

What are your thoughts on the character?

Rochester is of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am very proud of my work on the piece, both on stage and on the album. To this day, I still receive comments about my work in "JANE EYRE" which is a gratifying blessing. Rochester is complex: brooding, humble, arrogant, romantic, heartbroken, intelligent, passionate, funny, tortured, bombastic... all put to beautiful melody, lyrics and dialogue. What more can an actor ask for in a role?

What were some of the challenges of playing the role?

No challenges. Just a day to day delight in the journey of discovery.If there was any challenge, it was balancing the long journey in seeing the piece finally come to creative fruition with my home life. And with the demands of being a stage actor... life on the road proves to be difficult on the personal. It requires a sacrificing, and a continuous search for inner Peace. Great fodder for making Rochester real... but not so delightful in the day to day grind.

Did you have any specific sources of inspiration?

Many. My heroes are of the common ... I think those who are fortunate and perceptive enough to experience life's ups and downs, and wake up wiser are inspiring. I have been lucky to have great teachers and interesting, creative friends... many of whom are so much smarter then me. I try my best to listen when they speak, and ask probing questions.

You were involved with the production at a very early stage. Were there any changes to the interpretation and development of the character of Rochester over that time?

It just kept evolving. 'Rochester' somehow stood his ground... so the character lead the way.But I have to say, in it's early stages, the "JANE EYRE" we did in Wichita, KS. still merits in it's purity of heart. It was just as loving, just as heartbreaking. The simplistic story telling done at that stage was piercing. Also, I always loved touches like Brocklehurst singing "Naughty Girl" as a solo.To me, it was much more effective, much more defining, and frightening. Also, very early on... had the pleasure of singing early demos opposite Ms. Sally Dworski as 'Jane.' Sally is blessed with a nightingale's voice. Pure, clean, sweet... it just disarms you. I wish you had the pleasure of hearing those very early demos. They were delightful.

Why did you leave the show after its Toronto run?

See http://imdb.com/name/nm0188266/ for the answer.

What are some of your favorite memories of Jane Eyre?

Aaaaaahhhh.... a very easy question to answer. Taking all the "Lowood School" girls out to The Golden Griddle in Toronto for pancakes. I treated about ten of them to "late breakfast' between shows on a Saturday matinee day. It remains a wonderful memory. They were a delightful, mischievous group, as were Wichita young ladies.

Do you remember any fun on-stage blooper stories you can share?

Please... I would only embarrass myself and damage my 'sterling reputation.' Suffice it to say 'the Gypsy' was a lot more mischievous 'beneath the cape' than what appeared to the audiences. ( Crivello says with a wink and a smile... I can't give my entire 'Secret Soul' away!)

Let me conclude by saying the entire journey was a joy. I was very fortunate to have worked with some wonderful, talented cast members, both in Wichita and Toronto.... and even prior to those performance cities with the early demos. Our crews in both locations were supportive, and caring. We were supported by producers who believed in the show. My experiences with Kathy Haupman and Laura Bergquist in Wichita, KS. and David and Ed Mirvish in Toronto were professional, generous and most appreciated. Our creative team was completely devoted to the project, and I believe their work was splendid indeed. I hope one day to have an additional relationship with what I believe to be a lovely piece of theater, and a beautiful story.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jane Eyre: The Musical Classic (Doyle/Harris)

Thanks to Siansaska for bring this link to my attention! I had heard of this musical before, but until now I did not know that more than a few pictures were available online. Here's the homepage for 'Jane Eyre: The Musical Classic' (not to be confused with about 5 or 6 Jane Eyre: The Musicals), with music by Suzannah Doyle and lyrics and book by Kristina Harris. From this site you can gain production rights, listen to some sound clips and more.

The production was staged in 2003. On this website you can see a ton of production photos (which was all I thought was available until now). My computer is too slow to let me listen to the clips but I would love to hear your opinions on the songs!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jane Eyre at Edmonton Fringe Festival

The headline of the review is slightly misleading: the show was nominated for several Tony awards, not just the one.

With Jane Eyre HHH (Stage 5, King Edward school), we get to see a Broadway musical that picked up a 2000 Tony nomination for its Paul Gordon score, a version of the groundbreaking 1847 Charlotte Bronte novel. If director Ryan hadn't taught us that the musical theatre trolls widely for its literary provenance, this would seem, on the surface, like an improbable source: a complex Victorian narrative heavy on exposition. Even if the results are mixed, it is fascinating to see what music brings to an enterprise that travels widely through the years, event-filled. No accident that Brit director John Caird, who wrote the book, is one of the Les Miz team.
What turns out to be a natural fit for people bursting into song is the wincing chemical combination of the repressed and the luridly melodramatic, in the lush tale of the plain and plain-
spoken orphan who overcomes her harsh upbringing and the brutal class system to prevail, a feminist scenario if there ever was one.
In truth, it all seems a little schematic, and the production sketchy, as we fly through Jane's tumultuous biography en route to the headliner: the love story of Jane and the mysteriously moody Edward Rochester, interrupted by occasional appearances from the lunatic upstairs lodger.
Gordon's songs, which veer from the gently melancholic ("there is a fever on my brow and I fear the time has come...") to the climactic pop(ish) anthem Brave Enough For Love, are proficient without being memorable. But the production is welcome on its own behalf, and a talent scout's delight. In addition to her luminous voice, Nicole Rowley brings intelligence and coiled tension to her role as Jane. The dithery half-deaf housekeeper, played by Myla Southward, gets the show's wittiest number. Cody Michie possesses vocal chops; youth and bearing conspire against his creating a complex, enigmatic, haunted Rochester. The choral moments reverberate.

A Preview, of Sorts...

Until I can once more provide clips of Megwyn Owen's work in Jane Eyre, I thought I should share some of her work from soon afterwards, which is similar. My apologies to anyone already familiar with Megwyn Owen's work, and with 'Upstairs, Downstairs' but this is totally new to me and, although only tangentially related to Bronte studies, I feel it would be of interest to some of my readers for me to post a little about Meg's role as Hazel Forrest Bellamy.

Megwyn Owen plays Jane Eyre in a 1972 radio adaptation from the BBC, and turns in such a marvellous performance (the finest in the role, in my honest opinion). In 1973-74 she played Hazel in the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs, which is something like a historical docudrama set in the Edwardian period showing the 'upstairs' life of the English aristocracy and the 'downstairs' life of the servants who live with them. In the picture above, she is sitting in the centre with her husband to her right and her father-in-law to her left.

Without spoiling too much, she begins as the typist of the master of the family, then marries his son. Like Jane, Hazel is very principled, and unconventional- despite claims to the contrary. She rightly sees herself as 'an ordinary person with ordinary feelings' but her unwillingness to adopt the practices of her new class bring down the anger of her husband and her father-in-law:

In this clip, her father-in-law (Richard Bellamy) and former employer reproaches her for 'meddling in a man's affairs.' I still am not able to post clips from Jane Eyre for comparison but there is a slight similarity to how she plays Jane and Hazel. Hazel is bolder, however. And in this clip, her husband (James Bellamy) reproaches her for cooking 'like a scullery maid' instead of running the house from 'upstairs.' That last clip contains a definate spoiler at the very end, so you might want to stop it just after she says 'If you can't understand that...'

Clips and images courtesy of http://www.updown.org.uk

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

An anecdote from the bloglines has reminded me of my own trouble in finding the right book. From a librarian:

Patron: Do you have a copy of Jane EEEEEE-RAY?
ME: Excuse me?
Patron: Jane EEEEEE-RAY by Emily Bronte?
ME: Oh, you mean Jane EYRE (pronounced AIR) by CHARLOTTE Bronte.
Patron: Yes.
ME: Why yes! Let me go get it! (and I wander into the stack to get the book) I have it right here!
Patron: Is it PINK?
ME:Excuse me?
Patron: Is it PINK? I only want the one that is pink.
ME: Well, this copy is a light beige, I guess you could call it pink.
Patron: OK.

I guess if you cannot tell the difference between Charlotte and Emily Bronte, you really can't tell the difference between beige and pink.

It works both ways. I don't bother buying books from Chapters anymore but when I called to see if they had The Eyre Affair in stock, I believe only the fact that the book was in stock saved them from thinking I was making a crank call:

Me: J- I mean, The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. Spelt-
Clerk: (obviously insulted) I know how to spell 'air'! A-I-
Me: No, Eyre as in Jane Eyre. That's why I almost said Jane before. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte... E-Y-R-E...
Clerk: Hmn. (pause)
Me: Oh, and that's Fforde with two Fs... and an E.
Clerk: ...
Me: ... I think it's Welsh (laughing nervously for it is getting very tense on the other line. And of course it's Welsh).
Clerk: ... (dryly) I guess so.

And, yes, it was very like the Bookshop skit from Monty Python. ("That's David Coperfield with one P, I want David Copperfield with two Ps by Edmond Welles." or "Grete Expectations by Charles Dikkens, the well-known Dutch author").

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ah, Summer Reading...

Students are being given summer reading, including the Brontes. Surprising, isn't it? Well, it is even less surprising for me since I've had not only those internet searches for character sketches of characters from the novels poking around the blog, but on certain messageboards people have been bold enough to ask for chapter by chapter summaries, and quotes. The level of laziness involved in going online, and through all the trouble of posting such a message and waiting for a reply... instead of simply opening the book and looking for quotation marks is utterly mind-boggling.

But, here's an article about why teachers are bothering with at least trying to get their students to read over the summer.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Charlotte Bronte Handwriting Analysis

I have been looking through the archives of my private journal- which in 2004 was already swamped by Bronte posts. Among them is this: an internet-generated analysis of Charlotte Bronte's handwriting based on a manuscript page of Jane Eyre. I have only included exerpts because the analysis is rather long. Some observations seem very like CB and others are just silly. (This was generated based on my description of her handwriting):

Charlotte has a very unusual lower zone y loop. If the data input is correct, Charlotte's y or g is large and opens up to the left side of the page. This is not a common trait, but the implications are very interesting. As you begin to study handwriting analysis, you will learn any loop indicates imagination. This lower loop indicates the amount of imagination Charlotte has regarding sex and physical things. So, her lower zone stroke is large, so her sexual imagination is large and open. Furthermore, because the loop is incomplete and extends to the left, this indicates a particular fascination with certain aspects of sexuality that have not been fulfilled, yet. In a nutshell, Charlotte is open to some very new ideas sexually and is willing to try anything once.

Something is incomplete in Charlotte's life. She feels frustration relating to her physical needs and desires. Somewhere in her life there is some disappointment, non-fulfillment, and interruption. This is very likely to relate to Charlotte's sexual needs.

Charlotte has a temper. [...] One way Charlotte punishes herself is self directed sarcasm. She is a very sarcastic person. Often this sarcasm and "sharp tongued" behavior is directed at herself. [...] Charlotte is capable of seeing far into the future. She plans two, three, even ten years in advance. Charlotte has high goals and can literally see them being reached. She is very self-confident and has a high self-esteem. Charlotte will reach whatever level of success she desires. Charlotte has the self-concept that is possessed by less than two percent of the population. That two percent contains the most successful people in the world. [...]

In reference to Charlotte's mental abilities, she has a very investigating and creating mind. [...] She has the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. Her mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. She can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. Charlotte can then switch into her low gear. When she is in the slower mode, she can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. She is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

Diplomacy is one of Charlotte's best attributes. She has the ability to say what others want to hear. She can have tact with others. She has the ability to state things in such a way as to not offend someone else. Charlotte can disagree without being disagreeable.

Charlotte will be candid and direct when expressing her opinion. She will tell them what she thinks if they ask for it, whether they like it or not. So, if they don't really want her opinion, don't ask for it!

Charlotte is moderately outgoing. Her emotions are stirred by sympathy and heart rendering stories. [...] Charlotte will be somewhat moody, with lows and highs. Sometimes she will be happy, the next day she might be sad. She has the unique ability to get along equally well with what psychology calls introverts and extroverts. This is because she is in between. Psychology calls Charlotte an ambivert. [...] When convincing her to buy a product or an idea, a heart rendering story could mean a great deal to her. She puts herself in the same situation as the person in the story, yet she will not buy anything that seems overly impractical or illogical. Charlotte is an expressive person. She outwardly shows her emotions. [...] Charlotte is a "middle-of-the-roader," politically as well as logically. She weighs both sides of an issue, sits on the fence, and then will decide when she finally has to. She basically doesn't relate to any far out ideas and usually won't go to the extreme on any issue.

Charlotte tends to write a bit smaller than the average person. When a person's letters are small and tiny, this indicates an ability to focus and concentrate. This character trait is a huge asset in careers like math, science, race car driving, and flying planes. However, if Charlotte writes tiny all of the time, she will also display characteristics of someone who is socially introverted. Charlotte will often sit on the sideline and watch others get the attention at parties. she might be willing to open up and be warm, but only in small groups or a select group of people. When she is busy working on a project, it is common for all other noises and distractions to just fade away and her ability to focus is incredible. When she says she didn't hear you... really, she didn't hear you.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More Bronte Wares

There are a few other handmade Bronte items for sale at Etsy.com including a wooden Charlotte Bronte doll:

Hand-turned wooden figurine of Tasmanian white sassafras, hand-painted by Jilli Roberts of the Deepings Dolls. Each Deepings Doll is individually crafted and unique.Charlotte Bronte, author of several novels including the much loved Jane Eyre, was one of the three Bronte sisters of Yorkshire, who wrote novels under male pseudonyms, and all died young. Charlotte was the eldest and longest-lived of the sisters, and also the most prolific writer. She is pictured here in a rich burgundy/grape coloured crinoline dress, in the Victorian fashionDeepings Dolls are approx. 13cm. in height, the perfect size for a dolls house, or to adorn your bookshelf or mantlepiece.

Below are a few other items available:

An 'Eyre, Bronte bird kette pendant charm.' The same seller has little books- "büchli/buechli"- , and other 'charm's and things with random-seeming fragments of quotes from Jane Eyre on them.

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights Book Purse

This handmade item is currently for sale on Etsy.com, a website for selling handmade items of all sorts. It fills me with horror... I hope the text met a natural end and wasn't scooped out so the binding could be made into a purse!

The listing reads: Another one of a kind purse made from an old hardback copy of Jane Eyre's Wuthering Heights. Perfect for the bibliophile, your favorite librarian, or just someone who likes having the coolest, most unique purse on the block. This is fully lined with quality cotton fabric and has a reinforced bottom.

Don't fret. We've also seen: 'Charlotte Bronte by Jane Eyre.' What is worse is that it was possibly an illustrated edition. I recognise it. I have not seen the illustrations of Wuthering Heights, but all of the illustrations from this edition of Jane Eyre are available on the Bronteana Resource Site here: Jane Eyre Illustrations Page One. Just scroll down to the illustrations by Munro S. Orr.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Would the Brontes Survive BookScan?

This article from The Australian warns us of the dangers of publishing becoming more and more like manufacturing industries (such as asperagus canning). BookScan is a publishing technology which keeps track of sales information for every book purchased. The fear is that publishers will use the information to cut talents from their lists because they are not big sellers.

The world of fiction writing is full of tales (and some fantasies) about manuscripts that almost failed to be published and that went on to sell well and become beloved classics. Think Bronte, think Potter (Harry). It is possible that if sales are the only marker by which works of fiction are to be selected, will the Bovaries and the Heathcliffs and the Potters never see the light of day? Would that matter? I happen to think it would, because readers would be denied the joys of those particular excursions into the world of the imagination. So what to do?

Well once upon a time, I have been led to believe, when publishing was a funny old gentleman's club, when the Penguin paperback had not been born and when you carried your manuscript around in a battered suitcase that you might absent-mindedly leave on the platform at Paddington, publishers were silly enough to subsidise the publication of risky novels and collections of weird poetry by the sales of sure-fire bestsellers. Perhaps even then they were books about diets and how to get the bloodstains out of the carpet after a party. Is it really no longer possible to do that?

Why not gamble on the Flaubert of Flemington, the Sartre of Sans Souci, the Charlotte Bronte of Bronte Park in the sure and certain hope (Book of Common Prayer) that they might one day pay off, come home, sell a bomb?

This does confuse me somewhat. At least in Canada, publishers still are silly enough to invest in works they believe in but know will not sell. And, yes, they do pay for them by selling a lot of really bad books that people will buy. Independent bookstores are forced to do the same to survive. Whether or not the Brontes would suffer if they were publishing today is an interesting question but if we are basing our views on the sales of the novels in the 1800s, BookScan would not be an issue. They would not go up to the Parsonage and say 'sales are a bit down this quarter: mind spicing things up a bit?' The question would rather be one of style- I think, and of length. Consumer criticism of the Bronte novels tend to revolve around a few areas: lack of appreciation for poetic description, complaints about length, and complaints that there isn't any sex in the novels.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bronteana Book Meme!

Glaukopidos informs me that I've been tagged for a book meme that has been circulating on Classics blogs. I've never posted a meme on Bronteana before, and it isn't news or an anecdote. So, I suppose this is an interview with myself.

1. One book that changed your life:

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte. It was only after I read Villette that I became interested in the Brontes. And this was not that long ago either: perhaps two years ago. I took it to heart, and owe to it my determination to become a Bronte scholar.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. I imagine that the novel will change when I read it again. It is a totally different experience each time.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (really, are you surprised?).

4. One book that made you laugh:

An Aislinge MacConglinne (The Vision of McCongline), annonymous medieval Irishperson. Well. It has a saga in it about the 'mighty peerless chieftains of the tribes of food,' with such characters as Cakey MacWrist-y-hand and Filch MacSmooth-juicy-bacon.

5. One book that made you cry:

Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte. I believe it is the only book that made me cry, while Villette came very close.

6. One book that you wish had been written.

I wish Charlotte had finished Emma. Those were some of her finest opening chapters. The rewrite, by Clare Boland was not convincing.

7. One book that you wish had never been written.

Wide Sargasso Sea would be the smart answer, just so I would save time in explaining that it and Jane Eyre are not narratively compatible. I can't say I wish any book were not written. No, wait... There Was Mr. Cristi. I helped publish the thing. I edited it. I nearly went mad trying to write backcover copy for it. 'Just pretend to like it- say why people should read it.' I drew a blank for so long that I finally snapped and, looking at the Penguin copy for Charlotte's The Professor which makes it sound like a tale of seduction, I set to work. I believe I did use the phrase 'Mrs. Christi sucks the marrow out of life' but only in desperation. I even hinted at illicit goings-on and sinister implications surrounding the completely benign Mr. Bedlington, but as the publisher said: 'the backcover is the only place where hyperbole and lies are encouraged.' (Thus, in an anthology I am actually published in I am hearalded as one of Canada's emerging authors (very emergent- as that is my one and only publication to date). And that the books is 'the best ever'. I kid not). Anyway, no one- the publisher, the author's family, the 30 or so editors working on it- thought it had the slightest merit as a novel. I think we went with Gritty Realism in the end, which is good for anything!

8. One book you’re currently reading:

I am currently between books. I just finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Would you believe it, they don't have a copy in the entire library system of this city!

10. Now tag five people: I tag Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog, Mysticgypsy, Frankengirl, Pennyforyourdreams, and Austenblog!

Bronte News.

It is time to catch up on a few more items I have indexed. Firstly, it is now possible to order tickets online for the BFI September 16th screening of the BBC's new mini-series of Jane Eyre in London.

WOWIO, a new online audiobook 'store' launched this month. It is not quite a store. Users download audiobooks free of charge but these books include 'dynamic advertisements' to 'compensate publishers.' Considering how much publishers make on each book, seems like a good plan. But how will we care for adverts in the middle of Wuthering Heights? Read more about it here.

The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life,By Edward Mendelson features chapters on what Wuthering Heights can teach us about childhood, and Jane Eyre about growing up. The book is reviewed here.

Each of his chapters is devoted to how these novels help us understand the phenomena of birth ("Frankenstein"), childhood ("Wuthering Heights"), growth ("Jane Eyre"), parenthood ("To the Lighthouse") and so on. The brooding "Wuthering Heights," for example, subverts the values of adulthood; Catherine and Heathcliff, hankering after the intense, visionary bond they formed as children, want nothing to do with the values of grown-ups: "Childhood, in this novel, is a state of titanic intensity," Mendelson writes, "adulthood a state of trivial weakness." (Though Mendelson doesn't make the parallel, this is similar to what J.D. Salinger gets at in "The Catcher in the Rye.")

Jane Eyre in the park. If I understand correctly, Penguin Books will be placing shelves of classics in London parks as part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of their 'sub-brand' 'Penguin Classics.' Their slogan? 'The Best Book Ever Written.' Their selection of 'the best book(s)' includes our very own Jane Eyre.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On the Trail of a Trek Allusion

Captain’s log, stardate 48734.2. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get away from being a captain for a while. To that end, I’ve started participating in a new holo-novel. The setting is ancient England.

Before I began blogging, a friend of mine finally broke down and read Jane Eyre after hearing about it from me. After she was converted, she admitted that she had seen a Jane Eyre fantasy on Star Trek Voyager, and thought it all so dull that she didn't want to read it. Well, today, I tried looking for this fantasy, and I found something quite different.

Captain Kathryn Janeway's favourite 'holonovel' is one in which she plays Mrs. Lucille 'Lucie' Davenport, governess to Lord Burleigh's two children Henry and Beatrice. The actress who plays Janeway said herself that the story is 'Jane Eyre time' and 'a gothic romance' but I don't see much of a similarity. Apparently the obstacle consists in the children disapproving of the romance. Still, I found this picture interesting. It's caption read 'Lucie finds love.' For a moment, I could be persuaded that this was a picture from Villette. Anyway, here's our Lord Burleigh (there's also a Mrs. Templeton, who disapproves of Lucie, and keeps the secrets of the late Mrs. Burleigh and the house so well that I have no idea what they might be).

And more of the... excitement? Beatrice fears her father will discover that she can play the piano. The revelation of Burleigh's love for Lucie was the result of a technical malfunction in the holodeck and wasn't actually part of the novel's plot. Little Henry 'becomes very upset.' Well, if I were a starship captain I'd want to spend my free time pretending to be a governess too. What fun that would be! Of Burleigh's character I cannot find anything, but my friend's description made me think of Linton Heathcliff... Here, then, are the Burleighs. All information is courtesy of Memory Alpha:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Very ...Interesting Interview with Dame Darcy

We've been waiting months to hear more about Dame Darcy's illustrated Jane Eyre, and now we have a new interview and a few illustrations. The interview itself is really very odd:

Darcy was first exposed to "Jane Eyre" while in art school where it had an immediate impact on her. "It's just so gothic and awesome. I really like how all this surreal weird stuff goes down, while the rest of the time is spent drinking tea and staring out the window - which I think is actually kind of cool. I enjoy doing that, too! [laughs]"

Penguin gave Darcy a lot of room to play with in working on "The Illustrated Jane Eyre" and every illustration she created for the book will see print. "What's really great is they asked me to do the cover and it could have been any image from the entire book, but I thought the way to make it really kind of punk rock for the new generation of goth girls that it'll appeal to was to take the scene where Jane Eyre is freaking out while the giant mansion is burning behind and Jane Eyre is written in bloody red letters. That's how hard core Jane Eyre gets! People think it's this classic about a governess, but it's not necessarily about that - I mean, she gets called a witch about 7000 times and everything demented and tragic goes down during the book. I thought that should be portrayed. Plus, she's seriously Catholic-damaged, which is probably true for most of my fan base. [laughs]"

So much for overtones. 'Catholic-damaged?' And Jane is a witch? She's also called a skylark, a linet but they're not in fashion at the moment. I wonder what the last half of the book's illustrations will be like.

Patrick Allen. March 17, 1927 - July 28, 2006

Patrick Allen, one of the finest actors to play Mr. Rochester has passed away at the age of 79. His obituary makes no mention of his excellent portrayal for the BBC's 1972 radio adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Just today I was describing some of his marvellous scenes, and singing his praises. Moments ago, in fact, I was listening to his performance once again. I regret that I cannot post clips from the production at the moment. I hope to be able to do so in the future, and to truly celebrate it.

He played opposite Megwynn Owen (aka Meg Wynn Owen). Her Jane was likewise astonishing. There is no doubt in my mind that if the radio adaptation had been a mini-series (it was in 5 parts) it would be among the other excellent BBC productions. Sadly, as a radio adaptation it was aired and then vanished except for those who recorded it. It was singular especially because not only were its Rochester and Jane masterfully portrayed but so was St.John Rivers. So much so, that the effect was quite disturbing and made me reread the chapters in which he appeared very carefully!

Alas, we probably will never know his thoughts on the character but we can thank him for all he has done.

Wuthering Heights the Graphic Novel

Next month a 'brand new adaptation' of Wuthering Heights will be available- a graphic novel:

A fine addition to this canon is a graphic novel that adapts Emily Bronte's classic and much-loved novel Wuthering Heights. With its generous helping of sex, violence and death, its rain-streaked, barren backdrop of the Haworth moors, its gothic obsessions, make it a perfect topic for comic book treatment.

Sex?... Must have been watching the 1970s film with Mr. Dalton.

The book has been specially commissioned for the Radical Brontes Festival, which runs from September 15-24 and, as its name suggests, aims to paint the women and their work in a very different light to the common misconceptions surrounding them - that they are cosy, romantic novels written by genteel sisters with nothing better to do.


So what will Bronte purists make of his adaptation? "It is quite a complicated story when you get into it," says Adam. "There are a lot of flashbacks and I had to do away with a lot of the long narrative passages but at the same time keep to the style and preserve the language of the novel.
"But by and large, I think I've been fairly faithful to the original while endeavouring to keep the pace moving. I'm not really worried that I'll upset the Bronte faithful because there haven't been any major changes to the story."

Wuthering Heights: The Graphic Novel will be launched at Waterstone's in Bradford on Saturday, September 16.

Catching Up and Taking Stock

I would like to thank everyone who wrote in while my computer was down to tell me about the interview with Ruth Wilson. It was very cheering to know that so many people are noticing these things.

I have also started to realise what has been lost. Most of my collected Bronteana were not backed up. Most of the illustrations were already transferred to the Bronteana Resource Page but not all. The very best were lost, but I still have the edition I scanned them from. I will try to get them done before I leave for Halifax. All of the best material in audio was backed up so all that was lost were the truly awful or otherwise bad adaptations. So, I guess this isn't such a bad thing. You won't have to listen to the Jane Eyre production from the Erie Playhouse of which the nicest thing I can say is that the Entr'acte has a nice tune (although live it could have been entertaining. 'My Days with Celine' had Rochester, Celine and the Vicomte interpretive dancing, I hear). I also lost the BBC radio series with Ciaran Hinds and Sophie Thompson. This is unfortunate because some people did want to hear this despite my warnings. I don't know if the Wierd Circle productions are gone- you recall, the Jane Eyre with the T-rex sound effects and tea spoons of horror. All of the really splendid badness is backed up: 'Rockin' Rochester', and also 'Rochester Triumphant' are all safe on CD. Some of the rest of the 'lost' items are on my ipod...

For those who are not long time readers of Bronteana, 'Rockin' Rochester' refers to a demo song called 'If You Could See the World' mercifully cut from the Broadway musical of Jane Eyre in which Rochester 'rocks out.' There's a less popular song where St.John does the same but it is funnier when Rochester does it (there is a song in another show called 'St.John is the Man'). 'Rochester Triumphant' is also a cut song from the Broadway show but it made it into its pre-Bway run at La Jolla. This is actually called 'The Chestnut Tree.' To disguise the noise of the tree being switched for the blasted one, Rochester starts to shout poetic triumph to the skies with a chorus, trumpets, and bells in the background! It sounds a bit like a slot machine... Only with trumpets and Jane Eyre. It is a profoundly guilty pleasure. I like it even more than the demo for 'Perfect Match' with its mix of Gilbert and Sullivan with Handel's Messiah: Blanche trilling, manly choruses of 'England is glorious, Hosannah!' and cymbals.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Itinerary for North American Tour of Polly Teale's 'Jane Eyre'

Thanks to Bronteana reader, Agnes for pointing the way (twice!). * denotes a venue pending confirmation. Information from the acting company :

Jan 18, 2007 Rockville, MD Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center
Jan 20-22, 2007 Flushing, NY Queens Theater in the Park
Jan 25-26, 2007 Malvern, VA TBA
Jan 27, 2007 Purchase, NY The Performing Arts Center - Purchase College
Jan 30, 2007 Ogdensburg, NY George Hall Aud. - Ogdensburg Free Academy
Jan 31-Feb 1, 2007 Manchester, NH Dana Humanities Center - St. Anselm College
Feb 2, 2007 Burlington, VT Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Feb 3, 2007 Durham, NH Johnson Theater - Univ. of New Hampshire
Feb 6-7, 2007 Pittsburgh, PA Byham Theater
Feb 8, 2007 Houghton, NY Houghton College Chapel Auditorium
Feb 10-11, 2007 Hampton, VA American Theatre
Feb 13, 2007 Charlottesville, VA The Paramount Theater
Feb 14, 2007 Fairfax, VA Center for the Arts - George Mason University
Feb 16, 2007 Boone, NC Farthing Auditorium - Appalachian State University
Feb 17, 2007 Charlotte, NC TBA*
Feb 18, 2007 Spindale, NC TBA*
Feb 20, 2007 Muncie, IN Emens Auditorium - Ball State University
Feb 21-22, 2007 Holland, MI DeWitt Center - Hope College
Feb 23, 2007 Greenville, MI TBA*
Feb 24, 2007 Elyria, OH Stocker Fine Arts Center - Lorain County Comm. College
Feb 26, 2007 Cincinnati, OH Aronoff Center - Jarson-Kaplan Theater
Feb 27, 2007 Notre Dame, IN O'Laughlin Aud. - St. Mary's College
Mar 2, 2007 Toledo, OH Valentine Theatre
Mar 3, 2007 Windsor, ON Capitol Theatre & Arts Centre
Mar 4, 2007 London, ON TBA*
Mar 6, 2007 Starkville, MS McComas Hall Theatre-Miss. State University Starkville
Mar 8-9, 2007 Tulsa, OK Chapman Theatre at Kendal Hall - Univ. of Tulsa*
Mar 11, 2007 Pine Bluff, AR TBA*
Mar 13, 2007 Natchitoches, LA Northwestern Theatre - Northwestern State Univ. of LA
Mar 15, 2007 Ruston, LA Howard Auditorium - Louisiana Tech. Univ.
Mar 16-17, 2007 Baton Rouge, LA Magnolia Perf. Arts Pavillion - Baton Rouge CC
Mar 18-19, 2007 Tupelo, MS TBA*
Mar 20, 2007 Wesson, MS Rea Auditorium - Copiah-Lincoln Comm. College
Mar 22, 2007 Thomasville, GA Cultural Center Hall
Mar 23, 2007 Jacksonville, FL Wilson Center for the Arts - Florida Comm. College Jacksonville
Mar 25, 2007 Newberry, SC Newberry Opera House
Mar 26-27, 2007 Talladega, AL Antique Talladega
Mar 28, 2007 Opelika, AL TBA*
Mar 30-Apr 2, 2007 West Palm Beach, FL Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
Apr 2, 2007 Miami, FL TBA*
Apr 10, 2007 Lakeland, FL Branscomb Memorial Auditorium-Florida Southern College
Apr 11, 2007 Clearwater, FL TBA*
Apr 14, 2007 Aiken, SC TBA*
Apr 15, 2007 Jefferson City, TN Gentry Auditorium - Carson-Newman College
Apr 17, 2007 Albany, NY TBA*
Apr 18, 2007 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY Bard College
Apr 19, 2007 Union City, NJ Park Theater
Apr 20, 2007 Staten Island, NY St. George Theater*
Apr 23-May 5, 2007 New York, NY Baruch Performing Arts Center

Jane Eyre pulled into Abortion Debate

This is definately one of the strangest allusions to JE that I have come across (the other was more light-hearted and amusing- it was from an article on internet technology and community which had the IT specialist in tears over the great love of Jane and calling for similar caring and sharing among businesses). The article is highly political, the allusion is a bit sloppy:

I disagree with the argument of a third columnist, who said the current silence on abortion is because we are sick of hearing about it. This observation reminded of a terrible event in the great British novel by Charlotte Bronte, "Jane Eyre." Jane's fiance, Rochester, has treated his first wife much as we treat abortion in this election year. For years, Rochester had kept his wife locked up in a third-story room, even as he prepared for a new marriage to keep up proper appearances.
In contrast, his proposed new wife, Jane Eyre - who was constantly clashing with the people and the fashions of her time - started to think about that faint screaming from the third story. Perhaps, Jane decided, someone should finally ask a few questions about what was happening in this locked-up Rochester household.
Like Lady Rochester, our 1 million abortions per year are locked up in a third floor, out of our sight and away from our discussion groups.

Ruth Wilson on Jane Eyre

At last, a wonderful interview with our new Jane Eyre has come over the wire (on the 11th). And there's also a notation on the bottom of the article with a little more information on the air date in the UK. The series will be airing on BBC One in late September! Here are some excerpts from the interview with Ruth Wilson:

The 24-year-old won the role late last year, having only graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in July.
At the time she had just one professional credit, as seductive Jewel Diamond in the Five sitcom Suburban Shootout.
And because most of the parts she was being put up for were similarly glamorous, she approached the Jane Eyre audition considering herself barely suitable for the role of the dowdy governess from Charlotte Bronte's 19th Century novel.
"But then I read the script and the script was amazing... so honest, natural and real," she says.
"It was kind of the first script that I felt really at ease with. When I was at the audition it just came so naturally to me."
I just felt really humble saying, 'I'm Ruth Wilson, I'm playing Jane Eyre' She adds: "She's a complex, amazing character - it's a gift to be given really on your second job."
Wilson admits she was "a bit in shock" when she was told she would be joining a stellar cast including Toby Stephens, Francesca Annis, Pam Ferris and Tara Fitzgerald.
"I didn't quite believe it for a while. The first people I phoned up were my mum and dad, who were very chuffed and sort of screaming down the phone, more excited than I was."


But the most nerve-wracking moment was when she first joined the rest of the cast and crew for the script read-through.
"It's everyone in this big room: BBC execs; casting directors; most of the crew; people who I've got no idea who they are. There's just 60, 70 people in a room.
"The worst thing was going round the room saying what you are doing - I just felt really humble saying, 'I'm Ruth Wilson, I'm playing Jane Eyre.'"
Just as she sensed that all eyes that day would be on the unknown actress in the starring role, Wilson is aware that critics' eyes will be too.
"They're not going to ignore me," she says.
"You wish for these roles, but you know that it's going to be judged on every level."
Star struck
With almost all her previous experience in the theatre, Wilson admits that she is still learning how to act for the screen.
"I really enjoyed the experience, I got so much out of it and I can only get better, I know I can.
"Whatever the critics say, they say - there's no point worrying too much about it."
Since completing filming in June, Wilson has immediately noticed the positive effect of the addition of Jane Eyre to her CV.
"I am going to better auditions," she says.
"People are starting to see me when they wouldn't have done before - suddenly you have done a big show and you have got a bit more standing."
She adds: "Suddenly I'm going to an audition and it's like, 'There's Tamsin Greig, I'm going to an audition with her,' and getting really star struck by people around me in the audition room."

Bronteana Resumes!

I really did not forsee losing my computer for so very long. The problem was one of communication. Since the repair was free, the store kindly didn't bother telling me to pick it up until they had closed for the weekend! But I'm back now, and hope to answer everyone's comments, questions, emails, and catch up on all the news- I'll try to! My apologies!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Campaigners save Bronte farmhouse

BY NEIL HUDSON AN HISTORIC farm building with Bronte connections, which formed part of a Leeds murder investigation, has been saved from demolition after local campaigners succeeded in getting it listed.

Bronte enthusiasts applied to have Thornbush Farm, on Miry Lane, Hightown, Liversedge - formerly known as Lousy Farm - listed after it was put up for auction twice last year. It was feared that the farm would be sold and demolished and the land used for housing. The building was home to Patrick Bronte, the father of the famous Bronte sisters, for up to four years from around 1811.

The 12-acre smallholding was raided by police in 2004 during the inquiry into the murder of wealthy Leeds businessman John Luper. Mr Luper, 57, died after robbers broke into his house and held him hostage. The thieves stole cash and jewellery. Police dug up land at the farm in the hunt for clues.

Last year, the farm was put up for auction but attracted no buyers. That prompted enthusiasts to campaign for it to be listed. Immelda Marsden, from Mirfield, who led the campaign, said: "We've got it listed as a Grade II structure. I am very pleased. "I had letters asking about it from people all over the world. This means that it cannot now be pulled down, or that it would be an offence to do so. "Hopefully now someone will do something with it. When I wrote my letters to English Heritage, I mentioned about its history and the connections with Patrick Bronte and the Luddites.

"I think it's good in terms of attracting more people to the area who are interested in the Brontes and local history in general. It would have been a shame to lose the building." Patrick Bronte lived at the farm after arriving from Ireland and before he took up a position at Hartshead Church. He later moved back to Clough House, on the same road as the farm. A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: "Thornbush Farm has architectural interest as an unmodernised set of rural cottages, altered to form a single dwelling at the centre of a farmstead, probably in the 19th century. The major part of the fabric and original features are intact. "However, it is its historical significance that gives it a high degree of special interest. "As the former home of Patrick Bronte, the building has strong historic allure which contributes towards its merit for listed status."

Open Letters

Dear students of the world,

I can see you trying to cheat on you summer reading assignments by searching my blog for the answers to your homework questions. I have some idea what these assignments are because the blog searches have been full of summer reading lists. Time is running out and you still haven't read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. Typing your homework questions into a search engine will do you no good! In the time it takes you to devise your cheat, search the internet, then give up, you could have actually thought about the question for a few seconds and answered it very well yourself! Honestly, these questions are really basic... Another thing is, did it not occur to you that if you can type your teacher's question into a search engine, that your teacher could too? After finding an answer after all the time spent plotting, searching and sifting- by some astronoical chance you find something. But then your teacher will find you out. Just read the books and think about them for one minute of your lives! And don't try to cheat using my blog!

Besides, I know the plot of WH so I don't have posts on here reminding me who Cathy is...

Second item:

Dear readers,

My computer is going back in for more repairs! This time I'm having to type using the on screen keyboard. I have no luck with computers. Otherwise my typing llookkss lliikkee thihiss.. AANNDD II""DD iimmaagginiee iitt wwouoludld ggeett vereyry aannnnooyyiningg vveryy qquuiiccklklyy!! I hope it will be fixed within a day but in case I dissappear for a day or two this is why. I will be back! I will also catch up on email and comments when I get it back.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Angela Workman Interviewed at BronteBlog and Timeline Projects for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre

Firstly, Angela Workman has been interviewed at BronteBlog about her upcoming biopic 'Bronte.'

Bronteana reader, Erin, has been very busy this summer creating detailed timelines for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The work is quite impressive. I tried to locate my copy of a scholarly version of the WH timeline but I could not locate it. Erin says she noticed similar timelines were available online for the works of Jane Austen but none for the Brontes. Here are Erin's timelines for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

Anyone familiar with the problem of dating the events in JE will notice that her dates are significantly later than current scholarly consensus, but I rather agree with Erin. I have done my own timeline as research for a book I am writing (I had an idea about the novel and I am rather odd; when I have certain ideas I would rather work them out in poetry or in this case- as a novel). Erin's dates are within about five years of mine.

Early Close for Polly Teale's Jane Eyre

After being extended for a few weeks, the London run of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre is closing early.

Shared Experience’s Jane Eyre will close one week earlier than previously planned (See News, 4 Jul 2006). Polly Teale’s acclaimed production, which transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studio 1 on 12 May 2006 (previews from 9 May) following a UK tour (See News, 25 Jan 2006), extended its original six-week run by a further four weeks to 26 August 2006. It is now scheduled to finish on 19 August 2006.
Adapted from Charlotte Bronte’s novel, the play focuses on the stark contrast between Jane’s strict Victorian upbringing and her passionate, imaginative nature.
Jane Eyre previously had a successful London run at the Young Vic in 1997. The cast includes Monica Dolan, James Clyde and Miriam Acharki.

Meanwhile, the play is set to premiere soon in America.

Monday, August 07, 2006

More on the 'Bronte' Biopic

We now have slightly more detailed information about the prospective release of the film.

They will spend eight weeks filming and hope to launch the film at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2007. It is hoped it will be in cinemas by January 2008.

In addition, co-producer Alistair MacLean Clark, of AMC Pictures said the following:

"The story begins with them as children and moves on to them at the age of 17/18 and continues for the rest of their lives. It focuses on what drove, Charlotte, Emily and Anne to write."The challenge with a film like this is do you cover their whole lives or just one section. We're doing the whole lot. I felt it was important to show their entire lives as they were so short."We go into what they were like growing up and where their imagination and passion came from to write books because they led austere lives."

The script was originally written for Dreamworks film company nine years ago but then shelved until Mr MacLean Clark picked it up five years ago."It was a story that needed to be told. There have been variations of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights but there has never been an English language variation of their lives, which is really close to the truth," he said."They are still some of the best-selling authors in the world who are also quite contemporary."He added: "It's important to be shooting the movie as close as possible to Haworth because that's where it all took place and it needs to be accurate. A lot of the extras will be locally cast and where possible the crew will also be employed locally." Alan Bentley, director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, said: "This will tell the lives of the Bronte's to a wider audience."I am sure it will boost the economy, what's good for the parsonage is also good for the local area."He said members of the cast would be welcome to visit the parsonage to help them with preparations for the film.

Another reminder, while it is true that there has been no reliable feature film version of the Brontes' lives in English, the BBC have a magnificient mini-series, The Brontes of Haworth, which tells 'all of it' and does make use of the Parsonage itself at times.

Producer Diederick Santer on the BBC's New Jane Eyre

When Mr. Santer wrote in last, I took the opportunity to ask if I might interview him and ask some of the questions you have sent in about his new production of Jane Eyre starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. Not wishing to give too much away, a lot of these questions will have to wait to be answered when the production is transmitted. I did slip in one 'out of bounds' question but it was evaded very skillfully! Well done. Many thanks to Mr. Santer for taking the time to let me interview him!

What factors guided the casting of the leads (Jane and Rochester)?

ANSWER: We just wanted the best actors, actors that would take the audience right into the heads of the characters. We knew we wanted a Jane who played as near as possible to late teens, and for that reason getting a 'name' for the part was something we felt was unneccesary. 'Jane Eyre' is name enough. Conversely, any actor in his late 30s who is any good will be a 'name' to some degree, so we knew that we'd be casting a familiar face as Rochester. Apart from the ages (which dictate the nature of their relationship) the physical descriptions of the characters in the novel were irrelevant to us. It's about getting the best actors.

Which other actors were seriously considered for the leading roles?

ANSWER: We met about 40 young actresses for Jane. We met Ruth twice, and it was clear by the end of the second meeting that she was the one for us. Toby was the only actor we met for Rochester.

What are the weaknesses and strengths of the novel?

ANSWER: It's a great great novel. My problems with it aren't really to do with the novel as such, but in the difficultly of translating it to the screen. A big problem is that it's all written in the first person; the whole thing exists in Jane's head. Without resorting to stacks of voiceover, how do you take the audience into her inner thoughts? It's a problem that Sandy Welch has dealt with brilliantly in our version, I think. Also, it takes ages for Jane to grow up and for Rochester to appear. The writing of this early section is very engaging, and young Jane's story is beautiful and heart-breaking, but the main story in any screen version is going to be the Rochester-Jane romance. Finally, the fact that she is revealed to have, at a very convenient point in the story, three cousins in the shape of the Rivers family is difficult. It's wonderful, and very moving, but difficult.

In a previous interview you made remarks on the poor quality of the earlier 1996 film which also makes use of Haddon Hall. What were the mistakes of earlier adaptations?

ANSWER: Oh dear. That was an off the cuff remark which I rather regret.. I don't want to slag off other movies and TV shows. I''ll leave it to the audience to answer this question and assess whether ours avoids the mistakes!

Aside from the novel itself, from where does your new adaptation draw inspiration?

ANSWER: That's more a question for Sandy Welch, who did the adaptation. Certainly, as far as the production goes, we just tried to make it as engaging as possible. What is Jane thinking and feeling at each point? Why does she make the choices she makes? The casting, design, photography, costume, make-up is all geared towards asking those questions, towards making her world as specific and as interesting as possible.

Was it a challenge to adapt Jane Eyre for a modern audience?

ANSWER: The big challenge I think is to make it work for the broad audience who don't know the book, or just have some received ideas about it, while at the same time giving something satisfying to those who know the book very well. In common with much literature from the period, certain ideas in the book to do with duty, religious faith and sexual morality don't play so clearly now as they did then. That's no reason not to include those ideas, though.

Did adapting Jane Eyre present any peculiar challenges?

ANSWER: Although Jane Eyre is best known as a romance, it's also a gothic horror, a mystery, a psychological thriller, a rites of passage story... Balancing those various elements, and getting the best from each, is a real challenge. You don't want the mystery to undermine the love story, you don't want the horror to overwhelm everything else. When the book (and I hope our adaptation) is working at its best, the elements are all working together to tell one huge passionate, engaging story.

Do you have any reflections on your experience as producer of Jane Eyre?

ANSWER: It's been a privelege to work on bringing to the screen one of the greatest books in literature, a book that means so much to so many people. Everyone (well, every woman) has a view on the book, has an interesting (and often very revealing) casting suggestion for Rochester, has strong views on St John... I've really enjoyed working on something that people feel so passionate about before the show's even reached the screen! Also, Derbyshire is very cold in February. And March. And April.

And, lastly, the question I almost did not ask: The only other question floating around is when the DVD will come out, but since you cannot say when the program will air it is probably not worth asking at this point! If there is anything you would like to add, of course I would be glad to hear it.

ANSWER: There will be a DVD, release date tba, dependent on transmission date. I'm working closely with the company who will be producing it and hope to include as special features deleted scenes, commentaries and interviews.

Accent Work for 'Bronte'

This article about the upcoming Bronte biopic has some interesting suggestions about what the film will sound like, at least. Producer Alistair MacLean-Clark, of AMC Pictures says the actors will all recieve accent coaching:

"They will all have vocal coaching to develop a Northern accent and we want them all to sound the same, with the same intonation.
"We decided that the accent doesn't have to be as exact as it was in the 19th century because some parts of the world may not be able to recognise their words.
"All of the cast have responded really well. To start with, they have tapes to listen to and in a few weeks they will come to the table, so to speak, and show off their homework."

The project's release date is slated for 'late 2007 or early 2008.' I have to mention, the article proclaims that this is the first time that we will see a film about the lives of all of the sisters. It seems that everyone is forgetting several biopics, not the least of which is the terrific BBC mini-series The Brontes of Haworth.

American Premiere for Polly Teale's 'Jane Eyre'

Purchase, NY - The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, marks season 29 with the 2006-07 season beginning September 8th. The season will feature the American premiere of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre:

Theatre is always one of The Performing Arts Center’s strongest series. This season the series is a trifecta of brilliant plays. They begin in January, with The Acting Company’s American premiere of Jane Eyre, fresh from its acclaimed run in London’s West End.


The free subscription brochure, describing the new season, is available at The Performing Arts Center ticket office (914-251-6200). Season events also are listed on the website www.artscenter.org. Subscribers get priority seating and save up to 20 percent off the single ticket prices. Single tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 21st. MasterCard is the preferred card of The Performing Arts Center.

The play is described thus by London Theatre Direct, for those who are not familiar with the interpretation:

Jane Eyre is poor, plain and unloved. But locked up in the attic of her imagination lives a woman so passionate and so full of longing she must be guarded night and day for fear of the havoc she would wreck. Who is this woman who threatens to destroy Janes's orderly world? A world where Jane has, for the first time, fallen in love. Last seen in the West End with its award winning play After Mrs Rochester, Shared Experience is one of the country's most successful and inventive theatre companies, making a long awaited return to London with its heartbreaking, utterly compelling and unique interpretation of a great novel.

What's Your Favourite?

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have both made the cut of 20 favourite books in this Canturbury New Zealand contest. Voting is now staring on which book will come out as the favourite of the 20. The contestants are as follows in no particular order:

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Angela’s Ashes, The Power of One, Wuthering Heights, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Pride and Prejudice, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Bible, The Bronze Horseman, Pillars of the Earth, Cross Stitch, Jane Eyre, The Da Vinci Code, The Goat Hunter, To Kill a Mocking Bird and The Hobbit.

Canterbury’s favourite book will be announced on Saturday, 9 September during The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival 2006 and will be posted on the www.whatsyours.co.nz website.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Adaptation of Wuthering Heights?

According to this page from Ecosse Films, a new feature film of Emily's novel is currently in development. So far, this is all the information available about the production:

A psychologically complex adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic tale of love and revenge, centred on Heathcliff as immigrant and bringing out the youth of the protagonists.

Writer Olivia Hetreed is working on the project. The news thanks to silcock-2.

New Bronte Play at Utah Festival

A new play about the Brontes will be workshopped at the New American Playwrights Project in Utah. The play is called 'The Moor Lark' and centres around Branwell:

"The Moor Lark," by Jan Henson Dow of Bluffton, S.C., and directed by Metten, is set in the isolated village of Haworth, where the Bronte sisters — Charlotte, Emily and Anne — create their imaginative writings while their distraught brother, Branwell, turns to alcohol and opium to numb the jealousy of his sisters' growing fame as novelists and poets. Performances will be Aug. 24-25 and Sept. 1. All readings are 10:15 a.m.

Audience feedback during the first two readings is often incorporated into the plays by the authors prior to the final readings.

There is an admission fee of $5.00 to the festival. Hopefully there is some interesting device included in the plot to explain how Branwell came to know about their fame, since from all accounts he was kept ignorant of their novels. Also he had already turned to alcohol and opium by the time the books were written. Moving his crisis means Tenant of Wildfell Hall would have a different genesis as well...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Gendered Reading, Again. And the Brontes are not 'Wallpaper'

This article from the Globe and Mail, is disturbing for how many generalisations it makes concerning the reading habits of men and women. It references the poll taken earlier this year of the most influential novels in which the Brontes stood out on the list of the women who were polled, while the men hardly listed any book written by a woman. Of course, there's this brief disclaimer:

Publishers and educators say they don't like to generalize about the tastes of half the population, but they will speculate as to why women prefer fiction, and are ready to debate both the social and the literary implications.

Then follows a lot of such speculation and generalisation, such as:

Reading fiction involves empathizing with the characters, and thus draws on women's traditional emotional strengths. Men, on the other hand, turn to non-fiction to learn about the world around them.


Literature has veered away from story to be about psychology; male writers are as responsible for that as women . . . but I do think men are interested in things, why things work, why things happen, and men look for more comedy in fiction. We [men] are bored by the earnestness of contemporary fiction.


Smith finds Canadian fiction particularly earnest and says the typical Canadian novel is one that appeals to women with a story of family, memory and loss. He's concerned that the success of these “women's novels” is limiting the kind of fiction that gets published here.

“Guys look for ideas,” says Smith. “Very intelligent men I talk to, none of them read fiction. It's girl stuff: hundreds and hundreds of pages of feelings. To think that no one perceives fiction as being about ideas is depressing.”

The debate is still alive, but this article goes all over the map, dissecting Canadian book-buying trends which do not prove much. Canadians are very poor book buyers. This past year I worked for a publisher and also heard from many people in the industry. It is a total mess at the moment: no one is buying books. And possibly this is not because we are not reading. When our only book chain refers to books as 'wallpaper' in the industry- material to spead along the walls of the store- is it any wonder that after picking up enough trash hailed as 'a masterpiece!' we Canadians begin to turn away?

To illustrate, we have a bookstore which takes up a corner of the mall. Half of the floor space is taken up with a Starbucks, and what could be an... Ikea store? There are all kinds of useless and unidentifiable household items, stationary, stuffed animals and glassware- nothing, in short, to do with books. Another large section is given to a fake fireplace (full-sized) and chairs for reading what no one is willing to buy. And, did I mention, the full sized children's play castle? In this BOOKstore, you cannot find many of the works of Dickens no matter how you try. Gaskell? Very funny. And the Brontes? Two copies each of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with a token volume of the juvenilia. And perhaps more shocking and illustrative- I could not find any works by Jane Austen either, but I did find the sexed-up spin-offs.

I last left the store determined never to return when they did away entirely with the 'classics' section. This chain- Chapters Indigo- has 70% of the market, and literally dictates what gets published. In some cases publishers refer to the company before approving a manuscript. Women reading more fiction than men could be explained in so many other ways. Perhaps women are more likely to congregate at the Starbucks? But, believe me, it has nothing to do with how men and women think and read.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Brontes in Oxford and Penguin Books

Heathcliff and Catherine make the Penguin books list of 'Best Lovers'. Some of the other categories and choices are amusing or objectionable (Wide Sargasso Sea made the 'Best Crazies' list. I was also not aware that I, Claudius is a classic. And just who is the 'great hero' from H. Rider Haggard's She? Is it Leo Vincey, the lounging blond beauty? I hope not!). The entire list is available here. Probably English professors everywhere should try to take advantage of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales making the 'Best Sex' list.

Anecdotes about the Bronte sisters are highlighted in this article about the New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes. Among those concerning Charlotte Bronte is the following from a meeting with William Makepeace Thackeray:

Some of the greats were very odd indeed. Algernon Charles Swinburne, frustrated at not finding his hat in the hall of his club, proceeded to stomp on those that were there until the porter told him he had entered the club without one. And the Brontes were remembered by an old lady in their village thus: "They were all dressed alike until they gate into young women. I don't know that I ever saw them in owt but print -- I've heard it said they were pinched -- but it was nice print." Charlotte was given a party in London by William Makepeace Thackeray. It was not a success. One guest, trying desperately to engage her in conversation, opened with, "I hope you like London?" to which Charlotte replied, "I do, and I don't." That was it.

Oh, but she did have more to say about it afterwards!

ETA: Also, if you've been thinking of re-reading Jane Eyre, there's a new blog just for you: Eyre-along!

Toby Stephens is Hot

This bit of news courtesy of Bronteana reader Pennyforyourdreams. It doesn't have any direct bearing on the new adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which Mr. Stephens will play Mr Rochester, but it has strangely increased my confidence in his ability to handle the role:

The actor Toby Stephens is hot. Very hot indeed. Orange flames are creeping up his shirt, which he has just set alight while brewing up a pot of tea on his kitchen stove. Cue panicked slapping of the fire (by him, I'm afraid - I just stare open-mouthed) and a volley of choice swearwords. Finally putting the blaze out, he removes the blackened garment altogether and mournfully observes: "Well, that's the end of that shirt."

The rest of the interview is at Pennyforyourdreams's blog here.

This anecdote also reminded me of a scene in the latest BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre from 1983. When I first saw it, one scene stuck out in my mind: the 'brandy and biscuits' scene. In it, Mr Rochester takes Jane into a room, saying: 'Brandy and biscuits! We don't need servants for that!' It was charming that Mr Rochester would be so proud of his ability to provide brandy and biscuits for himself- and indeed a friend- without assistance.

Mr Rochester: Well, now, let's have some refreshments! Here, jane.
Jane: Brandy and biscuits, sir?
Mr Rochester: No, no... I never touch brandy. I'll just make a nice pot of- *FULMINATED ANATHEMA*
Jane: Not again!