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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

Firstly, I would like to thank the good people at Avon- Harper Collins for sending me a review copy of Syrie James' new book, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte.

I have been savoring this book for the past week, and many were the times I stopped to smile at the scenes as they unfolded. It's a delightful read, and at times the thought occurred to me that it would make the perfect companion novel to the BBC's mini series 'The Brontes of Haworth.'

The novel does a fairly good job of guiding the reader gently through the affairs of the Bronte household from shortly after Charlotte's return from Brussels. From the start, there is no question that the crux of the story will be Rev. Bronte's curate, Mr. Nicholls and, more particularly, his relationship with Charlotte. A very interesting story, and one in which the literary repercussions of this relationship shadow the main actors without overwhelming them.

This novel is especially appropriate for someone who is not familiar with the circumstances of life in the Bronte family as the first two chapters include enough biographical details to set anyone up for what is to come.

The characters are all well drawn and it is interesting to see the ease with which fact and fiction merge as the novel bends situations, postpones revelation, and otherwise tweaks events to create a novel which is not quite a biography.

The text of the book is also accompanied by substantial footnotes, maps, and an appendix with excerpts from Charlotte's letters and other important documents such as Emily's poems. The book is also suitable for book clubs: there are discussion questions included in the appendix.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte can be purchased for $10.19 from Amazon.com or £6.99from Amazon.co.uk.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fashionable Make-Over for Wuthering Heights

Fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo has designed an expressive cover for the newest penguin deluxe edition of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

The book is available for pre-ordering from Amazon.com, and will be released August 25th.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Jane Eyre takes the Stage in Beijing

A new theatrical adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre is taking the stage in Beijing at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Chinese born Wang Luoyong went to the United States in the 1980s and was recognized as one of the rare Asian faces in Broadway for playing the lead in "Miss Saigon". When the show closed in 2001 as one of the longest-running hits in Broadway's history, Wang had led some 2,500 performances.

The story of Jane Eyre and Rochester has inspired a variety of films and dramas. Generations of directors and actors have taken relentless attempts in translating the chemistry between Jane and Rochester. The two won't be held back, as they help each other find their true selves.

A video clip can also be viewed on the main article here, from cctv.com.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Twilight Series and Jane Eyre

Stephanie Meyers' popular teen vampire novels have a surprising connection to the Brontes, it turns out. This article from The Courier Mail contains an interview with the author who claims Jane Eyre as an influence, although not an inspiration, for her work:

Speaking to me over the phone from her home in rural Arizona, Meyer, 34, revealed that Twilight's vampire Edward Cullen, a literary creation set to rival Harry Potter, is a subconscious combination of her three favourite leading men _ Jane Eyre's Edward Rochester, Pride and Prejudice's Fitzwilliam D'arcy and Anne of Green Gables' Gilbert Blythe.


Meyer says it was only when she finished Twilight that she realised there were similarities with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. And that Edward Cullen was a combination of her favourite romantic protagonists, especially Jane Eyre's Edward Rochester, because the two Edwards see themselves as ``monsters''.

I am actually more surprised at the idea of a vampire with elements of Gilbert Blythe's character, and I do wonder what Lucy Maud Montgomery would think of it all!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mr.Charlotte Bronte: The Life and Times of Mr. Arthur Bell Nichols

McGill-Queen's writes to us to announce the release of an interesting new biography of Charlotte Bronte's husband:

McGill-Queen’s University Press is pleased to announce the release of Mr. Charlotte Brontë: The Life and Times of Mr. Arthur Bell Nichols.

This book was written by a direct descendent of Mr. Bell Nichols and establishes him as an important, rather than ancillary, figure in the Brontë saga. It also provides fresh information about his upbringing, his family and his pre-Haworth years in Ireland while including never-before-published material from the Bell Nicholls family.

Mr. Charlotte Brontë: The Life and Times of Mr. Arthur Bell Nichols would be an excellent addition to your collection of Brontë-related books and memorabilia.

Pricing and order information and can be found by clicking on the hyperlink above!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Well, that was interesting...

Apparently Natalie Portman is out of the Wuthering Heights project:

Natalie Portman has walked out of new film ‘Wuthering Heights’.

The Hollywood actress has reportedly left movie bosses fuming after quitting her role as Cathy Earnshaw in the big screen adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic 1847 novel, despite having “seduced” them into giving her the part.

A movie insider told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper: “It’s fair to say we were seduced by her and we should have been on our guard.”

Portman is said to have made a concerted effort to convince director John Maybury and producers Ecosse Films and HanWay Films to give her the role of Cathy, even convincing them to allow her casting approval over the choice of actor to portray her character’s lover Heathcliff.

‘Wuthering Heights’ producers refused to comment on Portman’s decision to pull out of the project.

Maybury is now looking for a new lead actress. Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley - who both star in his upcoming film ‘The Edge of Love’ - were both previously linked to the project.

That sounds pretty bizarre. If this is true, and she was so taken with the project, why give it up so soon? As an aside, I continue to find it amusing that Keira Knightley is suggested as the ideal actress- in some circles, mind you- for both Cathy and Jane. Maybe we need to have a few more actresses of substance out there to choose from? I don't know- I am still living under a pile of spiral bound notebooks.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

No Thanks.

The news of yet another adaptation of Jane Eyre is not going down well at all, if the buzz on the internet is any indication of the novel's fanbase. There seem to be very few who are looking forward to the film with anticipation, largely because it has only been two years since the BBCs hugely popular mini series. In short, it looks like fans of the novel are full and are perfectly willing to pass on seconds. In fact, a common response is to demand an adaptation of one of the other Bronte novels: Villette, or Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Villette has become a great favourite as an alternate film project. But, unless the BBC release their old Villette mini series, we probably will not be seeing one for some time yet.

Today, the news is all about trouble in the British film industry. Like the novel's fanbase, they are none too pleased with the new film but this time, the trouble is with casting.

"No one is doubting Ellen Page's acting abilities but why a BBC movie of Jane Eyre couldn't have a British actress in the lead is pretty hard to stomach," says a 'film industry insider' in the Daily Express.

Well, it was just two years ago that the BBC made a very nice mini with British actors in the lead roles.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A little recap...

Ellen Page will be our new Jane in a big screen adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Alison Owen of Ruby Films, who most recently produced "The Other Boleyn Girl," is working with BBC Films to develop the new adaptation of Bronte's classic 19th century romance. It's the story of a mousy governess who softens the heart of her surly employer Mr. Rochester, only to discover that he's hiding a terrible secret.

Moira Buffini has written the screenplay. No director is yet attached, but the producers are aiming to set the project up to shoot this fall.

Natalie Portman will be our new Cathy in a big screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

Natalie Portman is to play heroine Catherine Earnshaw in a new big-screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

The Jacket director John Maybury will helm the Ecosse Films production from a script by Olivia Hetreed (Girl With a Pearl Earring), claims The Hollywood Reporter.

Emily Bronte's 1847 novel revolves around the turbulent love affair between headstrong Catherine and her brooding adopted brother Heathcliff.

Keira Knightley and Lindsay Lohan were previously reported to be vying for the role, famously played by Merle Oberon opposite Laurence Olivier in 1939. A 1989 version starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche performed poorly at the box office.

-From Digital Spy.

And, of course, we're still waiting on the Bronte biopic, the ITV Wuthering Heights, a touring version of Jane Eyre: The Musical, and an adaptation of Shirley.

Ellen Page to Star in New Jane Eyre Film

Thanks to Thisbeciel and Annie for the heads up. I might dig myself out of my thesis-bound semi-retirement to cover this one. I think my contacts in Los Angeles should come in handy...

By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Jane Eyre could be taking another swoon on the big screen -- with Ellen Page playing the iconic character.

BBC Films has signed on to develop an adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel and has attached Page to play Jane. Moira Buffini wrote the screenplay; a director has not yet been chosen.

The role would mark the first period piece for Page, who has signed on to a number of contemporary films since her Oscar-nominated turn in "Juno," including the roller-derby comedy "Whip It!" and the dramatic thriller "Peacock." She opted out of Sam Raimi's supernatural tale "Drag Me to Hell" this year, citing scheduling conflicts.

Bronte's 1847 novel tells the love story of a governess and her master, Edward Rochester, with Gothic flourishes. It's among the most-filmed English novels of all time, with well over a dozen productions reaching the big and small screens, including BBC-produced miniseries in 1973 and 2006. Among the actresses to play the title character over the years are Joan Fontaine, Susannah York and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Paul Gordon Website Launch

Paul Gordon has launched a new website where you can catch the latest developments on his current and upcoming musical projects. Hopefully we will hear more news of the much-anticipated premiere of Jane Eyre: The Musical in Tokyo, Japan in 2009 as well as the ongoing development of a big chamber version of the piece. Visiting the "Songs" section provides you with a small sample of music to get a taste for Jane Eyre: The Musical (along with his other projects, such as an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

3 Rooms Bronte

From the D'Amelio Terras website:

Cornelia Parker’s work often deals with deconstruction of monuments, be it people or places. The photographic works on view are from her series “Brontëan Abstracts” in which she examines the mythology surrounding the Brontë sisters – Anne, Charlotte and Emily. Parker uses an electron microscope to scan artifacts and objects owned by the Brontës such as a lock of hair, a quill pen, a needle. The magnification both abstracts them and reveals their essence. Other photographs focus on both the conscious and subconscious marks left by the sisters — such as ink blots on the lined paper, deletions from the original manuscripts and holes in the pincushion.

Cornelia Parker has held numerous solo exhibitions including at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Royal Institute of British Architects, London; Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna (GAM), Turin, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Chicago Arts Club and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. She was a Turner Prize nominee in 1997.

3 Rooms - Cornelia Parker, Massimo Bartolini, Dario Robleto

D'Amelio Terras

525 West 22nd Street, 212-352-9460
January 5 - January 9, 2008
Opening: Saturday, January 5, 6 - 8PM

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm not quite finished yet.

The thesis: it will be finished when it is finished, I think. It doesn't help matters that there is another version of the Gordon/Caird Musical in the works. A good friend of mine has a copy of a script-in progress but since it would not be fair to analyse something that hasn't even been written out yet, I am refraining from pestering her for a peek.

The thesis hit a set back this summer when I needed to rearrange several chapters which involved extensive revisions. These are ongoing, so I will probably still be only an intermittent blogger for now. The other challenge is that I am returning to the libraries to do more research.

I would like to thank everyone for their very lovely emails sent during my absence. I cannot possibly get caught up on everything, but I will try to find my way through them and all of the bizarre junk mail that has grown like a primordial jungle in my inbox. Half of the emails are in languages I do not understand and many are not even in the Latin alphabet. One addresses me as "dear sir" and others reference anatomy which is not owned by me, and several claim to be from extremely rich but imperiled Arabs- which is a scam I find to be in very bad taste.

SO, a very quick round-up for Bronte news!

Cranford is great, I guess? And I suppose Jane Eyre adaptations are generally dreary, but otherwise, I pish at dismissing the story as being about tight breeches and corsets (although, I still have to shake my head at our last BBC series. The DVD case in particular... 'heaving bodices?' *sigh*). I haven't seen Cranford because I still don't have a television! (Yes, I haven't watched television- outside of youtube and DVD sets) in... 6 years now). I also still despise Mrs. Gaskell for being so very cruel to Charlotte's family after her death. (I am joking. She was cruel, though). Some friends and I tried to read 'North and South' but gave up from boredom or frustration. But adaptations are a different thing from novels, as we know! So, the show's probably alright. And knowing how everyone loves to cry that THIS, THIS is finally what a REAL adaptation of a REAL novel is... It's probably... just like the rest?

The writer of the article gets a tip of the hat from me for the use of the word "huzzah."

And auditions are being held for a musical version of Jane Eyre at St.Ives!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jane Eyre: The Musical to get a "re-Think"

Oh, you had to go and do this to me, just when I'm putting the finishing touches on my thesis!

From Playbill:

Jane Eyre, the 2000-01 Broadway musical by composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and librettist John Caird, is getting a serious "re-think" by the authors, who aim to make a chamber version of what was previously seen as a 22-actor, large-set epic.

Songwriter Gordon told Playbill.com that he and Caird (of Les Miserables fame) have been huddling with director Rob Ruggiero (Ella, William Finn's Make Me a Song) about getting back to the essence of the novel by Charlotte Bronte — and the essence of what the collaborators created in earlier versions of the show, prior to Broadway.

Gordon said he and Caird are seeking to restore some song and book elements of the pre-Broadway Toronto version of the musical. For starters, they want to sharpen the narrative point of view so Jane is telling her own story, rather than the ensemble taking over that device. Some recitative between brooding Rochester and governess Jane will likely return, too, as will an important melodic section that linked Jane's mother to the future, Gordon said.

Caird and Gordon will meet this fall to hammer out a new 10-actor version of the show that would require perhaps five musicians. Gordon said the largeness of the Broadway production necessitated adding some fat into the writing that isn't necessary.

Gordon and Caird's goals now are "tweaking, shortening and clipping" and then presenting a version to Ruggiero for further collaboration. Hartford-based Ruggiero is the in-demand regional director who works all over the country (his next gig is staging 1776 for Goodspeed Musicals, followed by a New York mounting of the William Finn revue, Make Me a Song, a hit in Hartford).

Ruggiero told Playbill.com he's in discussions with regional theatres about giving fresh life to the "new" Jane Eyre in 2008-09.

The Broadway version of Jane Eyre is licensed through Music Theatre International and has had almost 90 North American productions since 2002, according to MTI. Its first post-Broadway staging was at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, where Gordon's Emma, based on the novel by Jane Austen, is getting its world premiere Aug. 22. Gordon penned book, music and lyrics for it.

Jane Eyre has had a winding journey, not unlike the character herself — the show was seen in many readings; a Wichita, KS, staging; a La Jolla Playhouse run; a production at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto; and on Broadway, where it snagged Tony Award nominations for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lighting Design and Best Actress in a Musical for Marla Schaffel as the unglamorous orphan/governess/romantic figure/mistress of the house.

"Since Broadway," Gordon told Playbill.com, "I don't think I've ever stopped rewriting Jane Eyre. "John and I always imagined it as a more intimate experience..."

On the road to Broadway, there was a push — for better or worse — to make the 19th-century gothic romance bigger, better and shinier. "It lost that intimate feel," Gordon said.

Will the re-tooled Jane Eyre be spare, lean and actor-driven?

"Rob has interesting ideas about how to move the storytelling along," Gordon said.

For now, for the writers, it's about experimentation and exploration.

Gordon said, "We're going to look at every inch of the show. John calls it a 're-think.'"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oh, the New York Times!

From an article on upcoming Jane Austen films:

And however much society has changed, Austen’s heroines — unlike the Brontës’ — deal with the believable, timeless obstacles of class, money and misunderstanding, which make her works adaptable to any era. As Ms. Huff said: “Everyone thinks she’s Elizabeth Bennet; not everyone thinks she’s Jane Eyre. Everyone knows a young woman trying to decide if the guy she’s attracted to is Mr. Right. Not everyone meets a Mr. Right who has a mad wife in the attic.”

This amused me greatly, dear readers. It amused me even further that the films in question adapt Austen for our age by trying to sex them up. And, flirtatous glances aside, the picture used to illustrate the article bears a striking resemblance to scenes from several Jane Eyre adaptations I could mention.

Poor Jane and Lizzy! Their entire lives, personalities reduced to how they sorted out with the menfolk!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Eyre Apparent in Baltimore

Go see the Eyre Apparent exhibit, which showcases memorabilia related to Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre. The exhibit shows the novel's cultural significance and the different ways in which it has been interpreted. The exhibit is at the George Pea body Library, 17 E. Mount Ver non Place. Admission is free, and the library is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 410-659- 8179 or go to http://www.georgepeabodylibrary.jhu.edu/.

Eyre Apparent: An Exhibition Celebrating Charlotte Bronte'sClassic NovelThe George Peabody Library Exhibition GalleryJune 18 - October 31, 2007Hours: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.;Sunday, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

This exhibition celebrates the enduring popularity of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous novel. A favorite with Victorian readers, Jane Eyre became a staple of the school curriculum and remains a cornerstone of the English literary canon today. From series books to comic books, dolls to playing cards, Eyre Apparent follows the novel from the mid-19th century to the present, revealing how shifting cultural contexts have shaped the book’s meaning, and the ways in which Jane Eyre continues to inspire our imaginations.

Not only is this exhibit fabulous, so is the library!