Mediations on Anne Bronte

Bronte Sisters

I haven’t had a chance to watch To Walk Invisible yet, the BBC bio-drama that aired last week on the Brontës, but to satiate viewers for knowledge for more Brontë, The Guardian recently published a piece on Anne Brontë, the younger and lesser known sister of the family, on her body of work. The piece centers mostly on Anges Grey, Anne’s first book, a tale of a woman who is too educated to be a servant and too poor to be a lady which falls to her only option: becoming a governess.

Anges Grey is a sharp-witted observational tale of a governess who speaks directly to the reader and due to its frankness of the reality of the governess jobs these genteel women take, the book was set to cause an outrage when it was published. Except, dear reader, if you may remember, Jane Eyre (by sister Charlotte), does exactly what Anges Grey was supposed to do and Anges Grey has long been considered Jane Eyre’s poorer imitation. Except, Anges Grey was written first and scholars argue it was Anne who should have gotten the accolades first, not Charlotte.

The Guardian piece, which parallels Anne’s life with Anges’, is written by Samantha Ellis whose forthcoming book, Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life, is set to be released internationally this spring with no known US publishing date. 

 

 

At Home With Jane Austen by Lucy Worsley

At Home with Jane Austen

Holy cat’s pyjamas! One of my favourite historians is releasing a book on Jane this summer to coincide with the 200th anniversary of her death. (Pour one out for Jane’s death, amen.)

From the publisher,

On the eve of the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, take a trip back to her world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses – both grand and small – of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life.

[…]

Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but – in the end – a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

The book is set to release in the US on July 11, 2017 with simultaneous publication in the UK. I should have a review up a few days after that.

 

 

Jane Austen replica ring now on sale

Jane Austen's ring

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has a replica of Jane’s ring for sale for a mere $71.67 USD (£58.33 GBP) and it’s currently on sale.

The original ring, you may recall, was in the midst of a controversy when singer Kelly Clarkson bid and won the ring at an auction. There was an export ban on the ring, disallowing Clarkson to take it to the US, and the ring was purchased by Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire, where it now resides on display.

…and sometimes the Brontes?

I know, I know. It’s a truth universally acknowledged the Brontes hated Austen with passion. (It’s also universally acknowledged most articles about Jane have to start with “It’s a truth universally acknowledged…”.)

Charlotte is quoted with,

Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless) woman.

And she’s not the only one: Twain, Churchill, Woolf, and others are wont to throw their barbs in as well. (Don’t read the comments as the pro vs con in that piece gets a little heated.)

So why combine Austen and the Brontës in the same blog?

Jane’s a “duh, let’s talk about her” but the Brontës elude me. I’ve read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and attempted Villette but the novels never quite did it for me. Yet there is something extraordinary about the family where three out of the four Brontë children (sorry Branwell!) write novels considered to be classic pieces of literature. This is a nice complement to Austen’s six books that have also stood the test of time.

(Plus the Brontë’s morbid, gothic lifestyles is highly attractive.)

While at the surface all of the author’s books seem so wildly different,  at it’s core all the ladies wrote societal critiques, whether they choose to admit it or not, of their social mores and times. Jane Eyre is the rejection of what is to be expected of a lady while falling for a man on her own terms — sound familiar? Wuthering Heights is a hot mess — what the eff is that book really about? — but the core relationship has Catherine pining for Heathcliff is all of his Byronic ways, which is parallel with Miss Eyre and her swooniness for Rochester as well as Jane with her Darcy.

As there has been a resurgence of interest in the Brontë family, I decided to make it my mission to get to know the Brontës (and their fans as they too tend to be dismissive of our Jane) and see if in my older youthful years I can fall in love with them as much or as close to our Jane.

Plus, I’ll take any more reasons to wear this t-shirt:

Bronte's fangirling