Sunday, 17 January 2021

Virtual Tour: Brussels When the Brontës Were Here

The Arts Society Brussels enjoyed a very special tour of the city last week, as Helen MacEwan, founder of the Brussels Brontë Group, hopped on Zoom to bring alive, at least virtually, the experience of Charlotte and Emily Brontë when they were in the Belgian capital in the first half of the nineteenth century.


It was a delightful tour of Brussels in the early 1840s, illuminated with photos and paintings, as well as excerpts from letters and Charlotte’s novels, to guide the audience through the sisters’ experience on the Continent just over a decade after Belgium gained its independence.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Helen MacEwan to talk on Brontës at Arts Society Brussels

Helen MacEwan, founder of the Brussels Brontë Group, will give a talk by Zoom for The Arts Society Brussels next week. 

Helen will take her audience on a virtual tour of Brussels at the time Charlotte and Emily Brontë were in the city in the early 1840s. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

A Belgian-Dutch view of Charlotte Brontë’s Brussels

Charlotte Brontë’s stay in Brussels in the 1840s inspired two of her own novels and also two recent novels published on the subject. Jolien Janzing published De Meester in 2013. Si j'avais des ailes, by Nathalie Stalmans, was published in 2019.

The difference between the two writers is instructive. Stalmans is an historian and has an academic past. Janzing, for her part, is a journalist and rather fascinated by current events, which she weaves into her work.

The two have different views on Charlotte and on Brussels itself. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Brontë talk: The view from Leeds

How wonderful it was to join the Brussels Brontë Group for Karen Hewitt's marvellous talk about what the word "Gentleman" meant to a Victorian audience.  I could not believe I was sharing the experience with you all, it was almost like being in Brussels.

Like Monica in Dublin, my memories of all the Brontë
events are highlights of my time in Brussels.   

Monday, 12 October 2020

Charlotte’s Quarrel With the English Gentleman in 'Villette'

Karen Hewitt is the type of speaker that we really appreciate here at the Brussels Brontë Group. Not only is she very charming and personable in her delivery (even on Zoom), she also considers the Brussels-based Villette as Charlotte Brontë’s best novel.

On October 7, she gave a delightful virtual talk on “the English gentleman” in Villette. And even on Zoom, the Q&A after her talk was just as engaging as the talk itself.

Karen delineated what it took to be an English gentleman in the nineteenth century (too complicated to include here). Her bottom line: “There are no English gentlemen now.” (To which many attendants begged to disagree, I’m sure.)

One example of a gentleman was Patrick Brontë, Charlotte’s father, who worked hard to earn this status, gaining a scholarship to Cambridge University and then being ordained into the Church of England, one of the few avenues to gentleman-hood available if your family wasn’t already there. So Patrick Brontë was a gentleman, and his daughters were therefore the female equivalent – ladies.