Thursday, 2 July 2020

Brussels square to be named after the Brontë sisters

Since 1979 Charlotte and Emily Brontë have had a plaque on Bozar, the central Brussels arts centre, commemorating their stay there in 1842-43. The building is on the site of the Pensionnat Heger where the sisters perfected their French. Since the creation of our Group in 2006 we have dreamed of a street, statue or museum in Brussels in honour of the Brontës; some of these schemes have even been discussed with the authorities, but until now none of them has materialised.

That is about to change. The municipal council of Koekelberg in the north-west of the city has decided to name a square after the Brontë sisters.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

In Memoriam: Maureen Peeck O’Toole

With the death of Maureen Peeck O’Toole (28 August 1935-13 June 2020), the Brussels Brontë Group has lost a leading light of the group, who gave us much support over the years since we started up in 2006.


Maureen speaking to Brussels Brontë Group in 2011.

Maureen was one of a number of members from the Netherlands who were involved in setting up the group (others were Eric Ruijssenaars, author of Charlotte Brontë’s Promised Land: the Pensionnat Heger and other Brontë Places in Brussels; Selina Busch, who designed our first website; and Marcia Zaaijer, another founding member who still attends our meetings, all the way from Rotterdam).

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Whirlwind Journey Through Time at the Mariemont Museum

Brussels Brontë Group activities are events for which I willingly wake up early on a Saturday. Last Saturday was no exception; I was excited to make the pilgrimage to the Musée Royal de Mariemont with fellow Brontëphiles to see the BBG-famous “L’Ingratitude” essay with my own eyes.

I was expecting a pleasant day out with like-minded people and the opportunity to behold this devoir written by Charlotte Brontë in her own hand. What I was not expecting was the whirlwind journey through time which unfolded through the written words of key figures in history, literature, politics and science. 

Portal to Mariemont Museum.         The TARDIS in 'Doctor Who'.

Although, I suppose I should have guessed after seeing that to enter the museum, we passed through the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), the time machine from Doctor Who.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Visit to Mariemont Museum to See Charlotte's 'L’Ingratitude'

Fourteen members of the Brussels Brontë Group visited the Musée Royal de Mariemont on 7 March 2020 to view Charlotte Brontë’s French essay L’Ingratitude and other items in the museum’s ‘Reserve Précieuse’ (collection of rare books and manuscripts). We were given a lively two-hour talk by Chief Librarian Bertrand Federinov.

The session included letters or manuscripts by Charles I, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin and two special favorites of the Brontës -- the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson.

M. Federinov shows Charlotte's `L'Ingratitude' essay.

M. Federinov started by filling us in on the history of the museum. It stands in the Mariemont domain, first founded as a hunting estate by Mary of Hungary, sister of Charles V. In the early nineteenth century the Warocqué family, who made their fortune from coalmining, bought it and built themselves a neo-classical château on the estate.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Exploring Anne Brontë’s Poetry

Emelie Sannen helped the Brussels Brontë Group continue the celebration of Anne Brontë’s bicentenary with a very evocative analysis of three of Anne’s poems. As one of the youngest members of our group, Emelie is in a good position to help us appreciate the poetry of the youngest of the Brontë sisters.

Emelie, who is a student at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), spoke during our Member Presentations day on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. Using ``word clouds’’ to help her examine some of her favorite poems by Anne, Emelie started with ``Home,’’ saying the work made her think of a time she was wandering in the big city away from her own home.


Emelie and a 'word cloud' of Anne's poem `Home'

The next poem, ``Memory,’’ also begins with an image of the sun, but then focuses on various flowers instead of the ``barren hills’’ and ``colder breezes’’ of the poem ``Home.’’ Both works are about memories, but of different kinds.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Mind-Mapping the Brontës

Mark Cropper has used mind-mapping to create memorable images of a couple of the talks we have enjoyed at the Brussels Brontë Group. On Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, he shared his insights on how this note-taking technique helps him to create these colorful images.


Mark with his mind map of John Sutherland's talk.

Starting with a brief explanation of how mind-mapping developed, Mark gave a little seminar on how he uses the technique to show graphically the most important elements of a presentation. Along the way, he mind-mapped his own presentation.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Brontës and Fanfiction

Ana Gauthier managed to connect the Brontës with Star Trek and Harry Potter in an entertaining presentation on the Brontës and fanfiction to the Brussels Brontës Group on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

While the Star Trek television series could be credited by many with sparking the first ``fandom’’ around fictional characters, Ana showed how the tiny magazines that the Brontë children created for their imaginary worlds could be considered early versions of fanfiction. Just like modern-day fanfiction, the young siblings could use their fictional worlds of Angria and Gondal as an experimental playground to give their imaginations free rein, allowing them to ask what-if questions about real-world characters and development totally new characters, too.

But she also suggested that fanfiction is much older even than the Brontës. Lots of Shakespeare takes characters and plot elements from earlier works and reworks them. Milton’s Paradise Lost is a derivative work of the Bible where he repaints Satan as a tragic hero. Dante’s Inferno is a mash-up of the Bible, The Aeneid, and Greek mythology. The Aeneid itself is a spinoff of The Iliad, she explained.