Thursday, 1 June 2023

'Emily' and Top Withens

For a special reason, I viewed Frances O’Connor’s film ‘Emily’ not once but three times. It was inevitable that I should see this movie. I first read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights more than half a century ago. But it wasn’t until 53 years after reading the book that I visited Haworth for the first time. 

Jean de Wolf with his model of Top Withens

Saturday, 27 May 2023

Brussels Brontë Group and Matrimony Days

The Heritage Days have a firm reputation in Brussels, but recently there has been an addition to the program which focuses specifically on the women-centered heritage and history of our city. Since 2019, the non-profit organization L’architecture qui dégenre, has started organizing the Journées du Matrimoine (Matrimony Days), with ‘Matrimony’ signifying a ‘tangible or intangible good of artistic or historical importance inherited from women.’ 

Especially for the Matrimony Days, we have developed a guided walk in the city center that focuses on the feminist elements in the work of the Brontë sisters. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Frances O’Connor’s ‘Emily’ and the French connection

Frances O’Connor’s film Emily is full of surprises. This is perhaps only to be expected in a movie that the writer-director herself describes as a story inspired by the Brontës’ lives, not factually based on them – a fictional story inspired by real-life people. 

For me, one of the film’s more agreeable surprises is how much French there is in it. Not only are we startled to find Patrick’s curate William Weightman, with some difficulty, unlacing Emily Brontë’s corset in a scene of passion as they embark on a love affair; we are also taken aback to find him tutoring her in French in a deserted Haworth schoolroom. 

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Review: Frances O’Connor's 'Emily'

The new film Emily is often described as “a part-fictional” portrait of Emily Brontë. When I saw it recently, I found it only partly satisfying. 

The film is directed by Frances O’Connor who, more than twenty years ago, starred as Fanny Price in a creative Mansfield Park adaptation, which departed from the novel in many ways and transformed the least popular Jane Austen heroine into a more spirited and almost feisty character while including feminist and post-colonial themes as well. 

Frances O'Connor and Emma Mackey

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Brontë Sisters Square in Koekelberg comes a step nearer!

Three years ago we reported a proposal for a square in Koekelberg to be named after the Brontë sisters. It’s an initiative of Koekelberg councillor Robert Delathouwer, a member of the social-democratic political party Vooruit, as part of the Brussels authorities’ move to have more streets named after women (the ‘feminisation’ of street names). 

The Brontë square has now moved a step nearer. On 17 April 2023 the commune’s council approved the initiative in principle, as well as proposals for three other streets in the commune to be named after women. What is proposed is for part of the Dapperenstraat/Rue des Braves (numbers 1 to 20) to be renamed Gezusters Brontëplein/Place des Soeurs Brontë. 

Friday, 28 April 2023

Monica Wallace: The Irish relations of the Brontë family

Monica Wallace, a former member of the Brussels Brontë Group who has moved back to Ireland, gave the group a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some of the Irish relatives of the Brontë sisters. 

Monica’s interest in the subject was kindled when she discovered that an elderly neighbor in Ireland was a descendant of William Brontë, the Reverend Patrick Brontë’s brother, and had a carton of “silly old family stuff” in her attic. Monica dove in and so began an “amazing journey of research and discovery about the Irish Brontë cousins.” 

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Robert Logan: ‘Ireland and the Moulding of Patrick Brontë’

Robert Logan, chair of the Irish section of the Brontë Society, gave the Brussels Brontë Group an absorbing overview of the Irish heritage of the Brontë family, focusing on the experiences of Patrick Brontë before he moved to England in 1802 and how these in turn reflected on the lives of his literary children. 

The detailed discussion on Saturday 22 April 2023 included several providential relationships, a family story about a swarthy orphan and the seminal impact of the Irish Rebellion of the late 1790s on Patrick’s views and outlook.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Interior Design in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Belgian Novels’

Dawn Robey, a former Brussels Brontë Group committee member who now lives in France, returned to Brussels to give a talk to the group on ‘Interior Design in Charlotte Brontë’s “Belgian novels” – The Professor and Villette. In her presentation on Saturday 11 February 2023, Dawn explained how Charlotte uses descriptions of rooms to provide insights into the characters with whom they are associated. 

Through readings and commentary on numerous extracts from The Professor and Villette, Dawn highlighted the details in Charlotte’s descriptions of settings that give clues to character – contrasting, for example, the glitter and gilt of Zoraïde Reuter’s parlour with Frances Henri’s much plainer lodgings. 

Friday, 17 February 2023

Roel Jacobs: Brussels in the Brontës’ time

Roel Jacobs, a leading Belgian historian, provided a great overview of the city of Brussels as Charlotte Brontë would have known it during her stay in the city between 1842 and 1844. Roel Jacobs is one of the specialists on this subject and his enthusiasm was only exceeded by the passion of Myriam’s introduction for his talk on Saturday 11 February 2023.