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Literature STILL cannot be the business of a woman’s life

The Yorkshire Post comments on inequality in the literary world, as acknowledged last night in Parliament.

Ever since 1837, when Charlotte Brontë was informed by the poet laureate that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life and ought not to be”, the lot of a female writer has been an uneven one.
Tonight, parliament confirmed what the literary world had long known – inequality is as rife now as it was 182 years ago.
Female authors today earn around a quarter less than their male counterparts, according to the All Party Writers’ Group.
In a wide-ranging report that calls on the Government to take action on protecting writers’ copyright and to recognise the contribution to the economy made by the creative sector, the group of 34 MPs and 35 peers said that persisting gender inequality results both from lower rates of pay and a poorer breadth of opportunities, particularly in film and television.
Only 16 per cent of working screenwriters are women and just 14 per cent of prime-time TV is written by women, the report said. [...]
At the Haworth parsonage on the West Yorkshire moors that was Charlotte Brontë’s home, and in whose museum the letter to her from the poet laureate Robert Southey is preserved, the report also made familiar reading.
Charlotte and her sisters hid their gender at first behind male or androgynous names, a practice followed by others for generations to come, from George Eliot to Louisa May Alcott. Even JK Rowling chose to use her initials rather than her first name so as not to dissuade an audience of young males from reading a book by a woman.
Lauren Livesey, at the Parsonage Museum, said the Brontë sisters’ work was considered “coarse” in polite literary circles.
“They were called ungodly, unchaste, unfeminine. One review drew a direct line between Jane Eyre, the Chartist movement and revolution in Europe,” Ms Livesey said.
“There were people saying the book was going to lead to the downfall of civilized society. If those people had known for a fact that it was written by a woman, it would have added a whole other frisson.”
It was her biographer, Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell, who helped restore Charlotte’s reputation, casting her as “a pious, hard done -by, long suffering poor Northern woman,” Ms Livesey added. (David Behrens)
Similarly, a radio programme on CBC (Canada) discusses 'How gender and power play out in the arts' aided by the Brontës and Jordi Mand's play Brontë: The World Without.
The Bell Brothers — Currer, Acton, and Ellis — were noted British authors. Except they were actually three sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. They wrote the classic novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
But the Brontës published under male names in order to have their fiction accepted and taken seriously in Victorian England.
Two hundred years after the death of Charlotte Brontë, Ontario's Stratford Festival mounted a play by Jordi Mand called Brontë: The World Without, imagining the lives of the Yorkshire sisters as they struggle to keep both their writing, and their beleaguered household, complete with ailing father and brother, afloat.
A painting of Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë, by their brother Branwell (c. 1834). He painted himself among his sisters, but later removed the image so as not to clutter the picture. (Wikipedia)
The Brontës act as a jumping-off point for a conversation about gender bias in the arts held recently at Stratford. Playwright Jordi Mand, Kathleen Gallagher, a drama professor from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and theatre professor Kim Solga from the Western University joined moderator Marion Adler, to discuss whether gender bias is still part of the arts, particularly theatre.
The Canada of 2018 is not Victorian England. Yet Jordi Mand notes that male administrators and critics continue to dominate the theatre scene here, and bring gendered ideas to the work. Even audience members who enjoyed her Brontë play queried her choice to concentrate on the writer-sisters and leave the Brontë men — Patrick and Branwell — offstage.
Click here to listen to the programme.

Chester County Press features Rutgers University Associate Professor of English, Shanyn Fiske.
Raised in a family that loved literature, Fiske said her mother admired the works of the Bronte sisters, as well as a range of 19th-century British literature. “It’s probably no surprise that I’m a Victorianist in my field of study,” she said.
With her limited grasp of English and her precocious love of words, Fiske said she spent a lot of time alone when she was young, lost in a world of great books. (J. Chambless)
Notre temps (France) recommends 5 classic books for the summer, including Wuthering Heights.
• "Les Hauts de Hurlevent" d’Emily Brontë (1816 – 1855): la puissance des sentiments
Mr Earnshaw n’est pas revenu seul de Liverpool: il est accompagné d'un petit orphelin, Heathcliff, qu’il décide d’élever avec ses deux enfants, Catherine et Hindley. Les années passent, Catherine Earnshaw tombe amoureuse du très sauvage Heathcliff tandis qu’Hindley, devenu le maître de la maisonnée le jalouse et le maltraite… En dépit du scandale que le livre suscite à sa parution (sous pseudo) en 1847 dans l’Angleterre si puritaine, Emily Brontë a ébloui des générations de lecteurs. Comment lâcher ce roman qui conjugue le romantisme de ses paysages (les landes sauvages du Yorshire balayées par le vent) et la passion déchirante qui bouleverse la vie de Catherine et Heathcliff quarante années durant? Vengeance, haines recuites, amours impossibles: "Les Hauts de Hurlevent" contient tous les ingrédients d'une tragédie antique, le romantisme en plus. C'est l’unique roman d’Emily Brontë morte à 30 ans en 1848. (Isabelle Duranton) (Translation)
Deutschlandfunk (Germany) mourns the death of German writer Gerlind Reinshagen.
Mit der ihr eigenen Kühnheit und Bescheidenheit hat Reinshagen die Menschen aus nächster Nähe dabei beobachtet, wie sie in ihren Bedrängnissen, Zwängen und Verlusten nach dem gebrochenen Klang des Glücks suchen. Trost und Hilfe findet dabei die Protagonistin des Romans „Göttergeschichte“ im Gespräch mit den Stimmen verehrter und gefürchteter Toter, von Emiliy Brontë bis Virginia Woolf, von Robert Walser bis Isaak Babel. Die künstlerischen Ahnen, die Reinshagen hier anruft, sind einerseits Frauen, andererseits Schöpfer einer kleinen, unheroischen Literatur. Sie war überzeugt, dass es in der Literatur nicht auf Antworten ankommt, nicht auf Lösungen, sondern auf die eigenen Fragen:
„Eigentlich glaube ich, dass alle Literatur aus sowas entspringt, aus einer Frage, die man noch nicht gelöst hat für sich selbst.“ (Dorothea Dieckmann) (Translation)
Siglo XXI (Spain) interviews Spanish writer Mar Cabezas about her latest novel Ophelia & Romeo, which takes place in Manchester.
¿Por qué has elegido Manchester como ciudad a la cual se trasladan los personajes tras salir del purgatorio?[...]
Creo que Manchester es casi un tercer protagonista, que sin esperarlo esconde guiños literarios como la casa de las Brontë o el famoso cuadro de Ophelia de Arthur Hughes de su National Art Gallery… En cierto modo, Ophelia ya estaba en Manchester. (Eva Fraile Rodríguez) (Translation)
But the Brontës' home is not in Manchester.

Betches does a recap of episode 2 of season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale. Beware of spoilers!
Aunt Lydia wants to know wtf is up with Commander Zaddy’s wife, Madame Zaddy, and I agree. Is this a Jane Eyre situation? It’s hard to tell. (Jane Duh)

This post first appeared on BrontëBlog, please read the originial post: here

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Literature STILL cannot be the business of a woman’s life


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