1 January 2020 Susannah

Anne Brontë’s 200th birthday

Anne Brontë and her books

There is an important literary anniversary this month – on 17 January it will be Anne Brontë’s 200th birthday. Anne has always been the rather neglected Brontë sister, which is a real shame as she was a superb novelist.

Her book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a brave work for a woman to write, dealing with an abusive and alcoholic husband and a wife who takes her young son and runs away to try and start a new life and support herself. I am also very fond of Agnes Grey, the story of a young governess, a book which highlights the plight of women in that profession. Did you know that an unusually high proportion of women in Victorian lunatic asylums were ex-governesses? If you have never read either of these books, this anniversary year is a good time to do so.

Of course, the anniversary is being celebrated by conferences, talks and special events – I will be giving a talk on Anne at Mosman Library, and a talk on Anne and the governess situation for the Australian Brontë Association on Sat 12 Sept in Sydney. From 20 – 23 May there will be an international Juvenilia Conference held at the University of Sydney, which the general public are welcome to attend. There will be talks on Anne’s early writings as part of that event. A new play has been written – The Lost Voice of Anne Brontë by Cate Whittaker – and it will be on at the AMPA Theatre in Sydney from 31 Jan to 2 Feb, before it then goes off to Haworth for performances there.

There are also some interesting new books about Anne appearing – Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis (I enjoyed her book How to be a Heroine), In Search of Anne Brontë by Nick Holland, and there is also an interesting new book about Anne’s mother, The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick by Sharon Wright.

Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend another wonderful crime writer? Let me know in a comment.

Comments (6)

  1. Sabine

    Nick Holland also wrote Aunt Branwell and the Bronte legacy – I thought it was a very interesting read

    • If I may be so bold and mention my novel “Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit” published in late November 2017. I have shared your post on the novel’s Facebook page.

      • Susannah Fullerton

        Thanks for letting us know about your novel, Diane. I will look out for it. It’s nice to know that there are others out there who also feel that Anne has been the neglected Bronte sister, when she was such a remarkable writer.

  2. Heather Grant

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is on my list to reread this year. I know I enjoyed it immensely and have always meant to read this novel I have never read Agnes Grey but I do have copy so will read that as well. Like you I think Anne Bronte has been sadly neglected.

    Thank you for the all the other suggestions. They will be added to the list – which continues to grow like “Topsy”.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Do re-read The Tenant – a fabulous book. Then you can watch the film version which is pretty faithful to the novel, and you could buy my guide to the novel for $4 which will give you lots more information. Enjoy!

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