Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

September 16, 2006


First Fan-Review of Jane Eyre 2006

Laura wrote in to Bronteblog where she had won tickets to the screening this evening of the first two episodes of the BBC series. There isn’t much that we did not surmise from the preview clips so far, but there are some particular observations of the acting of the leads:

The foremost thing I took away from the preview was that Ruth Wilson was an absolute delight as Jane. She brought a lot of natural charm to the part and although her performance was subtle, the viewer is left in no doubt of what she is feeling in each scene. In my eyes, she has provided the best performance yet for this character. Ruth’s Jane is full of humanity, soul and honesty and she instantly wins your sympathy.


Mr Rochester is one of my favourite characters; he is enigmatic, charming, unpredictable, outspoken and sometimes even manipulative. As you all know, there are many layers to his persona, but Toby seems to have struggled with capturing all of these idiosyncrasies and instead gives (in the first episode at least) what seems to be quite a black and white account. When not being overly gruff, his manner often seems affected and it even comes across that he is not taking the character very seriously…He improves, however, in the second hour, helped along by the fact that he smirks a lot less and is perhaps not quite so sarcastic. It also doesn’t do any harm that he is, indeed, partially shirtless in one of the scenes… (Mr Darcy, eat your heart out 😉

The rest of the review is available here. The rest of the review harmonises well with my own opinions on what I have seen as well. Rochester is an incredibly complicated character, and I truly pity any actor who takes him on. It doesn’t sound like he fares too badly, however. It sounds like he has given the character scope to develop and probably that would continue into the remaining episodes. I don’t recall coming across a predominantly sarcastic protrayal, but the sarcasm is a part of the character (often describes in the novel as sardonic).


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:04 am

All Your Tea Are Belong to Bronteana

It has been quite awhile since I posted about studying the Brontes. Long time readers will remember my distress when I received an acceptance from an excellent school I could not afford to attend. Well, I’m there! Thank God for the government of Canada and surprise scholarships! I’ve been here for over two weeks now. I believe I chose wisely. I spent the first week exploring. I could not ask for a more beautiful campus: on the first day I walked down the hill to the ocean, later I discovered a marsh on campus complete with a family of ravens, and there are plently of lovely spots to sit under an oak and write. The dinning hall is in a Victorian hall. I was let into the library which was precisely like a gentleman’s study, except for the stained glass window of ‘poetry and prose’ inspiring a young woman to write. I even heard someone singing a 19th century art song to accompiament on the piano forte yesterday!

And there are actually books about adaptations of Jane Eyre- in the main library which has its own waterfall… I was able to compile a working bibliography of twelve sources! (An article I came across regarding the musical gave me a chuckle for how patronising it is to those who attend music theatre rather than opera). My work is off to a great start, but there are difficulties. Last night I discovered to my horror that I cannot play all of the 1973 BBC mini-series on my laptop! My first reaction was: how will I cope with not watching the repartee all year? And then I realised I also needed it for my thesis. I hauled out the other DVDs and they all work fine. This is simply one of those cruel turns of fate- I know it is.

But I hear my mother is sending me a care package with 300 bags of tea. (I was sick this past week). I also have a new text to guide my efforts to create a hypertext Bronte resource: Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age. Very exciting!

More genuinely exciting… one more hour until the BFI screening of Jane Eyre 2006!

September 15, 2006


Filed under: BBC,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,TV,Uncategorized,Video Clips — by bronteana @ 1:24 pm

First of the Preview Clips Available

You can now see some of that ‘mysterious’ second clip we all saw in the background of the BBC Breakfast interview with Toby Stephens. The music from the beginning seems to be standard for the Drama preview clips of other productions. The clip is of the first interview scene- much altered.

If you have not seen the interview yet, it also includes part of the Hay Lane scene, and is available here.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:46 am


From the Mirror:

Nicola Methven And Polly Hudson
THERE’S drama aplenty in the battle for viewers this autumn. ITV chiefs are so desperate to beat their BBC rivals they’ve brought forward the new Cracker film by more than a month so it goes head-to-head with the Beeb’s adaptation of Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
“Cracker was initially supposed to be screened in November,” whispers our source. “But it’s now going out on October 1 – against the second part of Jane Eyre.
“It looks a like deliberate act of sabotage by ITV, which will only serve to damage both shows in the ratings.” Crikey.

Damage the ratings? Oh, I really don’t think so. Jane will be fine.

September 14, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:17 am

More Preview Clips of Jane Eyre 2006

No need to write to the BBC anymore, asking whether or not there will be video clips on the BBC’s website for their new production of Jane Eyre. I wrote to producer Diederick Santer about the issue and he assures me there will be both new stills and preview clips on the website, so as I said earlier, keep checking the site!

He also let me in on what they’re up to at the moment:

Today we are doing the final sound mix for episode three and checking cgi shots for four. We also have our private cast and crew screening, the premier of episode one, tonight at a secret venue in the heart of London’s glittering West End…

In case you missed the previous post, we also now have a release date for the DVD in the UK: February 5th, 2007, you can pre-order it now from the bbc shop.


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:27 am

Pre-order the DVD of Jane Eyre 2006

The DVD is apparently set for a February 5th 2007 release in the UK. It can be pre-ordered from this website. Thank you Bernard Sylvie for the tip!

Ruth Wilson, as Jane Eyre, and Toby Stephens, as Edward Rochester, lead a stellar cast in a compelling new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s much-loved novel Jane Eyre. Orphaned at a young age, Jane is placed in the care of her wealthy aunt Mrs Reed, who neglects her in favour of her own three spoiled children. Jane is branded a liar, and Mrs Reed sends her to the grim and joyless Lowood School where she stays until she is 19. Determined to make the best of her life, Jane takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, the home of the alluring and unpredictable Edward Rochester. It is here that Jane’s journey into the world, and as a woman, begins. Writer Sandy Welch (North And South, Magnificent Seven), producer Diederick Santer (Shakespeare Retold – Much Ado About Nothing) and director Susanna White (Bleak House) join forces to bring this ever-popular tale of passion, colour, madness and gothic horror to BBC ONE.


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:19 am

Resources- Housekeeping:

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I have not made a post about the Bronteana Resource Page in several weeks now. For those of you who are not aware of its existence, it is a resource I began some months ago in an attempt to make some of the material I have gathered in my studies available online. So far this consists of transcriptions I had made of several works by the Brontes which were not available as e-texts, including Charlotte’s unfinished novel Emma, and several essays written by Emily.

The major project on hand was to scan and upload illustrations from my personal collection. I have not counted what I have, but I have not started on at least 3 or 4 editions of Jane Eyre, and another one is only partly scanned. The problem arose that the host I chose for the page has silly rules about how much you can post per page. So going to the illustrations page for Jane Eyre gives you the illustrations of three or four artists and then directs you to another two or three pages. It is a clumbsy and annoying system.

I have attempted to solve the problem by relocating. I have obtained webspace from Dalhousie University and have already begun to set up a new page. However, all of my copies of the illustrations are in Ontario and I’m in Nova Scotia… Also, as part of my graduate studies I will be involved with something similar but even more time-consuming: single-handedly editing and publishing online a previously-unpublished manuscript by the 18th century writer John Thelwall (I am crazy, and have decided to work on the one with three or four drafts complete with scrawlings and revisions). Some of you have been kind enough to send images for the archive but I am reluctant to post anything until I know where and how the page will be set up. Time will be a factor, I think.

One last point for this very long housekeeping note! This week I talked with a Victorian professor who has taught courses on adaptations of the Bronte novels. After hearing about this blog and my work she suggested I think about the NINES Project. The NINES Project is a scholarly initiative with the general aim of keeping Victorian studies in step with the change from print to digital culture. There are now electronic academic journals, but also archives such as Bronteana or the revolutionary William Blake Archive.

September 13, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:10 pm


Okay, so this morning, when the website for the new Jane Eyre series went up, I was too excited to eat breakfast so I spent the morning plundering the website for information and pictures. I didn’t know that it was only a work-in-progress, but since then I haven’t mentioned what isn’t there at the moment (aside from the WSS comment in the previous post). A quick online search shows how futile this is- most of these are already splashed all over message boards online. So, here are some images from the site which will be reappearing there shortly anyway…

Click on the images below to view them full-sized.


And I had time to write to my friends as well… Yes, so I have notes of what I found astonishing about the production. Some of these things already came up in the comments to the original post (I think it was Liz?). So, I will fill in some gaps in a way which shouldn’t spoil anything. (I have heard that people WANT spoilers in order to turn off the purist mode ahead of time. Turn it off anyway, but you won’t get spoilers here.

So, as someone who might have seen more adaptations of Jane Eyre than what is probably healthy, I am delighted to say that I have been surprised at every turn today. If anything else, this will be, in my opinion, the most original adaptation of the novel- ever, of all time. If you want the 1983 or 1973 BBC versions, watch them but don’t expect them to be reproduced. The language is different, other things are changed but there have been some fantastic expansions of other elements in the book which have been completely ignored before. Do I sound excited?

Some things I read this morning pleased my purist heart, and other things thrilled the scholar that I am. When I had an ‘oh, so that’s why-‘ moment it was immediately followed by a ‘but what’s that?’ moment (Questions. Shiny things!). I wouldn’t be keeping this blog if I didn’t think the novel was special, but an adaptation is a text of its own- it isn’t Jane Eyre. I’m sensitive to sensationalism when I view an adaptation or I edit a manuscript. Perhaps it is too soon to stake my claim here, but I really am not getting that feeling- despite the changes made. It seems like a genuinely inspired approach.

So, my advice is to visit that website after the episodes air (starting on the 24th) and read the producer’s diary.

Only one comment I will make about the later section of the diary is about WSS since I already mentioned it. There is going to be an interesting connection between this new version of Jane Eyre and the BBCs new adaptation of Wide Sargasso Sea. If I read the entry correctly, footage from Jane Eyre will be used somehow in the production of WSS.

*a few more pictures will be added shortly.
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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:45 am

BBC’s Wide Sargasso Sea

From the new website for the 2006 series of Jane Eyre, there is a little bit of surprising information about the BBC’s upcoming production of Jean Rhys’ novel ‘Wide Sargasso Sea.’ But first, here is the Press Pack from the BBC (courtesy of Bronteblog).

The reference to WSS comes from the production diary of Diederick Santer (posted on the BBC’s website)…

Correction… Since this morning the links to the rest of the diary have been taken down! Well, I guess you will just have to wait until the first episode of Jane Eyre airs before you can know what is so surprising. Suffice to say for now, there will be an interesting connection between the two productions. Or you might go here, where it could come up in discussion…


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:43 am

‘French Dancer’s Bastard’ by Emma Tennant

Emma Tennant, author of many Bronte and Austen rewrites, sequels etc. has a new book due for publication October 6th. The book is called The French Dancer’s Bastard: The Story of Adele from Jane Eyre. I am a little confused by this book’s existence. Emma Tenant has already written a novel about Adele, with a similarly creative title: Adele. That novel was written in 2003. The approaches seem to be quite different in one respect but in others, exactly the same:

The description of Adele: Emma Tennant retells Jane Eyre from the perspective of Rochester’s illegitimate daughter Adele. If Adele is to be believed as narrator, Jane Eyre was not the gracious soul she made herself seem and Rochester’s family is an even greater nest of duplicity and madness than Bronte herself made it out to be.

The description of The French Dancer’s Bastard: ‘Adele is not answerable for either her mother’s faults or yours …now that I know that she is, in a sense, parentless – forsaken by her mother and disowned by you, sir – I shall cling closer to her than before’ (from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte). Emma Tennant’s new novel tells the story of little Adele Varens, to whom Jane Eyre is governess in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel. The illegitimate daughter of a celebrated Parisian actress, Adele is only eight when she comes to Thornfield Hall to live with the forbidding Edward Fairfax Rochester, who may or may not be her father. Adele longs to return to the glitter of Paris and to the mother who has been lost to her. Her loneliness would be complete were it not for the young governess who arrives to care for her, although Adele at first regards her with suspicion and dislike. But there is another shadow hanging over their lives: the dark secret locked away in a high garret. Adele’s curiosity will imperil them all, shatter their happiness and finally send her fleeing, frightened and alone, back to Paris.

A few years ago I spent the summer reading sequels and rewrites of the Bronte novels, including Adele and it stood out to me as one of the worst books I had ever read in my life. It was very funny, and I would not mind having the book simply to prove that I’m not making this stuff up, but I am glad that I had opted to loan it out of the library. I hope ‘French Dancer’s Bastard’ is a rewrite of Adele addressing things like, oh, Adele being 5 when she is conceived, and Mr Rochester smashing windows with some incredibly dense bon bons. This is also the book which features a lot of random moments when Mr Rochester is naked for no apparent reason- like, in the road. Adele just happens upon him with his trousers down in the street. And in the bath tub (there’s a spyhole in his bathroom and Bertha and Adele peer down at him while he’s in the bath, and he goes off to write an emo entry in his diary about how evil the child is).

And… spoilers!

Mrs. Fairfax tried to murder Jane. I loved this book just for how terrible it was. See, when Jane is pregnant with her first child, Mrs. Fairfax goes to her one day and convinces her that Edward really only loved Bertha, that Adele set the fire that destroyed Thornfield and that Adele has fled, that Mr Rochester is going to confess to setting the blaze to spare Adele and, as a consequence is going to be excecuted for murder (he also wanted for murdering someone in France who sends him letters demanding money- sent via some circus clowns… I am not kidding) and now Mrs Fairfax wants Jane to sign a confession to the fire to save Edward by killing herself. Jane refuses, so Mrs Fairfax pushes her off the roof where Jane dangles from the battlements crying ‘I’ll never sign that confession, Mrs. Fairfax!’ when Mr Rochester drives up (You can almost hear the ‘What the deuce?!’). Thwarted, Mrs Fairfax does the only sensible thing- she leaps from the battlements. Whoa, the symbolism…

So, my point is… I hope French Dancer’s Bastard is better but I have my doubts!

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