It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Scarborough yesterday – it’s always a pleasure to visit but the weather truly made it special this time!
Naturally, we had to pop up to visit Anne Brontë’s grave, and it was lovely to see that some sweet little trinkets had been added to the tributes that already adorned it.
We enjoyed a wander along the beach and a bit of exploring through the historic town.
Unearthing a few hidden gems off knowledge along the way!
But time was of the essence, and we arrived at the library on Vernon Road well in advance. This was definitely necessary, as not only did we need to set up, but Caroline was performing the readings in costume and had to get changed! (Pictures to come. Of the costume, not the changing – what kind of site do you think this is?!)
We were blessed with a warm, attentive and sizeable audience and were very well-received! Used to performing in a T-shirt and jeans, Caroline certainly struggled to avoid wilting in the sweltering costume she’d picked out for herself and admitted that she was unsure whether or not she was fully-conscious throughout the readings, but the energetic applause that followed seemed to suggest that it had all gone swimmingly!
It was fantastic to meet new friends and speak to established Brontë enthusiasts and “first-timers” alike, as it always is when our events are so well-attended, and we really hope to see some of our lovely audience members from Scarborough at a couple of our performances this November!
If you wish to book a ticket for our production, The Dissolution of Percy, please click here!
A couple of months ago, part-way along an 130-mile fundraising trek, we wandered past the atmospheric Brontë School House – once the infamous Clergy Daughters School, attended by a very young Charlotte and Emily Brontë and their tragic older sisters Maria and Elizabeth, who sadly fell victim to tuberculosis as a result of their time under its roof. Later, this establishment was the template for the dreadful Lowood School in Charlotte’s Jane Eyre.
The current owners of the building have chased away the its dark past and transformed it into a cozy, hospitable and popular guest house, and have now kindly invited us in to perform a reading tailored specifically to its Brontë connections!
Don’t miss out on this unique event – we’re really looking forward to reading these great works on the site that first inspired them!
Well, it was only a matter of time before we were back in Brontë country!
After a very early start, we found ourselves in the lovely little town of Morley, in the very well-kept and well-attended library. Our thanks go to Simon Zonenblick, who offered us the opportunity to take the readings there. Simon is currently working on a documentary film about Branwell Brontë’s time on the Manchester to Leeds railway at Sowerby Bridge and Luddenden Foot, so please keep your eye out for it! Visit the website here or follow @CaterpillarPoet on Twitter for updates.
The audience filtered in – a chatty, upbeat lot who helped themselves to tea and coffee and seemed very much up for a morning of entertainment! The event went swimmingly, and the ladies and gentlemen in attendance didn’t make it easy for us to leave afterwards, indulging Caroline’s penchant for being quizzed in Brontë trivia to the point where she had to be virtually dragged away when it was time to go! Interest certainly seemed to be piqued by the biographical side of the talk, and we enjoyed giving recommendations for various books on the Brontë family. Our sincerest thanks go to the staff of Morley library who rounded up such a superb crowd and really made us feel at home. It’s definitely not goodbye forever!
Alas, however, we did have to go, and our next destination was a famous one. We travelled along the Thornton Road to Haworth, retracing the route Caroline took on her 130 mile walk three months ago and doubtlessly the one taken by the young Brontës when they moved to the town in 1820. We were starving upon arrival, but that was easily and comprehensively fixed by a brief trip to Cobbles and Clay, the wonderful art cafe that hosted one of our readings in June. Tuscan Bean Stew, Bean Burritos and an absolutely divine warm sticky apple cake were very much enjoyed!
After that, we paid a visit to the always atmospheric and affecting Parsonage Museum, examined the original bullet holes blasted by Patrick “If I Hit Anyone In The Churchyard They’ll Already Be Dead” Brontë in his own church tower, and paid a quiet little visit to the memorial above the Brontë crypt. After all, it was quite a special day.
24th September, 1848, marked the sad day of Branwell Brontë’s death at the age of 31. 167 years later, we were on our way to read work by himself and his famous sisters at Ponden Hall, one of their favourite childhood haunts and the site of some of their happiest memories and most intense inspiration. It is likely to be one of the properties that inspired Emily’s Wuthering Heights as well as the probable template for Darkwall, an affluent home mentioned multiple times in the Brontë children’s Angrian saga.
The evening was beautiful and calm, and the house was warm and homely. We were safely shut away from the ghosts that many say wander its grounds. (We’ll be reading there on Halloween though – let’s see what happens then!) We were very pleased to see that the Collections Manager from the Brontë Parsonage, Ann Dinsdale, had come along to see what we were up to! Again, we really enjoyed performing the readings, but what turned a fun night into an excellent one was the exemplary spread laid out by Ponden resident and owner, Julie Akhurst. No fewer than FOUR cakes – including a traditional Victorian “seed cake” flavoured wonderfully with caraway, as well as scones, sandwiches and tea brewed the proper Yorkshire way graced the table and the guests tucked in heartily! However, the evening was not over, and Julie then took us on a tour of the ancient house. Utterly spoiled, we were treated to a glimpse of the famous “Box Bed” room from Wuthering Heights and the library that allowed the young Brontës to further develop their love of reading.
Another fabulous day sharing the works of the Brontë family with other enthusiasts had certainly worn us out, but it’s not over yet! We’re at Scarborough Library on Thursday 1st October, then we’ll retrace our steps to Cowan Bridge to perform a Jane Eyre-themed reading in the famous Clergy Daughters’ Schoolhouse – the template for Lowood School in Charlotte’s classic novel – on Wednesday 21st October, and finally we’ll be back at Ponden Hall for our eerie Halloween event!
Watch this space for more information, and take a moment to remember poor tragic Branwell, 200 years old in 2017. See our original production about the end of his life in Salford and Haworth this November.
Yesterday was a really beautiful day, and I’m glad I mad the most of it by heading over to York, one of the most beautiful cities I can think of!
I started off by creating the cover of my next folk/grunge/indie album on the city walls:
I’d come on a really good day – it was the York Food Festival and the whole city smelled delicious.
To distract myself from my only weakness – food – I entertained myself by indulging my other weakness – old stuff. Ok, I have two weaknesses. But York is fab for antiques, and look at this!
Once I’d messed about enough, I headed over to my venue for the evening. The library, York Explore, is absolutely superb, with oak-panelled events spaces, interactive whiteboards, a cafe, full seasonal programmes of events and, of course, a staggering collection of books, archives, records… I really enjoyed myself there!
And they actually gave me my own little room to prepare in! Now, I’m not going to get too big for my boots and call it a “dressing room”, but…
York is always a lovely day out, and this was a great way to end it. The readings went very well, and the audience members had some really interesting questions at the end. Citing Branwell’s influence on his sisters’ literary interests at an early age, as well as their later habit of drawing on a few of his experiences as a basis for happenings in their work, one lady asked whether I thought there would BE a Brontë canon if it wasn’t for their brother. A question without a sure answer, as we knew, but an interesting one to consider. I responded that I like to think there would have been, though it would be very different, particularly in the case of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
We’ve only a couple more readings to go – one at Ponden Hall in Haworth tomorrow (email email@example.com to book!), and one at Scarborough Library on 1st October.
Following these, we’re back at Ponden with a great set of readings for Halloween. You can bring your own ghost story, enjoy a delicious autumnal feast and snuggle up by the flickering fire before an atmospheric tour of the ancient house. Again, email firstname.lastname@example.org to join in!
Having enjoyed the fantastic seaside town so much on our last visit, we were delighted to be asked back to Scarborough by cozy bookshop Wardle & Jones on Bar Street on 5th September – this time to talk specifically about Anne Brontë, the youngest in the family, and the only one to be buried separately from her family. Her father Patrick and mother Maria, along with her siblings Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell and Emily, were all laid to rest in the Brontë crypt under St. Michael’s church in Haworth.
Last time we were there, we placed a little pot of lavender next to her grave, and it was lovely to see that, while not so vividly coloured any more, it was still there!
I thought I’d take a wander up and round the castle walls – something I’d failed to do on the previous visit. It was utterly fantastic, and, while the day was a little cold (there were still proper Yorkshire people swimming in the sea, mind!) the views were still superb.
On my way, I came across a play area that made me question whether or not I cared what people would think about a grown woman playing on wooden battlements.
And on returning to the town, I came across Darth Vader, who was busy challenging children to lightsabre battles. Pick on someone your own size, Vader!
I had a fantastic time at Wardle & Jones, particularly because at least one member of the audience went on to buy a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall from the shop immediately after the reading! I was made to feel really at home, and very much enjoyed one of their glorious brownies (seriously, you need to try those things!) I’ll definitely be visiting them again when I’m back in Scarborough on 1st October, when I’ll be taking the readings to the local library!
Artistic Director Caroline was just returning from a lovely holiday and fully intended to give the low-down on our fab event at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough when disaster struck. Her trusty communicator/recording device/life-source, made by a company christened after a fruit that will remain nameless, broke. For the third time. So no lovely pictures or Palme d’Or winning videos quite yet, but they are soon to come. Watch this space. Suffice for now to say that the event went very well, and numerous people left newly intrigued about the life of Anne Brontë, and determined to read her work. The shop itself is a gorgeous, cozy little place on Bar Street that sells brownies so delicious they bring a tear to the eye. Highly recommended. Again, further details to come when we can do them justice with still and moving visuals!
Of course, with all this running around the North, there was no way we’d miss out the familiar Brontë staple – their lifelong home, Haworth!
Our friends at Ponden Hall, an old haunt of the Brontës, reputedly the model for numerous elements of Emily’s Wuthering Heights and many other works by the family, are hosting us for not one but TWO fantastic events.
The first is our Brontë Readings, taking place on 24th September at 6pm to mark the 167th anniversary of the death of the only male Brontë sibling, Branwell. Hear excerpts of beautiful poetry and vivid storytelling interspersed with discussion about the famous family’s lives, enjoy some truly excellent food (We’ve sampled it. It’s gorgeous.) and experience a tour around the ancient house where you might learn some of its many secrets!
We’re back at Ponden on Halloween night at 7pm for an evening of some of the more spine-tingling excerpts from the Brontë canon. You can enjoy a sumptuous Halloween feast, hear creepy stories from Ponden’s long history, take a tour (see THAT box-bed and window) then sit around the crackling fire to share your own eerie tales. You are welcome to bring your own wine!
Booking in advance is vital. Call 01535 648608 or email email@example.com for further details and to book for either or both of the events.
On Tuesday 22nd September, we’ll be at York Explore Libraryat 6pm,discussing the Brontës’ connection with the town and the ill-fated employment taken up by Anne and Branwell in nearby Little Ouseburn, which was to mark the beginning of the end for the family.
Booking in advance is vital. Get your tickets for free here!
We’ll soon be taking a much-needed holiday, but not before we’ve returned to Scarborough for a special poetry-and-prose reading honouring Anne, the “forgotten” Brontë sister. We’ll be at Wardle & Jonesbookshop on Bar Street from 2pm – 3pm this coming Saturday 5th September!
After this, on Tuesday 22nd September, we’re over at York Explore Libraryat 6pm,discussing the Brontës’ connection with the town and the ill-fated employment taken up by Anne and Branwell in nearby Little Ouseburn, which was to mark the beginning of the end for the family. Expect poignancy and scandal in equal measure!
We’re heading to Ponden Hall in Haworth on Thursday 24th at 6pm, to mark the 167th anniversary of Branwell’s death. Take a tour around the astonishing ancient family home, see the bedrooms, views and library that inspired the young Brontës and tuck in to some gorgeous traditional fare. Call 01535 648608 for further details.
Back to Scarborough for the 1st October, where we’ll be at the Library at 6pm in anticipation of National Poetry Day! Hear the work of a family that inspired and intrigued generations of future writers and artists.
Finally, we’ll be back to Pondenin Haworth for Halloween With The Brontës, where you can hear chilling excerpts from the family’s writings as well as ghastly tales from local folklore and enjoy a lovely autumnal meal. This event is available via pre-booking only. Call 01535 648608 to reserve your place.