Our website uses cookies, ensuring you a quality enhanced experience. More info

Lily Cole Causes A Row Over The Bronte Sisters

Celebs January 5, 2018 By Vincent

Actor, supermodel and a graduate from Cambridge University with a double first in History of Art, is there nothing Lily Cole cannot do? Well, according to one academic there is and that's be the 'creative partner' with Bronte Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire for the bicentenary of Emily Bronte's birth and he has quit the Bronte Society over it.

Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock.com

Nick Holland is a Bronte expert and is well versed in the lives and works of the Bronte sisters, including that of Emily who wrote the classic novel 'Wuthering Heights' but he felt that Lily Cole being offered the title undermined the work of the sisters and other academics.

Holland, who has published books on the literary sisters, wrote on his blog: "The central question should be, what would Emily Bronte think if she found that the role of chief 'artist' and organiser in her celebratory year was a supermodel?

"We all know the answer to that, and anyone who doesn't isn't fit to make the decision or have any role in the governance of the Bronte Society."

The Society, which runs the museum in Haworth, should have appointed a writer instead, he argued.

He concluded: "It's best that I leave the society now, before they announce James Corden as the creative partner for 2019, a year in which Patrick Bronte is being remembered, and Rita Ora as organiser for Anne Bronte's celebrations in 2020."

The Bronte Society said of  Cole's appointment to the role that her "innovative projects in the fields of literacy, nature, story-telling and the environment" made her a "perfect fit for Emily" and Lily has also now jumped in to defend herself saying:

 "I would not be so presumptuous as to guess Emily's reaction to my appointment as a creative partner at the museum, were she alive today.

"Yet I respect her intellect and integrity enough to believe that she would not judge any piece of work on name alone."

National Portrait Gallery/commons.wikimedia.org

The Bronte sisters wrote many books during the 19th century, most of which were published under pseudonyms as it was considered improper for women to be writing at the time. Cole will present a short film as part of the celebrations and her full statement can be read in full below:

2018 offers us both the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the UK, and the 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte's birth, so it feels poignant to begin the year on the topic of prejudice.

Emily Bronte, whose extraordinary novel Wuthering Heights has stirred the world for over 150 years, published her work under an androgynous pseudonym: Ellis Bell.

Writing in 1850, Charlotte Bronte explained why she and her sisters Emily and Anne all used pseudonyms: "We did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice."

When I was asked by the Bronte Parsonage Museum to work on a piece to commemorate Emily Bronte's birth, I immediately thought of Emily's pseudonym, and what that gesture represented.

Why could a woman not publish under her own name? What was life like for women living in the UK in the 19th Century? What circumstances would also give rise to a child being found abandoned in a city in the 18th Century, as Heathcliff was?

Now I find myself wondering, fleetingly, if I should present the short film I am working on for the Bronte Parsonage Museum under a pseudonym myself, so that it will be judged on its own merits, rather than on my name, my gender, my image or my teenage decisions.

I would not be so presumptuous as to guess Emily's reaction to my appointment as a creative partner at the museum, were she alive today. Yet I respect her intellect and integrity enough to believe that she would not judge any piece of work on name alone.

In the meantime I am excited to see how much Emily still means to so many people, and I welcome 2018 to celebrate her.

 


Advertisement
© 2017 OMGLane.com