Tag Archives: Haworth

Literary Travel Popular as Ever

LimerickBy PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Literary travel might be one of those concepts that means different things to different people. Many travelers go places to pay homage to their literary idols and draw inspiration from walking in their literal footsteps.

In the Irish Times, Prof. Noel Mulcahy talks about the effect on an Irish city of the memoir written by a recently deceased author:

Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes provided a documented account of 1940s Limerick society, its behaviours and values. It spawned a new tourist product for the city. It offers a focus for literary research way past the foreseeable future.

Noel Mulcahy, incidentally, is a Professor of Industrial Strategy who holds management and technical training courses. He’s into stuff like the role of mathematics in engineering education.

Literary admiration also lures visitors to Madrid, to chase the ghost of the great travel writer Corpus Barga. At Wonders and Marvels, we learn from Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon that even Virginia Woolf was not immune to the fascination of literary travel. She made a pilgrimage to Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters, and wrote about it for The Guardian back in 1904. This present-day piece mentions some other world-class writers who traveled to partake of the atmosphere frequented by their own literary idols.

In Massachusetts, tourists are drawn to the homes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louisa May Alcott, James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and (a guy with only two names, for a change) Rudyard Kipling. And that’s not even the whole list. Several other prominent writers, and painters too, frequented the North Shore area of that fine state, as explicated by Jim McAllister of The Salem News.

Speaking of Longfellow, tourists flock to Nova Scotia in French Canada, because Evangeline, an entirely fictional person and the heroine of his poem, lived there. In New Brunswick, there’s a hybrid theme park and historical reconstruction called Le Pays de la Sagouine, founded by novelist Antonine Maillet, who was so enthralled by her cultural heritage that she wrote 40 novels to commemorate the Acadian lifestyle.

Veteran journalist Stephen Mansfield mixed literature and travel in another way. As a youth, he slaked his appetite for foreign shores by becoming an English teacher (and rock musician) in Spain. There’s a great interview with Mansfield, conducted by Ulara Nakagawa, in The Japan Times.

Please suggest original conjunctions of place and literature!

Limerick photo courtesy of gabig 58, used under this Creative Commons license

Literary Tourism: Jordison Visits Haworth

Haworth Parsonage

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Like many other lovers of English literature before him, Sam Jordison recently made the pilgrimage to West Yorkshire, England, to experience the ambiance of Haworth Parsonage, home of the incomparable Brontë sisters. Unlike many others, though, he has written about the experience for The Guardian‘s Books Blog.

In what Jordison calls “a curious form of literary tourism that seeks to find a concrete source for imaginary locations,” Jordison pokes around in not only the house itself, but the whole surrounding area, looking for traces of the landscape that helped Emily Bronte conjure up her unforgettable characters. He says,

Every other street and building bears their stamp: Heathcliff Mews, The Brontë Bridge, Brontë Cottage B&B…the apothecary where bad brother Branwell bought his laudanum. The Black Bull where he drank away his best years. The school where Charlotte taught. The church where their father preached. And, of course, The Parsonage where they all lived.

The Brontë kids, three girls and a boy, grew up next door to a graveyard, and not some picturesque abandoned one, but a cemetery in everyday use, complete with gaping freshly dug graves, funeral processions, weeping villagers, and polluted ground water. The Parsonage still contains, Jordison reports, such artifacts as paintings made by the doomed genius brother, the tiny little books the sisters crafted as children, and the sofa where Emily died.

Charlotte and Anne wrote some books, sure, but it was Emily who wrote Wuthering Heights, the greatest of all Gothic novels. This tale of demented and deathless love is all the more remarkable for the absence of explicit sex. Its power comes from the psychological nakedness of the characters. Compared to the evocative magic of Emily Brontë’s over-the-top romance, the current bodice-rippers are but a pale shadow.

Wuthering Heights has been filmed several times, with at least two of those movies shot in Haworth, as well as a TV series and a couple of movies about the Brontë family. Strangely, a version of Wuthering Heights, titled Abysmos de Pasion and with the ending changed, was even made by one of the world’s most esteemed directors, Luis Bunuel, during a period he spent in Mexico making B movies under an assumed name.

SOURCE: ” The Brontës are alive and unwell in Haworth ” 06/10/09
photo courtesy of jim.middleton123, used under this Creative Commons license