Sunday, June 07, 2009

Haworth weekend

One of the interesting things about being a writer and having established my name and my publishing history, is that sometimes people find out about me - through my web site or my blog - and they ask me to be involved in bookish things that I don't expect. And that's what I was doing this weeked. I was in Haworth, West Yorkshire, appearing on a panel that was discussing the Bronte sisters - Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and their books - Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and all the others.
Some weeks ago, the Arts Officer of the Bronte Society had seen a blog I wrote on I Heart Presents about the way that part of Wuthering Heights had influenced my book Bedded By The Greek Billionaire and as a result that was why she asked me to be on the panel this weekend.

When I was at school, my classroom was in an old part of the building and often when there was a violent thunderstorm, the lights in the room would fuse. Because some of the girls in the class were scared of storms (not me – I’ve always loved the drama of thunder and lighting) the teacher would distract us by telling us a story. This would always begin by telling of how a rich landowner brought home a wild gypsy boy that he found in the streets of Liverpool. The boy fell in love with the landowner’s daughter but left when he believed she didn’t love him. Years later he came back to get his revenge. It was only later that I found out that this story was actually the beginning of Wuthering Heights. I always wondered what would happen in the rest of the story and later I read the whole book but the opening always stayed with me as a memory from these story telling sessions.

In some ways the rest of the story of Wuthering Heights was a disappointment to me. The wild gypsy boy who turns into dark, dangerous, powerful man, never ends up with the passionate fiery heroine. They each marry someone else and they most definitely do not live happily ever after. But from those long ago school days I’ve always wondered how things might work if someone was to take some of that famous story and change it round just a bit. Make it work a different way – and give the hero and heroine their happy ending. That's what I did with Bedded By The Greek Billionaire.

Being back in Haworth was a like a trip 'back home' to me as I grew up in Yorkshire, not too far from Haworth and this was the first time I'd been there for ages. It was wonderful revisiting places I'd loved - the Babe Magnet and I even managed to visit the little cottage where we spent our honeymoon w-a-y back when. We stayed in a lovely B&B at the bottom of the famous steep cobbled street that runs through the centre of the village and we had an amzing room, The Tudor room, complete with four-poster bed!

And we had time to visit the Parsonage Museum that was once the home of all the Bronte family and wander round at our leisure looking into all the rooms. This place is so atmospheric - small rooms crammed close together, looking out onto a view of the old church and the graveyard! And it is full or items that belonged to the sisters - samplers they embroidered, hats, gloves, even a dress that Charlotte once wore (she was tiny). And in one of the downstairs rooms there is the couch where Emily died in December 1848 at the age of just 30.

And the Babe Magnet was thrilled to see some of his books on Yorkshire history on sale in the Parsonage Museum Shop.

The event was on the Saturday night and I met up with some great authors to talk about the Brontes' books and their influence on romantic fiction. Unfortunately Justine Picardie who was to chair the panel was unwell, but Steve Dearden who stepped in at the last moment organised us wonderfully and kept the event moving along nicely. The other writers on the panel were Joanne Harris whose novel Chocolat was made in to a film starring Johnny Depp, Amanda Craig whose latest novel Hearts and Minds was published in May this year, and Jude Morgan who has just published a novel based on the lives of the Bronte sisters titled The Taste of Sorrow. So of course I came home with yet more books to add to my TBR mountain.

It was a great experience - amazing to combine all my skills/interests/studies in one go with discussing the Brontes and Romantic Fiction and writing. My thanks to Jenna who invited me to take part and to Sean, all the other writers and everyone else involved.


Anne McAllister said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic time, Kate! Thanks for sharing the pictures and your experience at Haworth. Someday we'll have to get there, too. But I'll have to read Wuthering Heights first, I suppose!

Anonymous said...

Kate, sounds like an amazing trip, I'm so jealous you got to walk around the Bronte's house. Can't even begin to imagine how special that must be. Must get there some day...thanks for sharing.
Abby x

Caroline said...

Great post Kate. Looks like you had a lovely time and the photo's are great! Take care. Caroline x

Michelle Styles said...

Glad you had a fantastic time, Kate!

Haworth is one of those pilgrimage places that I need to go. My daughter keeps reminding me that I did promise...

Lacey Devlin said...

I've never read Wuthering Heights simply because I like my happily ever afters thank you! It's very naughty of me really since it's such a classic but ah well at least I didn't get my brother tattooed when my parents weren't looking.

Haworth looks gorgeous I'm glad you had such a lovely time!

Nell Dixon said...

Sounds fantastic, Kate


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