It must have been pretty difficult being Anne Brontë. Firstly, her life was chock full of tragedy, with numerous siblings dying in an untimely fashion and she herself succumbing to illness at an early age. Secondly, although she was a wonderful writer, Anne’s books never got quite the same attention and acclaim as those of her older sisters Charlotte and Emily.
But while Anne’s writing might not match the strange mystique of Emily’s or the gothic power of Charlotte’s, in my (humble) opinion her books are the most progressive, and have the most to teach us today – especially her second novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which will soon hit the Octagon stage. It’s a brand new adaptation from Deborah McAndrew and will be directed by Elizabeth Newman. For those regular Creative Tourist readers you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth’s work, and I can’t think of a better director to take on this important proto-feminist tale.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall follows the story of Helen, a woman who refuses to bow before the supposed superiority of men – something which was, in 1848, a fairly shocking theme. Instead, Helen seeks our her own independent life and eventually finds her own form of happiness.
I really love Anne Bronte’s writing, which is always full of hope and forgiveness in the face of hard times. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – her second and final novel – is a masterpiece, and one that I’m sure will make a great theatre show.