June 16, 2016

A storm in a teacup over at the Brontë Society?


The Brontë Family, via Wikipedia

The Brontë sisters, as painted by their brother, Branwell Brontë. Via Wikipedia.

Oh, dear. It appears conflict has been brewing at The Brontë Society of late .

As Elisabeth Perlman has reported in Newsweek, one society member compared the organization to the East German secret police during last week’s annual general meeting: “When I read all these rules and regulations we had put together, I felt like I had come into the Stasi.”

Another member “was told he would have to leave the room if he continued to shout at the top of his voice,” Lydia Willgress wrote in The Telegraph. And, as The Guardian has reported, former chair Alexandra Lesley “was cut off after her allotted three minutes, upon which another member began ‘screaming’ the words ‘let her finish’ repeatedly.”

How strangely undignified for a charity whose purposes are “promoting the Brontës’ literary legacy within contemporary society” and maintaining “the famous Brontë Parsonage Museum in the picturesque village of Haworth in West Yorkshire.”

So what seems to be the trouble?

There’s been a split between the society’s “traditional members” and those considered “modernizers,” though what that means exactly remains unclear.

After a wave of resignations over the past year, Dame Judi Dench was appointed honorary president of the Society this past April. She was not able to attend the meeting (due to filming obligations), and has apparently not been reached for comment.



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.