Thursday, 19 February 2009

Postcard 20: Rajasthan = Brontë Country

The atmospheric walk to Top Withens, Haworth, Yorkshire

I have enjoyed two visits to Haworth in Yorkshire, with its Brontë associations. The museum items made me realize just how small and slight the Brontë girls must have been. This revelation is all the more startling when you walk outside and begin to experience for yourself something of the vast and foreboding expanse of moor.

It is always interesting to see how tales can translate into a different culture. There is to be a new stage-adaption of a Bollywood Brontë. The show Emily's Wuthering Heights will be on tour during March: venues include Exeter, Glasgow and Harrogate. The action will take place in 1770s Rajasthan, and the bleak moors will take on the guise of a parched desert wilderness.

To return to Yorkshire for a moment, I have long beeen fascinated by the name Top Withens, Heathcliff's abode, sometimes spelled as Top Withins. I resorted to the Ordnance Survey on one occasion when I wanted to include the name in my poem, Emily's Moor (subsequently published in The Seventh Quarry, ed. Peter Thabit Jones). I was delighted to find a discussion of the name on the Haworth Village website. It would seem that the spot has been Top Withens (with an 'e') since the 1600s. 'Wuthering' is such an evocative word for the sound and movement of the north wind. It reminds me of another tale set in Yorkshire, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You will find a link below to an intriguing paper linking the two stories.

1 comment:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting stuff Caroline. Bronte country is not so very far from here and easily visited in a day. I agree about how slight they were - also the thing that always troubles me when I go is a very hard, uncomfortable settle with a notice saying that "on this settle Emily Bronte died, refusing a doctor to the last" which sounds so awful and so cold - they lived such harsh lives didn't they?