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Author: Sara Haslam

Dr Sara Haslam on the Brontë sisters’ work

Updated Friday, 26 March 2021
Sara Haslam was The Open University's academic consultant on OU/BBC drama 'To Walk Invisible'. Here she discusses what makes the Brontës’ work so fantastic. 

Bronte sisters on the moors (BBC programme use only) I’ve always loved the Brontës’ work (and enjoyed some of the spin-offs too, especially Kate Bush’s!), so it has been a real pleasure to work on this original drama with the BBC. The first module I designed and taught myself was exclusively on the Brontës’ writing, and I remember students’ happy discovery of texts they’d never encountered before, like Villette, Shirley, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (which was a favourite with some of the cast and crew as you’ll see), alongside the genuine thrill of working on Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

What impresses me about these three women is their tenacity, and the sense that they could do nothing but honour their intense imaginative and creative skill. It took Charlotte to see they could, just possibly, make money from writing, and as readers we have to be grateful for that, but they were each touched with the bright fire of genius (though that’s a questionable word, I know), and that’s why the early image in Sally Wainwright’s drama of the four children with the tops of their heads aflame caught my attention, and held it. They would always have written, I believe, but thank goodness they eventually published – despite being women, despite not having money, despite living elsewhere than the south of the country – too!

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