REMEMBER Anne Brontë, the youngest of the Brontë sisters and author of the proto-feminist novel, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”?
Well, maybe not.
Historically overshadowed by her brilliant older sisters Emily (“Wuthering Heights”) and Charlotte (“Jane Eyre”), she’s the forgotten one, but not anymore, as playwright Cate Whittaker brings Anne into the spotlight with new relevance in light of the "Me Too" movement, so that she is now seen as the first whistle-blower on wife abuse.
Whittaker, also the author of “Forgotten”, based on the Parramatta female convict rebellion of 1827, has styled her work “a Victorian melodrama of murderous intrigue, madness and malice”, and intended it to be performed in the Brontë family’s Haworth schoolroom in England as part of the bicentenary celebrations for Anne.
Although the actors are dressed in full period costume, the proposal is very modern, that the Brontë sisters made an early contribution to feminism. The play recreates imaginary conversations between the three housebound sisters about the great questions of life and also its stultifying daily realities.
Anne is depicted by Whittaker as a “shy, sweet, sickly girl in the shadow of her two older sisters”, but she comes out of her shell in her sensational bestseller, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, where she depicted a husband's physical and moral decline.
It is now considered to be one of the first feminist novels.
“The Lost Voice Of Anne Brontë”, Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, June 25-26. Book here.
Who can be trusted?
In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.
If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.
Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep citynews.com.au strong and free.
Ian Meikle, editor