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Charlotte Brontë, probably by George Richmond ...

They’ve arrived to me in the most roundabout of ways. They’ve heard I “know about the Brontës” – which is somewhat true, considering that I’ve given a number of talks about the family, and garnered some attention, years ago, with a short play about brother Branwell.

So they wonder, would I be interested in coordinating a huge inter-school project about Charlotte Brontë and youth problems…

I blink.

Well, yes, er… I guess one could describe Charlotte and her siblings as unusual teenagers. No doubt, Branwell is very nearly a poster boy – what with alcohol, drugs, depression and everything. And the sisters had their troubles too.

So I explain, and also ask what should my role be in all this. I discover that the whole thing should culminate in an event for the local literary festival in September – and that is what the hope I will coördinate. Do I have any idea how to make the whole a hymn to life and hope?

I blink again. Did they listen at all? If I were to choose a literary family as a symbol for hope and joy, the Brontës would hardly spring to mind…

“Why did you chose the Brontës at all?”

And it turns out the festival people foisted Charlotte on them because of the bicentennial. And they decided they wanted Charlotte as a problem teen – but hopeful. “And it’s too late to change subjects now: the schools have been working on the sisters’ novels for months.”

So. I’ll have a meeting next week, to find out what has been done exactly, and what can be done. And if I want to be in it at all. Oh, the challenge…

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