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- Bronte Society reveals plans for Emily Bronte's bicentenary celebrations

Lily Cole, The Unthanks, Patience Agbabi and Kate Whiteford star
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Lily Cole, The Unthanks, Patience Agbabi and Kate Whiteford will all play a role in the 2018 celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë, the Brontë Society has revealed.  

Lily Cole, actress and social entrepreneur, takes on the role of creative partner at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and will explore the connections between the origins of Emily’s anti-hero Heathcliff and the real foundlings of 1840s London in a new partnership with the Foundling Museum.  She will also consider gender politics and women’s rights, in the year which marks 100 years since women got the vote.

Lily said:  “Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite books and I have long been fascinated by its enigmatic writer, Emily Bronte. The fact that Emily had to change her name - to Ellis Bell - in order to publish the novel intrigues and inspires me. I am excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to work on a project to commemorate the legacy of one of England's most important, and mysterious, writers.”

Lily Cole is joined by poet and performer Patience Agbabi who will be the Museum’s Writer in Residence, land artist Kate Whiteford who will explore Emily’s connection to the Yorkshire landscape through her pet hawk Nero and award-winning band The Unthanks, who will compose and perform a song cycle based on Emily’s poems. 
Jenna Holmes, who leads the contemporary arts programme at the Brontë Parsonage Museum said:
“We know very little about Emily, but from the work she left behind, we know that she was a talented writer, artist and musician.  We wanted to celebrate her immense creativity by commissioning exciting new work from artists who we knew would do her legacy justice.”

Also working with the Brontë Parsonage Museum next year is teenage author and vlogger Lucy Powrie, who, in the new role of Brontë Society Young Ambassador, will present an online book club via her youtube channel, lucythereader, during the year.

Lucy said:  “I'm so excited to be working with the Brontë Parsonage Museum on the Brontë Book Club for Emily’s bicentenary celebrations. Hopefully it will encourage lots of young people to read the books for the first time, and fall in love with them just as I have."

Other celebrations include a new exhibition, Making Thunder Roar: Emily Brontë, which will open at the Brontë Parsonage Museum on Thursday 1 February.  The show invites a number of well-known Emily admirers to share their own fascination with her life and work. Specially commissioned contributions from Maxine Peake, Sally Wainwright, Caryl Phillips and Helen Oyeyemi amongst others result in a thought-provoking selection of Emily’s possessions, writing and artwork as well as some of the well-loved household objects she used daily.

Visitors to the Brontë Parsonage Museum will also have the opportunity to see the iconic portrait of Emily with Charlotte and Anne, The Brontë Sisters, which was painted by her brother, Branwell Brontë.   The painting will return to Haworth for a special three-month loan from the National Portrait Gallery, London. 

Kitty Wright, Brontë Society Executive Director said:

“Emily’s bicentenary is a particularly exciting chapter in our five-year bicentennial festival and we look forward to celebrating this most enigmatic of the Brontë siblings with audiences in Yorkshire and across the world.  2018 will also see us enter the Arts Council’s National Portfolio for the first time and we look forward to building on the partnerships we have developed during our celebrations of Charlotte in 2016 and Branwell in 2017.” 
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