Literary Expert Quits Bronte Society After Model Announced as 2018 Patron
A literary expert has resigned from the Bronte Society in disgust after it revealed a former Playboy model will be its patron for 2018.
Nick Holland, an expert on the Brontë sisters' work, strongly criticised the decision to employ former pinup Lily Cole as Emily Brontë's champion for the 200th anniversary year of her birth.
He says Cambridge graduate Ms Cole was chosen for the role rather than a traditional writer to 'attract a younger audience'.
Mr Holland wrote: 'What would Emily Brontë think if she found that the role of chief "artist" and organiser in her celebratory year was a supermodel?
'We all know the answer to that, and anyone who doesn't isn't fit to make the decision or have any role in the governance of the Brontë Society.
'The very basic rule should have been that the person chosen for such an important role as creative partner is a writer.
'The drive now is for one thing - attracting a young audience. Being trendy is the ultimate aim, with the Brontës themselves relegated to the sidelines.'
The controversy came as the society and its Brontë Parsonage Museum prepared for the third year of its Brontë200 Festival with a host of Emily-oriented events in Haworth.
The Brontë society was founded in 1893 and has members across the globe, hosting the largest Brontë collection in the world at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
But Mr Holland's criticism of the world's oldest literary society for its modern outlook has been branded 'tedious killjoy carping' by fellow Brontë writer Samantha Ellis.
Both are experts on Wuthering Heights author Emily's less-renowned younger sister Anne and Samantha Ellis headlined events during the Brontë Society's anniversary celebrations for Branwell Brontë in 2017.
In a Twitter response to Mr Holland's blog, Samantha Ellis wrote: 'What tedious killjoy carping. @BronteParsonage brilliantly balance intellectual rigour, integrity & FUN, in general & esp for £Bronte200.'
The row came as the Brontë Society appeared to have settled down following several years of in-fighting between traditionalists and modernists regarding the direction of the organisation and its running of the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
A spokeswoman for the society said: 'The Brontës were trailblazers and it is one of the roles of the society to ensure that their lives and work continue to be of relevance and interest to modern society.
'Lily's innovative projects in the fields of literacy, nature, storytelling and the environment are the perfect fit for Emily, and her originality and creativity will bring a fresh perspective to our 2018 celebrations.'
Miss Cole, who has modelled for Vogue and Playboy magazines, will this year work on a project jointly with the Foundling Society exploring the origins of Emily's Heathcliff.
An advocate for socio-political and environmental issues, she often writes for the international press and has spoken at prestigious events like the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos.
Despite these credentials, Mr Holland has bitterly criticised the society's decision to partner with her and says he has no choice but to resign.
- News Editor
- Keighley Local News