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Romancing the Gothic: ‘O Wander Not So Far Away’ – Adapting the Brontës’ Juvenilia Through the Supernatural

June 1 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT


We’re doing a lecture on one of our favorite topics for the FREE online series, Romancing the Gothic! Click here to register to come and listen to our presentation “‘O Wander Not So Far Away’: Adapting the Brontës’ Juvenilia Through the Supernatural” on June 1st, 2024 at 4PM ET.

Here’s the write up –

In their youth, the Brontë siblings created several paracosms – complex imaginary worlds they could escape to through writing. Together, they constructed elaborate visions of the Glass Town Confederacy, Gondal, and Angria, lands that provided endless opportunities for worldbuilding, collaboration, and intrigue. Within these worlds, the children themselves were almost gods, self-aware creators who could raise kingdoms, design personas and personalities, and try on different modes of storytelling. Imagined worlds allowed the Brontë siblings freedoms unattainable in their real lives. Many scholars speculate that these early works of juvenilia were profoundly influential to the masterpieces they would later create, including the quintessential Gothic novels Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

In recent contemporary literature, the Brontës’ juvenilia has proved a generative foundation for the creation of new supernatural portal fantasies. In these texts, the Glass Towns, Gondal, and Angria are, like Narnia, actual places to visit, and the Brontës themselves are drawn into complicated plots they thought were only of their own making, characters themselves inside their worlds. These texts frequently posit a magical origin for the Brontës’ genius, and thereby create an explanation for the powerful sense of enchantment that permeates their adult work. In this talk, we’ll give an overview of the Brontës’ juvenilia and then explore some contemporary texts that remix it, including Lena Coakley’s Worlds of Ink and Shadow (2016), Catherynne M. Valente’s The Glass Town Game (2017), and Isabel Greenberg’s graphic novel Glass Town (2020). From there, we’ll discuss why this practice has become so popular and ask what it is about the Glass Towns and the Brontës that proves so irresistible to writers and readers alike.

We hope you join us!