Yorkshire Literature Festivals team up on new work to celebrate the Brontës

To mark the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth and the start of the Brontë 200 celebrations Beverley Literature Festival, Ilkley Literature Festival and Off the Shelf Festival of Words have commissioned three writers to produce new work inspired by the literary siblings. Guardian First Book Prize Winner Andrew McMillan, singer/ songwriter Nat Johnson and acclaimed playwright Zodwa Nyoni will each create a new piece of work in response to a different family member, to be performed at a showcase event that will tour the three festivals in October.

Susan Walker from Off the Shelf said, ‘Our three festivals have been looking to work together on a commissioning project for some time, and the Brontë 200 celebrations have given us the perfect opportunity. We are very excited to be bringing together three exceptionally talented voices from the region to create new work inspired by the Brontës.’

Dorcas Taylor from Beverley Literature Festival added ‘From the outset, this project was about celebrating the amazing Brontë legacy through new work. Zodwa, Andrew and Nat will each bring their distinctive voices to the project and create pieces that offer new interpretations to the familiar narratives around the Brontë family and their work.’

Nat Johnson, who is writing a new song inspired by the three sisters and their effect on one another as individuals and writers said, ‘I’m delighted to be taking part in this project, and I’ve really been enjoying returning to the Brontë novels and poetry and visiting Haworth.’

Andrew McMillan, who is working on a piece inspired by Branwell Brontë said ‘It’s always great, as a poet, to be asked to respond to something you might not otherwise have written about. We can get stuck in a rut I think, and work like this can help to move us out of our comfort zone’

While Zodwa Nyoni, who is creating a performance piece about a modern teenager connecting with Charlotte despite the difference in their culture and backgrounds, said ‘I decided to look in to Charlotte Brontë for the commission. I connected to her resilience as a woman and a writer. With her writing, she persevered under patriarchal society and even when her sisters were published and she wasn’t; she never gave up’

Rachel Feldberg from Ilkley Literature Festival said ‘We are really excited to hear the final work that Zodwa, Andrew and Nat produce and we know that this event will be one of the highlights of our Festivals this year.’

New Responses to the Brontës
7.15pm, Saturday 15 October, Ilkley Playhouse, £6/4
More Information

Or you can see New Responses to the Brontës at Off the Shelf on Friday 14 October, including a special light projection created by Word Life, and Beverley Literature Festival on Tuesday 18 October.