Earlier this month the Brontë Society held its fourth Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing.

Jackie Kay opened the festival with a series of thoroughly entertaining readings of her poems.

The audience were also privileged to hear the premiere of the poems which Jackie composed while she was writer-in-residence.

For Brontë enthusiasts it was interesting to hear Jackie’s interpretation of the Brontë story in particular that of Jane Eyre at an airport!

We are very much looking forward to the publication of her poems. Throughout the weekend many exciting events took place including talks, workshops and family events.

On Saturday morning people enjoyed designing their own graphic memoir and learning to express ideas and feelings through pictures rather than words at the Louise Crosby: Creative Writing Workshop.

Saturday afternoon saw the return of Jackie Kay as people flocked to be part of her sell-out Creative Writing Workshop. Budding writers wrote prose and poetry based on memories.

Jackie enjoyed the workshop very much and described the work as ‘the best she had ever heard in a workshop’.

In fact she was so impressed with it that she asked everyone who was part of the workshop to send in one of their poems to be published alongside her Brontë poems.

In the evening bestselling author of the Italian Renaissance trilogy, Sarah Dunant, shared the secrets of her trade.

She explained that to recreate the past as a living, breathing place she has had to visited churches, archives, museums and art galleries all over Italy.

Illustrated with pictures, she recounted her discoveries such as how the decoding of old paintings and the work of modern historians helped her to penetrate hidden worlds inside the Renaissance.

Sarah said she found characters, in everyday life and drama in palaces, brothels, convents and even the Vatican.

The audience were completely captivated by her experiences and perhaps maybe would be tempted to visit Italy.

The festival came to a close with Rebecca Stirrups’ Gothic Creative Writing Workshop.

At the start of the workshop people were introduced to the first chapters of Gothic novels, which became the inspiration for their own writing.

All who attended the workshop enjoyed creating a character psychology and environment and this was particularly helped by being in the Parsonage cellar!

On Wednesday executive director of the Brontë Society, Professor Ann Sumner and Professor David Hill from the University of Leeds discussed Turner’s painting of Bolton Abbey and his influence on Charlotte Brontë’s drawings.

After both speakers had spoken about Charlotte Brontë and Turner, a lively discussion was generated about the extent of Turner’s influence on Charlotte and whether she copied the famous Turner watercolour of Bolton Abbey.

As a follow up to this interesting subject matter the West Yorkshire Brontë Society are already planning to visit to Bolton Abbey to take in the view Turner would have seen and possibly that of Charlotte Brontë.