BRONTË fans are at loggerheads over the appointment of model Lily Cole as Emily Brontë’s champion for her 200th anniversary year.

One leading expert has threatened to resign from the Brontë Society following the announcement that Lily, an actress and social entrepreneur, will be its creative partner for 2018.

But Nick Holland’s strongly-worded 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 – Holland wrote In Search Of Anne Brontë and pens a blog at, while Ellis wrote Take Courage: Anne Brontë And The Art Of Life and headlined events during the Brontë Society’s anniversary celebrations for Branwell Brontë in 2017.

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.

Cambridge University history of art graduate Lily 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 Brontë Society’s decision to partner with her says he has no choice but to resign.

He 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.”

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 Brontë 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.”