Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keys To The Castle

This program aired on HGTV in 2006. It shows 4 castles in England that people call home. You can view both episodes online, one for England castles and another one for French castles. I have this on vhs taped from the tv, but as far as I can tell, it's not available on DVD.

The French episode will air twice on HGTV, November 8th

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jane Austen To Present The News

Apparently, Jane Austen appeared on Channel 4 in Britain last week. Here is a link to see the other "historical presenters,"

And here is "Jane":

Jane Austen, Samuel Johnson and John Ruskin to present the news
"The historical characters of Jane Austen, Samuel Johnson and John Ruskin will be reporting on modern society and politics in a series of television broadcasts.

By Urmee Khan, Digital and Media Correspondent
Published: 6:55PM BST 21 Oct 2009

The three giants of 19th century British literature will consider the changes in Britain since they were alive, and comment on the state of the country today.

The ‘news’ reports will be broadcast on More4 News as part of the programmes main news line up.

Dr Samuel Johnson will be interpreted by the broadcaster David Stafford, John Ruskin, the critic, will be played by Professor Bernard Richards, a Ruskin expert at Brasenose College Oxford, and Jane Austen will be performed by Rebecca Vaughan, who wrote and performed in 'Austen's Women' at this year's Edinburgh festival.

Dr Johnson will examine the knowledge economy and learn how to use the internet – which he considers a "truly a remarkable piece of apparatus and a boon to scholarship.

Jane Austen, will consider modern courtship and the waning popularity of marriage. She will talk to young couples at a wedding fair in Essex about whether tax breaks would help boost the institution. She will also observe a speed-dating session where "you can encounter dozens of potential partners in one evening, with no obligations."

The trend to impersonate deceased literary characters has become popular recently, especially on social networking sites.

A Twitter user who impersonates Dr Samuel Johnson, the 18th Century lexicographer and polymath, has become one of the stars of the site.

* The reports will be shown on More4 News from Wednesday to Friday October 21-23 at 8pm, starting tonight with Johnson."

(Article is from The Telegraph)

BBC's The Big Read

In 2003, the BBC compiled a list of the country's top favorite 200 novels from nominated books. We've listed the top 100 here, and you can click here for the rest.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inspector Lewis Withdrawls

I am officially mourning the end of the latest season of Inspector Lewis that has been showing on PBS, yet I am very late to the game of the Inspector Morse/Inspector Lewis programs, only having discovered them this season.

The Brits always get it right when it comes to television and film, and thankfully, there are the DVD's to go back to. Season 4 was filmed this summer, so there's more to look forward to in the future.

Here is a clip from the "Allegory of Love" episode in season 3.

In the Inspector Lewis time slot now is the new Masterpiece Contemporary season. Here is the schedule.

*October 25, 2009, 9pm
(One 120-minute episode)
A political thriller about the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa starring William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jonny Lee Miller.

*November 1-8, 2009, 9pm
Place of Execution
(One 90-minute episode, one 60-minute episode)
Juliet Stevenson plays a high-profile TV journalist who investigates the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl 40 years prior. Also stars Greg Wise (*

*November 15-22, 2009, 9pm
(One 120-minute episode, one 90-minute episode)
Collision tells the story of a major road accident and the 10 seemingly unconnected people involved. Beyond the chaotic landscape of corpses and crumpled cars, a series of invisible dramas unfolds.

The Blythe's Are Quoted

(Author Lucy Maud Montgomery)

Not sure what to make of this.

"A new, uncut version of Lucy Maud Montgomery's ninth and final Green Gables volume unveils a more complex Anne – and a meaner Gilbert"
Read the complete article here.
Here is a review. The book was released in Canada in early October. Check Canadian Amazon to order, if you dare.

PBS Previews the New Emma

The new Emma. It's not getting great reviews, and it's losing it's audience in the UK with each new episode, but we'll still watch when it airs on PBS in January. Here is the preview from PBS.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Victorian Farm

Victorian Farm: Filing this one away in the category "maybe this will air in the US one day."
Here is another link.
Wikipedia -apparently this is a sequel to another documentary called, "Tales From the Green Valley."
Will check to see if it's available anywhere and add later...

Tales From the Green Valley is available in PAL DVD format on UK Amazon. Here is a clip from youtube:

and one for Victorian Farm:

There is a boxed set for both Tales From the Green Valley and Victorian Farm at BBC Shop. And finally, the dvd for Victorian Farm at Amazon UK. Time to invest in a region-free dvd player.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Here is a news article link about Barnes & Noble's new kindle-like device called Nook.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Borders Media Section

Borders has a great original programs section on their website. You go to the Borders Media link to get there. Then you will see their logo on the sidebar with all kinds of good stuff, (backlot, poetry read alouds, etc.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

American Writers Series

In 2001, C Span aired a series about American writers that I was obsessed with. They featured writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln and Edith Wharton. I got looking around tonight and realized you can still view their website, however, it appears the video links no longer work.

Here is a link to the website, still up after all these years. It's sort of a literary tour all about American authors from Founding of America to Vietnam era. There is also a second series for twentieth century American writers.

UPDATE: Found a place to buy & view the videos online
Also, it appears that Borders sold videos of the program at one time, as well. Not sure if they would be available on Amazon or eBay, but we did see the Emerson/Thoreau episode on vhs as, "currently unavailable," on Amazon.

Edgar Allan Poe Funeral


(photo by Steve Ruark)
Writer Edgar Allan Poe was celebrated in Baltimore, Maryland, October 7, 8, and 11th, for the 200 anniversary of his birth. We have linked several articles about the celebration and funeral reenactment, which included "famous people" attending the funeral, and mourners dressed in costume. Read on.

Poe Bicentennial

Third Times The Charm
Guardian Article
160 Years Later (video)
Death Becomes Him
Second Funeral For Writer Poe (video)
Poe Gets Fitting Funeral (video)
Funeral He Deserves
Legacy To Finally Be Honored (video)

Alive And Unwell In Haworth

The Brontës are alive and unwell in Haworth
Tourist trappings cannot stifle the vivid sense of their writing life to be found here

Article by Sam Jordison
"Last week, I visited Haworth and the town was bathed in sunshine. There were birds singing. Red, white and blue bunting strung across the steep cobbled main street fluttered in the warm breeze. People sat out on the street drinking Timothy Taylor's Landlord bitter and smiling. It was disconcerting. The town has always existed in my head under lowering skies and buffeted by howling winds and misery. All this summery comfort confounded my expectations.

But then again, that disjunction was probably fitting. This is a place where reality and fiction have had an uneasy relationship for almost 200 years. It's been subject to that curious form of literary tourism that seeks to find a concrete source for imaginary locations ever since it was discovered that the Bell brothers were really the Brontë sisters and that they'd churned out their lovelorn epics in the local parsonage.

I can't fully account for the urge that makes us want to find a real place that might have been – for instance – Wuthering Heights. That refusal to accept it was just make-believe has sent generations of schoolchildren (and me) sniggering over Penistone Hill and up on towards Dick Delf Hill to look at the ruins of Top Withens farm – on the off-chance that they might once have provided the inspiration. Maybe it's because we find it impossible to believe someone could actually invent such a haunting location. Maybe we want to drink from the same fountain of inspiration as Brontë. Maybe we're just a little weird.

Certainly, there's something odd about the fact that the main industry in Haworth depends upon a family whose last productive scion (Charlotte) died in 1855. Where every other street and building bears their stamp: Heathcliff Mews, The Brontë Bridge, Brontë Cottage B&B, the beautiful (but sadly now derelict) Brontë cinema, the Branwell tea rooms (also defunct). Seemingly the only places that aren't named after the family or their works are those that were built before 1855. But nearly all of these bear plaques noting their association. The apothecary where bad brother Branwell bought his laudanum. The Black Bull where he drank away his best years. The school where Charlotte taught. The church where their father preached. And, of course, The Parsonage where they all lived.

Inside this famous house, the Brontë pilgrimage starts to make more sense. Barthes might not like it, but here the writers come alive. The brooding atmosphere of their books is explained. The misery takes on palpable dimensions. The first thing that you notice about the house is that it's dominated by the graveyard of the next-door church. The east and south faces of the house both look out on grim ranks of slabs, monuments and grey crosses. This takes on yet more significance when you learn that in the first half of the 19th century the average life expectancy in Haworth was 25.8. Funerals were therefore monotonously regular occurrences and the graveyard was so overfilled with fresh bodies that their seepage poisoned the local water supply … in turn creating more bodies.

So it would be surprising if sickness and mortality weren't in the sisters' minds as they sat writing together in a small room looking out over the flowers in the small parsonage garden and the larger crop of death beyond. But this room is also redolent of the joy of creation. A small table they all three shared is still there and it's fun to think of them working at it, getting their papers all mixed up, annoying each other with interruptions, sharing pots of ink and getting up to pace in front of the hearth, discuss a scene, talk about dreams of publication … It's quietly inspiring and – dare I say it? – life-affirming. Or at least, it is until you read the notice over the small blue sofa at the back of the room, and you learn that this is where Emily Brontë died, maintaining until almost the very end that she wasn't actually ill.

Such highs and lows continue throughout the house. Branwell's precocious 13-year-old paintings. His eerie cartoons of the death coming to get him aged just 31. Charlotte's fat first editions. Her brief letters apologising for how the recent deaths of all her siblings have made her a poor correspondent. Miniature books, readable only with magnifying glasses stitched together by the girls in childhood. Funeral cards.

Even in the sunshine, and amongst coach-loads of tourists, it's a moving experience. Small wonder that so many people continue to visit."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mr Rochester - Most Romantic?

(Image from Bronteana)

There is a new article, from The Telegraph, naming Charlotte Bronte's EDWARD ROCHESTER, from Jane Eyre, "most romantic literary character".

Here is the text of the short article:

Charlotte Brontë's brooding Byronic hero Mr Rochester has been named the most romantic literary character in a poll.

"Rochester, the lead male character in Jane Eyre, published in 1847, topped the Mills & Boon survey despite his moodiness and lack of good looks.
Brontë described Rochester, who in the novel marries Jane Eyre despite her lowly position as a former governess, as "very grim" to look at.
Richard Sharpe, Bernard Cornwell's soldier, who was brought to the screen by Sean Bean in an ITV drama series, was voted second in the Literary Hero survey and Fitzwilliam Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, was relegated to a surprisingly lowly third."

Mills & Boon who? No, actually we agree with their readers on this one, scary thought, indeed!

The actors who have played Mr Rochester have either gotten it really right or completely ruined their portrayals. Whether they religiously portrayed him by the book, or not, our favorite Rochester is Toby Stephens, with Timothy Dalton a close second. Next is Ciaran Hinds, the most angry Rochester on film, and our least favorite portrayal is by William Hurt.

Here are some well-known and maybe some not well known Mr Rochesters. The first picture is a lithograph by Paula Rego.

(1st Place)
(2nd Place)
(3rd Place)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sinking of the Laconia

Filming has begun for BBC2's "The Sinking of the Laconia." (Can't help but think of Captain Wentworth)

(from BBC)
"The Sinking Of The Laconia

Andrew Buchan and rising German star Ken Duken are joined by Brian Cox and Lindsay Duncan in The Sinking Of The Laconia, a powerful new two-part drama for BBC Two from acclaimed writer Alan Bleasdale.

The drama tells the true story of the amazing heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity during the Second World War.

Brian Cox plays Captain Sharp, whose armed British vessel, the RMS Laconia, was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat 156 on 12 September 1942.

Also on board was 3rd officer Thomas Mortimer (Buchan), who heroically risked his life to help the passengers reach the lifeboats.

Six hundred miles from the coast of Africa, the mixture of English civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian Prisoners of War faced certain death until U-Boat Commander Werner Hartenstein (Duken) made a decision that went against the orders of Nazi High Command.

The U-boat surfaced and Hartenstein instructed his men to save as many of the shipwrecked survivors as they could.

Over the next few days the U-156 saved 400 people, with 200 people crammed on board the surface-level submarine and another 200 in lifeboats.

Hartenstein gave orders for messages to be sent out to the Allies to organise a rescue of the survivors but, in an unbelievable twist, they were spotted by an American B-24 bomber who moved in to attack.

The Sinking Of The Laconia takes a look at the human side of the remarkable events that took place: the friendships that developed, the small acts of heroism, and the triumph of the human spirit in the most incredible of situations.

The cast also includes some of Germany's biggest names, including Matthias Koeberlin, Frederick Lau and Thomas Kretschmann."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

BBC To Launch iplayer For US

Here is the article, originally posted on Anglotopia, or just read the article below. This is great news for Brit-lovers.

"BBC Worldwide is planning to launch a pay-for video-on-demand portal, a range of new paid mobile apps and a series of ecommerce partnerships overseas, after enduring a “nightmare” year in the depressed international advertising economy.

Similar to iPlayer in the UK, the VOD platform has been under development for six months and would offer…
1) catchup for the BBC’s international channels like BBC America,
2) “premium catalogue material” like Doctor Who, Torchwood and Top Gear and
3) material from the BBC’s deep archives, MD and EVP Luke Bradley-Jones revealed to paidContent:UK.
The focus will be on America, where 20 million of’s 50 million users are.

“It’s inevitable that we, the digital media business, need to move to a mix of paid services,” he said. “There just aren’t enough ad dollars to support traditional media models. Consumers will pay for services they truly value… we can exploit many more monetisable opportunities, including in the paid space.”

The proposal will require BBC Trust approval. BBCWW will be making its intentions clear to the trust in the next few weeks but a formal submission will not yet be compiled…

—Charging overseas video: Is this the fabled “global iPlayer”? “We would certainly like to use the brand,” Bradley-Jones said; though the service would be allied with overseas channels and wouldn’t carry domestic UK shows. But it would carry non-BBC shows from the likes of Channel 4, for which BBCWW already has rights to air on BBC America.

Sci-fi BBC shows, which already have a large international fan base, will be at the centre of the platform: “Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks,” Bradley-Jones said, alluding to iTunes, one of the channels through which BBCWW already sells pay-for VOD. BBCWW pulled £10 million in sales from such channels in 2008/09, but iTunes puts a ceiling on prices and BBCWW believes it could charge more.

“It’s possible to offer some videos on ad-funded basis, but it doesn’t make sense from economic or rights point of view. You need real scale to deliver ad-funded content – Hulu’s not there yet. BBC America can’t put its shows online for free (for rights reasons), but can on a paid basis.”

—Mobile: BBC Worldwide will launch “BBC News and Sport apps on several platforms in the next few months”, Bradley-Jones said. “It’s very unlikely we’ll move to a charge basis for our generalist news services”.—but audience-specific apps will come at a price, for example, “if you’re creating a specialist soccer app for Asia-Pacific”

Saturday, October 3, 2009


They just keep discovering more Stonehenge-type sites in Britain. The newest one is "Bluehenge."
Article on Bluehenge.
Another Article.

Video of Anne Frank

I've seen this footage of Anne Frank in documentaries before, and now it is available on youtube on the Anne Frank channel. It is the only known live video images of her taken about a year before she went into hiding with her family.

A Poet's Guide To Britain

It's times like these I wish I lived in the UK. BBC4 recently re-aired "A Poet's Guide To Britain," with Owen Sheers. There is also a companion book to the series. This is from Owen Sheers website, describing the series and book, which comes out October 29th:

A Poet’s Guide to Britain
The accompanying anthology to ‘A Poet’s Guide to Britain’, selected and with an introduction by Owen, is published in October by Penguin. The series is currently being repeated on BBC 4 at 7.30pm on Thursdays. The poems featured in the series were:

‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’ by William Wordsworth – May 4th
‘Wuthering Heights’ by Sylvia Plath – May 11th
‘Hamnavoe’ by George Mackay Brown – May 18th
‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold – May 25th
‘Poem from Llanybri’ by Lynette Roberts – June 1st
‘Woods’ by Louis MacNeice – June 8th

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spot On!

Was browsing The Bronte Blog who links this post about the "Wuthering Heights" and "Twilight" connection. Their review was spot on and my favorite part, that made me laugh out loud, was when they point out that many young people, (tweens, perhaps),are posting on their blogs about the "lack of depth" in Wuthering Heights vs. the depth of Twilight. That is funny. Even Stephenie Meyer knows Wuthering Heights is a masterpiece, since she is a fan of the book, and has actually read it .