Anne Brontë never crossed the Pennines to Manchester, but her family did. It was in that city that her father Patrick had his cataracts cut away without anaesthetic, and where Charlotte commenced the writing of ‘Jane Eyre’ as she nursed him. Emily Brontë had earlier visited the city with Charlotte too, to consult an eye specialist.
It is now a bustling, modern city but it hosts its very own Anne Brontë tribute under the banner of ‘Project Anne Brontë 200’. It takes place on 28th March of this year in a very fitting setting – Manchester’s ‘Cross Street Chapel’. I say fitting, because the minister of this very chapel in the early nineteenth century was a certain Reverend William Gaskell, husband of Charlotte Brontë’s friend and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.
Pamela Nash has put together a magnificent programme of musical highlights that pays great tribute to Anne, and as Anne loved to play and listen to music she will surely appreciate this tribute. The hugely acclaimed up and coming composer Lucy Pankhurst has written a piece especially for the event – a setting of Anne Brontë’s poem ‘The Bluebell’ which she has entitled ‘A Fine And Subtle Spirit’. It’s being performed by professional singers and a children’s choir, so it should be a truly memorable event. There will also be performances of hymns by Anne and poems by Emily set to music, and I will be there to say a few introductory words myself (please don’t let that put you off). This is an event not to be missed if you are in or near Manchester, and I will bring more details on it as that final Saturday in March approaches.