The Brontë sisters – Emily, Charlotte and Anne – are often talked about in one breath without considering their own unique personalities.

Anne Brontë’s work, which included novels Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, address feminist issues that are still subject to debate and discussion today. But what do these novels tell us about Anne herself, and do her poems and letters reveal more?

In this panel discussion, chaired by Bidisha, Brontë experts Adelle Hay, Samantha Ellis and Marianne Thormählen look at what we can learn about the ‘real’ Anne Brontë as a writer and as a woman.

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About The Host


Bidisha is film maker, journalist and presenter and an artist working in film and photography. She is a longtime broadcaster for Sky News, BBC TV and Radio, Channel 5 and CNN and a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer. Her most recent books are The Future of Serious Art (2020) and Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices (2015). As a film director, she has released An Impossible Poison (2017) and the Aurora series (2020 – present).

About The Speakers

Samantha Ellis

Samantha Ellis’s latest book, Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life, explores the widely unrecognised achievements of the youngest Brontë sister. Her first, How to be a Heroine, was inspired by an argument with her best friend about who was the best heroine: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. She is also a playwright and journalist

Photo by Nick Tucker.

Adelle Hay

Adelle Hay is a lifelong Brontë aficionada and an advocate for Anne Brontë’s place in the canon of classic English writers, alongside her better-known sisters, Charlotte and Emily. The Brontës inspired Adelle’s love of books from a young age, and she even went on to become a bookbinder before starting work on an academic project that focuses on textual criticism of Anne Brontë’s work, and how it has been edited ever since.

Marianne Thormählen

Marianne Thormählen is a Senior Professor at Lund University, Sweden, where she held the Chair of English Literature from 1996 to 2016. The author of books and articles on T. S. Eliot, John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester (Rochester: The Poems in Context) and the Brontës (including The Brontës and Religion and The Brontës and Education). In 2012, Cambridge University Press published her edited volume The Brontës in Context.