Centuries after their deaths, the work of the Brontë sisters continues to inspire people in a range of different ways. Some come away from the novels fired up by their unflinching examination of universal themes: love, loss, death, redemption and the casual brutality of life are all encompassed by their wide-ranging tales.

For others it’s the characters themselves, either in their inception or execution, that intrigues and provokes as they navigate societies at once alien and all-too-familiar to us; it could equally be the Brontë women themselves that inspires them, or the rugged, transcendental terror of their moorland landscapes.

Our panel is chaired by Brontë super-fan Helen Meller, organiser of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival. She’s joined by playwright and dramatist Judith Adams, whose radio adaptations have featured the work and lives of the Brontës; Mick Jackson, author of ‘Yuki Chan in Brontë Country’, the tale of an offbeat Brontë pilgrimage; and Ayisha Malik, another massive Brontë fan whose novel ‘Sofia Khan is Not Obliged’ contemplates the travails of a Muslim woman attempting to negotiate London’s dating and publishing scenes.

They’ll talk about how the Brontës have affected them personally as well as the ways in which the literary sisters have inspired successive generations of creative minds.


Judith Adams

Co-founder of Whitestone Arts, playwright Judith Adam’s first commission was dramatising ‘Villette’ for Sheffield Theatres. Radio includes ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘I Believe I have Genius (Charlotte in Brussels)’, ‘Left Hand of Darkness’ and ‘Middlemarch’.

Mick Jackson

Mick Jackson is the prize winning author of the novels ‘The Underground Man’, ‘Five Boys’, ‘The Widow’s Tale’ and ‘Yuki Chan in Brontë Country’. He also published, with the illustrator David Roberts, two acclaimed curiosities, ‘Ten Sorry Tales’ and ‘Bears of England’.

Ayisha Malik Headshot

Ayisha Malik

Ayisha Malik’s adult novels Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land were met with great critical acclaim. Ayisha was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan has been a CityReads London book. Her children’s books include a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and The Seven Sisters. She is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award, Marie Claire’s Future Shapers’ Awards and the h100 Awards. Her latest novel, The Movement, is out July 2022.  

Helen Meller

Helen Meller is currently director of Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and producer for Chol Theatre’s ‘World’s Apart’, a site specific performance at Red House inspired by the Brontë sisters. Her TV/radio work includes a sitcom festival for BBC comedy North, an award winning adaptation of ‘The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum’ and producing a weekly arts review show presented by Mariella Frostrup for ITV and Channel 5.