Amber K. Regis
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Charlotte Brontë on stage
1930s biodrama and the archive/ museum performed
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The Charlotte Brontes were big business upon the 1930s stage. Adaptations of the sisters' novels, particularly Charlotte's Jane Eyre, had always been popular at the box office; but from the late 1920s, there was an unprecedented biodrama boom. This chapter explores Bronte biodrama as a critically reflexive art: a notable example of popular culture in dialogue with scholarship, heritage and tourism. Following a brief survey of the public interest afforded to Bronte relics and remains during the 1920s and 1930s, two case studies are developed: Alfred Sangster's popular stage success, The Brontes and Rachel Ferguson's satirical failure, Charlotte Bronte. The provisional nature of biography and edition is highlighted by Shorter's position on Charlotte's time in Brussels and her relationship with Constantin Heger. Playwrights taking the Brontes as their subjects in the 1930s enjoyed access to more primary material than ever before: printed texts, commemorative spaces and museum objects.

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Charlotte Brontë

Legacies and afterlives

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