Crimewriter Lynda La Plante is planning a project on the Brontes – and she has launched a character assasination of Charlotte Bronte.
The author and screenwriter, best known for writing hit TV drama Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 yesterday by Libby Purves on the Midweek programme when she was quizzed about a new project she is working on about the Brontes.
Asked if she was planning to kill anyone off, especially the sisters’ brother Branwell, she replied that she had fallen for him but had not fallen for Charlotte.
Miss La Plante called Charlotte “an evil, twisted little woman”.
Her on-air comments were made the same day that the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth got an e-mail from Lynda La Plante requesting a visit for her and her entourage. A date still has to be fixed, said Ann Dinsdale, the museum’s collection manager.
During the radio interview the writer was given a quarter of a minute to say what she thought was wrong with “poor Charlotte” and she said she thought she was a “compulsive liar”.
Although mentioning that she found her letters were “extraordinary” and that she was “very clever” she went on to say that she was “someone under 4ft five or six, had a very broad nose, bulbous eyes, was lacking teeth, had thinning hair. Everything we see of Charlotte is this wonderful portrait of her that was apparently fiction.”
Miss Dinsdale said although it was generally accepted that the best-known portrait of Charlotte, by George Richards, was an enhanced portrait commissioned by Charlotte’s publishers and only made public after her death, she would be interested to know why Miss La Plante thought Charlotte was a compulsive liar and was evil and vicious.
“Maybe I’ll find out how she came to that view when she visits us. I’d be interested to know,” said Miss Dinsdale.
In Charlotte’s defence, she added: “It’s very clear Charlotte was hugely ambitious and was quite pushy and bossy, the driving force of the sisters’ writing projects. When their novels were published they were really laid into by the critics of the day who described them as being un-Christian, unchaste and coarse – I think she tried to protect them. I think she was an incredibly courageous and brave woman.”
Charlotte Bronte was known to be very sensitive about her appearance and what she perceived as her lack of good looks.
She is said to have been about 4ft nine ins, with thinning hair and teeth missing.