A week-long festival taking a contemporary look at the lives and work of the Bronts takes place in Haworth this summer.

The Radical Bronts features Bradford writer Joolz Denby, the festival's artistic director, comic duo LipService and Turner Prize nominee Cornelia Parker whose exhibition, which includes a sample of Anne Bront's hair under a microscope, launches the week.

The contemporary arts programme, which has Professor Germaine Greer as its honorary patron, includes visual arts, theatre, music, poetry, talks and workshops and is aimed at establishing the Bront Parsonage Museum as a vibrant creative arts centre.

It starts with Brontean Abstracts, an exhibition of new work by Cornelia Parker, one of Britain's best-known artists. Unusually, it will be displayed in period rooms at the Parsonage.

Cornelia has worked with the museum over the past year developing new work using the Bronte collection in a contemporary way. She has explored the museum's collection, viewed original Bront manuscripts in the British Library and worked at the University of Bradford analysing samples of Bront artefacts including hair using electron microscope imaging technology.

"By capturing images of the Bronts' relics through a microscope I have been using the tools of science to try and understand the power of the myth," says Cornelia. "Whether it is a split end of Anne's hair, pinholes made by Charlotte or the tines of a comb burnt by Emily, they are abstractions made by them, unconsciously."

Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997, Cornelia has had work exhibited worldwide and is best known for large-scale installations including The Maybe (1995), a collaboration with actress Tilda Swinton who appeared sleeping inside a vitrine at the Serpentine Gallery.

Cornelia's work reflects an interest in what she calls monumental things'; people and places so established within public consciousness as to be almost cliched. As a place of literary pilgrimage dedicated to one of the world's most famous literary families, the Bront Parsonage Museum corresponds with her notion of the popular' or cliched'. Cornelia will be talking about her work and collaboration with the museum.

"The museum has attracted international artists, authors and film-makers keen to interpret the lives of one of the most famous literary families of all time," says deputy director Andrew McCarthy. "We are seeking to use their historic home in a new, dynamic way to bring the collections to life for visitors and make new connections with the creative arts.

"Exhibiting work by such a prominent artist is an exciting opportunity. Cornelia Parker is interested in people, places and objects which have a monumental quality. This is certainly true of the Bronts, but the problem with monuments is they can become caricatures. Brontean Abstracts will challenge some of our preconceptions about the Bronts and give us a new perspective on them."

Festival patron Professor Germaine Greer says the Bronts' influence spans generations of writers, artists and composers working in a variety of genres.

"Our ambition is for the Bront Parsonage Museum to truly reflect the Bronts' remarkably diverse creative talents and the rich heritage of artistic response to them," she says.

"Our contemporary arts programme commissions and showcases new responses to the Bronts and the museum's collection from established writers and artists working today. We also aim to encourage local creative talent, offering opportunities to collaborate on special projects and through education initiatives and to create opportunities for general visitors to experience the Parsonage in imaginative ways allowing them to explore their own creativity."

Joolz Denby will host Bront Happening, described as a "free-wheeling multi-sensory evocation of the world of the Bronts" is a fusion of poetry, art installation, performance and a vintage fashion show, and she will also join writers James Nash, Martyn Bedford, Helen Cross, Tobias Hill and Michele Roberts for the Radical Bronts Discussion.

Graphic artist Siku and Yorkshire writer Adam Strickson have collaborated to produce a highly-charged version of Wuthering Heights and the graphic novel will be on sale during the festival.

The programme also includes Moving Stories, a joint project between the museum and South Square Gallery and the Bront Birthplace in Thornton. Artists Morwenna Catt and Duncan Burnett have produced new work on the theme of translocation in response to the Parsonage and the Birthplace where the Bronts spent their early childhood.

Comedy duo LipService will perform Withering Looks, a witty, irreverent take on the lives and works of the Bronts, and novelists Patsy Stone-man, Stevie Davies, Patricia Duncker and Michele Roberts will talk about the Bronts' influence on their work.

Workshops include The Big Draw, featuring drop-in art activities for all age groups, and holiday art and craft sessions for children aged five to 11. The week ends with a Bronte Society Weekend Conference, the theme of which will be the Bronts and their background.

The Radical Bronts is part of Illuminate, a programme of arts and cultural events taking place in five northern cities, including Bradford.

l The Radical Bronts runs at various venues in Haworth and Bradford from September 16-24. For tickets ring (01535) 642323 or visit www.bronte.info