In March of 2006 I took a trip to England with my BFF Tawnya. On this particular day we were in Bath and it was my birthday. Like any self-respecting nerd, I had chosen that we spend the afternoon at the Jane Austen Centre (Which was totally awesome, by the way. You should totally go there. Here’s proof). After soaking up the Regency atmosphere in full, we spent the remainder of the afternoon roaming the city, taking in the sights. Then it started raining. To avoid getting drenched and going back to our nasty hostel (the germs! the germs! the horror! the horror!), we ducked into a tiny little art gallery. We were giggling and being a little irreverent and not really paying attention, then suddenly I looked up and saw this:
I said, “That’s Edward Rochester!” Then I look around some more and realized this whole side of the of the room was covered in drawings depicting scenes from Jane Eyre. I was in love. The gallery was selling a book of prints. I snatched it up faster than you can say “Bertha Mason” and clutched it to my bosom like a baby bird.
The artist was Paula Rego – a feminist Portuguese born painter, residing in England. Her work ranges from illustration to political (look for her series on abortion called Untitled) to literary (Jane Eyre series – based on Charlotte Bronte’s work and Jean Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea). Her work mainly features depictions of women, usually looking rather unflattering – or as Fiona Bradley describes, “…this reflects the physical reality of a woman as a human being in the physical world, and not idealized types in the minds of men.” Basically she’s awesome. And her Jane Eyre series is awesome. The same collection that I bought six years ago, can be purchased through the magic of the interwebs. If you’re a fan of Charlotte Bronte’s novel at all, do yourself a favor and get this book of prints, like today. It’s amazing.