The model and actress Lily Cole has responded to criticism of her appointment as a creative partner of the Brontë Society.
Although her new role was announced last month, it became the subject of fresh debate yesterday after a highly critical blog by an author and former society member drew national media attention.
Nick Holland, author of In Search of Anne Brontë, said Ms Cole’s appointment had turned what will be the 200th anniversary year of Emily Brontë’s birth into a “rank farce”.
In the blog – entitled Emily Brontë, Lily Cole and the Shame of The Brontë Society – he criticised the model’s acting skills before detailing his concerns about “rotten” state of the
society, its “pointless” drive to attract younger members and other factors which had contributed to his decision to terminate his lifetime membership.
He wrote: “It’s best that I leave the society now, before they announce James Corden as the creative partner for 2019, a year in which Patrick Brontë is being remembered, and Rita Ora as organiser for Anne Brontë’s celebrations in 2020.”
The literary society, one of the oldest in the world, announced last month that Ms Cole, inset, would be working with it during 2018 as part of its contemporary arts programme. Supported by the Arts Council, it aims to take the Brontës to “a wider audience via exciting artistic commissions which inspire, surprise and challenge.”
In its announcement, the society said: “Lily’s innovative projects in the fields of literacy, nature, storytelling and the environment are the perfect fit for Emily, and her originality and creativity will bring a fresh perspective to our 2018 celebrations.”
Responding to the criticism, Ms Cole yesterday told The Guardian that she hoped the short film which she is producing for the museum would be judged on its merits “rather than on my name, my gender, my image or my teenage decisions”.
She said: “I would not be so presumptuous as to guess Emily’s reaction to my appointment as a creative partner at the museum, were she alive today. Yet I respect her intellect and integrity enough to believe that she would not judge any piece of work on name alone.”
Ms Cole has a first-class degree in history of art from the University of Cambridge, which she completed in 2011. She achieved an A in A Level English literature at Latymer Upper School in west London, as well as A grades in politics and philosophy.