Paperback writers – Brontës and Beatles come together in frock-and-roll Top Ten

The Beatles at Abbey Road
The Beatles at Abbey Road
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Kate Bush’s 1970s habitation of Wuthering Heights had already tenuously connected the Brontë Parsonage on the West Riding moors with the EMI studio on London’s Abbey Road in which The Beatles sang of Sergeant Pepper and Eleanor Rigby.

But the influence both buildings have had on popular culture is finally recognised today with their inclusion, side by side, in a Top Ten of England’s most important historical sites for music and literature.

Poet Simon Armitage in a recreation of Branwell Bronte's bedroom at the Bronte Parsonage Museum

Poet Simon Armitage in a recreation of Branwell Bronte's bedroom at the Bronte Parsonage Museum

The list also takes in Shakespeare’s birthplace and the former home of Charles Dickens, as well as a pair of houses in London that were shared, two centuries apart, by the composer George Frideric Handel and the guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

But the organisers, keen not to inflame the sort of passions which last month saw allegations of “dumbing down” levelled at the Parsonage, have avoided placing rock and roll above the classics, or vice versa.

“Everyone is ranked equally,” said Historic England of its project to tell the country’s story in 100 places, arranged into 10 categories.

The novelist Monica Ali will today launch the art and literature section, in which the Parsonage in Haworth, where Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë shined brightly but briefly, is listed alongside nine other locations chosen from more than 220 nominated by the public.

Ms Ali said: “A single Yorkshire parsonage housed three literary talents in the mid-19th century.

“It would be quite remarkable now, and given that the Brontë sisters had to publish firstly under pseudonyms, it was even more remarkable at the time that three young women should make such an impact on the literary landscape.”

Besides Haworth and Stratford-upon-Avon, the Top Ten includes Jane Austen’s house at Chawton in Hampshire and the one-time London residences of Dickens and George Orwell.

But the more recent influences of rock music make up a third of the list, with the Haçienda, Manchester’s 1980s nightclub and music venue, and Soho’s 100 Club, which Ms Ali calls “the mother of all live music venues”, also making the cut.

The exterior of Abbey Road studios, burned on the popular consciousness by 1969 picture of The Beatles on the zebra crossing outside, is described as “a temple of pop music throughout the 20th century”.

It has also played host to Pink Floyd, Oasis and Kate Bush – although her hymn to Emily Brontë was recorded a mile away in the Air studio of The Beatles’ producer, sir George Martin.

In Haworth, where the sisters’ former home is now a museum, principal curator Ann Dinsdale said she was “thrilled” that the parsonage had been included, and added: “It’s very well-deserved.

“The Parsonage was home to not one, but three great writers and the house and its world-class collection attract visitors from all over the world.”

It had been a different story at the turn of the year when the Brontë Society, which looks after the parsonage, said it would celebrate Emily’s 200th anniversary in July with a four-day festival organised with the actress and model Lily Cole as “creative partner”.

The scholar and author Nick Holland resigned from the society in protest. Miss Cole may have been a honorary doctor of letters but the job, he said, should have gone to a writer.