A literary expert has resigned from the Bronte Society over a “rank farce” decision to appoint a supermodel and actress as its patron for 2018.
Lily Cole was chosen by the society as a creative partner at the Bronte Parsonage Museum for the 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte’s birth.
Nick Holland, author of books on the Bronte sisters, said such an important role should have gone to a writer.
The Bronte Society said it looked forward to working with Cole.
Mr Holland, 47, from Barnsley, who had been a member of the society for several years, said: “I think it’s a disgrace.
“I understand the society wants to target a younger audience but this is going about it the wrong way and risks diluting the work and legacy of Emily Bronte.”
In his blog post last month, Mr Holland said: “The central question should be, what would Emily Bronte think if she found that the role of chief ‘artist’ and organiser in her celebratory year was a supermodel?
“We all know the answer to that, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t fit to make the decision or have any role in the governance of the Bronte Society.”
- Born in Devon in 1987 and raised in London
- Graduated with a double first in History of Art from King’s College, Cambridge in 2011
- Has modelled since she was a teenager and made her acting debut in 2007
- Awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters for her “outstanding contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes” by Glasgow Caledonian University in 2013
- Founded social media skills-sharing website Impossible.com
- She is a patron of the Environmental Justice Foundation and has served as an ambassador for international development organisation Global Angels
Sources: Environmental Justice Foundation, Global Angels, Impossible.com, Glasgow Caledonian University
He said that while he would still visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum, based in the Bronte’s home village of Haworth in West Yorkshire, he “could no longer continue to be a member of a society whose leaders’ views are so opposed to my own”.
Mr Holland added: “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 Bronte is being remembered, and Rita Ora as organiser for Anne Bronte’s celebrations in 2020.”
The Bronte Society said: “Lily’s innovative projects in the fields of literacy, nature, story-telling and the environment are the perfect fit for Emily, and her originality and creativity will bring a fresh perspective to our 2018 celebrations.”
Emily Bronte, the renowned Wuthering Heights author, was born on 30 July 1818.
A series of events celebrating her bicentenary were announced last month.