The English-Speaking Union

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Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to know, the Brontë Sisters - Wednesday, August 5th at 4:00 PM (EDT)

It is a pearl of received wisdom that three demure, meek and retiring young women locked away in the obscurity of rural Yorkshire penned some of the most famous pieces of literature ever.

However, how far is it true that Charlotte, Anne, and Emily were this mild, decorous view of Victorian womanhood?

This lecture will explore the themes of domestic violence, opium addiction, extramarital affairs, alcoholism, necrophilia, sadism and coercive control apparent in the sisters' work. We will be debunking the myth.

Register Online Here!

About Marie Kervin

Marie grew up in the heart of the beautiful Lake District in northern England, the land of Wordsworth, Southey, and Tennyson.

When Marie's twins were 3 years old, they all moved to the West Coast of Ireland, where Marie worked from Galway University.

Returning from Ireland to West Sussex, in England, Marie set up a Shakespeare Company called 'Wordsmiths', taking the works of Shakespeare into schools and youth groups across the south of England.

Marie ran the debate leagues linked to Oxford and Cambridge University from her school, Prior's Field in Surrey. A school established by Julia Huxley, to provide an equal education for young women. There, Marie invited luminaries such as Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Ex-Head of MI5 Stella Rimmington and adventurer and explorer Ranulph Fiennes to give lectures and appear on her radio station: Girls Allowed. She founded the only broadcasting radio station from Independent Schools in the UK at the time.

Her next adventure is in Jacksonville, Florida where she teaches at the Bolles School and lives with her husband, twins, Emily and William, and rescue dog, Cassie.

Register Online Here!

 Signature Cocktails

Marie has provided three cocktails for each of the sisters' works! Full recipes below. 

Jane Eyre

The Heiress - Mulled wine


  • A bottle of Madeiran red wine
  • Fresh oranges
  • Cinnamon
  • Mulling spices
  • Honey

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir.

Simmer gently, but not boil- (you don't want to boil away the alcohol!)

Strain and season- remove using a fine mesh strainer the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise and ginger.

Roll in honey to taste.

Serve warm topped with your favorite garnish.

Wuthering Heights

The Eternal Rocks Beneath


  • Gin
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Yorkshire tea syrup*
  • Egg whites
  • Club soda
  • 3 dashes angostura bitters (I couldn't find heather bitters, although lavender bitters would also be a good nod to the Yorkshire Moors)
  • Heather sprig for garnish (Lavender if you can't find heather)

Combine the gin, lemon juice, tea syrup, bitters and egg whites to a cocktail shaker and shake)

Add ice, shake for a further minute

Strain into a Collins glass

Add ice, top with club soda and add a few drops of the bitters onto the egg white foam.

Garnish with a sprig of heather (or lavender)

*To make a tea syrup- combine a cup of water, a cup of white sugar and three teabags/ loose leaf tea in a sauce pan. Simmer, dissolving the sugar, steep and then strain into a resealable jar to keep in the refrigerator.

Tenant of Wildfell Hall 


The Tenant's Choice


  • 3-4 raspberries
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • Simple syrup
  • Raspberry juice
  • Lime juice
  • Club soda/ mineral water

Combine 1 cup of sugar and I cup of water, heat dissolving sugar and cool.

In a tall glass, add raspberries, mint leaves and simple syrup.

Muddle until all are combined, don't break up the mint leaves.

Fill the glass with ice, add raspberry juice, lime juice and fill with soda.

Garnish with lime wedge and additional raspberries.

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