Lily Cole speaks out over ‘prejudice’ in Emily Bronte row

Actress and model Lily Cole has spoken about facing “prejudice” in a row over her involvement in events to mark the bicentenary of Emily Bronte’s birth.

Cole has been named “creative partner” for the celebrations by the Bronte Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire.

Bronte expert Nick Holland has quit the Bronte Society, saying the Wuthering Heights author would not have approved of a supermodel getting the role.

But Cole said the writer would not have judged any work “on name alone”.

In her role, Cole is making a short film for the museum about Wuthering Heights anti-hero Heathcliff. It will also address gender politics and women’s rights in the year that marks 100 years since women got the vote.

The Bronte sisters – Emily, Charlotte and Anne – initially published their work under pseudonyms so they would be taken seriously by the 19th Century literary establishment.

Cole said the criticism about her involvement made her wonder whether she should present her film under a pseudonym too, “so that it will be judged on its own 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.”

Cole, 30, made her name as a model in her teens, and has had acting roles in the 2007 St Trinian’s film and Channel 5’s Elizabeth I.

She graduated from Cambridge University with a double first in History of Art and is, she says, “an advocate for sociopolitical and environmental issues” through her skill-sharing app Impossible.

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