The MEBA was officially launched at VPFA’s 6th annual conference, on 8th July 2014. This was a fitting venue for its launch seeing as its two co-founders, Anna Brecke and Janine Hatter, first met at VPFA and it was at VPFA’s 5th annual conference that the germ of the idea for the MEBA was born. From these idealistic conversations about how Braddon still seems to not be fully appreciated for her literary ventures and how ‘something should be done about this’, the MEBA began. We started small with our Twitter account (do follow us at @braddoninfo) and after receiving many positive and encouraging comments and signs that other people apart from us wanted to see Braddon’s literary achievements more highly recognised we developed our website.
The MEBA and its brand new shiny website were then officially launched this summer and to those who attended we say a massive thank you for seeing us off! The first annual MEBA meeting was attended by thirty people who came forward with positive comments about the website, such as the vast amount of information collated, its fresh and easy to use layout (thank you Catherine Pope), and its exciting forth-coming projects (exhibition and reading-along-blog). We also requested ways we can expand and improve, to which was noted more could be done to shine a light on Braddon’s journal contributions (Belgravia and Mistletoe Bough) to try and get these open access. This is a big undertaking – one which we are willing to tackle – but could be a while coming. The other comment was that pulling the list of all Braddon’s works together is fantastic, but new (and old) Braddon readers might not know what each text is about and so each novel/short story needs a few sentences of plot descriptions (without spoilers, obviously!). Again, reading all of Braddon’s novels is no small feat, which is where you, our loyal readers, come in. Have you read a Braddon novel and can summarise it in 4/5 sentences that highlight its main plot points and themes? If so, do send it in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will upload it to the website. Breaking down the pure volume of literary works Braddon wrote will take time and dedication, but it will also bring clarity to her oeuvre that will hopefully attract new readers!
Not only did we launch the MEBA at VPFA, but VPFA also held a special author panel dedicated to Braddon in conjunction with the MEBA, hosted by the ever-lovely Anne-Marie Beller. Anne-Marie opened the session with an overview of Braddon studies to date, situating Braddon’s work in her critical context, before the 3 speakers, Anna Brecke, Janine Hatter and Jo Knowles, furthered scholarship with their own papers. Anna Brecke discussed confessions and redemption and their roles in sensation and reform literature, Janine Hatter examined Gerard and Braddon’s intertexual links with Goethe and Balzac, while Jo Knowles considered landscape and its meanings in Braddon’s fiction. Anne-Marie then concluded the extra-long session with a Q and A that discussed the papers and Braddon studies more generally. This exciting round-table allowed more time to discuss Braddon and her works and is something the MEBA would like to continue promoting to keep Braddon at the forefront of critical thinking.
Overall, the MEBA wishes to thank everyone involved for supporting our creation – with a special thanks to the VPFA for allowing us to be a sister organisation to their ever friendly and welcoming Association. We look forward to working with VPFA more in the future and to establishing our own activities to help promote this important Victorian woman writer. So, watch this space for website updates and new Braddon events (you can always sign up to the website, or email us to join the mailing list) and do email us with any text descriptions, comments or queries!
Anna and Janine