A Mount Allison English professor is hoping a conference she co-organized will help keep a treasured literary pilgrimage across the pond afloat.
Sarah Fanning organized the Brontë 2020 conference, an online conference that will explore multiple areas of the famed Brontë sisters' lives and work.
The money being raised by the conference will go toward the Brontë Parsonage Museum, housed in the sisters' family home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.
Fanning said the Brontë Parsonage Museum has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Brontë personage, like many charity organizations in the U.K. and across the world, has suffered a huge financial loss because of the forced closure from COVID-19," said Fanning.
"They've lost nearly a $1,000,000 from being closed and they rely exclusively on donations and ticket sales and income generated from some of their programs."
It was this that spurred Fanning, along with a colleague in the U.K., to host the virtual confnce.
"Of course, being Brontë scholars, the parsonage is very near and dear to our hearts," said Fanning.
"We wanted to sort of make sure that this keeps going where they're at risk now of closing forever."
Fanning first became a fan of the sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne, when she was a teenager and has studied them intensely since.
She said her intense interest is common among fans of the sisters' works.
"I think the Brontës are sort of a literary family that people feel very possessive of to be honest," said Fanning.
Fanning said it's not just the museum that has fallen on hard times, but also the surrounding rural community, which relies on the 80,000 tourists the museum attracts each year.
"The community is at risk as well because a lot of the local businesses, bakeries, cafés, little shops, they all depend on Brontë tourism."
"This is a whole town that's actually at risk now."
In addition to the talks given by academics, there are a couple special celebrity guests: Sandy Welch, who wrote the screenplay for the BBC's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Sally Wainwright, who directed the Brontë sisters biopic To Walk Invisible, and Adam Nagaitis, who portrayed Branwell Brontë, the Brontë sisters' brother, in To Walk Invisible.
The virtual conference will take place Friday.