Beyond the spat’s bookish-yet-scandalous headlines, there’s also a bigger question at stake: What’s wrong with giving some glamour to the stuffy, elitist literary world—especially if the glamorous addition is Oxbridge-educated? As pointed out by Stephanie Merritt in the Guardian, when American model Jerry Hall was appointed a judge for the 1999 Whitbread Book Awards (now known as the Costa Book Awards), the then-organizer of the Booker Prize (now known as the Man Booker Prize), Martyn Goff, said it was “blatant dumbing down.”

While it’s hard to know what exactly would appease Holland,  Cole is busy keeping the focus squarely on the Brontës.  “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,” Cole said in a statement. “Yet I respect her intellect and integrity enough to believe that she would not judge any piece of work on name alone.”

The Brontë sisters could relate: in fear of sexist reactions to their books, they originally published under male pseudonyms.

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