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Anorak | How the Daily Mail turned Lyn-Marie Cunliffe into the ‘mad’ Bronte woman

How the Daily Mail turned Lyn-Marie Cunliffe into the ‘mad’ Bronte woman

by | 12th, March 2012

UNABLE to call upon armed police to correct the journalist’s work, Lyn-Marie Cunliffe was forced to write letters and complain verbally. The Daily Mail, Guardian, Express and Telegraph had reported that Lyn-Marie Cunliffe was a bit unusual.

The Daily Express:

SHE is a 21st-century housewife with a husband and two grown-up children. But Lyn-Marie Cunliffe spends every day dressed as her heroine – Victorian author Charlotte Bronte. She doesn’t wear modern attire even when grabbing a bite in McDonald’s. The 49-year-old harboured a lifelong obsession with the Jane Eyre author’s works before deciding three years ago she wanted to live in a time-warp…

Lyn-Marie estimates she has spent £4,000 making more than 50 period costumes but insists she has the full support of joiner husband John, 50 – “my Mr Rochester” – and children Rebecca, 24, and Matthew, 27.

The Daily Mail:

Do you come Eyre often?

Many of us dream of wearing the beautiful costumes from period dramas like Downton Abbey… however few would go quite as far as donning them every day. But romantic fiction-lover, Lyn-Marie Cunliffe, has taken her obsession with Victorian literature to the extreme – by living her modern life dressed as her heroine Charlotte Bronte. The 49-year-old loves the 19th century author so much that she dresses like her all the time – even on trips to the supermarket.

Daily Telegraph:

Lyn-Marie Cunliffe, 49, loves 19th century author Charlotte Bronte so much she dresses as the famous author all the time – even while doing her supermarket shopping. The mum-of-two dresses in the home-made smocks whilst doing the school run …

Only, it was untrue. The Daily Mail issued an apology.

Lyn-Marie Cunliffe writes :

The Daily Mail has finally admitted that its article “Do you come Eyre often” which claimed I always dressed as Charlotte Bronte is untrue ,its retraction is here To summarise the Mail has conceded it has never spoken to me and merely published under Lauren Paxmans name a story bought from a news agency .

While I suppose I ought to be magnanimous in victory this has been a bitter and hard battle and I feel unable to accord the Mail the credit so clearly due to the Guardian and Telegraph who had corrected their genuine mistake promptly and behaved in every respect with decency and rectitude.

The Mails retraction is by contrast is entirely due to the efforts of the Press complaints commission as prior to their intervention the Daily Mail had refused to answer my emails .

The PCC negotiations where extremely prolonged and the Daily Mail behaved in an appalling manner,,Its replies to emails have at times been extremely distressing .It has trawled , by its own admission my blog ,my flickr profile and my Ebay listings (and its clear from statements made to the PCC it has also been following my facebook page) .It has searched for links it could forward to the PCC to try to support its case.It has suggested that by being forced to sell assets(which was due to decreased business and made no mention of the story) I had “profited” from the story and because a tag on a photo in my flickr profile used “crazy costume Lady “(posted after the Mails story surfaced) I couldn’t complain about their story making me look unbalanced.It also claimed I lied about the nature of my work and would not budge from this statement until forwarded official accounts from my business and a statement from a past client this despite its searching of blog and flickr posts which make it clear I do wide ranging costume work .It claimed in one email to the PCC it had talked to me to explain the story and that I was merely upset by the reaction to it and had actually said everything they claimed but was trying to pretend otherwise .In short it insulted me in every possible way during the negotiations and showed a lack of concern for the truth that is breathtaking .I has shown not the least regard for either common decency or journalistic standards.

When it has finally conceded defeat.It has never expressed any contrition and tried at every turn limit the scope of its retraction and the prominence accorded it.

As this post is attracting attention I thought I would share some of the comments made to the PCC by the Mail in answer to a detail read through of the article and comments they requested

first I thought I would share some of their comments on my blog etc sent to the PCC(I did make clear to the Mail I would make emails public if I felt they merited it)

Mail wrote

6) Finally perhaps in relation to Mrs Cunliffe’s most fervent points, we would say the following.

Risk of not being able to get future employment. She has quoted the belief she has been branded a ‘mad woman’ and that ‘no schools will want to employ me for the same reason’. Interestingly in October on her own public Flickr account Mrs Cunliffe refers to herself on her account as ‘crazy costume lady’. We have attached evidence of this also. Also Mrs Cunliffe on her own blog states she is doing well selling her Bronte costumes of Ebay since publication: http://abigailsateliers.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/ebay-more-bronte-sales/

(the Mail forgot the mention that the crazy lady comment had been posted after their story and was in reference to it and that likewise the ebay sales were clearly the result of being unable to get certain work due to their article,that the sales were made at a loss and that the actual listings made no mention of the article)

Next the Mail claimed I lied and only retracted their statement to that effect once forwarded accounts,,

Mail writes

Regarding this passage of complaint I would emphasise that IF Mrs Cunliffe was paid for her work dressing as Bronte it was not often and not on a contract, and she did not officially represent the Parsonage.

Re their now retracted alleged quotes,,the Mail wrote

Lyn-Marie added: ‘My husband has also been very supportive of me I couldn’t do any of it without him; he is my Mr Rochester.’

This is easiest quote to query .I never said this .I do not like the character of Mr Rochester ,no one who knows me or anyone who has read my blog would ever believe that I would use that term to describe anyone I respected or loved.It was tacked onto an actual comment I made that my husband supported my work and that without his encouragement and help my business would never have succeeded. The mention of work was removed and the Mr Rochester comment tacked onto it.

Again shorthand supports accuracy on our behalf as she does say her husband John is like Mr Rochester. (See Cunliffe2 pdf).

Mail wrote in conclusion,,,

Apologies if this is somewhat extended reply but when faced with such an extended and seemingly undirectional complaint we wanted to try and cover as much as possible. We strive to make sure the

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Posted: 12th, March 2012 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink