News release from Sarah Laycock:
New addition to museum collection:
Unpublished letter by Charlotte Brontë's friend and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.
An original letter by Elizabeth Gaskell, author of Mary Barton (1848) and The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857) has recently been purchased by the Brontë Society.
Mrs Gaskell first met Charlotte through mutual friends in 1850 and remained in correspondence with her up until Charlotte’s death in 1855. After Charlotte died, she was approached by Patrick Brontë and asked to write an account of his daughter’s life authorised by the people that knew her best. The ‘account’ turned into one of the most famous biographies ever written about an author’s life and proved to be a great success - giving Charlotte more popularity and fame than ever before.
The content of the letter, in which Gaskell responds to an autograph collector’s request for Charlotte’s signature, gives us some insight into just how popular and iconic Charlotte Brontë had become since her death and how sought after her signature became following the publication of The Life of Charlotte Brontë. The letter has never been published before nor has it ever been displayed for the public to see.
Visitors can see the letter at the museum as part of a new Charlotte Brontë exhibition which runs until the end of the year. The exhibition includes some of the more personal and intimate items belonging to Charlotte as well as a selection of her artwork and manuscripts.