Tuesday, 10 July 2007

New Acquisitions

The Brontë Society has recently acquired three new items for the Museum Collection. They are:

A letter written to the Trustees for the Church Lands of Haworth, dated 1 February 1834, written by Charlotte Brontë and signed by her father. The letter concerns the rotation of the Trustees and the division of labour in collecting the rents. It was formerly owned by a descendant of James Greenwood of Haworth

The Society also purchased two letters which were auctioned at Christie’s on 3 July. They are Charlotte’s letter to W.S. Williams, written on 9 November 1849, and Patrick Brontë’s letter to George Taylor of Stanbury, dated 29 February 1844. Both letters were part of the huge collection of important historical letters amassed by Albin Schram, found in a filing cabinet in his laundry room.

Charlotte’s letter was written just days after the publication of Shirley, and expresses her disappointment on reading the first reviews. Charlotte was clearly missing the support and encouragement of her sisters Emily and Anne, who both died whilst she was writing the novel, leaving her vulnerable to the critics’ hurtful comments.

Patrick’s letter is a compassionate appeal written on behalf of Enoch Thomas, one of his churchwardens, said to be suffering a ‘very severe and great affliction’. He is clearly concerned about Thomas’s well-being and believes that ‘his friends ought to do for him all that lies within their power’. After attempting to interest George Taylor in Thomas’s plight, Mr Brontë goes on to enquire after Taylor’s own family. It is a letter which challenges the notion that the Brontës had little contact with the world outside their parsonage home, and that Patrick Brontëwas a selfish recluse who took little interest in the lives of his parishioners.

Details of the letter and a transcript will be published in the Society’s journal, Brontë Studies, and for those who are unable to visit the museum we are currently developing an online catalogue with virtual access to items in the Collection. It is our intention that this letter be appreciated by audiences beyond the locality of the Museum and access via the internet is one way in which this can be achieved.

All three letters will be displayed at the Parsonage over the coming months.

Ann Dinsdale
Collections Manager

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