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Friday, 24 April 2009

New Gaskell letter

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Unpublished letter by Charlotte Brontë's friend and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell.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.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Easter at the Parsonage

A news release from Director Andrew McCarthy:

Following a major refurbishment to its main exhibition space in February, the Parsonage has had a brisk start to the year with visitors numbers up on 2008. The new exhibition, Genius – The Brontë Story, has allowed the museum to display more of its amazing collection of treasures than ever before, some things for the very first time. It also features fun interactive displays for children and families.

This Easter the museum also has a packed programme of activities to keep visitors entertained. Throughout the holiday there’ll be a special Brontë egg hunt for children in the museum. There’ll also be storytelling and art and craft activities for children and families together. There’ll be a special appearance from Branwell Brontë who’ll give his version of the Brontë story through a hilarious, performance poetry presentation; and scenes from Charlotte Brontë’s famous novel Jane Eyre will be performed in the Parsonage garden. In addition to all of this, the museum has all new displays in the historic rooms of the Parsonage and an exhibition of costumes from the forthcoming TV production of Wuthering Heights.

There’s lots of new things to see at the Parsonage this year, not least of all our fabulous new exhibition which is the most significant development here in nearly thirty years. This Easter is a great opportunity for people to get out and see some of the rarest treasures of the museum’s collection and also enjoy a full programme of activities that will appeal to the whole family

Easter Events at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:

Throughout the holiday there’ll be a special Brontë egg hunt for children in the museum

Friday 10 April - Storytelling for children and families - 1.30pm to 5.00pm

Saturday 11 April - Art and craft activities for children -10.00am to 4.30pm

Sunday 12 April - Branwell’s About! - Branwell tells the Brontë story; performances in the Parsonage garden - 2.30 & 3.30pm

Monday 13 April - Special drama performances - scenes from Jane Eyre performed throughout the day in the Parsonage garden

All events are free on payment of normal admission charge to the museum

For further details contact the museum on 01535 642323/

Richard Wilcocks adds:

Andrew has been performing in role as Branwell for several years now. If you haven't  seen him in Branwell's About yet, now's your chance. It's educational in the best sense of the word, involves members of the audience (I remember one occasion when he delighted a Danish contingent on the lawn) and it's......funny.

Below, Andrew McCarthy at the opening of the new exhibition: