Tuesday, 15 March 2011

‘Saucy Pat’ exhibition opens at the Parsonage

News release from the Parsonage:

He was father to three of the most famous authors in the world yet most of us know very little about Patrick Brontë. This year marks the 150th anniversary of his death in 1861 and the Brontë Parsonage Museum will be opening a new exhibition to celebrate the life and work of this ‘somewhat eccentrik’ Irish curate. The exhibition, Patrick Brontë: In His Own Right will open on 17 March, St Patrick’s Day.

Patrick was born in Ireland in a small cabin and was the eldest son of a poor farmer. From a very young age he was highly ambitious, enthusiastic and intelligent; by the time he was just sixteen he had already opened his first school. A few years later Patrick had secured himself a place at Cambridge University to pursue a career in the Church. He left Ireland for England where he was to spend the rest of his long life, eventually settling in Haworth at the Parsonage.

This new exhibition features some of Patrick’s own publications, as well as many letters and personal possessions …

This exhibition is a first for the museum. Understandably, there’s been a tendency to focus on Patrick’s famous daughters and their great literary achievements, but Patrick was an extraordinary figure in his own right; as an author, scholar, clergyman, and social campaigner, as well as the father and educator of his remarkable children. This exhibition is long overdue and will give visitors an insight not only into Patrick as the ‘father of genius’, but also into his own fascinating background and his prominent role within nineteenth century Haworth
(Andrew McCarthy, Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum)

The exhibition will also feature a number of important loan items from the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester and the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. After the death of his last daughter, Charlotte, Patrick asked Elizabeth Gaskell to write “an account of her life”. The letters on loan from the John Ryland’s Library document Patrick’s involvement in the first biography of Charlotte Bronte by providing Gaskell with background information on his early life and memories of his daughter.

Also included in the exhibition will be a very special letter on loan from the Brotherton Library in Leeds. Written by Maria Branwell before she married Patrick, it is addressed to ‘My Dear Saucy Pat’ and is one of the few surviving letters that exist by Mrs Brontë, giving a wonderful insight into their courtship. After the sudden death of his wife, Patrick was left to raise their six young children on his own; of which his three youngest girls made them the most famous literary family in the world. He outlived all of them, eventually dying at the age of 84.

Contacts & Further Information:   
Sarah Laycock (Collections & Library Officer) 01535 640199 sarah.laycock@bronte.org.uk/  
Ann Dinsdale (Collections Manager) 01535 640198 a.dinsdale@bronte.org.uk

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