Leeds & West Yorkshire

Charlotte Bronte bicentenary celebrations begin

Knitted fire scene from Jane Eyre Image copyright The Bronte Society
Image caption A knitted imagining of the Jane Eyre fire scene is featured in the Charlotte Great and Small exhibition

An exhibition has been launched in West Yorkshire to celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Bronte's birth.

The world-renowned author of Jane Eyre and Villette was the eldest of the literary Brontes, born 21 April 1816.

The exhibition, Charlotte Great and Small, marks the start of a five-year programme of events to celebrate 200 years since the Brontes' births.

It includes a letter sent by Charlotte to Constantin Heger, thought to be "the real Mr Rochester" of Jane Eyre.

Child-sized clothes, books and paintings are also on show, as well as the Heger love letter - loaned to the Bronte Society from the British Museum - which was torn up and stitched back together.

It it is the first time in many years the letter has been back to the Parsonage.

Charlotte Brontë

21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855

  • Charlotte was the eldest of the four Brontë siblings to survive childhood (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne)

  • Her most famous novel, Jane Eyre was first published in 1847

  • She wrote three other novels - Shirley, Villette and The Professor

  • She died in the early stages of pregnancy in 1855, aged 38

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Tracy Chevalier, curator of Charlotte Great and Small, said: "The Parsonage is a unique house; it's incredible to see the place where so much creativity arose.

"I'm hoping to sprinkle some surprises amongst the dresses and writing desks, including a Twitter tour of the house and exhibition and even a knitted Jane Eyre."

Chevalier is editing a collection of short stories influenced by Charlotte Bronte, featuring writing by Susan Hill, Emma Donoghue, Audrey Niffenegger and Jane Gardam.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Bronte sisters (left to right: Anne, Charlotte and Emily) were born between 1816 and 1820

A touring exhibition "Celebrating Charlotte" will be at the National Portrait Gallery in London, followed by the Morgan Library in New York.

Northern Ballet is presenting the world premiere of a new version of Jane Eyre in May and Sally Wainwright's drama To Walk Invisible airs on BBC1 in the autumn.

The bicentenary of Branwell Bronte will be celebrated in 2017, with further events for Emily in 2018 and Anne in 2020.

Image copyright Bronte Society
Image caption Charlotte Great and Small, curated by Tracy Chevalier, will run at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, near Keighley, until January 2017

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