|Charlotte Bronte 1850 National Portrait Gallery|
Charlotte and her sisters, and their brother, Branwell, grew up blighted by domestic tragedy and loss and had to create a world of imagination for themselves. Save for the Parsonage cemetery at their doorstep and monotonous hours exploring the windswept expanses of the moors they were led as teenagers on a path of creative Juveniiia that resulted in plays and hand-made miniature books, illustrated with watercolor images.
For Charlotte and her sisters later it was Jane Eyre, Withering Heights, and Agnes Grey that gave the mid-nineteenth century a new concept of women in love and trying to live in society.
Image Left: Life portrait of Charlotte Bronte, by George Richmond, on loan from London's National Portrait Gallery.
CHARLOTTE BRONTE: An Independent Will, a new exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum runs through January 2, 2017. It traces the writer's life from imaginative teenager to reluctant governess to published poet and masterful novelist. The exhibition celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Bronte's birth in 1816, and marks an historic collaboration between The Morgan, which holds one of the word's most important collections of Bronte Manuscripts and letters, and the Bronte Parsonage, in Haworth, England which lent a variety of key items including the author's earliest manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s.
|Bronte's earliest surviving miniature manuscript book|
TEACHING and PUBLISHING: In 1836, when she was nineteen, Bronte entered the Roe Head School where she previously had been a student, as a teacher, but chafed in her new role. A few years later she took a a short-term position as a governess in a private home, caring for what she called the "riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs." Relief came with the largess of an aunt. Bronte and her sister Emily went to Brussels in 1842 to study and improve their teaching credentials. It was there that she fell under the influence of her inspiring teacher, Constantin Heger and later suffered years of what appeared to be unrequited love for the married professor.
|Charlotte Bronte's gown circa 1850|
In 1846, she and her sisters Emily and Anne self-published a book of poems, which by the record sold but one copy, yet was held in esteem by some of her followers. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. and Agnes Grey followed. The authors retained the pseudonyms they had chosen for their book of poems the year earlier. Charlotte was Currier Bell, Emily, Elias Bell and Anne, Acton Bell.
LEGACY: Bronte published her last novel, Villette, in 1853. The following year, at the age of thirty-eight, she married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate. A mere nine months later, she died, most likely from complications of pregnancy. Bronte's writing continues to have a profound impact on readers throughout the world, and many find her life story just as compelling as much of what lays within the stories parallel her extraordinary life's experiences. A woman who wrestled with her own independence. Charlotte Bronte's, An Independent Will Gallery Talk takes place Friday November 4 at 6 pm Free with museum admission. For further information about programs and the adult workshop visit
Ta Ta Darlings!!! A reading group on Charlotte Bronte's final novel, Villette, in the historic family rooms of the nineteenth-century Morgan House,takes place on Nov. 1 and Dec. 13. Advance tickets are required. I'm going!!! Polly loves to receive fan mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and check the Blog that interests you listed in the left-hand column