This year, the Brontë Society has launched the Brontë 200 to bring the Brontës to the world and the world to Yorkshire in celebration of the bicentenaries of the births of the Brontë siblings between 2016 and 2020, being with Charlotte.
Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 at Thornton, Bradford, in Yorkshire. The third child of the six talented Brontë children and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, her novels have become classics of English literature, in particular Jane Eyre.
National Portrait Gallery, London, until 14 August
The major display celebrates and explores the Jane Eyre author’s life and writing with a fascinating collection of personal items, many of them never before seen, and portraits from the gallery’s collection along with 26 items from the Brontë Parsonage Museum, birthplace and home of Charlotte and her family in what is one of the museum’s largest ever loans. Many of the loans from the Parsonage Museum, as well as works from the National Portrait Gallery Collection, will be exhibited in the United States for the first time at the Morgan Library in New York in autumn 2016.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, until May 5
Charlotte Brontë at the Soane is an imaginative and fascinating free display which is inspired by the five trips Brontë made to London in the 1840s and 1850s to see her publisher after the meteoric success of Jane Eyre. Curated by artist Charlotte Cory, the show brings together an incredible selection of objects: from the personal effects Brontë brought with her to London, to Cory’s own artworks inspired by these visits to the capital.
Visitors will be able to see the guidebook Brontë used to explore the city – featuring Sir John Soane’s Museum – and a dress that she wore to a dinner with her publisher: the first time the dress has returned to London since she wore it. Also, on display for the first time are newly discovered sketches of the Brontë sisters, drawn by their sister Anne.
Charlotte Great and Small
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, Yorkshire, until 1 January 2017
The exhibition at the Brontës’ former home explores, through objects and quotations, the contrast between Charlotte’s constricted life and her huge ambition. At Haworth she and her sisters lived in confined spaces, sharing beds and working in one room. Despite being so contained, however, she also had big ideas about the kind of life she wanted and the contribution she expected to make to literature.
Highlights include Charlotte’s child-size clothes, tiny books and paintings she made, a scrap from a dress she wore to an important London dinner party, and a moving love letter loaned by the British Library especially for the bicentenary. Exhibition is free with admission to the museum.
Charlotte’s Birthday Party
The Old School Room, Haworth, April 21, 11am-4pm
The Bronte Society is throwing a party for Charlotte and everyone is invited. There will be tea, birthday cake and a few surprises. Go along and help celebrate at the school where Charlotte worked on birthday.
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, Yorkshire, April 21, 10am-8pm
On Charlotte’s birthday, visitors to be museum can hear talks on different aspects of Charlotte Brontë’s life, including her experience of school at Cowan Bridge, getting published and her time in Brussels. There will also be the opportunity to meet with the collections manager, Ann Dinsdale, and view some of Charlotte’s possessions, letters and manuscripts in the library. All activities are free with admission to the museum, but as space is limited, places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The may even be a glass of bubbly to celebrate.