THE BRONTË Society has unveiled a packed programme to break the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë.

Haworth will be the focus for events and activities throughout 2016 as the society begins its ambitious five-year Brontë200 Festival.

Between now and 2020 the society will commemorate the births of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell, and the 200th anniversary of their father Patrick being invited to become Haworth’s parson.

Staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, run by the society, have prepared a year-long programme dedicated to Charlotte, writer of classic novels including Jane Eyre.

The programme begins on February 1 with the opening of a new exhibition at the museum entitled Charlotte Great And Small, which explores the contrast between the novelist’s constricted life and her huge ambition.

The display has been created by novelist and Brontë enthusiast Tracy Chevalier, who is the museum’s Creative Partner throughout 2016.

Highlights include her child-size clothes, tiny books and paintings Charlotte made, and a scrap from a dress she wore to an important London dinner party hosted by Thackeray.

Tracy has also edited a new collection of short stories influenced by the writing of Charlotte Brontë, entitled Reader, I Married Him, featuring the work of writers like Helen Dunmore and Susan Hill.

Tracy said: “I have long loved Charlotte Brontë and am thrilled to be involved in the celebration of her bicentenary.

“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 in amongst the dresses and writing desks – including a Twitter tour of the house and exhibition, and even a knitted Jane Eyre!”

The museum’s writer in residence will be award-winning novelist Grace McCleen, while popular children’s author Jacqueline Wilson will be an ‘Ambassador for Charlotte’ during 2016.

Jacqueline said: “Jane Eyre is my all-time favourite novel. Jane continues to be an inspiration to us all, especially women.

“I first read the book when I was ten and have reread it many times since with increasing enjoyment. Perhaps there's a hint of Jane in several of the child characters in my own books.”

Charlotte’s 200th birthday falls on April 21, and will be celebrated throughout the day in Haworth as well, as Charlotte’s birthplace of Thornton.

There will be talks on different aspects of Charlotte’s life; an opportunity to view some of Charlotte’s letters, manuscripts and personal possessions; a birthday party with tea, cake and surprises.

There will be a wreath-laying ceremony for invited guests the following day at Westminster Abbey.

Other highlights of the year will be lectures by renowned Brontë biographers Juliet Barker and Claire Harman, a new TV drama about the Brontë family, and a new ballet version of Jane Eyre.

Writers Maggie O’Farrell, Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Charlotte Mendelson will join Claire Harman and Tracy Chevalier for the Great Charlotte Brontë Debate.

Items from the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s collection will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery before transferring to the Morgan Library in New York.

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