Bronte literary society celebrates birthday

Professor Ann Sumner

Professor Ann Sumner

First published in News
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A series of events are planned by the Brontë Society as it celebrates its 120th birthday.

Activities will be held worldwide throughout the year.

And the thriving literary organisation got festivities off the ground yesterday when items from the Brontë archive went on show at Christie’s in London.

Among the exhibits admired by guests was a miniature portrait of Mrs Hudson, produced by Charlotte Brontë, which was recently bought by the society.

The Brontë Society held its first meeting in Bradford on December 16, 1893. More than 50 people attended. It resolved to establish a museum to contain Brontë family items and editions of their work.

The first museum opened two years later in the former Yorkshire Penny Bank, at the top of Haworth Main Street – now home to the visitor information centre. But it quickly became clear there was insufficient space, and in 1928, the collections were moved into the original parsonage, which had been put up for sale by the Church of England.

And that is where the museum has remained since.

Sally McDonald, chairman of the Brontë Council, said: “Members of the society are very proud to be celebrating their 120th anniversary, and will be marking it not only in Haworth but around the world. We see ourselves as having a unique role, being simultaneously a literary society and a charity that owns and runs a world-renowned museum.

“From the start, members have come together to promote interest in the lives and works of the Brontës, but today activities are not limited to Haworth.

“Members in London, Northern Ireland, Europe, America, Canada and Australia each put together annual programmes of activities – the editor of our newsletter lives in New England, USA, and the editor of our academic journal is based in Calgary, Canada.”

Professor Ann Sumner, the society’s executive director, said: “We wish all our members a very happy 120th birthday, and hope visitors will celebrate with us this very special occasion.

“We are delighted the society is flourishing, and we’re looking forward to a year of exciting activity.

“We have a long and fascinating history, as well as great opportunities ahead with the upcoming bicentenaries from 2016, when we celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë.”

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