Friday, September 09, 2016

Friday, September 09, 2016 1:00 am by M. in , ,    3 comments
And the day has come. The most awaited Charlotte Brontë exhibition at The Morgan Library in New York opens today, September 9:
Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will
The Morgan Library & Museum
September 9, 2016 through January 2, 2017

From the time Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was first published in 1847, readers have been drawn to the orphan protagonist who declared herself “a free human being with an independent will.” Like her famous fictional creation, Brontë herself took bold steps throughout her life to pursue personal and professional fulfillment. Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will traces the writer’s life from imaginative teenager to reluctant governess to published poet and masterful novelist.

This exhibition celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Brontë’s birth in 1816, and marks an historic collaboration between the Morgan, which holds one of the world’s most important collections of Brontë manuscripts and letters, and the Brontë Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, England, which has loaned a variety of key items including the author’s earliest surviving miniature manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a portion of the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, on loan from the British Library and being shown in the U.S. for the first time, open to the page on which Jane asserts her "independent will." Also shown for the first time in America will be the only two life portraits of Brontë, on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Online exhibition Read Brontë's personal letters in Charlotte Brontë: Ten Letters and a Fictional Fantasy.

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will is made possible by Fay and Geoffrey Elliott.
A media release from the Brontë Parsonage gives more information:
Friday 9 September for immediate release:
Charlotte’s dress crosses the Atlantic to major New York exhibitionA new exhibition about the life of Charlotte Brontë opens today at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York.

Charlotte Brontë:  An Independent Will celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth and marks an historic collaboration between Haworth’s Brontë Parsonage Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Morgan, which holds a significant collection of Brontë manuscripts and letters.   Items on loan from the Parsonage’s collection include Charlotte’s earliest surviving miniature manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s.

Ann Dinsdale, Principal Curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum said, “It’s over two years since we first discussed a collaboration with the Morgan and it’s wonderful to see it come to fruition. The Morgan’s Brontë collection is world-class and the Brontë Society is thrilled to have items from its own collection on display in New York.  It’s the perfect way to round off Charlotte’s bicentenary year.”

Sarah Laycock, Curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, who accompanied the Parsonage’s exhibits to New York added, “Travelling to New York to work on the exhibition was a fantastic experience and it was a huge privilege to assist the Morgan team with their displays.   I felt hugely protective of all the Brontë objects and am really proud that they hold such significance for a worldwide audience.”

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will runs at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York until 2 January 2017.  Charlotte Great and Small, curated by Tracy Chevalier, runs at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth until 2 January 2017.  A new Brontë Society publication to mark Charlotte’s bicentenary: Celebrating Charlotte Brontë: Transforming Life into Literature in ‘Jane Eyre’ by Christine Alexander and Sara L Pearson is available from the Morgan, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and online at


  1. I was at the press preview Thursday.Here's a list of what they have on exhibit and I'm sure I'm forgetting something...just staggering

    Branwell's column painting of his sisters

    The CB Richmond portrait

    Both in the USA for the first time and
    I have to say both better lighted than at the NPG !

    CB 's 1850 dress/ little blue flower print

    CB's boots

    a 1856 copy of CB's birth registry

    Patrick's copy of of the certificate of registry for CB's marriage(church copies of the documents in their records)

    CB and ABN's Marriage license

    CBN's will

    Letters from CB to William S. William about the passing of Branwell and Anne's decline

    An copy book from Charlotte's Brussels school days

    The famous water color portrait of Anne in profile done by CB

    The Misses Bronte's Establishment handout

    Funeral cards for Branwell, Emily and Charlotte

    PB's cottage poems

    Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell poems

    CB's handwritten manuscript of " Jane Eyre"

    CB's handwritten manuscript of " The Professor"

    CB's earliest known production...1829 " book for Ann"

    A manuscript of Anne's poetry

    A manuscript of Emily poetry

    A story in Branwell's hand

    Oldest photo of the Parsonage

    CB's Roe Head diary

    CB's list of " what I written so far" "
    Tales of the Islanders" etc.

    CB's Writing desk

    CB's Paint box

    Mary Taylor's personal copy of Jane Eyre, CB sent to New Zealand and Mary'sletter to CB about it

    Contemporary published editions of allthe sister's books

    sermon notes of PB from 1811 based on Mathew 3:11

    A good many drawings

    little men magazines

    CB's Atlas

    Photo of Arthur Bell Nicholls

    Photo of Rev Bronte

    Rev Bronte's copy of the book of Common Prayer

    One of Patrick 's letters where he sent snippets of CB 's
    hand writing upon request

    Beautifully the Morgan NYC until Jan 2, 2017

  2. Thanks for reporting, Anne. Sounds like they have done a wonderful job of it.

  3. Indeed. US Bronte enthusiasts don't let this opportunity go by!