I’m not sure why I feel slightly tearful that today (April 21) is Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday. After all, it is a cause for celebration. I think my emotions stem from a combination of pride in this most remarkable woman and a sadness that she died too young – she was 38 when she passed away on March 31, 1855.
I’m pretty sure that Charlotte would be thrilled with the excitement surrounding her 200th anniversary. There are events throughout the year and lots of memorabilia. If you want to celebrate or just learn more about Charlotte and her work, and if you want a keepsake then you must visit Haworth.
The Bronte Parsonage is a truly wonderful place and the staff and volunteers are all passionate and knowledgeable about the Brontes, especially Amy, now an assistant collections assistant, who clearly loves her job and is always smiley and helpful. It’s well worth paying to go into the house, which has a very special atmosphere. Someone recently described it as a “thin veil between our world and theirs” and I agree. The Parsonage shop is a must-see. It is free to visit and has a fantastic selection of gifts and books. You can also shop there online. I love the Penguin mug, £8.99,
Who could resist this oven mitt, £12.50, from the Bronte Parsonage shop.
I also adore this necklace, £20, by the brilliant Scribbelicious, again from the Parsonage shop. It features one of my favourite quotes from Jane Eyre: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will”.
Another great place for those looking for beautiful, Bronte-inspired pieces is Hawksbys on Main Street, Haworth, which is devoted to work by British artists and designer makers. Its latest find is the brilliant keepsake, pictured at the top of this post, by Yorkshire etched glass artist Andy Poplar, aka Vinegar and Brown Paper. It contains a piece of heather from the moor and maybe, just maybe, it grew where Charlotte once walked.