Branwell Bronte ‘not forgotten’ as Haworth group plans next five years

Group portrait of the Bronte familey including Branwell Bronte

Group portrait of the Bronte familey including Branwell Bronte

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THE BRONTE Society has revealed plans to celebrate the 200th anniversaries of the literary sisters - and will take a fresh look at their ne’er-do-well brother Branwell.

The literary society will unveil its plans for next year’s bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte at an event tonight at her birthplace in Thornton, Bradford - now a coffee house called Emily’s.

Museum staff and Bronte enthusiasts will celebrate Charlotte’s 199th birthday and launch Brontë200, a programme of events celebrating the bicentenaries of the Brontë siblings: Charlotte in 2016, Branwell in 2017, Emily in 2018 and Anne in 2020.

The Society also plans to commemorate Patrick Brontë in 2019, 200 years after he was invited to take up the Parson’s role in Haworth.

Museum staff will be working with Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, who is developing a number of projects supported by Arts Council England, including a special exhibition at the Parsonage which will contrast the smallness of Charlotte’s world with the greatness of her ambition and achievements.

The exhibition, named ‘I Shall Go Off Like a Bombshell’, will open at the Museum in February next year.

The Society is also launching the #seekingcharlotte social media campaign.

Marketing Officer Rebecca Yorke explained: “We often have visitors to the Museum who tell us that they were named after one of the Brontë sisters, so we thought it would be fascinating to find women of all ages called Charlotte who share her birthday. We are asking Charlottes born on or near 21st April to contact us at seekingcharlotte@bronte.org.uk so that we can invite them to share our celebrations in 2016.”

A dedicated website, www.bronte200.org which will serve as a hub for all events and activities connected to the programme.

Matthew Withey, chairman of the Brontë Society Bicentenary Committee, said: “The bicentenaries of the Brontë siblings provide a tremendous opportunity for the Brontë Society to celebrate the legacy of the Brontës across the globe. We recognise that arts organisations, museums and individuals will want to help us mark these special anniversaries and look forward to building new partnerships and reaching new audiences during the five-year programme.”

The Society is keen that Branwell’s life will also be remembered.

Bronte Society President Bonnie Greer will be working with young men in Bradford to re-examine the life of Branwell Bronte, who was dependent on drink and opium in later years before his death in 1848.

“We want to mark this anniversary out by re-examining the life of a complex man as, amongst other things, a way of addressing the issues young men face today. This is what the classics can do; this is what a literary Society can do in the 21st Century.”

Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Parsonage, said: “Branwell’s poetry was published before any work by Charlotte, Emily and Anne and the Brontë Society believes his bicentenary deserves to be commemorated along with those of his sisters.

“Equally importantly, he was a creative leading light amongst the Brontë siblings, and his imagination was the spark that fired many of their childhood games and early writing.”

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