Celebrate Charlotte Brontë at the NPG

Charlotte Bronte, National Portrait Gallery
Charlotte Brontë by George Richmond, 1850 Credit: National Portrait Gallery

Get a fascinating insight into the celebrated author’s life and work at major new exhibition in London featuring never-before-seen personal items.

Charlotte Bronte, National Portrait Gallery
Charlotte Brontë by George Richmond, 1850 Credit: National Portrait Gallery

A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, has opened marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë. The major display celebrates and explores the Jane Eyre author’s life and writing with a fascinating collection of personal items, many of them never before seen.

Celebrating Charlotte Brontë 1816-1855, which runs until 14 August, features portraits from the gallery’s collection along with 26 items from the Brontë Parsonage Museum, birthplace and home of Charlotte and her family in what is one of the museum’s largest ever loans.

Among the treasures on show are paintings and drawings by Charlotte, letters and journals, the famous ‘little books’ created by the Brontë sisters as children, including the first book Charlotte ever made, a pair of cloth ankle boots worn by Charlotte and first editions of Jane Eyre, her first published novel, which enjoyed immediate and enduring popularity.

Another highlights are new research into the only surviving painted portraits of Charlotte with her two sisters, Emily and Anne, by their brother Branwell, unravelling the intriguing story of its discovery folded on top of a wardrobe, subsequent acquisition and its restoration.

Lucy Wood, assistant curator, says: “This rare chance to see the only painted portrait of Charlotte Brontë alongside illuminating personal treasures from the Brontë Parsonage Museum provides a fascinating opportunity to celebrate her life and remarkable achievements as one of the most celebrated authors of the 19th century.”

Many of the loans from the Parsonage Museum, as well as works from the National Portrait Gallery Collection, will be exhibited in the United States for the first time at the Morgan Library in New York in autumn 2016.

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