Leeds & West Yorkshire

Book with notes from Bronte family returned to Haworth home

Patrick Bronte's inscription inside The Remains of Henry Kirke White by Robert Southey Image copyright The Brontë Society
Image caption Patrick Bronte's inscription inside The Remains of Henry Kirke White by Robert Southey

A book annotated by the Bronte family has been returned to their former home in West Yorkshire.

The Remains of Henry Kirke White by Robert Southey belonged to Maria Bronte, mother of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell.

Haworth's Bronte Parsonage Museum acquired it with £200,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

It was one of a few possessions saved from a shipwreck shortly before Maria married Patrick Bronte in 1812.

The purchase of the book was paid for with £170,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The remaining money came from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and Friends of the National Libraries.

Museum collections manager Ann Dinsdale said it was "much-treasured by the Bronte family" and "clearly well-used and of great sentimental value to the Bronte children, who lost their mother while they were very young."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Anne and Emily, were born between 1816 and 1820

The Bronte family

Patrick: Priest and author, father of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. Born 1777, died 1861 outliving all his children and his wife Maria.

Maria: Mother of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. Born 1783, died 1821 a few months after Anne was born. She met Patrick in 1812 when visiting her aunt and uncle in Yorkshire.

Charlotte: Born April 1816, she was the eldest of the siblings to reach adulthood but the last to die. She wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette, and died in March 1855, aged 38.

Branwell: Born 1817, the only Bronte brother. He was a writer and painter and died in 1848, aged 31.

Emily: Born 1818, wrote Wuthering Heights but died of tuberculosis aged 30 in December 1848, two months after the same illness killed her brother.

Anne: Born 1820, wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Died May 1849, aged 29.

Two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died during childhood.

Source: BBC History.


Inside the salt-water-stained book is a Latin inscription in Patrick Bronte's writing. It reads: " ...the book of my dearest wife and it was saved from the waves. So then it will always be preserved".

It also contains notes, markings and sketches by various members of the family, a poem and prose by a teenage Charlotte Bronte and a letter by her husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, written shortly after her death in 1855.

Image copyright Randall House
Image caption The incomplete poem is 77 lines and revolves around the fantasy world of Angria, which Charlotte dreamt up with her brother

Bronte specialist Dr Juliet Barker said: "The book alone is a valuable acquisition because of its rare associations with Mrs Bronte before her marriage to Patrick.

"But its importance is immeasurably increased by the unpublished manuscripts tipped into it."

It was sold after Patrick's death in 1861, spent most of the last century in the United States, and is currently available to view as part of the museum's Treasures Tours.

It will go on public display in the former home of the Bronte family, now The Bronte Parsonage Museum, in 2017.

Image copyright Randall House
Image caption Poet Henry Kirke White attended Cambridge with Patrick Bronte and the volume includes notes by him

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