Charlotte Brontë at the Soane
Exhibition Dates: 15 March – 7 May 2016
A new exhibition to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë will open at Sir John Soane’s Museum on 15 March.
Located in the Museum’s breakfast room at no 12, Charlotte Brontë at the Soane is a quirky and imaginative exhibition featuring an incredible selection of treasures, including newly discovered sketches of the Brontë sisters, drawn by their sister Anne. These are on display to the public for the first time. Also on display are the miniscule account book in which Charlotte Brontë noted down all the expenses of her visits to London; and the dress she wore when taking trips to the city, which will be returning for the first time since her first visit.
Born on April 21st 1816, Brontë lived most of her life in obscurity in Yorkshire but, following the meteoric success of Jane Eyre in 1847, she made five trips to London from 1848 to 1851 to see her publisher. Curator Charlotte Cory uses these trips to imagine a visit by the author to Sir John Soane’s Museum inspired by its uniquely preserved surroundings.
An artist and writer, Charlotte Cory uses the links between Brontë and Soane to build a fun and witty scenario for the exhibition. Charlotte Brontë’s own London guidebook featuring information on the Soane Museum, sits alongside pieces produced by Cory, including some startling new imagery of Charlotte Brontë, a “curate’s desk” that stood in the Bronte Parsonage Museum crammed full of missing treasures.
Although there is no evidence to suggest she visited the museum, Charlotte Brontë at the Soane accompanies the visitor through what the author would have seen if she ever did visit with a touch of wit and playful reverie. One of the Soane’s original visitors’ books from 1850 will be on display; Charlotte Brontë did not sign it, but the book will be open on one of the days she could have visited.
Charlotte Brontë’s evening dress
Curator, Charlotte Cory, says: “I am thrilled to be curating Charlotte Brontë at the Soane on the anniversary of her birth. There is no evidence that Charlotte Brontë visited the Soane – but she should have done! She did most of the other things in her guide book and she would have loved the place. I can’t think of a better 200th birthday present than to bring her here. The exhibition is fun but informative, touching and thought-provoking, and what is wonderful is that the Museum is exactly the same today as when she could have visited it. When you walk through the Soane’s front door you might as well be Charlotte Brontë back in 1850.”
Xanthe Arvanitakis, Operations and Commercial Director at Sir John Soane’s Museum, says: “We are delighted to be celebrating 200 years since Charlotte Brontë’s birth with this exhibition. The Soane is uniquely placed to tell the story of Brontë’s visits to the capital, being one of the very few places in her guidebook to be the same today as in the mid-19th century. So not only are we bringing Charlotte Brontë to the Museum for the first time, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the Soane’s position on London’s tourist trail – frozen in time – for the past 180 years.”
On April 21st 2016, the day of the bicentenary, the Soane will lead a unique public participation live reading event across the capital. Inspired by the famous plinths in Trafalgar square: a ‘mobile’ Fifth Plinth will host readings of Brontë’s novels at various locations including the Soane, the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library.
– Ends –
Exhibition: Charlotte Brontë at the Soane
Dates: 15 March – 7 May 2016
Address: Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Last entry 4:30pm
Events: A special evening event will be held at the Soane Museum on Friday 18 March, where Charlotte Brontë and her greatest novel Jane Eyre will be celebrated with cocktails and candlelight.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Sir John Soane’s house, museum and library at No. 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields has been a public museum since the early nineteenth century. On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806, Soane (1753-1837) began to arrange his books, classical antiquities, casts and models so that students of architecture might benefit from access to them. In 1833 he negotiated an Act of Parliament to preserve the house and collection after his death for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture. Today Sir John Soane’s Museum is one of the country’s most unusual and significant museums with a continuing and developing commitment to education and creative inspiration. The museum is open free: Tuesday to Saturday inclusive, 10am-5pm. It is also open on the first Tuesday evening of each month from 6-9pm. www.soane.org
Sir John Soane’s Museum is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) whose prime sponsor is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport