Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

Exhibition Website

Sep 9 2016 - Jan 2 2017

From the time Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was first published in 1847, readers have been drawn to the orphan protagonist who declared herself “a free human being with an independent will.” Like her most famous fictional creation, Brontë herself took bold steps throughout her life in pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment. 

This exhibition, presented on the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of Brontë’s birth, traces her creative path from reluctant governess to published poet to commanding novelist. From her earliest literary works—written with a quill pen in a minuscule hand designed to mimic the printed page—to the manuscript of her explosive novel Jane Eyre, the exhibition presents an intimate portrait of one of England’s most compelling authors.

The exhibition is a historic collaboration between two of the world’s finest repositories of Brontëana. It brings together literary manuscripts, intimate letters, and rare printed books from the Morgan’s rich collection with personal artifacts, drawings, and photographs from the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England. Highlights include Brontë’s earliest surviving miniature manuscript, her portable writing desk and paint box, one of her own dresses, and a pair of her ankle boots. Also on view — for the first time in North America — will be a portion of the manuscript of Jane Eyre, from the collection of the British Library, open to the unforgettable scene in which Jane tells Rochester, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you.” 

Exhibition overview from museum's website

  • Books / Manuscripts
  • British
  • 19th Century
  • personal-artifacts,-drawings,-and-photographs
  • Charlotte Brontë

Exhibition Venues & Dates