West Yorkshire, England
In 2016 it will be 200
years since Charlotte, author of ‘Jane Eyre’ and
other novels, was born on 21 April 1816. Her
famous sisters died in their 20s, but she lived until
she was 38 before dying, it’s believed, of severe
morning sickness in 1855.
From 1820 the Brontë home became Haworth
Parsonage, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum,
where I wander entranced from room to room,
each filled with simple furniture, clothes and the
miniature books they made as children.
I marvel at
how they wrote some of the greatest English novels
ever published, including ‘Wuthering Heights’,
‘Shirley’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, at tiny
writing desks in the front parlour.
Family events at the museum include drop-in art
and craft activities, writing days, trails, dressing up
and talks. In 2016 special exhibitions celebrating
Charlotte’s anniversary will be held at the museum
and at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
I’m exploring the back streets of Bloomsbury in
London when I see a sign pointing to the
Charles Dickens Museum and excitedly open
the front door to 48 Doughty Street, referred to
by the man himself as “My house in town”.
Two of the great 19th-century novelist and
social campaigner’s daughters were born here;
his sister-in-law, Mary, died here aged 17; and
some of his best-loved novels were written
here, including ‘Oliver Twist’.
Today, children can experience another era,
trying on Victorian costumes and taking part
in holiday events from storytelling and butter
churning to craft activities. The museum also
offers a walk through Dickensian London,
where I recognise several scenes from his
In fact I sense him everywhere in
England - from the Thames, the scene of the
exciting chase in ‘Great Expectations’, to St
Saviour’s Dock, where Bill Skyes meets his
demise in ‘Oliver Twist’.