The Brontë Parsonage Museum has added to its haul of treasures relating to the famous literary family with an iconic item which once belonged to Charlotte Brontë.
The mahogany writing desk of the author of Jane Eyre was gifted to the museum by an anonymous donor together with a pen-holder and some sugar tongs.
Acquired by the mystery benefactor at a recent London auction, they once formed part of a large and important collection of Brontëana amassed by William Law, who actively sought out people who knew the Brontë family in order to add to his personal collection.
After his death in 1901, it passed to his nephew, Sir Alfred Law, who sold some of the drawings and manuscripts at auction. A number of the personal Brontë items, including the selection given to the museum, were previously given as gifts to his nurse.
Along with the Brontë treasures the Parsonage also took delivery of a wooden trunk, a display case, a black Morocco stationary case, a pocket cigar case and copies of Brontë books – all previously owned by Law himself.
© The Brontë Parsonage Museum
There is, however, a question mark over what happened to many of the valuable books and mansuscripts in the Law collection, with their present whereabouts remaining a mystery.
Andrew McCarthy, the museum’s Director, said they were “extremely grateful” for the donation.
“It’s always exciting when new Brontë items come to light and when we’re able to add to the museum’s wonderful collection,” he added. “But a donation on this scale, with an item as significant as the writing desk used by Charlotte Brontë, is very rare.
“We’re delighted that these items are now where they belong, here in Haworth; where they can be enjoyed by generations of visitors to the museum.”
The new acquisitions, which will be joining an impressive collection of Brontë-related items including furniture, writing implements, letters, portraits, jewellery and locks of hair, will be on display from May 31 2011.