Book lovers’ group marks milestone at Haworth home of the Bronte Sisters

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bronte Parsonage, Haworth Bronte Parsonage, Haworth

Haworth will today be the hub of worldwide celebrations marking 120 years of the Bronte Society – believed to be the world’s oldest literary society.

Established on December 16, 1893, the group has members across the world, and celebrations are being held as far as Australia and Canada.

The society now runs the Bronte Parsonage Museum – the former home of the family and which is now one of the area’s top tourist attractions. The anniversary will be marked by a number of worldwide events in 2014.

The first meeting in 1893 took place in Bradford Town Hall and was attended by more than 50 people. Presided over by the Reverend W H Keeling, headmaster of Bradford Grammar School, the group resolved to establish a museum to contain family relics, art and literary works, as well as any historic pieces related to the family.

That resolution lead to the opening of the first Bronte museum at the former Yorkshire Penny Bank in Main Street, Haworth, in 1895. When the Church of England put the family’s home up for sale in 1928, the museum was moved to where it remains to this day.

In the past year the Parsonage has undergone an extensive refurbishment, with experts painstakingly recreating the decor and features that would have filled the house when the sisters lived there.

In January, the ticket desk in the entrance hallway, will be moved to the rear shop area, allowing the hallway to be restored to its original state.

Sally McDonald, chairman of the Bronte Council, said: “Members of the Bronte Society are very proud to be celebrating their 120th anniversary this month and will be celebrating not only in Haworth but around the world.

“We see ourselves as having a unique role, being simultaneously a literary society and a charity that owns and runs a world-renowned museum. From the start members have come together to promote interest in the lives and works of the Brontes, but today activities are not limited to Haworth.

Ann Sumner, executive director of The Bronte Society, said: “We wish all our members a very happy 120th anniversary and hope that visitors to the Parsonage on the day will celebrate with us on this very special occasion.”

A full programme of events, including lectures and discussions all over the country will be announced at an event in London on February 19.

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