AN exhibition is exploring the creative beginnings of the Bronte siblings.

Becoming the Brontes, at Leeds University's Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, includes material not seen by the public for over 80 years.

Items on display range from little books produced as children to poetry manuscripts and rare first editions.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A curator cradles Visits in Verreopolis, a miniature handwritten book by Charlotte Bronte. Picture: Mark Webster PhotographyA curator cradles Visits in Verreopolis, a miniature handwritten book by Charlotte Bronte. Picture: Mark Webster Photography (Image: Mark Webster Photography)

The exhibition is co-curated by the university, British Library and Haworth's Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Acclaimed historical novelist Tracy Chevalier and the university's Dr Katy Mullin will share insights into the artefacts at a free 'in conversation' event in the campus' Esther Simpson Building on Tuesday, October 3, from 6.30pm.

Tracy's interest in the Brontes dates back to her student days in Ohio when she read Jane Eyre for the first time.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tracy ChevalierTracy Chevalier (Image: submitted)

After moving to the UK she visited the parsonage, and her fascination with the family was rekindled.

"There is a special magic to being in the same room as objects the Brontes have created," she says.

"I particularly love Emily’s book of poems where she writes at the end ‘never was better stuff penned’, yet in the same manuscript her sister Charlotte is busy making corrections! It says so much about the sisters’ relationship."

Amongst the exhibition's star items are eight miniature books crafted and written in minuscule script by a young Charlotte, and ten-year-old Emily’s pencil sketch that shows a small hand reaching through a broken window, evoking the later image of Cathy grasping Lockwood’s hand in Wuthering Heights.

Other exhibits include first editions of the sisters' most famous works and a vivid handwritten account of a visit to Haworth by Charlotte’s biographer, Elizabeth Gaskell.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Bronte SistersThe Bronte Sisters (Image: Newsquest)

Many of the items are from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library, a literary collection which was saved for the nation following a campaign led by the Friends of the National Libraries and a consortium of organisations, including those involved in the exhibition.

Dr Mullin, senior lecturer at the university’s School of English, says: "The Honresfield acquisitions of manuscripts and early publications allow us an extraordinary insight into how Charlotte, Emily and Anne became the Brontes.

"The ‘little books’ they put together in childhood show not only remarkable imaginative talent, but also how the siblings were already imagining themselves as published writers."

Becoming the Brontes runs until October 28. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am-5pm. Admission is free.

Free tickets for the 'in conversation' event can be booked through Eventbrite.

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