In August, I (Susan Calder)_wrote a blog post about Charlotte Bronte’s umbrella owned by my aunt in New Brunswick. Aunt Edith has been trying for years to get the umbrella to the Bronte museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, UK. Her efforts have been stalled due to the umbrella handle being constructed of ivory, a banned substance.
A few days after the post, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from Julie Akhurst on behalf of the Bronte Parsonage Museum. My post had appeared in their Google Alert for anything remotely connected to the Brontes. Julie said the staff had read my account with fascination and remembered the case clearly. The person who was dealing with it at their end left shortly afterwards and the correspondence lapsed susancalder/charlotte-brontes-parasol
Edith mentioned that she came from a village near Haworth, home of the literary Bronte sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Some 100 years ago or more, Edith’s aunt came into possession of an umbrella owned by Charlotte Bronte. She passed the umbrella down to Edith.
Here’s Aunt Edith’s explanation:
A silk parasol that belonged to Charlotte Brontë has returned ‘home’.
And its arrival at the Parsonage Museum has fulfilled a long-held dream for 96-year-old Edith Calder, whose family emigrated to Canada from Oxenhope – together with the parasol – in 1927.
For years she had wanted the item to head back to the one-time family home of the Brontës, but the parasol was wrongly thought to have an ivory handle and therefore couldn’t be imported.
However, a new assessment showed the material was in fact bone, and paperwork was quickly processed to transport the prized object back to the UK.
It is now on display in Charlotte’s old bedroom.
“We can’t thank Edith enough for her generosity gifting us this precious family treasure,” said Professor Ann Sumner, executive director of the Brontë Society and the Parsonage Museum.”
The parasol – in dark brown, fringed silk – passed to Mrs Calder’s family after it was given to an ancestor by Martha Brown, the Brontës’ maid, as a token of thanks.
Brontë Society chairman, Sally McDonald, said: “Thanks to Edith Calder, we can reflect on what an extraordinary journey this parasol has made across oceans and back. We are delighted visitors to the museum and society members alike can all enjoy this special story.”