A miniature portrait will be among items on show in London to mark the 120th anniversary of the Brontë Society. Guests at the celebration at Christie’s tomorrow [today, 18th February] will be treated to a glimpse of the collection from the Brontë archive. The collection includes the miniature portrait of Mrs Hudson by Charlotte Brontë, which was recently purchased by the society.
Mrs Hudson of Easton Farm, Bridlington, was referred to by Charlotte Brontë in a letter to her friend, Ellen Nussey, in 1839. The two women had recently stayed with Mrs Hudson and her husband John, and it was during this visit that the miniature was thought to have been painted. Charlotte Brontë’s second visit to the Hudsons in 1849 was a much more sombre event, as it occurred just after the funeral of her sister, Anne, in Scarborough.
The Brontë Society, believed to be the earliest literary society in the English speaking world, is now a thriving organisation with an international membership devoted to the legacy of the famous literary sisters from Yorkshire The first meeting of The Brontë Society took place in the Town Hall, Bradford, on Saturday 16th December 1893, and was attended by more than 50 people.
A committee was formed which met on January 13, 1894, with Lord Houghton being appointed the society’s first president and 11 vice-presidents, including the publisher George Smith, were created. Today, the society’s president is acclaimed playwright, novelist and critic Bonnie Greer.
The executive director of the Brontë Society, Ann Sumner, said: “We wish all our members a very happy 120th birthday and hope that visitors will celebrate with us this very special occasion.
“We have a long and fascinating history as well as great opportunities ahead with the upcoming bicentenaries from 2016, when we celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë.”