Novelist Tracy Chevalier was approached 18 months ago by the Brontë Parsonage Museum with a special request. “I think I said ‘yes’ by return email – I didn’t even have to think about it, I knew I wanted to do it,” she says. This year marks 200 years since Charlotte Brontë’s birth and it is the start of an exciting phase for Brontë fans, with a whole series of events planned around the siblings’ bicentenaries – Branwell in 2017, Emily in 2018, Anne in 2020 – and Chevalier has been invited, to her obvious delight, to be what the museum is calling its “creative partner” throughout 2016.
“The Parsonage wanted to bring in someone from outside to help them come up with new and different ways to celebrate Charlotte’s bicentenary,” says Chevalier. “I had spoken here before on a couple of occasions and they asked me if I would be interested in taking part in this. The remit was to come up with an exhibition, a publication and a series of events.”