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Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth

When Virginia Woolf visited the Brontë home and Brontë Museum in Haworth on Nov. 24, 1904, she wrote about it.

That piece was her first accepted for publication and just the second to appear in print. The Guardian published it unsigned on Dec. 21, 1904. 

In it, Woolf wrote of Charlotte:

Her shoes and her thin muslin dress have outlived her.

Woolf describes those items as “touching” and mentions those objects, along with Emily’s “little oak stool,” as those that gave her “a thrill.”

In the Yorkshire Post, Ann Dinsdale, principal curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, describes Woolf as being “brought up short by the sight of Charlotte’s dress – because it made her realise that apart from being a great literary mind, she was a real woman.”

Defying Expectations exhibit

Dinsdale’s remark is part of a discussion of “Defying Expectations,” the museum’s current exhibit featuring Charlotte Brontë’s wardrobe. One goal of the exhibit is to show that Charlotte was interested in fashion, color, style and trends, as it highlights some of the more colorful and exotic accessories in Charlotte’s wardrobe.

Woolf herself justified her visit to the Brontë parsonage this way:

The curiosity is only legitimate when the house of a great writer or the country in which it is set adds something to our understanding of his books. This justification you have for a pilgrimage to the home and country of Charlotte Brontë and her sisters.

Guestbook and Giggleswick

When I toured the Brontë parsonage in 2016, I was thrilled to view — and hold in my hands — the guestbook that Woolf signed using her maiden name of Virginia Stephen, when she visited in 1904.

She was the first of only two visitors that day. The other was her companion Margaret Vaughan, wife of her cousin Will, headmaster of Giggleswick School.

Woolf stayed with the couple in the headmaster’s home when she made her 1904 trip to the Brontë Parsonage.

Page in the Brontë Parsonage and Museum guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf in 1904.

Behind-the-scenes room at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf is stored, along with other materials by and about the Brontës.

Headmaster’s home at Giggleswick School

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As a prelude to the 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity University in Leeds, England, Woolfians visited the Brontë Parsonage and Museum in Haworth.

The chief find of the day was this guestbook entry made by Woolf in her maiden name of Virginia Stephen on Nov. 24, 1904. She was the first of only two visitors that day. The other was her companion Margaret Vaughan, wife of her cousin Will, headmaster of Giggleswick School.

The book is stored in the library that houses books by and about the Brontës, pictured below.

A story on the conference is in the Yorkshire Post at this link: http://bit.ly/1W0dV7l

Page in the Brontë Parsonage and Museum guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf in 1904.

Page in the Brontë Parsonage and Museum guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf in 1904.

Behind-the-scenes room at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf is stored, along with other materials by and about the Brontës.

Behind-the-scenes room at the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the guestbook signed by Virginia Woolf is stored, along with other materials by and about the Brontës.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, in Yorkshire

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