Welcome back to Chawton House Library Conversations. First launched on Sunday 8 March 2015 in celebration of International Women’s Day, our monthly podcast is a round up of news, events and highlights, helping you stay connected with Chawton House Library wherever you are.

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, one of England’s most beloved authors. Her writings, which constitute some of the most original and striking literature of the nineteenth century, continue to provoke rigorous academic debate. Last month,we held a bicentennial conference to celebrate the tremendous impact of Charlotte Brontë’s work. With generous support from the Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century research at the University of Southampton – and glorious weather! – our delegates enjoyed a wide variety of papers, and even a play, by Diana Birchall, You Are Passionate Jane in which Jane Austen interviews Charlotte Brontë on her arrival in heaven.

The first keynote speaker of the conference was Dr Juliet Barker, historian, biographer of The Brontës and previous curator and librarian of The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. In this podcast, Juliet tells us about her talk which focused on her research on Mrs Gaskell’s biographical account of Charlotte Brontë and how it has permanently shaped our views of the writer.

We also hear from keynote speaker Professor Sally Shuttleworth, University of Oxford, about Brontë as an experimental authoress and the complexity of her writing. Conference organiser Eleanor Houghton, University of Southampton, describes the role that corsets and underwear played in reflecting various periods of Brontë’s life and her special talk on the dress that Brontë may have worn to dine with author William Thackeray.

As we say goodbye to another month of Visiting Fellows, we catch up with Peggy Elliott, Georgia College and State University, about her research on the prolific French author and governess Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont (c. 1711 – 1780) who relocated to London in 1748 for fifteen years. Mary Darby Robinson (1757 – 1800) was the focus of another Visiting Fellow, Susan Civale, Canterbury Christ Church University, whose main research examined women’s life writing and reputation in the long eighteenth-century.

To read Peggy’s biography of Le Prince de Beaumont, follow this link to our Biographies of Women Writers section of the website: https://chawtonhouse.org/the-library/library-collections/womens-writing-in-english/women-writer-biographies/

Susan’s full account of her time and research here can be found here:


Look as you listen:

Juliet Barker at our Charlotte Brontë Conference

Cake baked to celebrate our Charlotte Brontë at 200 Conference