A Newly Discovered Photograph of a Brontë Reveals a Sweet Charlotte
The newly discovered photograph is believed to have been taken during a serene period in Charlotte's life—about the time of her marriage in 1854, at age 38, to the Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls. Charlotte's happiness was brief; she died nine months after the marriage, as a result of complications of a pregnancy. The photo—a glass-copy negative made by Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933) some years after the original was taken—is thought to be a companion piece to a honeymoon photo and is marked with Charlotte's name on the back. It surfaced in early October at an exhibition of family portraits that were on loan from the National Portrait Gallery to the Brontë museum, which is located at the family home in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Gallery had discovered the picture when members of the staff belatedly got around to cataloging a collection of glass negatives, which they had rescued from the Walker estate in 1956. (A flood in the basement fortunately speeded up the work.)Scholars, convinced of the photo's authenticity, are excited by the find. "Charlotte thought she was an ugly duckling," says Brontë biographer Brian Wilks. "I think it's quite lovely to have this picture that shows she was exaggerating. She's quite a seemly lady, isn't she?"