Charlotte’s stockings, Emily’s walking stick, Anne’s handkerchief

Samantha Ellis at the Times Literary Supplement reviews a new book by Deborah Lutz, The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in nine objects. 

This book is partly an attempt to talk to the dead, by looking at (and holding, sniffing, weighing) the Brontës’ things. Fans of the writers who cross the world to gaze at Charlotte’s stockings and Anne’s bloodstained handkerchief, sequestered behind glass, might envy Lutz’s intimacy with these objects. They sometimes speak as eloquently about their owners as the books, maybe because although we may not have written great novels, we all have stuff. We have also all watched CSI, so there is something familiar about Lutz, hunched over a scratch on Emily Brontë’s desk, as she says herself, “Was this a message from the dead, or just the results of a bump into a table? I felt like a detective looking for clues, traces of evidence, even bodily fluids. But here no crime had been committed”.

 

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