The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz - review by Mark Bostridge

Mark Bostridge

Jane’s Hair

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects


W W Norton 251pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

A walking stick, a brass dog collar, a portable wooden desk and a lock of hair: these are among the relics of the Brontë family utilised by Deborah Lutz in an attempt at a literary resurrection. What can such objects tell us about the lives of their former owners? Can they really help us return to other times and places?

Lutz takes us on a chronological journey through the lives of the Brontë sisters, interrogating these material witnesses to the past for the stories they can tell: scrutinising, touching and even sniffing them (when museum curators permit). In the case of the small surviving library once owned by the Brontës, we are returned to a world in which books were not simply receptacles of content, but objects to be appreciated in a tactile way, specially bound in leather or boards and personalised with precious inscriptions.

At a more

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