Bronte Parsonage are delighted to present a new exhibition, Patrick Brontë: In Sickness and in Health. The Brontë siblings are as famous for their deaths as they are for their novels and poetry, and tragically Patrick Brontë outlived all his children, as well as his wife. Their 2019 exhibition explores how illness, poor health and death plagued his life.
Although tragic, the Brontë deaths were unremarkable in an over-crowded village where 46% of children died before reaching the age of six. The average life expectancy was twenty-five years, which corresponded with that of some of the unhealthiest districts of London. Patrick campaigned relentlessly for improvements to public health, but sadly, these came too late to benefit his own family. As a minister, Patrick was expected to have an informed knowledge on how best to advise and assist those of his parishioners who couldn’t afford medical treatment. His medical text books, which will be collectively on display for the first time, provide us with an insight into his determination to aid the sick and document his own fascinating discoveries.
Highlights of the exhibition include the handkerchief used by Anne Brontë and spotted with blood from her infected lungs; Patrick’s medical manuals heavily annotated with his own experiences; Charlotte’s pillbox, which still has pills inside; Patrick’s tobacco pipe and the extensive collection of spectacles owned by the Brontë family. Thanks to a loan from Thackray Medical Museum, they will also display the type of ophthalmic instruments which would have been used to perform Patrick’s cataract surgery and a laudanum bottle, similar to those bought by Branwell from the apothecary in Haworth.
Free with admission to the Museum.