In this, the 200th anniversary year of Charlotte Brontë’s birth (21 April 1816), Keighley Local Studies Library must celebrate its own excellent collection of Brontë literature, critical works, articles and news cuttings. It is now second only to that of the Parsonage Library itself in importance, especially since Bradford Local Studies Library has recently deposited much of its own collection with Keighley. Staff are presently working to catalogue, index and promote the collection to a wider audience of readers and researchers both at home and abroad and an information booklet will be published later this year about the book collection.
The history of the collection dates back to the nineteenth century and includes the archives and some book stock (Milligan collection) from the Keighley Mechanics’ Institute, of which Patrick Brontë was an active member, and where the family attended lectures and gained some art tuition (see leaflets). The library has also been privileged to receive a bequest from the library of the late Joanna Hutton, first female curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and this is an important addition.
Anyone who is also interested in Haworth and Keighley at the time of the Brontës can also consult maps, photographs, plans, tithe records, trade directories, mill reports, Parish and Non-Conformist records and local family archive collections. The library holds a wealth of published works on the history and development of the local area, many of them recently researched. Haworth and Keighley are fortunate in having some excellent local historians who have contributed greatly to the scholarly canon of local history publications, including Ann Dinsdale (Curator, Brontë Parsonage), Steve Wood (specialist Haworth historian), the late Michael Baumber, local teacher and historian and Ian Dewhirst MBE (former Reference Librarian and renowned Keighley historian).
So, as you settle down for the new Brontë costume drama now being filmed in Haworth and prepare to look at yet another screen in your life, please think of the wonderful original material that is waiting for you in Keighley Local Studies Library and the exciting discoveries that can be made through reading a well researched and illustrated book on a fascinating local subject.