The Brontës Made Tiny Books As Children

And they are as creative as they are adorable.

1. Charlotte and Patrick Branwell Brontë assembled tiny books when they were little.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Public Affairs & Communications / Via news.harvard.edu

Filled with stories, drawings, songs — even maps! — the fragile books were compiled in 1829 and 1830, making them about 185 years old.

2. Stitched together using printed scrap paper and leaves, they measure an elfin 2.5 by 5 centimeters.

Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University / Via pds.lib.harvard.edu

The metal-nibbed ink, which tends to blot, stood the test of time and is still legible. You can see the ornate initials for Charlotte and Branwell (“Edited by the Genius C.B.”) for this “young mens magazine.”

3. Charlotte, who later authored Jane Eyre, wrote six, and Branwell, a future painter and poet, penned three.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

 

Miniature books that their sisters Emily and Anne created sadly didn’t survive.

4. Charlotte occasionally used the pseudonym Lord Charles Wellesley.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Public Affairs & Communications / Via news.harvard.edu

Like for The Poetaster: A Drama in Two Volumes.

5. Hers are crafted with a steadier hand, neatly using embroidery thread.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Public Affairs & Communications

Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University

 

Branwell’s construction was a little hastier, as is evidenced with the stab-sewn binding made of thicker linen yarn.

6. Harvard College Library’s Houghton Library repaired and digitized the juvenilia.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Public Affairs & Communications / Via news.harvard.edu

Juvenilia is work an author or artist produce while young and can give scholars more insight into authors’ development and inner lives. And in the Brontës’ case, the tiny literature mimicking professional publication indicate insurmountable talents to come.

7. Though carefully stored, the delicate books required surgical instruments to repair the damage.

Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Public Affairs & Communications / Via news.harvard.edu

Some of the individual fibers were as thin as a human hair, leading Priscilla Anderson of Harvard’s Weissman Preservation Center, who restored the volumes, to literally hold her breath to keep the fragments from flying away.

8. Pretty adorable.

Paramount

9. View the entire collection at Harvard’s online guide.

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