News & What's On News / Blog
- Simon Armitage curates 'Mansions in the Sky'

A new exhibition to mark Branwell's bicentenary
‹‹ Back to News & What's On
In January 1837 an ambitious and optimistic nineteen year-old Branwell Brontë wrote to  William Wordsworth.  With the letter, he enclosed one of his own poems, expressing the hopes and dreams of a young romantic, intent on building ‘mansions in the sky’.  Wordsworth did not reply.

Branwell’s letter to the great poet is the inspiration behind Mansions in the Sky, a new exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum curated by Simon Armitage especially for the Brontë brother’s bicentenary.     Armitage explores Branwell’s colourful personal history through a series of writings, drawings and possessions from the Museum’s collection, which are displayed alongside Branwell’s original letter and poem, loaned for the exhibition by the Wordsworth Trust.  
Armitage has written a series of new poems for Mansions in the Sky, one for each of the items on display, exploring his responses to the complicated Brontë son.  Elsewhere in the Parsonage is a dramatic recreation of Branwell’s bedroom  which imagines how it might have looked during the late 1830s when he had ambitions to become a portrait artist.  Designed in collaboration with the production team of the BBC’s To Walk Invisible, the installation presents Branwell’s unmade bed, the floor splattered with paint and ink and half-completed artworks scattered around the room.  The poem Branwell sent to Wordsworth is played on a loop and visitors are invited into a chaotic and frenzied space as if entering the mind of the Branwell himself.

Armitage said, “Most people know Branwell either as the ne're-do-well brother of the Brontë family or as the shadowy absence in his famous portrait of his three sisters.  We'll never really know Branwell properly, all his light and shade, but in putting together events for his bicentenary I feel as if I've been privy to some of his hopes and dreams, especially the ambitions he had for himself as a Romantic poet among the Yorkshire moors.”

Mansions in the Sky runs at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth until 1 January 2018.  
read more