Like many museums, the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, the small house dedicated to preserving the artifacts and stories of the famous literary Brontë sisters who once lived there, has been closed for half of 2020. Ordinarily host to over 77,000 guests a year, the sudden stoppage of ticket and gift shop sales has cut deep. In danger of shutting down permanently due to budget shortfalls, they reopened in the first weekend of September to much smaller crowds, while running a crowdfunding campaign to help stay that way.
Without any fanfare or announcement, a 20,000 pound donation appeared on their campaign site on Wednesday night, September 9th 2020.
“Realizing that it was from the T.S. Eliot estate was a very special moment,” said Rebecca Yorke in an interview with the New York Times. Yorke is the head of communications and marketing at the Brontë Society, which manages the museum.
T.S. Eliot, who wrote the poetry which makes up the lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, passed away in 1965, but his estate still receives royalties from the musical and the 2019 movie recently made from it. He has a tenuous connection to the Brontë sisters; they both knew Sir James Roberts, a Yorkshire baronet and self-made millionaire. Eliot wrote obliquely about Roberts in his poem The Waste Land, as “a Bradford Millionaire.” And Roberts, who was a close friend of the Brontë family, purchased their home and donated it to the Brontë Society. Yes, the very same Haworth Parsonage.
Whether or not the Eliot Estate made this generous donation because of that faint thread of connection or not, the money, which amounts to over $26,000, will keep the museum going for some time, though their debts continue to mount in this difficult time.
If you wish to help the Brontë Parsonage Museum, please click here for information about donating or volunteering.
Source: Town and Country Magazine