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In a week of major literary anniversaries, The John Rylands Library features in a short BBC iWonder video, released to celebrate the two-hundredth birthday of Charlotte Brontë today, 21 April.

In ‘What did the Brontës do for Women?’, presenter Steph McGovern and Professor Sally Shuttleworth of St Anne’s College, Oxford, examine a letter that Charlotte Brontë wrote to Elizabeth Gaskell in September 1851, in which she emphatically rejects the notion that women should get the vote. 

BBC gaskell

Screenshot from the BBC iWonder video.

Shuttleworth argues that we should not judge Charlotte too harshly: ‘She was of her time. She was Tory in her politics but nonetheless she felt really passionately for women. She argued that they should actually be allowed to work.’

You can watch the interview now on the BBC iWonder website. The letter has been fully digitised and can be read on Luna at: http://luna.manchester.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/qjwk02.