Our eighth Standing-Room Only Lecture (co-sponsored by Triolet Rare Books and conveniently timed to precede the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair) will have us looking closely at quills, dip pens, inks, pencils, quill cutters, blotting papers, ruling devices, bone folders, and embossed letter papers. These were the basic supplies and tools that nineteenth-century writers used to compose their great novels, including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. This talk will provide a holistic look into the writing desks of Emily and Charlotte Brontë, and will show how the activities of cutting, canceling, copying, and pasting gave shape to novels—and how reading the writing instruments extant in Charlotte’s desk may shed new light on an old puzzle pertaining the fair-copy manuscripts of her last two published novels, Shirley and Villette.

Our speaker, Barbara Heritage, is the Associate Director and Curator of Collections at Rare Book School. She has published and presented widely on the writings of Charlotte Brontë, and was recently commissioned by the Brontë Society to write a chapter for Charlotte Brontë: The Lost Manuscripts (2018). Her recent research into the writing instruments of the Brontës was funded by an award from the Willison Foundation Charitable Trust, and is part of a larger book project, “Charlotte Brontë and the Labor of Writing.”


Alas, tickets for this event are no longer available.

Date and Time
Tuesday, November 13 at 7p
Doors open at 6p for mingling.

Katherine Small Gallery
108 Beacon Street
Somerville, MA 02143 [map]

Standing-Room Only Lectures aim to present short talks about graphic design, typography, and collecting. The lectures are kept to about twenty minutes because—true to its name—the series takes place in our standing-room only gallery. So, wear comfortable shoes and bring a short attention span.

*We will be checking ticket reservations at the door. Don’t bother printing your ticket as we can look you up by name. We will have a stand-by line at the door for this event. Five minutes before the event begins, we will open up the event to those in the stand-by line on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have reserved a ticket for this event, please note that it will guarantee your place until 6:55 pm on November 13. Five minutes before the event begins, we will open up the event to those in the stand-by line.