A E Hall's Profile Sketch of a Young Woman

 A E Hall's Illustrated Guide to Haworth.

Alfred Ernest Hall was a local printer who published one of the first guides to Haworth in 1903. It became popular with visitors and the cover of the fourth edition is pictured here. Whilst compiling these guides he came across two privately owned items of Bronteana.

One was an unpublished poem by Charlotte Bronte, now know as Lines on Bewick. Dated 27 November 1832, it had been given to the owner's mother by Charlotte.1. The poem was reproduced in The Times Literary Supplement in 1907 and, about the same time, in the second edition of Hall's guide.

Another item was a profile sketch.2. He took a photograph of this c1903 which was reproduced in a newspaper in the 1920s.3. The picture from the article is not very clear but is shown on the left.

Hall thought this sketch depicted Anne Bronte, perhaps because of the resemblance to Charlotte's portrait of Anne (right). The outline of the hair is similar but the nose is a different shape, the neck shorter and the dress is different.

The photo of the sketch was copied by an artist, who straightened the nose, and this was used as an illustration of Anne Bronte in the guide.4.


What is interesting about the sketch is that the nose turns up at the bridge. Looking at Branwell's Pillar Portrait of the three sisters, not discovered until 1914, only Charlotte has a nose which might be described as similar. This feature is also present in Charlotte's self-caricature.

Below: The profile sketch is compared with Charlotte in the Pillar Portrait and 'Charlotte' in the photograph, the latter has been reversed for comparison.

It is not known whether Charlotte's poem Lines on Bewick and the Profile Sketch came from the same source.

1. Burnley Express - Wednesday 09 January 1907, p2., col.5. The poem was reproduced in The Times Literary Supplement 4 January 1907

2. At this point in time (1903) Branwell's Pillar Portrait had not been discovered so the only portraits with which the sketch could be compared were: Charlotte: the Richmond Portrait & variations of it. Emily: The 'Straw Bonnet Portrait' – considered a possible portrait because A B Nicholls had stated in 1894 that the portrait “could be Emily” although he didn't think it was. Anne: The miniature profile watercolour of her by Charlotte, 1834.

3. Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 19 July 1928.

4. Hall's photograph of the profile sketch was copied by an artist and used in the guide as an illustration of Anne alongside a variation of the Richmond Portrait of Charlotte and the Gypsy Bonnet Portrait to represent Emily.

The documents "Photograph of the Bronte Sisters" Copyright owner of work: Alfred Ernest Hall" held at the National Archives relate to the artwork for A E Hall's Illustrated Guide to Haworth.