One of my favourite outings as a young girl was just an hours drive from home.

Nestled in a valley on the West Yorkshire moors, Haworth is an idyllic village, always bustling with visitors. On the top of the Main Street, a misnomer for the rambling cobbled lane, was the house of our regular pilgrimage. The Parsonage was for over forty years the home to Patrick Brontë and his family and later turned into a museum.

In silenced awe, I wandered around the rooms in which they lived, worked, wrote. I gasped at the exhibits, incredible to believe these were their actual writings. The rooms used by the Brontë family are largely unchanged and filled with a collection of furniture, clothes and personal possessions. One display particularly held me in reverential hush … the little books! Absolutely tiny – each the size of a small matchbox! How could they fit so much in these!

One set was produced by Charlotte Brontë in 1830 for her toy soldiers and featured an imaginary world created by the family called Glass Town. Aged 14 she wrote six (all sequenced) of these little books called “The Young Men’s Magazine”. They all included stories and advertisements in Charlotte’s own hand. Today five are still in existence, of which until recently the Brontë Society held four. Earlier this week they acquired the fifth through fundraising for the price of £666,790:- (approx. $860,825:-)

Over 1,000 people pledged money to help buy the book, including the illustrious and gifted actress, Judi Dench. Born in York, she is president of the Brontë Society and she captures the inherent spirit of the books perfectly.

“These tiny manuscripts are like a magical doorway into the imaginary worlds they inhabited, and also hint at their ambition to become published authors.”

Now living in the South East of England my journey to the Brontë Parsonage will take over five hours, yet this is a visit I look forward to making next year. Once there I imagine the young me and present me reunited as we stand in awed respect, admiring all five of the little books, in wonder at these young minds and hearts set on writing!

Note: All photos from Google.

143 thoughts on “THE LITTLE BOOKS

    • Annika Perry says:

      Julie, they are amazing and you’re right … how do they bind them? And then that this survives for centuries!? I feel I could become addicted to learning more about such tiny books!😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Exactly, Andrea – to see where these famous writers worked, lived is quite extraordinary – I’m sure the atmosphere is infused with their creative spirit & lives! Are there any famous writers museums near you? I’m starting to create a list of those I want to visit – Keats in London is at the top, followed by Beatrix Potter in the Lakes!

      • Andrea Stephenson says:

        Not that I know of Annika. We have a few blue plaques and South Tyneside is marketed as ‘Catherine Cookson country’ but nothing in the same league as Haworth! We do have 7 Stories which is the centre for children’s books in Newcastle which has archives of some famous children’s writers.

  1. kevin cooper says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I heard about his on the news. Pat and I absolutely love visiting Bronte country! I could spend hours in the museum… Hang on… I did! Lol. On our last trip to Howarth, I actually bought Pat the complete works of the Brontes. What I wouldn’t give to have one of those little versions though. 😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Kevin, it sounds like you and Pat had most memorable and special trips to Haworth! Time seemed to stand still when there and so easy to lose oneself whilst reading the writings, looking around. Oh, how lovely that she bought their complete works – and at least normal size so they are easy to read! These tiny ones are unique … wonderfully so but alas out of our price range! 😀😀

  2. michnavs says:

    Oh wow Anika .this is wonderful news….i am asian but love for the classic talea written mostly by Europians such as the Bronte sisters, is indescribable. I grew up reading over and ovet again Wuthering Heights…Catherine and Heatcliff were my literary childhood heroes..

    • Annika Perry says:

      Bless you and your love of Wuthering Heights! 😀 It is an astonishing book … and I’m not suprised the Brontë’s work is adored and appreciated around the world. To walk in their house where these novels were created, on the moors which inspired the settings is beyond words! Do you think you’ll have a chance to make this pilgramage to the Parsonage yourself? I really hope so! 😀

      • michnavs says:

        Ohhhhh my Anika…i would be so thrilled to do that…its in my bucket list…i hope and pray it happens soon…

        And i could imagine you walking around the house and feeling how these great stories were concieved…i am in awe…

  3. Fictionophile says:

    “Jane Eyre” is my favourite classic novel. I can only dream of visiting Haworth and the Parsonage…. Perhaps one day. It is a long way from Nova Scotia and I’m not getting any younger.
    Lovely post Annika. ♥

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lynne, I can just imagine how much this post resonated with you as Jane Eyre is your favourite classic. Oh, I do hope you have a chance to visit Haworth one day – it is so evocative of the sisters and their work! It’s as if you’ve stepped into the novels! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! x

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lisa, as I read about the auction and win by the society of the little book, I felt overjoyed to return to my memories of all our visits to Haworth! Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment!

  4. Clare Pooley says:

    I was so pleased to hear on the news that the fifth little book is back where it belongs after all this time! I have only visited the Parsonage once before when I was visiting friends who lived in Haworth back in 1990 but I doubt it has changed much since then. Whenever I watch the 1970 film of the Railway Children I always look out for the Parsonage (used as the doctor’s house, as you no doubt know!)
    Great post, Annika and very topical.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Clare, I also haven’t been to Haworth since the early 1990s either but I agree, I imagine it looks much the same with the same amazing atmosphere! Oh yes, the Railway Children was one of my favourite books, film and cassette recording – and it was only later I realised the house featured in the film! Just wonderful!

      With the exciting news about the little book coming back to the Parsonage I immediately wanted to share in the good news here along with my personal pilgrimage to this museum. I look forward to making the trip there soon in the New Year! 😀

      Hope you’re all well and enjoying the build-up to Christmas – in spite of the rainy grey days!

  5. D. Wallace Peach says:

    What a fascinating post, Annika. I think Nicholas Rossis posted once about tiny books in general and I still remember being mesmerized. I didn’t know that the Bronte’s produced tiny books. What an unusual choice, and so creative. I’m jealous that you’ll be visiting their home/museum. It must feel like stepping back in time. Have fun.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Diana! 😀 I feel Brontë sisters’ creativity knew no bounds! These little books look amazing, so tiny it is a wonder anyone could write them! I recall being mesmerised by their handwritten works as young, especially when they crisscrossed page after page, as paper was both in short supply and expensive. Even then their handwriting was miniscule – barely legible! Oh, it is most definitely like stepping back in time to visit the Parsonage, yet so much more. A terrific sense of atmosphere of the past, I used to expect one of the sisters to step out from behind us in consternation at our ‘invasion’ of the house! And to top it all, there are the starkest, striking and stunning moors! Heavenly — and truly inspiring! I so look forward to returning there in the new year! (And promise to post more about it … hope it won’t make you too jealous! 😀😀)
      Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving week, my friend! ❤️

      • D. Wallace Peach says:

        I actually have a tiny book, but nothing as special as one from the Bronte’s. It’s a tiny Bible that belonged to my grandmother, so probably over 100 years old. It’s the size of a postage stamp and the words are so small they’re unreadable. I’m pretty sure it was “mass produced” at the time. It was considered a good luck charm. As a kid I thought it was thoroughly fascinating. 🙂

  6. merrildsmith says:

    I had read an article about the purchase of her books, and that Judi Dench is the president of the society–but how wonderful to actually visit there. That family was so imaginative and talented, but troubled, too.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Merrill, I think the news went worldwide, particularly as they’d lost out in the auction of the book in 2011 under suspicious circumstances.

      As the Brontë Museum was a favourite place of mine as a child to visit, reading the story I felt especially close to it. Oh, they were indeed a troubled family, surrounded by tragedy … yet so gifted and inspiring writers! Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment! 😀

  7. Teagan R. Geneviene says:

    Dear Annika, this is such a lovely post! The images you chose are perfect. With your narrative, I felt I was there. To have been able to visit such a place as a child…your imagination must have soared with every visit. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Teagan, bless you for your lovely comment and I’m delighted you were transported along on this virtual visit! You are so right, my imagination was nearly overwhelmed with ideas and emotions on each visit. I remember sitting quietly in the car on the way home, ‘writing’ stories and then hurriedly scribbling them down once back.

      Wishing you a beautiful Sunday! hugs xx😀🌺

  8. laura bruno lilly says:

    Your connections are intriguing…I am still in awe how anyone could write such tiny words and form them into a real ‘story’ at the same time – and – for her brother, no less!
    Brothers, God Bless ’em!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Laura, the size of the books beggars belief and to think how much is in them! The tiniest of writing! It is wonderful that the book is going back to its original and rightful home!

      Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! 😀

  9. Erica/Erika says:

    Hi Annika, I enjoy going through houses/homes where families lived many years ago. Especially when they are largely “unchanged.” I cannot imagine how truly tiny these books are and especially writing in them at the age of 14. You remind me how writers reveal themselves at a very young age.

    Annika, I am not sure whether you have toys like “Polly pockets” “Shopkins.” Very tiny toys. We saved the Polly pockets from 35 years ago and now our granddaughters love playing with these toys. I think children like and gravitate towards “tiny.”

    A really interest post, Annika! You transported me to another time and place.🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Erica, you’ve made an excellent key point about visiting the home of famous writers etc – that they leave much more of an impression, mentally and emotionally, if they are left mostly unchanged! This is definitely the case here with the Brontë Parsonage. Built in 1778/1779, it has been restored to how it would have looked at the same time, including much of the furniture from the original house, including Charlotte’s precious writing desk. I did visit Jane Austen’s house in Bath and must say that this was bland by comparison and was just very much a house of the era, with innocuous pieces of furniture, dresses from the time. (Or maybe I was just not feeling it that day!)

      Oh, I’ve heard of these tiny toys and as young, I had a doll’s house with tiny furniture, dolls etc. How I loved to play with it and it is astonishing the worlds young minds see in these tiny toys! It must be adorable to see your granddaughters playing with them now – moments to treasure!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Erica … a joy to ‘chat’ about books, places and toys with you! 😀🌺

      • Erica/Erika says:

        The whole energy with objects puzzles and intrigues me. I don’t understand it, although I do feel it at times. Like you said, Annika, it could be my frame of mind. I loved your story! You did transport me to another place and time🙂💕

  10. Laurette Long says:

    A lovely and most nostalgic piece, Annika, I was born in Halifax and grew up in the area, so the Brontë story was part of the air we breathed as kids, going to the moors on picnics and ‘bilberrying’- collecting bilberries in jam jars to take home and bake in pies. I followed the crowdfunding effort with bated breath, and was thrilled at its success. Discovered your blog via Helena Fairfax this last week, have linked to it from my blog on the same subject, out today, and with details of a free book download of my novella set in Haworth as part of the celebrations. Have a great weekend!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Laurette, thank you so much! That means so much to me especially as I realise how much the Brontë story is part of your life. I can identify with it being part of the air you breathed as children … I felt just the same! As for billberrying, I’ve heard of this before but never seen them!

      I missed the drama of the crowdfunding for the little book but overjoyed that it has rightfully come home!

      From Helena’s comment I found a link to your post and for those interested it is

      Wow! A magical post and beautiful atmospheric extract of your novella. I was smitten! Wonderful writing, description and characters!

      Lovely to meet you across the blogs and wishing you a lovely weekend. Will you be heading over the Haworth?! 😀😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Debra, the house is amazing … it is truly as you’re stepping back in time and expect to see Charlotte, Emily and Anne at any time! It is emotional to see their handwritings in various works as well as their everyday items. A joy to share here. Wishing you a lovely weekend! Xx

  11. Carol Balawyder says:

    I love this post, Annika. The Bronte house is magnificent and it must have been magical as you wandered through the rooms. Going to famous people’s homes is one of my favorite things to do when travelling. One such home (apartment) was Beethoven’s apartment in Vienna where as you roamed through the rooms his ninth Symphony was playing as this was where he wrote part of it. I also remember visiting Keats’ house in London. These are memories that stick more than others and so I can understand how awed you were as a young girl to see these tiny books with reverence and how you look forward to going back there. These are beautiful moments that we capture forever in our hearts. ❤

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Carol, you describe your visit to Beethoven’s and Keats’s homes with wonder and awe … and it must have been spine-tingling to hear the ninth symphony playing in his apartment. You can sense their presence! You are right, the regular visits to the Brontë Parsonage left an indelible impression on my young self, inspiring, overawed, drawn by the past encroaching on the present. It was as if I wanted to stay in their world, converse with the sisters, play on the moors, write alongside them. Only later did I realise how tough a life they lived. These visits have stayed in my heart … strange as they were not in the forefront of my awareness, but now I long to visit Howarth again … as well as Keats’s house, Beethoven. Beatrix Potter … etc etc I think I’ll make a list! 😀 My heart is ready to capture more magic! xx ❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Khaya, I feel you would absolutely adore the Brontë museum and home as you love their books! It is like stepping back in time and I seriously felt they would suddenly appear – and turf out the unexplained visitors! 😀 It is inspiring to see their actual writings in real life … and this little book is amazing! I hope you can visit and see it for yourself one day! x

  12. Jacqui Murray says:

    These are amazing. Robbie (Cheadle) wrote about these, and Charlotte Bronte–I’d never heard of them before. Now you add this glorious detail. Who would think anyone could/would do this?

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jacqui, there’s been a wonderful flurry of Brontë posts this week, and probably not surprising regarding this big acquisition of the little book. Ahhh… Robbie’s knowledge about the Brontë family is formidable and puts me to shame! As you could tell I loved my visits to the Parsonage and seeing the writings of the sisters – and it is wonderful how this little book will be back there. It is amazing how absolutely minuscule it is and reminds me of their other writings, first one way along the page, then turned it ninety degrees and wrote across their previous words. Paper was precious and in short supply for them!

  13. Mike says:

    Love this post Annika. I did actually visit Howarth and the Bronte Museum a very long time ago. It was like stepping back in time (especially with the steam train) and I found the whole thing fascinating. I don’t remember seeing the tiny books though It was a lovely summers day when I went – but I wouldn’t fancy being there in the middle of winter!
    Thanks for posting this


    • Annika Perry says:

      Mike, how apt you mention the steam train … obviously a huge fan from your gravatar! 😀 How lovely you have been to Haworth and expereinced its electric atmosphere and I too feel like it’s stepping back in time, almost intruding in their home! If you ever go again you will have to look out for these little books. But yes, perhaps in summer! Yorkshire winters can be harsh, but dramatically so … and I think this fed into their writings!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Ahh… thank you so much for your lovely words, Natalie! 😀 It’s a pleasure to share here, a literary story of national and international interest and one to which I could add a personal perspective! xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jan, thank you so much for your lovely comment! Indeed, it is amazing how important and valuable these books have become and rightfully returned home! Wishing you a great weekend! 😀🌺

  14. restlessjo says:

    Loved Miriam’s ‘essay’ 🙂 🙂 and astounded by these little girls, who knew at such an early age where they wanted destiny to take them. Must have been those ‘wild and windy moors’.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jo, I know … what a superlative comment – a post in its own right!😀 It captures the magic and allure of the moors, the Bronte sisters and their home. Oh yes, I think the moors played an influential role in their writing. It is astonishing how focussed and driven they were from so very young!😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Robbie, I love the idea of a Brontë festival … it just shows the power and magic of their writing nearly two centuries later! Wonderful that their books, works and lives are still celebrated and captivate so many of us! Heading over to read your and Sue’s posts! 😀

      • robertawrites235681907 says:

        Thank you, Annika. It is really incredible that their novels and personal stories are still so popular and interesting to modern people. Wouldn’t it be amazing to achieve such fame with a novel that is relevant so many years later?

    • Annika Perry says:

      Barbara, I always think it is amazing to see any famous writer’s handwritten work but especially so with the Brontë sisters. On display are these earlier pieces, through to the later works. I saw they even collected the scathing newspaper reviews of their books. These books are astonishingly small and I have no idea how they wrote in these! Tiny hands, eh … and Charlotte was small even as an adult. Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. Wishing you a peaceful weekend! 😀

  15. dgkaye says:

    What a glorious find! Imagine the prices those little books are going for. Makes me wonder if if anyone would find our books as fascinating, long after we’re gone, lol 🙂 xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      It is fantastic that the books are returned to where they rightfully belong but wow, I agree, the price is extraordinary! I imagine they would have been dumbstruck if they saw the amongst their works fetch now! Haha! 😀😀 It would be lovely if our books survived so many centuries … we will neve know!

  16. Mary Smith says:

    It is many years since I visited Haworth and I don’t remember seeing the little books. They are fascinating. It will be interesting to know how your grown up self responds to the house and the moors. Look forward to reading about it next year 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mary, I too wonder what it will be like to return … and no doubt will experience it on two levels! Perhaps even looking round for the younger me whilst sensing the presence of the Brontë family. I will look out for these books and ‘report’ back with a new post in the New Year – no doubt featuring many images of the moors as well!

  17. Clive says:

    I studied the Brontes at uni but had never heard of these little books. What fabulous treasures they are. Enjoy your pilgrimage next year: I know how it will feel, as I have similar thoughts about the Lake District, with Wordsworth, Ruskin and Potter to explore as well as wonderful landscapes.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Clive, what a wonderful course to take at university. Was this part of an English Literature degree? I imagine you would have been concentrating on their novels rather than these little books … they are seen as a precursor to her later Jane Eyre, but not too sure about this.

      Oh, places of literature are indeed a pilgrimage and I am hoping to head to the Lakes in the New Year as well to explore some of the writers and their places. Growing up with Beatrix Potter’s books I long to visit ‘Hill’s Top’. Lovely to ‘chat’ about writers, Clive! Have a lovely weekend. 😀

      • Clive says:

        Yes it was, Annika. I studied English Literature with a minor in History of Art. We covered the essentials, i.e. the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare, but I majored on the 19th century – plenty of cross-pollination between the two subjects to draw on. A very enjoyable course! I hope you enjoy your trip to Beatrix Potter’s home – for a fan it’s a great experience. You have a lovely weekend too 😊

  18. Lori says:

    Those tiny books are fascinating. Love the photos. Did you take those of inside that room and the village cobblestone street? Thank you for sharing this gem. I likely won’t ever travel to such places, and it’s fun to travel there through your words and photos.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lori, I’m glad to be able to bring a little of Haworth and the Parsonage to you through my post. The photos are all from the internet as I haven’t been there since I was young. However, when I visit in the New Year I’ll make sure to take lots – be prepared for lots of moors and from inside the museum. xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      I agree, Philip! It is a huge amount and I wonder what the Charlotte Brontë would make of this! It just shows their popularity. Eight years ago the Society lost out on a bid for the same book so they must be estatic to have secured it this year!

  19. roughwighting says:

    What a special “house museum” that inspired you as a child, and fascinates you still as an adult. These little books are amazing. I’m afraid my eyes would not be able to catch one little word in them. ;-0 I love “reading/writing history,” in this case of the Brontë family, that you’ve shared here. ❤

    • Annika Perry says:

      Pam, I do wonder how they managed to write in such a miniscule and neat handwriting! I think as a child I could read a lot of it – doubt I’d get past the title nowadays!😀 It is so precious and important to preserve literary history such as this and I’m overjoyed the museum won the bidding this time round! A delight to share here! 😀❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Robbie, thank you so much for filling me/us in on that. Have you been to the museum recently? It makes sense to only have one on display at a time … there are also so many other pieces of miniscule writing on show. I remember that they used to write one way on the paper, then turn it 90 degrees and write across what they’d already noted down. Paper was truly treasured and something to value.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jill, that was exactly my first thought as I read the news – the book is where it rightfully should be! Home where it was created, with the others! Oh, I was so lucky to grow up in Yorkshire. The moors were my salvation and I loved being out, then there was so many wonderful places to visit – we seeemed to head out nearly every weekend! Haworth was one of my favourite places – not sure my brother appreciated being ‘dragged’ there so often! 😀.

  20. hilarymb says:

    Hi Annika – I saw the sale of the little book – thank goodness it came back onto the market so soon and they were able to bid for it … and now it’ll be home again. Amazing … and I do hope you can get up again soon … it’s somewhere I need to get to – sometime! Thanks for the lovely post and photos – cheers Hilary

    • Annika Perry says:

      Hi Hilary, the auction of the little book captured so many of our hearts and I hadn’t realised until this year that the society had lost out on the sale in 2011. Under suspicious circumstances, no less! I feel overjoyed that the book is returning to its rightful home … and as you noticed I’m so looking forward to heading up to the Parsonage soon in the new years. I’m already making plans – inspired by the post and everyone’s comments! 😀 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts – and hope you have the chance to visit Haworth soon! Wishing you a special Sunday! 😀🌺

    • Annika Perry says:

      Helena, thank you so much for reblogging my post – I really appreciate it! 😀 Like you, I was so happy to hear that the society had acquired this fifth book, albeit second time round! I enjoyed rereading your posts about the Parsonage museum and it must have been inspiring to take part in a writing workshop in their home! Your photos are wonderful and it’s good that photography is not allowed!

  21. Norah says:

    How wonderful, Annika. Now, here is another place to add to my visiting wish list. I love the sound of those little books. How wonderful to visit the home of so much wonderful writing. Enjoy revisiting next year!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Norah, this is definitely a place well worth a visit – so special and evocative. I do hope you have a chance sometime. It never fails to impress me how they came up with these stories in this rather innocuous house. Their passion for literature and writing is evident throughout, including these unique little books! Oh, I so look forward to wandering around the house and on the moors soon again! Many thanks for reading and your lovely comment. 😀

  22. delphini510 says:

    Such a wonderful post with so much history and deep emotions. Funnily I could hear the name Heathcliff being called up on the moor – Wuthering Height wanting to be here to.

    Your post gives us with such delicacy an entry to the world of Emily Bronte and the life of the family. The very tiny books are quite improbable now. The care, the patience and the skill.
    Visual presentation of a book is important, as we know. But this is drawing you in on so many levels. I am glad you told us about the Fifth book being aquired and am impressed with Judy Dench’s part of this.
    I can’t resist telling you that I have been to Haworth a number of times, each one equally magic. To wander up those streets and in to the Parsonage. Stepping in to another era.
    I was also so taken about the displays of some of their clothes. So delicate and shoes so small they would fit a child. Gloves the same.

    We mustn’t for a minute forget the wonderful moors surrounding Haworth and possibly inspiration for some of the dramatic emotions. To me the moors are the best part of England.

    Well, another essay, Annika. Apologies. It is your doing, triggering so many memories and emotions in the morning.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Miriam, bless you and your stunning essay! 😀😀 With beauty and poetic ease in your comment, you capture the magic of the Haworth, the moors and the Brontë sisters books! Wow! The cobbled street was always a joy to wander along, gawking into the shops, then bounding ahead to the Parsonage. Oh, the moors are sublime … whatever the season! No wonder they were inspired to write, nestled into the moorland, taking walks from their home. You are right about the clothes being small as Charlotte Brontë was unusually small, even for that era, and took child size clothes and shoe sizes. How lovely you should remember this from your visits!

      I’m happy to have trigged such precious memories for you, Miriam … thank you for sharing them with us here. Now, I must go, I think I hear ‘Heathcliffe’ being called!😀 Happy Weekend, may it be one filled with literature and writing!❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Brigid, I didn’t know that about Judi Dench either! A Yorkshire lass at heart then and with her at the helm of the society I’m not surprised they managed to raise the money! I can’t wait to visit again … seeing it afresh with my adult eyes!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Darlene, how wonderful that you’ve been here! 😀 I used to love wandering on the moors above the house afterwards! It is a special place and I can’t wait to see the fifth book. I do wonder what happened to the sixth?

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