Perhaps no British authors better capture the haunting romance of Victorian England than Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, who wrote such works as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. A caricature by Max Beerbohm recently acquired by the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library, depicts the three literary stars along with characters well-known in the English social scene two generations after the sisters lived: writer Clement Shorter and aristocrat Alexander Nelson Hood. The piece complements the many other Max Beerbohm books, artworks, and memorabilia found in the Mark Samuel Lasner Collection.
Sir Max Beerbohm, “Let Justice Be Done.” 11 1/4″ x 15 1/2″. Pencil and watercolor on paper.
Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library.
Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) was an English writer and caricaturist who drew many well-known public figures of his day. In this image, dating to ca. 1924, he depicts the famous English critic, journalist, book collector, and Bronte biographer Clement Shorter standing in the National Portrait Gallery in London, in front of a portrait of the Brontë sisters painted by their brother, Branwell, ca. 1834. The short, mustachioed Shorter peers through his pince-nez glasses at his companion, the English aristocrat Alexander Nelson Hood (1839-1924), Duke of Bronte. Dialogue included on the caricature captures Shorter’s enthusiasm for the beloved authors. “And so you’re the Duke of Brontë!” Shorter exclaims. “Now, do like a good fellow, go and pull a wire or two at Court, and get Lottie and Em and Annie made Duchesses in retrospect!”
Shortly before its acquisition for the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, the Beerbohm caricature appeared in an article by Mark Bostridge in The Times Literary Supplement titled “The Brontës and the Conmen.” Read the article here.
See Branwell Brontë’s portrait of his sisters, now owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London, here.
Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library holds one linear foot of material related to Clement Shorter, including manuscripts, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, books, notes, caricatures, and drafts for his autobiography ranging from 1894 to 1973 (bulk dates 1895-1926). Learn more about the Clement King Shorter papers here. The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection also contains other Shorter material, including a caricature of Shorter drawn by his wife and numerous letters written to the famous writer.