Deborah Yaffe

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Attic treasures

By Deborah Yaffe, May 16 2019 01:00PM

To read the news these days, you’d think that attics across the world were bursting with the previously unsuspected memorabilia of famous English writers.


Earlier this year, we were treated to the news of a newly discovered family album containing photos of Victorian descendants of Jane Austen’s family. And now comes word that a Welsh woman has stumbled across a memorial ring containing a bit of Charlotte Brontë’s hair.

Last month, an episode of the British edition of Antiques Roadshow featured the ring, which the owner found among her late father-in-law’s possessions. Inside its band, the ring is engraved with Brontë’s name and death date (March 31, 1855); a hinged exterior compartment holds a tiny braided lock of mousy brown hair.


The Victorians had an obsession (arguably, a rather creepy one) with setting the hair of dead loved ones in memorial jewelry. So experts seem to believe the Brontë ring is authentic—and the connection to the famous writer ups its value from a mere £25 (about $33) to £20,000 (about $26,000).


Time to scour the attic once more for those missing Jane Austen letter! Surely Cassandra can't have burnt them all. . .


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