The Brussels Brontë Group was formed in 2006 by Brontë Society members in Belgium and the Netherlands. The aim was to bring together people interested in the Brontës and in the places associated with Charlotte and Emily’s time in Brussels (1842-43).
Our members now include people of a wide range of nationalities. We welcome anyone who is interested in the works and lives of the Brontës and would like to know more about their stay at the Pensionnat Heger (the school where Charlotte and Emily were pupil-teachers).
Charlotte Brontë’s years at the Pensionnat were two of the most formative of her life. Her experiences there and her strong attachment to her teacher M. Heger (‘M. Paul’ in Villette) are reflected in Villette and The Professor. The Brussels background to these novels has been less thoroughly researched than the Brontës’ Yorkshire background. For expatriates living in Brussels, there is the added fascination of reading Charlotte’s account of how it felt to be a foreigner in the city.
Brontë enthusiasts have always been interested in the Brussels Brontë connection, ever since the first Brontë ‘pilgrims’ started turning up at the Pensionnat in the nineteenth century. The school was demolished in 1909 and the Palais des Beaux-Arts (‘Bozar’) built on the site. In 1979 the Brontë Society placed a plaque on Bozar. However, passers-by often miss it, and one of our aims is to make the Brontë connection better known in Brussels.
We organise talks, guided walks and other events through the year in Brussels and run a nineteenth-century literature reading group. Our weekend of events in April each year celebrates Charlotte Brontë’s birthday (21 April). Visit our events page for more information.
Visit our blog for reports on past events and articles on original research done by members of the Group.