A Brontë expert is heading for New York – and could get to see a reputedly haunted staircase transported to the USA from Mirfield.
Imelda Marsden, 70, is a renowned Brontë enthusiast and last month helped set up the Kirklees and Calderdale Brontë Group.
Through her connections to the Brontë Society, Imelda has secured an invitation to the prestigious Morgan Library and Museum in New York next month.
The library is to stage a Charlotte Brontë exhibition and will receive a portrait of Charlotte from the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Imelda said: “It’s a great honour to be invited and something I just couldn’t turn down. I’ve never been to New York before. It should be a great experience.”
Imelda, of Mirfield, will be in New York for three days and hopes to fix up a visit to see an historic – and reputedly haunted – staircase which has Brontë connections.
The hand-carved yew staircase came from the former Blake Hall in Church Lane, Mirfield, where Anne Brontë worked as a governess to the Ingham family in 1839.
After the house was demolished in 1954 all the fixtures and fittings were sold off and the staircase was bought by opera singer Gladys Topping and her husband Allen who were building a house in Quogue, Long Island.
The staircase was installed in the house and in September 1962 Mrs Topping reported that she had seen a ghostly figure of a woman on the stairs.
She was convinced the “pensive” figure with her hair in a bun and dressed in a shawl and long flowing skirt was Anne.
She told a local newspaper at the time that when she asked in her mind who the figure was she was told: “Anne Brontë.”
Though the house has changed hands since the staircase remains and Imelda hopes to go see it.
“I am in touch with the owners of the house and hope to arrange to visit,” she said. “But I’ve no intention of bringing any ghosts back with me!”
Imelda is also hoping to bring a stage performance of Brontë Boy, a play centred on Brontë brother Branwell, to the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, next year.
The play, written by former journalist Michael Yates, will run for three nights and Imelda wants to find business sponsors to help cover the costs.
Anyone wanting to sponsor the play should contact Imelda on 07806 431728.