Jane Eyre Exhibit: Charlotte’s Marriage License


This is a photo of Charlotte’s marriage license with Arthur Bell Nicholls that was on display at the exhibit. It was issued on June 16, 1854,  just a year before Charlotte’s death. Charlotte died in 1855 in the early stages of pregnancy, cutting her life short at the age of just 38. There is a certain irony in looking at this photo. The accompanying plaque explained that the certificate authorized Arthur and Charlotte to “enter into the ‘solemnization of true, pure, and lawful matrimony.'” Charlotte had found her Rochester. Nicholls had been in love with her for a long time and had had his proposal initially turned down because of concerns over his poor financial status. Like Jane, Charlotte made the decision to return to Nicholls to get married. Her life was tragically cut short with the promise of a child on the way. Reality can oftentimes be stranger than fiction, and in this case, reality proved to be far more cruel than the story Charlotte wove about Jane.

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