Emma-Jane Austin’s Library
The main character in my novel Murder and Mr Rochester works at Bromley House Library in the centre of Nottingham. Although Emma-Jane Austin is fictional, the library most definitely is not. It is a Regency gem on Angel Row, next to the Council House and the main Market Square. 2016 has been the library’s 200th birthday.
Here are some photos so you can appreciate more fully the beauty of the building where E-J is privileged to work, and also see the setting for the terrible crime that takes place there in the story. (There are some hints here to help you solve the murder too!)
In Murder and Mr Rochester I mention that many people do not even know of the library’s existence. All you can see at first is a mysterious doorway in between the usual sort of city centre shops. The entrance sits discretely between Barnardo’s and a newsagent’s. But if you ignore the traffic, erase the shops and look up you can begin to imagine the size and grandeur of the house itself.
Once inside, you are in a hallway that leads either to the back of the house
and a walled garden
or up the stairs to the main desk and reading room.
Of course, the most intriguing feature that strikes you as you enter the main part of the library is the spiral staircase.
It was not part of the original structure of the house when it was built for George Smith of the famous banking family in 1752 but was added along with the gallery.
Let’s follow Emma-Jane on her journey on that terrible afternoon of the (fictional) murder in the Library…
She is in the George Green Room sorting out books for the library’s Charlotte Brontë exhibition. (The room is named after the Nottingham mill owner and pioneering mathematician.)
After switching off the lights, she walks towards the gallery that runs around the main reading room.
She turns to the right and walks along the middle section of the gallery,
but then witnesses the ghastly ‘accident’ on the stairs to her left.
Here is a close-up of the brown wooden stairs (the colour is significant!)
and the stone hearth around the fireplace. (The modern radiators in the library are necessary to control the heat and humidity more accurately than a gas or real fire.)
There is a gap between the bottom of the spiral staircase and the fireplace that will be of significance…
Here is the longcase clock that chimes loudly early one morning and scares Emma-Jane when she is in the library on her own, trying to solve the mystery.
Bromley House Library really did have a display of Charlotte Brontë’s books in the Spring of 2016 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth, which is featured in the novel.
And for the 200th birthday of the library itself in April 2016, which in the story Emma-Jane is looking forward to, the real librarians held a birthday party in regency costume!
You can be a member of the library even if you don’t live in Nottingham – a ‘Country Member’ pays half the usual subscription fee.
Do have a look at the Bromley House website at www.bromleyhouse.com. It has more photos and some short films that really give you a feel of the place. There are many more beautiful rooms, old and new, to explore.
No wonder Emma-Jane Austin in my story feels very lucky to work there – apart from the murder, of course!
You can buy Murder and Mr Rochester by Jeanette Sears on Kindle at www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com.