Frances Mary Richardson Currer

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Frances Mary Richardson Currer
Frances Mary Richardson Currer 1807.PNG
1807 painting by John James Masquerier
Born 3 March 1785
Eshton, Skipton, Yorkshire, England
Died 28 April 1861(1861-04-28) (aged 76)
Eshton, Skipton, Yorkshire, England
Residence Eshton Hall
Nationality British
Known for collecting books

Frances Mary Richardson Currer (3 March 1785 – 28 April 1861) was a British heiress and book collector.


Frances Mary Richardson Currer was born shortly after the death of her father, Richard Richardson Currer in 1785. Shortly before he died, he had added the surname Currer to his own name. This was a condition of a substantial inheritance from Sarah Currer, the grand daughter of Matthew Wilson who had built Eshton Hall.[1] Frances received two substantial inheritances which included her grandfather's library.[2]

She had always had an interest in books and now she owned her grandfather's extensive and valuable library.[2] In 1820 she had a catalogue prepared and privately printed[3] and in 1833 she had Thomas Hartwell Horne prepare a second edition which was printed to reflect further changes.[4] Thomas Frognall Dibdin wrote in 1838 that her library was one of the best in the country. Althorpe, Chatsworth and Stowe were the only libraries he thought more extensive.[5] Dibdin is still quoted for calling her the "head of all female book collectors in Europe."[6] He estimated that the library contained 20,000 books, but Currer was one of his patrons. Dibdin also spoke well of the book collections of Richard Heber which were larger than Currer's. Heber and Currer had a close relationship and Heber was bailed out by Currer when he had financial difficulties.[1]

Eshton Hall Library[4]

It has been speculated that Currer was a benefactor of the Brontë sisters and this is the reason that Charlotte Brontë chose the nom de plume of "Currer Bell"[1] for her novel Jane Eyre.[5] It is thought that she gave the Brontë sisters' father £50 to assist them when he became a widower. Currer did donate money to the Clergy Daughter's School that the Brontë sisters attended as well as funding the local mechanics institute.[1]

Currer had problems with her hearing throughout her life and she died at Eshton Hall in 1861.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Lee, "Currer, Frances Mary Richardson (1785–1861)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 1 November 2014
  2. ^ a b W. P. Courtney, "Richardson, Richard (1663–1741)", rev. Peter Davis, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 accessed 1 November 2014
  3. ^ A catalogue of the library of Miss Currer at Eshton Hall, in the deanery of Craven and county of York
  4. ^ a b Stewart, C.J. A Catalogue of the Library Collected by Miss Richardson Currer, at Eshton Hall, Craven, Yorkshire. London: Privately printed, 1833
  5. ^ a b Wilson Family, North Building Preservation Trust, retrieved 1 November 2014
  6. ^ Owned by women, University of Glasgow Special Collections, retrieved 2 November 2014