After reading English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford, Eleanor Houghton set up her own business as a model milliner. She makes hats and headdresses for mothers-of-the-bride, socialites and race-goers, but four years ago, she also returned to the world of academia. Keen to unite her two great passions - literature and fashion - her work focuses on the relationship that exists between writers and their clothing.

Eleanor was awarded a First Class Masters Degree in Eighteenth Century Studies, from the University of Southampton. After studying the history and literature of the long eighteenth century, her MA thesis focused on Jane Austen and the management of her clothing. Through close study of Austen’s numerous letters and accompanying documents, Eleanor tracked her clothing purchases, her changing spending habits and her evolving personal taste.

In 2015, Eleanor was awarded a full Wolfson Doctoral Scholarship. Her thesis is entitled, ‘Decoding Clothing: Charlotte Brontë, ‘Plainness’ and the Language of Dress’. Through close examination of the novelist’s extant garments and by drawing upon her huge body of work - both personal and public - Eleanor’s innovative and at times, provocative work will shine a spotlight on Brontë’s complex relationship with both her plain appearance and her dress.

Recent projects:


‘Unravelling the Mystery: Charlotte Brontë’s 1850 Thackeray Dress’- Costume, June 2016 Click Here


'Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen', Chawton House Library, Centre for Early Women’s Writing, June, 2015

'Unravelling the Mystery: Charlotte Brontë’s 1850 Thackeray Dress', Sir John Soane Museum, London, April 2016

'Intimacies Revealed: Charlotte Brontë’s Corset', Charlotte Brontë: A Bicentennial Celebration of her Life and Works. International Conference, May 2016


Charlotte Brontë: A Bicentennial Celebration of her Life and Works, International Conference, May 2016 – Conference organizer


Chawton House Library Podcasts, June 2015 and June 2016

BBC2’s ‘Being a Brontë’

Costume Consultant for Sally Wainwright’s upcoming BBC production, ‘To Walk Invisible’

Maev Kennedy - 'Charlotte Brontë's dress gaffe ruled out 165 years after Thackeray dinner' - The Guardian, 16th June 2016 Click Here


Eleanor has recently been asked by the Brontë Society to curate a large-scale exhibition in celebration of the lives and works of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë – 2020 – venue to be confirmed

Historical Millinery

Reconstruction of 1815 Poke Bonnet for Chawton House Library

'Maria Rushworth Bonnet' – made in honour of 2014 bicentenary of Jane Austen’s 'Emma' and auctioned at Jane Austen Society of North America


Located in Hampshire

By Appointment Only

Email: mail@eleanorhoughton.com

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