Initial Thoughts: Jane Eyre by: Charlotte Brontë is my favorite novel of all-time. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is also very high upon my list of favorite novels. Ever since I discovered the Brontës, I have been astounded by the legends and the myths associated with them. There truly is no end. But, out of all the Brontës, Patrick Branwell Brontë has often been vilified and slandered by the biographers of his famous sisters. Branwell Brontë, unlike the names of Charlotte and Emily, is not a household name. He has been labelled the family failure, or the source of misery to his sisters. Even Daphne du Maurier’s biography, The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë (which I reviewed about a year ago), hardly salvages his reputation. I was curious to read Alice Law’s biography of Branwell (a largely forgotten biography) to compare it to my image of Branwell.
Who was Patrick Branwell Brontë?
Patrick Branwell Brontë (otherwise called Branwell by his family) was the only brother of the famous Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. He was born in 1816 and died at the age of 31 from tuberculosis due to an overconsumption of alcohol and opium. Like his sisters, Branwell had literary aspirations, and from a young age, his father believed him to be the genius of the family. But, Branwell never lived up to his family’s expectations. His sister Charlotte Brontë is the author of the acclaimed novels, Jane Eyre, The Professor, Villette, and Shirley. His sister Emily wrote the famous novel Wuthering Heights. Finally, his sister Anne wrote Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In a family of literary geniuses, what went wrong with Branwell? Continue reading