He belonged, by blood and by temperament, to the first freckles group from across the water which might beckon him; to the eloquent unpublished poets of many a Dublin side-street, to the painters with canvases untouched […] He belonged to the great company of gifted, wasted Irishmen who, in their mother country, are content to fail and dream, but, transplanted into another, break body and soul” – The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, Daphne du Maurier
Initial Thoughts: The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë… doesn’t this title send delicious shivers up your spine? It does for me. It took me a few months to get my hands on a copy of this book. For the most part it is out of print. I was lucky to have found an old battered copy at my library.
In 1960, Daphne du Maurier (author of Rebecca, The Birds, and Jamaica Inn) published The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, the story of the forgotten Bronte sibling. Branwell Brontë was the brother of Charlotte Brontë (author of Jane Eyre, Villette, Shirley, and The Professor), Emily Brontë (author of Wuthering Heights), and Anne Brontë (author of Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall). Although Branwell showed signs of promise from a young age, he quickly spiraled down an infernal path to self destruction. Daphne du Maurier’s biography of Branwell tells the story of a man with infinite potential who couldn’t overcome the demons haunting his own mind.
A month ago, I watched the BBC biopic on the Brontë sisters, To Walk Invisible. What struck me the most was the stark contrast between Branwell Brontë and his sisters. Unlike his sisters whose ambition motivated them into writing novels to support themselves, Branwell fell into a cycle of addiction. Branwell’s addiction to Continue reading