Branwell was the only brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne. As children and adolescents and into early adulthood they invented imaginary worlds and scribbled stories and poems. Eventually the three sisters became famous authors but the boy never had a single line published in his lifetime; he died very shortly after the triumph of Jane Eyre.
Perhaps the fault lay within himself. He couldn't hold down a job. After failing to be admitted to the Royal Academy School he gave up painting. He tried tutoring but didn't like it. He became a railway booking clerk and later a station master but was sacked for his slapdash book-keeping. He then tried tutoring again but was dismissed for some sort of scandal: he later claimed it was because he had fallen in love with the lady of the house although this may have been his fantasy. Disheartened by failure he took to drink and laudanum: this may have contributed to his later failures.
Du Maurier writes biography as historical fiction: she gets inside the character and presents a narrative rather than sifting endless evidence. (She also does this in Golden Lads about Sir Anthony Bacon.) This makes for easy reading. In this case, however, the flow of the story is marred by then long quotations from Branwell's juvenilia, his poems and his letters. Some of these were, to say the least, tedious.
An interesting story of a man haunted by failure. November 2013; 231 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57