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
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57