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Douglas A. Martin
240 pages (Fall 2006); 603KB download
Soft Skull Press; ISBN: 1-933368-00-4
Branwell traces the life of Branwell Bronte, the sole brother of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte, from childhood to his alcohol and opium induced death at the age of 31. As the only son, Branwell is expected to make the fortune for the family, and immortalize the Bronte name. He is given no formal education, but is painstakingly tutored by his father, and writes endless stories and poems with his sisters in their small parsonage home.
Haunted by the early deaths of his mother and sister, both named Maria, and the imaginary worlds Angria and Gondal he and his sisters create as children, Branwell is unable to touch his heart's desire: to be a great artist. Forever discontent, he roams from job to job, as painter, railway man, and tutor, constantly writing and sketching. He sinks further into his own disappointment at great expectations, as his sisters spin and fume on the dark moor with the stories that will immortalize them.
Douglas A. Martin probes the locus where history and myth collide, and with language as rich and dark as the windswept, rainy moors of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, gracefully uncovers Branwell Bronte's almost forgotten lost loves and thwarted talent, while circling around his nameless sexuality. Maintaining the haunting quality of childhood memory throughout, Branwell is a genre bending exploration of the tragic figure of Branwell Bronte and the dismal, dazzling landscape that inspired his sisters to greatness.