Branwell Brontë is often dismissed as a drunk, a drug addict, and a wasted talent. He is often a mere footnote in the story of the Brontë sisters or, if he’s lucky, he gets to be a muse for their worst characters.
But there is more to Branwell’s story.
In truth, Branwell Brontë was not a drunk. He wasn’t a drug addict. And his talent was put to good use. In fact, he was a published poet long before his sisters approached a publisher. Yet his story goes untold. I wanted to rectify that.
Books about Branwell Brontë
I’ve written a range of books about Branwell under the pen name “Austin Norwood”, but they all culminate in The Life and Work of Branwell Brontë. This is my effort to help anyone find out just who Branwell Brontë was.
The Life and Work of Branwell Brontë is filled with everything you could possibly want to know, including:
The Biography of Branwell Brontë
The story of Branwell, stripped of fictions and mistruths; this is the true life of Branwell Brontë!
Who is Alexander Percy?
Why did Branwell publish his poetry under another name, and did he really have an affair with Lydia Robinson?
The Poetry of Branwell Brontë
Was Branwell an atheist? Did he have an illegitimate child? And was his poetry any good?
Did Branwell Write Wuthering Heights?
Did Emily pass off her brother’s novel as her own? Or was Branwell incapable of writing Wuthering Heights?
The Works of Branwell Brontë
Read Branwell’s poetry and the remaining fragment of his novel, ‘and the weary are at rest’.
The Letters of Branwell Brontë
Branwell Brontë in his own words! This collection of Branwell’s letters reveals just who Branwell truly was.
The Life and Work of Branwell Brontë is written so that anyone can enjoy it; there’s something here for academics, but I wrote this book primarily for anyone who wants to learn more about the elusive Brontë brother. I hope you enjoy it!
I attended university at the ripe old age of 24, beam used to find myself classified as a mature student. But I quickly found that my attitude was already different to that held by my younger peers: they treated it like school, whereas I treated it like a service I was paying for.
Consequently, I studied what I wanted to study, skipped what bored me, and often twisted the briefs to suit my own interests.
Suffice to say that this did not always endear me to my professors.
But this approach helped me learn things I would never have learnt in a lecture hall. And one of those things was the existence of an unknown Brontë brother: Branwell. As I dug deeper into the truth of Branwell’s story, something called to me. I had to tell his story to the world.
So I did.
Branwell Brontë was the third child of Patrick and Maria Brontë and their only son. The younger brother of Charlotte and older brother to Emily and Anne, Branwell published 17 poems in his lifetime. He also worked as a portrait painter, a private tutor, and even worked on the new railway lines!
Sadly, Branwell’s achievements were overshadowed by an early death and a character assassination by Elizabeth Gaskell in her wildly inaccurate Life of Charlotte Brontë. As a result, we’re only now learning the truth of just who Branwell Brontë was.
Yes, he was a poet with 17 published poems to his name. Well, not always to his name; he often published under a pseudonym, which is why so few people are aware of his success.
No, I’m afraid that’s a myth.
By the end of his life, Branwell certainly had problems with both drink and drugs, but this has been exaggerated to suggest he was an alcoholic and a drug addict from a young age, which just isn’t the case.
Austin Norwood is the pen name I chose for this particular project. (Find out more about pen names and why they’re important.)
Austin is the Anglicised version of Oisin Kelly, a relative of mine who created some astonishing sculptures and statues that you can still find in the streets of Dublin today. And Norwood is an old family name. Choosing these names felt like a nice tribute to my family.