I’ve just finished reading this book by one of my favourite authors – Daphne Du Maurier. Unlike her more famous book, this is a biography and explores the life of one of the least known of the Brontes. The whole family has fascinated me for a long time: a strange combination of sheltered, inward-turning lives yet vivid imaginations and creativity. I always suspected that Branwell, who was the creative leader of the children when they were young, could have turned out to have been the most famous novelist of all of them.
But he lacked the discipline and quietly determined application of his sisters, and diverted down more dissolute paths. Whether his drinking solely led to his early death or whether some underlying illness was the main cause is still debated. Du Maurier seems to lean towards the latter idea, but the fact is that his drinking and consequent mood swings alienated him from even that close-knit family before the end came.
We will never know whether he could have created something that would have outshone even Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and the like.