Branwell: A Novel of the Brontë Brother by Douglas A. Martin

Branwell: A Novel of the Brontë Brother by Douglas A. Martin

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For readers of Michael Cunningham's The Hours and Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles, this genre-bending exploration of the tragic figure of Branwell Brontë and the dismal, dazzling landscape that inspired his sisters to greatness is now available in a new edition with an introduction by Darcey Steinke.

Branwell Brontë--brother of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—has a childhood marked by tragedy and the weight of expectations. After the early deaths of his mother and a beloved older sister, he is kept away from school and tutored at home by his father, a curate, who rests all his ambitions for his children on his only son. Branwell grows up isolated in his family’s parsonage on the moors, learning Latin and Greek, being trained in painting, and collaborating on endless stories and poems with his sisters. Yet while his sisters go on to write 
Wuthering HeightsJane Eyre, and Agnes Grey, Branwell wanders from job to job, growing increasingly dependent on alcohol and opium and failing to become a great poet or artist.

With rich, suggestive sentences “perfectly fitted to this famously imaginative, headstrong family” (
Publishers Weekly), Branwell is a portrait of childhood dreams, thwarted desire, the confinements of gender—and an homage to the landscape and milieu that inspired some of the most revolutionary works of English literature.


“Douglas A. Martin has created a gem of a novel with Branwell: A Novel of the Brontë Brother, the story of Branwell Brontë and his failure to realize the expectations of others as well as himself. This depiction of the lone Brontë brother is dark and well-told in the magnificent voice of the author. As Branwell descends into addiction and self-destruction, Martin's fanciful prose depicts the lad's moods and actions delicately and perceptively, to the very end.” ―Largehearted Boy

"Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell takes the airy Brontë myth and brings it back down to earth. Reissued with an excellent introduction by the novelist Darcey Steinke, Branwell serves as an imaginative biography of the ne’er-do-well Brontë brother: a talented, desirous would-be artist/poet who became a has-been drunk before dying at the age of thirty-one . . . Martin’s writing really does display the compressed lyricism and rhythms of poetry. His sentences are crisp and cadenced, his paragraphs often a single line." ––Anthony Domestico, Commonweal Magazine

"Martin’s work reassembles reality with an imagined beauty . . . His Branwell is rooted in meticulous research and accurate detail but it is the imagined emotional depths of Branwell’s feeling that Martin seems to know best." ––Simon Lowe, Full Stop

Publisher: Soft Skull
ISBN: 978-1593765972
Pages: 256