Patrick Branwell Brontë
June 26, 1817 - September 24, 1848
Branwell Brontë was the fourth of six children and the only son of Patrick Brontë and his wife, Maria Branwell Brontë. He was born in Thornton, near Bradford, Yorkshire, and moved with his family to Haworth when his father was appointed to the perpetual curacy in 1821.
While four of his five sisters were sent to Cowan Bridge boarding school, Branwell was educated at home by his father, who gave him a classical education. Elizabeth Gaskell, biographer of his sister, Charlotte Brontë, says of Branwell's schooling, "Mr. Brontë's friends advised him to send his son to school; but, remembering both the strength of will of his own youth and his mode of employing it, he believed that Patrick was better at home, and that he himself could teach him well, as he had told others before. His two elder sisters died just before his eighth birthday in 1825, and their loss affected him deeply.
As a youth, Branwell Brontë received instruction from the portrait painter William Robinson. In 1834 he painted a portrait of his three sisters. He included his own image but became dissatisfied with it and painted it out. This portrait is now one of the most famous and treasured images of the sisters and hangs in the National Gallery.
In 1835 he wrote a letter to the Royal Academy of Arts seeking to be admitted. Earlier biographers reported a move to London to study painting, which quickly ended following Brontë's dissolute spending on drink. Other biographers speculated that he was too intimidated to present himself at the Academy. More recent scholarship suggests that the Brontë did not send the letter or even make the trip to London. According to Francis Leyland, Brontë's friend and a future biographer of the family, his first job was as an usher at a Halifax school. More certainly, Brontë worked as a portrait painter in Bradford in 1838 and 1839. Though certain of his paintings, for example that of his landlady Mrs. Kirby and a portrait of Emily show talent for comedic and serious styles, other portraits lack life. He returned to Haworth in debt in 1839.
On 24 September 1848 Brontë died at Haworth parsonage, most likely due to tuberculosis aggravated by delirium tremens, despite the fact that his death certificate notes "chronic bronchitis-marasmus" as the cause. Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte reports an eye-witness account that Brontë, wanting to show the power of the human will, decided to die standing up, "and when the last agony began, he insisted on assuming the position just mentioned." On 28 September 1848 he was interred in the family vault. Emily Brontë died of tuberculosis in December of that year and Anne Brontë the following May.
Branwell Bronte was born on June 26th 1817 at Thornton, Bradford in Yorkshire, fourth child of the six Bronte children. His mother died in 1821.
Branwell Bronte received no formal education, partly due to financial restrictions as his father was struggling to keep the family together after his wife's death. Branwell does not appear to have suffered as he was a very capable scholar with an enthusiastic desire to learn. He indulged in the Gondal stories and enjoyed writing with Charlotte.
In February 1836 at the age of 19 Branwell was proposed a freemason, and later became secretary of the Lodge. Meetings were held at the Black Bull until 1833 where they were held at Lodge St.
From June 1838 to May 1839 Branwell was working as a portrait painter in Bradford. In January 1840 he took up position as tutor for the Postlethwaite family at Broughton-In-Furness, in June 1840 he is dismissed. In April 1841 he was employed as Clerk in Charge of Luddenden Foot station near Hebden Bridge. While there he was known to frequent the Lord Nelson Tavern. In March 1842 he is dismissed from his post as there was found to be a deficit in the station accounts, attributed to Branwell Bronte's incompetence rather than theft. January 1843 Anne has managed to secure post of tutor for Branwell with the Robinson family at Thorp Green. In July 1845 he is dismissed from his post as tutor. It was discovered that he had an affair with Mrs Robinson.
For the next three years Branwell's state physically and mentally take a rapid decline due to his dependence on drink and opium and an increased state of self pity and worthlessness. He hears of the death of Mr Robinson and attempts to try to rekindle his relationship with Mrs Robinson which fails.
On the 24th September 1848 Branwell died of chronic bronchitis (consumption), aged 31. On 28th September he was laid to rest in the family vault at Haworth church. The service was conducted by William Morgan.