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Branwell Brontë’s Life and Letters: 1842-1848

Branwell Bronte letter fragment
Explore the Brotherton Collection of letters written by Branwell Brontë.
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Branwell Bronte - Myself crop
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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Page 3, Branwell Brontë, Letter addressed from 'Haworth, Bradford, Yorks'; with pen and ink sketch entitled 'Our Lady of Grief'
Short biographies of Branwell Bronte's correspondents. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Branwell Bronte – Alas! Poor Caunt!
Short biography of Branwell's life over the period of Letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Pen and Ink Sketch by Branwell
Description of Branwell's Artwork in his letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Branwell Bronte - Paradise and Purgatory drawing
Description of Branwell's Artwork in his letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Page 2, Branwell Brontë, letter to Joseph Bentley Leyland
Description of Branwell's Artwork in his letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Portrait of Joseph Bentley Leyland
Description of Branwell's Artwork in his letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Branwell Bronte - John Brown letter
Description of Branwell's Artwork in his letters from 1842-1848. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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Letter accompanied by a pen and ink sketch of a grave stone inscribed with the word 'Resurgam'; addressed from 'Haworth nr Bradford'.
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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Letter addressed from 'Haworth nr Bradford'; letter bearing broken seal, Bradford and Halifax post marks and penny postage stamp
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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Letter addressed from 'Haworth, Bradford, Yorks'; letter bearing remains of seal, Bradford and Halifax post marks and penny postage stamp
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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'Northangerland' pen and ink sketch
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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Letter signed 'Northangerland'.
University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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University of Leeds Library Special Collections, Letters from Branwell Brontë
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Bibiography and relevant literature for the Bronte and Leyland Manuscripts. Part of the Brontë collection at the University of Leeds Special Collections.
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The letters in this resource were written during a turbulent time in Branwell Brontë's life.

Dated between 1842 and 1848 they cover periods of productive creativity, a scandal, and the subsequent depression and alcoholism that would contribute to his death. The previously unpublished final letters reveal the extent of his deteriorating physical and mental health during the final years of his life.

Letters 1-4 date from a few months after Branwell's dismissal from his position as clerk in chief in charge of Luddenden Foot station (April 1841-March 1842). In the following ten months, Branwell published nine poems. He then left Haworth to become a tutor with the Robinson family at Thorp Green, near York, (January 1843 - July 1845), where he met Lydia Robinson.

Letters 5-8 follow Branwell's dismissal from Thorp Green. The details of his alleged affair with Lydia Robinson, mother to his charge, remain unclear. Branwell certainly believed that Mrs Robinson would marry him on her husband's death, and his distress when she rejected him can be seen in Letter 9. The novels he discusses in Letter 8 would never be completed.

The experience of Branwell's final decline is conveyed in letters 18-24. The final letter begs John Brown to buy five-pence worth of gin for him. It highlights the desperation of Branwell's situation shortly before his death on 24 September 1848, aged just 31.

Copyright University of Leeds