Artwork of Branwell Brontë’s letters: 'Paradise and Purgatory'

Following Branwell's dismissal from Thorp Green, Charlotte wrote 'We have had sad work with Branwell since –he thought of nothing but stunning [his] or drowning his distress of mind – no one in the house could have rest […].'

Two further letters written by Branwell depict the drunken actions of himself and his friends.

The drawing at the top of Letter 14, addressed to Leyland and dated October 1846 (BC MS 19c Brontë/02/01/14), is titled 'Paradise and Purgatory'. The sketch shows Branwell's friend John Brown in modes of drunkenness and sobriety.

In the first state entitled 'Paradise' Brown falls backwards on a chair, holding a full glass and knocking over a table. A speech bubble proclaims 'Damn you! I'm King and a Hauf!' In the state of 'Purgatory' however, Brown is depicted at work. Standing outside Haworth Church, next to a gravestone, and with his stonemason's tools in hand, he asks 'What ivver mun I do?'

Branwell looked up to the older Brown who was chosen to accompany him to Liverpool for a holiday following his break from Mrs Robinson. Charlotte wrote 'at last we have been obliged to send him from home for a week with some one to look after him.' This letter and these drawings however, suggest that Brown was also fond of drink.

Other sketches in this letter include a 'fallen' Branwell, a 'squeamish cat', and a 'man at the gallows'. Writing about his own 'constant and unavoidable depression of mind', Branwell asks 'Did a man ever laugh the morning he was to be hanged?'

Branwell Bronte - Paradise and Purgatory drawing

Copyright University of Leeds