Correspondents in the letters of Branwell Brontë: Grundy and Brown

Letter 23: Francis Grundy (b. 1822?)

A friend of Branwell Brontë's from his time at Luddenden Foot station; Grundy was a railway engineer who lodged in Halifax with a nephew of railway engineer George Stephenson. He was the son of a minister and allegedly participated in Branwell's excesses.

Grundy kept in touch with Branwell during his long decline. He asked Branwell to meet him in Skipton in the summer of 1846, and went to Haworth to see him, shockingly altered, in his last days.

Grundy's book Pictures of the Past (1879) gives a lively if inaccurate account of Brontë, quoting misdated and often garbled extracts from his letters.

Letter 24: John Brown (1804-1855)

John Brown was the Haworth sexton and stonemason. He was Branwell Brontë's friend and confidant despite the disparity in their ages and social standing. Brown was 16 when the Brontës arrived in Haworth and almost 14 years older than Branwell.

Brown was an experienced stonemason who worked on a number of memorials and other commissions with the sculptor Joseph Leyland.

In July 1845, Brontë was sent under Brown's care to Liverpool to give the family relief from Brontë's binge drinking following the 'affair' with Lydia Robinson. They took a steamer trip along the Welsh coast, where Brontë sketched Penmaenmawr mountain from the sea, later writing a poem inspired by it.

Brown is said to have been well read, yet sharing in much of Brontë's unruly behaviour, aiding and abetting his worst habits.

Branwell Bronte - John Brown letter

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