A brief biography of Branwell Brontë between 1842 and 1848
Letters 1-4 in this resource date from a few months after Brontë’s dismissal from his position as clerk in charge of Luddendenfoot Station in March 1842.
It was a productive period for Brontë. He published nine poems in the period between April 1842 and January 1843, when he left to become tutor with the Robinsons at Thorp Green, near York. Here he was employed from January 1843 to July 1845.
Letters 5-8 follow Brontë’s life on his return to Haworth immediately after his dismissal from Thorp Green. His behaviour at this time caused the family much distress and embarrassment.
The details of his alleged affair are not clear. Brontë believed that Mrs Robinson held an affection for him and that she would marry him when her husband died. He claimed that her husband prevented any such marriage by changing his will so as to disinherit Mrs Robinson should she do so but this is questionable.
The reasons for such a claim are unclear: it may have been created by Mrs Robinson to forestall any advances by Brontë or created by Branwell himself to avoid embarrassment.
Despite his distraught state after his dismissal, Brontë embarked on several ambitious projects during 1845–1846. He set out to write the several novels which are discussed in letter 8.
The death of Mr Robinson on 26 May and Mrs Robinson's rejection of Brontë greatly upset and distracted him, as can be seen in letter 9.
Letters 17-20 document Brontë’s evident lapse in further mental depression and alcoholism during 1848. The final letter, addressed to John Brown, begs Brown to buy five-pence worth of gin for him, highlighting how desperate Brontë’s situation had become shortly before his death on 24 September 1848.