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The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  635 ratings  ·  85 reviews
"Miss du Maurier has brought to the art of the biography the narrative urgency which gives such animation to her storytelling." -New York Times Book Review

Pursued by the twin demons of drink and madness, Branwell Bronte created a private world that was indeed infernal. As a bold and gifted child, his promise seemed boundless to the three adoring sisters over whom his rule
ebook, 320 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1960)
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Bionic Jean
The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë is a very scholarly work by Daphne du Maurier. Of all her books, this has sold the least copies, yet it is well worth a read. The author has a very readable style, and her fiction is excellent at creating tension and evoking atmosphere. This biography is meticulously researched, yet it is very imaginative within its factual boundaries.

The author creates vivid impressions of daily life at the Parsonage, Branwell Brontë's work as a station clerk, his rituals
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daphne du Maurier renders a sympathetic portrait of a tragic and tortured soul who, despite early promise, descended into illness, addiction, and self-defeating behavior. We have probably all known someone like Branwell, bright but deluded, with failures resulting from the damning combination of poor constitution and poor choices.

Some less favorable reviews of this biography criticize its speculation, but I appreciated du Maurier's fleshing out of Branwell's behavior and character. It was easy,
Feb 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chandra, Bronwyn, Abigail, and Kirk
I've always been a little obsessed with the Brontes- I don't know, maybe I was their cousin or something in a past life. I'm also a proclaimed Daphne DuMaurier fanatic. So imagine my excitement to find Ms. DuMaurier's biography of that mysterious, supposed-genius brother, Branwell Bronte. This book is short, as was the life of its subject and his sisters. But this review's gonna be long, so bear with me.

Now, I'd heard rumors- mostly college professor gossip- about Branwell during the years. Tha
The life of the Brontes is a captivating tale in itself.
Pam Baddeley
Having enjoyed some of the author's novels, I was intrigued to see what she would make of the character of the only male Bronte sibling. I have made allowances for the fact that this book was written a long time ago, ahead of the more modern scholarship such as the huge biography of the whole Bronte family written by Juliet Barker, which I read alongside this, but there are many weaknesses.

In places it is quite obvious that the novelist has taken over from the biographer, with scenes and dialog
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

As a child, I remember being puzzled to learn that the Brontë sisters had actually had a brother, even more so when I learnt that he was represented by the weird ghostly object standing behind them in the portrait.  That painting has become the symbol of Branwell over time - present yet absent, the phantom at the feast.  Branwell's very blankness has made him a canvas on which Brontëphiles can write any story they wish.  So, Branwell is
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting biography of Patrick Branwell Bronte. du Maurier did a good job with presenting her research circa 1960.

Many other biographies have been written since then but, this is a very informative introduction to a tortured and creative person. If Branwell had been able to get the help he needed, he would have been one of the brightest stars of the 19th century. Since it was the 19th century, the help he needed was not at hand.

Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Daphne, is there anything you cannot write?

Brilliant account of the wayward Bronte boy. This really did expand my knowledge of the Bronte's childhood, their relationships with one another and their creative output. Branwell certainly had an interesting life, but for me the most interesting thing was reading about his influence on Charlotte, Emily and Anne. I feel like I have a much deeper insight into their works. Highly recommended.
Beth Bonini
In her introduction to this biography of the ‘maligned, neglected and despised’ Bronte brother, Daphne du Maurier concludes that the unhappiness of his adult life was caused by his inability to ‘distinguish truth from fiction, reality from fantasy’. In the last years of his life, it seems that Branwell (or P.B. Bronte, as he always signed his letters) concocted a romance between himself and his former employer’s wife; it was meant to explain his termination as a tutor to the Robinson family, and ...more
Hm, this is a tough one to review.

On the one hand, du Maurier shows a marvelous understanding of Branwell and his imaginary "infernal world", and how living in his fantasy life affected his real life. Her storytelling ability is well used here, her writing is excellent, and her research shows, as the book is full of apt quotations from Branwell's own works (poetry and letters) as well as those of his sisters and friends.

On the other hand, she's just full of bizarre off-the-wall theories, from t
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous portrait of a brilliant and precocious child who failed to thrive as an adult.
Kathleen Flynn
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bronte-businesss
This was a weird one. It seemed to me on the border between between novel and biography, not quite either one.

That its author also wrote such novels as My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca gives it authority: clearly, du Maurier was a woman who had thought long and deeply about the nature of obsession, deception and mental illness -- which gave her a peculiar insight into the mind of Branwell Bronte, regardless of whether she had all her facts straight, or whether some of them have since been disproved
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 4.5 stars really. I really enjoyed this, but have not given it an outright 5 because it came across as I half expected it would as a strange cross between fiction and fact. This is not a criticism of Daphne du Maurier's writing but more due to the lack of definitive facts about the subject. This has led the author to suggest a lot of 'maybes', especially when discussing Branwell's motivations.

Although du Maurier says that she does not think her subject was quite as bad as he has been made
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Researching Branwell. Would modern studies reveal anything more specific about him? Daphne du Maurier wrote a very compelling book, but it does not hold up well. Full of her own opinions.
J.A. Ironside
This was an interesting look at the Bronte sisters' infamous brother, Branwell. Du Maurier, while not entirely free of the utter rubbish put about by Elizabeth Gaskell in her 'The Life of Charlotte Bronte' nevertheless manages to present a moderate biographical account free from inclination towards melodramatics. Most biography is at least partially biased by the author because in order for the author to have written a book about someone's life, they have to find that person interesting. It woul ...more
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hauntingly beautiful story of Branwell Bronte, the magnificently talented brother of the Bronte sisters. Ironically though, while all of them, Charlotte, Emily and Anne got their share of fame, Branwell alone perished in anonymity and died a lonely death at the shockingly young age of 31.

The most interesting part of the book is that it raises speculations on whether Charlotte's Bronte's Wuthering Heights was actually Branwell's brain child.

In any case, the story is a riveting read, a
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I should say 2.5 stars - between "it was ok" and "I liked it" - it was ok and I liked it because it was written by du Maurier, but I don't like Branwell Brontë ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely biography dedicated to Branwell, the neglected sibling when it comes to non-fiction work. I will have a full review of this on my blog, and it goes live on Wednesday, so definitely give it a follow if you're interested in reading more.

My only qualm with this was the writing style. At times, it felt like it was a story rather than non-fiction. If you weren't that familiar with Branwell's life, or the life of the family, in all honesty, then you may question what du Maurier wrot
The contents of this semi-biography belong to the realm of speculation and surmise. Sympathetic (potential) portrait of an imaginative, ill would-be writer. Not all literary excerpts are worthwhile.
Rachael Eyre
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Poor Branwell. You spend the book torn between wanting to wrest him away from his dodgy cronies and telling him to get over himself. His real tragedy seems to be that he was the token unremarkable member of a gifted family - yet his father, foolish fond, persisted in his belief that he was a prodigy. While anxiety about his epilepsy is understandable, treating him like a precious snowflake meant he couldn't cope with the outside world. It seems unjust that the sisters should be excused their equ ...more
Amanda Alice
A must-read for any enthusiasts of the Brontë siblings. This book is as much about the whole family as it is about Branwell; Daphne du Maurier provides great insight into the unromantic anxieties and realities of their everyday lives. What I took away most from this book is that the Brontës were not the isolated, wasting creatures living on the desolate moors of Yorkshire we often imagine them to be. The physical landscape which surrounded them and their seeming isolation (such a defining elemen ...more
When world's collide. In my youth I tore through everything Brontë. I also read every Daphne du Maurier book I could lay my hands on. Imagine my delight when I found she'd written a biography of Branwell Brontë.

I read somewhere once a description of du Maurier's fiction as 'romantically macabre.' Poor drunken Branwell perfect suits her world of Light Gothic.

Is it a great biography? No, it's a bit over-the-top and dated. Certainly there are far more accurate and current Branwell/Brontë books avai
Eddie Callaway
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Quite interesting to read about the "forgotten" Brontë. Branwell was a genius but troubled by a desire to create great works and then overshadowed by the success of his sisters. In a lot of ways, he was an instigator or creative influence for his sisters.

It is unfortunate that Branwell never was able to publish his "world" into a novel, as it would have been interesting.

Du Maurier's writing was only so-so, but this was still an interesting read, especially for someone becoming more and more infa
Rebecca Jane
I thought this was so interesting to read. I was curious about Branwell since you usually only hear about the sisters and I ended up really enjoying this book even though it's hard to say what's true and what isn't. ...more
Maan Kawas
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book by Daphne du Maurier about the life Branwell Brontë and his relations with his great sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne! I found it so informative and interesting.
Courtney Doss
Daphne du Maurier is one of my top five favorite authors and considering that the Brontes have become, in a word, an obsession this last month, reading her attempt at a biography about the least appreciated member of Patrick and Maria's brood was high on my priority list. I went into this book knowing that it would be flawed. Du Maurier was, above all, a novelist and there was likely to be a lot of jumping to conclusions (spoiler alert: there was).

Du Maurier also wrote this book in 1961 and the
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daphne Du Maurier has written a very good and rather scholarly biographer of the little-lamented brother of the famous Brontë sisters. I tend to think that her labors might have been better spent elsewhere, on a more deserving and interesting subject, but apparently she was fascinated by this least-talented of the Brontë family. The book is somewhat over-stuffed with quotes drawn from Branwell's unpublished writings. Ordinarily, I enjoy hearing directly from a primary source in the context of a ...more
Rachel Maria Bell
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: bronte
I made the incorrect assumption that any writer attempting a biography would at least love their subject (which she claims to). My lasting impression after reading this was that Du Maurier was angry as hell at her own husband’s breakdown due to alcoholism and projected all her feelings about that in her own life onto the rest of the Bronte family. She did so with such compelling writing and lack of referencing that anyone taking this book as fact rather than fiction is likely to be misled.

Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I can't resist saying that reading this book was an 'infernal' experience - which would be an exaggeration, but exaggeration is certainly appropriate if speaking of poor tortured Branwell Bronte. So much about his life, and his personality was what we would call 'over the top'. It was a bit of a slog, and I really couldn't face most of the huge excerpts of his rambling poetry, almost all of which du Maurier warns the reader is terrible stuff.

Branwell's mother died when he was young, several sis
Elise Barker
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
After I read Rebecca at 17, I decided I was going to read everything Du Maurier wrote, but when I saw this book on her publications list I thought, “Why would anyone care about the loser Brontë?” never suspecting that someday I would care quite deeply.

I think Du Maurier’s attitude to Branwell is similar to mine, and so is her motivation for writing about and studying him. She feels mystified as to why such a talent should have failed so miserably and wants to examine why. She did a good job bri
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If Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Few writers have created more magical and mysterious places than Jamaica Inn and Manderley, buildings invested with a rich character that gives them a memorable life of their own.

In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles a fairy tale. Born into a fami

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