Tara's Reviews > Aunt Branwell and the Bronte Legacy
Aunt Branwell and the Bronte Legacy
Sep 07, 2018
Although there are many gaps in our knowledge of this remarkable family, I think it's fair to say that - thanks to authors like Edward Chitham, not to mention Juliet Barker's monumental 'The Brontes' - the existing biographical material has been exhaustively mined. Nick Holland has already written two books on the literary sisters. His biography of Anne Bronte was a little disappointing to me, and he didn't exactly cover himself in glory when, earlier this year, he resigned from the Bronte Society, in protest at model Lily Cole's appointment as creative partner at the Bronte Parsonage Museum. So I was curious, if wary, about his latest book on the Brontes' aunt, Elizabeth Branwell. She is a somewhat marginalised, misunderstood figure within Bronte lore, having been unfairly stereotyped in the past as a dour, pious spinster. However, her influence must have been considerable, as she left her prosperous, sociable life behind to help raise the Bronte children after their mother (her sister) died. She also enabled the Bronte girls to launch their writing careers, having provided for them in her will. Holland delves into her Cornish heritage, and what became of the other Branwell relatives, arguing quite persuasively that the Brontes' maternal lineage was equally significant to their creative legacy as their father's. Whereas his biography of Anne veered towards the overly sentimental and speculative, with this book, Holland has found a subject amply suited to his approach, combining scholarly insight with storytelling.
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September 7, 2018 – Shelved