Branwell Brontë (1817 - 1848)
Branwell was Anne's only brother. Ironically,
despite the abundance of artistic talent that existed between the Brontë
siblings, there are no 'high quality' portraits of him known to exist.
Only this 'life size' medallion portrait (extreme left), created in 1845
by the Halifax sculptor and Branwell's friend, J. B. Leyland, remains to
give us an accurate impression of his appearance. Leyland's brother stated
that 'the likeness was perfect'.
The original is on display in the Brontë Parsonage Museum. The smaller
picture shows Branwell's self-portrait of around 1840.
Branwell was born on 26 June
1817, a little over a year after Charlotte. He grew into a very talented
young man, sharing his sisters' literary prowess, and had artistic talents
that even surpassed theirs; but he was of a very emotional and erratic
nature, and had a 'moral weakness' - to use Juliet Barker's words46
- which made him prone to dissolute ways. He could not
settle to focus his skills in any one area. Almost every venture he attempted
finished in disaster, as did his affair with his employer's wife, Lydia
Robinson, at Thorp Green in 1845; and this last encounter proved to be
the final nail in the coffin lid. He immediately sank into a deep state
of depression, turned heavily to drink and became increasingly dependant
on opium. In the last few years of his life, Emily regarded him as 'a
His health gradually deteriorated, though his death, which occurred
on the morning of Sunday 24 September 1848, still came as a shock to the
He was aged just 31. The cause of his death was recorded as 'Chronic
bronchitis - Marasmus'; though, through his recorded symptoms, it is now
believed that he also had consumption.