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They were from different lands, different classes, different worlds almost. The chances of Cornish gentlewoman Maria Branwell even meeting the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë in Regency England, let alone falling passionately in love, were remote. Yet Maria and Patrick did meet, making a life together as devoted lovers and doting parents in the heartland of the industrial r They were from different lands, different classes, different worlds almost. The chances of Cornish gentlewoman Maria Branwell even meeting the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë in Regency England, let alone falling passionately in love, were remote. Yet Maria and Patrick did meet, making a life together as devoted lovers and doting parents in the heartland of the industrial revolution. An unlikely romance and novel wedding were soon followed by the birth of six children. They included Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, the most gifted literary siblings the world has ever known. Her children inherited her intelligence and wit and wrote masterpieces such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Yet Maria has remained an enigma while the fame of her family spread across the world. It is time to bring her out of the shadows, along with her overlooked contribution to the Brontë genius. Untimely death stalked Maria as it was to stalk all her children. But first there was her fascinating life's story, told here for the first time by Sharon Wright.


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They were from different lands, different classes, different worlds almost. The chances of Cornish gentlewoman Maria Branwell even meeting the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë in Regency England, let alone falling passionately in love, were remote. Yet Maria and Patrick did meet, making a life together as devoted lovers and doting parents in the heartland of the industrial r They were from different lands, different classes, different worlds almost. The chances of Cornish gentlewoman Maria Branwell even meeting the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë in Regency England, let alone falling passionately in love, were remote. Yet Maria and Patrick did meet, making a life together as devoted lovers and doting parents in the heartland of the industrial revolution. An unlikely romance and novel wedding were soon followed by the birth of six children. They included Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, the most gifted literary siblings the world has ever known. Her children inherited her intelligence and wit and wrote masterpieces such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Yet Maria has remained an enigma while the fame of her family spread across the world. It is time to bring her out of the shadows, along with her overlooked contribution to the Brontë genius. Untimely death stalked Maria as it was to stalk all her children. But first there was her fascinating life's story, told here for the first time by Sharon Wright.

30 review for The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty ❤️

    A fascinating insight into the mother of some of my favourite authors: the famous Bronte sisters (and brother). You can tell lots of research has been done to lovingly bring this woman but also her children to life. I found it difficult to put down. Thank you NetGalley and Pen and Sword History for this ARC 5/5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    If you knew what were my feelings whilst writing this you would pity me. I wish to write the truth and give you satisfaction, yet fear to go too far, and exceed the bounds of propriety. Maria Branwell to The Rev. Patrick Bronte, August 26, 1812 When I consider my previously perceived character portrait of the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the man who drove his daughter Charlotte's suitor away, it is a revelation to see the young Patrick through the eyes of Maria Branwell, who became his wife and over nine If you knew what were my feelings whilst writing this you would pity me. I wish to write the truth and give you satisfaction, yet fear to go too far, and exceed the bounds of propriety. Maria Branwell to The Rev. Patrick Bronte, August 26, 1812 When I consider my previously perceived character portrait of the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the man who drove his daughter Charlotte's suitor away, it is a revelation to see the young Patrick through the eyes of Maria Branwell, who became his wife and over nine years birthed six children with him. Theirs was a love story based on mutual ideals and values, a shared love of books, and, yes, physical attraction. Unless my love for you were very great how could I so contentedly give up my home and all my friends--a home I loved so much that I have often thought nothing could bribe me to renounce it for any great length of time together, and friends with whom I have been so long accustomed to share all the vicissitudes of joy and sorrow? Yet these have lost their weight..." Maria Branwell to the Rev. Patrick Bronte, October 21, 1812 "My Brontes are not the famous ones, Sharon Wright begins, "Mine are the 'before they were famous' ones, Miss Branwell and Pat Prunty...the Bronte backstory, I suppose. The prequel." And what a prequel story it is! In Mother of the Brontes we learn about Maria's Cornwall roots in Penzance with its busy port, thriving trade, and restless sea. The Branwells (or Brambles, Bremells, Brembels, Bremhalls, Brymmells, Brembles, Bromewells or Brummoles) clan had deep Penzance roots with masons and export/importers. On her mother's side, the Carnes also had deep Cornwall roots, with masons, craftsmen, and merchants. Maria grew up in comfort and society. The Branwells were Methodys, and when Maria was six she meet John Wesley when he visited her mother's cousin, known as the father of Cornish Methodism. Her Aunt Jane Branwell married the Methodist preacher John Kingston. Later, they founded the first school for itinerant Methodist preacher's children. And yet, Maria's merchant father was involved with the Penzance underground of smugglers! He refused revenue men entry and did business with "two of the town's busiest tax dodgers" and smugglers. Maria was under 5 feet tall, as was her daughter Charlotte, always dressed in simple good taste. She was an avid reader enjoying poetry, Christian books, and The Lady's Magazine with its racy women's fiction. Maria enjoyed the Gothic romances so popular in her day. Her father was a violinist and Maria inherited her musical talent (later passed on to her daughters, particularly Emily). When Maria was ten, France declared war on Britain and Cornwall sprang into defensive mode. Her brother joined the Home Guard. But it was domestic trouble they had to address when starving miners marched into town. Later, the French Wars became the Napoleonic Wars. The supernatural also flourished in Cornwall. It was an exciting blend of "ghosts and smugglers, legends and liturgy, tea parties and revivals," Wright remarks. After the deaths of their parents, Maria and her sisters lived together with a decent shared income. She joined the Ladies Book Club whose selections included Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. When Aunt Jane and her husband's school for Methodist itinerant preacher's sons had grown to 60 boys, Maria was called upon to come and help keep the children clothed; Jane couldn't keep up with the mending. And leaving her beloved home, Maria met the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the Irishman who won scholarships that took him from his family farm. He reinvented himself from Pat Prunty to Patrick Bronte. He knew Lord Palmerston from school and William Wilberforce helped him gain a scholarship for his ecclesiastical training. The couple shared a love of books and an Evangelical bent. Their marriage was happy and they quickly had nine children, including the famous daughters. Maria Branwell Bronte died at age 38. Her sister Elizabeth unwillingly left her home to take her sister's place in the household and ended up staying for the rest of her life. Before Patrick's death, he had tragically lost every one of his children and was cared for by the son-in-law who he had once rejected as Charlotte's suitor. This short biography shows Maria's legacy in her remarkable family, her literary aspirations, Evangelistic faith, and deep love for Patrick Bronte and their children. Reading Mother of the Brontes brought images of Cornwall gleaned from Poldark and Daphne Du Maurier. Maria and Patrick made me think of John and Abigail Adams, a marriage of equals based on both shared intellectual ideals and physical attraction. The surviving letters and an essay by Rev. Bronte are included. I enjoyed this engaging portrait of the Mother of the Brontes and it added to my understanding of this remarkable family. I received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alice (Married To Books)

    Really enjoyed this historical biography of Maria Bronte (the mother of the famous Bronte sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne) from birth and life with her family in Cornwall, then travelling to Yorkshire and meeting Patrick (there is also some interesting detail included about him as well) and married/family life before passing away after a long illness to which there was no cure for back in the 1800s. Good chapter lengths throughout, loved Maria's childhood living in Cornwall and her letter writ Really enjoyed this historical biography of Maria Bronte (the mother of the famous Bronte sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne) from birth and life with her family in Cornwall, then travelling to Yorkshire and meeting Patrick (there is also some interesting detail included about him as well) and married/family life before passing away after a long illness to which there was no cure for back in the 1800s. Good chapter lengths throughout, loved Maria's childhood living in Cornwall and her letter writing to Patrick before they married.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Girl with her Head in a Book

    For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... When you think of the Brontë family, you think of the three sisters, the dissolute brother and behind them their vicar father, white-haired and stern. If you're a fan then perhaps you know that with them also lived their Aunt Branwell, sister to their long-dead mother. The figure of Mrs Brontë has always been shadowy and forgotten. When Wright first wondered aloud why there was no biography of Maria, she was told that 'there isn't enoug For my full review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... When you think of the Brontë family, you think of the three sisters, the dissolute brother and behind them their vicar father, white-haired and stern. If you're a fan then perhaps you know that with them also lived their Aunt Branwell, sister to their long-dead mother. The figure of Mrs Brontë has always been shadowy and forgotten. When Wright first wondered aloud why there was no biography of Maria, she was told that 'there isn't enough on her'. Wright's response was 'I bet there is [...] if you grab your pen and your notebook and go looking properly'. The result is her self-described 'prequel' to the Brontë story. These are not the 'famous' Brontës, but rather the 'before they were famous' family members. Yet their story is no less fascinating and the book itself is a tribute to Wright's perseverance and investigative skill. One of the best new Brontë biographies of recent years, The Mother of the Brontës shines a new light on what and who the Brontë sisters came to be. The wonder of how Maria ever came to meet Patrick has always been rather eclipsed by Patrick's side of the story. While he was always rather circumspect in how he shared the details, what he pulled off was little short of miraculous. Going from a poor farming family in Ireland across the sea to England to study at Cambridge with nothing but his brains behind him was quite the accomplishment. Yet there is a further incredible piece to the puzzle. His wife was a Cornishwoman who happened to be visiting Yorkshire and together they had six children, three of whom grew up to produce some of the finest novels within the English canon. In the twenty-first century it might be no strange thing for a man from Ireland and a woman from Cornwall to meet but in the early years of the nineteenth century, it was highly unusual. Wright traces back to Maria's life in Penzance. Incredibly, she lived there until she was in her very late twenties, only travelling north aged twenty-nine to assist her aunt and uncle who had opened a school. While the Brontë sisters always seem to have been on the edge of society, their mother was firmly within the upper middle-class. Her father was Thomas Branwell, a successful merchant and pillar of the community. He was also a smuggler. In 1778, he was charged with 'obstructing the Custom Officers in searching his dwelling'. Wright found further documentation to indicate that he was in business with men wanted for murder who were described in 1791 as 'the most notorious smugglers in that part of the kingdom'. Of course, smuggling was rife in Cornwall during that era so Mr Branwell would have been in good company. But this is the money that paid for Maria and her sister Elizabeth's annuities. Elizabeth Branwell, who brought up the Brontë children as their Aunt Branwell, made savings from her legacy which she left to the Brontë sisters. It was this money which paid for Charlotte and Emily to travel to Brussels. It was the same money which allowed them to self-publish their poetry. The proceeds of crime was what kick-started the Brontës' literary careers. I can imagine that Wright was delighted to unearth this revelation as it definitely propelled her book into the headlines. However, the book also has a lot more to offer. It puts Maria's life in context in a way that I had never seen it before. After decades as a mere footnote, she takes on three dimensions. She lived twenty-nine years in Penzance, a busy and thriving town. Maria would have been at the centre of this, attending functions similar to those described in Jane Austen novels. She was also an avid reader, was part of a reading circle and counted as childhood friends some prominent figures such as Sir Humphrey Davy. For several years after her father's death, she lived independently with her mother and sisters. She had a whole life before she ever met Patrick. Still, meeting Patrick was clearly a defining moment in Maria's life. The nine letters which she wrote to him are analysed, quoted from and included in the book's appendix. As someone who enjoys letter-writing and always feels a pang of sadness when so few people respond, I was deeply impressed by the accomplishment of her correspondence. Maria's warmth shines in her letters, as does the couple's obvious strong feelings towards each other. This was a whirlwind courtship and one apparently fuelled by a deep sexual attraction. Given that Patrick is most famous as an irascible and difficult elderly man, it is worth remembering this earlier self. Before all that made him infamous, he was a man so in love that he could not keep his engagement to himself, with his blushing bride-to-be scolding him for his blabbing. I had known that Maria and Patrick's wedding day was a joint ceremony with the two friends who had introduced them. However, I had not known that there was a third bride. Charlotte Branwell, Maria's youngest sister, also got married that day. Her wedding was down in Penzance but the three women had coordinated their ceremonies to take place at the same hour. Again, the details such as these may seem small but they bring these people to life. Maria is a woman far from home and unsure when or if she will again meet with her closest kin but on her wedding day, she can feel the connection between them all. In agreeing to be Patrick's wife on that romantic day out to Kirkstall Abbey, Maria's life was turned upside down. She never returned to Penzance although her elder sister Elizabeth visited her twice. Maria proclaimed in one of her letters to Patrick before their marriage that she hoped that he would take charge effectively in all matters. Yet still, it must have been no small matter for a woman approaching thirty and used to having management of her own affairs to be reduced to merely the 'wife of' someone. The newlyweds took a little while to get their bearings and their own home at Thornton Parsonage which must have also made the transition more difficult. Still, once installed at Thornton, there is every sign that the growing family was a great success. Maria had a thriving social life, good friends and healthy children. In later life, Patrick referred to the time in Thornton as the happiest period of his life. It was the size of the family though which meant that they had to move on. With six children, Thornton Parsonage could no longer hold them. From there, matters appear to have gone downhill. There was the infamous insurrection from the Haworth congregation who refused to accept Patrick as minister, leading to a year of wrangling before he could take up the post. And then Maria became ill. Although her ailment has been generally accepted as uterine cancer, Wright theorises quite convincingly that it was more likely to have been cancer of the cervix. At only thirty-eight and after less than ten years of marriage, Maria Branwell Brontë departed this life. Maria's daughters grew up with few memories of their mother. Their elder sisters Maria and Elizabeth might have remembered more but they too passed away only a few years later. It was their Aunt Branwell who kept the house, living with their father for over twenty years. Yet it is apparent that their mother still held enormous significance. Charlotte redrew the profile portrait of their mother to be more flattering. Her heroine Jane Eyre looks up to the moon for solace and the moon speaks to her as a mother. Her later heroine Caroline is on her deathbed and recovers when her long-lost mother suddenly appears. The two Catherines in Wuthering Heights both grow up without mothers. Helen Huntingdon was sent to live with an aunt after her mother's death. There are motherless women across the Brontë canon. Indeed, the very fact that Agnes Grey does have a mother and a highly capable one at that feels like a form of wish fulfilment - it is part of Agnes' happy ending. As I finished Wright's biography, I felt as though the erasure of Maria Brontë from the family story was just symptomatic of how the Brontës sisters' femininity is always diminished. They had to publish under male names. There have long been conspiracy theories that their brother Branwell wrote or assisted or inspired their work. So much time and so many pages have been spent pondering why Branwell never amounted to more, ignoring the miracle of three talented writers in one household. Their father Patrick's meteoric rise from poverty in Ireland is celebrated but less so how Maria also managed a 400 mile journey to reach Yorkshire, losing many of her belongings in a shipwreck. Her sister Elizabeth made the voyage twice. It's all part of the same trend which insists that all three of the Brontë sisters must have had lovers to have written the way that they did. Anne most likely did not love William Weightman. Equally, Emily seems to have never had much of an interest in anyone at all. Even in the twenty-first century, commentators still need to re-orientate the Brontë story towards men. Yet they told stories about pirates, adapting them from the Cornish tales that their Aunt Branwell passed on. They thought of their mother. She may have been missing but she still mattered. Wright is an engaging and down-to-earth writer. It struck me that her early admission that she had come to Brontë fandom slightly later in the game was perhaps one of the reasons why Wright was able to offer such a refreshing perspective. The Mother of the Brontës does not get dragged into the controversies which have so dogged the fandom down the centuries. Where she encounters them, she offers her own theory and moves on. But more than anything, Wright's book left me feeling such sadness for the family that they lost this woman so young. You get the feeling that everything could have been different. With Maria's annuity, the family's finances could have been easier. While Aunt Branwell was a dutiful substitute, she had hoped so much to be able to return to Cornwall. Perhaps the girls would not have been sent to Cowan Bridge to lighten her load. More pertinently, it seems that Maria had had a track record of smoothing any feathers which her husband might ruffle. Patrick might have been an easier man to know. There are so many question marks but the Brontë story would have definitely been very different. The Mother of Brontës is a wonderful tribute to a lady who was clearly both loving and loved. Essential reading for all Brontë fans!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Olga Miret

    Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review. Despite being a fan of the Brontës, having visited Haworth, and read about them (although I’m no expert), on seeing this book I realised I didn’t know much about their mother, other than she had died when they were very young. The author explains quite well why that is the case, as there seems to be very little trace of her, other than some letters she wrote to her then husba Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me an early hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review. Despite being a fan of the Brontës, having visited Haworth, and read about them (although I’m no expert), on seeing this book I realised I didn’t know much about their mother, other than she had died when they were very young. The author explains quite well why that is the case, as there seems to be very little trace of her, other than some letters she wrote to her then husband-to-be, Patrick, and a religious tract she wrote. There are also comments and memories collected by others, mostly by those writing the biographies of her famous daughters, but little dedicated solely to her. I am grateful to the author for putting that to rights. She has done a great job, digging factual information about Maria Branwell, compiling written records (be it newspaper cuttings, diaries written by neighbours or social connections, correspondence and accounts by others), introducing and interpreting the few writings we have by Maria herself, and pulling together information about the era and the places where the family lived to help readers place the family as actors and social beings in the period and the locations where they lived. The level of detail is just right, as well. Wright explains how dangerous and dreary the trip from Penzance to Yorkshire would have been in the early XIX century, the unrest in Yorkshire due to the Industrial Revolution and the machines replacing workers (the Luddites had much to say about that, although their actions didn’t have any long-term impact), and the differences in the social settings of Penzance and Thornton, for example, but these explanations never detract from the story. Rather the opposite; they make it all the more compelling. I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the enjoyment of the many interested readers, but I thought I’d share some of the things I noted as I went along. I’ve already mentioned that Maria was from Penzance, but it seems that her father and the rest of the family were likely involved in smuggling (that, to be fair, seems to have been an almost universal occupation in the area). Hers was a large family, and to illustrate just how hard life was at the time, although they were fairly well off, five of her siblings died before they got to adulthood. Religion played an important part in her life, and it’s only fitting that she would end up marrying a priest. She knew Humphry Davy (later Sir Humphry Davy) when she was young, her life was quite full and she was well-connected in Penzance, so we get a sense of how much she must have loved her husband to sacrifice all that to follow him in his career moves, and also what a change in her circumstances she must have experienced. She was a keen reader, and their love of books was one of the things likely to bring her and Patrick together, and it is clear from her letters that she was a good (and even passionate at times) writer, with a sense of humour. She was a woman of her time, and although she had the confidence of those around her, she wished for a life-long companion to support her and guide her in accordance to the norms of the time and as we can see from her own religious tract, her ideas (or at least those she expressed in writing for the public) were pretty conventional. I was gripped by the difficulties Patrick had to face to get the post as priest in Haworth. It seems they were not fond of being told what to do or who to choose there, and he renounced twice to his position before everybody was finally in agreement with his nomination. I was fascinated by the comments of the author about women’s diarists and their importance to get to understand what everyday life was like at the time. Men of the period wrote the official history, but they hardly ever took the time to note the little details, those we are truly interested in, that help us bring to life a particular era. I am particularly fond of the entries from the diary of Elizabeth Firth, one of the Brontës’ neighbours. My favourite must be: “We sat up expecting the Radicals.” For your peace of mind I’ll let you know that it seems they never came. Wright also defends the importance of the local press, as again they are the ones that keep records of those things that are not considered notice-worthy by big publications, but help make a community what it is. She laments the demise of many of those papers, and I could not agree more. The book includes two appendixes with the full text of Maria’s letters and also her religious article titled “The Advantages of Poverty in Religious Concerns.” There is also an index with all the texts the author has consulted when writing this book, and I am sure people interested in learning more about the Brontës will find plenty of material there. There are also a number of illustrations, mostly photographs from the houses and locations mentioned in the book, some portraits and illustration, and also a recreation of what Patrick and Maria might have looked like on their wedding day (that I loved). I recommend this book to anybody interested in the Brontës, in the history of Haworth and Thornton, and in the history of the early XIX century England, especially those who, like me, enjoy getting transported to the era and having a sense of what life was really like then. A deserved homage to a woman whose heritage was so important and so little acknowledged.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rainey

    Wow I knew a little bit of what the theee Bronte sisters went through, but their parents lives were equally fascinating and heartbreaking!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Noble

    Maria Bronte, nee Branwell, has always been a shadowy figure in the history of that remarkable family, so I was intrigued to read a biography about her. I thought the author gave a very detailed account of the history surrounding Maria's early life in Cornwall. They also brought to the fore different aspects of Maria's personality, aside from the usual pious wife bearing pain with fortitude. It was refreshing to see the passionate lover in her letters to Patrick during their courtship, her enjoy Maria Bronte, nee Branwell, has always been a shadowy figure in the history of that remarkable family, so I was intrigued to read a biography about her. I thought the author gave a very detailed account of the history surrounding Maria's early life in Cornwall. They also brought to the fore different aspects of Maria's personality, aside from the usual pious wife bearing pain with fortitude. It was refreshing to see the passionate lover in her letters to Patrick during their courtship, her enjoyment in being a reader of novels, and even trying her hand at writing a religious article. Overall, this is a worthy addition to the body of work already compiled on the Bronte family. I enjoyed reading it and recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of the Brontes. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers, Pen & Sword, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Celtic's Library

    This book was amazing! Review coming in a couple days when I get all of my thoughts together. Updated: August 14th, 2019 The Mother of the Bronte’s Before I get into my review, there is something you must know. I am a bookworm nerd. I LOVE the Bronte sisters. That is putting it mildly. I am also in love with Jane Austen. When on Netgalley one day, I saw this book was up and available to “wish” for it. Having never had good luck with winning, well, just about anything, I clicked the wish button and This book was amazing! Review coming in a couple days when I get all of my thoughts together. Updated: August 14th, 2019 The Mother of the Bronte’s Before I get into my review, there is something you must know. I am a bookworm nerd. I LOVE the Bronte sisters. That is putting it mildly. I am also in love with Jane Austen. When on Netgalley one day, I saw this book was up and available to “wish” for it. Having never had good luck with winning, well, just about anything, I clicked the wish button and crossed my fingers. I wished on a lucky star. I gave my dog extra belly rubs and treats to put positive vibes in the universe and increase my good karma, as my best friend since third grade would call it. Then, one day, I received an email saying my wish came true! The author is letting me have a copy to read and review! I was ecstatic! I was checking my email (when I was supposed to be working…shhh!) and my co-worker heard me stifle a squeal of excitement and asked if I was okay. No. I was not okay. I was great! Hands trembling with pent up joy and thrilled beyond measure, I click the link in the email to send the book to my kindle and…I cannot open it. My heart sank. I tried everything and could not get it to work. I went from thrilled to heartbroken. Fortunately, the publishers are amazing people and made sure I was able to get a copy anyways to review (seriously, they are the best. Go read a book by them). Now to the review! I am not usually one for non-fiction, but I could not put this book down. The information was not dry and was told in a way that it may as well have been a fanciful story told for pure enjoyment (which it was for me). The book starts out with Maria as a child and continues on through her life with the challenges of growing up and loss. Sharon Wright, the author, also shows us bits and pieces of Maria’s future husband as well and how the last name finally ended up being spelled how we recognize it today. Often, last names were not always spelled the same way and would change depending on who wrote it down and their mood that day. Spelling was not as strict as we often believe. Several penny thrillers are mentioned in the book and my curiosity grabbed hold of me until I went to see if those Gothic tales are still in print. With this information, we have the opportunity to read what Maria and her daughters read! Now on to more about the actual book and enough of the unashamed fan-girling. Maria’s future husband, Patrick, was often described as an odd man. He came from Ireland and held a thick accent. His last name was originally Prunty, but the person doing his paperwork did not care to try to figure out what Patrick actually said and put him down in the records as Bronte. The name would take on different forms and ways of pronouncing it until settling on how we know and say it today. He was often followed by scandal and had a thing for pretty girls. He was chased off and lost a job due to his affections while working as a tutor and eventually fell in love with another girl. When he realized he could not marry the girl because her beliefs would hinder his ability to move up in the church, he left her behind. During his time in the church, the people would comment on his temper. He was an odd man, but hardly dangerous. He even saved a young boy’s life when being picked on by other boys for being different from them, showing Patrick’s soft heart. Later, when his heart was starting to recede, he finally met Maria. The fell in love quickly in a whirlwind romance and were soon engaged. They came from two vastly different backgrounds and yet loved each other all the same. Patrick was forgetful and got himself in a few jams with Maria and those he was supposed to help, and it shows in Maria’s letters to him. This amazing book holds bits and pieces of Maria’s letters to Patrick which are a gift to be able to read for yourself. Courtship was different back then and a person could not openly show affection in the ways that are socially acceptable today. There is simply too many wonderful topics to talk about all in one place so I will stop here and leave you with this: If you love the Bronte sisters and their writing, this is a MUST read. This book is being put in a place of honor in my bookcase with my other classic books (of course, next to my Bronte books!). Happy reading!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather Bennett

    The Mother of the Brontes is a interesting story and the author has put a lot of research into it. Her daughters of course being quite famous and loved by many.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    'When I first wondered aloud why no one has ever written a biography of Maria the answer came swiftly: “There isn’t enough on her,”' writes Sharon Wright. As Wright’s latest book, The Mother of the Brontës, proves in abundance, this is just nonsense. Maria Branwell was born in 1783 in a house overlooking the sea at Penzance, the sixth baby of well-to-do gentlefolk Thomas and Anne. She was brought up in a degree of luxury in a place that was more sophisticated than one might assume. Her merchant-c 'When I first wondered aloud why no one has ever written a biography of Maria the answer came swiftly: “There isn’t enough on her,”' writes Sharon Wright. As Wright’s latest book, The Mother of the Brontës, proves in abundance, this is just nonsense. Maria Branwell was born in 1783 in a house overlooking the sea at Penzance, the sixth baby of well-to-do gentlefolk Thomas and Anne. She was brought up in a degree of luxury in a place that was more sophisticated than one might assume. Her merchant-class family (who, by the way, had some colourful semi-criminal associations) took a close interest in science, the Penzance theatre accommodated 500 people and there were balls galore at the Assembly Rooms. Humphry Davy, the future scientist but then a lively and charismatic teenager (distantly related by marriage to Maria) lived nearby.Maria loved stories and Wright has managed to compile her reading list. She has tracked down the titles she borrowed from the Penzance Ladies Book Club, which included religious works (she had strong Methodist leanings) and poetry but also fashionably lurid gothic fiction. At Roe Head School, Charlotte Brontë loved to thrill her school friends with tales of ‘surging seas, raging breakers, towering castle walls, high precipices, invisible chasms and dangers.’ Wright tells us that she read her mother’s old copies of The Lady’s Magazine – until they were confiscated and burned by her father because they contained ‘foolish love stories’ within their pages. By 1812 when Maria left Penzance to help her uncle John Fennell run his school for the sons of itinerant Wesleyan preachers in Yorkshire, Maria was pushing 30 and well on the way to being an ‘old maid’. Patrick Brontë, an ambitious Irish clergyman from a struggling farming family, had done well at school and gained a sponsored place at Cambridge. He was also lonely and wanted to settle down with a suitable woman and build a family. The chemistry was instant and they soon became ‘friends’. As Wright says, they did a lot of walking together, one of the few respectable activities available to a courting couple. They must have made a striking sight, a study in contrasts. Patrick was tall, thin, severe-looking, Maria tiny (4 feet 9 inches), elegant, friendly-faced. Despite Maria’s more elevated social rank, they were clearly a good match. She genuinely loved him, and certainly seemed not to notice or mind the ‘oddness’ other people saw in him. He saw an honest, Christian woman who put him at his ease, who was witty and able to tease him. Some of Patrick’s earlier behaviour with women suggests a distinct lack of empathy or social skills – he dumped one, did not think to tell her it was over, and put out feelers to her soon after Maria died (she told him where to get off). As a married couple, Maria and Patrick weathered storms together including their difficult beginnings in Haworth, where they were greeted by the strong opposition of the town. There were more storms to come, of course, not least the inexorable and painful progress of Maria’s cancer which killed her in 1821 at the age of 38. Sharon Wright is to be congratulated on producing a biography that is both colourful and serious, written in an accessible journalistic style. She is excellent at bringing to life the atmosphere of a place – the descriptions of Penzance are wonderfully vivid – and the interactions between people and has produced a fast-moving and engaging narrative. ‘For two hundred years, she has been an absence,’ writes Sharon Wright of Maria Brontë. This book completely knocks that on the head. Thank you for that, Sharon. Another woman comes out of the shadows.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    As a huge fan of the Brontes and was thrilled to get an ARC of this to read. The author Sharon Wright here tackles the life of possibly the most mysterious of the Brontes, Maria Branwell. The research behind this book is clearly excellent and from the first there is a lot of detail and the chapters are well paced. It starts by dealing with Marias early family life in Penzance through her romance with Patrick, to her untimely death, as the mother of 6 small children in Haworth. The narrative is f As a huge fan of the Brontes and was thrilled to get an ARC of this to read. The author Sharon Wright here tackles the life of possibly the most mysterious of the Brontes, Maria Branwell. The research behind this book is clearly excellent and from the first there is a lot of detail and the chapters are well paced. It starts by dealing with Marias early family life in Penzance through her romance with Patrick, to her untimely death, as the mother of 6 small children in Haworth. The narrative is filled with little gems such as the precise book Maria bought on a shopping trip in 1810 and this helps the reader place Marias life in its wider context. The book also deals quite extensively with the political and social context of the times. Which is both helpful and distracting. For example the author speculates regarding the possible involvement of Maria's father in smuggling without fully exploring the issue, and the positIon of Cornwall within the French Wars without discussing what this meant. While I found this background information interesting I also found it a distraction, and especially in the beginning felt that Maria herself got a little lost. I found the second half of the book to be much stronger, ‘seeing’ Maria in her element as a young mother in Thornton was fascinating and added a new perspective to the typical Bronte narrative. The chapter dealing with Maria’s death I found difficult to read, the author writes them in harrowing detail and her families grief is palpable. All in all, I enjoyed this book very much and it adds much to the understanding of the Bronte story. I was given an ARC by NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    The Mother of the Brontës When Maria Met Patrick by Sharon Wright Pen & Sword Pen & Sword History History , Nonfiction (Adult) Pub Date 31 Jul 2019 I am reviewing a copy of The Mother of the Bronte’s through Pen and Sword and Netgalley: This is the untold story of the mysterious Mrs Bronte. Marie Branwell was born on April.15. 1783 to Parents Thomas and Anne. Five Branwell babies had already died before their fifth birthday. In November of 1789 Maria’s little sister Charolette was born. Marie Branwell was The Mother of the Brontës When Maria Met Patrick by Sharon Wright Pen & Sword Pen & Sword History History , Nonfiction (Adult) Pub Date 31 Jul 2019 I am reviewing a copy of The Mother of the Bronte’s through Pen and Sword and Netgalley: This is the untold story of the mysterious Mrs Bronte. Marie Branwell was born on April.15. 1783 to Parents Thomas and Anne. Five Branwell babies had already died before their fifth birthday. In November of 1789 Maria’s little sister Charolette was born. Marie Branwell was a Cornish gentlewomen, and Patrick Bronte a poor Irish Curate, the chance that they would meet let alone fall passionately in love in Regency England was small, but they did. In 1812 Marie Branwell embarked on a journey, leaving her home, never to return. Patrick Bronte was born on March.17.1777 born to Hugh and Eleanor (who was known as Alice). His childhood with filled with Irish Myths and Stories. In 1802 Patrick, the twenty five year old Son of a Father set sail to England, self taught teacher and potential priest Pat Prunty set sail to England. Maria and Patrick met falling in love with one another and becoming doting parents in the heartland of the industrial revolution. An unlikely romance and novel wedding were followed by the birth of six children. The Children included Charolette, Emily and Anne Bronte, the most gifted literary siblings the world had known. Maria’s children inherited her intelligence and wit and wrote masterpieces such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Yet Maria has remained an enigma while the fame of her family spread across the world. It is time to bring her out of the shadows, along with her overlooked contribution to the Brontë genius. Untimely death stalked Maria as it was to stalk all her children. But first there was her fascinating life’s story, told here for the first time by Sharon Wright. I give The Mother of the Bronte’s five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The Mother of the Brontës by Sharon Wright is the long overdue biography of Maria Brontë. The text is a delightful and quick read, clocking in at just under 200 pages. Due to it’s length I did, at times, despise the brevity. I would have liked for there to be a further exploration of the historical context; at times I felt either underwhelmed or confused. I’m not usually a reader of works of this period, so the additional detail would have furnished my understanding. As Wright has a well defined The Mother of the Brontës by Sharon Wright is the long overdue biography of Maria Brontë. The text is a delightful and quick read, clocking in at just under 200 pages. Due to it’s length I did, at times, despise the brevity. I would have liked for there to be a further exploration of the historical context; at times I felt either underwhelmed or confused. I’m not usually a reader of works of this period, so the additional detail would have furnished my understanding. As Wright has a well defined writing style, I would have happily devoured a piece twice as long. That said, the contextual pieces that Wright did explore were great! I particularly enjoyed the discovery of pattens, which are a platform of either wood or metal which attach to the sole of a shoe to prevent your shoes from becoming ruined by dirt on the ground. I liked the references to works that the Brontë family read, and I’m sure I’ll delve into these in the future, if I can find them. It was also interesting to learn that Anne Lister was a contemporary and that she chronicled the details of her life, which included her lesbian relationships. It’s so rare to find queer narratives like this, so I’ll definitely be adding them to my wish list. Overall, the biography is excellent. It’s absolutely a testament to Wright’s research skills and her dedication to honouring the enigmatic Maria Brontë.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    A must-read for any Bronte fan. Biography at its best, engaging, entertaining, informative, meticulously researched, and on occasion really quite moving. I own up to shedding a tear at one point. When the author suggested writing a biography of Maria Bronte, she was told there wasn’t enough material. Well, she has certainly put the lie to that idea. Maria Bronte was definitely not just a shadowy figure who gave birth to 6 children and promptly died. She was, in fact, a clever, educated and indep A must-read for any Bronte fan. Biography at its best, engaging, entertaining, informative, meticulously researched, and on occasion really quite moving. I own up to shedding a tear at one point. When the author suggested writing a biography of Maria Bronte, she was told there wasn’t enough material. Well, she has certainly put the lie to that idea. Maria Bronte was definitely not just a shadowy figure who gave birth to 6 children and promptly died. She was, in fact, a clever, educated and independent woman, who attempted some writing herself, and was passionately in love with her husband. She had a busy and fulfilled life before she met him and became a positive influence in her children’s lives during the all too short time she had with them. Their talent didn’t just come out of nowhere – Maria Bronte herself was a talented woman as this book admirably demonstrates, and she loved stories and novels, and wrote many enjoyable letters, some of which are excerpted here. She really comes alive on the page in this excellent biography, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are unquestionably some of literature’s most revered writers, whose work is as lived today as it was when first published. However, had Maria, a Cornish gentlewoman, and Patrick Bronte, a poor Irish curate, not met and fallen in love, English literature would not have been blessed the classics such as Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. Although the sisters appear between these pages, this book focuses mainly on Maria, from her early life to her untimely death. It h Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte are unquestionably some of literature’s most revered writers, whose work is as lived today as it was when first published. However, had Maria, a Cornish gentlewoman, and Patrick Bronte, a poor Irish curate, not met and fallen in love, English literature would not have been blessed the classics such as Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. Although the sisters appear between these pages, this book focuses mainly on Maria, from her early life to her untimely death. It has obviously been well researched and written with great love for the subject, and shines a real light on Maria, a God fearing woman of keen intelligence and wit, and no little talent herself. This book provides wonderful details of her upbringing and life, and also the social and societal background in which she lived. It is incredibly sad that an early death was to befall Maria, and indeed all her children, but how wonderful that through the painstaking research of books like this, we are given a window into their lives, which gives us some understanding of quite how remarkable this literary family were. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Bronte sisters. This book is published 31 July. I received an eArc from the publisher via Netgalley, but this review is entirely unbiased and the words are my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jess d'Artagnan

    I generally find biographies a slog and this was no exception but I fully own that as a "me" issue and not a true issue with this book or its quality. In general, I don't really like biographies but I do force myself to read them on occasion because * knowledge *. This biography is exactly what the title suggests: Maria is the mother of the famous Bronte sister novelists. What I liked learning about the most from Maria's life was the cultural influences that created the genre of classic gothic l I generally find biographies a slog and this was no exception but I fully own that as a "me" issue and not a true issue with this book or its quality. In general, I don't really like biographies but I do force myself to read them on occasion because * knowledge *. This biography is exactly what the title suggests: Maria is the mother of the famous Bronte sister novelists. What I liked learning about the most from Maria's life was the cultural influences that created the genre of classic gothic literature. This is a short biography and easy to digest and if you're the type who likes biographies, you will probably like this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Oh, I so enjoyed reading this and learning more about Maria Branwell, mother of the Brontës. It was all I could have hoped for! There was plenty of in-depth research and historical details which the biographer brought together in a very well-written narrative. Thanks to a couple of surviving letters, written during Maria’s and Patrick’s courtship, we also have her own words giving us a glimpse of her thoughts and feelings. These letters and one other published (!) text by Maria are added as appe Oh, I so enjoyed reading this and learning more about Maria Branwell, mother of the Brontës. It was all I could have hoped for! There was plenty of in-depth research and historical details which the biographer brought together in a very well-written narrative. Thanks to a couple of surviving letters, written during Maria’s and Patrick’s courtship, we also have her own words giving us a glimpse of her thoughts and feelings. These letters and one other published (!) text by Maria are added as appendices at the end of the book so the readers can consult the complete texts themselves, which I thought was absolutely wonderful! There are a couple of instances where Maria scolds her suitor or starts to doubt the strength and constancy of his affection and those make her incredibly real somehow and so much easier to relate to than the tragic, shadowy figure we know from biographies concentrating on her famous offspring. This was an incredibly interesting biography with fascinating insights into the life of Maria, and Patrick as well. I was astonished to discover that Maria was such a clever, strong, interesting and independent person in her own right. Absolutely recommend this book for anyone interested in the Brontës or 18- 19th century Britain.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This is such a special biography of Maria Branwell, a Cornish woman, who married Patrick Bronte and birthed three legendary genius female sisters and authors. The likes of which will not come again. I’m so thankful to Pen & Sword for my review copy and for the authors incredible research into a woman scarcely known about until now. Chapters covering both Maria and Patrick’s early life, siblings, education, help to humanize them while lifting the veil shrouded by myth and legend. Exciting for me w This is such a special biography of Maria Branwell, a Cornish woman, who married Patrick Bronte and birthed three legendary genius female sisters and authors. The likes of which will not come again. I’m so thankful to Pen & Sword for my review copy and for the authors incredible research into a woman scarcely known about until now. Chapters covering both Maria and Patrick’s early life, siblings, education, help to humanize them while lifting the veil shrouded by myth and legend. Exciting for me were the chapters charting the course for that fated meeting between Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte. The author went further including nieces, close friends, landowners, religious factions, etc. I read this biography from the perspective of finding parallels between mother Maria and her daughters. It was fascinating to glimpse similarities in disposition between mother and daughter, Charlotte even at her tender age of five years old. There were a few interesting situations or events that might remind one of parts of Jane Eyre but I won’t go there. Reading about the history of Haworth pertaining to the arrival of Rev. and Mrs. Bronte was wonderful. Ponden Hall as well includes mentions of Robert Heaton which jarred my memory back to another recent Bronte novel, The Girl at the Window which I loved. I would definitely recommend, The Mother of The Brontes to any Bronte fan. The epilogue at the end of the book was helpful and Maria’s letters are there to read as well. None of Patrick Brontes letters to his wife survive but I hold out hope of discovery one day!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I would like to thank Pen and Sword for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. An interesting insight into a lesser known Bronte. I loved discovering more about her, including that she also wrote for publication. The writing did meander in attempt to fill up the book, with so little being known about the subject.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    Look for my review in the next issue of the Historical Novels Review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    3.5 I wasn’t initially swept away by this book: biography is not a favourite genre of mine as I often find it feels a bit stale compared to fiction, and this book was no exception. I found it interesting but it still took a while for me to get through this pretty short work, even though the narrative of Maria’s life could easily make a gripping tale. However, there’s a real beauty to this book which for me has emerged a few weeks after reading, as the facts have ‘settled’ in my mind. Born in Cornwa 3.5 I wasn’t initially swept away by this book: biography is not a favourite genre of mine as I often find it feels a bit stale compared to fiction, and this book was no exception. I found it interesting but it still took a while for me to get through this pretty short work, even though the narrative of Maria’s life could easily make a gripping tale. However, there’s a real beauty to this book which for me has emerged a few weeks after reading, as the facts have ‘settled’ in my mind. Born in Cornwall, Maria lived a relatively privileged life in a Regency-era landscape which feels unimaginably different to the world we live in now. Her trip to Yorkshire, where she met her husband - the Brontës’ father, Patrick - moved her enormously far from her home and family. It’s comparable to a modern-day move from the U.K. to Australia. This book excels as a social history of the Regency era, and one of my favourite things about it was the detail of daily life: wearing pattens (wooden clog-style overshoes) being a necessity for all social classes on the muddy streets of Penzance; the dangers of journeys due to highwaymen by road and shipwrecks by sea; shockingly high infant mortality regardless of economic status. Even reminders of facts like Britain being at war with France for most of Maria’s life were so hard-hitting for me. The world has changed unrecognisably in 200 years! Maria’s life was not easy, but we feel the affection and admiration which Wright has for her subject, the forgotten Brontë. Her research is excellent and I now have a much more vivid understanding of the social history surrounding the Brontës’ parents’ lives, and the upbringing of the young children. The real gem at the heart of this book was Maria’s love letters to Patrick during their courtship. They completely bring her to life. She’s so relatable with her frustration and anxiety when he doesn’t write back as promised, and especially this quote, summing up the awkward tightrope everyone walks early in a relationship: “If you knew what were my feelings whilst writing this you would pity me. I wish to write the truth and give you satisfaction, yet fear to go too far, and exceed the bounds of propriety.” Maria Branwell to The Rev. Patrick Bronte, August 26, 1812 Although it’s one of the books’s strengths how much Wright fights to create and defend Maria as a person in her own right, sometimes she does try too hard to make her seem ‘perfect,’ and glosses over or directly rejects any evidence to the contrary. For example, Maria wrote a pretty cringeworthy and also insulting essay about how the poor should be glad to be poor because they have fewer distractions from God, and Wright simply labels it as ‘of its time’ without truly acknowledging its abhorrence. She also paints Patrick as wonderful, loving and never violent - in contradiction to other sources, and Maria as physically strong and beautiful, until her final illness, even though she is elsewhere described as the opposite of those things. We could still admire Maria even if she were weaker and less physically attractive! Overall, however, this was a really worthwhile read. Recommended for anyone interested in either the Brontës and/ or social history of the Regency period.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Jack

    Fascinating Read About the Literary Dynasty’s Mother What an extraordinarily well-researched and wonderfully written book. Often books about historical figures can be a bit dry; this book does not suffer from that. The author lays out Maria Branwell Bronte's life from the time she was a child until her death. One thing that I loved is that the author actually includes some source material in the appendix, so you can read the love letters between her and Patrick yourself; the immediacy of the lett Fascinating Read About the Literary Dynasty’s Mother What an extraordinarily well-researched and wonderfully written book. Often books about historical figures can be a bit dry; this book does not suffer from that. The author lays out Maria Branwell Bronte's life from the time she was a child until her death. One thing that I loved is that the author actually includes some source material in the appendix, so you can read the love letters between her and Patrick yourself; the immediacy of the letters makes them both so real. I did feel as though a bit of the beginning part focused too much on Maria’s parents and what life would have been like in Cornwall when she was growing up. But as the book progressed, it got stronger, focusing better on Miss Branwell/Mrs. Bronte. (Loved the clever chapter title: Mothering Heights!) As someone who has enjoyed the stories of the Bronte sisters, this look at their mother's life was a fascinating one and a surprisingly page-turning read. My book blog: https://www. readingfanaticreviews.com

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    While interesting concept, I struggled with this one. At times, it felt like the author was speculating and projecting some of the plots of Maria's childrens' works on the family and friends. Also, since names change now and then, it became confusing to keep track of who was who. Also, may just be me, but found it a little creepy to keep naming children the same after one dies. For example, she had a sister Charlotte who died, and another was born and given the same name. If named after a relati While interesting concept, I struggled with this one. At times, it felt like the author was speculating and projecting some of the plots of Maria's childrens' works on the family and friends. Also, since names change now and then, it became confusing to keep track of who was who. Also, may just be me, but found it a little creepy to keep naming children the same after one dies. For example, she had a sister Charlotte who died, and another was born and given the same name. If named after a relative than fine, but otherwise, seemed odd. The book itself is interesting, but not sure if I would use it in a class. Would recommend if you want to get a more in-depth look at the background of the Brontes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    An absolute masterpiece. A thorough and thoughtful biography that successfully adds to (and fundamentally shifts!) the narrative about one of the most-examined families in literary history. But more than that, it's also a complete delight to read. Fans of Wright's first book _Ballonomania Belles_ will be thrilled to find that this new work has all the same charm, wit, insight, and gasp-worthy prose of that book and uses the same innovative research and fresh insights to illuminate the life and m An absolute masterpiece. A thorough and thoughtful biography that successfully adds to (and fundamentally shifts!) the narrative about one of the most-examined families in literary history. But more than that, it's also a complete delight to read. Fans of Wright's first book _Ballonomania Belles_ will be thrilled to find that this new work has all the same charm, wit, insight, and gasp-worthy prose of that book and uses the same innovative research and fresh insights to illuminate the life and mind of a remarkable, too-long-ignored woman. This is a must-read for anyone even tangentially interested in the Brontes, women's lit, religious history or regency England. I can't recommend it any more highly!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Grimshaw

    Inevitably, with so little material to work on, this biography of Maria Bronte nee Branwell contains a certain amount of conjecture and padding, nonetheless it is a fascinating, informative and very moving account of her life. One has to speculate whether her early death was a major factor in her children's subsequent writings, and had she lived would they have produced their masterpieces at all, or would they have produced even more ? My feeling is that their writing stems quite considerably fr Inevitably, with so little material to work on, this biography of Maria Bronte nee Branwell contains a certain amount of conjecture and padding, nonetheless it is a fascinating, informative and very moving account of her life. One has to speculate whether her early death was a major factor in her children's subsequent writings, and had she lived would they have produced their masterpieces at all, or would they have produced even more ? My feeling is that their writing stems quite considerably from losing their mother when very young and normal happy childhoods could not have brought forth writing such as Wuthering Heights.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Loves Books and tea

    Interesting biography of Maria Bronte - the mother of the Bronte sisters but an interesting woman in her own right. It was fascinating to read of her early life in Cornwall and the history of her family. She was to meet Patrick Bronte quite by chance and fell deeply in love with him as he did with her, but sadly she would die at the age of only 38 having given birth to six babies almost one after the other. This biography is well written and researched and a must read for any Bronte enthusiast; Interesting biography of Maria Bronte - the mother of the Bronte sisters but an interesting woman in her own right. It was fascinating to read of her early life in Cornwall and the history of her family. She was to meet Patrick Bronte quite by chance and fell deeply in love with him as he did with her, but sadly she would die at the age of only 38 having given birth to six babies almost one after the other. This biography is well written and researched and a must read for any Bronte enthusiast; I would also recommend Aunt Branwell and the Bronte Legacy which compliments this book and examines the life of Elizabeth Branwell who was sister to Maria and the Aunt of the Bronte sisters.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Higham

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Some parts of this book were very interesting like the way names changed because people couldn't spell. Goodness, we could have had Charlotte and Emily Prunty, doesn't have quite the same ring to it! The interesting shoe protections for ladies, respectable gentlemen being involved in smuggling, the puritanical boys' school, the dreadful mortality rate, the romance and the battle to live at Haworth were all extremely interesting. However the excerpts of books, papers and many of the letters becam Some parts of this book were very interesting like the way names changed because people couldn't spell. Goodness, we could have had Charlotte and Emily Prunty, doesn't have quite the same ring to it! The interesting shoe protections for ladies, respectable gentlemen being involved in smuggling, the puritanical boys' school, the dreadful mortality rate, the romance and the battle to live at Haworth were all extremely interesting. However the excerpts of books, papers and many of the letters became a bit boring and I'm afraid I speed read and skipped a great deal.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Liquidwitch

    I ordered this mostly because the author came on Bonnets at Dawn and seemed so funny and interesting and insightful and I cried when she talked about Maria. All in all I enjoyed this and learning about Maria's life but it also didn't pull me in and keep me in the way that several biographies have recently. Maybe it was just the lack of specifics? Because there's not a lot of information to go off, a lot of it was more about the communities Maria moved through then her specific experiences. I ordered this mostly because the author came on Bonnets at Dawn and seemed so funny and interesting and insightful and I cried when she talked about Maria. All in all I enjoyed this and learning about Maria's life but it also didn't pull me in and keep me in the way that several biographies have recently. Maybe it was just the lack of specifics? Because there's not a lot of information to go off, a lot of it was more about the communities Maria moved through then her specific experiences.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Great to learn more about a much-overlooked family member, but there's a lot of imaginative, descriptive padding out of scenes. The book could easily be a lot shorter and still convey as much, but I can see the author was just trying to really bring the scenes to life for us. Great to learn more about a much-overlooked family member, but there's a lot of imaginative, descriptive padding out of scenes. The book could easily be a lot shorter and still convey as much, but I can see the author was just trying to really bring the scenes to life for us.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Freya

    It was about time Maria Brontë née Branwell had a biography. Her early death has made her one of the more shadowy members of the Brontë family. Learning about her was an interesting read. I love the inclusion of her letters and her essay in the appendix.

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