#Book Review – The Mother of the Brontës; S. Wright

Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for Mother of the Brontës, a biography written by S. Wright.

First thing first, let me thank the publisher, Pen & Sword, for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip* 


Maria Branwell has spent 200 years in the shadow of her extraordinary children, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë. Now the first biography of Mrs Brontë appears as a beautiful bicentenary paperback edition in October 2021, with a commissioned portrait of Maria at 38 based on the only two existing images in the Brontë Collection. Sharon Wright’s critically-acclaimed biography reveals Maria’s fascinating life as a Regency gentlewoman who went looking for an adventure and found one. A sudden passion and whirlwind love affair led to the birth of the most gifted literary siblings the world has ever known. From a wealthy home in Penzance, Maria was a contemporary of Jane Austen and enjoyed the social status of a prominent family with secrets. So how did Maria fall for the penniless curate she called ‘My Dear Saucy Pat’ hundreds of miles from the home she loved? And what adventures lead lover Patrick Brontë to their fateful meeting in Yorkshire? What family scandals did Maria leave behind in Cornwall? How did wealthy and independent Miss Branwell of balmy Penzance adjust to life as Mrs Brontë in Yorkshire during the industrial revolution? And what was her enduring legacy in the lives of those world famous daughters and troubled son?

184 pages
Pen & Sword
Publication date: 25/07/19
Purchase links



Cover: Another delicate one. I like paintings used as covers, what can I say.

The second episode of my exciting new series called ‘Cleaning up my backlog’ features The Mother of the Brontës, a biography of Mary Brontë–look, the title is self-explanatory enough, haha.

The main issue of this book is that it unloads a lot of info upon the poor, unsuspecting reader right from the start. One doesn’t even have the time to acclimatize with the story that, bam, they’re swept away by the power of infodumping. Not gonna lie, I came this close to calling it quits, before realizing that The Mother of the Brontës just suffers from Manzoni’s curse: the first few pages of a novel are eye watering, but if you can get past them, it’s all smooth sailing.

Scratch that, it’s captivating.

Maria, the future mother of the Brontë sisters, makes for a good subject, because it’s unexpected. She’s not the big name(s) here, but she’s the main character in her own story, influencing the lives of her daughters from the sidelines. As someone who adores fresh takes, I have to tip my hat in Wright’s direction–well done!

The writing itself is pleasant enough, Wright crafting a nice rhythm as the pages go by. I couldn’t find any mistakes either, and that means that her proofreader has got an eagle eye. Once again, well done.

The beginning is the main culprit of the rating, a rounded up 3.5, but in all fairness, don’t get discouraged by that. You’d be missing out.

3.5 stars on GR, rounded up to 4.


Sharon Wright is a journalist and author. She has worked as a writer, editor and columnist for the Guardian, Daily Express, BBC, Disney, Glamour, Red and New York Post. Her first book, Balloonomania Belles (Pen & Sword) was serialized in the Mail on Sunday and featured on BBC R4 Woman’s Hour. Her second book is a biography, The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick (Pen & Sword).

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