Patrick Brontë [Rev.]

1777-1861 [orig. Brunty, or Prunty, from Pronteaigh or Ó Prontaigh [gl. ‘generous one’]; b. Ahaderg [Ballysleagh], Co. Down, son of one George Prunty; opened school at Drumgooland; entered St. John’s Cambridge through patronage of Rev. Tighe, vicar of Drumgooland; grad. BA. 1806; briefly returned to Co. Down and continued to support his mother till her death; occupied curacies at Dewsbury and Hartshead, where he preached against the Luddites; issued Winter-evening thoughts (1810); Cottage Poems (1811), and Rural Minstrel and The Rural Minstrel (1813); m. Maria Branwell, 1812, whom he met in Penzance, and with whom six children incl. Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, Anne and Jane;
issued Cottage in a Wood; or, The Art of Becoming Rich and Happy (1815, rep edns. 1818, 1860), somewhat in the spirit of Richardson’s Pamela; also works such as The Maid of Killarney (1818), subtitled ‘a modern tale interwoven with remarks on religion and politics’; issue “The Irish Cabin” and “The Harper of Erin”, both showing an attachment to Irish subject-matter; appt. Vicar of Haworth, 1821 - holding his ministry at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, in the crypt of which all of his children are buried with the exception of Ann, who is buried in Scarborough; he enjoyed reputation for a furious disposition, though stories of shooting pistols and breaking furniture are now discredited [Barker, 1995];
he managed the children after the death of his wife in 1821, assisted by Elizabeth Branwell, his sister-in-law (d.1842); he removed his dgs. from the infamous Cowan Bridge School, where two of them contracted consumption; brought them to Brussels to study French under one M. Heger; long suffered from digestive problems which caused him to eat alone, even during his wife’s lifetime; he lost three of his children Emily, Branwell and Anne within a year, to consumption [tuberculosis]; initially resisted the marriage of Charlotte to Arthur Bell Nicholls, from Antrim, and was cared for by him after her death a year later, in 1855; he commissioned a life of Charlotte from Mrs Gaskell; d. 7 June 1861;
although the children are not commonly treated as Irish by literary historians, Emily was included in Oxford Book of Irish Verse, ed. Donogh MacDonagh & Lennox Robinson; Terry Eagleton placed Heathcliff at the centre of a study of Irish literature as the product of historical trauma (Heathcliff and the Great Hunger, 1995). ODNB RAF DIH SUTH OCIL
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Brontë Family
Is Situated Below
This Pillar
Near to the Place Where
The Brontës' Pew Stood
In the Old Church.
The Following Members
of The Family
Were Buried Here
Maria and Patrick.
Maria, Elizabeth,
Emily, Jane, Charlotte.

The plaque and inscription in Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth.

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Margaret Smith, ed., The Letters of Charlotte Brontë, Vol. I: 1829-1847, with a selection of Letters by Family and Friends (OUP 1995), 644pp.; Marianne Thormählen, The Brontës and Religion (Cambridge UP [2000]), 287pp.; Literary Manuscripts and Correspondence of the Brontė Family from the Brontė Parsonage Museum and the British Library, London (Thomson/Gale q.d.]) [12 reels: £900].

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  • P. Boyle, ‘Irish Genius of the Brontës’, in Irish Book Lover, VII, 11-12 (June-July 1916);
  • Edmund Gosse, ‘The Challenge of the Brontës’, in Some Diversions of a Man of Letters (London: Heinemann 1919; 1920), pp.139-50;
  • Anthony Yablon & John Turner, eds., Brontë Bibliography (1978);
  • William Wright, Brontës in Ireland, Where the Novels Came From ([1844] rep. 1971; new ed. 1985);
  • [q. auth.,] Brontëana, Rev. Patrick Brontë, His Works and Life [rep. of 1898 edn.] (1990);
  • Juliet R. V. Barker, The Brontës (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1994; 1995), 1023pp.; Edward Chitham, A Life of Emily Brontë (London: Blackwell 1992).

See also Terry Eagleton, Heathcliff and the Great Irish Famine: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso 1995) [q.pp.]; Douglas A. Martin, Branwell: A Novel of the Brontë Brother (Dingle: Brandon Books 2007) [reviewed by J. Ardle McArdle in Books Ireland, Oct. 2007, p.215].

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Dictionary of National Biography calls him father of Anne, Charlotte, Emily Jane, and four other children, with an appended correction to changing this to three; makes no mention of his working as a blacksmith, cited by Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985).

D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (1912), cites Patrick Branwell Brontë, son of the above, some examples of whose verse and prose are cited in Mrs Oliphant, Memorials of the House of Blackwood; considers Brontë to have led wretched and dissipated life, dying on 26 Sept. 1848 at 37 [sic].

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), Patrick Brontë, 1777-1861, notes that the name was orig. Prunty [presum. Ó Prontaigh]; lists The Maid of Killarney, or Albion and Flora [1818] in which an Englishman falls in love with Flora Loghlean; the tale exhibits the anti-Catholic prejudice of the time.

Library of Herbert Bell (Belfast) holds John Cannon, The Road to Haworth, The [?]Sling of Brontës Irish Ancestry (London 1980).

British Library holds William W. Yates, Father of the Brontës (1897); Bronteana (1898).

Belfast Central Public Library holds The Brontës, Fact and Fiction, A. M. McKay (1897); The Brontës of Ireland W. Wright (1844), and another work; Brian Wilks, The Brontës (London: Hamlyn 1975), 144pp.

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Steve Davies
registers his dissatisfaction with Andrew Motion’s review of Emily Brontë, Heretic, together with ‘Juliet Barker’s monumental biography of The Brontës (Times Literary Supplement, 23 Dec. 1994). Note further (Times Literary Supplement 6 Jan, 1995),

Richard M. Rose (Minnesota) shares with Motion in celebrating Juliet R. V. Barker, The Brontës [1994] as finally doing justice to Brontë but notes the earlier corrective of John Lock and W. T. Dixon in their A Man of Sorrow: The Life, Letters and Times of the Rev Patrick Brontë, 1777-1861 (q. pub.] 1965), chronicling his Irish origins, abject poverty, exile, courage and craft in gaining a Cambridge education; their is work here called a balanced assessment of the paterfamilias.

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Arthur Bell Nicholls, b. Antrim, and raised in family of his paternal uncle, the rector of Banagher; he took his wife Charlotte Brontë to Banagher, where he was headmaster of the Diocesan School, a year before her death (1855), afterwards taking care of her father up to his death before returning to Ireland; he is buried in the Anglican Church in Banagher where there is a memorial window; he was also rector of Birr, Offaly; the portrait of the Brontë girls by Branwell was found in his house; the photo of Charlotte held in the British Nat. Port. Gallery is thought to have been taken in his house. (See P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.148 and n.76 [p.324.])

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Spare Rib: In Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley the eponymous Shirley Keeldar ‘shocks Caroline Hestone by suggesting that Milton failed “to see the first woman” in Paradise Lost, and that “it was the cook he saw”.’ She goes on to say that ‘Eve was a “woman-Titan”, Jehovah’s daughter, as Adam was his son [...] not a spare rib after all but a twin and equal.’ (Shirley, OUP 1976, p.361; quoted in Susan Parlour, ‘Vixens and Virgins in the 19th c. Anglo-Irish Novel [... &c.]’, MA Diss., UUC 2008.)

Variant bio-data: b. 17 March [St. Patrick’s Day] to Hugh and Alice Brunty in village of Imdel, Co. Down [q source]; see also Irish Book Lover, 2, 7, 8, 16 [contains articles by Cathal O’Byrne].

Nelson: Patrick Brontë purportedly took his name from the title conferred on Lord Nelson, Duke of Brunté (see Kevin Myers, “Irishman’s Diary”, in The Irish Times, 26 Oct. 2005.

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