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The Mother of the Brontës (Paperback)

When Maria Met Patrick

Local History Yorkshire and Humberside P&S History Social History Women of History

By Sharon Wright
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526757609
Published: 30th January 2020


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Print price £12.99

National publicity!

'This impressively researched, crisply written biography gives Maria her rightful place in the Brontë story.' As reviewed by Samantha Ellis for The Telegraph, September 2019.

'A brisk, entertaining, often touching and occasionally laugh-out-loud read it is.' As reviewed by Julie Akhurst for the Daily Express, August 2019

As seen in The Observer, June 2019: 'Revealed; smuggling past of the Brontë sisters' grandfather.'

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At long last, the untold story of the mysterious Mrs Brontë.

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.

Article: 'Spellbinding link in story of famous literary daughters' as featured by

The Journal, 22nd August 2019 – words by Mike Kelly

Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria Met Patrick" is a 'must' for the reading lists for the legions of fans of the Bronte sisters. Impressively informative and an inherently fascinating study, "The Mother of the Brontes" will be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Biography collections.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

By penning Maria’s biography, Wright has revived and revised Maria’s story, not only for a new generation to marvel at this brilliant, kind, charming woman, but in order for it to continue in the shape of her legacy, a legacy that will hopefully feature more prominently in the story of the Brontës.

Read the full review here

Brontë Babe Blog

Article 'Mothering heights' as featured by

The Good Life, September 2019

A Sharon Wright has uncovered the previously secret story of Maria Branwell, the mother of Emily, Charlotte and Anne, as well as their three other siblings - the story of how Maria met and fell in love with Patrick Bronte has not been told before and reads like one of the sister's novels... absolutely superb.

Books Monthly

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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.

NetGalley, Mandy Jenkinson

“This impressively researched, crisply written biography gives Maria her rightful place in the Brontë story."

Featured in

The Telegraph, September 2019

A remarkable account of the life of 'Cornish piskie' Maria.

International Express

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The author's painstaking research and attention to detail is obvious in the writing of this book. There were many facts that I only discovered after reading this!

NetGalley, Cristie Underwood

This biography of Maria Branwell, mother of literary geniuses, Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte, is the book scholars said could never be written, claiming we know too little about her.
But here it is and a brisk, entertaining, often touching and occasionally laugh-out-loud read it is.

This remarkable account of the life of 'Cornish piskie' Maria turns out not only to be colourful and detailed but also rather scandalous.

Daily Express 9/8/19

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)... 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!

Read the full review here

GoodReads, Sharon Falardeau

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.

NetGalley, Gayle Noble

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.

Read the full review here

Naomi Clifford

Article: 'Mum of the Brontës is in spotlight' as featured by

Keighley News, 4th July 2019 – words by Alistair Shand

Author Q&A as featured by

Surrey Life, July 2019

Article: 'New book reveals the forgotten tale of amazing mother of Brontë sisters' as featured by

The Cornishman, 20th June 2019

As featured by

Yorkshire Reporter, July 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It had great historical value.
It was well written and I didn’t want to put it down.
A fantastic book.

NetGalley, Tracey Shults

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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!

NetGalley, Michelle Kidwell

I found Wright's writing style to be easy to read and even though I set aside a couple of weeks to read this, it only took a couple of days. She wove the story together seamlessly and provided just enough detail and embellishment that it never broached on creative nonfiction like many other biographies I've read.

Recommendation: I found this gave me a better understanding of the Brontës in that I know more about where they came from. Wright did a great job of balancing what is known (and written) and what is unknown about Maria Branwell Brontë's life. I'm not sure if I'd read other biographies of the Brontë's if this would've been as good, but for me it fit the timing and provided extra details that I didn't know.

NetGalley, Geoff Whaley

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.

NetGalley, Carolyn Farrell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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.

NetGalley, Karen Meeus

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.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

I have to applaud the author writing a biography of Maria Branwell. There have been many biographies on the family but never on the mother... I recommend this for those interested in the Bronte family.

NetGalley, Lauralee Jacks

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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.

NetGalley, Kirsty White

Evidence of [Thomas Branwell's] illegal business dealings was unearthed by Sharon Wright while researching a forthcoming book on Branwell’s daughter, Maria, who married the poor Irish curate Patrick Brontë. Maria died aged 38, leaving their six children in the charge of her sister, Elizabeth.

The Guardian 29/6/19

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... All in all, I enjoyed this book very much and it adds much to the understanding of the Bronte story.

NetGalley, Rebecca B

Would recommend if you want to get a more in-depth look at the background of the Brontes.

NetGalley, Kaye Temanson

Okay, wow. This book was immensely difficult to put down, and way better than I'd dared to hope it would be. The writing was excellent, the scenes were brilliantly written. The characters were fleshed out wonderfully and brought to life on center stage for the reader. I have read anything that I could get my hands on about Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte. But now, the story of their mother has finally been unfolded by the masterful Sharon Wright. A definite recommend!

NetGalley, Stacie Tyson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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... I enjoyed this engaging portrait of the Mother of the Brontes and it added to my understanding of this remarkable family.

NetGalley, Nancy A. Bekofske

For me, this book was very interesting. I have to admit that anything I learnt about the Brontes parentage revolved more around their father who outlived Maria and all of his children. It was great to see a book written with their mother in mind for a change.

NetGalley, Ruth Parker

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Mother of the Brontes by Sharon Wright is a delightful novel focussing on the mother, Maria Branwell the mother of what would be 3 of the most famous literary women in modern history, and her relationship and marriage to Patrick Bronte.

I, like many others, did not know anything about Maria, only her famous children. It is such a joy to read and learn about an enigma of the past and to finally add a light to a person that has been overlooked.

I came away from this novel knowing much more, not only of Maria herself, but also as to a basis of how Charlotte, Anne, and Emily were who they were. It was also so sad to know how short her life came to be, how untimely her death.

This was a fabulous read that I was able to complete in 2 days. A must for anyone that loves history and also British literature.

NetGalley, Rachel Fox

About Sharon Wright

Sharon Wright is an award-winning journalist and playwright. She was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and now lives in South West London with her family. She has worked as a writer, editor and columnist for leading national magazines, newspapers and websites. These include The Guardian, Daily Express, BBC, Disney, Glamour, Red and Take a Break. She is also the author of critically acclaimed plays performed in Yorkshire and London, including Friller about balloonist Lily Cove.

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