Oblivion: The Lost Diaries of Branwell Brontë
A Novel in Three Volumes
Edited by Alex P. Northangerland
About Oblivion: The Lost Diaries of Branwell Brontë
An invitation to Brontë enthusiasts and lovers of historical fiction alike, to escape to the lively world and troubled mind of Branwell Brontë, and to explore his relationship with his sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily
Updated on 11 April 2020. As I write this, many of us are in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, and have been in "self isolation" for weeks now. The number of sick and dead continues to grow, but there are signs of hope in the Easter season. Let us continue to remember the dead and the suffering, as well as the brave souls fighting a daily battle to protect those of us fortunate enough to be safely and comfortably confined at home, with the luxury to seek an occasional "escape" from the present.
For several years, I have had in my possession diaries or journals that appear to have been written by (Patrick) Branwell, the ill-fated brother of the famous Brontë sisters. As I have reread his (or his imposter's) journal during my own confinement, it has occured to me that it resembles a novel more than a diary. Since there are so many Brontë-lovers currently confined around the world, I have decided to spend some of my own isolation breaking the manuscript into three volumes (with chapters and chapter headings), and dividing each volume into four parts.
Since this will take me some time, each of these twelve installments will be made available every Saturday, until 6 June 2020. The text may or may not remain online thereafter, so I would encourage you to enjoy it while you can, and to make your fellow Brontë lovers aware of its existence. There is no charge, so if after a few pages you abandon poor Branwell, at least you will not have lost both your time and your money. Or, to quote his sister Anne in the first paragraph of Agnes Grey, "I sometimes think [this book] might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others, but the world may judge for itself." You will find the text itself on the "blog" page of this website: https://www.pbb-oblivion.com/blog.
Is Branwell a likeable young man? Surely not. Yet his journals reveal that while he may not have been the most sympathetic of individuals (his obsessive self-absorption and addictive behaviour are already well known; his frequent objectification of women is, if typical of men of his era, still rather disturbing to a twenty-first-century reader; and finally, his antipathy toward his sister Charlotte is at times particularly unbecoming), he was at the very least far more complicated, human, and above all similar to his sisters than is often recognized. Any other judgements of his character I will leave to you, dear Reader.
Alex P. Northangerland, Editor