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Patrick Brontë: Father of GeniusAs we have written before, the Brontë men have been considerably maligned and mistreated in this century and a half of Brontëana. Branwell, the black sheep of the family, was from the very beginning vindicated by his friends (Grundy, Leyland...)(1) and more recently by biographers such as Winifred Gérin or Daphne du Maurier. Arthur Bell Nicholls, the oppressor husband, is a more marginal figure associated with Charlotte Brontë's final years but has also received some rehabilitation from recent biographers(2).
by Dudley Green
Publication Date : 01 Apr 08
Imprint : The History Press Ltd
Page :284 pages
It has been my aim to present a fair and accurate account of Patrick's life and ministry, based on the considerable documentary evidence which is available. I hope that the picture here presented reveals a kindly and loving father who took a keen interest in his children's development and an able and faithful clergyman who was ever sensitive to the pastoral needs of his parishioners.In order to do so, Mr Green relies basically on Patrick Brontë's own words. It is through direct quotation from his letters (and from the letters of other members of the family and friends) that this biography usually progresses. When the records are scarce or unavailable, Mr Green tries to base his statements on first-hand sources and avoid speculation. An example of this approach can be seen in the first chapters devoted to Patrick's Irish. Other biographers (Lock & Dixon, for instance) relied almost entirely on the controversial account by William Wright in The Brontës in Ireland which Dudley Green, as others before, considers altogether questionable and hardly reliable. Consequently, his account of these years is less detailed and meticulous than Lock & Dixon's(3) but what is lost in the description of the legend is gained in credibility.
"I have no objection, whatever to your representing me as a little excentric [sic], since you, and other learned friends will have it so; only dont [sic] set me on, in my fury to burning heathrughs, sawing the backs off chairs, and tearing my wifes [sic]..." (Patrick Brontë to Elizabeth Gaskell, 30 July 1856)He only complained bitterly and vehemently about his alleged denial of meat for his children at the Parsonage(5).
Those first days of June 1861, were hot, almost sultry days, and in his bedroom Patrick was murmuring to himself as his mind wandered. What did he see in his imagination as he lay there dying? Was there the preacher galloping along the lanes of Ireland (...)? (Lock & Dixon, A Man of Sorrow, Nelson, 1965, pag 524)And furthermore we tend to like more the positive title of Green's book: Patrick Brontë, Father of Genius than the more mournful one of Lock & Dixon's.