Maria Branwell (1783-1821) was Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne Brontë’s mother. We don’t know much about her, and even in the Anglo-Saxon world there is very little information about her life. What we do know is the fact that she was born in Cornwall and that she spent a part of her life in Yorkshire by chance. When she met and married the Irish curate Patrick Brontë in 1812, from their love a lineage of literary geniuses was born.
I’ve always been fascinated by her premature death and by the land she was born in, so rich in myths and Celtic legends. As a Brontë scholar in 2010 I visited Cornwall, focusing on the town and the house where Maria was born.
There I found some information, and I was surprised because I was left with lots of curiosities, doubts and theories about her, let’s say “shaded”, personality. She was such an important figure in the family, and yet she has been behind the scenes for almost two centuries. The novel just published by Vintage Edizioni was born thanks to the piece of information I’ve found, some sources I’ve studied and my imagination. This new edition has got a new cover and also a different title: Maria Branwell, la madre delle sorelle Brontё.
In 1850 Charlotte Brontë was invited by her father to read some letters written when he and Maria were engaged. So I was inspired by this biographical fact and I imagined a story concerning the author of Jane Eyre: she could have easily imagined a hypothetical diary written by her mother: fears, hopes, wishes, memories- a whole life hidden in those pages. In the appendix, the reader can find (for the first time translated into Italian) the nine letters which inspired the novel. Either you love the Brontës or not, I hope you’ll enjoy this book.
Maddalena De Leo