Brontë juvenilia: 'Battell Book'


This is one of the earliest little books by the Brontë children to survive. Not surprisingly, given that he was the driving force in establishing the imaginary kingdoms, this little book is by Branwell Brontë. It has a blue paper cover, cut from a sugar bag, and eight leaves (four pages) carefully hand-sewn together to form a book.

The story was evidently begun at one end then abandoned and begun again in a different format at the other end. At the back, the broken off fragment begins with a pencil and watercolour drawing of a castle and a relation of the numbers of soldiers fighting on each side in the battle of Washington. This fragment is upside down to the rest of the book which contains a series of pencil and watercolour pictures of battles.

The title page of the longer portion reads: ‘Battell / Book / P. B. Brontë / March 12 / 1827’. On the final page of the book, and completely unrelated to the other contents, are several variants on the phrase ‘Sneaky was afterward’. As Sneaky was one of The Twelve, the toy soldiers who founded the Glass Town, and Branwell’s particular favourite, it seems probable that Branwell was considering writing a story about him.

Credit: Juliet R V Barker, Sixty Treasures (Keighley: Brontë Society, 1988)

This item is owned by The Bronte Parsonage Museum.  

Full title:
'Battell Book'
Manuscript / Artwork / Image
Branwell Brontë
© Brontë Parsonage Museum
Held by
Brontë Parsonage Museum
BS 110

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