A NEW book claims to be the first-ever biography of the Bronte sisters’ beloved Aunt Branwell.

Bronte Society member Nick Holland examines the life of Elizabeth Branwell, who became a second mother to the famous siblings.

The book, Aunt Branwell And The Bronte Legacy, looks at how the woman possibly has money and influence helped Charlotte, Emily and Anne write and publish their books.

The book, published recently by Pen and Sword Books, is said to reveal Aunt Branwell's true character, far removed from the stern disciplinarian of legend.

Nick Holland shows how Elizabeth influenced the lives and works of the Brontes, before and after her death.

He traces the surviving descendants of the Branwells, the closest living relatives to the Brontes today.

Elizabeth Branwell was born in Penzance in 1770, a member of a large and influential Cornish family of merchants and property owners.

In 1821 her life changed forever when her sister Maria fell dangerously ill.

Leaving her comfortable life behind, she made the long journey north to a remote moorland village in Yorkshire to nurse her sister.

After the death of Maria, Elizabeth assumed the role of second mother to her nephew and nieces, never seeing Cornwall again.

A spokesman for Pen and Sword said: “In this first-ever biography of Elizabeth Branwell, we see at last the huge impact she had on Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, as well as on her nephew Branwell Bronte who spiralled

out of control away from her calming influence.

“It was a legacy in Aunt Branwell's will that led directly to the Bronte books we love today, but her influence on their lives and characters was equally important.

“As opposed to the stern aunt portrayed by Mrs. Gaskell in her biography of Charlotte Bronte, we find a kind-hearted woman who sacrificed everything for the children she came to love.

“This revealing book also looks at the Branwell family, and how their misfortunes mirrored that of the Brontes, and we find out what happened to the Bronte cousin who emigrated to America, and in doing so uncover the closest living relatives to the Bronte sisters today.”

Nick Holland was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in 1971, and his recent biography of Anne Bronte was

called an “excellent book full of passion and pathos” by the Mail On Sunday. He has also written a biography of Emily Bronte.

The 168-page paperback costs £12.99.