A FORMER Keighley News reporter has penned a biography about the ‘Bronte mum’.

Sharon Wright reveals how the mother of the legendary literary sisters lived a life crammed with scandal, sorrow, passion and adventure.

And she explores the enormous, often-overlooked influence that Maria Branwell had on her daughters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

Maria spent the first 29 years of her life as a well-to-do lady of Cornwall, from a prominent family.

“The Brontes were a family like no other and it all began when Maria left her beloved Penzance for an adventure in Yorkshire,” said Sharon, who hails from Bradford.

“Without her, there would be no Jane Eyre or Mr Rochester, no Cathy or Heathcliff.

“She was a contemporary of both Jane Austen in Bath and Anne Lister in Halifax, with a life just as fascinating as theirs.

“Maria was the mother of genius and the love of Patrick Bronte’s life, but also a brave and intelligent woman in her own right.

“From assembly-room balls to smugglers and shipwrecks, from radical revolts to whirlwind romance, her life was full of passion and risk.

“Maria’s story is the Bronte prequel, for two centuries a missing link in understanding her spellbinding family.”

Sharon adds that the daughters – who lived at the parsonage in Haworth and penned such classics as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – inherited their mother’s intelligence and wit.

Maria was also a writer, yet she remained an enigma.

The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria Met Patrick will be published, by Pen & Sword, on July 30.

An official launch will take place with the Bronte Society, as part of its contemporary women’s writing programme, in August.

Sharon, who now lives in London with her family, started her journalistic career as a cub reporter at the Keighley News.

She has since worked as a writer, editor and columnist for national newspapers, the BBC, Disney, Glamour, Red and the New York Post.

Her first book, Balloonomania Belles, was published last year.

It features Victorian parachutist Lily Cove, who fell to her death over the Bronte moors, and a host of other celebrity female aeronauts.