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Brennan entered the University of Sydney in 1888, taking up studies in the Classics, and won a travelling scholarship to Berlin. There he met his future wife, Anna Elisabeth Werth; there, also, he encountered the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé. About this time, he decided to become a poet. In 1893 Brennan's article "On the Manuscripts of Aeschylus" appeared in The Journal of Philology. Brennan began forming a theory about the descent of Aeschylus' extant manuscripts in 1888.
Returning to Australia, Brennan took up a position as a cataloguer in the public library, before being given a position as assistant lecturer in French and German in the department of modern languages and literature and in 1920 the position of associate professor in German and comparative literature at the University of Sydney. In 1914, he produced his major work, Poems: 1913.
After Brennan's marriage broke up in 1922, he went to live with Violet Singer, the 'Vie' of his later poems, and, as a result of both his divorce and increasing drunkenness, he was removed from his position at the University in June 1925. The death of Singer in an accident in the same year left him distraught, and he spent most of his remaining years in poverty. Brennan died in 1932 from cancer.
There was for several decades a Christopher Brennan Society "founded in... the 1970s by Axel Clark, Robin Marsden and John Fletcher", whose patrons included "some who knew Brennan: Professor A. R. Chisholm; Margaret Delmer; Professor Farrell; Sister Peter, of the Sisters of Charity; Walter Stone; Professor G. P. Shipp; Richard Pennington".
Works by Brennan
Sir Roger de Coverley, Selections from The Spectator (Sydney : Turner and Henderson, 1892). Edited with: A. B. Piddington.
XVIII Poems: Being the First Collection of Verse and Prose (Sydney : privately stylographed, 1897).
XXI Poems: MDCCCXCIII-MDCCCXCVII: Towards the Source (Sydney : Angus and Robertson, 1897).