Brunetti was born in London. His mother was English and his father, of Italian origin, was a confectioner and importer of wines who ran a restaurant in South Kensington. A musician by profession, Brunetti was a composer for orchestra and piano. He spent his free time studying entomology, especially Diptera. In 1904 he made a musical tour of the Dutch East Indies, China and Japan making extensive insect collections on his travels. He later settled in Calcutta where he stayed for 17 years. He spent his summers in Darjeeling and wrote many papers in the Records of the Indian Museum. He briefly worked as an Assistant Superintendent in charge at the Indian Museum working on honoraria ranging from 30 to 300 GBP per annum. At the suggestion of Thomas Nelson Annandale he was sanctioned leave to go to England to revise his work on Indian Diptera using the material at the British Museum. For this task the Government of India approved 300 GBP for the period of a year. In 1921 he returned to Europe, spending his summers in England where The Imperial Bureau of Entomology employed him to identify specimens. Winters were spent in Paris and Brussels. He worked for long periods on British Diptera. He fell ill during a winter in Paris in 1926-27 and died in a hospital in London.
Before his death, Brunetti gave his collection of 80,000 specimens, and his library to the Natural History Museum. This museum also his manuscripts:- 56 letters and two bound manuscript volumes regarding African and Australasian Diptera.
- Revision of the Oriental Tipulidae with descriptions of new species. Rec. Indian Mus. 6: 231-314 (1911).
- New Oriental Nemocera. Rec. Indian Mus. 4: 259-316 (1911).
- Annotated catalog of Oriental Culicidae-supplement. Rec. Indian Mus. 4: 403-517 (1912).
- Critical review of "genera" in Culicidae. Rec. Indian Mus. 10: 15-73 (1914).
- Revision of the Oriental Tipulidae with descriptions of new species. Part II. Rec. Indian Mus. 15: 255-340 (1918).
- Catalogue of Oriental and South Asiatic Nemocera. Rec. Indian Mus. 17: 1-300 Brunetti, E. (1920).
- New Oriental Diptera, I. Rec. Indian Mus. 7: 445-513 (1912).
- New and little-known Cyrtidae (Diptera). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (9)18(107): 561-606 . (1926).
He was also the main contributor to The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. writing the parts.
- Diptera 1. Brachycera (1920) - 401 p - 4 pl
- Diptera 2. Nematocera (1912) - xxviii + 581 p - 12 pl
- Diptera 3. Pipunculidae, Syrphidae, Conopidae, Oestridae (1923) 424 p - 83 fig - 5 pl .
- Rao, BR Subba (1998) History of entomology in India. Institution of Agricultural Technologists, Bangalore.