Wuthering Heights

Introduction

Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's first and only published novel, written between October 1845 and June 1846,[1] and published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell; Brontë died the following year, aged 30. The decision to publish came after the success of her sister Charlotte's novel, Jane Eyre. After Emily's death, Charlotte edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights, and arranged for the edited version to be published as a posthumous second edition in 1850.[2]

Wuthering Heights is the name of the farmhouse where the story unfolds. The book's core theme is the destructive effect of jealousy and vengefulness both on the jealous or vengeful individuals and on their communities.

Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, it received mixed reviews when first published, and was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day, including religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality.[3][4] The English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti referred to it as "A fiend of a book – an incredible monster ... The action is laid in hell, – only it seems places and people have English names there."[5]

In the second half of the 19th century, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, but following later re-evaluation, critics began to argue Wuthering Heights was superior.[6] The book has inspired adaptations, including film, radio and television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, operas (by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game,[7] and a 1978 song by Kate Bush.


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