Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte's only novel. Written between October 1845 and June 1846, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym "Ellis Bell"; Bronte died the following year, aged 30. Wuthering Heights and Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey were accepted by publisher Thomas Newby before the success of their 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. Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, contemporary reviews for the novel were deeply polarised; it 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. 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." In the second half of the 19th century, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre was considered the best of the Bronte sisters' works, but following later re-evaluation, critics began to argue that Wuthering Heights was superior. 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 Frederic Chaslin), a role-playing game, and a 1978 song by Kate Bush.
About the Author
Emily Bronte was born on 30 July 1818 in the village of Thornton, West Riding of Yorkshire, in Northern England, to Maria Branwell and an Irish father, Patrick Bronte. She was the younger sister of Charlotte Bronte and the fifth of six children, though the two oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, died in childhood. In 1820, shortly after the birth of Emily's younger sister Anne, the family moved eight miles away to Haworth, where Patrick was employed as perpetual curate; here the children developed their literary talents. After the death of their mother on 15 September 1821 from cancer, when Emily was three years old, the older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte were sent to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge, where they encountered abuse and privations later described by Charlotte in Jane Eyre. At the age of six on 25 November 1824, Emily joined her sisters at school for a brief period. When a typhoid epidemic swept the school, Maria and Elizabeth caught it. Maria, who may actually have had tuberculosis, was sent home, where she died. Emily was subsequently removed from the school, in June 1825, along with Charlotte and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died soon after their return home. The three remaining sisters and their brother Patrick Branwell were thereafter educated at home by their father and aunt Elizabeth Branwell, their mother's sister. Their father, an Irish Anglican clergyman, was very strict and during the day he would work in his office while the children were to remain silent in a room together. Despite the lack of formal education, Emily and her siblings had access to a wide range of published material; favourites included Sir Walter Scott, Byron, Shelley, and Blackwood's Magazine.