Novelist and poet, now best remembered for her only novel Wuthering Heights.
It was the discovery of Emily's poetic talent by Charlotte that led her and her sisters to publish a joint collection of their poetry in 1846, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. To evade contemporary prejudice against female writers, the Brontë sisters adopted androgynous first names. All three retained the same initials: Charlotte became Currer Bell, Anne became Acton Bell and Emily became Ellis Bell.
In 1847, she published Wuthering Heights, as two volumes of a three volume set (the last volume being Agnes Grey by her sister Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics. Although it received mixed reviews when it first came out, the book subsequently became an English literary classic.
Agnes Grey -
The novel follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works in several bourgeois families. Scholarship and comments by Anne's sister Charlotte Brontë suggest the novel is largely based on Anne Brontë's own experiences as a governess for five years. Like her sister Charlotte's novel Jane Eyre, it addresses what the precarious position of governess entailed and how it affected a young woman.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall -
Probably the most shocking of the Brontës' novels, this novel had an instant phenomenal success but after Anne's death her sister Charlotte prevented its re-publication.
The novel is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife.
A mysterious young widow arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and servant. She lives there under an assumed name, Helen Graham in strict seclusion, and very soon finds herself the victim of local slander. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, discovers her dark secrets. In her diary Helen writes about her husband's physical and moral decline through alcohol and the world of debauchery and cruelty from which she has fled. This novel of marital betrayal is set within a moral framework tempered by Anne's optimistic belief in universal salvation.
Table of Contents -
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Poems by Ellis Bell / Emily Bronte
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
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