Emily Brontë (July 30, 1818 – December 19, 1848), sister of Charlotte and Anne Brontë, and the fifth child born to Maria Branwell Brontë and Reverend Patrick Brontë. Though she only lived to age thirty, she left the world an accomplished novel of passion and tragedy — Wuthering Heights. Her only novel, it’s an enduring classic. A rather dark study of desire and passion, it also touches upon economic, social, and psychological issues and is often cited as the ideal “romantic novel.”
Like her sisters, Emily was born in the West Yorkshire village of Thornton in England. They moved to the quiet Haworth setting where they grew up, along with their brother Branwell. Their mother, Maria, died while the children were still young, and her sister was enlisted to care for the Brontë brood. The Brontë children all had vivid imaginations and together told stories and acted out tales. They read extensively, but had only an intermittent formal education, always cut short by economic uncertainty and family deaths.
Her first venture into publishing was when Charlotte attempted to publish a collection the three sisters’ poems. They used male pen names for their collection, and, unable to secure a publisher, printed it themselves. Published in 1846, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell sold but few copies and faded away quickly. With her poetry, Brontë focused on descriptions of feeling and mood rather then accurate details of settings, allowing readers to visualize their own place based on their interpretation.
The following year, still writing as Ellis Bell, Wuthering Heights was published (December 1847. The brooding and complex story follows the intersection of two families — the Earnshaws and the Lintons. Heathcliff and Catherine have ever since sparked romantic imaginations as star-crossed lovers whose dramas reverberate into the next generation. With its ultimate ending shrouded in mystery, Brontë leaves the reader to draw their own conclusion. Reviewers of the time were rather perplexed by the novel. Charlotte felt that her sister Emily’s magnum opus was poorly understood and supplied her own preface to a later edition of Wuthering Heights. Needless to say, its reputation and staying power grew over the years.
Emily Brontë was only thirty when she died of tuberculosis in 1848, so close on the heels ofWuthering Heights’ publication that it remained her last and only book.
Read and Listen Online
- Wuthering Heights on Project Gutenberg
- Audio recordings of Brontë’s poetry and Wuthering Heights on Librivox
- Emily Brontë page on Amazon.com
Biographies about Emily Brontë (and the Brontë sisters)
- A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Brontë by Katherine Frank
- The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef
- The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors by Juliet Baker
- Emily Brontë’s Letters and Diary Papers
- Emily Brontë – eText Archive and Study Guide
- Emily Brontë on Goodreads
Articles, News, Etc.
- Emily Bronte Died At 30. What Can Wuthering Heights Tell Us About Her?
- Jane Austen vs Emily Brontë: Who wins this Costume Drama
- Sunday Poetry – Emily Brontë
- 10 Bizarre Literary Myths and Conspiracy Theories
- Walking: The Brontë Trail
- Emily Brontë: Death Metal Darling
- The Self-Sufficiency of Emily Brontë
- 30 July (1845): Emily Brontë to Ellen Nussey
Emily Brontë Quotes
“I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
“If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results.”
“Nature and Books belong to the eyes that see them.”
“Any relic of the dead is precious, if they were valued living.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
“I am now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
“I cannot express it: but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you.”
“A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
“Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself.” (On Wuthering Heights’ leading man)
“They DO live more in earnest, more in themselves, and less in surface, change, and frivolous external things. I could fancy a love for life here almost possible; and I was a fixed unbeliever in any love of a year’s standing.” (Wuthering Heights, 1847)
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