By nava | On July 10, 2012 | Comments (0)
Emily Brontë (July 30, 1818 – December 19, 1848), British author and poet, was the sister of Charlotte and Anne Brontë. She was 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.
First publishing venture
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.
You might also like: No Coward Soul is Mine: 5 Poems by Emily Brontë
Publication of Wuthering Heights
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. It was first made into a film in 1939, and has had several screen adaptations since.
A 19th century tribute
An extensive article in the Chicago Tribune (June 28, 1885) went into great depths about the Brontë family some 30 years after the death of Charlotte, who had survived all of her siblings. “Emily Brontë was perhaps the most original of the Brontë children in character; and it is thought by many that she was possessed of an even more striking genius than Charlotte. She was of a peculiarly reserved nature, and never during her life made any friend outside her family.”
The article states that of the three sisters, “Emily’s poems are by far the best, and show poetical genius of a high order, though crude and imperfect … The is one called ‘Remembrance,’ which sets us wondering if even the strange and shrinking Emily, whose life was so secluded as to give almost no opportunity for even an acquaintance with those of the opposite sex, had a romance in her life.”
“Of a sternly independent disposition, she would receive no favor or consideration at the hands of any but her own kindred, and very little from them.” The article goes on to say that Keeper, “a great savage bulldog, was her greatest friend.” And on Wuthering Heights: “There is something weird, uncanny, gruesome about that book that is hardly human.”
Emily Brontë was only thirty when she died of tuberculosis in 1848, so close on the heels of Wuthering Heights’ publication that it remained her first and last novel.
You might also like: Quotes from Wuthering Heights
More about Emily Brontë on this site
- Quotes from Wuthering Heights
- Charlotte Brontë’s preface to Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- No Coward Soul is Mine: 5 Poems by Emily Brontë
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
Film and television adaptations
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