Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is the only novel written by which author?

And the answer: Emily Brontë.

Photo courtesy: public domain. 

In 1847, Wuthering Heights was published using the pseudonym Ellis Bell, although it was actually the work of Emily Brontë. Emily's career might have continued like those of her sisters Charlotte and Anne, who were also writers, but she died of tuberculosis just one year after Wuthering Heights was published.

Emily Brontë is something of an enigma. Other than a single novel and several collections of brilliant poetry attributed to her, very little is known about this great English author. After she passed at just age 30, writers and historians rely on the accounts from her sister Charlotte to begin to tap away at the iceberg that is Emily Brontë's life.

Interestingly, her person seems to appear to be just as intense and brooding as the atmosphere in Wuthering Heights. Charlotte depicts her sister as a wild spirit of the moors, while Charlotte’s biographer Elizabeth Gaskell paints a more colorful picture. Although we have no way of knowing how true Gaskell’s ideas are, they created the image of Emily that we engage today: that she beat her dog with her bare fists to discipline him; that when she was attacked by a rabid dog she cauterized the wound herself with a red hot poker.

Other accounts offer other sides of the author. Brontë biographer Juliet Barker writes that the writer stubbornly maintained the pretense of health even her final stages – she insisted on getting out of bed to take care of her dog even then. She resisted death with remarkable self-discipline but, "her unbending spirit finally broken," she requested a doctor’s attendance. By that time, however, it was too late.

Wuthering Heights is an uncomfortable, painful, and invaluable contribution to English literature. Brontë masterfully delves into issues of feminine agency, broken love, dreams, and much more. Purchase the novel here.

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