Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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Wuthering Heights, published in 1847, is the only novel by Emily Brontë, one of the three Brontë sisters. She died just a year after its initial publication, but her legacy has continued; despite being her only work, it has transcended the 160 intervening years with grace. Emily Brontë broke with the norms and mores of the day; she offered a stark look at & depiction of cruelty and tackled timeless themes such as religious hypocrisy, morality, the class system, and more.

Containing elements of Gothic fiction, the tale takes place in the moorlands. The frame narrative introduces us to some important characters, especially Heathcliff, before rewinding the time back several decades and continuing from there. The story has a bit of everything – love, revenge, death, family, and more.

Initial reviews were mixed. The characters of the book seemed to have left an impression on early readers; they were, to an extent, disturbed by their selfishness and savagery. It almost reads as though the climate was such that such a story was considered audacious and not fit for general consumption.

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” – Graham’s Lady Magazine

Time, however, has been kind (even though the characters in the book are not!). Since its publication, Wuthering Heights has only grown in acclaim and influence, spawning its fair share of adaptations and being widely referenced.

If you want to delve deeper into the book, the Norton Critical Edition is the best place to start. You can also enjoy the Kate Bush song on YouTube, or the 2009 Masterpiece Theatre version on Amazon.