Wuthering Heights by Emily Jane Bronte

stories of the in habitants of an imaginary island in the north Pacific.

1834 Emily’s earliest manuscript, a Gondal story, is dated this year.

1835 Emily attends Miss Wooler’s school, but she stays only three months because her health is failing. She recovers fully at Haworth.

1836 Emily writes her earliest dated poem.

1837 Around this time, Emily leaves Haworth to teach at Law Hill School near Halifax, but she remains there for only a short while. Branwell attempts and fails to be noticed by both Wordsworth and Blackwood’s Magazine, a well respected periodical. Victoria becomes queen of England. Emily echoes the coronation with events featuring her own characters in the Gondal saga.

1837- 1842 More than half of Emily’s extant poems are written during this period. In 1839 Shelley’s Poetical Works, ed ited by Mary Shelley, is published.

1842 Charlotte and Emily attend school in Brussels under the tutelage of M. Heger. Here she is first exposed to the writings of Hugo, Guizot, Bossuet, Hoffman, Goethe, and Voltaire. Emily writes essays in French and excels at her piano lessons. The two sisters are called back to Ha worth by news of their aunt’s sudden death.

1843 Emily is housekeeper of Haworth and caretaker of her father.

1844 Emily copies her poems into two notebooks, “Gondal Poems” and “E.J.B.”

1845 Emily and Anne renew their enthusiasm for Gondal and work avidly on the saga. In October Charlotte discovers a notebook of Emily’s poems. After much resistance from her sister, Charlotte convinces Emily to have them published. Emily begins work on Wuthering Heights.

1846 Shy of publicity and aware that, as Charlotte later writes, “authoresses are liable to be looked on with prejudice,” the sisters publish under pseudonyms. Their work ap pears as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The three sisters work on novels; and in the evening, after all housework is done, they compare notes on their works in progress and read to each other from their latest chapters. Branwell, addicted to opium and alcohol, spends all his time at home. Charlotte grows to despise her brother

1847 Unsold copies of Poems are sent to Wordsworth; Ten nyson; John Gibson Lockhart, editor of the Quarterly Review; De Quincey; and Hartley Coleridge. The publisher T. C. Newby accepts Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey but delays their publication. Jane Eyre is accepted and published by Smith, Elder and becomes an immediate success. Now there is interest in the “Bell” writers, and Emily and Anne’s novels are published in December under their pseudonyms.

1848 In January an Examiner review criticizes Wuthering Heights for being “coarse.” Similar reviews follow. In Sep tember, Branwell dies, and at his funeral Emily catches a severe cold; it develops into a respiratory infection that ultimately leads to her death from pulmonary dis ease, or “consumption,” as it was then termed.

1850 Wuthering Heights is reissued with a biographical notice by Charlotte, in which she depicts Emily’s extremely re served nature and isolated life. Charlotte also clarifies the identities of the Brontë sisters. Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell are now known as Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, respectively.


The first thing you will notice about Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights—right after you’ve noticed that two characters share a name (Catherine), two have first names that sound like surnames (Hareton and Hindley), and two have names that are used both as last names and as first names (Edgar Linton and Linton Heathcliff), thereby creating a confusion in the reader’s mind—is that it is like no other novel ever written. It reads like the work of someone who had direct access to her unconscious—or, as the New Agers might put it, was able to “channel” her unconscious. Perhaps the most striking triumph of the novel is that although it is a very particular fever dream concocted by one very specific and overheated imagination, it manages somehow to take over and become your own fever dream (which is, in essence, what happens with all great novels), the exact contents of which are hard to recall once you wake up. Should you chance to read it a second or third time, Wuthering Heights comes at you afresh, in part because the novel seems to vanish into its own delirious origins once you’ve finished it, leaving no footprints, and in part because it is a literary force of nature such as you’ve never encountered before. Whether this quality of being intractably unlike other novels—although various influences, especially that of the writer Sir Walter Scott and the Romantic poets (particularly Byron), have been teased out by