Emily Bronte's only novel, a work of tremendous and far-reaching influence, the Penguin Classics edition of Wuthering Heights is the definitive edition of the text, edited with an introduction by Pauline Nestor. Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before; of the intense relationship between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw; and how Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. In this edition, a new preface by Lucasta Miller, author of The Bronte Myth, looks at the ways in which the novel has been interpreted, from Charlotte Bronte onwards. This complements Pauline Nestor's introduction, which discusses changing critical receptions of the novel, as well as Emily Bronte's influences and background. Emily Bronte (1818-48), along with her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, was one of the most significant literary figures of the 19th century. She wrote just one strikingly innovative novel, Wuthering Heights, but was also a gifted and intense poet. If you enjoyed Wuthering Heights, you may like Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, also available in Penguin Classics. 'Wuthering Heights is commonly thought of as "romantic", but try rereading it without being astonished by the comfortableness with which Bronte's characters subject one another to extremes of physical and psychological violence' Jeanette Winterson 'As a first novel, there is very little that can compare to it. Even Shakespeare took over a decade to reach the clifftop extremities of King Lear' Sarah Waters
Emily Jane Bronte was born July 30, 1818, at Thornton in Yorkshire, the fifth of six children of Patrick and Maria Bronte. Both of Emily's parents had literary leanings; her mother published one essay, and her father wrote four books and dabbled in poetry. In 1821, shortly after Emily's third birthday, Maria died of cancer. Maria's sister, Elizabeth, came to live as a housekeeper and was responsible for training the girls in the household arts. Although Emily did spend a few short times away from Haworth, it was her primary residence and the rectory where she resided now serves as a Bronte Museum. Emily's only close friends were her brother Branwell and her sisters Charlotte and Anne. Emily died of tuberculosis on December 19, 1848, also at the age of thirty, and never knew the great success of her only novel Wuthering Heights, which was published almost exactly a year before her death on December 19, 1848. From the opinions of those who knew her well, Emily emerges as a reserved, courageous woman with a commanding will and manner. In the biographical note to the 1850 edition of Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte attributes to her sister "a secret power and fire that might have informed the brain and kindled the veins of a hero."
Pauline Nestor is senior lecturer in English at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Lucasta Miller is the author of The Bronte Myth.
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