Emily Brontë was born on July 30, 1818 -- 200 years ago this month
July 15, 2018 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Sandra Leigh Price, "Emily Brontë and Me" (The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2018): "The first time I read Wuthering Heights a whole world opened up to me: the language – the words steeped in weather landscape, the structure an intricate clockwork of intergenerational trauma, and there was Emily Brontë herself – an astute observer of the natural world around her. The book was like a storm-glass in my imagination – large, wondrous and wild." Other personal essays: SA Jones, "Wuthers: The Book That Saved a Life," and Emily Sullivan, "The Walk To Wuthering Heights."

Bicentennial news & events: #Emily200 on Twitter; Bicentenary Celebrations at the Brontë Parsonage Museum (more details); "What's On" at the Parsonage; and the podcast Bonnets at Dawn, "S2, Episode 4: Understanding Emily Bronte with Amy Rowbottom" from the Brontë Parsonage.

Works online by Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights; The Complete Poems (in fact, an incomplete edition also including ~25 poems no longer attributed to her); Emily Brontë's Poetry Notebook; Manuscript of Emily Brontë's Gondal poetry; Emily Brontë's Diary Paper, 1837; The Anne and Emily Diaries; The Belgian Essays of Emily Brontë; and Nero, Body of a Merlin (watercolor).

Biographical material online (some tangential): Charlotte Brontë, 1850 preface to Wuthering Heights and "Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell"; Richard Benvenuto, "An Emily Brontë Chronology"; "Sarah Stoney remembers ... the 17 year old Emily Brontë"; A. Mary F. Robinson, Emily Brontë; Muriel Spark and Derek Stanford, Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work; Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, v. 1, v. 2, & later ed.; T. Wemyss Reid, Charlotte Brontë: A Monograph; Clement K. Shorter, Charlotte Brontë and Her Circle; Clement K. Shorter, Charlotte Brontë and Her Sisters; Clement K. Shorter, The Brontës, v. 1 & v. 2; Flora Masson, The Brontës; May Sinclair, The Three Brontës; Mrs. Ellis H. Chadwick, In the Footsteps of the Brontës; Lawrence and E.M. Hanson, The Four Brontës; Laura June, "The Shape of Emily's Coffin" (previously); and Mark Brown, "Withering Slights: Emily Brontë Was No Oddball, Author Argues."

Relevant locations: J. Horsfall Turner, Haworth--Past and Present; Raymond Ernest, In the Steps of the Brontës; J.A. Erskine Stuart, The Brontë Country and The Literary Shrines of Yorkshire; Nicola Friar, "The Worth Valley Railway and a Haworth Homecoming for Three Sisters"; Kaity Hall, "Exploring Brontë Country"; Geri Meftah, "Beautiful Pictures of the Haworth Moors in Autumn"; Selene Chilla, "Our Walk To Ponden Kirk, In The Footsteps Of Emily Brontë"; Maddalena De Leo, "Flowers on the Moors"; Selene Chilla and Serena Di Battista, "Virtual Tour of the Brontë Parsonage Museum"; and John Bowen, "Walking the Landscape of Wuthering Heights."

Reference sites: The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights (featuring maps/models of Wuthering Heights, Thrushcross Grange, and The Moors, plus an internal chronology, historical materials, and more); entry for Emily Brontë at Literary History; The Brontë Sisters blog; The Brontës (with links to biographical and critical material online and numerous bibliographies and library catalogs); and entry for Emily Brontë at The Victorian Web.

Teaching Wuthering Heights: Lilia Melani, Four Days of Lectures; Jeanne M. McGlinn and James E. McGlinn, A Teacher's Guide [PDF]; Glencoe / McGraw-Hill, Study Guide [PDF]; and Stephen Behrendt, "Study Questions."

Introductory questions and interpretations: Janey Tracey, "Fifty Shades of Heathcliff: Why Wuthering Heights Isn't a Love Story"; Barry V. Qualls, "Victorian Border Crossings: Thinking about Gender in Wuthering Heights" [PDF] from Lonoff & Hasseler, Approaches to Teaching Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights; John Bowen, "Who is Heathcliff?"; Corinne Fowler, "Was Emily Brontё’s Heathcliff Black?"; Anne Jamison, "Why We Fail to See That Heathcliff is a Bad Landlord: How the Brontë Sisters Wrote Primers About Money"; zyba in r/AskScience, "In Wuthering Heights ... many of the characters die from 'weakness,' 'heartache,' etc. ... How did people in the mid-1800s suppose a person died? What was actually killing these people?"; and Laura Inman, "The Mysteries of Wuthering Heights, Fun Quiz" (answers).

Special topics--animals: Stassa Edwards, "The Animalistic Emily Brontë and Her Dog, Keeper"; Maureen B. Adams, "Emily Brontë and Dogs: Transformation Within the Human-Dog Bond" [PDF]; and Ivan Kreilkamp, "Petted Things: Wuthering Heights and the Animal" [PDF].

Special topics--dubious co-authorship/source material claims (of historical interest or examples of How to Suppress Women's Writing, methodological issues, etc.): Francis H. Grundy, Pictures of the Past; Francis A. Leyland, The Brontë Family, v.1 & v.2 (chapter X); Daphne Du Maurier, The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë; William Wright, The Brontës in Ireland, "The Brontës in Ireland and Mr. Shorter," and "New Light on the Brontës in Ireland"; Angus M. Mackay, The Brontës; Fact and Fiction; J. Ramsden, The Brontë Homeland; or Misrepresentations Rectified; John Malham-Dembleby, The Key to the Brontë Works; and Ruth M. McKay, "Irish Heaths and German Cliffs: a Study of the Foreign Sources of Wuthering Heights."

Special topics--fantasy, ghosts, and vampires: John Bowen, "Melding Fantasy and Realism in Wuthering Heights"; James Quinnell, "Ghosting, Place, and Wuthering Heights"; and Annie Neugebauer, "Vampires in Wuthering Heights."

Special topics--Wuthering Heights in Japan: Amy Chavez, "What's behind Japan's enduring love of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights?"; Bonnets at Dawn, "S2 Episode 15: Wuthering Heights in Japan"; Arashi ga oka, part 1 and part 2.

Advanced approaches: Nancy Armstrong, "Emily Brontë In and Out of Her Time" [PDF]; Margaret Homans, "Repression and Sublimation of Nature in Wuthering Heights [PDF]; and Michael S. Macovski, "Wuthering Heights and the Rhetoric of Interpretation" [PDF].

Creative responses and adaptations: Anne Carson, "The Glass Essay"; Sylvia Plath, "Wuthering Heights"; "Wuthering Heights" fanworks at AO3; Katie Palmer, "Why Write a Musical about the Brontës?"; clips from the NY Theatre Barn production of The Brontës -- A Musical; Lynn Setterington, "Sew Near - Sew Far" textile / land art; Craig Hubert, "On the Many Film Adaptations of the 'Unfilmable' Wuthering Heights"; Shirin Ashtari, clip from the animated short film "Wuthering Heights / بلندیهای بادگی"; and Kate Bush (also born July 30), "Wuthering Heights," which has given rise to the global annual event Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever (links go to 2018 performances; see also the original UK version of the music video).

Parodies and other comic responses: Monty Python, "The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights; Kate Beaton, "Hark! A Vagrant: Wuthering Heights" - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6; Daniel Ortberg, "'Heathcliff whr r u': literary classics by text message"; Daniel Ortberg, "Every Meal In Wuthering Heights Ranked In Order Of Sadness"; Philippe Tromeur, Wuthering Heights Roleplay (previously: 1 and 2); and Margaret H. Willison & Kathryn VanArendonk, "Sorting 19th Century British Novelists Into Hogwarts."
posted by Wobbuffet (15 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
What a magnificent post.
posted by doctornemo at 10:55 AM on July 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

Personal note: for years I avoiding reading Wuthering Heights, as people always recommended it to me in terms guaranteed to not win me over. "It's a sweet romance," was one popular refrain. (Me: not a romance fan)

So in college I found it cited in Gothic lists. As I was just getting into the Gothic, this was intriguing, so I dove in. Holy Radcliffe! What a dark, violent, twisted, and disturbing novel. And what an excellent one, too.
posted by doctornemo at 10:58 AM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

For some reason, I became fascinated by Wuthering Heights in high school. I don't think I particularly identified with any of the characters, least of all Heathcliff, but I found the first-person narrative by Lockwood to be utterly engaging, especially the first couple chapters. The whole book was, in retrospect, a bit too much for me at that age, but every so often I want to revisit it and read the whole thing through, with proper attention to detail this time around.
posted by Alensin at 11:00 AM on July 15, 2018

That Sylvia Plath poem is absolutely a masterpiece.
posted by jamjam at 12:14 PM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

What a lovely post and an excellent resource for Brontë lovers! Even conflicted ones. Looking forward to reading and sharing some of these!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2018

I read "Wuthering Heights" a couple of times as a teenager and saw the Laurence Olivier movie a couple of times, and came off with that strange idea that it was a love story in the moors. I recently re-read it and was dumbfounded by how it wasn't anything like that at all. In particular, I had forgotten the second half entirely. I just read all the "Introductory question" essays (and particularly liked the "Landlord" one and the "Gender" one) and am struck with how this novel can't be fit in any box. Perhaps it excites us because we recognize that nonconformity will kill us, but the dullness of conformity compels us to devour books like this.
posted by acrasis at 2:19 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

The only film adaptation I know of that is faithful to the spirit of the novel is Buñuel's. For WH obsessives it's a must-see.

What an amazing post about a novel whose existence, to me, is sort of miraculous. I'm do glad I first read it in junior high before I would have been exposed to any nay-saying
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:29 PM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: and other dogs haunted other recesses
posted by haemanu at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh my lord, what a post. Thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 11:32 PM on July 15, 2018

What a fantastic post! Wuthering Heights is the only book I've ever enjoyed by disliking it very much. Kind of like a villain you love to hate? I'm looking forward to being proven right or wrong by many of these links. It doesn't matter which, the fun is in digging in to a fascinating world that repays close attention.
posted by harriet vane at 4:42 AM on July 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure the reason the book gets mis-characterized as a romance so often is entirely captured by the second strip down, in the 5th "Hark! A Vagrant" link in this amazing, amazing post.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

After reading the comments and the linked piece by Janey Tracey, I confess, I'm not at all getting the idea of how Wuthering Heights isn't a romance. That isn't the only thing it is, but it is centered around the idea of some unfathomably deep connection between Heathcliff and Catherine. That this connection isn't one of pure moral goodness is unquestionably true, but goodness and romance needn't be thought as synonymous. If it's quibbling about the basis of the connection Catherine and Heathcliff report feeling, that it isn't romance but something other, that seems perhaps to be drawing too fine a line on where the boundaries of romance must fall. Even viewed as wholly negative, the bond between the two, lasting beyond the grave, befits the essence of romance as talked about by many, with the idea of "soul mates" or pairs bonded and made greater by something beyond the ken of either of them.

That it is such a destructive bond is, to me, one of the really fascinating things about the book. Instead of thinking it miscategorized, I think it more shows the narrowness or fragility of so many other romances, where the need to prove the pair good requires manipulations of the rest of the described world to befit them. I'm really curious as to where the idea of it not being a love story or romance is coming from. The Tracey article mentions "rooting" for the couple, but that seems just weird to me in so many ways,.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:32 AM on July 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

this post is A.MAZE.ING! I have already chomped my way through about 3/4 of the links. Lots of fascinating perspectives on one of my favorite books and a gifted writer who will always remain, tragically, a mystery to us...
posted by supermedusa at 7:46 PM on July 16, 2018

I think the "mischaracterised as a romance" comments are thinking of rom-coms and other more straightforward love stories. You can easily fit it into the capital-R Romantic art movement even if you only focus on Heathcliff and Catherine's destructive passion. But I've heard plenty of people talk about Wuthering Heights like it's a kissing book. I can only guess that they saw one of the movies, or read it in high school while only half paying attention? A bit like people who think Every Breath You Take is a romantic song because they're not really listening?

I'm only partway through the articles but I really enjoyed the section on animals. They give a lot of context to the changing attitudes of the time and highlight some of the most skilful parts of Brontë's writing.
posted by harriet vane at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2018

Here are a few more things that have appeared since this was posted:

"Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights – In Charts" by Adam Frost, Jim Kynvin and Jamie Lenman.
"Wuthering Heights is a Virgin's Story and Other Opinions of Brontë's Classic" by Emily Temple (quotes by well-known/relevant writers).
"No Coward Soul Was Hers" by Jacqueline Bannerjee (reviews of recent books).
"Wuthering Around the World: Emily Brontë in Translation" by Susan Halstead.
"Fine Lines Between Fiction and Reality: Emily Brontë’s Gondal Poems" by Catherine Angerson.
And a Twitter thread by Simon Marsden offers speculation about the inspiration for Wuthering Heights but more certainly has a nice photo of a building.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:10 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

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