We’re delighted to be sharing Laura’s thoughts on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Alma Classics; Reprint edition (28 Jun. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847497276
- ISBN-13: 978-1847497277
Gilbert Markham is fascinated by Helen Graham, the beautiful and enigmatic woman who has recently moved into Wildfell Hall. He is swift to befriend her and steadfastly refutes the local gossip calling her character and behaviour into question, yet he soon has cause to regret his infatuation, and grave doubts and misgivings begin to arise in his mind. It is only when Helen presents Gilbert with her diary and instructs him to read it that the shocking truth about her past life becomes clear.
The first edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was so successful that it sold out in weeks, yet the novel was mired in controversy for its fierce defence of women’s rights and what many contemporary critics viewed as its shocking and immoral subject matter.
I have enjoyed reading classic literature from a young age, Jane Eyre being one of my first ‘grown up’ books. Having never read Anne Brontë before, I was looking forward to reading The Tentant of Wildfell Hall. This book is wonderfully written but I read at a slower pace to other books.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall describes a woman’s struggle for independence. As it is set in the 1840’s, this book at publication caused quite a stir with its progressive stance on feminism, alcoholism and abuse.
It begins with Gilbert Markham writing a letter to his friend, describing the arrival of a new tenant at Wildfell Hall, Helen Graham. The next part and for the majority of the book describes Helen’s past in the form of her diary. She writes about her disastrous marriage to Arthur Huntingdon, with his absences, abuse, affair and neglect.
Even though this book was written more than 150 years ago there are elements to Helen’s story that can be reflected in marriages within any time period. Anne Brontë shocked readers when Helen refused her husband by slamming her bedroom door.
An interesting story which evoked many feelings, especially her desire as a mother to keep her son safe. She proves herself to be a truly courageous woman of her time.
A powerful book when understanding Victorian history and Anne Brontë’s writing should be seen as revolutionary.
Anne Brontë (1820–1849), the youngest of the Brontë sisters, wrote two successful novels, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey. Like her siblings Emily and Branwell, her life was tragically cut short by tuberculosis.