WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY SAMANTHA ELLIS
When Agnes’s father loses the family savings, young Agnes determines to make her own living – as a governess. Working for the Bloomfields, her enthusiasm is soon dampened by isolation and the cruelty of the children in her charge. Agnes hopes for better in her second job, but when the scheming elder daughter Rosalie makes designs on Agnes’s new friend, the kind curate Mr Weston, she feels herself silenced and sidelined. Becoming a governess is one thing, becoming invisible is quite another.
Jane Eyre | Wuthering Heights | The Tenant of Wildfell Hall | Villette
This stunning box set brings together the Brontë sisters' four greatest novels in beautiful Penguin editions designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.
From the bleak moors of Wuthering Heights to the Belgian capital in Villette, and the mysterious, gloomy country estates of Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, these four novels of passion and struggle show the most famous siblings in literature at the peak of their powers.
The Penguin English Library Edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
'She looked so like herself that I knew not how to bear it'
In this sensational, hard-hitting and passionate tale of marital cruelty, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sees a mysterious tenant, Helen Graham, unmasked not as a 'wicked woman' as the local gossips would have it, but as the estranged wife of a brutal alcoholic bully, desperate to protect her son. Using her own experiences with her brother Branwell to depict the cruelty and debauchery from which Helen flees, Anne Brontë wrote her masterpiece to reflect the fragile position of women in society and her belief in universal redemption, but scandalized readers of the time.
The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Bronte's second and most celebrated novel. Set in the dramatic northern landscape made familiar by the author's more famous sisters, it tells the story of Helen Graham, a mysterious single woman who rents the semi-ruinous Hall of the title. With a child but no husband, Helen divides the community between those who admire her charm and spirit and those who suspect her morals. Chief among her supporters is a local farmer, Gilbert Markham, who tells her story.
Written before The Tenant, Agnes Grey, based on the author's own experience, explores the position of women in Victorian society through the story of a young woman forced to work as a governess when her father is ruined financially.
The Penguin Classics edition of Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, her groundbreaking study of a woman's valiant struggle for independence from an abusive husband is edited with an introduction and notes by Stevie Davis.
Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young woman who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behaviour becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the truth is revealed and the shocking details of the disastrous marriage she has left behind emerge. Told with great immediacy, combined with wit and irony, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful depiction of a woman's fight for domestic independence and creative freedom.
In her introduction Stevie Davies discusses The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as feminist testament, inspired by Anne Brontë's experiences as a governess and by the death of her brother Branwell Brontë, and examines the novel's language, biblical references and narrative styles.
Anne Brontë (1820-1849), youngest of the Bronte sisters, was born at Thornton, West Yorkshire. Her father was a curate, and her mother died when she was a baby, leaving five daughters and one son. After the death of her sisters Maria and Elizabeth from tuberculosis in 1825, the Brontë children were homeschooled, and together they created fantasy worlds and kingdoms which they explored in writing. Anne worked as a governess between 1840 and 1845, after which she published Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) under the pen-name Acton Bell. Anne Brontë died in 1849.
If you enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall you might also like Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, also available in Penguin Classics.
Anne Brontë was born at Thornton in Yorkshire on 17 January 1820, the youngest of six children. That April, the Brontës moved to Haworth, a village on the edge of the moors, where Anne’s father had become the curate. Anne’s mother died soon afterwards. She was four when her older sisters were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, where Maria and Elizabeth both caught tuberculosis and died. After that, Anne, Charlotte, Emily and Branwell were taught at home for a few years, and together, they created vivid fantasy worlds which they explored in their writing. Anne went to Roe Head School 1835–7. She worked as a governess with the Ingham
family (1839–40) and with the Robinson family (1840–45). In 1846, along with Charlotte and Emily, she published Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. She published Agnes Grey in 1847 and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in 1848. That year, both Anne’s brother Branwell and her sister Emily died of tuberculosis. A fortnight later, Anne was diagnosed with the same disease. She died in
Scarborough on 28 May 1849.