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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

by Anne Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,3531251,240 (3.94)3 / 462
  1. 112
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Catreona, Olivia_Atlet_Writer)
  2. 80
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (amerynth)
  3. 60
    The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors by Juliet Barker (amerynth)
    amerynth: Great biography of the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell
  4. 30
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (amanda4242)
  5. 20
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (susanbooks)
  6. 20
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (sturlington)
  7. 10
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both novels feature a strong female protagonist trapped in an abusive marriage. Endings are also pretty similar.
  8. 10
    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: A self-righteous heroine leaves the place where she lived for many years, gets wrongly accused of "immoral behavior", has strong Christian views, and so on.
  9. 10
    The Victim of Prejudice by Mary Hays (holly_golightly)
  10. 00
    A Jury Of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (TheLittlePhrase)
  11. 00
    Trifles by Susan Glaspell (TheLittlePhrase)
  12. 00
    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (TheLittlePhrase)
  13. 00
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both novels start with the arrival of a new person in small rural community... Anne Bronte's style is often compared to Austen's.
  14. 00
    The Man of Property by John Galsworthy (TheLittlePhrase)

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English (123)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
(Original Review, 1981-02-04)

“The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” has received a lot of scholarly attention more recently, it has various depths beyond the exploration of domestic violence. She was partly not appreciated because her sister openly and strongly disagreed with the subject matter of the novel and prevented republication after Anne's death which left the novel behind somewhat.

Anne's work tends much more towards social realism than Charlotte or Emily, which also possibly turned Charlotte (a critic of Austen) against the novel. Everyone has their own opinion, I would personally say that it's not a 'how-to guide to perfect relationships' at all, it explores numerous topics such as class structure, art, hunting, religious hypocrisy etc., and the use of the diary form is clever in presenting the issues within upper class domestic spheres.

Having said that, I just don't get it. I think without Emily and Charlotte, Anne wouldn't be read at all now. I find her characters one-sided and little more than stand-ins for positions in Victorian morality. Helen is good because she loves God and self-sacrifices. The alcoholic one obviously drinks himself to death. Whenever he came into the story I imagined a plinky plonky piano playing over a sepia silent film with captions about the evils of drink; Helen and her hideous drippy religious friends swooning in the background. I just don't get how you can compare that to the anguish and drama of Wuthering Heights or any of the Charlotte novels. ( )
  antao | Dec 2, 2018 |
I liked it but I wish it wasn't epistolary. It felt silly to have all of that dialogue in letters and a journal. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
Weird book. It starts with the narrator meeting the mysterious widow, the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but a quarter of the way through the book it becomes a flashback in the form of the widow’s diary where we learn her history. I kept waiting for the ‘flashback’ to end and get back to the ‘real’ story, but the diary went on and on. I got quite impatient. I eventually flicked ahead to check, and found that the diary takes a very substantial portion - around half the book. I had been in the wrong mindset, it was as much the real story as the ‘present day’ parts. Anyway, it was an ok story. As much drama as romance. Didn’t love it as I do the Austen novels or Jane Eyre. I didn’t like the narrator/romantic lead much, he is an overexcited puppy. ( )
  Griffin22 | Sep 12, 2018 |
Charlotte had this pulled from publication after Anne's death. There is speculation it is because the portrayal of the alcoholism and debauchery of the husband hit too close to home; that it shared with people the truth about their brother.
Reading it now it seems strange that when this came out it was considered the most shocking of contemporary Victorian novels.
Leaving her alcoholic, unfaithful husband was a very shocking act in a time when a married woman had no rights. She had no right to leave, no rights to her own child or her own income. ( )
1 vote nx74defiant | Sep 2, 2018 |
On the Bronte scale I'd say this is better than Wuthering Heights but not as good as Jane Eyre. I loved the strong female role. Which is strange as I didn't agree with the choices she made in the later stages of the book, and her piety made me want to slap her. Still, time and context play a part, and she was very brave with how she chose to live her life. I just wish the story hadn't been told from the male perspective. But it was a good book with some nice twists, and a lot of the insights still apply today. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
"profane expressions, inconceivably coarse language, and revolting scenes and descriptions by which its pages are disfigured"
added by GYKM | editSharpe's London Magazine
"a morbid love for the coarse, not to say the brutal"
added by GYKM | editSpectator
"The reader of Acton Bell gains no enlarged view of mankind, giving a healthy action to his sympathies, but is confined to a narrow space of life, and held down, as it were, by main force, to witness the wolfish side of his nature literally and logically set forth."
added by GYKM | editNorth American Review
[English] society owes thanks, not sneers, to those who dare to shew her the image of her own ugly, hypocritical visage".
"...like the fatal melody of the siren's song, its very perfections render it more dangerous, and therefore more carefully to be avoided."

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, StevieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosengarten, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Talley, LeeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tavares, ClarisseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villeneuve, GuillaumeTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Mrs. HumphryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, KathrynAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
To J. Halford, Esq.

Dear Halford,

When we were together last, you gave me a very particular and interesting account of the most remarkable occurrences of your early life, previous to our acquaintance; and then you requested a return of confidence from me.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
A woman recounts her difficult marriage to an alcoholic and her battles with society's double standards when she leaves him, taking her son with her.
Helen Huntingdon flees a disastrous marriage and retreats to the desolate, half-ruined moorland mansion, Wildfell Hall. With her small son, Arthur, she adopts an assumed name and makes her living as a painter. The inconvenience of the house is outweighed by the fact that she and Arthur are removed from her drunken, degenerate husband.

Although the house is isolated, she seeks to avoid the attentions of the neighbors. However, it is difficult to do so. All too soon she becomes an object of speculation, then cruel gossip.

Narrated by her neighbor Gilbert Markham, and from the pages of her own diary, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall portrays Helen's struggle for independence in a time when law and society defined a married woman as her husband's property.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434747, Paperback)

"I no longer love my husband – I HATE him! The word stares at me in the face like a guilty confession"

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 struggle for domestic independence and creative freedom.

In her introduction Steve 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall is a strong-minded woman who keeps her own counsel. Helen 'Graham' - exiled with her child to the desolate moorland mansion, adopting an assumed name and earning her living as a painter - has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage. Narrated by her neighbour Gilbert Markham, and in the pages of her own diary, the novel portrays Helen's eloquent struggle for independence at a time when the law and society defined a married woman as her husband's property.… (more)

» see all 31 descriptions

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Average: (3.94)
1 9
1.5 1
2 37
2.5 10
3 225
3.5 81
4 448
4.5 61
5 281

Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434747, 0141035633, 0141199350

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