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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

by Anne Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,4491651,201 (3.94)4 / 616
Classic Literatur Fictio HTML:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a novel in three parts, written as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his brother-in-Law. Markham is a prosperous farmer who is casually courting Eliza Millward. When a mysterious widow takes up residence in a local tumbledown mansion, Wildfell Hall, he becomes more and more interested in her and the slighted Eliza starts spreading malicious rumors.… (more)

  1. 120
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (amerynth)
  2. 135
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Catreona, Olivia_Atlet_Writer)
  3. 70
    The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors by Juliet Barker (amerynth)
    amerynth: Great biography of the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell
  4. 50
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (amanda4242)
  5. 50
    The Yellow Wallpaper [short story] by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (TheLittlePhrase)
  6. 40
    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.
  7. 30
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (susanbooks)
  8. 30
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (sturlington)
  9. 30
    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.
  10. 30
    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.
  11. 31
    Trifles by Susan Glaspell (TheLittlePhrase)
  12. 31
    A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell (TheLittlePhrase)
  13. 10
    The Victim of Prejudice by Mary Hays (holly_golightly)
  14. 10
    Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both stories feature a failed marriage and social ostracism. Both were considered "immoral" when published. Both criticise the institution of marriage in their own way. Anne Bronte and Thomas Hardy have many similar topics in their novels.
  15. 12
    The Man of Property by John Galsworthy (TheLittlePhrase)
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» See also 616 mentions

English (161)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
I wish the middle had been much, much shorter. Very repetitive, and the protagonists were each over-the-top good or over-the-top bad. I was drawn in by the beginning section; it felt like it was going to be a slightly humorous family light comic novel. Bait & switch! It's PAMELA/CLARISSA all over again. But I'd try another Bronte. ( )
  Tytania | Feb 3, 2024 |
Helen gives Gilbert her diary, giving him deep insight into her art projects, thoughts, and the abusive relationship Helen had with her husband as well as the escape plan she derived to be free from the marriage. This is a lengthy book, taking the time to explore Gilbert's character and his interaction with Helen before Gilbert writes Helen's diary accounts to his friend in a letter. This is also a family-heavy story. The writing demonstrates the difference between men and women at the time: Gilbert refers to Helen's diary as his 'prize' while the diary really represents Helen's access to independence.


I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review. ( )
  Louisesk | Jan 26, 2024 |
I love reading and re-reading everything the Brontë sisters had written. This is not a perfect novel: the narrative structure doesn't always work, Helen's voice is so much stronger and more interesting than Gilbert's etc etc... But, but, but: consider the subject matter, consider when this was written. This is a brave book, a brutally honest depiction of an abusive marriage and an act of rebellion. ( )
  Alexandra_book_life | Dec 15, 2023 |
Helen gives Gilbert her diary, giving him deep insight into her art projects, thoughts, and the abusive relationship Helen had with her husband as well as the escape plan she derived to be free from the marriage. This is a lengthy book, taking the time to explore Gilbert's character and his interaction with Helen before Gilbert writes Helen's diary accounts to his friend in a letter. This is also a family-heavy story. The writing demonstrates the difference between men and women at the time: Gilbert refers to Helen's diary as his 'prize' while the diary really represents Helen's access to independence.


I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review. ( )
  Louisesk | Nov 25, 2023 |
The only mistake I made in reading this book was to read it out of order - it is the author's second novel. And having now read the first, "Agnes Grey", I can see the huge improvement in characterisation and plotting in this second and sadly, final, novel.

Mrs Helen Graham, a woman in her mid-twenties, and her five-year-old son Arthur, together with the older woman who is her faithful maidservant Rachel, have moved into the dilapidated Wildfell Hall, where a few rooms have been made habitable by the landlord, Mr Lawrence. Her arrival occasions much gossip in the neighbourhood because the apparent widow keeps to herself as much as possible - although she does bow to pressure from the vicar and starts attending church - and even more so because she earns an income by painting, turning what was then seen as an accomplishment for middle and upper class women into a money-earning enterprise. This is very unusual for the 1840s, when the novel was published, and even more so for its setting in the 1820s.

Gilbert Markham, a neighbouring young farmer, is very taken with the elegant, serious, and pious woman, causing his current love interest Eliza to become jealous. Gilbert is trying to sever ties with Eliza anyway because his mother disapproves of her: this being an era in which the views of parents or other guardians had to be taken very seriously. Gilbert is dismayed when Eliza becomes a leading figure in the malicious gossip about Helen, which worsens over time. Mr Lawrence has been seen making visits to his tenant, and the gossips claim to see a resemblance between him and little Arthur. This eventually makes her continued stay untenable despite the love with Gilbert declares to her and which it seems she returns.

The misunderstanding which arises between them over Mr Lawrence's role obliges Helen to lend him her journal - which forms the middle and meatiest part of the book. For Mrs Graham is really Mrs Huntingdon, and is in hiding from her abusive alcoholic husband who, if he tracks her down, will continue the process of corrupting their son. Helen has broken every convention and marriage vow of obedience in taking her son and running away, helped by the loyal Rachel, to saver her son's character and - she believes - his soul.

This is a remarkable book, all the more so when the historical context is taken into account. At the time it drew a barrage of hostility from critics due to its scandalous subject matter. Anne was driven to a defence via a preface to the second edition and, after her death, her sister Charlotte did not allow the book to be reprinted. Charlotte tried to excuse it by a rather specious portrayal of Anne as a simple country girl who had been driven to portray vicious behaviour she had been forced to witness due to living in a barbarous region - the unworldy Anne had thought this was normal in wider society. Of course Anne was nothing of the kind, being intelligent and just as educated as Charlotte herself - and their home town of Haworth was far from being the back of beyond. The book is actually a spirited attack against the semi-slavery in which a married woman was plunged at that period, years before the 1870 Married Women's Property Act. It also unflinchingly portrays an abusive marriage - not physically violent, but psychologically torturing. Helen is forced to endure neglect, verbal abuse, drunken behaviour by her husband and his chums, the conducting by him of an affair with a married woman for two years - some of it under her own roof while she was forced to be polite to the other woman who was as nasty as her husband - and worst of all, her husband teaching her son to swear and drink alcohol before the age of five. It is this last which finally impels her to the unthinkable for a married woman of the age.

One of the slight weaknesses in the book are the use of the framing structure with the male viewpoint. His behaviour at times is on a sliding scale with her husband's - thinking principally of his attack on Mr Lawrence whom he believes to be Helen's lover - and perhaps is not totally convincing. But the portrayals of his family and the other characters around him come across as decent pen portraits. The other weakness is that Helen is just a bit too saintly and pious at times. She loves Huntingdon and sets out to reform him - despite her aunt's prescient warnings about his character - and can be a bit too religious by today's standards with her views of a better life in Heaven etc. But her refusal to be cowed, and her constant rebuttals to her husband, go a great way towards redeeming this. It is interesting to speculate on how much her views are based upon the author's, since from all accounts Anne did indeed have a sincere and deeply-held Christian faith.

It is also interesting to speculate just how much the portrayal of Huntingdon himself draws on Anne's observation of her alcoholic brother Branwell. But she had also worked as a governess for some years at the houses of two families in higher ranks of society, one very grand indeed, and some at least of her material must come from things she had seen there. Scenes such as the drunken brawl in the house one evening during one of the extended house parties Huntingdon inflicts upon Helen are so realistic that they can't have been totally imaginary. The very creepy Mr Hargrave, too, who seems at first to be a friend to Helen during the years she puts up with her husband's worsening conduct, but who eventually tries to convince her to have an affair with him is so well characterised that he, too, was possibly drawn from life. This was written many years before terms such as sexual harrassment were coined, but his behaviour is a classic case.

All in all, I enjoyed the book a great deal. It almost earned a full rating, but given the two reservations above I have to rate it a well-deserved 4 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (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
Newton, Ann MaryCover artistsecondary 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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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.
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Classic Literatur Fictio HTML:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a novel in three parts, written as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his brother-in-Law. Markham is a prosperous farmer who is casually courting Eliza Millward. When a mysterious widow takes up residence in a local tumbledown mansion, Wildfell Hall, he becomes more and more interested in her and the slighted Eliza starts spreading malicious rumors.

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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.
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434747, 0141035633, 0141199350

 

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