Wuthering Heights Published
The 4th of December 1847 AD
The year 1847 was a remarkable one for the Bronte sisters of Haworth , Charlotte, Emily and Anne , as all became published novelists – Charlotte with Jane Eyre beating the other two by some six weeks or so in spite of the fact that Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey had both been accepted by the publisher (and crook) Thomas Newby before Jane Eyre had been completed.
Newby demanded payment of £50 each to publish Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, but having received the money and at least type-set the book and produced proof copies he seems to have considered his duties at an end – indeed given the agreement was to return the £50 fees when 250 copies of the books had sold it was almost in his interest not to publish.
The success of Jane Eyre , published by a somewhat more ethical house, persuaded Newby to publish Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey in a three-volume edition, expecting to cash in on the Bell pseudonym (though he had no idea that such it was) adopted by the sisters.
In spite of its lengthy time span it is a claustrophobic novel, the grim moors almost a prison for the actors in the story. Wuthering Heights shocked some contemporary reviewers, its dark tone and intertwining sexual tensions and relationships very different as it were from the home life of our own dear Queen. Had Emily not hidden behind the apparently male name Ellis Bell it might have stirred greater controversy. That view changed over time, the novel eventually recognized as a classic of the genre, with innumerable films, TV series and other adaptations and takes on the story made, most famously the 1939 with Laurence Olivier as an unconvincing Heathcliff, and perhaps the song which made Kate Bush ’s name in 1978.
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