Classic of the Month: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë



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“Keep guard over your eyes and ears as the inlets of your heart,
and over your lips as the outlets, lest they betray you in a moment of unwariness.”
–         Anne Brontë (1820 – 1849)

Published in 1848 under the pseudonym Acton Bell, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ is the second and final novel written by the comparatively lesser known of the three Brontë sisters – Anne Brontë. Written during the repressive Victorian era, this novel challenged the very conceptions and notions of womanhood.

Set in Victorian England, the plot is written in the form of a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law, Jack Halford, about the events leading to his meeting his wife.

Helen Graham, the protagonist of the novel, is a mysterious young widow who arrives at Wildfell Hall with her young son and a servant. Living under an assumed name and strict seclusion from the outside world, she quick becomes a victim of vicious rumours and gossips surrounding her life.

Considered as one of the first feminist novels, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ achieved magnanimous success and was sold out within the first six weeks of its publication, however subsequent years saw a suppression in its publication especially after its author’s death.

With Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ becoming hallmarks of classic Victorian literature, it seems that Anne Brontë’s masterpiece got lost somewhere along the way.

As the author herself once wrote –

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn,
Should never crave the rose.”



You can buy the book here:

The Penguin India Blog

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