The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Edited by Herbert Rosengarten and with an Introduction by Josephine McDonagh
The mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall has a dark secret. But as the captivated Gilbert Markham will discover, it is not the story circulating among local gossips.
Living under an assumed name, 'Helen Graham' is the estranged wife of a dissolute rake, desperate to protect her son from his destructive influence. Her diary entries reveal the shocking world of debauchery and cruelty from which she has fled.
Combining a sensational story of a man's physical and moral decline through alcohol, a study of marital breakdown, a disquisition on the care and upbringing of children, and a hard-hitting critique of the position of women in Victorian society, this passionate tale of betrayal is set within a stern moral framework tempered by Anne Brontë's optimistic belief in universal redemption.
Drawing on her first-hand experiences with her brother Branwell, Brontë's novel scandalized contemporary readers. It still retains its power to shock.
Click on the links below to hear Josephine McDonagh, who has written a new introduction to the Oxford World's Classics edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, introduce the novel.
Introducing the "Cinderella Brontë"
Approaching the novel
"Vulgar, coarse, and brutal"
- Some contemporary critics condemned the novel for its frank treatment of shocking themes: adultery, alcoholism and marital violence. Even Anne's sister were less than enthusiastic in their praise for the book, yet many readers found it a thrilling read.
How the book has been received [4:03]